CCIE Exam: Enterprise Infrastructure

Period: 1st June to 30th June

Hours Studied: 95 hours

Total Hours Studied To Date: 145 hours

Study Resources:

Study Sprint: June 15-30 – 26/70 labs completed (37% target accomplishment)

Previous Period Goals Status:

  1. Finish DevNet Associate to enable progression to DevNet Specialist ENAUTO exam: I had the DEVASC exam booked in for June 15th but got very unwell around mid June and couldn’t sit the exam. Pearson Vue have just granted me an emergency rebooking, so I’ll aim to complete this by July. Not ideal, but life happens!
  2. Finish OSPF & DMVPN items & consolidate notes: Almost finished OSPF, overestimated my understanding of DMVPN so I am revisiting it.
  3. Start EIGRP & BGP Revision, commence MPLS studies: Completed this goal, on track!

Topics Studied: BGP, DMVPN, EIGRP, MPLS, OSPF, Routing Concepts

BGP: Revised this mostly while covering MPLS topics, also went “problem hunting” within the workplace and identified some suboptimal BGP configuration which I am fixing, yay!

  • 1.5.b Path selection
  • 1.5.b i Attributes
  • 1.5.b ii Best path selection algorithm
  • 1.5.b iii Load-balancing
  • 1.5.f Other BGP features
  • 1.5.f i Multipath, add-path
  • 1.5.f ii Soft reconfiguration, Route Refresh

DMVPN: Started to cover basic dual hub topologies, need to continue reading more into how NHRP operates for revision purposes.

  • 3.2.a Troubleshoot DMVPN Phase 3 with dual-hub (basic dual hub covered)
  • 3.2.a.i NHRP

EIGRP: Referenced CCNP ROUTE & CCIE R&S Written notes for EIGRP while completing 6 labs on it. I almost covered all of the blueprint topics for EIGRP but despite this I still feel incredibly rusty with this protocol.

  • 1.3.a Adjacencies
  • 1.3.b Best path selection
  • 1.3.b i RD, FD, FC, successor, feasible successor
  • 1.3.b ii Classic Metrics and Wide Metrics
  • 1.3.c Operations
  • 1.3.c i General operations
  • 1.3.c ii Topology table
  • 1.3.c iii Packet types
  • 1.3.c iv Stuck In Active
  • 1.3.c v Graceful shutdown
  • 1.3.d EIGRP load-balancing
  • 1.3.d i Equal-cost
  • 1.3.d ii Unequal-cost
  • 1.3.d iii Add-path
  • 1.3.e EIGRP Named Mode

MPLS: Commenced working through CBT Nuggets courses to break into MPLS, worked through Micronics directed activities in the OSPF & DMVPN online classes to gain additional familiarity with the protocol.

  • 3.1.a Operations
  • 3.1.a i Label stack, LSR, LSP
  • 3.1.a ii LDP
  • 3.1.a iii MPLS ping, MPLS traceroute
  • 3.1.b L3VPN
  • 3.1.b i PE-CE routing
  • 3.1.b ii MP-BGP VPNv4/VPNv6    [VPNv6 was not covered]

OSPF: Finished covering the following topics completely, VERY confident with OSPF outside of authentication/graceful shutdown/GTSM and OSPFv3. I’ll be done with OSPF by end of July at the latest.

  • 1.4.a Adjacencies
  • 1.4.b Network types, area types
  • 1.4.c Path Preference
  • 1.4.d.i Operations: General Operations
  • 1.4.e Optimization, convergence and scalability
  • 1.4.e.i Metrics
  • 1.4.e.ii LSA throttling, SPF tuning, fast hello
  • 1.4.e.iii LSA propagation control (area types)
  • 1.4.e.iv Stub router
  • 1.4.e.v Loop-free alternate
  • Prefix suppression

Routing Concepts: Refreshed my knowledge on PBR and VRF-lite / VRF aware routing the most. Comfortable with summarization, but need to keep labbing filtering/redistribution/authentication.

  • 1.2.a Administrative distance
  • 1.2.b VRF-lite
  • 1.2.c Static routing
  • 1.2.d Policy Based Routing
  • 1.2.e VRF aware routing with any routing protocol
  • 1.2.f Route filtering with any routing protocol
  • 1.2.g Manual summarization with any routing protocol
  • 1.2.h Redistribution between any pair of routing protocols
  • 1.2.i Routing protocol authentication

Top 5 Weaknesses:

  1. Route filtering with any routing protocol: Having performed a lot of route filtering this month I feel a lot more comfortable with the tools available to me, but still need to lab with prefix-lists more. Definitely need to spend more time with filtering in BGP. Knowledge Rating: 3/5
  2. Redistribution between any pair of routing protocols: I have done a lot of basic redistribution between BGP, EIGRP, OSPF and even RIP this month. Need to do start redistribution in more complex topologies and use tools to prevent routing loops, such as route tags. Knowledge Rating: 3/5
  3. Multicast: No changes – scoped for September. Knowledge Rating: 0/5
  4. MPLS: Completed two CBT Nuggets courses to break into this topic and spent some time reviewing mBGP configuration within my work environment. MPLS click at a high level and I’m able to perform basic PE/P MPLS configuration, but I’m going to spend July reading the CCIE Routing & Switching v5.0 Vol 2 MPLS chapter along with the MPLS Fundamentals textbook to really dive into this topic more. Knowledge rating: 1/5.
  5. QoS: No changes – scoped for October~ish. Knowledge Rating: 0.5/5

Top 3 Goals for Next Period:

  1. Finish DevNet Associate to enable progression to DevNet Specialist ENAUTO exam
  2. Finish OSPF & DMVPN items & consolidate notes
  3. Finish route filtering and redistribution with BGP, EIGRP and OSPF in IPv4


The first half of June felt like it was pure chaos. I was unwell, trying to balance CCIE studies alongside my unversity semester 1 final exam studies, and manage my fatigue from work.

I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders once my university exams had finished. I suddenly had a lot more free time to focus on both my CCIE studies and recovering from a hectic semester. I did unfortunately get sick shortly after my university exams, which caused me to miss my DevNet Associate exam booking. The good news is that Pearson Vue is letting me resit the exam for free having reviewed my medical appeal application, so I am hoping to sit and pass DEVASC by the end of July. I am going to have to push ENAUTO back until the end of August or mid September as a result of this. Another positive is I am reviewing network programmability and automation topics on a nearly daily basis, I just have to get my github commits rolling to reflect this…!

My first CCIE study sprint kicked off between June 15 and June 30. I set a goal to complete 70 labs pulled from various Micronics Training workbooks. This number was intentionally set to be unrealistically high so that I could push myself. Over this fortnight I quickly came to realise how massive the CCIE lab exam blueprint is as I only managed to complete 26 of 70 labs (37% target) across three topics: OSPF, EIGRP and DMVPN (not listed on my objectives list, whoops). While this was significantly lower than my target I feel like I really understood what I was doing because Micronics’ workbooks heavily restricts what tools you can use to solve a given task. This forced me to think about how a particular protocol behaves, particularly within the context of its RFC or standard specification. I was also able to lab much more efficiently by forcing myself to think about each task, what it was asking of me, and what behaviour(s) I needed to modify from a routing and switching perspective. That’s right – I treated my “lab” as production by banning myself from entering configuration mode until I could justify or rationalize my solution. In instances where I didn’t quite hit the mark I made myself use “show commands”, debugs and packet captures to identify why I was not able to achieve my objective. Going through this study sprint made me realise that I will benefit more if future study sprints remain concentrated around one or two topics, as opposed to being large in scope.

My labbing habits have gone from almost non-existent to hitting 2-3 days per week consistently. I am now announcing my lab times in the Router Gods and CBT Nuggets communities. It’s been really nice seeing people randomly drop into my lab sessions, having a quick chat with me, and providing some much needed motivation! I do think that 2-3 days per week is still quite low, so I would like to aim to lab 4-5 days per week consistently from July onwards. I have noticed that by labbing more frequently my performance is starting to increase in the workplace. I feel like it is easier to analyse and dissect config files. Sub-optimal routing or questionable configuration is also starting to stick out like a sore thumb!

As a final closing comment… I made the decision this period to reduce my university load to 1 unit in Semester 2 2020. I have a lot of work to do over the next couple of months, so it is important that I proactively manage my fatigue and keep a healthy balance between my academic, personal and professional lives.

Key Takeaways

  1. Continuously maintain your lab environment: It took 4 days out of my 15 day study sprint to configure all of my labs in CML2, spin up base configurations, and troubleshoot the odd performance issues. That’s 4 extra days of labbing I missed out on because I did not have my environment preconfigured and ready to go beforehand!
  2. Protect your study time: Plan your day around your lab time, don’t plan your lab time around your day. If you don’t proactively schedule your time and then defend that time AT ALL COSTS you are going to start compromising your schedule. Patrick Kinane’s YouTube channel has CCIE advice videos which provide excellent advice around this point.

From the Whiteboard: Insane in the Membrane. Look at all of these labs! They’re just itching to be spun up and cracked.