CCIE journey update part 6

June 7, 2019, was the date I chose for my second attempt at the CCIE lab.

My first attempt at the lab was April 12, 2019. It took me about a week to decide on when my next attempt was going to be. I reflected on my first attempt and came out learning several vital things.

1. I did a poor job confirming what pre-configurations there may have been in the configuration section.

For example, there could have been BGP configurations already preconfigured in my topology. I should have checked, reviewed what was there, and worked off of what was there

2. I linearly configured the topology.

My tracking strategy was vital, though I set a trap for myself. When working through the configuration section, each task I configured one after the other. What I mean by this is, if I started and complete section 1.0, my next part was 2.0. Configuring my topology in this manner set me up for failer. I needed a more strategic way to configure.

3. I worried too much.

Each completion of a section I worried that it was wrong. Even if I knew it was a surefire answer, I still worried I got it wrong. It’s like sitting for a math test where you are allowed to use your calculator, and you perform 3×3 on the calculator to triple-check that your brain knew how to multiply.

I purposely committed to a follow-up testing date that allowed me to maintain momentum but still able to work on my shortfalls.

At this point, I knew what I needed to do and got tactical about it. I put another 100 + hours into my studies before sitting on June 7. I got faster at configuring my full-scale labs by grouping configuration together. An example of this is if my lab called for a mpBGP core with OSPF as the IGP. I set up both protocols before moving to another task. That sounds simple, but it took practice to read ahead and recognize that there was a requirement for both. I started to do this “grouping” for everything I was asked to configure.

My studies stopped two days before taking off for my second trip to Richardson, Texas. I took down my business card from the cork wall at the gym and was bringing my good luck charm, my wife.

Test day

I was a lot less nervous this time around. My wife dropped me off at Cisco building 5, and it was game on.

I checked in with the receptionist and chose my lunch, knowing that I wasn’t planning on eating it. I was the first to enter the testing room, where I got assigned the lab station one to the left of where I sat on my first attempt. I waited anxiously for the other candidates to take their seats at their assigned lab stations.

It’s go time! I executed the same strategy for Tshoot as it had worked for me the first time around. After two hours, I tallied up my points and was undetermined if I had enough to move on. I had one ticket that could have gone both ways based on the restrictions outlined in the scenario and what my results were. I ultimately decided to move on because I didn’t have any more to give that section and didn’t want to eat up valuable time in the configuration section.

The Diag section was a bit more complicated than my first attempt. I ended with five minutes to spare and took my chance to use the bathroom.

I hit “phase 3,” the configuration section. I reviewed the entire test. This time around, I decided not to draw an L2 diagram. Instead, I relied solely on CDP, the topologies provided, and I double-checked my work before moving on from the L1/L2 section.

Lunch came quick, and I had completed L1/L2 connectivity, achieved same subnet reachability, I had started on some L3 in the core of my network and picked away at some low hanging fruit. I was feeling good. I saved my configurations before getting up and had left for lunch with knowing what I wanted to come back to next.

I took a couple of sips of my soft drink (Sprite) and waited for the others to finish their lunch. I would recommend getting something with some sugar in it at your lunch as this helped get me through the afternoon.

I came back to configuring my topology, where I faced some real challenges. I took them in stride and broke them down fairly quickly.

It was around 3 PM that I finished my last configuration task. I used the remainder of my time reviewing everything line-by-line. I found around ten points that I would have missed if I hadn’t had the time to review. I saved the running configuration on each device and left their terminal screens at the default prompt.

I left the testing center, knowing that I had a chance at passing. I shared my day with my wife over dinner and expected that I would know my results by the next morning. Saturday morning came and went, and I had no results. I woke Sunday to no results. Sunday night into Monday morning, I lied awake with anticipation of my test results.

Monday at 2:32 AM, I receive my email. I logged in to see that I had passed! I was awarded a CCIE #62183. I woke up my wife to share with her the news. She was more excited than I was!

There are a couple of things I wish I had done differently after reflecting on it.

  1. The EVE-NG platform looks to be more robust than GNS3. I wish I had invested some time to understand the platform.
  2. I shouldn’t have put so much emphasis on passing my first attempt.
  3. I started to read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. I read the first 50 pages which helped but I wish I had finished during my studies.

What’s next?

I will focus on my family and work for some time. I will be getting into cloud networking and computing. Also, I might consider going back to school to round out my education.

Thank you everyone for your support!

Mike

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