Sunday, July 27, 2008

The CCIE Journey, Round 1

Every two years Cisco requires their CCIEs to recertify by taking one of the current CCIE written exams. When I recertified in 2006 I took the CCIE Security written exam. At that time, I was focused primarily on Cisco’s suite of security products while working for a different Cisco Gold Partner from my current employer, Force 3. Between then and my latest recert in February of 2008, my focus shifted significantly to Unified Communications.

As of this first blog posting, I am still not fully committed to pursuing a second CCIE, this time in Voice. I look back on my previous CCIE journey, and I quickly realize the time and financial commitments that are required. I passed my CCIE Routing and Switching written exam in July 2001. At the time, I only had about one and half years of hands-on Cisco networking experience and had only finished my CCNP and CCDP that April. In hindsight, I was very inexperienced. Despite my lack of experience, I plowed ahead and took my first lab attempt sometime in early 2002. My goodness, I was woefully unprepared. However, not one to take defeat easily, I continued my studies.

I finally beat “the beast” on February 26, 2004. I still remember that day very clearly. I drove down to RTP from Annapolis, MD the evening before. The day of the exam was overcast and the forecast was calling for snow in the Raleigh-Durham area. Since I was planning to drive back following the exam (a six hour drive), I was as concerned about the weather as I was about the lab exam. By lunchtime I was feeling very confident. I had all my interior routing working as well as my basic BGP. I was also keeping a tally of points that I was very confident I had nailed. By about 2:30 or so, according to my calculations, I had enough points to pass. I also noticed a few snow flakes falling outside the windows. As I turned my attention back to the lab, I stumbled across a question that I was a little unsure of. So, rather than risk breaking my lab, I simply skipped it, double checked my configs, and relaxed for the remainder of the day. When I finally got home that evening, I immediately fired up my laptop; an email from Cisco… I nervously opened the message, and low & behold, I passed! That Guinness was probably one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

Next posting… CCIE Voice attempt in 2009?