Failed first RS LAB attempt in Brussels @2013.06.14

June 16th, 2013 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Approximately 3 months ago I decided, that after I prepared 2 years lightly to broaden my Tier 1 knowledge, and to take the written Exam, I have to prepare more aggressively to the LAB exam. So the idea was to use all my free time, and my time from the work what I had available, to improve my practical knowledge. I also booked my LAB date, to create a real deadline.

During this time:

  • I went through most of the INE VOL 1. workbooks. (usually I configured the first 10 section, and read the other part of the book, just to know about the solutions, features)
  • I have done 10 VOL II labs.
  • I solved 10 TS labs
  • I have done  3 VOL III labs.
  • I took INE’s Adv. Troubleshooting Class
  • I took  INE’s QoS, Multicast and Security Deep Dive courses.
  • I went through the INE CCIE Boot camp v4 VoD

I also enjoyed Mock labs:

  • 3 TS mock labs (usually with a 50-60% success)
  • INE Mock lab #1: 84%
  • INE Mock lab #2: 58%
  • INE Mock lab #3: 77%

I think INE has very great tools for you to prepare for the CCIE exam (and this is not an Advertisement). I like the energy how they speak about the technologies in their VoDs, and it gave me energy also.. :)..However keep in mind, this is a practical exam, and we can only beat it with practice. 

So the days are passed, and finally I went to Brussels. I like the city very much, and I was there before with my friends to get some Belgian beers.

I had a flight to Charleroi from Budapest on Thursday (it is a lot more cheaper, then flying directly to Brussels main airport. From Charleroi you can take the local bus to the train station (Charleroi-Sud). From here you can easily get to Diegem (the town, where the Pegasus Park is).

After 2 hours I arrived to Hotel NH Brussels. I strongly advise you to stay here, because it is very close to the train station, and to the LAB Exam location. The Hotel is very expensive, but if you pay 2000 EUR’s for an Exam, the last thing what you need is to miss it.

So on Thursday I had a great dinner in the Hotel, and I also drunk two Belgian Kriek. I was very calm, and I could fall asleep around 22.00. 

I planned to wake up at 6.00 am, and I also ordered a wake up call. Breakfast is open from 6.30, so I could take a shower, and eat something. I arrived to Cisco around 7.45.

It was funny, that the Proctor and one of the other CCIE candidate was also Hungarian 🙂

Well some notes about the Exam:

  • My Exam experience was very good.

You can use colored pencils, one 24” HD monitor and an English keyboard. The Exam interface is great, you have to click to the router on the network diagram, and it will start a putty session. For me it was new, that you have multiple network diagrams (L2, L3, BGP, IGP, IPv6, etc.). 

There is absolutely no problem with the speed in Brussels (that’s true for the TS and Configuration session also). I thought the telnet client will be an issue, because for example it takes a lot of time in the INE TS Mock lab to jump into the devices. No, that’s not the case. We can log in to 5-10 devices in seconds during the Exam..

The DocCD access was very very slow. I think it’s best if we know everything :-), and just use the configuration reference from the DocCD if we have to.

  • The TS part is very close to INE’s TS mock lab. (INE’s practice TS labs are a lot more easier, but I think they plan to retire it, and create more TS Mock Labs.).

The main issue is the Time. The topology is so big, that you have to troubleshoot big areas, and that takes time.

I will develop commands like this to quickly find the problems on multiple routers.

sh run | include interface_| access-group|zone|control-plane|service-policy|policy

sh run | include mpls|ldp|tdp|cef|mtu

sh run | include pim|msdp|igmp|multicast|mroute

Also, we have to use show and debug commands for identifying the problems. Using primary the running config is not suitable, because it cost you time, and it is easy to miss information in the heat of the battle.

So basically I couldn’t finish the tasks (I left 3-4 tickets on the table ).

BTW, solving a ticket is not hard, but quickly finding the problem, now that is art.

  • The configuration part: A lot of tasks. I lost my motivation after the TS, but I tried to forget about it, and reach the maximum amount of points. Well it’s hard to earn max point, if you finish the L2 1 hour after the lunch. I don’t know what happened, but doing a lot of administrative tasks isn’t so easy if you are there. It takes a lot of brain CPU, and because there are no sub-points, you have to be very careful. After I realized, that I spent too much time on this, I was angry. I even caused an L2 loop during configuring one of the section.. :/ They create you traps, and you can easily walk in to them..

The topology is not complex, and even the tasks are not always. Just, you have to know by heart every non-core topics also, to quickly implement them. I will go back to VOL 1, and study it further. I will also do a lot of VOL III labs.

What I have done wrong?

  • Use INE’s VOL 1 Workbook to master the topics. I used VOL II labs for this, and that’s not the way..
  • 3 months is simple not enough 🙂 At least, not for me. But I needed this deadline in order to begin the Journey. I also happy, that I have done like this. This was a huge step towards the Certificate, and I learned a lot.
  • I simple need more configuration experience. The Exam is very far from your daily job, where you have time to configure and think:D

What if you fail a CCIE exam?

According to Cisco:

Thank you for taking the CCIE Routing and Switching Lab exam. We regret to inform you that your test performance did not meet certification standards. Although you did not pass on this attempt, take pride in being among the few internetworking engineers who have qualified to take a Cisco CCIE Certification Lab examination. This in itself is an accomplishment and we hope that you will continue to pursue your certification goal.

The CCIE Exam is just an Exam, and we took a lot of them during our University days anyway.

I think, it’s not the CCIE number, what makes you a good Engineer, but you will be a better Network Engineer by mastering the technologies, and by understanding them. And that is, why I really like this exam, because it’s force us in this direction.

So, I will take my summer time, and go back to the study in a more controlled-realistic way, in 2 weeks.

Next planned attempt in T-228 days!

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  1. August 8th, 2013 at 14:16
    Reply | Quote | #1

    Nice overview, I really enjoyed reading it… I’ve got my first attempt March 2014, so… It’s useful to see what the other people went through 🙂

  2. Bill
    September 6th, 2013 at 08:04
    Reply | Quote | #2

    I too will do my first attempt in March 2014 and at Brussels. I only live an hour and a half from Cisco so I will take the train in that morning. Good luck on your second attempt!

    • xcke
      September 7th, 2013 at 10:58
      Reply | Quote | #3

      Hi Bill:-) Sounds great 🙂 We (I and my friend) already booked our 2nd attempt to Feb.

  3. Szabi
    October 11th, 2013 at 22:14
    Reply | Quote | #4

    Hi! Do you remember what type of keyboard was at your exam? I’m intrested in the pipe (|) key location because there are several keyboard layout that differs in this useful character’s position.

    • xcke
      November 3rd, 2013 at 19:48
      Reply | Quote | #5

      Sorry for the late answer: I think it was standard UK layout. (shift + Ű == |)

    • Shanya
      November 4th, 2013 at 11:37
      Reply | Quote | #6

      In Brussels they have Logitech K120 standard layout US keyboards. A little bit funky if you are used to UK layout because the Enter key is half the size and also the pipe key is right above it.
      When you are sitting for this exam, you definitely don’t want anything unusual so better to buy this exact model.

      • xcke
        November 4th, 2013 at 15:34
        Reply | Quote | #7

        I’m using exactly (accidentally) K120 at my Workplace 🙂

        Right now I change the layout for SecureCRT/Sublime2 to US. So it’s funny, because it’s better to use HU layout when you write an Email..grrr…

      • January 30th, 2014 at 18:26
        Reply | Quote | #8

        In Brusseles i got US Keyboard, i nightmare for me…

        • xcke
          January 30th, 2014 at 19:51
          Reply | Quote | #9

          Welcome to the world, where you have to use US in the SecureCRT@Work and _YourLanguage_ layout in the Email client 😀

  4. Szabi
    November 21st, 2013 at 15:31

    Thanks for the answers! 😉

  5. fecogee
    January 8th, 2014 at 00:20


    will you try the v4 again or do you prepare for the v5?

    • xcke
      January 23rd, 2014 at 21:44

      I will go for the v4 @ 2014.05.27 (Almost the last date :-D)

  6. June 2nd, 2014 at 22:42

    I see you passed. Congrats! Unfortunately I failed today. Both parts of it. This was my first attempt. Maybe next time.

  7. xcke
    July 7th, 2014 at 18:11

    Thanks!!! 🙂 I hope you will succeed next time! V5 (Winter) is coming!