CIERS1 – What I learned

This week I attended the CIERS1 class through Global Knowledge. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, this is a Cisco 360 CCIE R&S Advanced Workshop 1, and it lived up to everything that I had hoped. The class was led by Bill Burns, a CCIE himself, and I have to thank him for taking time to lead us through what was a great and informative week. Here is a quick breakdown of how the week went:

Monday – Morning lecture on what to expect in the CCIE lab, along with techniques to use when taking the lab for time management, drawing diagrams, and how to read the lab. The afternoon was a 9 hour assessment lab.

Tuesday – Go over results of assessment lab, lecture, and BGP lab

Wednesday – Finish BGP lab, lectures and labs on MPLS and Multicast

Thursday – Lecture and labs on MCQ QoS, Network Services, and finish the day with a 3-hour troubleshooting assessment lab.

Friday – 6-hour configuration assessment lab, review of the final assessments, and the first day that ends before the sun has set.

I knew going into this class that it would be more intense than any other that I had taken in my CCNA and CCNP studies, but I honestly had no idea that it would be like this. To say that it was drinking from the firehose would be an understatement, as this class is generally meant for someone who is probably further along in their CCIE studies than I know I am. However, I am very satisfied with this class, as it really provided me with a glimpse into what my weaknesses are, and actually helped me see that I do have a few stronger areas. I’m already working on breaking down for myself what I’ll need to work on studying. This class really touches on every aspect of what is on the blueprint, which while it is an enormous amount of subjects, it gave me a good grasp of what the CCIE lab is all about.

Now, about the lab assessments. The one at the beginning of the week was a 9 hour lab that only tested the core technologies, namely L2 and L3. Our instructor said that someone who is ready for the CCIE lab should be able to finish this assessment in a couple of hours, as it would get you to the “Golden Moment”, which is where your network is fully reachable from all other points in the network and routes are distributing properly. After 9 hours, nobody was at this point in our class.

The labs were also considerably smaller than the one in the real CCIE lab environment, with the first assessment only comprised of 6 routers and 4 switches, and the final assessment having 7 routers and 4 switches. This, however, was more than enough to keep us occupied while not being overwhelming.

I had several big takeaways from this class. One, that time management is essential to all aspects of the lab. You have to know how to approach every question, jumping around is not something that I’d suggest unless you keep good note of where you were and what you had accomplished. Get the basics done, then work on getting the ancillary items done, as you can’t get MPLS working without having your IGP and BGP working, which rely on Layer 2 working properly.

The other big takeaway was that you have to follow the rules. If you’re told that a route must appear a certain way in every routing table, you don’t get points if a /32 is in the routing table, but the rules specified that a /24 must be. The scoring is strict and unforgiving. Verification is a must, and scripts will be invaluable to run to check things when you have a massive topology.

I’m sure these are things that many people have said before, but I needed to put pen to paper, or more aptly, fingers to keyboard, and write them out for my own reference. If you’re able to take one of these classes, I highly recommend it. The Cisco360 program is one of many tools that I plan to use on my journey, and while I may have wanted to do some sightseeing in NYC while I was here this week, I’m going to make it a point to come back here after I pass with my family so that we can see things together when there isn’t a class for 13 hours a day.

Good luck to all who are pursuing their certifications, whether it’s CCENT or CCIE, we all work together to accomplish the goals in front of us.

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