Monday, June 29, 2009

R&S study started today..

After 2 weeks break, i needa get up and start study already. I'm starting with light reading on BCMSN book. I will finish up this one and summarize with CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide, Part 1, Switching.. Still haven't decided a study plan and will work out on that this week.. Btw, my friend Sai did his lab exam today. Good luck for him..

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Idle days...

I didn't do anything for a few days in now still in idle mode.. (I think i really need a break).Except from watching Transformer 2 midnight show(it was really cool and worth it.. 2 and a half hour)... Anyway, i am thinking of starting with CCNP BCMSN book...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One week after the lab... The Hunt for my second CCIE

I had been on break for one week already (literately didn't do anything much even at work.. lol ). Anyway, i have decided to go for R&S as my next target. The reason is simple. Even though SP covers a lot of BGP, MPLS and VPN technologies, it only has basic switching, IGP and some IOS features. It feels like reading a incomplete chapter in a best seller novel.. I believe if you do R&S first, you'll feel better, because you just don't know much about VPNs.

How would you feel if you are a CCIE, but, not proficient enough in switching, IGP routing? Don't know details about IPv6 and not sure of how some of the IOS features works? I am sure it doesn't feel good and so do i.

Actually and initially, i was planning to go for R&S first. But, my good friend Sai convinced me to go for SP first with him. I was like, ok, i am working in an ISP, i will have a study mate (which i realized really good to have one) if i go for SP and SP also covers more that 50% of R&S topics. So, what the hack.. let''s do SP. That was how i became a SP candidate.. Pretty lame, isn't it?

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I am now very confusing about if i should go for CCIE R&S or JNCIE as my next target. Please feel free to put in some comments for suggestion.

Things That Pushed me Up To Become a CCIE SP (Labbing)

I was reading all the way up for months until last year November and just started labbing up in December. The method that i used was to follow the arrangement of IPX Vol 1 Technologies Focused Labs. For example, it started with Frame Relay. I read about frame relay about a few days and did the lab 1. Then i read about ATM for a few days and did the lab 2. and it keeps going on until Lab25 where it had covered most of the technologies. I recommended everyone to use IPX Vol 1 workbook for the SP starters. The proctor guide provides not only the solution, but also detail explainations. I used only Dynamips for Vol 1 labs since i do not need to build up a large topology.

I would say i was very lucky to won a give away from IPX duirng Christmas. I won 25 lab sessions and a workbook from Proctorlabs. Thanks Wayne for that. I wish he could do this every now and then. :) After technologies focused labs, i started to do full scale labs from Vol 2. Vol 2 labs were very hard for me at that time so, i switched to proctorlabs workbook after 2 labs. Proctorlabs workbook's labs are usually small secenerio and suitable for those who has finished technologies focused labs.

Then i started to do some labs from IPX Vol 3 and INE Vol 2 from easier to the harder one. It's easy to do that on INE labs since they have difficulty rating but the IPX labs are not. Anyway, i managed to finish all the labs by the end of april and could re-do 12 of the most difficulty among them. It was when i started to write this blog. By the way, i used online racks from Both IPX and INE, except for IPX Vol1. The workbooks that i used were

How much time did i use to complete all these labs and re-do some of the labs? I used 42 session on IPExpert labs 30 session on INE labs which could add up to about 500 hours in total..

So, is the reading more importand or the labbing? My theory is that, there is no rule for that. Read until you fully understand the technology and lab up until you know how to configure them even if you are waken up at the middle of the night. As i say, the more you read, and the better you understand how router thinks and works, the better you are in the lab. But, some of the things can be only seen and experienced when you do the labs. So, all we need is to balanced between reading and labbing.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Things That Pushed me Up To Become a CCIE SP (Theory)

How did i get here? Well, i have gone through what every CCIE candidate had. Tons of pages, a lot of lab scenario, hours on DOC CD. I spent a lot of times on reading for my preparation. Let me share some of the resources for different sections in the blueprint.

Bridging and Switching
Cisco Frame Relay Solution Guide
CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide, Third Edition
IPExpert R&S Video on Demand (Frame Relay)
Internetworking Technologies Handbook, 4th Edition
Guide to ATM Technology
Free vLecture from IPExpert
CCNP BCMSN Official Exam Certification Guide, 4th Edition
CCNP BCMSN Student Guide

IGP Routing
Routing TCP/IP, Volume I, 2/e
Routing TCP/IP, Volume II
IPExpert R&S Video on Demand (OSPF)
CCNP BSCI Official Exam Certification Guide, 4th Edition
CCNP BSCI Student Guide

EGP Routing
CCIP - Configuring BGP on Cisco Routers, Student Guide (This is the best reference for BGP i have seen so far)

Routing TCP/IP, Volume II
Interdomain Multicast Solutions Guide

MPLS Configuration on Cisco IOS Software
Traffic Engineering with MPLS
CCIP - Implementing Cisco MPLS, Student Guide

MPLS Configuration on Cisco IOS Software
MPLS and VPN Architectures
MPLS and VPN Architectures, Volume II
Layer 2 VPN Architectures

SP QoS and Security
Cisco QOS Exam Certification Guide (IP Telephony Self-Study), 2nd Edition
CCNP ISCW Official Exam Certification Guide

High Availability
CCNP BCMSN Official Exam Certification Guide, 4th Edition
CCNP BCMSN Student Guide

Routing TCP/IP, Volume II

DOC CD is best resource for all the sections especially for PPPoE, ISIS and Management. I always refer to IOS 12.4T which i believe has the most stuff for SP. I would also advice you to read the IOS Features and White Papers whenever you have time. You can find some the the IOS Features and White Papers which i thought related to SP and had extracted out in my blog too.

I read most of the above books more than one time (my memory is not good enough to remember all at once, who can?). Perhaps, i read some of them like 4 or 5 times. I every time had this feeling that why didn't i see this fact in the first place when i read it for second time, and third time and so on. My advice is, the more you read, the more you'll learn.

My theory is that one won't get so far in CCIE pursuit only with lab practices. Even though i have pass the written exam, theory is still as important as lab practices and i read whenever i have time. The better you understand how router thinks and work, the better you are in the lab.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Day That I Became a CCIE

I tried to get Internet access in the Chennai airport to check my mail to see if i have received any mail from Cisco for my result. But, i couldn't find one. The plane took off at 1:15 and it took around 4 hours to reach back to Singapore. I tried to sleep on the plane but, i could only sleep for a few minutes on and off. I was so tired and didn't even happened to think about my outcome.

I reached to Singapore Changi Airport a little bit after 8am and i open my mail through mobile immediately after the flight was landed. I saw there was one familiar mail from Cisco saying that my score report is ready. Then, i started to have temptation to know my result ASAP. So, I rush into the terminal and looked for an Internet access point before i pass the immigration. I found one. I logged into my CCO account, fill up info for CCIE online login.. I wished myself good luck and press Login.. Once it went to the next page the first thing i see was "#" sign and a number. and i knew myself that i have made it through and bacame a CCIE.

The Lab Day...

I woke up at 6:30 in the morning, took shower, had breakfast at hotel and got on to the car the hotel arranged for me at 7:30.. Cisco lab is inside Cessna Business Park, where a lot of MNCs are located. The security measure are quite serious at this time in India. There was even dogs (i think K9) to search all the cars coming to that area.. I registered my name in the guest book at the entrance and i noteced there were 3 more candidates before me.

I walked into the lobby area and noticed that there were 3 indian guys sitting quitely on sofas. I didn't join them in the first place and after a while, i decided to join them and break the code of silence. I introduced myself and ask whether they're there for ccie lab (of course i knew why they were there). Then we started to talk about stuffs not only about the exam, but also about india job market and employers expections for CCIE holder since 2 of the guys were not currently not working.

All 4 of us were not CCIE holders and going for first track. One guy is doing Security and the other 2 were for R&S. After a while, the proctor came in and escoted us to the lab. He briefed us about the exam rules and explain what we can do and what we can't. I don't know if the proctors are sick tired of doing this every day but, it's their job, isn't it?

We all started our labs at 9am.. I won't be writing anything technical about the exam due to NDA My strategy is to read and complete section by section, i usually don't read the whole lab since it may make me nervous if i found out something that i dont' know, in the later sections. So, just read the whole section and complete it first and continue to next one. This strategy works well for SP track since SP networks are like orge (scott morris says so). They are made in layers, Layer2, IGP, mpls, mpls-te, VPN, etc. You must make sure the underlying technology is completed before you can continue to next secion.

I manged to finish a lot of sections before lunch and i felt pretty good about that compared to the last time. Lunch was arloo(potato) prata and it tasted pretty good. But, i dont know why, i couldn't finish it even though i was hungry since 1 hour ago. Maybe, because the exam stress. After lunch i got back onto my rack in finish off the remaining tasks. Since i managed to finish the labs early, i could do the verification several times. I did about 3 times for every tasks and found out 3 mistakes out of it. I'm glad i could do that.

I came out from the lab room about 30 minutes earlier and waited for my pick up from hotel. After a while, all the other guys came out. Security guy said he did well. One R&S guy said not so bad but the other guys said too hard for him. We wish each other good luck and they went back but, i was still waiting for my pick up. The car showed up around 6pm and i was already hungry at that time since i didn't eat well at lunch. The drive to airport relly took around 2 hours since it was monday and traffis is terrible.

I reached to Bangalore airport around 8 pm and i couldn't find my flight on the schedule. So, i go and check with my airline which is JetAirways and they said they flight was cancled but, they put me on to KingFisher flight to Chennai i need to take my flight back to Singapore. I had a burger and a coke and got onto flight. I reached to Chennai around 10 pm. I wondered around in the airport with nothing to do for like 3 hours which is really suck. So, i suggest anyone going to Bangalore for lab to take direct flights.

The Day before the Lab Day...

I woke up quite late, around 10 am due to tiredness. I took my breakfast at hotel and went out to check where the Cisco building is. I got on to a auto-rickshaw and show the driver the address. He doesn't speak english but, he still could understand what i meant. Just after a few minutes drive, i could see the Cisco building from outside of the compound which is guarded by high security. So, i didn't try to go and and check since i didn't have any business with Cisco on that day yet. I headed back to hotel with the same auto, had my lunch and took a rest.

I didn't do much study not because i am very confident of myself but because i really didn't know what to study on last minute. So, i was just basically relaxing the whole day playing with my facebook, chatting with my friends. LOL. Only happened to read some stuffs from DOC CD. My dinner was chicken curry with rice and some "Nan". I was being really cautious about food intake over there since they use a lot of spices and chilli. I don't want to have any stomach problem during my lab. I went to bed around 10 pm that night since i needed to wake up at 6:30, taking hotel transport to cisco lab at 7:30 and be there on time.

1 Day to Go Again... (Update)

I reached to Bangalore around 4pm and there was a guy from my hotel waiting for me with my name on a paper.. I was being told by one of my friends that traffic jam in Bangalore is horrible, but suprisingly i didn't see any heavy traffic one the way to hotel. I asked the driver and he said it was because of weekend, when bus services are off and less business cars on the road. Bangalore International airport is pretty further off the city and about 50km drive from Cisco office. It can take up to 45 min on weekend, 2 hours or more on weekdays.

The hotel that i stayed was "The Belair Hotel". It is in between airport and cisco lab location, which is only about 3km far away from Cisco Lab. I really enjoyed staying that and food is really nice too. Rates are charged reasonably and they can arrange everything for you. They picked me up at airport. I asked them to  arrange drop off at Cisco office on lab day and pick up after the lab and send me straight to airport because i was taking the 10pm flight after the lab. If you happened to stay at that hotel, just ask for a guy named "Murali". He now, really knows how to arrange for CCIE candidates.

View Larger Map

Hotel is "A" in the map is Cisco lab is on bottom left corner.

They have a really great Wi-Fi connection which cost only 7$ a day.. I made a few call through Internet and zoom into bed straight after dinner because i was so tired being on the plane for several hours.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

1 Day to Go Again...

Successfully done IPX Vol 2 Lab 2 and 4 this week and done reading all the reaming labs that i have..I will be flying to Bangalore in the morning. By the way, i couldn't find any blog post or forum which provide information about Bangalore Lab (airport, hotel, transport, etc..) I will write a post about it when i get back.

Monday, June 8, 2009

7 Days to Go... Again

Well, everything went well as planned. I managed to finish 2 Labs from Vol 3 and 1 from Vol 2 of IPX. I'd just remembered that IPX Vol 3 Lab 4 has some L2VPN technologies. I did that lab more than 3 months ago and almost forget it was there. LOL. All i remember abt L2 VPN was from VOL 1. 7 days left for me, i'm choosing one lab from IPX VOl 2 to do before i go and think i can finish reading all the remaining labs before i fly off.

One more thing, if you haven't noticed yet, there is No More Seat for SP in HK and China.

Friday, June 5, 2009

9 Days to Go Again...

Everything is set.. ready to fly to India at the end of next week... But, nothing much has done this week due to work schedule and some other matters. I could only managed to read through 4 INE labs and some theory topics. Anyway, I plan to finish labbing up 2 Labs from Vol 3 and 1 Lab from Vol 2 of IPX this weekend. Hope it will be a useful weekend.

Monday, June 1, 2009

13 Days to Go Again...

Time is running out really fast and i couldn't do much labbing due to availability of ATM racks from IPexpert and not being able to take leave from work. I still have quite a few sessions left to be used, but, they really need to put in one or two additional ATM racks for SP track. Anyway, i managed to finish 2 labs from IPX Vol 3 and some labs from Vol 1 which is not so bad. I will just consider it as a practice not to forget how to type commands.. LOL..

I have been reading some books these days, mainly, Routing TCP/IP VOl 2, MPLS and VPN Architectures Vol 2 adn Cisco QOS Exam Certification Guide. I have also done labbing up Proctorlabs Workbook, 5 Labs (YES, they have their own workbook) and 4 labs from INE Vol 2 neither on dynamips topology nor real rack but in my mind and notepad. Some of the QOS, Security, IOS management and services topics i just created one router in dynamips and throw in all the commands.

Anyway, i could manage to get 1 ATM session on next weekend & 1 on Friday next week and planning to do IPX Vol 2, Lab 4 and 5 for those sessions. Other than that i still have 2 more normal SP rack booked so, i hope i could finish up 2 more labs from Vol 3 and some from Vol 1 as well. I won't be labbing up any INE labs on racks this time.