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Darby Weaver

CCIE Lab 2012-1013 Step-by-Step by Darby Weaver

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Introduction - I've been out of it for a while now, 1.5 years or so by now. So I'm starting fairly fresh.


I started last night by setting up some gear - 19 4500/4700 Routers to be my MPLS/Service Provider Core and edge - also serves as a nice foundation for the troubleshooting section of the CCIE RS Labs.


I've got a literal army of 1700/2500/2600/3640 Routers to service my Troubleshooting Sections - various configurations - this is another 60+ routers in total. I have to count them but I know I have 30+ 2600 XM/Non-XM's, almost 20 or so 1700's, and at least a dozen 3640's so that is literally enough for mostly anything.


The location I'm using is power-full - over 400amps of power and ample cooling.


The idea is to use 3 VoIP Routers for my Voice Lab, and then 3 more routers as the remaining routers for the primary CCIE RS Lab.


L2 Routers - 2950's connect the RS Routers, Security, SP, VoIP, WLAN, SAN, and CCDP/E, racks of gear together - to the backbone itself.


This may sound overly complex but hey... it just is.


It's my skillsets and I've CCNP/CCDP level in all of the above skillsets and so I have my reasons - I'm also a practicing Enterprise-Level Network Architect/Engineer/Manager so... It works for me.


I have a slew of Firewalls, IPS/IDS, Load Balances, WLAN Gear, Authentication, Network Management/Analysis, Domain and Workstations of various types to do as I please for my little network.


I know its overkill and Mark will be the first to remind me. It's what's on my plate and this is how it is going to work.


I cannot afford to constantly rebuild/re-design the lab so I'm doing it up front and in a scalable manner.


I'll supply some pictures as I go and of course will answer any questions as best I can and if they are practical I can lab them up on this gear.


I said some pictures - I meant a lot of pictures - this is meant to be a practical and very visual journey.


I've purchased mostly every work book by now and I have access to every book there is in print - so I can work with mostly anyone on any problem as I go.


My primary goal is experience and expertise and of course if I'm doing all this correctly a CCIE or two may come of it eventually. No rush for me. I already command a CCIE Plus's salary and benefits and am bombarded daily by so many offers it is nothing less than incredible - so I don't have the need to rush it or need a vendor to validate what I don't know yet.


Anyone reading what I'm writing can make that distinction clearly enough. So I guess this is sort of my own little onlineportfolio of what my own capabilities are and are not.


I do have to take the exam and I am due to re-take the CCIE RS Written again and it will renew several of my lower-level certifications at the same time.


I have to admit that I get books and perform book reviews for Cisco Press so I may sideline publicly to demonstrate some labs or concepts I find interesting along the way.



As of now:


1. I stacked some 4500/4700 routers.


2. I started reading the old Chesapeake class on BGP from the 1990's.


After I complete my refresher reading, I'll take on the labs included in this course. OSPF is the

next course from the same training course of the period and I'll be working on it next.


Sounds old but I like them and they work for me.



Anyone intersted is welcome to follow along.


I'll probably use Visio and Adobe PDF's to illustrate the lab scenarios I am working on for a more visual representation of my work.


Expect a lot of output from the Routers in each lab. Might be boring to some people. Maybe not to everyone.



This is all just to warm up for more things to come.

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GNS3 + Breakout switch + 4 c3560 switches will do; This is the best energy-efficient and low cost method I would recommend for CCIE R&S.


Solid PC with one NIC and able to run 7-8 3725 routers is needed.

C3560s are around $200; Breakout switch can be c3560 or c3750 (better), c3550 will do according to some guys.


Research Breakout switch on the Net.

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For CCIE Lab exam, I think you should use real switches (3550 & 3560), routers can be simulated using GNS3 (which sometimes can dump your computer); however it still works. You can also take affordable rack rentals for your study (remember to prepare everything before you take it, you don't want to waste time & money on step by step configurations).

Edited by catherinecnw

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I'm planning on using a variety of switches - 2950, 3550, 3560, 3750, 4503, and 6500 - I have them - they are what's used in the real world and I have a few more network designs to concern myself with...


WLAN CCIE - 6500 for example...


CCIE RS - 3550/3560's are great.




Never mind routers, firewalls, and infrastructure appliances, etc.


We all know it is a little more than the lab... but hey we don't get paid to just do labs.

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FYI - I'm not saying that Virtual Racks are not a god-send for most folks.


I've got the world's last super rack and so... it is what it is.


As far as studies, I'm working on the logistics at the moment:


I had to move and setup 4 desks... This is a job all by itself. Need a great place to study to produce the results I'm looking for.


Each desk will have 1-2 desktops - these are not small desks.


I've gotta look for some decent white boards. I've got the space for them.


Tonight I'm going to move 2 book shelves and of course I have to populate them.


It's no joke moving a car load of Cisco Press Books for example.


I promise some pictures as soon as I get some things decent enough.


I have to assemble 4-6 2-post racks sometime between now and Sunday if at all possible.


I have to move 3 more 2-post racks into place and 1 4-post quadra-rack - then I've got to setup the cable management - vertical and horizontal.


Lots and lots of logistics.


Virtual racks don't have to worry about this kind of stuff... Too bad.




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Back to the grindstone.


Replied to a few recent threads on this forum.


Just discussed the possibility of offering some online/remote training options for folks studying from CCNA to CCIE level topics and even load balancers.


Tonight I have to deal with logistics.


Last night I spent setting up my little office. I know people want pictures...


I'm moving gear around a bit. It's nearly 2am where I am and I am tired too. So I'm just going to unload a load of gear and move another car load and 1 book shelf back to the home and put it in the study/library.


It's not a very large room but it can house about 8-10 book shelves and have a little room for a desk for reading. I put a dresser in the room for some additional shelving space. It works for me.


Let's see... 10 book shelves with 6 shelves each... that's about 60 shelves with about 25 books per shelf or so... Maybe 1500 books... average cost of about $50.00 per book or so retail... $75k or so for books.


Not counting courseware - we pay a lot for courseware.


I needed a designated spot just for reading.


This is it.


I converted a bedroom and bathroom to make this room possible.

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Studying some UCS this evening.


- Basic Configuration - Complete

- Cisco UCS Architecture - Physical Network Architecture

- Cisco UCS Architecture - Infrastructure Virtualization

- Cisco UCS Architecture - Switching Modes of the Fabric Interconnect (End Host Mode versus Switch Mode)

- Cisco UCS Architecture - Upstream Connectivity for SAN

- Cisco UCS Architecture - Appliance Ports and NAS Direct Attach


Some of this is a re-hash from the Nexus training I attended previously.

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- Cisco UCS Architecture - Fabric Failover with Hyper-V and Bare Metal OS

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I'll post the office pics ASAP. It's little but it works for me.


I'm still working on my library and the racks at the local co-lo (what else to call it?).



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Getting the home office ready for show today.


Going to set up racks over the holidays - 3 of them just for Route/Switch, Security, SP, and CCDA/CCDP.


The WLAN and the SAN Racks involve a little more creativity but I hope to integrate then with the Voice Rack - basically set them up over a WAN connection. All of these technologies play nicely with the CCDA/CCDP Rack - Which I use for the CCIP Technologies like BGP/QoS/MPLS as well.



So the first three tracks I use a few extra routers to mock up the Securty and SP tracks and the other tracks all use the same basic infrastructure that one might expect from a well-designed network with a VoIP overlay, that needs a SAN, and has a common WLAN Distributed Network requirement.



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Weekend Goals:


1. CCIE RS Rack and Cabling

2. CCIE Security and Cabling

3. CCIE SP and Cabling

4. CCIE Voice and Cabling

5. CCDA/CCDP/CCDE Rack and Cabling

6. CCIE Wireless and Cabling


All-in-One CCIE Rack


Let's see how it can be done shall we...



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Should not call them all CCIE Racks since... I'm going to be working on older versions of labs and not the current stuff.


Gotta use what I got and it covers the skills needed for the job any way.

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Completed the layout and "bill of materials" for the CCIE RS, Voice, SP, and Security - Gonna beef it up to support a CCDA/P/E Core and then sprinkle in Wireless, NAC, Network Monitoring, Analysis, Management, and finally SAN. A decent DMZ with Load Balancing is in order and I have the gear...


Whew! I guess most of that basically spells DATA CENTER.

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Finished the MPLS Sybex Book for the old and older CCIP track - still relevant. It's an oldie but goodie and I use it to refresh quickly.


Just remember labels are assigned to routes and routes basically make up FEC.


Keel stuff.


So then I started MPLS Fundamentals by Luc De Ghein.


The first half of the book is what I'm mostly concerned with for the CCIE R&S. It's also another version of the Sybex Book in terms of content.


I like Keith Barker's MPLS Videos too.


When I complete these and two more Cisco Press book plus the Advanced MPLS Courseware I was given by a Cisco Employee in Orlando I'll consider myself back up to speed 100%.


I already passed the CCIP Cert Exam a couple of years or more ago.


I've been addin in QOS and IPv6 to my labs for more robust scenarios.


However the materials I mentioned are sufficient for the lab and troubleshooting.

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Quality of life is good. Got a fever at the moment.


Worked on three laptops today - hopeless cases. Done!


Still reading a lot of MPLS stuff.


The RS lab will likely change in 6 months from Cisco Live this year.


That gives me about 8 months to get in gear now.


If not maybe it is time to just keeping the title of Network Engineer or Architect and get paid the prevailing rates...

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Just hooked up a new DSL line tonight. Had to take a step back and then get back on track.


MPLS is the reason for the season and going for perfection.


I'm ok with it and working at getting even better.


No problems with basic setup of MPLS and verification/debugging. No problems with MPLS VPN setup, verification, and troubleshooting.


Most issues with IGP's and BGP and localized to the protocol so not much there.


I am playing with IPv6 and Multicast... and let's not forget a little QoS.

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Moving gear around to accommodate things. Tight spaces.


Looks like RS, Security, SP, and Design take the desktop.


The MPLS Backbone gets the corner.


And... VoIP/WLAN get the top of the cabinets.


All racks share a access to the Super MPLS Backbone.


Well that looks like the plan to me anyway.




Talking about a small facility to teach either a CCNA curriculum or maybe a real-life network practical experience type of operation.



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No doubt Mark.


It's a win-win this time around. I actually have to look backwards to move forward this time around.


A CCIE is a great accomplishment - no doubt.


However, in my corner of the world I'm already overkill a few times over.


Taking a step backwards for reflection from time to time is not a bad think im my humble opinion.


I have more time on my hands these days than I ever imagined before, nothing wrong with taking a moment to consider the professional training venue versus a smiple network engineer/architect/consultant role.


Besides - Trainers at Cisco Live were speaking of very healthy annualized incomes...


Either way - I still end up doing pretty much what I love doing.

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It's Saturday and I've been up late last night - to about 6:30am cleaning out the home office.


I had a lot of stuff in the way and needed to get it all cleaned up a bit and re-organized a lot.


Not gonna lie - it was a clutter.




I'm debating putting a lot of gear in the room:


19 4500/4700 Routers

3 VoIP Routers

7 VoIP Servers

3 Access Control Servers (Cisco)

12 2800 Routers (CCIE RS/SP/Security)

2 ASA 5510 Firewalls


5 Wireless LAN Controllers

(3) NAM Modules, 1 WLC Module, 1 IPS Module

Handful of Terminal Servers

8 3550 Switches (1/2 PoE)

3 EtherSwitch Modules (All PoE)

3 2500 Routers Terminal Servers

3 2500 Routers Frame Switches

3 2621 Routers BB Routers


Lots of analog and Cisco IP Phones.


As you can see... This is quite a bit of stuff or just one room...


One desk is served by quad monitors for the main system, 2 other monitors for two other workstations, and a pair of laptops.


The other desk just has a pair of monitors with two workstations, and of course 2 more laptops.


Kinda cluttered.




I'm consolidating a bit to look like this:


(1) 3640 Router: PSTN/Frame Switch/Terminal Server (BB1 Router)


NM-32A = Terminal Server

NM-8A/S = Frame Switch




(1) 2611XM Router: BB2 Router


(1) 2611XM Router: BB3 Router


(1) 2851 Router: HQ Router






(1) 3560-24-PoE Switch


(1) 2821 Router: Branch 1 Router






(1) 2821 Router: Branch 2 Router






(1) 3550-24-PoE Switch


(1) 2811 Router: Remote User (Voice)




(2) WIC-1T

(1) WIC-T1



(1) ASA 5505 Firewall


(1) 2811 Router:

(2) WIC-1T

(1) NM-IPS


(1) 2811 Router:

(2) WIC-1T


(1) 3760-24-PoE Switch


(1) 3550-24-PoE Switch


Core Switches:


(2) 3550-48 Switches


(2) 2950-48 Switches


(2) ASA 5510 Firewalls


(2) Cisco IPS (Internal/External)


(3) Cisco ACS Servers


(6) Cisco Wireless LAN Controllers


(12) Cisco APs (1131/1141/1200/1242/1250/etc.)


(2) Servers - Subscriber/Publisher


(2) Servers - UC/UCCX


(1) Server - CUCME


(1) Server - Win2K AD


(6) Workstation Laptop/PCs (Each designed as a Utility PC - 1 Per Segment)


(12) IP Phones (7941/7961(2|5)/7985) and a few 7920/1 Wireless Phones




(3) Load Balancers


(2) PIX 525 Firewalls


(4) Servers - HTTP/HTTPs/FTP/FTPs/Exchange/Kiwi/CiscoWorks/Etc.


(2) 3550-48 Switches


Each site has one Cisco PIX Firewall - This helps me to ensure I keep my skills straight for my ACLs and VPN Tunnels:


PIX 515 or PIX 520/525 Firewalls (6.3)


I also have a somewhat larger MPLS Network that serves as a conduit for the other routers as needed.


(4) P Routers (4700 Routers)

(8) PE Routers (4700 Routers)

(16) CE Routers (3620/2610/2611/2621/2650/2651/4500 Routers)

(4) Cisco 2950-48 Switches

(1) Terminal Server (NM-32A) 2611 Router


If anyone cares to notice the TS/TP Labs also have a similar amount of routers/switches in their topology.





Well that's what it sounds like right now. I'm probably going to minimize this a bit further.


After much deliberation, the only vendor that seems to be able to really put this kind of network to the test simoultaneously is either INE or IPE as far as physical topology.


I've set this gear up a few times over the years individually and combined a little here and there but I guess it makes more sense to make it more compact and efficient.



Looks like I'm digressing a bit.




A picture or a few is due if I can get it all looking halfway decent.

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Spent last night watching some MPLS Videos. You'd think by now I'd have the down bit and route tags in the bag...


I don't. I need to. I'm not leaving MPLS until I've mastered it completely.


Got 1/2 of those 4500/4700's moved over.


Gotta work on those Access/Terminal Servers and layout all of the gear, standardize on IOS, and complete the idea that I don't need a different rack for each POD for each CCIE track.


I gotta confess, I'm not really worried about each track by itself. I'm using some labs that are a track behind for CCIE SP and Security for example and some gear that is not up to date for Wireless as an example, but since 90-95% of what I need to know is covered by these tracks, I'm setting them up to keep myself in shape with various technologies anyway. I imagine my RS gear will be mostly out of date after this year too. Not plannning on any new major purchases. I have the IOU, Dynamips, Packet Tracers, etc. but I like real gear and as long as I have it.


So.... more MPLS.

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Finished NMC's MPLS Video Series.


Going over it one more time for review.


Still reading Fundamentals of MPLS by Luc de Ghein.

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Doing some CCIE SP Video training this week. Started tonight.


Went through some Cisco Networkers MPLS Troubleshooting Slides pretty quickly.


Very nice examples and small labs with a lot of kewl options to know.


Darby Weaver

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It's 6am here in my neck of the woods. I just finished buying a copy of Johnny Bass's Stupid Router Tricks for the Kindle for the PC. I have a Kindle around here somewhere too. And I have copies that I use on my iPhone. Kinda kewl.


It's the 8th one I've bought so far. I won some $200.00 in Amazon Gift Cards by doing some routing problems a couple of years ago and decided to use the credit to buy some e-books.


It's not like my book shelves are not full already a few times over.


I also spent some time checking out Paul Browning's CCNA in 60 Days site.


Back to the grindstone.



Darby Weaver

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I bought up the 8th volume so far. Let me go through them ASAP and I'll let you know ASAP


I got them for my iPhone/Kindle.


I started a concept I've visualized for a while now:


A world-class enterprise network, DMZ, WAN, Frame, ATM, MPLS, Metro, Data Center, WLAN, etc.


Looks like I'm going to charge $120.00 per year for an account for interested parties to work remotely and gain valuable experience for folks who need experience working on a Network similar to a

Fortune 100/500 class network.


It's my experiment I've envisioned for a while now.


I can't tell how many times I've spoken to folks who need an opportunity like this.


Darby Weaver

Edited by Darby Weaver

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Interesting concept, I used to teach for a company that was more about creating good engineers rather than exam passers. I was very pleasing to see someone grow because of experience rather than dumping exam content just to get a cert

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