Monday, 15 December 2008

Study Update 15/12/08

As you can probably tell from the lack of posts the studying has not been going very well as late. Work was previously taking it's toll with every piece of work being rushed in before the Christmas change freeze but now things are slowing down a bit in work due to the freeze and the fact that things generally slow down at Christmas. However the family commitments tend to pick up at this time of year so it does not look like I will get much more free time in fact family commitments tend to be even harsher than work commitments. To tell you the truth I have not been helping myself very much as I have been spending a lot of the time I should be reading the Cisco documentation browsing the web for presents or reading up on the current financial crisis and agonizing over whether it really is a good idea to buy that many presents this Christmas.

I have been plugging away at a few mini labs from Narbik's Advanced Technology Workbooks. (whoops I think I was so busy that I forgot to mention that I bought these in November just before the pound plummeted to much.) The workbooks are really good (I promise once I am through them I will compare them with the Internetwork Expert and the IPExpert workbooks) although I am taking my time getting through them. I am using Dynamips to run the workbooks so I have a topology that seems to work for the moment. I am still going through the OSPF section so I have not made great progress but I am repeating several of the mini labs to see if I can understand them a bit better.

The plan is to try and finish the OSPF section before my Christmas holiday in a weeks time and then start up again in the new year. Also I hope to get some time to setup the IPExpert Dynamips topology for my different machines, and if I get any free time over Christmas the plan it to at least hit the CCIE Command Memorizer to ensure I retain a bit of knowledge over the festive season.

In case I do not get a chance to post again best wishes to you and your families where ever you are in the world over the holiday season.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Commands: ispf

Looking through OSPF I came across a command I did not know about before. The command I came across was ispf, which stands for incremental shortest path first. The benefits of ispf can best be summed up from Cisco's own page on the topic.

OSPF uses Dijkstra's SPF algorithm to compute the shortest path tree (SPT). During the computation of the SPT, the shortest path to each node is discovered. The topology tree is used to populate the routing table with routes to IP networks. When changes to a Type-1 or Type-2 link-state advertisement (LSA) occur in an area, the entire SPT is recomputed. In many cases, the entire SPT need not be recomputed because most of the tree remains unchanged. Incremental SPF allows the system to recompute only the affected part of the tree. Recomputing only a portion of the tree rather than the entire tree results in faster OSPF convergence and saves CPU resources. Note that if the change to a Type-1 or Type-2 LSA occurs in the calculating router itself, then the full SPT is performed.

Incremental SPF is scheduled in the same way as the full SPF. Routers enabled with incremental SPF and routers not enabled with incremental SPF can function in the same internetwork.

Looks like quite a useful command to remember, so I will be adding it to my configs in future.

IPExpert Dynamips Configs

IPExpert have finally released their Dynamips configs. I have just downloaded mine from the members site so hopefully will get a chance to do a bit more labbing then I have been the last few weeks. It looks like they have 15 routers in the topology so it might be a bit difficult for me to get it all to run successfully on one PC but I will give it a go. Anyhow if you have not downloaded your files you can get them from your Internetwork Expert members page.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

IPExpert Announcement Arrives

IPExpert's eagerly awaited announcement finally turned up in my inbox tonight. The main news I was interested in was the everything IE beta and the support for Dynamips. I have emailed IPExpert quite a few times in the past asking when they would introduce support for Dynamips and I was always knocked back saying it was not a Cisco supported product. So I was very happy when I saw that they were finally going to support Dynamips with their products. I was even happier when I read the announcement and found out that existing customers would get the .net topology file for free, click here for the official announcement. Oh and if you want to read the complete official announcement click here.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Update 27/11/08

Just a quick to post to say I am still around and alive. We just alive as someone decided it would be a good idea to knock me off my bike the other day. They did not even stop, they slowed down for a second and then sped off. Unfortunately the traffic lights further up the road changed just as I was running up to give them some serious abuse.

As well as being knocked off my real bike I have also been knocked off my CCIE bike over the last couple of weeks. I have been spending a lot of time doing up my house and DIY sucks up both your energy and your time. No sooner had I got all that work out the way and then my son was sick for a whole week and then to top it off I had to fly to one of our international locations for a couple of days.

So the studying has gone completely out the window. However in my foreign travels I did get to spend quite a bit of time working on the CCIE Command Memorizer and finding out how much stuff I had already forgotten. Anyhow here it to hoping I can get back on my CCIE bike next week and make some good progress in my studies.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

CCIE Shorts 16/11/08

Work and my personal life have conspired to get on top of me the last few weeks and stop my blogging and studying. Anyhow I am still alive just and making a little bit of progress when ever I have some free time. Hopefully with the Christmas change freeze on the way work should be less of an issue in a few weeks. Anyhow to get my used to blogging again I thought I would post on some CCIE shorts that I wanted to get up but have not had the chance.

Firstly the CCIE Command Memorizer has been up dated. As well as the usual fixes the major new functionality is that you can finish your command with the Enter (Return) key rather than the Tab key. Apparently there was a lot of requests for this functionality which is why another update was rushed out so soon after the previous one. I never had any problems using the Tab key in fact I got used to it fairly quickly but I will let you know how I get on with the new version. I must admit I have not had much time to use the Command Memorizer as work has been very hectic and my normal routine was to spend 30 minutes a day at lunchtime using it. At the moment thought 30 minutes at lunch seems a distant memory so I have not had a chance to use it for at least 2 weeks. There has also been a subscription version of the Command Memorizer released, which Cisco Network Engineer has the details of.

I also noticed that IPExpert are having a Christmas sale and the BLS is back down to $999. The most exciting part of the sale for me though is that the rack rental sessions have been reduced in price. I still wish they would sort out some rack rental times that worked a bit better for Europe but at the price they are at the moment they are well worth investigating. Anyhow click here to check out the sale.

I have not had a chance to check out the latest Internetwork Expert news but hopefully I will get a chance in the next few days. I have been trying to justify the $1800 upgrade to the end-to-end program but with the value of the pound at the moment the chances of me being able to justify it diminish by the day.

Hopefully I will have a chance to do a study update in the next few days and get some good technical posts going but do not hold your breath at the moment :-)

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Project 1:

I have been asked to help out on a little project for a friend and as I am not really up to date on all the wireless technologies out there I thought I would do a post to see if anyone else has any ideas.

Basically what I have been asked to do is setup is an outdoor back link to a primary satellite link. There will be a router probably Cisco as I believe they do ruggedised routers (any help on models greatly appreciated) which will be connected to a satellite link. The satellite link will be the primary connection used by a control station to connect to remote sensors in the field. What I need to do is provide a backup link for when the satellite link fails. The only time there should be any problems with the satellite link is when it is absolutely pouring with rain which tends to happen quite a lot on this island. I was looking into GPRS or 3G and at the moment GPRS is my favourite as Cisco have released a new GPRS card for their ISR routers. The initial plan is to connect to the remote sensors over the satellite link and then use the IP SLA service to check that the other end of the link is up. If the satellite link fails then I would want to fail over to the GRPS or 3G connection to make sure that the control station could still connect to the remote sensors.

So I have a couple of questions to anyone who know about these technologies or has setup similar systems. Firstly can you bond GRPS together to get a higher bandwidth connection with a Cisco router? Also how do GRPS and 3G perform in poor weather conditions? Any help out ruggedised routers and outdoor routing systems would be most appreciated.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Study Update 03/11/08

Okay so it has been a while since I posted a study update. As usual things have not been going to plan, I am still working a lot of hours which I need to do because of the overtime money I earn. This plays havoc with my study schedule because even if the change is taking place at 10:30 I have to get everything ready before that and so it completely disrupts my night of studying when ever I have to do a change.

I have however finally managed to finish the first week of the Internetwork Expert CoD I must have the record for taking the longest amount of time to finish the first week. I still have another week of the CoD to go which is probably going to take forever as well. I do find that some of the videos in both the Internetwork Expert and IPExpert CoD's are so long that I keep losing focus and I have to re-watch parts. I think that both IPExpert and Internetwork Expert really should think about cutting their videos down in to more manageable sections like CBT Nuggets do. (Internetwork Expert did announce they would be doing this in their CCIE 2.0 CoD's).

On the labbing front I have been working on some of the IPExpert Volume 1 labs which tend to kick my butt when I first try them. I do improve a lot when I have done at least one lab in a section but when I try the first lab in a new section/technology then I spend quite a bit of time stuck in the Proctor Guide. As I do not have a rack I have been using some Proctor Lab sessions to do the labs. The times the Proctor Lab sessions run are not the most convenient and I was getting up at 5 in the morning to work on the racks. However with the change of the clocks those sessions would now start at 4 in the morning my time which I can assure you is not very pleasant when it is cold and dark. I will have to look and see if the US clocks are going to change anytime soon or maybe Proctor Labs could think about changing some of the rack times to suit Europe and the rest of the world a little bit better.

I have not had much time for reading or spending on the Command Memorizer but I hope to do a bit more reading on BGP and get some more time on the Memorizer later this week. So the report at the moment is that I am treading water but I am still in the fight :-)

Friday, 31 October 2008

Splashing Out Some More

Okay so I managed to get the discount code for the Internetwork Expert Dynamips Volume 1 labs the other night, and finally took the plunge and made the purchase. I intend to work my way through the Volume 1 lab which is rated a 5 this next week just to get an idea of where I am.

As I previously mentioned I was looking for something to boost my mastery of the individual technologies and so I tried to contact Micronics training 3 times via email. Narbik might write excellent workbooks but no one at Micronics seems to want to sell them to me as I do not recieve 1 reply. So I got a bit fed up and after last nights announcement decided to investigate upgrading to the Internetwork Expert end-to-end program instead. After contacting a very helpful IE sales rep I got a quote for my upgrade and although they discount my existing products the bill was still a little bit steeper than I was expecting (My maths must be worse than I thought as they do publish all their figures) especially when you are paying for the training yourself. (Hint to myself I might have to move back to South Africa and apply for the developing world discount that is if SA gets it :-) ) So now I am pushed back to thinking about Narbiks books so does anyone know of the best way to get hold of a sales rep from Micronics?

Peace at Last?

Just as I was about to do a post about how boring the CCIE vendor wars were becoming and that it was time for all the vendors to put their handbags away, it looks like peace has returned to CCIE training land. I did read a good post by Wayne Lawson on his view on the Cisco 360 program and then read Matt Brooks reply to Internetwork Expert's CCIE 2.0 announcement video. While Matt did raise some valid points about contradictions in Brain Dennis announcement, I think most people who listened to the broadcast would have realised that Brian was passionate about his company and probably not sticking to a prepared script, so there were bound to be some contradictions in his statements. While the CCIE training wars were amusing at first, it did become boring rather quickly and I think this really excellent post from Brandon Carroll sums things up. Now children get back to what you both do best namely producing top quality training for your customers and we will decide who the best training company is!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Oops!... They Did It Again

Okay so I missed the Internetwork Expert live announcement but I used my valuable study time to watch the recorded session and I am glad to say it was well worth it.

There has been plenty of new about the Cisco 360 program but in my opinion Internetwork Experts announcement is even bigger news, especially if they pull off even half of the things that were mentioned in the video. If they do they will blow Cisco's 360 program out of the water.

For those of you that do not feel like sitting through the video I will go through the high points for me.

IE tried to work with Cisco they tried everything they could to partner with Cisco but they just could not agree. It seems to work with Cisco IE would have paid a very high price, they would have had to have become a Cisco Learning Partner (CLP) to join the 360 program. Being a CLP means you cannot sell or market outside of your region so that would be North America (NA) in IE's case which would have been very bad for me, a whole heap of other people, and IE themselves as 50% of IE's customer base is outside of NA. They would have had to scrap their existing products and utilized the authorised training materials. As well as this the emerging markets discounts and the whole ethos of the company would have had to have changed.

So the Brians (I did not realise what a big Cisco fanboy Brian Dennis is wait till you hear his product evaluation process :-) ) and consequently IE have decided to go it alone. Great decision I say as I never wanted IE to join the 360 program anyway, and based on all the reasons stated in the product announcement it seems it was a no brainer from IE's point of view.

So what are they doing to compete with the 360 program, well they are releasing their CCIE 2.0 program. (Why does everyone use this 2.0 crap I get so bored of reading about Web 2.0 and I have no fecking clue what it is really about, besides if IE deliver they should call their program CCIE 3.0 because that is how far ahead of everything else out there it is.) So what is the CCIE 2.0 program all about well there are loads of components some of which I will list below :
  • They will release perpetual product updates and so sections will be released as they are done. Easier for IE as for example individual labs can be released as they are ready rather than having to wait for 10 or 20 labs to be complete to release a whole workbook. It is great news for the customer as well as will will keep getting constantly updated content.
  • They will release assessment products that recommend what areas you need to brush up on and what products and books will help you.
  • There will be a new series of CoD's that will sit between the current two CoDs that delves much deeper into individual topics in 15 to 30 and maybe 40 minute sections (about time somebody realised that 45 minutes is about the longest most people can pay attention for and that 3 hour videos are not really the best thing for working people)
  • You will have access to instructor drop in sessions where you can join an instructor online and watch them do a lab or join in a class (good for seeing the different approaches of the different instructors)
  • Printed products and DVD's will still be available they will just be a snapshot of the product release at certain time periods.
  • Polymorphic labs (Poly-Labs) will be available that will expose your weak points and ensure that you find the areas you are not a hot shot. (these sound awesome)
  • They will have customer relationship managers that get in touch with you and see how you are getting on (Personal Trainers for the CCIE world, work those labs baby work those labs :-) )
  • A service that recommends which parts of the documentation or Ciscopress books you need to read to brush up on areas you do not understand or are weak in.
  • There will be associate and professional level training released in the future (CCNA, CCNP, CCVP, etc)
There is a lot more to it (might be best to watch the video I am rubbish at summarising things) but they main problem they are trying to solve with this program is probably the most difficult thing about studying for the CCIE namely "where are you in your studies and where are you going/needing to go". The dynamic feedback mechanisms, contact with instructors and assessment products are designed to give you this feedback and therefore save you time in preparing for the CCIE. (I almost think they wrote this whole program especially for me, because I am stuck in "where am I and where am I going land". As well as the fact anything that cuts down the number of hours I need to study for the CCIE and consequently reduce the complaints about how much time I spend on my computer has to be very good thing for my marriage at least :-) )

The last point to mention is that all this stuff is available free of charge to people who have purchased the end-to-end program. For those of us (I am included in this) who have some of the products you will be able to upgrade to the end-to-end program and receive discounts for the products you already own. If you do not need all the extra stuff (the instructor interaction, Poly Tech labs and all that jazz) your existing products will still be upgraded free of charge under the investment protection program.

One final thing if you are planning on doing your CCIE Voice order IE's Voice CoD + Workbooks now and Brian D will upgrade you to the full Voice end-to-end program when it is released which will save you some major cash. (By the way he does say this in the video but please double check with IE before you buy just to be on the safe side).

I am hugely excited about this news and am now thinking of which of my wife's jewelry I can sell to raise the funds to get my account upgraded to the end-to-end program. On second thoughts I better think of something of my own to sell as touching let alone selling my wife's stuff is a LTM (Life Threatening Move).

Monday, 27 October 2008

CCIE Shorts 27/10/08

I was supposed to do this post on the weekend but some how I lost it in Blogger somewhere. Thanks to cciepursuit I learnt more about Cisco's CCIE 360 training program. The main thing is it looks like the 360 program will be utilizing the NetMasterClass materials. This was a bit of a relief to me as I was worried that there would Cisco would be producing training materials that would virtually ensure that if you used their materials you would pass the exam. This fear has thankfully proved unfounded, but my belief that Cisco was in this for the money rather than for than their claimed higher calling of cleaning up the CCIE training market seems to have been correct. It looks like they are putting a 100% mark up on the NetMasterClass products according to ccieguru. Anyhow if you want to read the full scoop on the CCIE 360 program head over to cciepursuit who has a very informative post on the whole thing. I swear the man missed his true calling in life he should have been an investigative journalist :-)

In other news cciepursuit (who else) has pointed out that the Internetwork Expert Scholarship program is back on. So if you can think of a brilliant essay on why you want to be a CCIE send it to me so I can apply :-) No seriously this is a great opportunity so head over to the Internetwork Expert site to apply.

Finally the other news I forgot to post about is that David Bomball released a new version of the CCIE Command Memorizer about a week ago. It might have been two weeks ago but unfortunately his email got caught in my spam folder and I did not check it for a few days. Anyhow the new version as well as some fixes includes new sections on DHCP and Miscellaneous Commands. I have upgraded to the new version but have not had much of a chance to use it yet due to work being hectic, boy I am looking forward to the Christmas change freeze :-) Anyhow once I have played with it for a bit I will share my experiences with you.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Technologies Workbook Advice

A reader of my blog (yup it surprises me to but it turns out there is quite a lot of them, must be a lot of very bored people in the world :-) ) asked me my opinion on whether if you had the IPExpert BLS it was worth getting the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 workbook. So rather than reply in the comments field I thought I would do a long winded post on the topic :-)

Before I start and I hate the fact that the world has come to this, let me add my disclaimer. What will follows is my opinion and my opinion has been formed by using both the Internetwork Expert and the IPExpert Volume 1 workbooks as well as reading about and sampling some of the other workbooks. I am happy for you to disagree with my conclusion if you are nice and polite but if you cannot do me that courtesy then well you can *&%$ off in the nicest possible way of course :-) Also I have no interest in joining the CCIE vendor wars so please do not drag me into them.

First I will go through the history of my product purchases to try and give you some insight into how I have formed my opinions. I bought the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 workbook while doing my CCNP to help give some structure to my labbing for the CCNP.

Then later in the year I bought the original IPExpert Volume 9 material because they were having a sale where they included their original CoD as well as the audio bootcamp and the printed workbooks (in my opinion unless you have access to a big printer or are happy to read off a computer screen all day the electronic workbooks are a false economy) for round about $600. Although I was not ready at the time I had just finished my CCNP and had not even looked at the CCIE written material, the dollar was nice and weak and so it seemed to good a deal to pass up. I was away on holiday when the material was delivered and then I was working quite extensively on QoS (I must not be normal because QoS is my favourite topic :-) ) when I got back, so I did not look at the material for quite a while. When I did decide to look into the material I found the going a bit tough.

IPExpert took the approach of offering 18 mini labs on the various technologies at this time and this is still the approach they take although the mini labs are up to 22 and they have been changed quite significantly. Now the IPExpert approach seems to be to throw you in at the deep end, with wording and restrictions similar to what you would expect on a full scale lab, except that these are technology focused mini labs. For me this was a bit overwhelming at first and along with the fact that I did not have a home lab to run all this stuff on I decided to go back to the Internetwork Expert volume 1 lab.

Internetwork Expert approach their Volume 1 labs (I am talking about version 4.1 here) in a different way. They give you a bit more hand holding to get you up to speed and this is what I needed. The other bonus was that you can run their Volume 1 labs (except switching) on Dynamips and they give you the Dynamips topology to do this. The downside to the Internetwork Expert stuff was that some of the labs were to simple and the explanations seemed to disappear the further you got through the various labs. In fact the explanations are not up to the standard of the other workbook vendors. However the good news is that Internetwork Expert seemed to have realised this and are working on version 5 of the Volume 1 workbook. A lot of the version 5 sections are now available in a beta form and if you purchased the version 4.1 volume 1 workbook you get immediate access to them without having to pay any more money.

My situation at the moment is that I am working on both the Internetwork Expert labs in Dynamips and using some of my Proctor labs sessions to do the IPExpert stuff. I still get stumped on a lot of the IPExpert stuff and refer to the solutions guide more than I would like. However it is teaching me the thinking involved in the CCIE lab and how to use the documentation to look things up. As for the Internetwork Expert stuff I am mainly working on the version 4.1 stuff till I can get near a printer to print out the new version 5 labs that have been released. I have also been having some problems getting the initial configurations to work in Dynamips which is slowing things down.

So now we have been around the houses a bit back to the original question. If you have the IPExpert BLS would you recommend purchasing the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 workbook?

The answer is it depends how comfortable are you doing the IPExpert Volume 1 labs and what are your timescales for completing the CCIE lab?

If you are struggling like I was with the IPExpert stuff and are in no rush to get your CCIE, then I would recommend Internetwork Expert as your second vendor. The version 5 labs are a huge improvement on the version 4.1 labs. They have detailed explanations and notes in the solutions sections which is what I have been looking for all along. When version 5 is finished and providing the standard of all the other sections matches what I have seen so far, then I am sure Internetwork Expert's Volume 1 workbooks will be right at the top of the introductory lab workbooks pile. However the problem is that they are still in development and that's why I say if you are in no rush to get your CCIE because I am not sure what the timescales for completion are.

However if you do not want to wait around and you own either IPExpert or Internetwork Expert Volume 1 workbooks then I do not recommend you buy the other vendor's products. Based on the samples I have seen and what I have read on the other blogs the best Volume 1 level workbook to teach you the technologies out there at the moment is the Advanced CCIE Routing and Switching - Technology Focused Workbook by Narbik Kocharians. It is a workbook that I am seriously considering buying even though I really cannot afford it and have shelled out on enough CCIE training material already. You only have to look at the sample pages on the Micronics website to see the level of detail Narbik goes into in his explanations (in my opinions when you are trying to master a technology explanations and show commands that show you how to verify things are the most important component of any level 1 workbook). Then there is the best recommendation of all the fact that three newly minted CCIE's (Ethan, Baroq and Matt Hill) recommend it.

Splashing Out

Okay so the other night I decided to splash out and buy the Dynamips workbooks from Internetwork Expert. In some way I feel a bit conned because I already own the proper Volume 2 workbook and even though you get a discount for this, the fact that they divide the workbook into two still means you end up paying $195 for a slightly different product. If I was not so lazy I could probably have got away without needing to get the Dynamips versions but I could not face the hassle of re-engineering the Volume 2 workbook. I still need to get a voucher code so I can get the the first part of the Dynamips workbook. I also ordered a printed copy of the Volume 3 workbook because the printing facilities in my new job are not as accommodating as those in my old job :-) My old job was great for printing we had a whole department dedicated to printing and you got these lovely productions back. Even there though they started installing print monitoring software, big brother is every where these days :-)

It was the plummeting value of the pound that really forced my hand as I was looking into getting Nabriks Advanced Technology Workbook. However no one from Micronics replied to my email and as the pound fell faster than Aussie wickets in the second test (if it was falling as fast as English wickets do then we would be in serious trouble :-) ) it would have been too expensive anyhow. Besides I probably need to stay focused on the products I have.

I did receive a comment asking me if I would recommend getting the Internetwork Volume 1 material if you already have the IPExpert BLS and I though instead of just replying in a comment I would do a blog post later on today about this.

Now if you excuse me I am going to entertain myself for a few more minutes by reading about the cat fight between IPExpert and Internetwork Expert that Ethereal Mind pointed out. He did make a comment on Twitter that it was like watching $20 hookers fighting it out on a street corner over a punter which I must object to. I as CCIE mendicant (yes I had to look it up as well) feel I am a bit classier than being fought over by $20 hookers, $50 dollar ones at least :-)

Thursday, 23 October 2008

WTF??? Policing a Priority Queue

I was looking at how QoS on our routers at work is configured and I came across the following:

Policy Map QOS-OUT
Strict Priority
Bandwidth 2700 (kbps) Burst 337500 (Bytes)
police cir 2712000 bc 339000 be 339000
conform-action set-dscp-transmit ef
exceed-action drop

Now I was confused I had always thought that you did not need to police on a priority queue because policing was built in to the priority command. The way I understood it was that as soon as you typed priority and then the bandwidth, that was the maximum bandwidth that would be allocated to the priority queue and so there was no need for a policer. Am I wrong has anyone else seen this configuration before? Is it normal and a case of what is actually used in the real world rather than what you learn from Ciscopress? Also which command would take precedence the police or the priority command if you set them to different rates?

When I asked why it was setup this way, I was told the police command was better for producing logging as the priority command just dropped packets and did not tell you if your priority traffic was exceeding the bandwidth you had provisioned. Therefore you would not know if you needed to increase your priority queue bandwidth. At first I accepted this explanation but then when I thought about it a bit more and did a show policy-map interface I got the information below.

Class-map: VOICE-OUT (match-any)
151522 packets, 13014864 bytes
30 second offered rate 0 bps, drop rate 0 bps
Match: ip dscp ef (46)
151140 packets, 13001580 bytes
30 second rate 0 bps
Match: access-group name VOICE-OUT
382 packets, 13284 bytes
30 second rate 0 bps
Strict Priority
Output Queue: Conversation 264
Bandwidth 2700 (kbps) Burst 337500 (Bytes)
(pkts matched/bytes matched) 25068/1912731
(total drops/bytes drops) 0/0
cir 2712000 bps, bc 339000 bytes
conformed 151522 packets, 13014864 bytes; actions:
set-dscp-transmit ef
exceeded 0 packets, 0 bytes; actions:
conformed 0 bps, exceed 0 bps

Which to me showed that the priority command does show how many packets/bytes have been dropped. So I do not think logging would be the reason for adding the police command as well. I am leaning towards misconfiguration at the moment, but I would love to hear from people with more QoS experience than me to explain what is going on here.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

CCIE Shorts: Congratulations Matt Hill

The "I want to be a CCIE" blogging community seems to get smaller every day as more and more bloggers move into the illustrious "I am a CCIE" category. Anyhow Matt Hill is the latest to join their ranks so head over to his blog to congratulate him and read what must be the best post on someones lab experience I have ever read :-)

Monday, 20 October 2008


Training seems to be the theme of the moment in CCIE blog land. What with Cisco launching their own 360 degree training program and bloggers like Greg at Etherealmind talking about the value of certifications versus experience. Ivan at IOS Hints and Tips also did a great post on the different ways people get knowledge. I did get to try out one of NIL's CCNA labs when Ivan was looking for beta testers and I was very impressed. If my company ever decided to purchase some training courses for me they would definitely be one of the vendors I would check out.

On the training theme IPExpert have just released their latest newsletter which if you do not subscribe to you can read by clicking here. They have finally launched their CICE blog site and there is the usual list of special offers in the newsletter. There is also a report by the Tolly Group comparing Internetwork Expert versus IPExpert. I always wonder why companies still pay for these reports as I do not know anyone who takes them seriously.

I love lines like this "While this is a head-to-head review, the Tolly Group did not contact Internetwork Expert about it's product, because information utilized came directly from the company website." Lines like that just make me laugh. Anyway to save you all some time and because I needed a good laugh (studying is not going so well these days to many changes to be managed for work) I read the report so you did not have to. To summarise the report says both companies offer great training (which I can confirm since I use them both, however I have not passed my CCIE yet so there is obviously room for improvement :-) ) but that IPExpert is more cost effective.

To me there does not seem to be a great deal of difference in price between the two vendors, however there was one comment I do agree with. Namely the information on the rack rentals. It states that IPExpert tends to be more expensive for the rack rentals (which is why you should always buy their rack rentals when they have the double rack time special offers on) but that they tend to be easier to book. Where as Internetwork Expert rack time can be bought for less money, but trying to get a rack at short notice can be a bit of a problem. My personal experience does tie up with that view and I do prefer the fact that the IPExpert sessions are longer given that you normally lose up to half an hour just logging on to the rack and getting everything setup.

The other thing I did notice on the report that was a bit strange since it was about cost effectiveness was that it did not mention Dynamips. Probably because Internetwork Expert are the only ones with a Dynamips product :-). The cost savings of using only Dynamips are huge compared to renting rack time and it seems more and more people are passing using only Dynamips or at the very least using a lot less rack time because of it.

Finally the other thing to report on the training front is that Internetwork Expert are taking registrations for their Beta Assessment Lab which is designed to asses your knowledge of key topics and technologies. Apparently it will provide you with a study plan and recommend Internetwork Expert products to suit your needs. I have registered in the hope I get accepted and that it is ready to begin testing fairly soon.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

CCIE Study Update 15/10/08

Okay so it is a little while since I have managed to post a study update. My studying seems very disjointed at the moment as some days I make good progress and the next couple of days disappear in the hectic world of work and family life. Work is the real pain at the moment as all our changes need to take place in the evenings and the evenings are the only time I get to study. However with the credit crunch looking like it is beginning to bite the real economy, I feel it would be a serious mistake to turn down the overtime money at the moment. Besides I need it to pay off all the IPExpert rack sessions I have bought. I bought another 10 sessions the other day and got 10 more free using this special offer which ends Friday 17th October.

Although my studying has been a bit haphazard I have managed to achieve a few of my goals. I have finally finished watching all the IPExpert BLS videos, although I am not quite sure how much of it all I took in. I hope to get a review posted fairly soon if time allows but I can say over all I was very impressed. There are a few areas that could do with some work, the sound especially springs to mind, but I will cover all that in my review.

I also tried out a Proctor Labs session and that was good experience as well, apart from the fact that I had to get out of bed at 5 in the morning to start my session. Learning to sit still for 8 hours at a time also looks like it might be a bit of a challenge. I spent most of my time configuring switches which was good but even on some simple tasks I was looking at the solution guide a bit to much. Also since my workbooks are all in electronic format trying to divide the screen up got a bit annoying.

I also began work on changing the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 version 5 initial configuration files to work with Dynamips. I did need some tips from a helpful poster on the Internetwork Expert forums but things seem to be progressing well on that front. Finally I have still been trying to drum the BGP configuration commands into my head using the CCIE Command Memorizer whenever I can.

There is still a lot more to do but I am content that I am at least moving forward even if it is only inches at a time. Hopefully things will begin to stick in my head soon and I will get some more free time so I can step up the pace a bit more.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

CCIE Shorts 14/10/08

Okay first of all a belated congratulations to Jo Knight of CCIE Lab Preparation who managed to pass his CCIE on the 7th of October. Nice one well done Jo I have been meaning to write a post to congratulate you but work got in the way of blogging time. Anyhow if you move at the speed of a sloth like me then head over to his blog to congratulate him, or if you are yawning that is old news like most of you probably will be then make sure you check out his great posts on the lab. He even has a post on what he is planning to learn next which includes Turkish. Turkish or some other foreign language is what my brain seems to think half the IOS commands are written in :-). Anyhow nice one well done Jo!!

Next thing of interest that seems to be going on in CCIE land is the fact that Cisco is introducing it's own CCIE training program. Thanks to CCIE pursuit for pointing this out to me, head over to his blog to check out the full story. Now this is big news in my opinion and so is the fact that Cisco wants 3 million certified engineers by 2012 up from 1 million now.

Both the Cisco CCIE training program and the 3 million certified engineers are something I disagree with. According to the various articles Cisco is designing the program to compete head on with 3rd party bootcamps that are not up to par. So I wonder which 3rd party bootcamps are not up to par? Most of vendors that people seem to use in passing their CCIE's seem to have been up to scratch, as how have some many people passed their CCIE's up until this point?

Companies like Cisco and Microsoft survive and prosper because they have millions of smaller companies supporting their products and providing innovative products/solutions that address the short comings in their own products. Now when the demands for growth mean the Cisco and Microsoft's of this world start eating their own children so to speak then I get a bit upset. Innovation and product improvements do not generally come from large companies they come from small companies that spot a niche in the market. So surely these smaller companies should be rewarded by the corporate giants for supporting them rather than being trampled all over. I mean how much can the CCIE training market be worth to Cisco? Surely not that much where as to companies like IPExpert and Internetwork Expert it is their livelyhood. Also as soon as the corporate giant has established a monopoly in an area then they tend to innovate less which is bad for us consumers.

The other worry I have with Cisco entering the CCIE training market is will they develop a course that spoonfeds candidates? Previously Cisco guarded the intergrity of the CCIE and they did not actually produce any training material for it (oaky a few Ciscopress books aside). However now they have a program to sell they will obviously want to sell more of their training courses than the competition. So one of the best ways to do this is to have a higher pass rate than the competition and if you write the exam and the training material does this not mean that you might be tempted to load your training material with all the information to pass the CCIE? So could the commercial pressure of Cisco wanting to sell training programs lead to their program becoming a complete this course and you will be guarenteed of passing your CCIE type of program?

Would Cisco devalue the CCIE in this way? Do they really care about the CCIE or are they just intrested in getting as many engineers out there as possible who have knowledge of their products and thus act as marketers for their products? I mean why target a specfic number of engineers you want to produce? Instead of setting a target of 3 million engineers why do they not instead insist on improving the quality of the engineers they certify? I do not know what everyone else's experiences are but whenever a company I have worked for has wanted to recruit a new engineer we have never starved for lack of candidates. We have however had severe droughts of quality candidates. Even people who work at Cisco have admitted to me their problem is not the lack of candidates it is the lack of quality people. So what does everyone else think is this a good move by Cisco? Is there a shortage of engineers or is it the quality of the engineers that is in short supply?

Finally as for the demise of the USA that Network World seems to go on about in my opinion that is still a long way off. There is a inovative streak and a remarkable capcaity to reinvent itself in the eagle that the dragon and the tiger with their billion strong populations still have not achieved. On day they will get there but I do not think the US will be brushed aside just yet. Besides the US is still growing and it could hit half a billion people fairly soon, but I digress mental note to self this is a CCIE blog not a currnet affairs blog :-)

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Questions Questions and more Questions

I am struggling a bit at the moment to get my studies to have some structure. I really want to nail the technologies before I move on to full scale labs but then I wonder if it is better to try out some of the easy labs and that will help identify my weaknesses. What did everyone else do? Does anyone think it is worthwhile trying a low difficulty full scale lab just to help identify my weaknesses or do you think I should know how to configure everything backwards before I even try a full multiprotocol lab?

I have also been having some problems getting Dynamips to work properly with the new IE volume 1 version 5 labs. Has anyone else got these to work ? The main problems I have is with the initial configs for the various labs and in particular the switches. I have modified the router interfaces and that is all fine but what do I need to do with the switch configs? I could probably look at the various labs and work it out but as that would take study time I would prefer the easy approach of finding out if anyone else had set it up and what they did. So if you know and are prepared to help then please let me know.

The other thing I wanted to know about is Nabrik's workbooks. I am probably fine with all the material I have at the moment and should not be spending anymore money on CCIE study materials in the current climate. However after all the good things I read about Nabrik, I wonder if it will be worth buying his workbooks. So if anyone has used them then please can you let me know what you think of them and if they are worth buying if you already have IPExpert and Internetwork Expert? Also what do people do with setting up their labs for Nabrik's workbooks can you do most of it in Dynamips, do you use your own equipment, or is there any good cheap rack rentals for them?

Sunday, 5 October 2008

CCIE Shorts 05/10/08

First the bad news as you have probably already heard cciepursuit did not pass his lab on his first attempt. I was convinced he would pass and after following his blog religiously for over a year, he was the blogger I most wanted to pass. Anyhow he did not make it first time although I am convinced he will make it in January. It does show that this CCIE thing is no walk in the park and no matter how well prepared you are you could end up with a lab that hits all your weak points or as in cciepursuits case hits you with question interpretation issues. I have a hard enough time interpreting some of Cisco's normal exam questions so I dread to think what the CCIE will be like. Anyhow head over to cciepursuits blog to give him some encouragement for his next attempt.

On a happier note South African Networker passed his written. I am envious at the amount of time he has to study as he only works part time, (with the credit crunch a few more of us might find ourselves in that position soon, although I am not keen on unpaid study time :-) ) so he has managed to put in some fearsome hours. Anyhow head over to his blog by clicking here to congratulate him.

The other thing to mention is there should be an update of the CCIE Command Memorizer coming later this week that I am looking forward to. I will let you know some more on what has changed later in the week.

Finally Internetwork Expert have released a partial release of the new Version 5 IP Services section so I look forward to trying it out. By the way what does everyone else do with their electronic access workbooks do they print them out themselves or do they order the printed version? I need hard copies of a couple of my workbooks and I am not sure which is the best approach at the moment, so I thought I would find out what everyone else does.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Study Update 01/10/08

Apologies for the lack of updates but I only landed back in the country yesterday and did not really feel like posting. Before that I was in Zimbabwe for a few days and considering that their computers at the airport have been down for over a year, and I almost could not get on the plane because I had not printed my ticket. I was not going to be posting much from there. Besides I was enjoying some fishing as well as time with my family as we said our final farewells to my dad. Anyhow maybe more on that some other time.

As for the little bits of study I have been doing. It mainly consists of working my way through the IPExpert CoD and I have a little bit of day 4 and all of day 5 still to watch. It has been a really great learning experience. I have picked up a lot of tips that I think will really help me in my journey and my career. Once I finish it and week two of the Internetwork Expert CoD I hope to be able to do a review between both products.

Apart from watching videos the only other thing I have been doing is hammering the BGP sections in the CCIE Command Memorizer. When I come across a command I do not know I look it up on the Cisco website and try it out on Dynamips. There have been quite a few commands that are taking a while to get through my thick skull. However I believe the experience has been worthwhile and when you do not have a lot of time on your hands the CCIE Command Memorizer is about the best thing I have to make me feel like I have actually done something. I need to be in the right frame of mind and have total silence to read a book. I need silence and setup time to do a lab even a Dynamips one. The CoD videos tend to be quite long. So all I am left with is practice questions and the memorizer and that's what I use when I have a spare couple of minutes.

I need to schedule some longer time slots over the coming weeks but at the moment I am still sorting out all the paperwork that arrived while I was away. So I will probably be pretty quiet on the study front till next week.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Written Study Materials

Well I have been threatening to type up a post on what I used to prepare for my written for a while so here goes.

I consider my written study to have begun when I started working on my CCNP at the beginning of 2007. I think the CCNP course is a great building block for moving onto the CCIE and I would recommend following the certification pyramid to anyone who was new to the industry. I would also caution you not to rush through the exams no matter how tempting it may be to achieve your CCNP. Anyhow I digress, the material in the BSCI and BCMSN courses is especially relevant to the CCIE written and the CCIE lab in my opinion.

So the books I used for it where
Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks (BSCI): Authorized Self-study Guide (CCNP Self-study) This is my opinion is a great book and a really enjoyable read. I see a lot of people using the Certification Guide instead of this book because the Cert Guide is much thinner and so they will finish quicker :-) However if you are new to the topics I would recommend this book rather than the Certification Guide. I read this book cover to cover and tried out all the labs inside as well.

Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks (BCMSN) (Authorized Self-study Guide) I found this book really hard going it was not easy to read and did not seem to flow to me. This book was a real struggle to get through and it took me ages to finish. I was not keen on this book at the time but as time has passed my feelings towards it have mellowed. It has some really good information in it that applies to real life as well as certification exams. Also it is listed in the additional reading sections of the CCIE Written Certification Guide. I read the book cover to cover but did not manage to try out all the labs due to equipment restraints.

CCNP BCMSN Official Exam Certification Guide (CCNP Self-Study) I read this book cover to cover as well to try and make sense of some of the stuff in the Self -Study guide. This book was a lot easier to follow, however for the BCMSN exam it is a bit light in certain areas.

I also read the other CCNP Certification Guides and although they had some useful stuff for the CCIE Written like QoS and a few security topics the information presented in them can easily be found in other places. For their relevant CCNP exams they are still must read books. For the BSCI and BCMSN I also used the self study products from thebryantadvantage not the Trainsignal stuff just the study packages. I found the package for BSCI to be really good and it helped me a lot with BSCI. The package for BCMSN was not as good in my opinion but then the exam is also a bit random so I am sure it is pretty hard to come up with a training package for it.

I got a bit of a taste for QoS from the ONT exam and wanted to know more so I moved on to reading the Cisco QOS: Exam Certification Guide cover to cover. There are appendixes on the CD for people moving on to the CCIE that detail Frame Relay traffic shaping amongst other things. I absolutely loved this book and in my opinion this is required reading for the CCIE. The QoS exam was also very enjoyable by the way, it was second only to my recent CCNA exam in terms of being a good exam not full of stupid questions.

Then I decided to get a vendor neutral view on things and I read Interconnections: Bridges and Routers. I read the whole thing apart from one chapter, you can look on the Internetwork Expert website and find which chapter(s) they recommend you can skip. I did find this book really hard going in parts but I do feel that I gained a lot of of the book. I understand a lot more of the history of the protocols and have a much better grasp on how they really function. I even found out about the differences in the different bridging technologies which I did not know about before.

Next I moved on to TCP/IP Illustrated: Protocols v. 1 but I did not get too many chapters into it before I abandoned it for Internetworking with TCP/IP: v. 1. Internetworking is another great book in my opinion, and it reinforced a lot of things I already knew with a lot more understanding of how things work. I found this book a really easy read and loved every page.

Then it was on to Network Warrior which is a great little book. I read the whole thing except for some chapters on telephony that I plan to revisit soon. Unless you are a seriously experienced consultant then I would recommend this is a great book to pick up for everyone else. This is a real on the job book and it is a great read.

You would think I would be all booked out by now however the next one in the list was Routing TCP/IP Volume 1 Second Edition. This is on most people's must read list for the CCIE and I understand why. It was a great read and I read the whole thing except for the IS-IS chapter. I would say this is a must read book.

Internet Routing Architectures Second Edition was next on the bedtime stories list. The book is divided into two sections with the theory stuff covered in the first half and the configuration in the last half. I think I made a mistake in reading it straight through instead of reading the theory and then reading the corresponding configuration section. Still a really good book on BGP which helped me a lot.

Finally it was on to CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide which I loved. I read everything except the two chapters on QoS. This book is an obvious must for the written exam and is great for reinforcing all the knowledge that you will have picked up from the other books.
So that was my reading list there were other books in there that deserve honorable mentions such as Routing TCP/IP Volume 2, Troubleshoot IP Routing Protocols, the two CCIE Practical Study Books and various other vendor neutral and Cisco Press books. I read a couple of RFC's as well (ouch) and various documents on the Cisco website.

As well as books I viewed a lot of CBT's (I would highly recommend CBT Nuggets for Professional Level Material, I did not have all of them for the CCNP as some were released after I had done the exams but the stuff I did have was excellent) and completed the whole of the first week of Internetork Expert's excellent Advanced Technologies class. I also completed all their Volume 1 labs on the various routing protocols.

For final exam prep on all my previous IT Exams I used Self Test Software which I have always found to be excellent. They are basically Transcender exams with a few less questions and for less money. I would highly recommended Self Test however they did not have a product for the CCIE.

So I turned to NetMasterClass and their excellent CCIE Written Practice Exam. I must say that this is an excellent product and is a must have for anyone wishing to pass the CCIE Written Exam. I would not have passed the written if it was not for this product.

So that is it all the products that I pretty much used to prepare for the written (Apologies if this looks like a marketing post I assure you I used the lot and bought them all out of my own money). Of two new products (IPExpert CoD and CCIE Command Memorizer) I have used since passing the written, I would say the CCIE Command Memorizer would be a great help to preparing for the written.

Monday, 22 September 2008

CCIE Shorts 22/09/08

So I did manage to get my mothers ADSL working and it was relatively painless which was a bit of a surprise. I thought this being Africa things would not go smoothly but apart from the tree (which I need to cut back) that keeps knocking the phone line about the ADSL setup was nice and quick. The MWeb support staff I spoke to were excellent and setup was relatively quick. From my experience it looks like they lock down the wireless on the ADSL routers with WAP out of the box in South Africa which is a good thing. So I think they are one step ahead of the UK on that score. I seem to remember reading on the BBC that most of the ISP's in the UK ship their wireless routers out with WEP if any wireless security at all.

Anyhow I have been busy doing other things around the house sorting out her phone lines and fixing lights and all that stuff so I have been a busy boy.

While I have been busy Barooq passed his CCIE lab, this is pretty old news but if you are one of the few who has not seen this yet then why not head over to CCIE Candidate to congratulate him or better yet head over to his own blog Chronicles of a CCIE journey and congratulate him there as well. He has written a post on his lab experience that I found very interesting and he has promised to write another post on his advice for preparation that I am really looking forward to.

Also on the CCIE front thanks to Cisco Network Engineer for pointing out to me that the September edition of the CCIE Flyer had been released. There are some good articles in there and it is well worth the read so click here to check it out.

As for my studies well I am watching my way through the IPExpert BLS videos at the moment. Been learning a lot of new tips and tricks and reinforcing a lot of things I knew. However they are not short videos and with the note taking and lack of concentration they are taking quite a while to get through. Also I need to enjoy some African sunshine before I leave.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Study Update 19/09/08

I have not been getting much study in since I passed my written last Friday as work has been a bit hectic and I am off to Africa for a few days so I needed to spend a bit of time with the family before I left.

I need to formulate a new approach in my study plans as I found studying for the written quite simple because there is a defined path in that you can just follow the information that is in the study guide with additional reading around topics. The lab is a different beast altogether as you just have the blueprint to follow. Although the temptation is to jump straight into the multi-protocol labs as soon as possible I am trying to avoid that path for the moment and focus on completing my mastery of the technologies individually. I did a lot of reading and basic labs for my CCIE written (which reminds me I will post on my written study materials soon) so I think the theory is pretty much there. It is just being able to recall all the commands and what exactly they do in a timely manner. So that is where despite me being an initial sceptic the CCIE Command Memorizer comes in. The little bit of study I have done has involved the CCIE Command Memorizer and hammering away at the BGP sections. I was uncertain where it would fit into my study plans especially as it does not emulate an IOS like Dyanmips, it is just an e-book where you type in commands. However I have found that when I have 10 minutes of free time I can just fire it up much quicker than Dynamips and just do a couple of sections and keep the commands in my mind. If you ever hear the Brians or Scott on any of the VoD (Video on Demand) or audio CD's they stress the importance of understanding the technology which is the most import thing in my opinion, but they also stress the value of repetition and that is where my study aide of the moment is helping quite nicely.

Anyhow I better get packing as flight is early this evening and I have to get down to the big smoke. Depending on the reliability of Telkom and whether they have setup my mothers ADSL line properly I might not be doing much posting for a week or so.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

CCIE Command Memorizer

Following my post about whether anyone had ever used the CCIE Command Memorizer, David Bomball CCIE 11023 and the owner of as well as the Command Memorizer contacted me.

After a brief chain of emails he offered me the chance to review his product and blog on my experiences with it and where it helped/fitted in to my CCIE study. I accepted his kind offer as I have wanted to try the Command Memorizer since Richard first mentioned it on his blog. So no money has changed hands and we have agreed that I can say whatever I want about the product provided I give David the opportunity to respond before I post anything. I think this is fair enough as it gives a bit of balance to the review and will allow me to give the other side of the story as well.

Anyhow I have installed it on a virtual machine at home and my work laptop (you get two licences) and have ripped through the first BGP section already. So far I am impressed and I can already see a clear niche for it in my CCIE study plans. I will post a bit more on it once I have used it for a bit longer.

IP Expert Special Offer September

I have been meaning to blog this for a while but I received the IPExpert newsletter the other day. (If you do not subscribe get yourself over to IPExpert and subscribe and then get yourself over to Internetwork Expert and subscribe to their newsletter oh and then and subscribe to their newsletter as well. Hell there are loads of good newsletters out there so if you have anymore ideas add them in the comments section.) So where was I oh yes the IPExpert special offer apparently the Blended Learning Solution (BLS) is only staying at $999 till the end of September and then it goes up a massive amount. So if you are thinking of getting it I guess now is the time. Stick it on an interest free credit card like me and only worry about paying for it when the interest free period ends, except the interest free period ends a lot sooner than you would think and then ouch so maybe that was not such a good suggestion :-). The other special offer that they still have going on is the double rack time which I also intend going for (you have to have bought a BLS I think but may be able to negotiate). I will go for 10 sessions get them doubled to 20 and then hopefully Internetwork Expert will have a special so I can pick up some of their sessions as well. Anyhow enough of the marketing speak (just to let you know by the way I do not get paid or get free products from any of these companies) and back to some studying.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Official Written Pass!!! Well I think so at least

Well it looks like I have been given the all clear and have passed the CCIE Written exam. Well I think so at least, as I have not really had any confirmation from anyone.

This morning I logged into the Peason Vue website they instruct you to log in to on your score report and it showed my results and showed pass, where as the night before it had said no results were available. It did not say "valid" which was what I was expecting it to say from reading the score report. However re-reading the report it does not specify the actual term used it just says that you exam results will be displayed. Anyhow a few hours later I recieved an email from Pearson Vue to thank me for testing with them, but no confirmation email that I had passed my exam like I am used to. So I was still a bit unsure if it was official. Then I logged into Cisco's website to see if I could schedule a lab and it said it could not find my details. Hmm so still not official and my mind was beginning to play tricks on me when would the confirmation come.

No confirmation email (if they even send one, I think they should by the way) ever came but I logged in to Cisco and now I can schedule my lab exam. I guess that is all the confirmation I need.

Hmm now when to book it for? This 90 day schedule thing while a good thing in terms of freeing up exam seats certainly makes you think before you commit :-). I notice that there are quite a few lab days open all the way until the end of the year in the test centre I will be using. So I guess it is working in freeing up slots. For me anything before next year will be throwing my money away. I was hoping to have my first shot at the lab I became really old :-) early next year, but I think I will have to wait. Christmas is nearly always a write-off and with a second child due early next year study time could be in short supply at the beginning of next year. So at the moment I am leaning towards a date at the end of April. I need firm dates to work to, but I will have to have a bit of a think over the next few days as well as a chat with the misses.

Friday, 12 September 2008

The Waiting Game

I went to my local test centre and took my written exam today and I have a preliminary pass (yippee). However it is not an official pass as Cisco have implemented these new security measures that I mentioned in an earlier post. So when you are given your score sheet there are some instructions on it that tell you to logon to a Pearson Vue site, so that you can check your results. It can take up to 72 hours after you have taken the exam for your result to be confirmed. So it looks like I will be waiting for a while. I will post my experiences of the exam when I am confirmed as having passed. Quickly I will say that I thought it was a good test the questions were not as out there as some I encountered on the CCNP track and the English was okay. I only complained about the wording on one question and used the comment button to send my feedback on it to Cisco.

On the subject of exam security though I have always been in favour of the new measures Cisco is introducing but today I had pause to think. When I was talking to the examiners after the exam about the new security features Cisco has implemented. I realised that I had not had my photo taken and added to my score report. I asked them why this had not been done and they explained that it was only a requirement for test centres to take photos by the end of October.

However to implement the photo requirement they explained they would need to have a seperate room, buy an expensive camera and probably hire an extra member of staff to process the signing in of candidates. So since they were not getting any financial support from Pearson or Cisco then they had decided this was an expense they could not afford and they would be shutting down as a test centre. Which is very bad news for me as it means it would be very expensive to go do any certification exam as the nearest test centre would be over 26 miles away (one direction not far for you Yanks I know but the traffic here is murder and the price for fuel well do not get me started on that). I remember when my city used to have five or six test centres ah the good old days when I was but a wee lad :-) Over the last couple of years as I did my 2003 MCSE, renewed my CCNA and then did my CCNP I have seen them all close down. Now it looks like the final one which is already quite a trek for me to get to is closing down as well.

From most of the exam centre staff I have spoken to I understand that they do not make a great deal of money from being a test centre. Apparently most of the money goes either to Pearson or Cisco (Prometric and Microsoft or so on) . I am not sure of how exactly makes the money if someone can enlighten me that would be great. I mean someone must be making some money out of this stuff because the exams are not cheap. So it would be good if the big boys Cisco or Pearson (whoever makes the money from these exams) had a program for helping the small test centres fund the equipment they require to stay an exam centre. That way they could retain local test centres and allow more people access to their exams as well as allowing the additional benefit of a certain Ferret to take more exams :-)