Thursday, June 14, 2012

CCDE, Shall We?

This week I'm in San Diego for Cisco Live US 2012.

It's been an amazing week. Even on last Saturday I had to fly 17 hours to reach Los Angeles from Dubai. Even then I had to continue driving 200 miles to reach San Diego. Even I didn't sleep at all during the flight, and I was able to sleep only 3 hours before my session. Even I had to deliver the 9-hour techtorial on the very first day of Cisco Live, together with the CCIE Program Manager and an expert from TAC team. Even I was completely dead and slept whole day after the session.

Other than my session, the inspiring keynote speech and demo by the CEO, all other great sessions for full week, Cisco store and all the parties at nights, I also had chances to meet many great guys. From book author to distinguished engineers. From customers in US and abroad, to one great guy who invented label switched multicast.

Two guys I met who reminded me to my past, because I used their book and guidance to become CCIE, are: Bruce Caslow, and Brian Dennis. Caslow is the author of the first CCIE book I read in 1999: Bridges, Routers, and Switches for CCIEs. Brian Dennis is the CEO and instructor from INE whom his video-on-demand and workbook I used to pass my third CCIE track.

There are many great guys I met in Cisco Live San Diego, but those two are special because they reminded me about the good old days, or the hard days, when I was trying to pass the CCIE lab. It would be complete if Halabi and Doyle came to the event too, but I guess that would never happen.

Meeting people from the past brought up some spark to my mind: how if I take one more certification, for the last time?

I'm quite excited about the new CCIE Data Center, but I know it won't be available soon. So the only option I have now is the CCDE. Yes, I failed it couple of times in the past, and it looks like I can get only one final free attempt from Cisco. The exam has been updated to version 2 now, and I heard there are some improvement from the version 1 that I hate, no, I meant, the version that was not to my taste :)

There are several reasons why I should not go for another CCDE attempt:

- I work as solutions architect for Cisco Advanced Services. I'm a tech lead in the project with Cisco customers. I do design. I always do. And I do many more than what CCDE can test in the exam: meeting real customer, capturing real customer requirements, leading design workshop, managing resources, discussing and listening, writing design document, and many other design related tasks. And I have already 3 CCIEs, I work for Cisco and I have about 13 years experience working in the same field. I don't think I need to get certified as a network design expert.

- CCDE exam test the knowledge in high level design. No low level design task. No product specific. No hardware architecture. I do low level design for real customers. I work with the details from physical link, IP addressing to low level configuration of IGP, MPLS, BGP, customer services, multicast, QoS, security and management, to migration strategy. I use best practices and the result from lab simulation and testing. I'm not sure if someone who works in low level design and such detail needs to get certified in high level design knowledge.

- As mentioned previously, I have two lives. I work for Cisco in the day, and I run my non-profit organization at night. Or probably the other way around :) But in short, I'm always busy. I travel from time to time. I also have a family I need to spend my time with, as well as all other activities like offroading on the desert or snowboarding in Ski Dubai. Every certification requires the most expensive investment we have to make: time. Time that may better be spent to do something else.

As you can see I can come up with many reasons not to take CCDE. And yet I can only come up with one reason to do it: because I'm a big fan of Cisco certification program. I call myself CCIE evangelist. I truly believe Cisco certification can help anyone to start or advance his/her career. I'm a living proof of this: everything I knew about computer networking at the beginning of my career, I had it because I followed Cisco certification.

Decision, decision.
So what's it gonna be?

My cool tattoo, thanks to Cisco Live.
Wondering if I can add another one next year.