Here I'll try to summarize my experience to CCIE (but please don't expect much and fluent story ).
I'll start from the end - on 21st of January in Brussels on 7:30 we met wiht other 9 candidates (4 or 5 RS, 2 VoIP, 2 Security or SP and one Wireless (didn't know before that there is the Wireless CCIE track ) ) on the lobby. Two of the candidates were CISCO employees.
at ~8 o'clock we were gathered and followed to the lab-room, where we were given short instructions. Room with some drinks, coffee, tee and snacks was opposites the lab room, one could go outside so often as needed.
Some people says that in reality the lab exam much easier as expected, but I should say here, if one really spent one year to prepare for the lab he should know about 70% what to expect there, you're not going to meet there something new, if you did, it simply mean that during the preparation you missed something. For me it was exactly so difficult as I expected - I didn't meet there any new technologies or approaches, it's more about interpretation the questions and solving the issues, which are generated for you specially during the lab. and I'm pretty confidential - I'm not genius, and if I would meet the lab with difficulty like 9-10 (according IE scale) I would fail, with level 8 I think I'd be right above of the 75%.
Ok now to my approach and experience.
Actually it's quite difficult for me to give the exactly amount of time which I used for preparation, because during last 3-4 years I was preparing for different Cisco certifications: CCNA - CCNP, then CCDA - CCDP and CCSP. it means that for the written exam it took me about 2 months without big stress.
I started my first part of lab practice (IE Advanced Technologies lab and may be 4-5 lab from the Main part) on March 2007, but during this time I was mostly busy with building my test lab. I started with real-hardware (I had a few cisco's routers on my own ) but then I realized then dimamips gives me exactly what I need + flexibility. I took Dell 2650 with Double-DualCore 2 GHz and 4 GB RAM, install there all necessary tools and it was enough to run 13 routers + FRS. On my working place we have a test lab and I used it for the practice on the switching tasks. Unfortunately I didn't have any 3550 or 3560 but enough 6500s .
I played around with my test lab until I managed it to a very flexible and stable envenoming and then middle of May I started to prepare for the written part. It was for me the easiest part, after all certifications which I was preparing for, I didn't see or learn anything new, may be only QoS was for me a "dark" area. I read the official Cisco's CCIE written lab guide and one of the Cisco's QoS guides and I passed written test without big problem and stress.
After written part we traveled with my family for one month to our parents, of course this month was completely out of the preparation plan.
Ok, Middle of August we were back I started to plan my journey. I wanted to take the first attempt on December, but the first available date was 21.01.2009 and I said - OK, it's better then, because the X-mas and NewYear time are not going to be very productive anyway. After the first labs I realized (and I supposed to be) that my strengths are L2 switching and BGP (it's my work where I could master this topics), the weaknesses are QoS and Redistribution (sick!)
The plan was following:
- the first 10-12 weeks I had to finish the second part of IE completely
- next 4-5 weeks part 3 of IE,
- next 2-3 weeks rent some racks to play around with 3550/3560 and then to finish 4-5 Mocklabs.
- If time is still there try other study materials (In my case it was I P Expert v9, I managed about 10 last labs, one lab a day).
of course life and family make their own "tuning" to my plan, accidentally traveling, friends visits, X-mas and NewYear but at the end the plan was 100% complete. According to my plan I needed to spend 5-6 hours every day until the time X, and I think I was pretty much close to it. In the last 6 weeks before the lab we were surprised that our company is going to be closed in half a year but from the other side the exam fee and the travel was already paid J and thank to that fact I could spent my working hours completely for the lab preparation, I think last 4 weeks I spent around 8-10 hours per weekday for practice.
The first 5-6 months (including the written part) was the months where I really leant some new technologies and approaches. As I said for my work I was pretty experienced in L2 switching and BGP by the rest should be yet mastered. I read a tons of materials from DocCD and some external sources, like IE blog (very very useful information hxxp://blog.internetworkexpert.com/category/ccie-routing-switching ) and IE forum (where they discussed the labs solution), and dozens of CCIE forums and blogs, including our favorite sadikhov
The last 2 months was the time when I practiced my speed and accuracy. At the end all basic tasks (L2 switching, Frame-relay, basic IGP and BGP) where done by my fingers without the head.
The IOS application/services are the topics which one should simply know that are exists somewhere and to know the way (from DocCD) how to configure them.
QoS should have been practiced a lot (at least for me) in order to get really understanding
Security was not so difficult for me because I have some security backgrounds, of cause the way of configuration should be practiced.
IGP redistribution - sometimes I thought my head is boiling , but at the end I decided to follow the advices to not loose too many time and efforts to do the redistribution which is requitered by a task and simply do only the necessary redistribution to get the full reachablity
IPv6 was pretty straightforward, without MP-BGP it's not so interesting
ok, to my lab:
I lost too much time reading the Task book and trying to solve the issues and the beginning, It was really enough just the look through it and notice some relationships between tasks. I found out, the L2-L3-IGP part was about 75% of all tasks regarding time and efforts. Services,IPv6, Security and BGP were pretty straightforward (but I got into pitfall there anyway ). At the lunchtime I didn't finish my IGP part completely, redistribution task with some really strange requirements was left, proctor couldn't help much, but at least he tried. He answered another couple of questions and I was pretty satisfied, there were not too much what I wanted to ask him anyway. After lunch in 2,5-3 hours I finished all tasks and for me left 1-1,5 hour to check everything again. I did a short break for coffee and some fruits. During the re-check phase I didn't find anything what I could improve , but in the last 5 minutes I realized (BGP section was the last one this time) that my neighbor AS don't see the prefixes from one of the BBs! Here I got some panic, but could very quick found out that one of iBGP neighbor missed next-hop-self option, after I put it on the placed and restarted the BGP session all prefixes were there! God....
Ok from my own calculation, if I take only really 100% tasks (where the interpretation and solution were correct from my point of view) I reached 85%, plus 8-10 points on the questions where my interpretation could be correct, and a couple of question where I didn't see the way how to meet requirements (one strange question about STP timers and shortest ACL).
After the lab three of us went to the same and had a chat. For the one of them it was the third attempt for the second it was the first as well, we discussed a little bit the exam and then I went to my room to get a little bit rest. The results were available at 2:00AM but I was at this time completely sick I think I had 39C and couldn't sleep at all, I checked the status, called my wife and she was very proud of me. I was really satisfied and fill better
Edited by ciberkot, 25 January 2009 - 04:50 AM.