Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I passed! I passed! I passed!
With only a couple of months preparation, with only 240 lab hours practice, with all the tight schedule, with all the projects, with all the flying-the-friendly-skies kind of life style, with study time that is only In Between, with only few hours sleep everyday, against-the-all-odds yesterday I passed CCIE Service Provider Lab in first attempt!
I was quite speechless when the first time I saw the result. I really passed. Exactly 6 years after my first moment stepped in to CCIE lab in Brussels to take my Routing & Switching track, I finally passed and completed all the three tracks that I wanted to have.
I still don’t know what to say.
There is no word that can describe my feeling right now.
I guess I will start making a list of all the things that help me achieve my final target. I’m planning to re-write my ‘How to become a CCIE’ to update with latest information. But in short, following is how I did it with only 2 months preparation:
- There was no time to study or attend any training so I really depend on Internetwork Expert SP Advance Technology class-on-demand to get the strong base. I can’t say nothing regarding this material except: it’s gold. If you can’t afford to go for a training, just make sure you get this material.
- Then I tried to learn and practice specific topic using IE Tech Labs. It’s far than enough for sure but at least can give you some ideas about each technology. Expect to drill down by yourself by modifying the original scenario and by adding more complexity
- The Internetwork Expert SP Lab II is a must. If you can buy only a single workbook just make sure you get this one. I have no affiliation with them and actually I have some workbooks from different vendor as well. But there was no time. So I placed a bet by relying on this workbook 100% and I spent 240 lab hours to complete it two times. Obviously, just like in Tech Labs we need to be creative and expand the workbook. Always ask the question: why did Brian answer it this way? How if I do it that way? And really tested all of the possible options.
- If you are in tight schedule like me, then you have to bet on few things. I mean, I know we are supposed to learn all the technology listed in CCIE lab blueprint. But that’s what CCIE is all about. Strategy. You may not need to learn all of them since only based on looking at the hardware being used in the lab, for example, you can figure it out easily that some topics won’t be tested. So it’s really a thin line between strategic thinking and betting. For me, I just took my chance and choose material that I really need to focus on.
- Unlike CCIE R&S, documentation CD is not our best friend anymore. In CCIE SP, MPLS VPN with all the MP-BGP and underlying IGP technology is the main focus. If we screw up in this section, obviously we will fail. Especially since all the things are connected to each other. The decision you make earlier might affect the technology on top of it. And even if we can make it works from beginning, it doesn’t mean we pass straight away. But probably we will get all the points to pass from Multicast, and the remaining sections of the lab are just like a safe net. Some of them are quite easy to add more points and guarantee our passing score.
- We need to get real world pressure, perhaps from work, to build our character and make us ready to face any surprises in the lab . We need to have a good troubleshooting mindset to pass the lab. I can’t emphasize enough about how important those two are.
- Reading a CCIE SP related discussion, just like in this SP groupstudy and Internetwork Expert forum, is a very good way to avoid fighting this battle alone. There was no time for me to get involved into any discussion, but everytime I had time I always spent time to read the forum. You may even find a study partner there
- In the end, I believe CCIE SP is very fair compare to the other tracks that I have. I mean, in SP they don’t test any fancy features that I have never heard before and everything is straight to the point. If you understand the technology than you should be able to bring the network up. And most of those technologies can be tested. SP lab doesn’t put specific requirement how to do stuff, so I guess as long as we can achieve the result without violating the rules, it should be fine. There is no hard rule to do stuff that I should follow just like in other tracks.
I really need to thanks everyone that has been helping me to achieve my goal. To my family. To all my team mates in Cisco Advanced Services. To Internetwork Expert, thank you for all the best materials. Brian Dennis and Brian McGahan, you guys are the Twin Towers. The two Brains. The real Kungfu Masters. I spent more than 100 hours just to listen to both of you. Always laugh everytime you made those small jokes. There is no doubt about the materials and I recommend to anyone who’s planning to take CCIE SP to get them.
So what’s next? I can’t answer yet.
At least please allow me to rest and enjoy my historical moment.
I must fly another 16 hours to go back to Singapore. Back to my work. Back to all my projects. Back to reality.
CCIE was the only place where the world makes sense.
I guess I need to find my new reality.