Guys, the mail from Cisco arrived this morning which confirmed my own thoughts that I hadn’t made the grade this time around.
Thank you for taking the CCIE Service Provider Lab exam. We regret to inform you that your test performance did not meet certification standards. Although you did not pass on this attempt, take pride in being among the few Internetworking engineers who have qualified to take Cisco Systems’ CCIE Certification Lab examination. This in itself is an accomplishment and we hope that you will continue to pursue your certification goal.
Okay, I am writing this entry with the NDA in mind so all the technical terms here are from the blueprint with no specifics.
I feel good about the attempt. The SP exam is very doable and also very failable. I was happy that I had practised about 90% of the exam upon first reading. There were about three questions that I read and thought “don’t know that one” and about two others that I knew I would need the documentation for.
The SP Lab is pre-configured with some L2, L3, MPLS, MPLS VPN and Multicast configurations. Your are required to troubleshoot these pre-configurations and then proceed with the tasks. Frankly, it does not make it easier as you are constantly walking the configurations looking for errors – a blank canvas is easier as you know where you stand.
I did fine in Bridging\Switching, one 3 point section I could not get to work even though I had labbed something similar the previous week and got it working in the lab! I spent over 20 minutes attempting it and got SO close but ultimately I skipped it, IGP was fine, all talking, neighbors up, etc, EGP was okay, 3 out of 4 sections completed, made a note of the 4th part and moved on, Redistribution fine, all routes where they were supposed to be, got MPLS up and also some security done before lunch.
Brussels is a nice lab building, basic workstations, warm room, little noise, good lunch, excellent environment for passing the exam. Also right beside the airport.
Afternoon – snags! For MPLS VPN, 1st section complete then told to configure on the piece I could not get working earlier – spent another 30 minutes in that rat hole trying to get it working – no joy and it’s not documented in any one place in the documentation! Frustration, a lot of iterpretation required in this section, QoS was fine, Multicast good, all talking and seeing what they were supposed to see, Security okay and I have to say this, I do not like Systems Management – That is why we buy Solarwinds!!!!! – All told I ran out of time and can have no complaints.
At the airport on the way home I looked up the solution to the issue from earlier in the day and I missed 1 LINE from one of the routers!!! – Cost = 10%.
All in all I felt fine with the lab, no stress, no pressure, just me and a set of tasks to complete in a time frame. Now, I did say the exam is failable. Cisco have cleverly made a lot of the 3 point questions multi-tasked.
e.g. ISIS – 3 Points
- Set this up <—- This will be easy
- Then set this parameter <—This will also be fine
- Don’t let xxx happen <— A bit tricky but good lab practise covers it
- Ensure this yyy is the response <—- Difficult to get points, have to be exact!
And this occurs 33 times roughly – so even with top preparation, you need to bring your A game as your margin for error is no more than 6 wrong. Having said that it is a fair exam and I simply was not good enough on the day. I was in good company though, the two guys I buddied up with on the day were both there on the 2nd attempts, one for R&S and one for Voice, both felt afterwards they had also failed and in the Voice guys case he wants to get it done before the new version comes in in June/July!
So, what next – initally a time-out – family time to be had with my loved ones, get some home tasks completed that have been allowed to slide – fitness to be sorted out and guess what? The 2nd attempt has been scheduled for September!