CCIE Study: 5 Months Deep

Just when you thought the four-month mark was busy, the fifth month shows up to sucker-punch your productivity. I don’t know about the experience of others, but I feel like this is also the time that you meet “the forgetting monster” — you start getting more flash-cards wrong, you begin to question the things you learned in the previous modules/months, and getting overwhelmed becomes a reality.

But the good news is, that you can push through all of this. I don’t think it’s common to go through a long-period of study without problems, struggles, or anxieties. In this case, my problems have all revolved around trying to get my house ready for adoption (cleaning, yardwork, renovation, etc), or motorcycle repair.

Where Am I Now?

Last month I was excited about finally being able to move on to a new topic, which was OSPF. Not working with it regularly meant that I was going to have to hit the books hard, and I think I can say that I really did. I read through the OSPFv2 chapters of “Routing TCP/IP Vol. 1,” and the CCIE 5.1 OCG, as well as the Middle Section of “OSPF: Anatomy of a Routing Protocol.” Along with these was several RFCs (ugh) and the Cisco Documentation on OSPF. The protocol came somewhat naturally to me, and I was even able to cram Redistribution (uggggggh) into this month as well.

The speed-run of the INE ATC Labs also happened, although I feel like it wasn’t a very speedy speed-run. These went pretty easy — I think the basics are sticking; the forgetting monster isn’t as effective as he seems. All of this is good news.

The bad news is that I didn’t get a chance to go over EIGRP OTP, or DUAL FSM states again. I feel like my grasp of EIGRP OTP is fine, but I would like to take a deeper look at LISP.

What’s Next?

Next month will be all about BGP (yet another protocol that I don’t deal with much). I expect it to take the majority of the month. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to include the “Protocol Optimization” module in and look at EIGRP LFA, OSPF throttling, etc. I’m curious as to how well I’m going to pick this up; I feel like I had the same attitude about OSPF, but it came naturally. Hopefully I’m wrong about BGP too?

Resources:

NSX and RPF

A quick blurb on NSX ECMP configurations:

If you’re running ECMP, be sure to disable the Reverse Path Forwarding check on your interfaces, or at least set it to “loose.” NSX defaults to strict reverse path forwarding mode when RPF is enabled.

I learned this the hard way during a recent NSX deployment. Thankfully it was in a lab environment, as we wanted to ensure we had all of our ducks in a row before pushing this thing to production.

CCIE Study: 4 Months Deep

I’ve been informed that three months is when the wear-marks begin to show when doing a long period of study; and if that’s true I’d like to claim that four months is the start of the second-wind. I’ve been busier than ever this month yet I’ve made serious headway.

As none some of you may know, my wife and I are working through the process of adopting a child. This month the adoption agency issued us homework, consisting of a workbook, an online course, several videos, and two books. Having to read two books while studying for your CCIE is absurd, but it got done.

When I started studying for the CCIE, it had been a few months since my last vacation. I was able to get through the first few months, but all the added hours were starting to take their toll. It was unsustainable. A three-day-weekend pass to Seattle was a quick remedy. One must learn to rest instead of quitting.

So where am I now?

After three months of restarts, broken labs, and disappointments, I was getting pretty burnt out on re-learning the same topics over-and-over; but the fourth month has brought new life into the game. I’ve been able to move on to a topic that’s fresh to me: OSPF! I’ve never had the privilege of running an OSPF network (in production; I have labbed OSPF as much as I could). I’ve always wanted to — so much so that I even moved jobs so that I could participate in a migration to OSPF from EIGRP (which I’m in the middle of). Starting a new(-to-me) subject has really made all the difference, as I now have far more desire to study. I’m hoping to put together some OSPF posts in the future.

Speaking of OSPF (and the job with an OSPF network): We’re in the middle of an OSPF migration for VMware NSX implementation. There were some initial foibles of working with NSX (and doing so through another team), but we’ve gotten it up and running, and stable in a lab environment. I’m planning to put together a post on this as well.

What’s Next?

I’ve barely touched the surface of OSPF, and I’ve got a ton of reading and labbing to do on this one. I need to make up for a wealth of inexperience. Hoping to plow through “OSPF: Anatomy of a Routing Protocol,” knock out some labs, and view a lot of packet captures. Also anticipating a quick re-read of some of the EIGRP DUAL FSM states, path recalculation, and EIGRP OTP. Finally, I want to do a “speed run” on the INE ATC labs up to where I am now.

Resources:

Mnemonic for EIGRP Flags

Just a short post; but this is how I remember the flags in the EIGRP (RTP) header:

Thanks, Wireshark 🙂

I use the mnemonic “I Can Remember EIGRP-flags.” (yes, it’s not perfect. Sue me).

Then you just need to remember that the byte used for the flags are just like binary bits (because they are binary bits). Each one is just the next largest binary number. (i.e. I=1, C=2, R=4, E=8).

CCIE Study: 3 Months Deep

Month three of my CCIE training has not been an easy one. I started off with a cold that was making things pretty foggy, while I was trying to learn several topics much further in-depth. On top of this, I was being beaten to death by a heavy load of flash cards, as I had increased my “new cards” load from 20 to 30. As I stated in my 2 Month update, I had a lot of catching up to do.

After the restarts, lab-rebuilds, and relearning I had been feeling pretty defeated. There’s something about running into failures right away that leaves you feeling pretty demotivated. These demotivating feelings can lead to distraction, and negative attitudes that only make studying even more difficult. These feelings stack up and can eventually make one ready to give up.

Thankfully, I had the guys over at RouterGods to talk me through this, as well as a few of my mentors and friends, and of course my awesome wife. There was also a really good video put out by one of the RouterGods members, as well as a blog post. My bible-study group was also very helpful.

On the subject of subjects being learned, I spent most of the month covering PPP, and PPPoE, CEF, basic IP routing, PBR, and RIP. I also managed to get caught up on flashcards, and even made some good breakthroughs on concepts that I didn’t quite understand.

The Big Takeaway

Don’t give up! In the Marines, I learned that you can’t just give up when life is rough. There’s a reason that a CCIE is considered an “expert.” Being an expert isn’t easy; If it was, there’d be a lot less morons in the world. Becoming an expert takes time, effort, and discipline. That’s why they say “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”

Moving Forward

So what’s on the agenda for next month? For my fourth month of self-abuse studying, I’ll be working on EIGRP and hopefully OSPF. As much as I’d like to do more, I think that those two topics are pretty deep and I’ll be lucky to get both of them in the month. I would even contend that while I have pretty deep experience with EIGRP, my OSPF knowledge is thin enough to ensure that learning won’t come quickly.

Additional Resources