CCIE Exam: Enterprise Infrastructure

Period: 1st December 2020 to 31st March 2021

Hours Studied: 165 hours

Total Hours Studied To Date: 710 hours

Study Resources:

  • CBT Nuggets: Designing Cisco Enterprise Networks (300-420 ENSLD) Online Training [link]
  • CBT Nuggets: DevNet Associate (200-901 DEVASC) Online Training [link]
  • Cisco Learning Network: Designing Cisco Enterprise Networks (ENSLD) v1.0 [link]
  • Cisco Press: Cisco Certified DevNet Associate DEVASC 200-901 Official Cert Guide [link]
  • Cisco Press: CCNP Enterprise Design ENSLD 300-420 Official Cert Guide: Designing Cisco Enterprise Networks [link]
  • IT Pro TV: Cisco CCNP Enterprise ENSLD (300-420) [link]
  • Pluralsight: Nick Russo’s Cisco Certified DevNet Associate (DEVASC 200-901) Learning Path [link]

Study Sprint: None

Previous Period Goals Status:

  1. Pass the Designing Cisco Enterprise Networks (ENSLD, 300-420) specialist certification exam
  2. Complete Multicast and QoS items on the blueprint
    Completed – need to continue using my flashcards and labbing this.
  3. Complete the Transport Technologies & Solutions domain on the blueprint by finishing off FlexVPN topic
    Semi-completed, I covered the basics of FlexVPN during my ENSLD studies – I’d like to lab it a little bit and develop some flashcards to compare/contrast against other VPN technologies


Topics Studied: Network Design Concepts, Infrastructure Automation and Programmability

Network Design Concepts

  • All items on the Designing Cisco Enterprise Networks (ENSLD, 300-420) exam blueprint

Infrastructure Automation and Programmability

  • 5.1 Data Encoding Formats
    • 5.1.a JSON
    • 5.1.b XML
  • 5.2 Automation and scripting
    • 5.2.a EEM applets
    • 5.2.b Guest shell
      • 5.2.b i Linux environment
      • 5.2.b ii CLI Python module
      • 5.2.b iii EEM Python module
  • 5.3 Programmability
    • 5.3.a Interaction with vManage API
      • 5.3.a i Python requests library and Postman
      • 5.3.a ii Monitoring endpoints
      • 5.3.a iii Configuration endpoints
    • 5.3.b Interaction with Cisco DNA Center API
      • 5.3.b i HTTP request (GET, PUT, POST) via Python requests library and Postman
    • 5.3.c Interaction with Cisco IOS XE API
      • 5.3.c i Via NETCONF/YANG using Python ncclient library
      • 5.3.c ii Via RESTCONF/YANG using Python requests library and Postman
    • 5.3.d Deploy and verify model-driven telemetry
      • 5.3.d i Configure on-change subscription using gRPC


Top 5 Weaknesses

I feel like I will have a lot of these weaknesses fully addressed within the next 2 months.

  1. Route filtering with any routing protocol: Almost finished all Micronics Training labs. Knowledge Rating: 4/5
  2. Redistribution between any pair of routing protocols: Almost finished all Micronics Training labs. Knowledge Rating: 4/5
  3. Multicast: I understand all of the topics on the lab blueprint for multicast but need to continue revising and labbing them. Knowledge Rating: 3.5/5 [no change]
  4. QoS: I think I have rounded out the basic theory required for the lab blueprint but do not feel confident with designing an enterprise QoS solution. More reading and labbing required. Knowledge Rating: 3.5/5 [+1.0]
  5. Network Programmability & Automation: Feeling a lot more confident with these topics as I’ve been forcing myself to do scripting. Need to work on writing scripts faster and developing “template” scripts that I can write up from memory to perform common tasks with IOS-XE, DNAC and SD-WAN. Knowledge Rating: 3/5 [+1].

Top 3 Goals for Next Period:

  1. Pass the DevNet Associate exam
  2. Complete the following knowledge domains for the Automating Cisco Enterprise Solutions (ENAUTO 300-435) exam blueprint: Network Programmability Foundation, Automate APIs and Protocols, and Network Device Programmability
  3. Finish rectifying power issues with the home lab to enable SDA/DNAC studies


It feels like I wrote the last status report only a week ago, however, it’s already been 3 months! So much has happened in the last 3 months, so let’s talk about it.

December saw me burn a big fat hole in my wallet as I ordered 2x Cisco C9300-24P-A, 1x Cisco C9200L-24T-4X-E, a Cisco DNA Center Appliance, and some cabling to support everything. I spent the majority of January unboxing and planning my lab installations out while also running into some power issues. Namely, if my entire rack lost power my apartment safety fuse would trip out and kill power to the whole place. Whoops. So, I’m pending some fancy Schneider Electric APC equipment that will enable me to stagger equipment power-up sequences and enable power monitoring in the lab. I also donated more money to Cisco to relicense my Cisco Meraki home stack. Cup noodles it is for the rest of the year…!

Throughout January and February, I also spent time completing the “Cisco Certified Specialist: Enterprise Design” certification by passing the ENSLD 300-420 exam on February 27th. I had been procrastinating this one a tad as I was distracted by the shiny new lab equipment I purchased. Thankfully, CBT Nuggets dropped their ENSLD training, which triggered a mass binge of their course and revision of the Cisco Learning Network course and official certification guide I had purchased. I used this exam to assess areas of weakness in relation to the CCIE EI lab design portion, and have noted that I need to spend time revising design concepts that relate to SDA, multicast, automation-related topics, IPv4 to IPv6 migration, and QoS. You can read my detailed thoughts on this exam in my post-exam write-up [link].

March saw me purchase and finish reading the Cisco DevNet Associate official certification guide. I originally intended to complete the DEVASC exam in April 2020, however, I have to admit I procrastinated the ever-living hell out of sitting the exam. I love programming, scripting, and automation concepts in general, but I have found it incredibly difficult to get motivated about labbing and seeing DevNet through to the end. I think it’s because I found it incredibly hard to get excited about software development and programming. Thankfully, I have had the pleasure of meeting John Hennessy from Red Hat Australia who has been helping me with an Ansible Tower installation at work. John and his colleagues have been fantastic in helping reignite my interest in programming and automation technologies by demonstrating the value they have when implemented correctly. I’ve got a date set for my DEVASC exam in April 2021, and fully intend to dive into the Enterprise Automation speciality studies after I pass it. Oh and I’m committed to achieving DevNet Professional this year too. Yay, motivation restored!

I also booked my first lab date aaaaand then subsequently canned it. Why? I accepted a secondment into the “Principal Networks” position for 3 months at BHP Olympic Dam. The “principal” role is the highest position one can occupy in my company as a technical resource outside of leadership positions, so I feel pretty chuffed to be selected for it, particularly given I was only recently promoted in October 2020! It would have been unwise of me to retain my original lab booking AND stepped up into this role simultaneously. My advice to anyone in a similar position is to always take a career opportunity over a certification exam, as the certification will always be there but your shot at climbing the corporate ladder may not be.

On a closing note, I want to highlight how weird it feels to be almost at the end of my CCIE EI lab exam preparation. I’m coming up to a year since I started this journey and am at the final stretch with only network programmability and automation, plus Cisco SD-Access left to cover in-depth. I haven’t obtained my CCIE yet but I am already starting to see the value in pursuing it. I feel a lot more confident being thrown into large and complex technical projects and initiatives within the workplace, I’m an absolute hawk at spotting suboptimal routing and switching configurations, I feel confident in knowing how to plan our adoption of network automation and technologies to simplify our daily workloads, and I can see the benefits of adopting software-defined architectures. I guess it really is all about the journey!


From the Whiteboard


Home Lab 2.0 Project Update

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