Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Ok, so I had the chance to hack a the Cisco ASET labs. Let me say this first - I was not impressed. I had a total of 18 hours of rack time available, and I would surprised if I used 6 of those hours. And of those 6 hours, I probably only got 2 hours of actual lab time - the rest of the time troubleshooting Cisco's equipment!

Perhaps I just got a bad rack, but all of my equipment would randomly power-cycle. Some times it was all of the equipment, sometimes it was just one or two devices. Sometimes the router would just power-cycle, other times it would load a weird ass configuration, and other times it would load to ROMMON and say the flash was corrupt!! Passwords would randomly appear, and just numerous other things. How could I have an entire bad rack? How could 13 devices be totally FUBAR'd?

In any event, I will not be using the ASET labs again. I think I spent more time cursing and re-starting labs than it was worth. Instead I was able to locate refurbished 24-port 3550 switches for $150 a piece. This was a fantastic deal, and much cheaper than even eBay! I could probably even sell them when I'm done for $200 or more a piece!

Now, there is no way in hell I could purchase a couple 3560's, even if I could re-sell them when I am done. With less than three months to go, it's not worth it to invest a ton of money in 3560s. So, I am going to supplement my switching labs with rack rentals. This shouldn't cost me any more than $60. Once I get my 3550s, I should be able to zip through my switching labs and then finally complete my BGP labs. It feels like I've been working on my BGP labs forever but with so much travel, and maximizing time with my family, I just haven't had much time to really study.

If I had given up much sooner on the ASET labs, I could have probably completed the BGP labs this past weekend! Well, that is all for now. I'm hoping for a week or two off so I can get some prime study time in. That lab date is quickly approaching!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Updates and News...

Well, for anyone that reads this, you may have noticed I have not posted in quite some time. This is partially due to the fact that I'm traveling a lot for work, and partially because when I do have time to study, I don't have a lot of time for much else.

I've been working on my BGP workbooks the last two weeks. It's going pretty slow, with the travel and all, but at least I am still getting some study time in. BGP was a weak area when I started my studies, and unfortunately it is still one of my weak areas. Hopefully by the time I read the BGP section in the DocCD and double-up on the workbook labs, I will feel much better.

In other news, it looks like Cisco has released the CCIE 4.0 blueprint with BIG changes hitting in October of this year. The good news is I already have 6 months of CCIE study under my belt, with 4 of those being Lab study, the bad news being that if I don't obtain my CCIE before October, I may not achieve it this year. This is not to say that I am overly worried. I did move my date back to August 3, 2009. I did this so that I could attend a 2nd Narbik bootcamp in July, and leave myself enough time between the end of the bootcamp and the exam to really cram on some mock labs. I've got less than 90 days, which means I really need to get cracking. The exam is now paid for, so my August 3rd date is pretty firm. I've scheduled out two weeks of vacation as to not be distracted from my goal.

If I am not fortunate enough to achieve a passing score on the first attempt, I plan to immediately schedule another attempt as soon as I can. I can only hope to get in three attempts before the October date. The changes to the blueprint are pretty massive. They are splitting the exam into two pieces - a 2 hours troubleshooting section and a 6 hour exam. The core knowledge topics remain. They are also changing the hardware, the IOS version, and adding things such as MPLS, MP-BGP, advanced IPV6 routing and other topics. These changes in themselves are not terrible - I think they properly reflect todays networking world. Unfortunately, these changes will drastically adjust my studying.

So overall, I am still happy with my progress and still feeling pretty good about the exam. I've got some ASET labs scheduled for next week, so I'll post my feeling here.