Just passed my CCIE Voice last Friday and wanted to give a quick, but heart-felt Thanks to all of you I've worked with on this forum. Some have given me answers, either directly to my questions, or through their postings. Jason, Chris, Duane, Mehmet, Andy, and I'm sure there are others I just can't think of at the moment.
Others have asked questions that got me thinking in new directions. I've offered help, sometimes it was useful advice, sometimes not. But your feedback both good and bad has helped me learn. Thanks to you as well.
Warmest regards and Happy Holidays,
CCIE #7303 (Voice/R&S)
It was anything but a breeze. I've attempted the Service Provider, passed R&S, been to college, and built service provider networks, but nothing seemed as difficult as this. The material is out there, but lack of knowledge, speed, organization, or thoroughness just kill you on this lab. And until last Friday, I've been a poster-boy for all of these failures.
All attempts were in SJ.
To answer Shanky's question, this was not my first attempt. I've heard there are those that have passed on first try, but I have a hard time imagining anyone coming in with the right mix of skills and time management.
I've been working with various avvid, ipt, and call-center components to varying degrees over the last several years. Sometimes it was my focus, other times just adjunct work. But in January, my employer mandated I pass the Voice. So I took and pretty easily passed the written in January, and scheduled my first attempt for June.
I took an IPExpert bootcamp in May. It was a very good class for covering "core" components and features. Vik also presented a time management strategy made some sense, but I ended up customizing for my own later attempts.
I learned a great deal in that week. Vik Mahli was great. But I also quickly learned I was nowhere near ready for the lab. I had not dug deeply enough into each of the components on the lab. And I was not fast enough.
After my first attempt, I realized I had a lot of work to do. First, I did not finish. Second, I couldn't do everything. Third, I felt overwhelmed by the number and depth of the requirements.
So I made careful notes about what I'd seen on the lab. And spent a great deal of effort taking apart and trying understand what the tasks were asking for, how they could be met, the gotchas, etc. I also spent a fair amount of time on CCO and NetPro.
After my second attempt (did worse than the first time), I realized I must've been making careless mistakes. And I still wasn't finishing. So I spent some time working on speed drills. For example, I would try to set up an mgcp gateway with srst as quickly as possible. All of my lab work was on individual devices, or Proctor Labs. CCO and Netpro were still a steady part of my diet.
I won't bore you with the remainder of my progression, except to say this. I found that it is darn near critical to have lab equipment available where you build the lab as a whole, as quickly and cleanly as possible - and test the final config like a proctor would. Putting the pieces together sometimes introduces unexpected consequences. Configs can look right in a vacuum, but might not fit a final solution.
I used my notes from my second attempt to speed drill the _entire_ lab setup. I went from 10 hours with lots of mistakes (nearly nothing worked) to 3.5 hours with minor mistakes that were easily found. You must be able to verify that you can make calls per spec, and get voicepath through, verify codecs, listen to moh, etc.
Then, I started getting creative with requirements and challenges. Netpro was GREAT for this.
My biggest problem, early on, was that I didn't thoroughly test my configs. So certain incorrect assumptions were staying with me. I found that I was missing many stupid little things, so I was losing points.
I'd recommend IPExpert bootcamp for a baseline. And I'd also recommend you take the lab and expect to fail. It's the only way to determine what you need to learn to move forward.
Try to acquire equipment. Try to acquire CCM & Unity, on VMWare if you have to. Take the IPExpert bootcamp, and speed drill it 'till you can do it in < 3hours without mistakes. This way, you can spend more time dealing with the "one offs" you see in the real lab, and spend some quality time verifying you've met the requirements cleaning up the inevitable mistakes.
On my passing attempt, I finished my initial config run with 2.5 hours to clean up. And I'm still sure I missed some points.
I appreciate you sharing your experiences abt the lab. I totally agree (from what I have heard about experiences from people failing CCIE lab) that they dont get enough time to verify /test their configurations, functionality etc. Due to lack of time, they leave it in the middle and move to the next objective. Something definitely to think about. And I did like the idea of doing a speed drill. Definitely some thing that I am looking forward during my prep.
I hear you. Time and money are always hard to come by. I am fortunate to work for a supportive company that is upgrading its partnership from Silver to Gold. They sponsered my class and first attempts and gave me a lab and time to study. But the time to work on this still takes its toll. I am working on re-acquainting myself with my wife and daughter.
I'm familiar with Version 1 of the IPExpert workbook as well as the bootcamp as it stood in May. I've bought both. At that time, it was not the same material. The class material was deeper than the book. That said, you may get some value from the book - it depends on where your skills are at. I'd call it more "intermediate" and the class was "advanced". And the real lab was "super-advanced."
At that time, IPExpert had just began working with Vik. And he was being asked to revamp the curriculum. So my impressions from that time may not be current. Things may be different with V.2 of the workbook and the new class with Mark Snow and Vik Mahli collaborating on material. Dunno.
I know Wayne Lawson watches this forum, and I've seen some older posts from Vik. Either one of them may have something to add about what is currently available.
So after all that, it's hard for me to tell you that the WB is a good or bad option. Version 1 was probably a good idea just to give you some idea of the basic/core stuff you need to learn. But alone will not prepare you for the actual lab. If you buy it, and find it challenging, you're not ready for the real thing.
But say you buy it, and find it too easy. Perhaps it would not be a waste. You could still speed drill the full lab type scenarios 'til you know them cold. That could be quite beneficial.
Though the technology is challenging, and the test writers find great ways to squeeze out tough scenarios, Time is truly your enemy on this test. Everyone I've spoken to who has passed, myself included, can and did finish with >1.5 hours to go back and verify. So it can be done. But for your preparation, anything that you can do to speed the "core" components is time/money well spent.
Hey, Mark here, one of the 2 Voice IE instructors (along with Vik Mahli) over at IPexpert.
First Mucho Congratulations to you Micheal, I still remember how I felt passing this (seemingly the hardest) IE.
Second, We have V2.0 of the Lab Workbook, Proctor Guide, and Student Handbook out (3 products) - and they are complete re-writes from V.1.
V.3 will be out the 1st of the year and we will be releasing V.4 sometime before the highly anticipated changeover to CCM 4.1.3 in June 06.
Just replying where it is solicited.
Ping me out-of-band with any questions - my email is in my profile.