Getting Started on the Cisco CCIE Routing & Switching Track

I am the blogger over at CCIETalk.com and I will be writing about the different stages during a CCIE R&S journey. At this point I am assuming that you have already passed your CCIE Written and you know exactly what you are putting yourself into :) Don't make the same mistake as most other candidates who start off in a wrong order. There is nothing better and quicker than starting from ground zero, building everything one block at a time. I will divide this journey into three categories and then post about each one of them over the next few weeks. Keep in mind that there is no one size fits all and what I am trying to do here is give you a good framework. It might not work for you but it will give you a good picture on what all is needed to prepare for CCIE. This first post will be an overview of all the stages and then I will dive deep into each of the three categories. I will keep this series CCIE R&S focused and then if this is helpful, I will start on other tracks :)

  • Find the right training resources
  • Build your home lab
  • Build a solid 6-month schedule

Yes there is no doubt that you can achieve your CCIE without any training material by just going over the blueprint and looking up everything on Cisco Documentation Site. Is that the best way? I am not so sure about that. In my opinion the best way to achieve CCIE is to focus on one technology at a time and then combine them together via full scale labs. There is no need to reinvent the wheel so choose the vendor that fits your needs and stick with it. Along with a training vendor, you have to utilize various free resources that are already available over the internet. Once you have decided on a training vendor's material, now you can start looking for the right equipment for your home lab. Why didn't I recommend this before? Well almost every training vendor uses a different topology so it's easier to select a vendor first and then build your home lab according to their specs rather than the other way around. It took me about a month building my lab and finding all the "deals". If you are lucky enough to have all the extra equipment at work that you can use, GREAT! Don't try to cut corners while building your lab, there is nothing more frustrating than troubleshooting hardware issues when you should be focusing on the technologies. That's one reason I stayed away from Dynamips, I will post more on that later. So now you have the training material and you have your own home lab, time to start planning. You MUST have a schedule otherwise you won't be able to track your progress. There is nothing better than the Cisco Lab Blue Print when it comes to building a schedule. According to Cisco, average lab preparation time after passing CCIE written is about 6 months. I will come up with a sample schedule that one can use to track their progress. Since I am working fulltime, my schedule will be suitable for anyone who is working during the week and can only spend 2-3 hours after work and long hours during the weekend. You can modify it to suit your needs as long as you give me a credit for it :) Next up we will discuss all the training options and figure out how to select one over the other.

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