CCIE studies – Back to Basics

I feel like I’m once again back at a place where I want to work towards my CCIE R&S certification again. This road has frustrated me in the past, and I decided I want to put in the time and effort to really dig into the basics, rather than believing I already know enough to look at the fun stuff like OSPF, BGP, MPLS, and those things which us engineers like to work on. Instead, I’m taking Brian McGahan’s advice and going back to learning the underlying fundamentals. On tap first in my reading list is Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches and Internetworking Protocols, Second Edition by Radia Perlman.

The importance of this book up to this point is that it really does a great job of explaining how Layer 2 works. It breaks down things like bridges, switches, spanning tree, BPDU’s, and other things that I’ve taken for granted in my work and looks at these and other things from the very lowest level and works its way up. This has made re-learning how spanning tree works much more understandable, and with an understanding comes the ease at which knowledge is retained. One of the complaints I always have with the Cisco books is that they sometimes gloss over the small stuff and assume an understanding. This book, however, goes into detail (sometimes too much) and breaks down every aspect of different protocols.

Along with the studies, I’ve decided to take a new approach to how I’m going to prepare for the exams. I had passed my v4 written exam back in 2013, but since I never sat for the lab, I’ll need to take another swing at the v5 written exam. I took the free sit at Cisco Live 2015, and to say it turned out miserably is an understatement. This time, I’m going to focus on studying for the lab, and hopefully passing the written will simply be a byproduct of those studies.