CCDE - My journey to becoming a design guru

Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
It took me a couple of months to decide whether I should pursue another CCIE or to go in another direction. At this point, I feel like a second CCIE wouldn't benefit me much as there is too much overlap between the different tracks. It's time to take it to the next level and pursue the CCDE. This certification seems like the best choice for me right now as I transition into an architecture/lead engineer role.

The CCDE is scary to say the least. There's less than 300 certified CCDE's in the world right now and there isn't whole lot of material out there that's focused on the exam itself. I know a lot of seasoned architects with multiple CCIE's that fail this exam. I was talking to Neil Moore (8x CCIE) a couple of weeks back at Cisco Live and he was telling me how hard this exam was and how he hasn't been able to crack it yet. It seems that in order to pass, I will need to develop another set of skills that hasn't been required from me in the CCIE.

Similarly to the CCIE, my approach isn't aimed to simply pass the exam but instead, to gain the knowledge that will help me evolve into a network architect. I am young so I still have a lot of years ahead of me to complete this journey and to gain more experience in a design role. Hopefully, this exam will help accelerate my growth in this field.

To start my journey, I will read... read a whole lot of books, RFC's and white papers and watch a ton of presentations.

Reading list for next 2 months:
BGP design and implementation
Optimal routing design
Definitive MPLS design

I'll also add to that some Cisco Live videos on Design:
BRKRST-2336 – EIGRP Deployment in Modern Networks
BRKRST-2042 Highly Available Wide Area Network Design
BRKRST-2335 IS-IS Network Design and Deployment
BRKSEC-4054 DMVPN Deployment Model
BRKRST-2310 Deploying OSPF in a Large Scale Network
BRKRST-3051 – Core Network Design: Minimizing Packet Loss with IGPs and MPLS
Follow my CCDE journey at


  • IristheangelIristheangel CCIEx2 (Sec + DC), CCNP RS, CCNA V/S/R/DC, CISSP, CEH, MCSE 2003, A+/L+/N+/S+, and a lot more from m Pasadena, CAMod Posts: 4,133 Mod
    Very nice. Knowing your track record and intelligence, I know if you put your mind to it, you'll knock it out of the park :)

    There's a CCDE book coming out soon as well. Check it out: CCDE Study Guide
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
  • gorebrushgorebrush Member Posts: 2,743 ■■■■■■■□□□
    Ultimately this is on my "to-do" list - so will be watching this thread with some interest. Best of luck on this one - if Neil Moore thinks it's tough then this is one not to be underestimated. However, I am sure you will be absolutely fine.
  • lrblrb Member Posts: 526
    Good luck man! :D
  • FloOzFloOz Member Posts: 1,614 ■■■■□□□□□□
  • joelsfoodjoelsfood Member Posts: 1,027 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Good luck! You're actually the first person I've heard of trying for this cert. Among friends, I mostly just see the CCDE used by senior RS guys to keep their CCIE valid (since they do more design than hands on work at this point in their careers, CCDE written is an easier renew than CCIE RS).
  • malcyboodmalcybood Member Posts: 900 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Hey Dieg0M, I will be sitting my first attempt of the CCDE Written this week. Been studying for 3 months or so and been working as an designer / architect as below:

    - 2 years in global outsourcing / hosting company (detailed / low level design / engineering)
    - 2 years in gold partner (Technical Architect / TDA - Presales HLD / project escalation for design and implementation)
    - 2 years in Telco / ISP (Solution Architect designing regional / national MPLS networks with local loop unbundling)
    - Current role - 4 months at a Cisco partner working across enterprise WAN, LAN, WLAN, Security, DC solution design)

    Prior to that

    3 years as network admin at an enterprise and 3 years in IT support / field engineering before that, so I guess I have around 9 years solid networking experience with around 7 or 8 of that being involved in design.

    I've no idea what to expect from the written in respect to the level of detail i.e. high or low level. You don't see much about the written on forums and people seem to play it down / not mention it and just focus on their plan for the practical but I'm expecting the written to be really tough.

    I have been using Cisco Live too and would recommend a Safari subscription if you can. I also have multiple books from previous study where I'll post a book list if and when I pass the written exam.

    From what I understand, the key to the CCDE is being able to think as an architect and making the transition from having the mind set of what the ideal solution is (which we commonly identify as engineers) vs what the customer is asking for and why would a particular technology suit their business requirements.

    Understand where you're coming from about multiple CCIE's being unable to pass to date, but by the same token there is a number of people who do not hold CCIE and hold the CCDE, where one of my ex colleagues is one. It is down to a multitude of things - concentration, stamina, experience, technology knowledge and exam pressure for the practical.

    Anyway best of luck with your studies and I'll watch for your updates in this thread.
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    Thank you guys for the feedback.

    @Iris I just pre-ordered that book. I will give you some feedback once I finish reading it.

    @malcybood That's a very impressive amount of design experience. I lack SP experience so that will definitely make the exam challenging for me. Wish you the best of luck in the written and hope to hear back from you.
    Follow my CCDE journey at
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    Still going through slowly the BGP Design and Implementation book. I'm having a really hard time focusing on one topic now that I got into the design scenario's... It seems that each time I start thinking about a topic I involve a bunch of other factors. For example, using iBGP in the core... but what about eBGP or end-to-end IGP? but then should I use a distance vector or link state protocol for that core... but let's say I want to use a link-state... should I go with OSPF or IS-IS... does it really make a difference with these modern routers? Should I really go L3 in the core? If I use L2 in the core, what kind of technologies should I use? But is it as simple as L2 vs L3? Maybe I need to use a mix of both L2 and L3? But why do I really need this BGP core? To offer VPN services or something else? What kind of VPN's and what kind of transport am I offering? Maybe a L2 VPN? MPLS based or not? Why shouldn’t I use VLAN's vs VPLS as a L2 service? Do I really need MPLS? … and I can go on and on asking and answering my own questions.. At the end of the day, it really comes down to this... what are my requirements and restrictions? I could be debating about different technologies all day...
    For now, I need to focus on a technology at a time and make sure I get all the pro’s and con’s of these. In the CCIE you would learn the different technologies individually before approaching the mock labs. In the same way, I have to do this with the CCDE to progress. The problem right now is that once I start asking “Why?” there is always a new question that follows up.
    Follow my CCDE journey at
  • snadamsnadam Member Posts: 2,234 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I truly enjoy reading your posts and experiences, and this will be no different. Good luck, and I look forward to reading about your journey.
    **** ARE FOR CHUMPS! Don't be a chump! Validate your material with search engine

    :study: Current 2015 Goals: JNCIP-SEC JNCIS-ENT CCNA-Security
  • ccnpninjaccnpninja Senior Member EuropeMember Posts: 1,010 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I've subscribed to the thread. I'm looking forward to reading your post updates.
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    I have been drifting between these books recently: BGP Design and Implementation, MPLS Fundamentals, Optimal Routing Design, Top Down Network Design and Layer 2 VPN architectures.

    BGP Design and Implementation: I have almost read this cover to cover. A good amount of information I already knew. The Service Provider parts were not as straight forward as I thought they would be. Because of this I picked up the MPLS Fundamentals off the shelf again.

    MPLS Fundamentals: I felt like my MPLS TE knowledge was not up to par to what it should be and additionally to re-reading this book, I have been watching some INE SP videos to try and cover the pieces I was not familiar with.

    Optimal Routing Design and Layer 2 VPN architectures: I have been working on a greenfield deployment for ~30 data-centers and I am still doing the infrastructure and service architecture. These books have helped me tremendously to weight the different options available. Optimal Routing Design has been gold so far even tough I found a mistake (Confirmed by Russ).

    Top Down Network Design: I feel like this book has one of the best takes on gathering goals and constraint requirements for new designs. I am still reading through it but I feel like this will be a book to go back as a reference.

    Watched: BRKRST-3051 – Core Network Design: Minimizing Packet Loss with IGPs and MPLS. Very instructive but I have to go back to this when my MPLS TE skills are better. I wasnt that familiar with MPLS Node protection and the scenario's where you would need TE.

    Overall, I have the same feeling to when I started my IE: there is so much ground to cover. Same plan as always, go at it one day at a time.
    Follow my CCDE journey at
  • fredrikjjfredrikjj Member Posts: 879
    For TE, you probably want to read the Cisco Press TE book (Traffic Engineering with MPLS) because it has actual design discussion in it, and isn't just a tech overview like the MPLS Fundamentals chapter. It has stuff like tactical vs. strategic TE, when you should start worrying about the amount of state, example design scenarios, etc. It also explains TE itself very well from scratch. You'll also be able to skip the first 100 pages or so which are mpls basics and there's some in depth shortest path calculation stuff that you can probably skip to, so in the end it's not really a 600 page book.
  • lrblrb Member Posts: 526
    I can't recommend enough the book "MPLS-enabled applications" for a vendor independent book on MPLS, TE, RSVP, VPLS, MVPN, etc.
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    Thank you! I will add those books to my list. So many books to read right now...
    Follow my CCDE journey at
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    I have been on vacation for the last week and still will be for the next week. This is the first vacation I have taken in the last 3 years. Anyhow, I wanted to read the new CCDE study guide by Marwan Al-Shawi this week but he told me it was postponed by a couple of weeks due to Ciscopress delaying their editing. I am also attending NANOG 65 in 2 weeks, that should give me some good exposure on the current state of SP's designs.
    Follow my CCDE journey at
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    I am still studying for this certification. The process is slow as it is mostly theory and a lot of the topics are subjective. I have been reading through books and finished a couple of them like CCDE Study guide, Optimal Routing Design, CCDE Workbook by Orhan Erhun and watched most of the INE CCDE series. I have started posting blog posts again and I am trying to keep them as configuration free as possible. At this point, i'm focusing on concepts and high level designs. I feel like there are already a bunch of other blogs with configuration templates for x or y technology. I'm aiming to go for the written sometime in April next year.
    Follow my CCDE journey at
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    Mostly studying programming and SDN in the past few weeks as I was curious on what the different architecture models could be. It seems there is a big gap in knowledge between the people who understand the current state of SDN and the people who have no clue. I think this is mostly because these people are still learning to work with "traditional" networking protocols. Traditional networking is not going anywhere anytime soon as it has been worked on for over 20 years and a distributed environment in general has many benefits that a centralized system will never be able to offer. However, I think everyone should stay current on the different trends of Cloud, Network Virtualization and the SDN industry.

    On another note, I might implement a Hybrid SDN system on our WAN as an underlay for traffic engineering purposes as I am not a fan of MPLS based networks due to its complexity and hardware/license requirements. The only issue is that I have to get my programmers to integrate a Southbound API into our proprietary switches.
    Follow my CCDE journey at
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    Just wanted to update you guys that I have not given up. I have been studying and reading for the past few months and finally decided to take the written this week. It so happens that the written exam changed recently and also includes Evolving Technologies. I tried it without expecting too much and I somehow managed to pass. I was a little bit surprised because the passing % required was really high. I'm scheduling the Practical exam in November as tentative and I'll push back depending on how I feel in October.

    Some books i've read or referenced for the written:

    CCDE Study guide
    Nick Russo's CCIE SPv4 workbook (helped tremendously with SP topics)
    BGP Design and Implementation
    The Art of Network Architecture
    Definitive MPLS Network Design
    End to End QoS Network Design
    Optimal Routing Design
    Layer 2 VPN architectures
    Cisco Top Down Network Design

    Daniel's CCDE posts: Daniels Networking Blog - Networking articles by CCIE #37149/ CCDE #20160011
    Ken Yeo's website:

    These CL videos:

    BRKRST-2336 – EIGRP Deployment in Modern Networks
    BRKRST-2042 Highly Available Wide Area Network Design
    BRKRST-2335 IS-IS Network Design and Deployment
    BRKSEC-4054 DMVPN Deployment Model
    BRKRST-2310 Deploying OSPF in a Large Scale Network
    BRKRST-3051 – Core Network Design: Minimizing Packet Loss with IGPs and MPLS
    BRKDCT-1044 - FCoE for the IP Network Engineer
    BRKSPG-2207 - Redundancy Mechanisms for Carrier Ethernet and Layer 2 VPN Services
    BRKSPG-2116 - Advances in IP+Optical
    BRKIPM-2008 - Advanced Topics in IP Multicast Deployment
    BRKRST-3363 - Routed Fast Convergence

    *Edit: Almost forgot for Evolving Network Technologies, i've worked with SDN controllers and read Cloud/IoT topics from here:
    Follow my CCDE journey at
  • fredrikjjfredrikjj Member Posts: 879
    Good to see that you are still studying!
  • jamesp1983jamesp1983 Member Posts: 2,475 ■■■■□□□□□□

    Thanks for listing all of these study resources.
    "Check both the destination and return path when a route fails." "Switches create a network. Routers connect networks."
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    I took the CCDE Lab last Thursday. Unfortunately, I did not pass. My average score was decent and close to what I hear the cutting score should be at... but it wasn't good enough. I studied hard in the last two weeks before the exam and mostly focused on doing scenarios. These are the ones I would recommend people doing before the lab:

    -Jeremy Filliben Scenario's (6)
    -Orhan Scenario's (3)
    -INE's CCDE Scenario's (4)
    -CCDE study group scenario's (around 8 )

    I know what to focus on for my next attempt and I highly recommend for people attempting the lab to do some labbing to reinforce technologies that they might feel weak on. I would also recommend these two books and make them your bibles:
    -Definitive MPLS Network Design
    -End to End QoS Network Design

    If English is not your native language (like me), I would highly recommend to do some Reading Comprehension exercises. Knowing the technologies/designs is half the battle and understanding the scenarios is the other half. Make sure you get better at this. Become an expert at identifying key words(vocabulary) that might translate into technical requirements or constraints.

    I'm not sure when my next attempt will be but I know what I need to work on. The CCDE is a difficult exam and a completely different beast from the CCIE. Time to go back to the drawing board ;)
    Follow my CCDE journey at
  • bharvey92bharvey92 Member Posts: 419
    Sorry to hear you didn't hit the pass Dieg0, sure you will get it next time! Just keep chipping away at it, all the best!
    2018 Goal: CCIE Written [ ]
  • bender000bender000 Member Posts: 17 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Can you point me towards the link for the CCDE study group scenarios (icon_cool.gif? I've seen the other 3 you've listed but not this one.
  • Dieg0MDieg0M Member Posts: 861
    They are created by the study group and kept for the study group for now.
    Follow my CCDE journey at
  • darkerzdarkerz Member Posts: 431 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Keep it up, great effort so far! I know a CCDE at my current company, he's spent an awesome amount of time and effort to get it. However, I still have our Tier 1 ops guys (the newbies who haven't fallen for my trickery) assign him MAC tickets for Access / Campus Port requests.

    I'm still impressed he completes it every time, then schools all of us on how crappy our latest MPLS design review was.
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