The Art of Network Engineering

Ep 128 - Navigating the CCIE Landscape w/help from 3 CCIEs!

September 13, 2023 A.J., Andy, Dan, Tim, and Lexie Episode 128
The Art of Network Engineering
Ep 128 - Navigating the CCIE Landscape w/help from 3 CCIEs!
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Picture yourself acing the CCIE certification exams with confidence and coming out victorious. Seems like a far-fetched dream, right? Not when you have CCIEs Erica Cooper, Tim McConaughey, and Chris Miles sharing their insider tips and strategies on navigating the tough terrain of CCIE certification. Pulling back the curtain on their own journeys, they reveal their motivations, preparation methodologies, and the value this certification has brought to their careers. Erica’s narrative especially stands out, as she shares her inspiring journey from failing the route switch exam to succeeding in the data center track.

CCIE isn't just an exam; it's a strategic marathon that requires planning, resourcing, and an unwavering commitment. Our esteemed guests shed light on the importance of having a plan, the power of study groups, and the resources that can be harnessed for CCIE preparation. We delve into the nitty-gritties of accountability in studying, choosing the right study group, and the advantages of cohort-based learning. But the CCIE journey isn't all rosy; there are challenges too. We dissect the differences between the written and lab exams, the necessity of quick problem-solving skills, and the financial burden it carries. But rest assured, we've also got you covered on how to approach your employers for sponsorship.

As we wind up, we take a creative turn and delve into future gazing. What does the future hold for CCIE certification? It's a battle of multiple-choice exams versus practical applications, and the need to demonstrate continual learning. We explore alternative validation methods like panel discussions, blog posts, and more. The goal? To keep you ahead in the game. So, tune into this enlightening episode and get a head start on your CCIE journey. Don't miss it!

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Speaker 1:

This is the Art of Network Engineering podcast. In this podcast, we explore tools, technologies and intelligent people. We enter new information that will expand your skill sense and toolbox and share the stories of fellow network engineers. Welcome to the Art of Network Engineering. I am Tim Bertino and I am the sole member of the A1 crew on this episode not because nobody else wanted to hang out with me, I think, but no, actually because we have a very special panel episode tonight. I am not alone. I am joined by three other wonderful people who happen to be CCIEs. We're going to have a little bit of a Cisco certified internet work expert panel episode. We're really going to dive into why these folks decided to go toward the CCIE, what it means to them, how do they prep for it and all different kinds of other questions I'm going to throw at them. So let's jump right into it. I have Erica Cooper, tim McConaughey and the cloud engineer from Down Under, chris Miles. So let's start this off by getting an introduction on each of you. Maybe tell me where your career is at today, what CCIE or CCIEs that you have, and why you got them. So, erica, let's start it with you. How are you? Thanks for joining.

Speaker 2:

Hi, thank you for having me. I've always wanted to be on the show, so I'm a huge fan. So now I'm actually here. So I'm, you know. Thank you for the opportunity. I appreciate it. So you know for everyone that's out there, my name is Erica Cooper. I am a senior technical leader for Cisco and I deal a lot with data center, cloud security and also enterprise SD-WAN. It's kind of coming up to speed on SD-WAN, so being forced to do that kind of going over to the dark side a little bit. So my background is data center. I've got my data center CCIE and I took it wow back in 2014. So my background is I started out route switch and then moved over into you know, enterprise route switch and then moved over into the data center world. So that's pretty much my background.

Speaker 1:

That's interesting. I you know, and I could be way off base, but it seems. Is that typical for for people to go after something that wasn't, I mean back when they had, you know, route switch and and security and enterprise or not enterprise? They have enterprise now, but data center, is it typical for for people to do one other than route switch or what's enterprise now? First, because I know people get multiple. But just just curious on that.

Speaker 2:

That's a good question. So what? I okay. So I started out. There was only, I think, three tracks. It was service provider route switch and I think the SNA something other. Denise Fishburn has it and it's.

Speaker 3:

I think it's obsolete right now, but I think it's the.

Speaker 2:

It's like the WAN version, but it's a long long time ago. So I started out with route switch. It took me about three times. I failed. It failed the exam and then on the fourth time I said okay, cisco is notorious for you know basically changing up the version. So we went from like version two to version three and I bought up all this equipment off of eBay and I was like, hey, I'm going to match my equipment with the internet working expert, ine, lab topologies. And then Cisco went from version four to five and I was like I'm not buying nothing else. And so my husband was like, well, you got all this equipment sitting in here, what do you want to do? And so I kind of, you know, stood and powdered a little bit you know, just being transparent and I said you know, I'm not giving up. And so I he said we'll look for another track. And I could not stand collaboration.

Speaker 3:

I was like no, no, shade to the collaboration folks.

Speaker 2:

Hey, I love them. You know you got to have a phone. But yeah, I just was like I'm not doing that, I'm definitely not doing service writer, I'm done with route switch, what else? And they had just come up with the, the what is it? The security track, which I was thinking about. But then also I looked at the data center, and the data center was so intriguing for me, I thought it would, you know, pretty much align with my VMware experience and background, and so I said I'm going to go for that. And so I, you know, set out for my studying and everything else. And then we, you know, we went for the exam. So it was. So it was challenging, you know, but a lot of my skill set and studying for my enterprise around switch was able to transfer over, so I didn't have to really start over from scratch, which is good.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's very good, and kind of stepping it back to further back. What was the original motivation for you to go after the CCI in the first place?

Speaker 2:

Well, another transfer moment. So I got kind of, I got kind of fed up with, I have to say, like this you know sounds very callous, but when you get your CCNA and you get your CCMP, you have to figure out how you're going to differentiate yourself with your everyone else around you. And so, just being really honest with you, some people had their CCNA, had their CCMP, and they could not just configure anything. You know, they couldn't even, you know, add a VLAN without taking down circuits. You know stuff like that. So I wanted to differentiate myself and the best thing for me at that time was getting my CCIE. And then I ran across Denise Fishburn, or I think in the IT world she's known as fish. I always call it Denise Fishburn, but you know Denise. And then there was another young lady, her name was Pat Finger. They both were women in IT and when I saw Denise's blog was the networking with fish, I was just like floored. I was like, oh my god, there's a woman out here and you know. So I just, you know, I just started figuring out what I needed to do to accomplish that and it wasn't really like like a straight path, but it was. The end goal was always to get my CCIE, so no, it's excellent.

Speaker 1:

I love, I love the transparency and really the the answer you gave really makes sense. It wasn't just a I want to become an expert in XYZ just because you had practical reasons. You wanted to set yourself apart. You had goals of you know, higher employment and moving your career forward. So that makes a lot of sense. Thank you for that intro, tim McConaughey. What's kick it over to you?

Speaker 3:

Yep, tim McConaughey, I've obviously been on a few of these shows. Now I've got my CCIE in Route Switch or I guess they converted it to enterprise infrastructure now. But yeah, I mean, when I got it, it was it was in 2018. And it was it was Route Switch, my main reason for going for the IE at the time. I mean, I was at Cisco. I was in advanced services. I was actually a contractor at the time. I was not actually working. I was working at Cisco but I wasn't a blue badge. I didn't work for Cisco at that time and I started working on my CCIE. As you know, a way to differentiate not so much differentiate myself that's not going to differentiate yourself at Cisco with a CCIE but but more like, maybe to put show a lot more effort than, you know, the average contractors. And the thing is that I'd been in the industry for, you know, a long time before that and but I 'd never felt any kind of downward pressure to work on an IE. I'd had my CCNP for for years, you know, and I was an enterprise engineer and you know before that I worked at the. I was a contract for the Navy, so there was never any real pressure to. It's like, hey, go get your CCIE. But at Cisco the pressure is there's a decent amount of pressure as this go to go to that level, especially if you want to advance, you know, at Cisco. So that's why I started doing it. You know, I kind of fell in love with the whole thing. I have, you know, found a community of other people that were studying for theirs and and I wouldn't have made it honestly, without them If I studied for myself for a while and I found that, like now, this sucks, like just studying on my own it's awful. So I was really happy to find router gods at the time, you know so Chris for examples in there, and you know a bunch of people were in there. We all studied together and, you know, as a cohort we managed to get our way through it. So that was kind of my reasoning at the time. I actually became a Cisco employee without getting my CCIE. So in the middles there, you know, I became a became a CCIE after I joined Cisco and you know they actually pay a bonus when you get your CCIE. So I got a hefty chunk of change for for doing that, which was not my primary motivation, but it was certainly nice right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's a nice perk. You timed that right. Yeah, so that's me. And what do you do now, tim?

Speaker 3:

Oh, sorry, yeah, I keep proof. So I mean I, you know, I okay, yeah, I work at. I work at AV atrix as a customer solutions architect, so I'm in the cloud now I still use routing, not so much with the switching, but it's pretty much all BGP in the cloud. So I definitely don't get the CCIE level of technology anymore, but but much more into the network design stuff, which is where I want to be anyway.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Thanks, tim and Chris Miles. Let's kick it over to you.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, it's almost, almost. I didn't want to say too much because my story is so similar to Tim. It might come off as a little boring, but yeah, so I'm currently. I'm a solutions architect, also at AV atrix, which Tim only works there because I told him to come work with us. So I'll take credit for that a little bit. But Tim, it's legit Tim's phenomenal. I brought him over because I really wanted him to come over, but nonetheless, senior solutions architect at AV atrix. So, yeah, I'm working specifically in the cloud networking space as well and I currently hold a CCIE it was RouseWitch at the time converted to enterprise infrastructure and I got that in 2019. Yeah, 2019. So about what four years ago now? And my motivation for it was, I don't know. It was like I remember when I got into networking, I was always kind of the younger guy in the group. Like at every company I was with I was, I was kind of on the younger side A lot of. I mean, don't get wrong, there were some curmudgens around, but there was also older people that were very encouraging and very helpful, which I, which I love to see, and the thing that kind of bothered me. It was like, you know, I got. I worked my way up, I got my CCAA, I got my CCMP, was working on some big projects like learning new technologies, like MPLS and things like that. But I felt like I wasn't getting a seat at the table when decisions were made and like and and things were designed, and that really bothered me. I remember, like you know, when, if I would make a suggestion how to improve something, how to, like you know, reconfigure things to be more optimized or implement a new technology, I'd offer it up and management would be like okay, well, you know, we'll run this by so and so, and if they think it's cool, then we'll do it. And I'm just I just remember like it was definitely a very young mentality at the time but I was like, why can't you trust me? Why can't you just, why can't I be the person that you, you run things through? So I kind of wanted to not not so much differentiate myself, but made me more so just prove myself, prove that I was capable of handling the challenge, prove that you know I could. I could be the, the expert at the time, that to trust with these decisions. And and it's funny because as I went through the exam, I actually learned that I did not want to be labeled an expert because I think going through the CCA process, you learn 10 times more of what you don't know than what you actually do know, right? So yeah, that's, that's kind of my trajectory and how I got there.

Speaker 1:

Well, thank you all for the introductions. I think we've got a good background to move forward here. So what I want to kind of start with is the thought around planning how, how you decided to, how you decided to study and, Tim, I'll start with you because you talked about the, the prep in studying just on your own versus studying in a group how important was it to have a plan ready for how you were going to tackle just the studying process from the beginning?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's a great question. So when I first started and I think a lot of people run into this when I first started, I was like, okay, I'm going to do this the very first thing I was like, okay, well, where the hell do I start? Right? And and at the time, this being you know, 2000, what, 16, 17, 17,. It took me, it took me nine months, so, yeah, 17. I was, you know, I, you know you, google, cci, training and stuff like that I found several, several good ones. I landed on I&E at the time, you know, as I was like, oh, cool, but you know, I couldn't. I actually couldn't afford it because it was, it was I was a contractor, right, so I was looking at it and everything. And I started like, okay, cool. So I used a lot of the free stuff and I started looking around. I was like I looked out that I was actually in a WebEx teams group. It was a WebEx teams group for I&E at the time and the WebEx teams group wasn't like moderated really. It was like, anyway, long story short, it wasn't really like I didn't get all the value out of it. So Catherine McNamara actually found me in that WebEx group. She would come there once in a while and actually recruit people that she thought were serious to go to, to router gods. That was the study group I had. That's how she got me, that's how she got you too, yeah.

Speaker 5:

I think she approached me on Twitter. She was.

Speaker 3:

I mean she's like, yep, she would just go to, she would just like go in there, find people that were serious and bring them over. And it was like the best. So short answer. When I started I didn't really have a good plan. I mean I, you know, I googled, like how to study for the CCIE. I googled, I looked at INE. I couldn't really at the time I couldn't afford it. I ended up getting it later, when I started working with Cisco, and then I also was looking at like the syllabus, the blue print for the CCI written. So at that time the CCI written was required before you could even attempt the lab. Right, so you would. You would have to pass like a normal Cisco written exam, like a bunch of questions and stuff. Right, no labs on this one, just a bunch of questions. And then, if you pass it, you know, then you get the ability to take the lab. So that's how I started. I started just by looking at the, looking at the lab blueprint and just finding what I could find, looking at docs and stuff. Later on I got access to INE. But the main thing was that really pushed me. They got me to help create a plan. For me was finding a community of other people who were already on the path and were willing to share that, that with me.

Speaker 1:

That's an interesting take. I you know, up to this point, in the different certifications that I've studied for it's it's very much been sole, focused really just on on me and it's it's interesting that I've heard that a lot now with CCIE study groups as well as the, the Cisco certified design professional, that people really get a lot of energy and a lot of motivation. You know it's. It's similar to the, to the going to the gym theory. You know it's. It can get difficult to go on your own if you're the only one pushing yourself there, but once you all of a sudden you have two, three, four other people, that you being there impacts them as well. There can be a lot of motivation there. So, yeah, that's, that's an interesting concept. So, erica, I'll ask you, how did you prepare for the CCIE and did you take any different approach when you decided to pivot from route switch to data center?

Speaker 2:

That's a good question. So what I did for my routing and switching initially was so I talked to several people Pat Finger, patricia Finger, she was one of the. She has a low CCIE number, like in the 2000s I think, but she would say, okay, well, you got to go through and look at you know the actual CCIE written exam. So I was, you know, when I first started out I was still trying to figure out you know which platform that you know. Should I do the the you know the route switch or the SNA or something you know. So I said, okay, let me try to. You know, mimic, what she was doing, which was the routing and switching. So once I started looking at the blueprint, I kind of did something completely opposite. There was a, there used to be a group called groupstudycom and you get in there and and some of it was good you kind of had to weed out. It's kind of like Reddit and Twitter a little bit. It was like before they, you know, cropped up with their own stuff. But I would get into group study. Some people were studying and these some people were, you know, you know, actually serious about it. A lot of people weren't For me. That was kind of frustrating for me because it was like, if you say you're going to do something, let's go ahead, and you know, you know, block out the time. Hey, I'll take BGP, you take OSPF, let's talk about it, let's lab it up. I ran into these problems, you know, trying to go through these. You know, networking expert labs. You know what happened and nobody would, you know, communicate. So I went back to Pat and I was like, hey, I'm struggling over here, what do you do? And she was like, well, you know, if you want to get it, you got to probably, you know, go it alone. And so I went. I went about it, you know, the first three attempts alone and that didn't work out for me because I failed it and at each time it was just like I was getting close, but not close enough to say, yeah, it's success. What happened for me on the data center side? I pivoted, I was just like, okay, let me again, let me get a plan in place. One of the very first things that I did differently from the routing and switching to the data center side was I set aside time for one to study, like I was studying a lot, but I wasn't like enough it was. I felt like it was just all over the place. I was doing OSPF one month and next minute I take a break or two and jump on a BGP, take a break or two. But this time, when I did the data center track, I wrote out exactly what I was going to be doing, what I was going to be studying. The days I was studying I got my husband on board. So whatever I couldn't take care of at home, you know he had to cover for me and that helped out a lot, you know. And then also, if I was, you know, taking a break, I wasn't like I would do like Monday through Thursday study. Friday I'm not doing anything. Saturday and Sunday is along, my normal long days. I would also have what I would call a variable off day between that at time. So if I took a Tuesday off or Monday off from Monday night football I'm a football fan hey, no problem. But I didn't, like you know, make a big deal about it. See, when I was doing the routing and switching, I was trying to just, you know, go 100 miles an hour into a brick wall and I was getting burned out. And so when I went to go attempt exams and all honestly I was like I think I'm ready, but I don't know if I am ready. Yeah, I'm going through the I&E workbooks and I got that okay, but it's the other stuff. You know. It's like when Cisco throws you those you know crazy undocumented questions. It's like what the world where does come from. So that I wasn't prepared for that. When I did my data center track, I outlined every single thing. I went, of course, I went back to the blueprint. I was able to successfully pass the, the written exam. But I also use I&Es work you know their written exam material to prep for that. And then I took that. Then I went through their lab exams and then I also bought Narbrick's. I can't pronounce his last name but Narbrick, narbrick, whatever. So I went through his, his platform, his, his training for the data center track and I thought, oh, wow, this is great. So, yeah, it worked out for me. But the community if I studied with someone, I have to make sure that that whoever I'm studying with, they're going to everybody's on the same page, and sometimes you get people that may put you in a different path because they're the way they study may not properly align with what you're doing. So you have to make sure that what you're doing and where you get the you know that group environment is going to be good for you. That's all I can say. I'm not going to downplay it or not, you know. Support it, but sometimes it may not be the best move for you at the individual.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, that's got to be difficult to find somebody who's going to, you know, have the similar motivations, have the similar drive to go through that. And that's really interesting to hear about the schedule that you put together. Now I think it can sound like it's a lot and that you're you're very restrictive on your time, but on the other hand, I think that makes a lot of sense, because then it's it's less of a question of when you need to do things and what you're supposed to do, because you've taken the time to prep that. So I think that makes a lot of sense and I've heard that with other people as well, that they had Set times of when they were gonna do things, and not only that, but what they plan to accomplish. I think is really helpful. And I do also like that you built in those days of rest is well, it wasn't just a hey, I'm gonna get the cca by this date, no matter what, and I'm gonna work every day for x amount of hours a day to get there. You actually built in rest days and and those rotational rest days. I think that's really smart, chris. You had mentioned it. The place you were working at the time, that kind of drove, you gave you the motivation to go after the cca that people would Always say we gotta run this idea, pass somebody else. And maybe those people were cca, is I'm not sure. But when you decided to go after the cca, did you have Anybody or any group of people at the place you were working at the time that you can kind of lean on for assistance? Or how did you tackle going after preparing for your cca?

Speaker 5:

Yeah, unfortunately, not really I. Eventually, as I don't think it was still about halfway through my study the company I was working for actually got acquired and they the individuals that I interacted with from there did have a few cca is on board. So I made good friends with Gabe, who's been on the podcast before he was. He was a big motivator for me and mentor, which was great, but initially no, not really so it was. It was kind of tough and, just like back to what Erica said, it's like you know, sometimes working with a the people in a study group works for you. Sometimes you just have to, you know, bunker down, build your own study plan and run it through right. I think that's a very important point is that you have to find what works for you. You can't, you can't take, you can't take the advice from someone who's done it. You know and you know just say that's, that's the path. You know, you gotta, you gotta, you know, try by fire a bit to figure out what works for you. And I learned actually that I was, I was actually pretty like I like the social aspect of it, of a study group for, just for the accountability, because I am very bad at procrastination and if, if I'm left to my own vices, to study on my own, I'm gonna get a chance, I'm not gonna do it. I don't, I don't. I don't want to be like one of these Tech talk people that self diagnosis myself with a dhd. But I think that might be a component of it. But unless I know that and I was a great thing about router guys as we have these study groups where, like every night, you would, you would log into one of these Room and you would I think it was actually google meet back then you would just share your screen and why. You're always yeah, and there would be like four of us and we're just laughing sharing our screens. No one's. No one's really talking, no one's like you know you, you know you misconfigured something. No one's watching you intricately, but it was all about just accountability. You knew others were there doing the same thing as you. You don't have to be chatting or anything the whole time, but it was that I was that did wonders for me. I'm sure tim and I had had plenty of nights where we were laughing together on google meet and I think that was. That was a. I realized like halfway through that that was a that was a very important aspect for me, that to have the community to keep me accountable because it was, it was hard for me to do that myself.

Speaker 3:

I think, for move on. I think, erica, you brought up a. I think I think both of you brought really good points. I wanted to say that you're right, though, erica, what you said about people, that, like sometimes when you work with some people, like you know their plans wrong or they're just not. I mean that's true. Also, I would like to say that everyone in rubber guys was an awesome studier, but there were definitely people in there that you know we're time, you were time wasters or would you know they just weren't ready. You know they weren't, they weren't on, they were on. You know they were one of the people that's studying for the cca but had been doing it for like three years and, like you know, I hadn't actually made any progress. You know that those people exist. There's nothing wrong with it, but part of being accountable to people and get involved with the study group that is there's are some of the pitfalls, if you will, is you know that you can get. You can end up getting attached to things that are just kind of drag. You're essentially gonna drag you down. You know, if you kind of let it, you have to make yourself accountable, like chris and I'm talking about, but you also have to be you know like, okay, well, this person, these people, they're good people were just there, just not ready, or they're not. They're not, you know, they're not ready where I'm at, or you know, whatever, we're not, we're not gonna work together. But that's just part of the whole study group mentality as well. This is knowing when it, when you're gonna bring someone with you or somebody come with you, and when to let it go.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's interesting. That's the first occurrence of me hearing of a of a study group tactic like that. When I hear people talk about study groups, I think, okay, bunch of folks are getting on a on a video call and were talking about concepts the entire time, are going through specific subjects. I didn't really think of it like that of multiple people get on and they have maybe a common topic that they're labbing and everybody just does their own thing and it's really the study group effect is just the accountability that you mentioned. I never really heard anything like that, but I can definitely see how that makes a lot of sense.

Speaker 3:

Well, there was. There was one more thing that I'll just to take it one more. So when we got towards the end, several of us and we were we had a whole cohort of people. We had like eight, somewhere between like seven and eight, maybe nine, ten people All going for the right around the same time. We would actually pick so that any workbook like you mentioned, erica, the you know they had multiple ones that were like mock labs, that were full eight hour labs, that were basically like pretend cci labs we would get on. I can remember several times we get on like a saturday We'd lab the whole day together. Wouldn't like is like chris said, we wouldn't sit there and talk to each other, we just we would be labbing. We would all pick the same lab to do and then we would come back the next day and actually walk through it together like hey, how did you solve this task, why did this way? And show each other like, oh man, I thought of doing it that way, like it's incredibly helpful.

Speaker 1:

So I think one thing that would be really stressful for me which I think is counterintuitive to a study group but I think one thing that would be stressful for me would be the fear of not being able to keep up with my peers, because everybody's, you know, wanting to get through this thing together and that's that's a big part of it is, so you can lean on each other for Many different aspects. Did you run into a lot of that of people that, not for lack of trying, just had a hard time keeping up? And how? How did they keep up? Or how did they keep going along the path?

Speaker 5:

I think it's to the point Erica made earlier about, you know, getting her husband on board. I feel like that was that is a very important thing, like you have to. Like it's tough to say that people are ready, they're not smart enough for anything like that, because we don't know their environments, we don't know, you know what their personal life is, like that. So it's like it's you have to. You have to go one wrong back and be like okay, well, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna, you know, intake all this knowledge and be able to perform at this level. But the people that are important also have to be on board, because that means I'm not gonna be around for a lot of that, right. So it's it's hard to gauge, right. But yeah, that there's a whole book about this, like I think there's a book on amazon. It's like how to prep, like how to tell your family you're going for your cca or something like that, and that's like Half the half the thing is just breaking the news right there it is there he's got it. Yeah, tim's got it right there.

Speaker 2:

Yes, when I once I once I let my husband know is what I'm gonna be doing. His thing was as long as you don't have to bring anymore equipment in here, we're good, because I have a whole rack, it's like, but this is before, was a gs3 and eve came out yeah yeah, it's just you had to get, you know, you had to get the experience somewhere. And the rack tokens for my knee, they can. Only you want to save those, because those are you know use for your mock labs in the eight hour labs. I didn't want to have to fumble my way through. Yeah, bgb, I can do that on my own equipment, my own gear. I don't need to do a whole you know thousand rack tokens just to set that up. So, yeah, you just have to kind of use that sparingly absolutely so.

Speaker 1:

I want to talk about the multiple facets of the cca. So now is a bit different from when the three of you went through it, in that the Before, when you went through it, it was the cca I written in the lab. Now you have to get a, you have to pass one of the core A certification of one of the different tracks, the ccmp, and that suffices is what the written would, and then you can take your lab. So there was a written and then a lab. How different, erica will start with you how different was it for you to prepare for the written exam versus preparing for the lab?

Speaker 2:

Okay, so let's talk about that for a second.

Speaker 1:

Let's really have that conversation.

Speaker 2:

I work for the vendor, but let's have that conversation. So, and I'm going to be transparent because I'm part of the CCIE community, so I feel like I can say something and we'll just let the chips fall when they fall. Making some darts on some evil messages on direct messages on Twitter, I don't care the written exam. So I felt like the written exam was not applicable to the lab exam. They were like night and day. It was almost like comparing apples to cows. It was like you know what are we doing with this? And then, wait a minute, the written exam is not prepared. It's like the best way I can explain it is you look at a marketing someone that is from the business unit and they throw a bunch of product questions out there and next you know you got this 100 question. You know multiple choice, drag and drop, whatever. You know exam, and I've always been very leery about that because you can look up on something and say, okay, well, I think the answer may fall in between this one and this one. Okay, process of elimination, let's just pick one, because I got to move on. Bam. That is not really. I mean, this is my personal opinion. That's not really telling you or showing what you've learned. So when you go to the lab and that's where you see a lot of people fall off, it's like, okay, do you have the chops to walk in there and get a multi-protocol environment with this data center route switch, that's matter up and running in a very short, condensed time, because that's what they're really looking at. How do you manage your time? Can you think very quickly on your feet, assess the situation? Okay, the problem exists here. Let me tackle this way versus I'm out left field somewhere else. I think Cisco needs to do a little bit better job and, like I said, I work for the company and I also am a part of the CCIE community but I think they need to do a better job with their and it's not just Cisco, it's all of them all the vendors. They need to do a better job of having people that have successfully passed exam be able to show their chops in a lab, in a lab environment, or something better than just taking a multiple choice question exam. I think that would bolt a little bit better, because then you would be forced to really retain the knowledge you think of it. I was talking with my husband about this about a couple of months back I said I see so many people that get the CCIE and then they don't do anything with it. And then you know it's almost like taking a driving test. Okay, well, you took your driving test and passed it at 21. You're still driving at 42 or whatever, and you never bothered to renew it, except for just going to the DMV and pay it. But that doesn't necessarily show that you know how to really drive effectively. You just passed it at 21. So you want to be able to show that you were able to still maintain that knowledge and grow, and I don't see that happening. They just kind of yeah, let me take your money and here's the test, and if you can pass it, great, you get to keep your cert. And I think that it just needs to be a little bit different approach. I'm not saying it needs to be a complete CCIE retake lab every two years. I don't want to do that either. But give me something where I can kind of show what I've worked on and what I know as some type of practical, maybe a four hour exam or something like that. I don't know, but I just think the multiple choice stuff they need to do away with either or come up with something different. So that's my opinion on it. I know I'm going to get a lot of hate on it. I'm okay with that, but you know, that's just my opinion.

Speaker 3:

If you don't mind, I'm going to. I have a lot of thoughts about this as well, and I'm sure Chris does as well. I'll try, not, I'll try to leave him something to say. But so when I was studying, I got the I&E and I was studying for my written. I got access to I&E later and then I was studying for my written or I was watching no, this is after I got my written, but I was watching the video series that Brian McGahn was doing for the V5, right. And in there he says oh yeah, well, when you're studying for your lab, you should just get your written on the way to get in your lab. You should just study for your written on while you're getting your lab. And I was like, okay, so I tried it and it was complete lie. It was the worst lie ever, brian. If you, if you ever see this, you're goddamn liar. I'm just kidding, I love. I'm just kidding Another, but love, no, no see, I felt like the the written was their chance to put all of the questions to test you on the shit they could not test you on in the lab. Like that was the everything about everything that they knew they couldn't actually put into the lab to test you on, went into the written and it was so broad, it was like everything. It was like every obscure corner case question, like like Eric was talking about, so obscure. It was a nightmare, dude, I I actually managed to pass it on my first try. I still don't know how that managed to happen because I mean, I had a big old notebook full of notes. I think it was the very last time I actually wrote. Notes was for the written, because I broke my frickin wrist, anyway. So, yeah, no, that's a complete lie Now. Now it doesn't matter anymore, except for, you know, because I can't speak to the D, which I think D is the only one that still has a written portion. Can't speak to that one. But yeah, man, it was as a complete lie. You had to prepare completely differently for the written.

Speaker 1:

So you did, you did treat it as is two completely different things and prepped for it. Oh, it is.

Speaker 3:

It is a complete like this. Like Erica said, it's a multiple choice exam and I'm 100% with her on the on the whole. Let's stop with this multiple choice crap. The best test that Cisco has ever done was the frickin CCNP T shoot, and I've never met a person that does a great T shoot. That was the best example of a Cisco test.

Speaker 4:

Right, so fun that was awesome. Yeah, there were a few.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it was a joy.

Speaker 1:

I hear that time and time again from people. If you ask them what their favorite certification exam was, and that constantly is the answer. And that's also the answer that I would get when when people would ask what if you're trying to renew your CCMP at the time before there was yeah, before there was continuing education credits for CCMP, ccna, that was always the answer. It would always be the T shoot exam to I renewed mine, I renewed mine.

Speaker 3:

I remember one time I renewed mine. I walked in, took the T shoot. I walked out 25 minutes later and I was done and I was running.

Speaker 1:

Oh nice.

Speaker 3:

It was. It was a great exam, though, like it was that. So Linux does this with the Red Hat exams right, like they give you, like the exam is build a frickin Red Hat environment, like that's, and I think all of them should adopt that kind of of anyway, so not to take up too much time. But that's that's my feeling on this.

Speaker 5:

Totally agree. I think it was funny. Just a quick story is at my old workplace there was like three, three of us network engineers that all had CCMPs at the time and like we all got them around the same time, so our research would come up at the same time and we would like we'd all go take T shoot, like within a few days of each other, to research, and whoever got the lowest score had to buy lunch for everyone, which was which was always a fun experience Never had to buy lunch. I'll say that. But yeah, the. I do counter to your point, tim I. So I did the same thing. I was, I was. I was like I'm studying for the written. Once I get past that, then I'm studying for the lab. There were two separate plateaus I was working towards, right. But we actually have a good friend, henry Pardo, who did exactly what you said. He's like the. The written was just in the back of his mind. He wasn't even thinking about the written, he was just I'm going in, I'm webbing every day, I'm like he's reading the guide for the written. But like he was like, yeah, like, maybe you know, a couple of weeks before I go take the lab, I'll just pop in, take the written, and that's exactly what he did. I don't know how he did it because I couldn't do it. It like to your point, like in Eric made this point as well they're like they're not testing on the same thing, at least back then, which was very, very strange, like I asked, I asked, was on the written but not on the lab. Like what was the point of that? Like what, what internal politics went into making that happen? Like, like it was, it was silly. I'm glad. I'm glad they've restructured it now it's where it's just, you know, focusing on. You know, if you have the, if you pass the core exam, then you have the eligibility to take the lab, which I think is that part is also kind of good and bad, because I feel like the written was kind of set the bar, like you had to prove you were serious about it before you could go take the lab. But now it's kind of like open to anyone that reaches that that you know, encore level or whatever it is. So I'm curious to see how that favors in the future. Like how many more people are taking the lab? How many more people are failing the lab, which we like to call the the $1,600 lunch, which I'm sure it's upgraded now. It's probably a $2,000 lunch or something by now with inflation and all that, but it's, it's like $1,800.

Speaker 3:

There you go.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that I would like to know a little bit more about the, the decisions that went into that of changing it from a separate written exam to take the lab to. You get to the core level of any one of the disciplines at the CCMP level and you can now qualify for the lab. I'm not sure I mean. My initial thought is potentially lowering the bar to entry to try to get more people to go after the IE. That that's just my thought. I don't know if that's really what went into it. But yeah, I think it'd be interesting to have that, that conversation. You just mentioned the, the $1,600 or $1,800 lunch. So let's talk about finances a little bit. And because we know that it's a large time investment but it is also a large dollar investment, and I I'm not sure on the percentages, but I'm sure there's a fair amount of people that go into this on their own dime and they're just trying to better themselves. And then I also know that there are people that have their employers sponsor them. So I'd like to get your take on that. Do you have any advice for people that that want to go after the CCI but it may not seem financially feasible? Are there tips and tricks out there for approaching your employer to see if this is something that they would be willing to help put you through.

Speaker 5:

Live close to a testing location. That's the best advice. I can't tell you how many times I got on a plane stayed in a hotel room and it was all just to eat Jason's deli and then go home. So then it was $1,800. But no, I mean so I was someone that did it all on my own dime. I think my, I think my employer may have paid for one attempt. My first time I failed the lab. I don't know if they actually did or not, but that was mostly on my own dime. Yeah, it's. It's really tough. As far as advice, I don't. I don't know exactly what advice I can give on the monetary piece, because it's also difficult because there was, like we've mentioned, ie, which is which was a great training resource back then. But I think everyone in here would probably agree that there's not really one training. That was kind of like the one ring to rule them all. You kind of had to get multiple sources to train with because it was nothing, was exactly like the lab and, as much as it sucks to say getting in front of it and taking the lab and failing it was almost like an experience in itself that you needed to have to understand what you're up against. You got to see the beast, you know, in its face. But and I will say I'm very glad that on the panel today we have all CCIEs who have both passed and failed the exam. Because all your first time pastors out there.

Speaker 2:

Gosh man, you're like, you earned it, I get it, but what I was going to say was just that the approach I take is OK. So for me, I did mine through self, you know, paying everything, matter of fact. I took out a small little loans. I could get the equipment that I needed. Probably wasn't a smart idea, but I mean, if it was what I needed, I thought I could get it done in a short amount of time. That didn't work out as best as I planned, but also in goes, I did get it. But if you're going to actually try to, the best thing is to actually get your employer to pay for it. But the other, the other hand of that is they may ask you to stay for X amount of months, like what is 18 months, 24 months. If you do approach that, you know, approach your employer with that, I would probably make it where it's like a win-win. So they, you know, they get a chance to have a CCIE on staff, you know, and then you put it as a something that's going to be avantageous for both you and the organization and the company. You're not where it's just like, well, hey, I can get my numbers, then I'm out by because nobody's going to, you know, nobody's going to pay for that. But if you can show value and show that it's going to be beneficial within the organization, that's better than trying to just go at it and paying for it by yourself. The one thing I will say is that with the CCIE written exam or even any of these exams, I don't even know why they're still was this? You said 1800 bucks. I mean, like what are we paying for?

Speaker 5:

No, the lab is 18.

Speaker 2:

You know for something that's virtualized. Now, it's not like you. The lab is, but yeah still it's still a lot, you know so, but it's not as much as what, is it? Those GIAC, I think they're like those exams are pretty like ridiculous. So but you know it's. The one thing I will say is I'm seeing a lot of people where they don't want to put the time commitment into it, and that's the big thing. If you're not willing to put the time commitment in there, I wouldn't even think about paying for it or getting approaching your employer. It's going to be beneficial for you, regardless of if you go into cloud cybersecurity, because you're going to have to know the foundation and the network in pieces is definitely a must for any organization.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I mean on the financial aspect. I'll be honest, I cheated. I worked for Cisco and it didn't cost me a time. I got three attempts. I only used two, so I was done. I didn't have to pay anything. That was one of the reasons. So one thing, though actually this is not entirely the question you asked, but it's a good point to make At the time that I was a contractor, I had getting a CCIE on my list of things that I need to be done, as we discussed. But something I had to think about was OK, am I going to finance this myself? And around that time a rec opened up for Blue Badge, and Blue Badge is meaning the employees of Cisco actually get the three free lab attempts. So I had to do some hard thinking because the rec actually paid lower than I wanted. To make so, long story short, I did the financial calculation and decided that you know what getting in the door at Cisco, become an actual Cisco employee, get my three lab attempts, and then getting the bonus if I made it, offset that for me at that time. So was that ultimately, down the road, a better idea? Well, the first time you negotiate the salary at a place that you're at is probably the last time you're going to really be able to negotiate a salary at the place that you're at, that's a good point. So I was kind of hamstrung from there. It was worth it at the time for me and I still to this day say it was probably still worth it. But again, that was a piece of financial calculation I had to do Like is it going to be worth it? The other thing is and Erica touched us on this a little bit which is before you go to the bank and take out a loan or whatever and approach your employer, you got to line up all your other ducks or like getting the money for it should be like the very last thing that you're doing. Right, you should be in it to win it long before you're going to the bank to sign for a check or whatever. That is right. Before you talk to your employer, you got to know, hey, is my significant other going to pick up the slack? Like at the time my wife, god bless her. I had two young kids and I pretty much disappeared for nine months, like I was doing 30 hours a week, studies at one point, like near the end, right. So I was every day on the weekend gone. I was waking up at three in the morning going to the office. She really pulled double duty If she had not been able to do that, it would have been a moot point right. I would have gotten halfway up the mountain and I had to come back down because right now it's supplies like I would not have made it. So, before you start taking loans out, you got to like Erica said, you got to be ready, you got to be in it to win it. So that's another thing to think about.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that is a really good point to have the entire plan set up and it goes to you know. Similar thought for anything that you do while working for an employer. If you're asking for something, you better have everything figured out of what exactly you're asking for first and any evidence you need to back up the reason why you're doing it. And as far as an employer financially helping you, I think that type and size of organization means a lot too. So a big employer out there is value-added resellers and a lot of many of those value-added resellers. To maintain certain levels of partner agreements with these vendors, like Cisco, is they need to have X amount of certified individuals on staff. So that employer is going to be almost requiring many employees to get CCNA, CCMP and CCIEs and they're going to be much more apt to financially invest in you to go through that.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, and kind of a point that both Erica and Tim made is, I think, aside from money, I think the biggest thing that your employer can give you which is probably an easier thing to negotiate is time. If you can get your employer to commit to letting you have labbing and study time every single day, that it doesn't cut into your personal life, I feel like you maintain a mental health level that you would not have otherwise. Just because you're working eight hours a day and then the second you turn off that computer, you either walk in the other room or you drive home and then you're on a different computer like labbing. It's grueling man, it's a sludge. So if you can get them to, like Erica said you got to promise some ROI on that, right, You're gonna be like, hey, if you give me the time to do this now, it's gonna pay itself back. Right, I'm gonna do this, do that. So, but yeah, I just wanted to make that point that I think if you can get your employer to give you the time out of the workday to focus on it, that pays its weight in gold.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So another piece of advice question is there any tips that you have for somebody right before they're getting on a plane or leaving to go to the lab and they're within days of taking that lab? Any last minute advice for those folks?

Speaker 2:

I would probably say one shut off all. You almost have to go into a tunnel. Shut off all the noise factor. Definitely let your significant other know and the people that are in your proverbial village let them know. Hey, I'm gonna go take my exam. But I remember when I took my exam my employer was calling me like every other day, which is not some nonsensical stuff. So I, when I went to the, I took one in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. When I took my exam I told my husband. I said listen, and I went down there the week before and I was labbing all the way up until that Saturday night. I tell my husband by Tuesday I was like I'm shutting my phone off. If you need anything, call the hotel number and that's that. But it better be critical, otherwise you know I'm not answering the phone. But yeah, just you have to. The one thing I will say is have fun with it. I would definitely make sure that you're prepared, but I mean you gotta make. It's a judgment call. I think if you study up to the, you know the day before the exam. But I would definitely get some rest because I went to bed at 11 o'clock and I could not sleep the night before. I was just up. I mean, I just felt like I had been drinking coffee all day and I'm just. It just hit at like 11 o'clock and I was just up until six and I couldn't sleep and then, when I found out, I passed it that night after the exam you talking about somebody that was asleep? I missed my flight the next day.

Speaker 1:

Oh, wow.

Speaker 3:

I was knocked out.

Speaker 2:

I was just, I was out. I mean, the little lady at the, you know like, hey, can I come in the room? I was like, oh my God, what time is that? I had missed my flight. So just, you know it's a judgment call, you just need to. You know, make sure that you're prepared. But I would not go in there stressed. You know, just lab if you need to, if not, you know it's a judgment call. But definitely block out the noise. You know, get the people that are in your corner let them know that you're taking it, but otherwise I'm at it. Everybody else, all that work stuff, all that extra stuff, I would block out the negativity and the noise. So that would be my advice to whoever's gonna take it.

Speaker 1:

That is solid advice, and I will just say I don't know how anybody could sleep the night before or something like that. Chris, did you have a similar experience? Hard time, a little bit of insomnia the night?

Speaker 5:

before. Kind of it's like the inverse of Christmas Eve you can't sleep because you're excited. This one, you can't sleep because you're dreading the next day. But yeah, I mean to Erica's point, I think it's very important. You know, at the end you have to lock in, you have to, you know, set your eyes on the target, but I think you also need to, like she said, make sure you come up for air man, Cause if you don't, if you walk in burnt out and just absolutely drained, you're not gonna help yourself at all. You know, remember to breathe while you're in there. It's a very tense environment, Everyone's stressed out, no one's having a great time. So I understand that, you know you're with kind of like-minded individuals, but I think you need to spend those last few days really working on your strategy Because, like for me admittedly, I took the lab a lot. I took it a lot of times, A lot of times, though that more than I should have and you know the format of the exam is out there, you know how things are laid out and if you've, you know, already taken the lab once or something and you've seen, you know, even you have even more of a perspective of how it's laid out. Strategy is very important. At the end of the day, you have to understand you're going in and you're, you know, knocking off questions that are adding to your total score of points. Right, You're playing a game, it's a game. You have to get the most points to win the game. So having a strategy for you know, going in and getting the most points is important. I remember I even did a blog post on my strategy because me and my friends, like fine, tuned it very well. I even used like a mock lab that Tim created and I showed every bit and piece of it, like how to, what I was writing down in the paper, how I was, you know, putting checks on tasks and marking things, complete and verifying and things like that. I think strategy is super, super important and make sure you walk in there with one. Don't just, you know, go in completely blind. Make sure you have at least some plan of attack before you go in.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's really good. So I obviously lived at RTP.

Speaker 4:

So I just walked over, I just walked over.

Speaker 3:

I literally, yeah, I just rolled out of bed and I was already actually right there in the building. No, I. So the first time I took the lab I did have some trouble sleeping, but the fact that I didn't, I knew I could just get in the car and go. I may maybe a little easier for me, like I, you know, kudos to the people that had to travel in, because that's already kind of a stressful event, right, and then hotel, that sucks, right. I was able to sleep in my own bed. So, for what that's worth that was. That obviously help me a little bit. A lot of people said the day before your exam don't do anything, just relax, hang out. I'll be honest, I was not labbing up until the point at which I walked into the building or anything like that. I did have a checkbox of things that I wanted that I felt like I didn't quite have yet, or wanted to brush up one more time on Little Labs. Ine has a whole workbook full of Little Labs. Here's one thing we're going to show you. Here's the lab, not an eight hour lab. I didn't do one of those before, the day before, but I did some brush up stuff just for stuff, but coming up for air, absolutely I would not. I know some people are like man, the day before the lab I was doing these eight hour labs. I'm like dude, you're really not doing yourself any favor. You're going to walk in there. You're tired, you're burnt out, you're stressed. That's starting the day, dude, you were there for eight hours. People don't understand. People are like I work all day at eight hours. That's nothing. No, you do not get it. It is not the same thing, man. It is not sitting down at your workstation and answering emails. This shit is. You are under an insane time crunch and, just like Chris alluded to, you're playing a game and it's a game that they have set you up to lose straight up. I don't know how to explain it, but the way the stuff's worded, the way the things are presented to you, they will steer you down all sorts of alleyways. They're just made to eat up time. The whole point is and they tell you if you Google it, there's plenty of people who will be like if we gave you 24 hours, anybody could be a CCIE. That's what they say If we gave you 24 hours, anybody could be a CCIE. The challenge is to do it in eight hours to do all of that in eight hours. And so the plan of attack that Chris is talking about is absolutely guaranteed. You have to have one and you can't just like, oh, I'm going to go in and I'm just going to start with task number one and by the end I'm going to be done. That is not, they said it. It's one of those things that they've set you up to fail. If you just try to do that, it's not going to work. So you have to know enough about the technology to know how to skip around and where you need to be looking for the how they want you to do this stuff and in what order you should be doing it, not the order they presented it to you. Stuff like that, right. So I totally agree that I think tech I think the tech itself is maybe 60% of the exam. There's so much more to the exam than that. There's like another 25 or 20% or whatever you're going to call it in strategy the time management piece like is just those three things that you need, but anyway, and reading company, oh my God, yes, right, and not just comprehension, like oh, I know what these words mean, but literally being able to interpret the technology indicated by the words that they're telling you, like what the requirement is right, because they're not going to come out and tell you we need you to use virtual.

Speaker 5:

They're going to imply it by using one word that implies it, you know right, they're going to say some obscure crap.

Speaker 3:

Very true. But anyway, to get back to it, yeah, the day before I definitely would not do like an eight hour exam, a lab. I would try to relax to some degree. Sleep is always going to be a problem. Sleep is just going to be a problem. You need to make your peace with that and find a way around it. My friend took a melatonin the night before and he said that sucked. That was a huge mistake. He was so groggy the next morning he said he had real hard time firing all cylinders getting started. So you know, I don't know the answer right, but you have to think. You have to know yourself well enough to know that.

Speaker 5:

Luckily, they do give you try at the testing center. So yeah, as much as you want to drink.

Speaker 2:

One thing that I was going to say was just, Tim, you alluded to that. As far as the like you have, I think it's an eight hour exam, but you really don't have eight hours. You have, you know, one section for was the troubleshooting, one section for something else, and then you have like a real small finite window. Yeah, then you have a finite window to actually get the rest of the config together and it's like, oh, my goodness, so it's that. And then, if you like, you said the reading comprehension. So if you read something and you have a question, the proctor is not there to help you determine what the no because I've had a proctor tell me, well, you need to go back and reread that question.

Speaker 5:

I already know which proctor it was too.

Speaker 2:

I'm asking you a question.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for your help.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, it was all he wasn't that bad.

Speaker 3:

He was a good guy.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

No, you're 100% right. The proctor is not there to help you pass your test. The proctor is there to make sure that you have an environment by which you can pass the test. The proctor is not there to help you answer questions about how to do the stuff and how to do the exam. No, the proctor is there in case your stuff breaks and they need to fix it.

Speaker 1:

So, to start to really round this out, I want to go around the room one more time and this may or may not be controversial, and feel free to say no comment, but I want to ask if there was one thing, one change, one modification, one enhancement that you would make to the CCIE program, lab test anything within those realms. What would it be? And, chris, we'll start with you this time.

Speaker 5:

I didn't want to go first. Man, I don't know. It's like the lab, I think the way the lab is built. At least, I can only speak to version five of the routing and switching lab because that's the last one I took. I haven't taken the new one. It could be a complete breath of fresh air and be valuable, but some of it is, some of it's just unrealistic. I think we've all worked in environments where it's just a complete shit show, where, oh well, they decided to use RIP and they're using six forms of redistribution into OSPF over in this site because of this problem that happened. And but I mean those should be treated as corner cases and I feel like the lab was kind of filled with too many of these corner cases at a time and it was just like I felt like I was in the exam so often just being like why would anyone do this? Like it just felt like that you weren't using the right tools to solve the problem. So but I mean that. I mean I guess that does come with the trade right. You need to be creative and be able to solve very difficult technical problems with the technology that you're presented. So I guess in turn it could be representative of the actual environment that you get put in. But I don't know. I think I do like Erica's suggestion that we kind of maybe change the way we do the recertification piece, like once you've once you've already gotten through it. I think revisiting it, maybe in some kind of like cool panel thing, would be nice, but I know that's unrealistic because we have a lot of CCIEs that are looking to recert and panel takes up people's time. But yeah, I don't know, I'd like to see that get a little bit more creative. I think the, the see, the continuing education thing is pretty cool, because I feel like that gives you an opportunity to not just focus on the, the technologies that you learned when you were taking CCIE, because we've all, we all transition. You're right, like Tim and I work specifically in cloud. Is it? Is it valuable for us to learn? You know DHCP snooping and you know Layer 2 QoS? Probably not. So, yeah, right. So I do like that they. They gave the option to you know, if you want to learn Python or something, those are CE credits. Those can count towards. You know, recertifying your, your IE. So yeah, I didn't really answer the question, but that's kind of what happens when you go first, I guess.

Speaker 1:

You can get me for that later, Erica. What are your thoughts on this topic?

Speaker 2:

Well, like I said earlier, I'm not a big proponent of the you know the multiple choice exams. But one thing I will say is I think that they need to revamp that whole three year in between. So like, if you take it I think there was a when I took it you had two years and and then you have like a one year grace period.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah.

Speaker 2:

Then they did the whole thing where you said, okay, well, you got three years and that's it. What I think is, every year or every two years, you need to show something. You know I know they've got to continue in education credits, but you know they need to show something of like, what are you doing to contribute to the IT community, whether it's through blog posts, through these are the projects I'm working on and here's my GitHub. You know that you can, you know, talk about either from a customer perspective or you know, kind of redact that, but just kind of show something that I think is is that could go a long way as well as, you know, increasing the or improving upon the actual exam itself. Like, let me show you what I've been able to do versus. Well, okay, I got the numbers back in for me 2014. And then that's it. I think if we could show that, I want, I think, if it strengthens the IT, at least the CCIE community, because what I'm seeing a lot of the CCIEs, the lower their numbers are, they kind of become like almost like obsolete a little bit and it's like they don't do anything to kind of give back a little bit. Some of them do. A good portion of them do. But you know, it's just what I'd like to see is if they do a little bit more to help out the people that are coming up, because I think that could strengthen the actual IT community a lot better. Get rid of the multiple choice crap, you know, let me show what I can do. You know, give me a, get me in front of the computer, give me a front of the keyboard, let me show you what I can do. But the whole debacle of written exam, multiple choice exam, yeah, I can do without that. And then the other thing is stop changing the exams all over the place, meaning that if you're going to go with version six for the data center, I would. I would like to see it become stable for a little bit versus trying to okay, well, this month we're going to change it, that month we're going to add this, and it's like whatever is not on the attached to the data center track, meaning like I don't need to look at all this Wi-Fi stuff in the, in the, in the lab. I don't care about that. If I'm going for a data center, let me focus on data center, not all this obscure. You know, let me see if I can get these phones up and running. No, no hate towards the collaboration, but you know just something like that. Just let me focus on the technology at hand. So that's that's one. That's another thing. That that, I think, is a you know for me, for what I mean. We've all taken those exams where they throw a whole bunch of shit on there and it's like, oh man, where'd you come up with all this Wi-Fi stuff? I thought I was taking a data center track. So, yeah, if they could do that, that would be awesome for me.

Speaker 1:

Those are. Those are definitely both from you, erica and Chris. Those are really, I think, creative approaches to a recertification, like the whole community aspect of how are you furthering yourself and others using that as a metric for recertification as well as I like the idea of a panel concept. Yeah, I agree that it may be difficult to scale, but I think it would be kind of cool is treating it almost like you know an interview, a job interview, to be able to recertify a certification. I think that's interesting. All right, tim, take us home. What's your parting thought on the future of CCIE? What would you do differently?

Speaker 3:

Let's see. I think I like what Chris said about the fact that I'll be honest. I called the CCIE lab the stupid router tricks exam, because it's not. There's no realism to it whatsoever. Right, it is literally a reading comprehension. And do you know all of the technologies well enough to extract that and can you do it to build this ridiculous bullshit? Basically, you know and that will prove that you know all of it what I would have liked to have seen and what I hope is on there, and I have not taken the new one and, if I'm being candid, I probably will never take another CCIE. I'm good with mine, you know. But the enterprise infrastructure supposedly combines, you know, route switch. It also combines SDA, sd-wan. I hope, against hope, that it does so in a way that is closer to the actual, like, intended use cases of those technologies. Right, that's what I think would make a good exam would be you know, hey, enterprise XYZ is building an SDA fabric and they're using SD-WAN to connect the sites together. And you know, and we need to do you know this, and here we need to bring in this other branch and we have to do this, like, I feel like you can test all of those technologies in a way that is still relevant and gives the person walking out of the exam a feeling like okay, like this is like a I can do this Right In the real world, I can go do this right, instead of having to think like I know, I know a thousand different stupid router tricks and but not not really the context of why or when I would use them, necessarily right. So that's, that's the first thing. The second thing is I hadn't even thought about this at all, but I really like what Erica said about the idea of CEs as community improvement or something I don't know. I'm reminded, as she was talking about it. I'm reminded of the classes, the coursework I did for WGU, and what I mean is that you know a lot of that coursework was what they call practical practical, not practical exam, some kind of I forget what they call it. It's a practical thing, basically, where they give you something and you're supposed to do something and then write a document or something about what you did in a way that you know could be consumed by others, right? So I actually kind of like that idea. I I don't know. And what I was also thinking was like okay, well, who proctors it, who assigns, who says this is valuable, who says this is worth CEs? That's probably the harder part of it. But, 100% on the idea, I think it's too good of an idea to just throw up your hands and be like we can't do it. I think there's a lot of value in incentivizing people with a deep knowledge of something to share it with other people, right, the whole, the whole community, I mean. So we're all replaced with, like chat, gbt or something that you know that'll it'll be useful. So I like both of those ideas, and the only thing I would add to it is the piece I was saying where I think if it was more like, like I said, like the Linux Red Hat exams example, as an example, you go in and and they want you to just build a Red Hat environment, and it's not a goofy Red Hat environment. They're not want you to like do stupid things that no one would ever do with Red Hat, right, they're asking you to actually build a Red Hat environment. So, so that, and it might be that now I can't say because I haven't taken it, but my hope is that they've integrated the technologies you know in a way that it makes sense now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, excellent advice all around. This has really been a, I think, a very interesting peeling back the onion type of episode around the CCIE. I know I've learned a lot about all of your experiences going through the, the preparation and the test taking, and I hope our listeners have as well. Thank you all for joining us. Thank you very much to my panelists for joining us on the show. You can find us at ArtOfNetworkEngineeringcom on all the socials at Art of NetEng Not that I wouldn't do this anyway, but since I got a couple of Cables to Clouds guys staring at me, I got to talk about their show as well. Find them wwwcablestocloudscom, at Cables to Clouds on Twitter and all the other cool places, and check out their episodes drop every other Wednesday. Thank you all for joining us. This has been another episode of the Art of Network Engineering.

Speaker 4:

Hey there, friends. We hope you enjoyed listening to that episode just as much as we did recording it. If you want to hear more, make sure you subscribe to the show and your favorite pod catcher you can also give that little bell rascal a little ring of dingy, so you know when we release new episodes. If you're social like we are, you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We are at ArtOfNetEng. That's ArtOfNetEng. You can also find us on that weaving web that is the internet at ArtOfNetworkEngineeringcom. There you'll find our show notes and some blog articles from the hosts, guests and other friends who just like getting their thoughts down on that virtual paper. Until next time, friends, thanks for listening.

Exploring CCIE Certification and Its Motivations
Strategies for CCIE Study Planning
Study Group Accountability and CCA Preparation
CCIE Exam Format and Challenges
Financial Considerations for CCIE Certification
Preparing for the CCIE Exam
Reevaluating the Future of CCIE Certification

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