Interview With Scott Morris

This is a first for the blog. Normally I do the interviews. This time, Eman Conde interviews Scott Morris. Scott is a household name in the CCIE training arena. Read to find out about his new ventures here!!!

Scott & Eman Hit The Powder


Scott Morris, Hiding in a Crowd

It was a few years ago when I first met Scott Morris.  He was instrumental in helping me have the courage to pursue CCIE recruitment as a mainstay.  I had selected for my vehicle the CCIE Flyer which he found to be a great idea.  So we communicated a couple of times by phone in the beginning.  I was soon on my way to Cisco Live in Orlando where I was really not too sure what I would do.  I was going to Networkers to network, go figure.  The year leading up to this event had me excited about the Talent Program from Cisco called SRS.  Then the work I did with Cisco in freeing a pair of CCIEs’ numbers was followed by a couple of more noteworthy efforts I was a part of in helping a few other CCIEs were published in the CCIE Flyer.  Well Scott told me I should go to Cisco Live and meet more of the CCIEs who were reading the CCIE Flyer in person.  On my long journey there he texted me several times about a party being held off the Cisco Live premise.  It turns out this would be his last event for his employer at the time but I was able to meet a large group of CCIEs there.  The event was very cool and Scott was right, a bunch of the CCIEs did already know me or about me.  I was extremely flattered.  Then Scott left for another training company and in his wake things seemed to go quiet.  It was like he dropped out of site.  After being the poster child for CCIE training for a while it was odd that he basically dropped off the radar.  So I am very pleased to be interviewing him about life!

Q: Scott you have been busy lately.  I was at the open house to witness firsthand the next phase of your journey.  The training facilities looked spiffy and the team of Marvin Greenlee and Keith Barker looks like winning combination.  Tell how long have you known these two?

A:  Wow, it seems like eons!  I’ve known Marvin longer as I had worked with him at more than one vendor previously.  But even Keith, I knew “of” him before meeting him personally and working with him at our last employer.  Good thing is that we have several years collectively of working together as a team, and knowing how each other functions so that we can easily bring out the best!

Q: These guys are triple and dual CCIEs respectively.  Are they underachievers?

A:  Hmmmm…  I was thinking more like they have a better grasp on sanity than I do!  Never underestimate anyone’s desire for learning though!  Remember that my CCIE number is a bit lower than theirs, so they still have a few years to dazzle the world with their accomplishments, which may yet be significantly different than mine or even overshadow mine!  Besides, even if they had a single CCIE, as I’m sure you have come to appreciate in your working with talent all over the world…  it’s not JUST a certification (or even a plethora of them) that truly makes a person great.  I have a great team, or a team of great people no matter the specifics of certifications.

Q: While I was there Keith showed me the online training developed for the iPad.  It was cool in a few ways.  The dialogue was engaging and the graphics were pretty sharp.  Is online learning going to change the way network engineers prepare for certifications?

A:  Just a few ways?  J  Clearly you weren’t watching for long enough!  The thing about what we are doing is that it’s not a limit of ‘online’ learning.  It is an evolution in learning methods.  There are similarities to what others have done, in that it’s a recorded medium.  And yet there are several distinct differences that make it excel well beyond where others are at.  And, not just in the specifics of any given course, but in the idea of the entire curriculum.   But I think you are baiting me a little bit here.  That’s enough of a teaser for the moment.  I’m not quite ready to conquer the world via that mechanism yet, but stay tuned for some exciting developments in the world of self-paced learning!

Q: In the past you worked for two grey market training companies.  They function differently than Cisco authorized learning partners.  Since they are acting as unauthorized training companies do they have different kinds of business meetings?  Do they wear robes and hoods to remain incognito while reciting chants and interpreting runes?

A:  Well, you know that there are blood oaths of secrecy, so I’m really not at liberty to discuss those kinds of details even though I’m no longer part of either Guild!  J  They have different business models, and different things they need to do in order to keep in business.

Q: Ok I understand these things are like secret rituals, which are partially expected to impart knowledge to those with wallets out.  I am cool you don’t have to put yourself in harm’s way.  But tell me which company had the coolest looking costumes?

A:  Ahhhh…  You should know by now, it’s not the costume but the person wearing it!   I promise you that no matter how hard we may try, Marvin, Keith or myself will not look NEARLY as good as your typical runway model no matter which outfit you choose!  Likewise, no matter which “outfit” the three of us are wearing, in the end, it is our specific knowledge, our specific style, and our specific methods of imparting knowledge and clicking with the students that sets us apart from the packs.

But we do indeed have some neat new outfits now that we are within the Cisco authorized channel, and some promising fashion statements and trends yet to come to public view!

Q: You have been at this training thing and CCIE thing for a while now.  You have been in a few scrapes but like the Energizer Bunny you keep on pounding your drum.  What happened to you?  It seemed like there was a period of time when you were completely off the radar.  Did you seek enlightenment from the Dali Lama or wander the desert in search of answers?  What happened?  You were basically hiding in a crowd out here weren’t you?

A:  I never truly disappeared.  I kept an eye on things, and kept watching.  Even those who take time to meditate will come back, and be amazingly cognizant of the things that happened while they were gone!  Or perhaps it was just sitting back and plotting my methods to take over the world!  Every OverLord needs to have a plan!  Either way, there was a lot that transpired in the last year, and a lot of good things that are coming (and going to keep coming) out of it.

And besides, I emerged with another JNCIE out of it, didn’t I?  I know it’s not a Cisco thing, but it’s still an evil lab exam!  Gotta give me some credit for lurking and working in the underworld!  Four CCIEs, two JNCIEs and a CCDE makes me a whole new kind of crazy!  J

Q: We met at GITEX this past October and had a good time meeting the CCIEs that came by the booth and hitting the tourist spots like the Burj Khalifa and indoor skiing at the Mall of the Emirates.  This was the first time back on skis for you in a while.  What happened to make you stop skiing?

A:  Oh, I love snow skiing!  Work definitely gets in the way of being able to jaunt off every time there is fresh powder though, as much as I’d love to!  Also, having kids tends to change things a bit, but on the bright side, they are old enough now that we’ll start introducing them to the wonderful world of downhill skiing!  (Or at least tubing!)

On the other hand, snow skiing in the middle of the desert was an awesome time (while being wrong on so many levels), and it was great to have shared that experience with you!  And better yet to have had both of us emerge without any broken bones!

Q: CCIEs still come up to you all gushy sometimes.  I know I have seen it firsthand.  Like at the CCIE party young guns would come to me and ask me to introduce them to you and Terry and Narbik.  It seems like it was ok for them to interrupt me which makes me feel both good and bad.  Does that kind of reaction from other CCIEs or future CCIEs make you feel good?  It has to add some pressure to you to behave properly or look sharp or something!

A:  Have I ever struck you as someone concerned about looking sharp?  I’m just me, and I’m just a normal guy!  J  It is great to meet people all over the world, and better yet to know that somehow I have managed to make an impact on their lives.  As a trainer, that is really the best payback, to know that you were able to help other succeed.

On the flip side, I have come to realize that I need to stay away from any major criminal activities, because clearly the Witness Protection Program is not something I will qualify for!  Too many people know my face or even my voice.  But it’s all in good fun!

Q: You were at Cisco Live in the UK this past month.  How was that compared to the Las Vegas version?

A:  It was a little colder.  But it was London in January, so it’s as expected!  Obviously that event is not as large as the flagship version that will be held in Las Vegas again this year, but it was still a good-sized event with lots of people and lots of vendors and lot of fun!

And it was great to have been over there!  Keith Barker and I were both there as part of the newly created Cisco Designated VIP program.  And we both were able to meet lots of great people over there.

I’ve been told that the CCIE’s from Europe are a bit smarter and more coordinated than their North American counterparts though.  At the CCIE party, there was a “human chess” game that ensued with CCIEs.  We missed that part, hopping between gatherings, but I hear it was quite a feat!

Q: The folks at the Nova Datacom open house seemed keenly interested in the content you folks were previewing.  I was happy to learn that most of the folks actually knew about the CCIE Flyer and me.  That was cool, I keep getting a rush every time it happens.  What do you suggest I do to improve the CCIE Flyer?

A:  As I had told you years ago (which apparently you not only remember, but actually listened to me!), it’s a matter of being there for people.  When you help people out, they will always appreciate it and always remember it, no matter how small the interaction.

With the CCIE Flyer, there is so much you are doing in various parts of the world trying to focus on helping CCIEs and CCIE Candidates out.  Just keep at it, do what you enjoy doing and people will see that!

Oh yeah, and throw a really big party at Cisco Live!  J  In addition, I remember early on (seems like years ago now) you had some CCIE Meet & Greets around the world that many people enjoyed.  Perhaps it is time to kick that up a notch again!

Q: There are many CCIE training companies suffering these days from the economic down turn and some for simply having bad product.  What will set your effort apart from the rest of the pack?

A:  The instructors and the passion.  With the people, and the experience, that makes a huge difference.  We can enhance our consulting capabilities because of our educational background and likewise supplement our teaching capabilities because of our extensive consulting backgrounds!

Q: Welcome to the approved Cisco learning partner ranks.  The best instructors seem to end up in the CLP team.  What have you had to do differently for this inclusion to the club?

A:  The inclusion isn’t anything new.  One of the interesting things as you look around the ranks of instructors (not just CCIE, but the CCSIs of the world) is that you’ll find many who have been around a while and merely changed what and where they were working.  Keith and I have both been CCSIs for over 11 years now.  Marvin has been for over 5 years.  So despite a “hiatus” to have worked at some non-authorized places, being a part of the CLP team has never really been something that we ever actually left.

We are merely rearranging our lives and our focus and working within the current Learning@Cisco, and Cisco360 structures.  But we have long been part of that club!

Q: Good luck with the new endeavor and thank you for the honor of working with you and your team as we plan venues globally together!

Thanks Scott & Eman for the interesting information.
Larry Hadrava
CCIE #12203

Interview With Jeremy Filliben CCIE, CCDE

With a low CCIE number, #3851, you have seen the lab change quite a bit over the years. Tell us about the lab when you passed it.

When I took the lab, it was still a two-day affair.  Well, 3.5 days for me.  On my first attempt I made it through 1.5 days before I lost too many points to continue.  I was successful on my second attempt.  Back then (1998) I was able to retake the exam within three months of having failed.  I could have done it as quickly as 30 days, but my schedule didn’t allow it.  Many technologies have dropped off the exam (DLSW+, RSRB, Decnet, Appletalk, IPX) and several have come and gone since.  I remember being in a bit of a rush to complete the certification process before ATM and a significant amount of switching were introduced.

What was around for CCIE lab practice when you first passed the lab?

I was able to take a one day CCDE practice lab that was offered by Chesapeake Computer Consultants.  I don’t think anyone else offered a prep class.  I studied the IOS 11.2 Configuration Guides.  I don’t think I owned the Doyle book or any other resources.
What do you think of the evolution of the CCIE lab and where it is now.
I think the CCIE team is doing a good job of balancing the market demand for the CCIE certification with the need to keep it difficult enough to weed out those who should not hold the cert.  I have a high degree of confidence that most CCIEs deserve the certification.  I was initially concerned that the one-day lab would be too easy, but that does not seem to be the case.

How did you prepare for the CCDE?

A lot of reading!  I read numerous Cisco Press books, including Optimal Routing Design, BGP Design & Implementation and Definitive MPLS Designs.  There were many others too, which I’ve tried to list on my blog.  The most important thing to do to prepare for the CCDE is to work in the industry for a significant amount of time.  When I passed I had 13 years of experience, including ten years as a CCIE.

What would you recommend for CCDE study methods?

There are several week-long classroom offerings available now.  I was fortunate enough to be able to teach a couple of those classes for a Cisco Learning Partner.  I can’t say with certainty that classroom-based offerings are effective in preparing for the exam, but I believe they are helpful.  Aside from that, I would certainly recommend reading as many of the recommended books as possible.  Some should be read multiple times, as the reader will pick up different information over time.
I see that you teach a CCDE lab class and offer some CCDE training materials – tell us about the class and your other offerings. How they can help CCDE candidates.
I no longer teach the class due to a lack of time in my schedule.  At this point my only contribution to CCDE preparation is my periodic CCDE Practice Exam offerings.  I one Enterprise-based exam and one Service Provider-based exam.  Each exam consists of twenty questions and accompanying reading material.  My goal is to simulate as closely as possible the experience of taking the CCDE practical exam.  Participants are given the exam materials and given a day or two to complete the exam (total time should be one to two hours).  After completing the exam the participants and I get together on a Webex conference to discuss the correct answers and where in the text to find the necessary information to answer correctly.  The exams cover the types of questions found on the exam and simulates the level of difficulty of the real exam.
I also provide participants with up-to-date information on the actual exam, including an overview of the scenario types and the technologies covered on the exam.

Thanks Jeremy for taking to time to do this interview. Congratulations on the new job!!!

Larry Hadrava
CCIE #12203

Scott Morris Launches New Training Initiative

Scott Morris, CCIEx4, CCDE, JNCIEx2, CISSP to Launch Nova Datacom Education Services Offering

Complementary Open House to Include Training Sessions by Morris and other Noted Instructors


Chantilly, VA – February 1, 2011:  Nova Datacom, LLC, a provider of information technology services to the public and private sectors and a CompTIA Authorized Partner, a Cisco Learning Partner and a Cisco360 (CCIE) Learning Partner, today announced the upcoming launch of their Education Services offering, spearheaded by Scott Morris, Nova Datacom’s Chief Technologist, and partner Learning Tree International.  Scheduled for February 16th, in Chantilly, VA, this one day event will allow attendees to meet with Morris and his team, attend sample training sessions, and familiarize themselves with the offered curriculum.

 A well-known figure in the IT industry for over 25 years, Scott Morris, CCIEx4, CCDE, JNCIEx2, CISSP and Cisco Designated VIP, has fulfilled a number of roles within both the public and private sectors. As a Certified Cisco Systems Instructor (CCSI) and Juniper Networks Certified Instructor (JNCI), Scott has provided world-renowned CCIE training since 2002. He has delivered courses to a wide variety of audiences including internal training at Cisco Systems.

 Offering formal classroom instruction with full lab and NOC, or on-site worldwide, Nova Datacom, under the direction of Morris, will offer a variety of training curriculums to satisfy a broad range of requirements.  Additionally, Morris concentrated on recruiting top level instructors to provide unparalleled course delivery.

 “I’ve selected instructors who maintain a wide area of consulting and training experience to best present information as it relates to specific customer environments,” noted Morris. “Combining this deep knowledge with the ability to operate in both classified and unclassified environments allows our team to be even more effective at conducting training sessions that address specific security concerns, current vulnerability gaps, and pressing mission critical requirements- conveniently located where our customers need it most.”

 Additional instructors include Marvin Greenlee  (CCIEx3, CCDP, JNCISx3, CISSP) and Keith Barker (CCIEx2, CISSP, and Cisco Designated VIP).

 With 15+ years experience in the IT industry, Greenlee has been instrumental in the development and delivery of high-level technical training courses for live and online classes. Likewise, Barker, with 25+ years in the IT industry, has been involved with the creation and delivery of training in classroom and large audiences since 1995.  

 Sample training courses to be presented at the Open House were designed by Morris and his team specifically to showcase their ability to target courseware to specific topics of interest.  Sessions include:

 Subnetting and Binary Math for IPv4 and IPv6: A review of subnetting techniques and how to best identify appropriate configurations in both IPv4 and IPv6 networks. Practical and designed examples given.

 Multifactor Authentication: Maintaining confidentiality is critical for a secure network. In this lesson we will learn about multi-factor authentication, as well the strengths, weaknesses and best practice for each.

 BGP Attributes and Path Selection: When using BGP for Inter-Autonomous System routing, it is important to know the features and attributes that allow for manipulation of path selection. If studying for certifications, this will also help in choosing the right solution for abstract problems given to you in practical labs.

 Understanding MPLS for the Routing & Switching Engineer (CCIE Focus):  A new method of thinking and moving information around the network, as largely adopted by service providers around the world.  Session breaks down the concepts and demonstrates network effects. Includes demonstrating how a CCIE candidate identify, implement and work through any scenario in a short period of time.

 If you would like to attend the Open House, please register at

 Or click the link to register for the Open House from ‘s homepage.



About Nova Datacom:

Nova Datacom (NDC) M/WBE 8(a) provides solutions that expand, improve, and strengthen client capabilities to satisfy mission assurance objectives. Focused on four practice areas, Business Continuity (BCEP); Information Assurance; Governance, Risk, and Compliance; and Enterprise Networking, NDC provides expert-level expertise and proven past performance across multiple technology segments to the public and private sectors.

 NDC’s approach combines operational planning, budget optimization and cutting-edge security measures to provide a solid framework for daily operations that withstand disruption. We accomplish this through continual training and vendor agnostic technology expertise resulting in a team of the best minds in the IT community.

 SBA-Certified 8(a), SBD, Minority Woman-Owned | Nova Datacom: Security is in our DNA

 About Learning Tree International

Learning Tree International sets the world standard for hands-on management and IT training. Since 1974, over 2 million Learning Tree Course participants from over 65,000 organizations around the world have enhanced their skills through intensive hands-on exercises under the guidance of expert instructors with real-world experience.