CCIE Exam: Enterprise Infrastructure

Period: 1st July to 31st July

Hours Studied: 70 hours

Total Hours Studied To Date: 215 hours

Study Resources:

Study Sprint: July 13th to 31st – Achieved all but 1 core topic (FlexVPN) and bonus goals (DevNet Associate Pass, ENAUTO progression)

Previous Period Goals Status:

  1. Finish DevNet Associate to enable progression to DevNet Specialist ENAUTO exam: Fatigue from my semester 1 university examinations unfortunately prevented me from sitting DevNet exams in July, had to bench this one… again!!! Argh…
  2. Finish OSPF & DMVPN items & consolidate notes: Partially completed – I still need to spend time on my notes.
  3. Finish route filtering and redistribution with BGP, EIGRP and OSPF in IPv4: Partially completed – completed BGP and OSPF but not EIGRP

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

BGP: I have completed all of the theory on BGP and feel ilke I just need to focus hard on labbing routing policies & AS-Path manipulation

  • 1.5.a IBGP and EBGP peer relationships
    • 1.5.a i Peer-group/update-group, template
    • 1.5.a ii Active, passive
    • 1.5.a iii Timers
    • 1.5.a iv Dynamic neighbors
    • 1.5.a v 4-bytes AS numbers
    • 1.5.a vi Private AS
  • 1.5.c Routing policies
    • 1.5.c i Attribute manipulation
    • 1.5.c ii Conditional advertisement
    • 1.5.c iii Outbound Route Filtering
    • 1.5.c iv Standard and extended communities
    • 1.5.c v Multi-homing
  • 1.5.d AS path manipulations
    • 1.5.d i local-AS, allowas-in, remove-private-as
    • 1.5.d ii Prepend
  • 1.5.e Convergence and scalability
    • 1.5.e i Route reflector
    • 1.5.e ii Aggregation, as-set

DMVPN: I have completed DMVPN topics but still feel like I am a bit rusty with IPsec and Per-Tunnel QoS.

  • 3.2.a Troubleshoot DMVPN Phase 3 with dual-hub
    • 3.2.a i NHRP
    • 3.2.a ii IPsec/IKEv2 using pre-shared key
    • 3.2.a iii Per-Tunnel QoS

MPLS: Completed Khawar Butt’s free bootcamp that is hosted on the RouterGods YouTube channel and read the Cisco Press “MPLS Fundamentals” book from cover-to-cover. I feel very comfortable with MPLS now and only feel like I need to lab VPNv6.

  • 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 covered but not labbed]

OSPF: Revised all topics for OSPF by providing community 1-on-1 mentoring for the CBT Nuggets learner community.

Routing Concepts: Revised all topics across BGP & OSPF particularly from a VRF perspective, however still feel rusty with filtering and redistribution.

Top 5 Weaknesses

  1. Route filtering with any routing protocol: I kept on making silly mistakes with BGP route filtering this month during my labs, however noted an improvement with OSPF. Need to work on labbing this more with EIGRP too. Knowledge Rating: 3.5/5 [+0.5]
  2. Redistribution between any pair of routing protocols: Feeling more confident with this topic but still feel rusty when I perform tasks – just need to continue practising! Knowledge Rating: 3/5 [unchanged]
  3. Multicast: No changes – scoped for September. Knowledge Rating: 0/5
  4. MPLS: Biggest improvement this month by far! I spent most of July studying and labbing MPLS. I understand how LSP operates, LDP and its requirements (e.g.: finally realised why we MUST use a loopback for LDP peering purposes), and even strayed off the blueprint to learn about working with inter-AS topologies. Knowledge rating: 4.5/5 [+3.5]. Once I lab VPNv6 and Extranets more (RD/RTs still do my head in) I feel like I will be exam ready for MPLS!
  5. QoS: I understand QoS fundamentals thanks to spending time with it during my DMVPN classes and refreshed myself over the basics (e.g.: marking, shaping/policing, different queues). I think the biggest issue I have with QoS is practically applying the theory. Knowledge Rating: 2/5 [+1.5]

Top 3 Goals for Next Period:

Not listed as this post has been written half way through August so I feel like I would be cheating if I listed things here!


The biggest hurdle that I faced during July was managing my fatigue and stress levels.

The company that I work for has been performing a number of organizational changes across Technology globally this year. July was the month where the technology organisation structure changed across the globe. New teams were officially formed, existing teams changed their scope, management was shuffled about, and redundancies unfortunately kicked in. My immediate 24×7 team was not impacted from a personnel perspective but we did find out that our scope of work was increasing dramatically over the next 6, 12 and 18 months. To top things off my shift partner announced that they were resigning in August. Once you throw in the fatigue and sleeping issues I was experiencing July turned out to be “one of those” months.

Why the hell am I bringing this up in a CCIE update post? I want to highlight that “life” happens regardless of what personal or professional objectives you are pursuing. It is important that when curveballs are thrown at us that have the potential to impact our physical or mental health that we brace for impact and deal with the “hit” in a sustainable manner. In my case I brushed over some resilience materials that work provided, scaled back my July schedule to rest, and booked 2 weeks annual leave in August to rest up and prepare for what’s undoubtedly going to be a busy second half of the year.

Speaking of busy… I ran into some interesting hardware problems. My beloved Surface Pro 4 could not keep up with some of the larger MPLS labs I was trying to run and eventually succumed to the “flickering screen of death” issue (naturally just outside of its warranty). To work around this I spent ~25 hours setting up my Cisco UCS C220 M4 server which was a job in itself.  Provisioning the server was tedious (firmware upgrades, figuring out how to manage a server, being a total UCS/vmWare noob) but I did learn a lot of valuable skills in the process, some of which have saved “future Luke” from pain as I was delegated a task to set up one of these servers in our network testing environment at work!

Once the hardware issues were dealt with I dove hard into MPLS. I spent 28 hours reading, watching and labbing the technology to understand how it works from an enterprise’s perspective. I did stray outside of the exam objective blueprints (e.g.: inter-AS L3VPN, some TE labbing) just a smidge but I thoroughly enjoyed this topic and look forward to studying the design side of it. I kicked off a second CCIE study sprint which saw me nail everything I set out to achieve bar 1 core topic (FlexVPN) and the bonus objectives (DevNet Associate & ENAUTO progression). I honestly feel like my DevNet studies are cursed because every single time I go to study the content something stupid happens. Power and internet outages, laptops dying, getting sick… seriously I need to hire a priest to bless my IDE or something!!!

As an added bonus one of my CBT Nuggets learners passed their CCNA and told me that our OSPF sessions made them destroy all OSPF related questions on the exam. They have elected to pursue the CCNP Enterprise (ENCOR + ENARSI) with another mentee I have picked up which is brilliant because they’re going to beta test all my labs mwahaha.

So yes, July wasn’t terribly great but we survived and even helped some other people get some wins!

Key Takeaways

  1. Remain kind to yourself when uncontrollable circumstances interfere with your CCIE journey.
  2. Getting a lab environment set up is time well invested: Even though configuring UCS servers and vmWare isn’t on the CCIE EI it’s just a plain good skill to have as a networking professional.

From the Whiteboard: MPLS brain storm, aka: “my labelling machine”.

Whiteboard - MPLS

From LinkedIn: CCIE Study Sprint 2 Objectives

CCIE Study Sprint 2