I have been a network engineer for 4 years now and I a recently passed my CCNA (should have taken this a long time ago) pretty effortlessly using wendell odom's offical exam cert guide. Anyways a respected colluege of mine says to go strait for the CCIE skipping the CCNP. Most of the stufff covered in the NP seems to be covered in wendell odoms CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide, 3rd Edition. Anyways should I go straight for the IE? I like the cisco press books by odom and find them very usful.
You certainly *could* do that, however, I think you'll find that the CCIE isn't nearly as easy as the CCNP. I've held a CCNP for almost 6 years now, and I can say that the two exams aren't really even in the same league. You may be a sharpshooter, but I doubt you'll be able to make the jump without some serious study, time, and considerably more work experience. Sitting down with a CCIE prep guide ain't gonna get it done. I am being general here, but the tone of your email makes the jump from CCNP to CCIE sound so matter-of-fact. :-) Remember, the first time failure rate of the CCIE lab is around 95%. Not trying to be negative or discouraging, but the cost of good lab gear, lab exam, flight, and hotel are going to run you many thousands of dollars. You'll want to carefully consider your plan and approach the CCIE with appropriate expectations.
You are certainly right, but just keep in mind that there are also people who are CCIE and even didn't pass CCNA :D It's possible due to Cisco certification rules... one guy just said that he was too lazy to take all these exams (CCNA, CCNP) and he went straight for CCIE :D It's a matter of how long did you work with Cisco equipment and general with networking stuff...
If you really want to go for CCIE, skip the CCNP. Being an active CCIE no-one will care if you have other Professional- or Associate-Level certs as well.
However CCIE is really not that easy and while studying books will help you for the CCIE written exam, it won´t get you through the lab. I passed CCIE 2 years ago - cost me really lots of time studying including a 4-week boot-camp (I´d never made it without that).
Important question: who´ll be paying for the fun? Apart from the time you need the total CCIE-project could easily cost you something like $10.000 (very rough calculation $5000 bootcamp, $1000 for the written exam+books, $4000 for 3 lab attemps - the average candidate needs about
3 lab attempts to succeed).
If you are working as a network engineer, forget about getting lab equipment etc... a lot of people suggest that for CCIE-preparation you´ll need your own lab (routers+switches...), that´s not true. If you work as network engineer, you´ll have the usual hands-on-experience already (hopefully?). For the rest a emulator like dynamips will do the job. (besides old 25xx routers running old IOS images are not of that much help anyway - cisco uses new routers running IOS 12.4 in the lab). I´d definitely recommend a (good) boot-camp. Expensive but really worth it, could save you much studying-time and a couple of failed lab-attempts.
Talk to me a little more about dynamips and hands-on experience...do you think this is consistent with most current CCIE's? Your idea kind of flies in the face of "conventional wisdom", however if it's true, I'm so there! The cost has been holding me back. Conservative estimates (including a lab) put the CCIE at around US$15,000. My company won't support my study efforts despite my willingness to pay the funds back if I leave before a minimum of 3 years. Not looking for a handout, but I simply don't have those kind of funds available. If you're for real, and experience, some book study, and dynamips is indeed adequate, that would be some good news!
Don´t get me wrong: you do need lots of hands-on experience. However as network engineer you often can get that at work (I could!). And real-life experience cannot be replaced easily by toying around with a little lab at home or by reading books.
For the CCIE lab you´ll need a) some years of hands-on experience - see above
b) then you´ll do the CCIE written. This is lots of theory, but only theory - no pratical experience required. To prepare, get some good books and copy the content to your brain. And: You´ll need the theory later for the lab.
c) a bootcamp or something similar. This cannot be replaced by experience, you´ll need to learn exactly how to handle the tasks wich are to be expected. Also you´ll learn the 1000 little tricks you´ll need. The bootcamp operators usually have their lab which you can use, often these deals include remote lab access for no or little money for some more time (e.g. one month after the camp). Please note: booking a bootcamp does ONLY make sense, if you do have the hands-on experience, have already passed the CCIE written and plan to take the lab exam within the next couple of months. Might cost around $5000,- depending on operator and duration in weeks. Check out
he´s said to be one of the best.
d) the final preparation between the boot-camp and the lab exam. I´d recommend something like 1-2 months, not more. Here you´ll repeat all you learned in the bootcamp over and over again. You´ll also want to have a lab at hand in order to re-do the tasks from the bootcamp or new tasks or just to try out things.
But instead of spending $$ for a large collection of outdated cisco equipment, there are much cheaper options:
- use dynamips, a Cisco router emulator which runs an actual copy of the IOS image. Behaves exactly as a real cisco router, if you have a reasonable fast PC, you can emulate a bunch of routers. The emulator does have some limitations, none of which are IMHO relevant for CCIE preparation Since it emulates only routers and not switches, you might want to get 1 or 2 old switches (if you want a complete lab, probably not really necessary. Old 2950´s will probably do)
and check out this page: the guy has many examples of ccie labs with dynamips, ready to download.
- use a remote-lab, either from your bootcamp operator or rent one from a rental operator. That´s $10-$20 per day for real up-to-date hardware and a setup like in the real lab (at least 6 routers, 2 L3-switches, frame-relay cloud etc., including terminalserver and remote powerswitches). You´ll need an 12.4 IOS version since some (few) tasks require relatively new features and also some default settings are different in old IOS versions. Just google for "ccie rental rack" or something like that. Even if you spend some hundred dollars on rental racks (I doubt you will), thats much cheaper and better than buying your own gear.
and that´s all. Book your lab-date at
and if it´s your lucky day, you´ll get your number. If not, do more training and try again :-))
Honesty, if you have 4 years of network engineering experience it isn't all that difficult to make the jump straight to the CCIE (it might even be a waste of your time to study the CCNP). I would say that if the CCNA was a breeze for you and that the CCNP doesn't look much harder, than yes go ahead and start prepping for your CCIE. Cisco doesn't require those lower level certs if you are ready. You'll need to spend some money on a lab, but like Axel mentions there are cheap options like dynamips or rack rentals.
The CCIE isn't as difficult as people make it out to be these days. It is true that the CCIE used to be really difficult ten years ago (the black belt of networking) with a grueling two day lab and proctors hell-bent on failing you, but that is a thing of the past. Today, Cisco gives you a blueprint for all the topics and there are lab books to prep with. I hear people say the first time failure rate is in the 90% range, but no where have I seen that statistic on Cisco's site or heard any official authority confirm that. I think that is just a B.S. statistic that people say to protect the value of their certification.
I don't think they were "hell bent on failing you", but I think there was a lot of unwritten assessment as well, and if you were "the right stuff" they would not go out of their way to make it more difficult for you.
I do think one of the challenges now is the availability of lab seats. When I did mine, availability was measured in weeks, so it was realistically possible to take time out and study, and just carry on after an attempt. With the bookings now as full as they are, it is more difficult to maintain the momentum.
Agreed. Availability was better then, but there are a lot more prep materials now too. Let alone the equipment needed now is available to everyone (I needed an LS1010 and ISDN when I did mine)Some of that stuff no longer tested Online racks now make it way easier to get hands on too
What is your collegue's CCIE number? With all due respect to our CCIE's reading this thread, it's my understanding that the CCIE (and CCNP) tests are harder now than they used to be. More VoIP, wireless, virtualization, QoS, etc. All the harder stuff. I know some CCIE's at Cisco that admit they couldn't pass it again, even with a lot of study. I don't think holding a four-digit CCIE number has the prestige it once used to, except of course as an indicator of experience.
I have my CCNP and probably would have to re-study everything all over again to pass all four tests, especially since they have changed so much since I got it. I'm just saying CCIE is probably the same, so you can't take one person's opinion that going straight to CCIE is a valid course. It may be, but it might also be friggin hard. :)