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!!!