Category Archives: Announcement

Onto the next one…

Yesterday I passed the CCNA-W exam. Now onto the next partner certification I need to do before summer.

Its calledΒ 500-452 ENCWE – Enterprise Networks Core and WAN Essentials and a large part of it involves iWAN, which im not too familiar with.

To that effect I have ordered the official Cisco Press iWAN book and downloaded all the presentations I could find on iWAN from CiscoLive365. That should keep me busy for the foreseeable future πŸ™‚

I will hopefully be doing some labs on iWAN and will post any findings I have here. It should be fun!

Im still debating whether or not I will goto CLUS this year. Whats really pulling me over there is the people I rarely get to meet. I need to make up my mind soon though.

Take care!

/Kim

CCDE – A different Journey

Wednesday the 22nd of February, in a testing center in the middle of London, my journey towards achieving the CCDE certification, finally ended in me passing this beast of an exam.

This learning journey was a very different one than either of my CCIE’s. Whereas going for the CCIE meant spending countless hours at the command-line, the CCDE meant spending all of those hours reading and discussing use cases for technologies. It also meant stepping my toes into the business side, picking up the “Why?” behind selecting a specific technology.

It all started a few years ago when my friend Daniel (lostintransit.se) and I started going back and forth on how to approach this thing. We decided we should team up and share notes, discuss technologies and generally use each other as a sparring partner.

At that point I had already decided, that this was going to be a marathon for me, because I could at the time, not allocate as much time each day for study, as I had been for the CCIE’s. Fast forward a good amount of time and I had finally passed the written part of the exam and was ready to really focus on the practical aspect.

Anyone reading the CCDE Practical blueprint basically come to the same conclussion in that it involves every technology under the sun and then some. This in turn made us start a small study group using Slack, with only 4 members to begin with. This was the turning point for me as we had discussions around scenarios and use cases. It helped tremendously that we all come from different backgrounds and industries as well as diverse geographies.

I attended Jeremy Filiben’s CCDE bootcamp in Orlando in April 2016 (http://www.jeremyfilliben.com), which was a great experience. Jeremy is a very good teacher and his scenarios are top notch. Going over them really makes you think in a completely different way than fx. the CCIE track(s). As an implementation engineer, you tend to think in a certain way which is not doing you any good in a design context.

Early on, I also purchased access to an All Access Pass from INE in order to gain access to their CCDE training material. Unfortunally it has not been updated since and they have no plan to πŸ™

I also used the Self-Paced material from Orhan Ergun, especially the Quizzes was of help to me. (orhanergun.net).

I had my first attempt at the practical in late summer 2016 and I did fairly well, but it certainly opened my eyes to what i had gotten myself into. At the same time I had the fortune of meeting up with some of the Slack study group members which was an added bonus! (Thanks Andre for introducing me to a proper beer πŸ™‚ )…

At this point I had some real life stuff to attend to (we purchased a house with all that entails). So I was unable to commit to the November testing date. However a good number of people from our study group passed which really motivated me to get on with my studies. So ever since late November I have been doing 3-4 hours of study each week day and 5-6 hours each day during the weekend.

The last month and a half before the exam i focused on doing practice scenarios and watching recordings made from our study group discussing designs. I can also highly recommend watching the new Safari Livelessons on QoS and Large Scale Network Designs. If time is of the essence to you, do some speed-viewing which is what i did as well.

I left for London on the day before the exam and checked into my hotel, which is only a 10 minute walk from the testing center. I had already mentally prepared on what to do on the day itself, so basically the day before was the last day to recharge my “batteries” and try and find some focus. I spent an hour or so going over my notes, especially the QoS and IPv6 parts, then went for dinner. I went to bed early as planned.

On the day I woke up very early, which is not unusual for me in any way, so I basically followed what I had mentally prepared for myself which was to take a long and hot shower, get a decent breakfast (hard part for me as i dont normally have breakfast) and then back to the room to collect my things (Exam registration, wallet and passport (You need two forms of ID)). I left the hotel at 7:20’ish and took the short walk to the testing center. Since I was early i waited outside for a bit waiting for the other guy from our study group to show up to say Hi before the exam, but he was running a bit late, so I finally decided that I had to get started and went inside.

Since the exam is under heavy NDA like any other Cisco exam, I wont get into any details regarding the experience, except to say that at no point in the exam did i feel really comfortable about passing it, quite the contrary in fact. However I knew this is a feeling most candidates experience during the CCDE, so I just decided to press on and do my very best.

At lunch I took the advice of several people and had a bite to eat (even though i still didnt feel like eating) and some water and used close to the full hour of lunch available. It being London and all, there are several good places for lunch very close by to the testing center, so you dont need to go very far at all.
The afternoon went by and I finally clicked the End Exam button and instantly my mood picked up. I had passed!! I honestly didnt know what to do with myself at this point πŸ™‚

I had a brisk walk back to the hotel where i could finally put my “guard” down and smile a bit!
I called my better half and told her the good news and she was even more estatic than I was.

So what sort of advice can I give to others?

Read, Watch Sessions (Cisco Live, Safari, Nanog etc.), constantly asking “Why?” to everything. Learn to read through documents and pick up on Business requirements and details that will pertain to certain design choices. Read some more.

If you are like me and you are easily distracted during your studies, I can highly recommend using the “Pomodoro”-method (Look it up), which is essentially 25 minute slots of focus on your studies and then a short break. It gives you a scope of focus and helps keep you on track. On top of that I mark down everything i do, study wise, into my calendar so I can look back at it and get a good “feel” for how much time i spend on it. It helps to give you a boost when you feel that you havent put enough effort into it.

If you want some recommendation on which book(s) to read, here’s a subset of the books I’ve read:

1) Definitive MPLS Network Designs.
2) CCDE Study Guide.
3) Optimal Routing Design.
4) End-To-End QoS.

These are by far the most important ones, but by no means the only ones you want to read through. You have to assess which technologies you need to learn (more) about and then pick the right material for those cases. The books above are very good for general theory but especially Definitive MPLS Network Designs is good for putting all the relevant pieces into 4 distinct use cases.

Some of the Cisco Live sessions i went through includes:

– Scaling BGP (BRKRST-3321)
– Wan and Remote-Site Deployment using CVDs (BRKRST-2040)
– Highly available Wide Area Network Design (BRKRST-2042)
– WAN Architectures and Design Principles (BRKRST-2041)
– Layer 3 Network Virtualization Design Concepts over the WAN (BRKRST-2045)
– Deploying a virtualized campus network infrastructure (BRKCRS-2033)
– Best practices to deploy HA in SP edge and aggregation architectures (BRKSPG-2402)
– Advanced enterprise campus design: routed access (BRKCRS-3036)
– Deploying BGP Fast Convergence / BGP PIC (BRKIPM-2265)
– The QoS Paradigm Shift (BRKRST-2056)
– Deploying OSPF in modern networks (BRKRST-2337)
– ISIS Deployment in modern networks (BRKRST-2338)
– IPv6 Transition Technologies (BRKSPG-2067)
– Choosing the right VPN technology for your network (BRKSEC-1050)
– Firewall architectures in the Data Centre (BRKSEC-2021)
– MAP-E/MAP-T IPv6 transitioning (BRKSPG-2606)

There are a bunch of others and I recommend you search for “Design” and “Use Case” on CiscoLive365.com (It really is an awesome resource for learning).

The last piece of advice I can give, is to join a study group, or if you are more inclined, create one yourself along with some of your friends who are serious about the CCDE as well.
Have discussions revolving around technologies and have even more discussion on scenarios and use cases for those technologies. It really is quite important to expand your horizont in order to be successful in this exam.

If you would like, at certain times we have openings in our study group (which counts 60+ people at the time of writing, including several well known others and vendors), so get in touch if thats your preference.

With that said, I would like to thank you for reading through this post. Its been a fun learning experience all the way through my CCDE – Journey!

/Kim (CCDE #20170021)

New practice lab(s) available…

In case you are serious about going for the CCDE certification, I highly recommend you check out my friend Martin Duggan’s new lab(s) on Leanpub. His writing style is very good and its easy to follow along and i look forward to hitting this lab myself.

So go ahead and pay the man and get an additional CCDE lab for your studies. Take care!

https://leanpub.com/ccdepracticalstudies-practicelab1

 

Cisco Live US! 2016

I am fortunate enough, to be able to goto Cisco Live US! again this year.
Last year was such an experience, that my hopes are really high for this year as well.

I will be arriving on Friday the 8th and leaving on the 15th. Not a long stay this time, but it was what my boss could arrange for.
Again this year I will be bringing my better half, so she can experience the city and hopefully we’ll get a few hours of sightseeing in between commitments.

One of the things that im really looking forward to, is meeting up with friends and peers. This year is a bonus for me, as I get to say Congratulations to my friend Daniel (lostintransit.se) in person and not just on the phone, on passing the CCDE practical exam!

Also, a first for me, will be meeting up with Darren (mellowd.co.uk). We have been talking for a long time on twitter, mail and webex and im really looking forward to meeting him in person.

When we get closer to the event, I will be posting my Cisco Live! schedule here.

If you happen to be around the Las Vegas area, or even at Cisco Live!, drop me a line and maybe we can meet up!

See you there!

Passed the CCDE written. Now what?

I was fortunate enough to finally pass the CCDE written exam yesterday morning.

That begs the question of “Now What?”

Well, I will spend a couple of days putting together a study strategy, based on where I am now compared to where I need to be in order to pass the exam. As it looks now, I am probably going for a fall 2016 exam date. That gives me enough time to settle into a new job with everything that entails.

It also means that I will need to spend 2-3 hours of study per day (some weekends more than that), with a combination of watching Cisco Live 365 videos and reading CVD’s/Books.

On top of that, my good friend Daniel Dib and I, along with hopefully a few others will have some design discussions using Webex. We have been told its really important to iron out different design ideas with other people. Especially if we can get a group together with people from different areas of expertise (Datacenter, Service Provider, Enterprise etc.).

Alas, an update to this story will come shortly! πŸ™‚

Take care!

Time for change

Its time for a change!

It was a tough decision, but i’ve decided that I need some new challenges in my professional life. To that effect, i’ve quit my old job and joined a different VAR/SP where I will be working in a skilled team of network engineers.

My duties will include maintaining and expanding a growing MPLS network, with all the services one can build on top of such a beast. Along with that, I will be attached to large enterprise customers, helping with design and implementation.

The new job is very supportive of my effort to go after the elusive CCDE certification, which was a big part of my decision as well, so expect more updates in that direction!

I’ve had some great years with awesome coworkers, but I have great confidence in the coming years as well!

Finally, a big thanks to my family and friends for supporting me through this decision process!

/Kim

Stay tuned for important news in December!!

I’ve got some important news which I will reveal in the beginning of December!

So stay tuned πŸ™‚

 

My first Cisco Live!

Even thoughΒ im still in San Diego, Cisco Live! US 2015 is but a memory.

But what a memory it is! It being my first time attending a Cisco Live conference, I didn’t really know what to expect.

What I was met with, was a conference full of really sharp and nice people. The conference staff was very helpful and polite and really made an impression on me, from the time I first stepped onto the pavement outside San Diego convention center.

We (I brought my better half to the US) arrived very late on saturday, so after a good nights sleep I took the bus to the convention center to register and pick up the first piece of swag, the famous Cisco Live bag.

One of the great benefits of attending the conference was meeting with my good friend Daniel Dib (from lostintransit.se). I hadn’t seen him since January, so it was really cool to meet up with him during the week.

On Monday Daniel and I attended a session together, but most other sessions I went to alone. For the record, I paid for this trip out of my own pocket, so I didn’t have any co-workers or anything to tag along.

Tuesday was also spent in sessions, but in the evening there was the famous CCIE party, where my +1 was a friend of Daniel. Rihkka, a network engineer from Finland. She’s also in the VIP program along with Daniel. It was very nice meeting her. Also met with people from back home for morning coffee (which was actually Iced Coffee since it was fairly hot outside).

Wednesday I gave the CCDE written a shot, but unfortunately didn’t pass. Its a really weird exam if you ask me. Its supposed to be a technology design exam, but, I dont know. It just irks me somehow. Also, I had the good fortune of having a talk with Jeremy Filliben (http://www.jeremyfilliben.com), a renowned CCDE trainer. He gave some good advice along with information about his upcoming CCDE training programs. Very nice guy indeed. Since I lost track of Daniel for lunch, I was fortunate enough to run into Rihkka again. So we had lunch together where she could explain a bit more about Finland to me πŸ™‚

Thursday, things slowed down a bit. I decided to cancel some sessions to get time to meet up with folks. During this day I also had a chance to meet with some folks from the Cisco Champion program, which was very good. Unfortunately a private QoS session for Cisco Champions was cancelled, which I was pretty bummed about. It would have been pretty awesome to meet Tim Szigeti. The QoS guy πŸ™‚

Finally I said my goodbye’s to Daniel and headed back to the hotel. My first Cisco Live conference under my belt!

Would I recommend this as a good value for a network engineer? Absolutely!! the inspiration from the breakout sessions alone would be enough to justify it, but the social aspect of it all is what really makes the point!

I will do my very best to come back next year!

Cisco Live US 2015 – Session Schedule

This is my current schedule for the Cisco Live US 2015 event.

Most are related to my CCDE studies and a few are with technologies and products that im interested in in general.

Monday:
08:00 – 09:30 BRKSAN-2101 FCoE for small and mid size enterprises.
10:00 – 12:00 BRKCRS-2031 Enterprise Campus Design: Multilayer Architectures and Design Principles
13:00 – 15:00 BRKARC-2001 Cisco ASR1000 Series routers: System and Solution Architectures
15:30 – 17:00 GENKEY-1001 Cisco Vision Keynote

Tuesday:
08:00 – 09:30 BRKRST-2124 Introduction to Segment Routing
13:00 – 15:00 BRKSPG-2210 Designing Service Provider Access Networks
15:30 – 17:00 BRKDCT-2049 Overlay Transport Virtualization

Wednesday:
09:00 – 12:00 CCDE Written Exam
13:00 – 15:00 BRKRST-3363 Routed Fast Convergence
15:30 – 17:00 BRKRST-2338 ISIS Deployment in Modern Networks

Thursday:
08:00 – 09:30 BRKMPL-2333 E-VPN & PBB-EVPN: the Next Generation of MPLS-based L2VPN
10:00 – 12:00 BRKRST-2311 IPv6 Planning, Deployment and Troubleshooting
13:00 – 14:30 BRKRST-2044 Enterprise Multihomed Internet Edge Architectures
15:00 – 16:00 GENKEY-1004 Guest Closing Keynote: Mike Rowe

Cant wait πŸ™‚

Cisco Live US – 2015

I will be attending this year’s Cisco Live US in San Diego!

This is my first Cisco Live, so I dont really know what to expect. There are alot of great sessions that I want to attend (if they are not already full), and I will be posting my week here when i have my sessions down.

If you want to connect for a coffee or a chat, feel free to drop me a mail/tweet, and im sure we can figure something out!

See you in San Diego!