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Mind The Gap - CCNP to CCIE

7已有 19603 次阅读  2012-05-09 17:35   标签office  CCNP 
原作者:Travis

Often I see on the forum people asking a similar question – where do I start? Once people get past where to start, the questions that follow tend to be……What do I need to read, and how long will it take?  How do I study for the written, and how to then move on to the lab?  What do I use for lab prep with all of that hands on required?  This discussion will be focused on bridging the gap between where many CCNP-level candidates find themselves, and getting to the level you need to be at for the CCIE R&S.  Here is a good link to start with – the CCIE R&S home page.

It’s often quiet overwhelming for many at the beginning of this journey – and that is exactly what it is for most people – a journey.  You do not become a CCIE overnight, or in a two week boot camp.  It is a journey of dedication, practice, learning and re-learning, and pushing your limits.  Long hours spent reading and in lab time.  An average amount of time I’ve seen quoted online by various vendors and candidates, for CCIE prep, is between 750 and 1250 hours.  I will honestly say, in my own experience so far - that is a pretty accurate range. Plan accordingly!   No need to shoot for a certain number of hours, it takes as long as it takes.  Long term there are two goals here for most – get your digits – and more importantly – become a better engineer!

What many learn when they first look at the blueprints of the CCIE R&S Written exam and Lab exam, is how much of a gap really does exist between the Professional and Expert levels of certifications.  At the professional level you are certainly expected to understand a great deal of technologies, how they work, what they are used for, how to configure and troubleshoot, and how to deploy them into a network.  What I feel this certification lacks is the holistic deep knowledge of how many of these protocols interact and how the butterfly effect can wreak havoc with just a few commands.  The CCIE certification expects that knowledge of you going into the lab – without it you will likely experience disappointment!

In previous revisions of the written/lab exams, the written exam blueprint and lab exam blueprint did not match up.  In that case, preparing for the written exam was nearly a separate effort entirely from the lab.  Thankfully for us, Cisco has gone to lengths to help them align far better with revision 4.  This means that your written prep can overlap heavily with lab prep, and possibly cut down on the total preparation time frame.

I often recommend the first step on the journey for an average CCNP level individual is to create a book list for the CCIE Written exam, something that can be accomplished in 3-6 months (dependent on individual learning/reading ability).  If you can get it done in less, great, but give yourself enough time to really digest and comprehend the technologies and concepts.  This is where you are building your foundation for the rest of the CCIE effort, skimping here is not advisable! Many CCNP books cover things in detail, but you will be surprised how many details you forget when you don't use something all the time.  I recommend re-reading chapters even if you have already covered them, simply to reinforce the knowledge, but also because I am willing to bet you'll still learn something. Books that are often recommended, that I personally have found useful:

This is by no means an exhaustive list; however I believe it is a great place to start.  Everyone will need to build their own list based on their existing knowledgebase and comfort level with each topic.  You can also look at the CCIE Recommended Reading list.

Now that your list is compiled, set an approximate date that you feel comfortable with.  Deadlines are a great way to force yourself to schedule time and keep on track.  Set a goal for each book, and try to meet that goal.  Some books will go faster than others.  Never force it, but push for it.  By the end of your “study period” you’ll find yourself much more comfortable with the topics than when you began.  I recommend using GNS3/dynamips, rack rentals, or a physical home lab to lab up technologies you have trouble with during this phase – for two reasons.  Lab time often makes it easier for people to wrap their mind around complex topics where theory just doesn’t sink in until you see it work.  This will also accelerate your focused lab prep as well, obviously.  Topics that I found incredibly useful to lab up during written prep were Frame Relay with OSPF, multicast, and some security topics I had not worked with previously.

When your reading is completed, and you feel ready to take the written, I believe you should roll right into lab prep.  By rolling right into lab preparation instead of sitting the written you are making an investment. First, you are buying some insurance on the written exam.  Nobody wants to spend $350 and fail, when you know you'll be spending another $1400 down the road, at LEAST one time.  You are also tied to an 18-month window for attempting the lab once you pass your written exam.  While most people will sit back and declare - 18 months!  Everyone should get it done by then.  Well, yes, if life does not interfere.  I recommend sitting the lab when you are 80%+ ready for the lab, ideally around 3 months out from your ideal lab date.  There seem to have been ample slots for the R&S track in 2011 as I recently scheduled my first attempt and had a plethora of options between San Jose and RTP.

With lab prep, you can develop your own curriculum by creating your own labs and collecting various sources, you can use the Cisco360 program, or you can use third party vendors.  If you have all the time in the world, developing your own labs and playing with the protocols in your own way can lead to a very deep, comprehensive understanding of the technologies.  For most of us – me included  - vendor offerings are a much more time-friendly method.  It allows you to benefit from the vendor’s employees years of experience both in the industry as well as training CCIE candidates. This will not necessarily short-cut your learning either, it provides a structured material base and a path for the candidate to proceed along.  With a finite time frame in mind this can be critical in keeping you on track.

There are several methods for lab prep, and each vendor has their own advised “program”.  I am not going to try and re-invent the wheel, so I suggest you work with whatever vendor you choose to use to figure out the best plan of attack for you as an individual.  The lab prep for each person is different, but the initial goal for a CCNP-level candidate is bridging the gap to the CCIE level.  I hope this has helped in clearing up many questions and provides an idea on how to begin the journey!

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