CCIE Exam: Enterprise Infrastructure

Period: 1st November to 30th November

Hours Studied: Nill

Total Hours Studied To Date: 545 hours


I was actually debating creating a status report this month given that I did not spend a single hour studying towards my CCIE lab exam. However, I think that it is important to highlight that when pursuing a goal, sometimes other aspects of life take precedence.

For example, on October 26th, I started my new role within the company that I work for. I knew that for my first quarterly performance review to be successful that I would have to focus hard on understanding: how the mine site operates, who I would be working with externally to my immediate team, what issues needed focusing on first, and how I could ensure that I was collecting appropriate data to establish a solid environment performance baseline. While not required by my employer, I opted to use some of my personal time to: read design white papers, understand how to tackle complex design issues, and also touch up my electrochemistry to understand better some of the mineral processing and extraction processes at work. All of this knowledge will ultimately make me a better network engineer in the long term. However, as time is limited to 24 hours a day, something had to give. This month it meant hitting the pause button on my CCIE studies so that I could ensure that I wasn’t going to start burning out, as that would have been disastrous for the long term.

I do want to highlight that while I did not take the time to pick up a Cisco Press book or spin up some labs that I did incorporate some study into my work. Not enough for it to count in my “hours studied” total though. For example, I spent ~85 hours auditing a portion of my new site’s process control network. Automating this process was not an option so I made sure that I drilled through all of the commands I would be using on the lab exam for the Layer 2 and Layer 3 technologies that we have deployed. Heck, I even found some hidden Cisco IOS commands online which if implemented in the lab exam could potentially save me some time for any troubleshooting tasks.

I also elected to spend time cleaning up my study environment. My study was reaching critical levels of mess with books and cables EVERYWHERE. I also had a small colony of sentient life growing in a coffee cup tower. I found that resetting my environment has made me feel more relaxed and strangely excited to dive back into the books. I am sure there’s some form of psychology involved in having a clean working environment. Finally, I have spent A LOT of time thinking about how to tackle hardware-specific portions of the lab exam, such as Cisco Software-Defined Access. Happy to state that I have a solution which I will be talking about in the coming weeks.

Finally, I did run into an interesting feeling that I did not anticipate experiencing. The “pre-CCIE lab blues”. It’s not entirely uncommon for one to feel a bit down and tired as they’re about to attempt realising a major life goal. I have spent five (5) years working towards obtaining my CCIE number and cannot help but think “what’s next?” after the journey concludes. I am not sure about you my fellow reader, but I found hitting the pause button on my studies for a month made me realise I will have a lot of spare time at the end of this journey. How I will utilise this time boggles me. For now, it’s a problem for future Luke. Still, it’s an interesting feeling nonetheless, particularly given that I have been told by many people in the community that these feelings usually come AFTER passing the lab…!

From the Study: Glorious bookshelf that’s almost been reorganised – not pictured: 2 more shelves full of university textbooks.