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.


Altoman said...

Nice point Himawan and nice tatoo.
Hope I'll get mine next cisco live

jose said...

I was in Cisco Live . I took a picture with Bruce and Brian.
I hope to see in Florida.. :)

123 said...

hi himawan,
it’s always great to read your words, although i feel sometime that you advertizing cisco,
is this cisco advertisement method of making their CCIE ppl to praise its certificates???
I am in the network field, and I like my job, I like cisco product, but their way in managing the certification system, its merely business, it is to eat money from ppl buckets and eat more in the networking market share from other manufactures.
Don’t understand me wrong,
Cisco product is the best, but their certification/exam method is the worst.
Question>>> we have in our organization a CCIE engineer, who can’t distinguish different network cables or fiber cables? And more, he is very poor in troubleshooting skills? So, how he can pass the lab with his low skills?

Thank you
Ali S.

Himawan Nugroho said...

Hi Ali, I don't need to advertise Cisco certification, they have already a solid marketing team for that trust me. I write about it, and probably 'praise' Cisco certification, because I truly believe the program is really good to educate those who want to work in computer networking. Imagine a fresh graduate who doesn't have practical skills only what was learned from school, in order for him/her to catch up is by taking certification program so when he/she reaches, let's say CCNA, he/she will have solid basic understanding of TCP/IP, addressing, some routing protocols and computer networking in general. I know for sure Cisco started the certification program to educate people. Imagine in 1993, how to learn the knowledge those days? Either you have to be lucky enough to work in the company that sent you for training or on-the-job training. CCIE came in and provide a blueprint to study, a target to achieve. Now, if you are talking about "CCIE who doesn't know this or that, who can't do this or that" I don't know who he passed the exam, and again the certification can only provide the foundation, he needs to gain experience and real world exposure. Because only few CCIEs still get paid due to their CCIE only. The rest get paid because we can do the job. Think about CCIE as a school, let's say some people can pass by taking the shortcut. Will you blame the school? It's better to have the school than nothing. And for those who decided to take the shortcut, the truth will be revealed anyway when they start working. And in this economy, I believe they won't survive for long anyway

Mohammed Abidi said...

Hi himawan..i understand how u feel abt this..gone through something similar..although not at the CCIE level.
I am one of the billion CCNAs who want to do an expert level cisco cert for the two main reasons..better pay n for the love of networking..i have a coupla questions which i wish to ask u.
Its been quite some time since CCDE came is the 5th highest paying cert now..just before CCIE..the problem though as u said..the syllabus leaves out implementation topics which i think r essential in having a solid understanding of which one should i take?
Which takes me to my second question..i just started working in dubai..i did my schooling here n engineering in computers in india n worked for over n yr there in the analysis all i have in networking xp is a 3 month internship in a SMO. I want to move back into networking for the love of it but was wondering if ppl will even consider a guy who has 2.5 yrs xp in another field(in 1 yr 3 months from now) nd is a ccie..i know ccie's get payed arnd 30-35k aed in uae..i dont expect that much obv..but how much do u think a ccie w/o xp in networking should get paid..analysis pays me well but a jump to networking might mean a fresh start..thank u for ur help n sorry for the long post.