Well the day has finally come where I regain a lot of spare time in my life, I no longer need to study for the CCIE Wireless lab. Yesterday I sat the lab at San Jose and finally got my digits. I was a little worried after my OEQs as I knew 2 of them for sure, second guessed myself on 1, and wasn’t sure on another, but obviously it all worked out!
If you have been following me on Twitter (@blakekrone) or read my other blog post CCIE-Wireless Lab: What Did I Learn you know I’ve been working hard at obtaining those digits for awhile now. It’s quite a relief knowing that I’m done and that it is in fact doable. This time around I wasn’t nervous about the lab at all, I knew I had fixed a lot of my mistakes in practice and speed was on my side. I thought I would share some of my tactics on how I finally conquered the exam.
- ORGANIZE - In order to pass this test you need to be organized, you can’t just step through the exam. The very first thing I do when I sit down is I read the ENTIRE workbook page by page. As I’m reading I’m writing down in outline format the key points to each section and how many points the section is worth. This allows me to have a “checklist” for when 3/4pm comes around and it is time to verify.
- SPEED – The name of the game in version 1 is speed. Given the multitude of WLCs that you are presented with you really need to know how to configure them from the CLI. Notepad is your friend during the lab, every command that I ran on any of my hardware was saved in Notepad documents, this allowed me to verify what I had done (looking for typos), remember what I had done, and also allowed me to copy paste between devices. My favorite code snippet that I used was “save config CR (carriage return) y CR” which allowed me to save the config on my WLCs in a matter of seconds (useful for before lunch, end of day, etc). You also need to know Autonomous CLI backwards and forwards.
- EXECUTE – The very first thing I do in the execute phase is group together common tasks and a proper task flow of my outline. Just because the workbook has something as the last step doesn’t mean you can’t do that first if it makes sense. As I go through my own outline I’m looking at the workbook at the same time, applying all the configurations from my Notepad documents or using the GUI if I have to. By using scripts I can create 6 dynamic interfaces for example across multiple WLCs in less than 5 minutes. As I step through my outline I’m putting a line through each item that I know is correct, and circling anything that I might have to go back to.
- VERIFY – I can’t stress this one enough! This was my biggest failure in all my previous attempts, I simply didn’t know the right show commands to verify my configuration was actually 100% correct and followed what was asked of me. Your verify stage should be started by 3pm, 4pm at the latest to fully get through the entire workbook a second time. Remember, the devil lies in the details on this exam. Just because it doesn’t make sense doesn’t make it wrong, this is a lab not real life!
The CCIE Lab not only tests your technical skills, but it also tests how methodically you can think, something we need to do when we are installing or when we architect a design in real life. I’ve heard multiple times that this lab was designed to be done in 4 hours, I started configuring my hardware at 10am after doing all my planning. We had a 30 minute lunch break around 1115-1145. I was completely done with my configurations by 3pm, which left me 2 hours to verify which was important as I found a couple of typos that I had made. Once 4pm roles around consider your configuration FROZE, DO NOT CHANGE UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! I can’t stress that enough, on one attempt I made the stupid mistake of trying something different on my client PC at 4pm, this resulted in my completely hosing my VM image and I had to ask for them to restore the image. I got the image back at 445pm and had to rush through those steps again.
Finally, don’t give up. I’m not afraid to show this image, it took me 5 tries, but it only took me 1 to pass.