CCIE Service Provider – Done!
Posted on July 19, 2010
At last on my third try I passed the CCIE Service Provider! It really feels like a relief 🙂
Here is a brief history of my journey to the CCIE SP…
8 September 2009 – CCIE Service Provider Drake
Nothing special here, I decided to go for the CCIE Service Provider in July so I spent 2 months working the theoretical stuff based on the usual books (Routing TCP/IP Volume 1 & Volume 2, MPLS Fundamentals from Luc De Ghein, MPLS VPN and Architectures Volume 1 & Volume 2 mainly with lots of bits and pieces online) and then took the drake exam. It’s a normal CCIE Drake I actually even found it more easy than the R&S one I got something around the 90%.
14 December 2009 – First Attempt
My first attempt for the CCIE Service Provider lab, there were no Open Ended Questions (OEQ) at the time so didn’t have to study “core knowledge” even though through my preparation for the Drake I’d expect to have enough knowledge to get through.
The lab by itself wasn’t that hard, actually it was the easier one of the 3 labs (from my point of view) I really missed a chance to pass on first go. Why did I fail? I wasn’t prepared enough, I was in a period with a heavy work load and I only spent one week studying on evenings, way not enough compared to what I had done for the R&S lab. My knowledge of MPLS VPN was limited and I clearly didn’t have enough knowledge on Multicast in SP environment.
The score report was no surprise, it really reflected my lack of knowledge in those topics.
16 April 2010 – Second Attempt
This time I was much more prepared, I took one week off to work full time just before the exam and took 2 weeks of evening work before. The new thing was the OEQs I had to work “core knowledge” as well and as the drake was far away it was like starting from 0… That was mainly my first week, I spent lots of time working on that part. I spent my second week working on “mini labs” such as the labs of Antonio Soares and more specific labs like L2VPN, PPPoE, BGP tips and tricks etc … That’s actually when I started to blog the tech articles, instead of keeping a notepad with all my findings I decided to put them online. Finally the last week before the exam I did full length labs from IE to get in the 8h rhythm.
The error I did there was to take a lab on the Friday. Friday you’re tired it’s the end of the week and I really felt it, after lunch it was REALLY hard to get back into the lab.
Why did I fail there? A few reasons I think, the first one I was tired so I felt more stressed, much more than usual. The second one I hadn’t worked BGP enough this time (send-label for example) so I spent lots of time on stupid things with CCO.
13 July 2010 – Third Attempt
I learned from my mistakes in the first and second lab attempts. I really did a hell of a work on BGP and MPLS not with full length labs but with lots of mini labs where I really took lots of time to understand the debugs and outputs.
But the biggest work I did was my mental preparation, I was not stressed at all when I went for the lab, I felt totally prepared and it really changed everything.
In terms of strategy, I first went through the OEQs, they were quite doable I think, maybe some of them were a bit tricky but if you take the time to read them properly it should be ok. For the lab by itself I started by reading the whole lab rapidly, then did the tasks that would require a reboot and went back in the book while the routers were rebooting. I read everything and started with the IP Services / Security questions (those are easy points but they can break your lab if you’re not careful, by doing them first if something goes wrong you’ll see it before the end), where possible I also did the QoS questions. Once this was done I went through the rest of the lab in the normal order. I was finished at 3pm and had until 5pm, so I went around all the routers and tested everything. I found a few mistakes there that I corrected.
In the last minutes I did a few changes, and that was stupid as I wanted to be fast I forgot things after I did those changes so I lost a couple of points. Of course I noticed that AFTER my lab… DO NOT make changes in the last 30 minutes of your lab, bad idea.
I was comfortable I had done quite well, but because of this stupid change I thought that would screw up my lab… So I went with the idea I had failed…
Took the Thalys back home and went to bed around 9pm because I didn’t feel like waiting for the results. I woke up at 4am (thirsty not to go and check the results) so I decided to give a quick check to see if the results were there…
Haha, the email is there as usual no results in the email you have to go and check (and the website was slow, imagine how patient you can be at 4am …). Finally I logged in and saw the results … PASS !!! But actually I thought I was dreaming so I just left the laptop and went back to bed. 15min later I wondered if I had seen right so I woke up again went back to check and there I really shouted my joy 😀
The end …
Finally this is the end of my certification track (for the CCIE at least), 2 CCIE are enough and I won’t be going for a third one it’s not useful and it’s too much work. I still have to post one or two tech articles on the CCIE prep and that will be the end. I’ll of course continue blogging on network / IT stuff and business! 🙂