Road to CCIE

I initially started writing this post on the 27th of Jan, soon after passing the lab. For some reason I never published. This simply sat in my drafts. Well here it is now. Almost four months later and more learned, this is my CCIE story from beginning to end.

The beginning

I started this blog on the 12th of October 2009. At the time I was a fresh CCNP going towards my CCIP and then eventually my CCIE. 17th May 2010 I had my CCIP in the bag.

I then decided to do a bit of Junos study. We had Juniper M routers in our network and I wanted to learn how to use them better. September 20th 2010 I had completed by JNCIA-EX

Once that was completed work got very busy. I was involved in a number of new network designs which I was really enjoying. I was also doing a LOT of Junos work.


January 15th 2011. Finally get the blueprint together and see what exactly I’m up against. The blueprint is huge. I know some things about various techs, but a lot of the stuff is new to me. Also start getting my physical switches together. CCIE Written is booked for March 21st 2011 and I pass. I have my lab ticket!

Home lab complete

April 22nd, 2011. My home lab is complete. I can now begin my lab studies in earnest.

This is where I go through INE’s vol 2 labs. I learn how to only ever use the DocCD when I need to find information. No more Google. I read a LOT. Loads and loads of 700+ page tomes of information. If I get stuck, I check the DocCD. If I can’t find it there I look through my books. I learn a TON during this period. This time is also very difficult. I have a full time job. I have a wife. I have a ton of things to do and I’m studying every single day after work, as well as weekends.

New position at work

October 11th 2011. I am promoted to Network Architect at work. While this is great for my experience and career, it leaves even less time for studying! The show must go on however!

First Lab Booked

November 12th 2011. I have now booked the lab for 27th April 2012. The daily labbing ritual continues.

First lab failed

I passed the TS section, failed the configuration section. I’ll spare you the sorry details and point you to my first lab experience post over here:

What next?

I was very very upset about failing. It really hurt bad. I decided to take my mind off Cisco for about a month and then reschedule for about 3-4 months down the line. However I then ran into a VISA problem as was essentially forced to stay within the UK borders for at least six months.

So what could I do? Six months is a fairly long time. I didn’t want to just learn Cisco IOS for that entire time with no hope of doing my lab exam, so I went off and did some Brocade and Juniper stuff. Managed to get my BCSPNE and JNCIP-SP as well as a few lesser certs in that time. I learnt a lot on both platforms which I believe was good for me in the long run.

During this time I was pretty much concentrating on various technologies, especially cross-platform. A lot of service provider centric stuff as well like RSVP-TE etc. While I was looking at Cisco stuff again, I wasn’t focusing that much time on it as I had before.

Second Lab Booked

Around August of 2012 I decided I may as well pre-book my lab for Feb/March of 2013. I knew I should’ve received my passport back by that time so I was confident I would not have a problem. I went through the booking process and found that between the dates of 21-25 January 2013, there was going to be a mobile lab in London! Excellent! I immediately booked the 25th of Jan and requested that week off from work. Being able to take the lab exam down the road? Sign me up please!

Pretty much no-one knew. About three people in total knew I booked this second lab. I did not want the expectant pressure from everyone this second time around. I wanted to take it easy.

My labbing schedule suddenly gets fuller than it’s ever been. I’m labbing every single day again. I’m even going into the office every Sunday and labbing for 8-10 hours. Our 24 hour NOC see me at my desk every Sunday, but don’t exactly know what’s up ;)

Passport arrives back anyway

A couple of days before Christmas my passport arrives back with my new VISA. Oh well, lab is still booked for London!

Cisco London Scope Out

I check the address well in advance and have a look at where the lab will be. It’s actually around the corner from where I work. Same station I used to get to work (Liverpool Street Station) – Right outside. I check through the window and see that Cisco is located on the 7th floor. Check the address in my email again. Same place. I know I have the right place. I know how long it’ll take me to get here on lab day.

One week before

I’ve taken the week off. I’m not really going to study, but wanted to go deep into a couple of things I was not 100% satisfied with. I also did not want any work related stuff stressing me out. Mon/Tue/Wed I’m pretty much labbing all day as usual. Thursday I take a bit of a break. I end up writing a blog post in the morning as I get bored. Then what? I didn’t know what to do. The nerves were sky high. I end up walking to a few shops and buying rubbish. I get my hair cut. It kiils the time.

Second lab day

All covered here.

Mission complete. I have the CCIE number I wanted from the beginning.

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