CCIE R/S: Troubleshooting Returns, Oct 18th

Yep, it's official. The CCIE R/S lab will now have a specific troubleshooting component at the cutover date. Oct 17th is the last day with the old blueprint and old format lab, and Oct 18th begins the new era with the return of troubleshooting.

Now to the longer version. Cisco announced today a change to the CCIE Routing and Switching Certification Standards (formerly called the blueprint). This revised set of criteria, numbered as version 4.0, has some interesting changes. I've listed a few links at the bottom of the post to get you to Cisco's pages on the announcement. Today I'll give you a quick overview, and talk about the big change on the lab: Troubleshooting:

  • Larger Technology topics added: EIGRPv6, Optimized Edge Routing/Performance Routing, IPv6 multicast, MPLS VPN, RSVP.
  • Technology removed: nothing big enough to notice
  • More focus on the skills to prepare R/S infrastructure for "advanced technology" traffic (includes prep for voice, video, security, wireless, etc)
  • Routers with 12.4T Advanced IP Services, switches with IOS 12.2 Advanced IP Services
  • New lab exam format, in order:

The Core Knowledge section (aka, open-ended questions), appx. 30 minutes

The Troubleshooting section, appx. 2 hours

The Configuration section, appx 5.5 hours

  • Lab vs Written: much improved alignment on technologies
  • Lab vs Written: continue to have a different focus in what they assess, eg, the Written assesses monitoring and theory skills on written, the lab assesses config skills. However, these are not exclusive.

Enough overview -let's talk troubleshooting! Curses? Hoorah? Who cares, it's can't be any tougher than it was? Oh crap, I gotta pass before Oct 17th? Whatta ya think?

For those of you say under age 30, here's a bit of history that may help. When Cisco first offered CCIE back in 1993, up through 2001, the lab exam was two days long. You spent 1.5 days on the build, which basically worked like the Configuration Section of today's lab exam. Then you went to lunch on the 2nd day, and while at lunch, they broke a bunch of stuff in your lab pod, mostly by changing the config. After lunch you got 3 hours to fix as much as you could. (For example, on my CCIE R/S lab attempt back in 1995, there were 33 specific problems introduced.)

Then, back around 2001, Cisco changed the lab to be a single day, build only, with no troubleshooting, with the idea that a well-written lab exam requires a fair amount of troubleshooting due to the interaction of different features. So, in the last 8 years or so, troubleshooting has not been separately assessed on the lab exam.

Fast Forward to Oct 17th 2009. That's the last day, at least per plan, for an R/S lab to have only two components: A 4-5 open-ended written questions (max 30 minutes, appx.), with about 7.5 hours max for the configuration section. (Note that the open-ended question section was added not long ago, but it exists in the lab exam today.) As of Oct 18th, the configuration section shrinks by 2 hours to 5.5 hours (appx), with a 2 hour troubleshooting section. Important items of note:

  • The troubleshooting section will present a large scenario. You spend the two hours understanding the scenario, and fixing problems in the lab pod relative to the scenario.
  • The troubleshooting scenario is not related to the configuration scenario that follows.
  • You can move on to the config section once you finish the troubleshooting section, but you can't go back and work on troubleshooting.
  • To pass, you must have a passing score on each of the three sections of the lab exam.

So, what do you think about the changes to CCIE? Especially the changes to add troubleshooting back into the lab? Write comments, click the surveys, click the links.

Note from Wendell, Tuesday, May 5th, 6:20AM - the surveys are having trouble - working on gettng them fixed. Sorry... Didn't want to delay the post, though.

Here are some links to the surveys, while I'm working on getting them fixed:

Survey 1 - My chances of passing the CCIE R/S lab, after Cisco adds troubleshooting, is:

Survey 2 - These changes make the CCIE R/S lab better assess the real-world job of CCIE's:

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