Hold Onto Your Butts: Another CCIE DC Thread

brobertsbroberts Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
So here we are, the beginning of a long road...

Just a little background on me - I've been an avid lurker on the forums for probably going on 5 years now, but for the most part have stayed in the shadows. I literally just wrapped up my CCNP R&S yesterday, passing my SWITCH and TSHOOT exams... speaking of which, SWITCH was easily the worst, trivia-filled, bug-ridden Cisco exam I've taken. With TSHOOT being on the complete other end of the spectrum; such a fun exam. But anyways, neither here nor there.

I am taking a little more unorthodox approach to the CCIE DC and pretty much starting from ground zero. I have very limited experience with any storage and server infrastructure, so I certainly have a lot of ground to cover! There are a few reasons that made me decide to go straight to CCIE DC, instead of hitting all the checkpoints along the way (CCNA DC/CCNP DC):
  • Going over the CCNA DC objectives, the topics seemed pretty straight forward. The CCNP DC did not have any official training material and looked like the best route to studying for NP, would be using the CCIE material. If I'm just going to be using the CCIE material anyway, might as well go the entire way.
  • I'd rather use the $1500 for the CCNA/P exams to purchase more rack time.
  • I'm pretty comfortable with my current job, and have no immediate plans on leaving in the foreseeable future. So while the CCNA/P DC could be nice additions to the resume, probably wouldn't help out much. Also, pretty doubtful I'd get a pay raise from the CCNP DC. They hired me in as a CCNA and paid well above market value, so I feel like I'm just playing catch up right now, as it is.
  • The data center material has me very intrigued. It goes hand-in-hand with my envisioned career path (but we all know how envisioned career paths go sometimes). Plus my current environment utilizes all of the DC covered objectives, and I regularly have my hands on a lot of the Nexus equipment.
The study materials that I will be using is in-line with what I've seen a lot of people here using for this track. My job paid for a 2 year subscription to IPExpert's subscription pass, giving me access to all the videos, audio MP3s and workbooks. I initially was going to go INE AAP, since I'm a big fan of Brian's teaching style. But the recommendations of a few of the members around here pushed me to go IPX, and I'm finding, I could definitely get used to Jason and Rick's teaching styles. I'll probably attend an IPX bootcamp in the future, but that'll probably be a good ways down the road!

I have access to Safari Books from work (such an invaluable subscription to have). My reading list includes the typical DC reading list and probably a couple others...
  • Data Center Virtualization Fundamentals
  • Data Center Fundamentals
  • I/O Consolidation in the Data Center
  • Storage Networking Fundamentals
  • Store Networks Explained
  • Introduction to Storage Area Networks and System Networking
  • Implementing Cisco UCS Solutions
  • Cisco Unified Computing System
  • NX-OS and Cisco Nexus Switching Second Edition
  • Using TRILL, FabricPath, and VXLAN
  • Developing IP Multicast Networks Vol1
  • I'll probably mix in some TCP/IP Vol1 and 2 to keep my routing game up to snuff. Is all the extra reading material a little overkill? Yea, maybe. But I'm really wanting to get a good grasp on all of the materials involved, and there's no sense in not over-preparing for the lab.
And last but not least, I have access to a good bit of equipment at my work lab that I'm going to start standing up next week. I have access to a UCS 5108 blade chassis with a few different blade servers to throw in there, 2x Nexus 5010s - I know these are a little older, still have to research to see what features I can/cannot do with them. Also have a pair of 2208XP FEX and UCS 6120XP FIs. My job has an available VDC on our production 7ks, but not sure we want to tap into that for the lab. Right now, I'll probably be using the 3850s for routing. We are planning on upgrading the 7ks with 9ks within the year, so hopefully I can finagle those into the lab.

Also thinking about buying a pair of MDS switches to throw into the mix. Has anyone done this? Think it's worth the investment? Or would it be better off using rack rentals to get your MDS hands-on?

I'm going to be juggling some other things along the way. Still finishing up my BS at WGU, only have my MCSA, tech writing and capstone left. Also working on picking up some Linux and automation skills along the way. So I definitely see this being a long, long journey. I wouldn't be surprised if this takes closer to 2 years.

ANYWAYS!!! I think this post is long-winded enough. So I'll end it here! Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any questions.

TL;DR - Going straight for CCIE DC, going to take forever.


  • MowMow Member Posts: 445 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Good luck! Sounds like you have a good plan. Everyone has a plan until they get hit. Make sure you can bounce back from setbacks!
  • d4nz1gd4nz1g Member Posts: 464
    With all that gear available it is certain that you will sit for the lab way before I am planning to, heh :)

    You've got almost everything you need for the CCIE DC, but I would also recommend that you include the Cisco DOCS for the specific technologies (and troubleshooting guides as well) in your reading list.

    For the MDSes, if you work at a partner you could use the PEC labs (9216 and 9222i). I always get a free pod whenever I want.
    Otherwise, I would recommend buying a pair just in case. I felt that the CCNP (DCUFI and DCUFT - to be taken) exams were a purely SAN test.

    By the way, here are my .0002 cents. The best of luck for ya, mate!
  • brobertsbroberts Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks Mow and d4nz1g!

    I doubt I'll be taking the lab before you do, I've still a lot of catching up to do! I've been trying to take it easy this week, letting my brain recover from the CCNP R&S and spending some time with the family. I read a few chapters out of the DC Virtualization Fundamentals book and started watching some of the IPX Written videos.

    Right now I'm still trying to figure out what note-taking method would be best. I started hand-writing notes for the CCNP, but found it was taking way too long to write everything out, so I switched to Evernote. But I also feel I wasn't retaining the information as much, so I ended up re-reading a lot... but I suppose that's what they're there for. :)

    I do not work for a partner, so no PEC access for me... I'll have to purchase a pair of MDS or use rack time to get access to that equipment. If I can find good deals on EBay, that'll probably be the best way to go.
  • d4nz1gd4nz1g Member Posts: 464
    Check for the software version information on cisco website so you won't end up holding a piece of legacy stuff.

    I just can't get to take notes while studying (maybe because I am not a native English speaker), but I read as many times as I can.


    Do you know any place where I can get tips for studying/taking notes? It is hard to retain information without reviewing, I am relying only on reading+labbing, it is getting hard as the information keeps coming.
  • brobertsbroberts Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
    D4nz1g - effective studying definitely is a valuable skill. Everyone studies/learns differently though, you just need to figure out how your brain best processes information and what is the most effective and efficient way for you.

    I've seen some people recommending mind maps, quick google search can point you in the right direction on it. Others use an app called Anki and flash cards to help memorization and maximize your down time.

    I, personally, like to casually read through any given chapter that I'm reading, trying to understand exactly what I'm reading. Most important part of this to me, is being in a very quiet place with no distractions, because I am very easily distracted and catch myself thinking about things going on in the environment around me. After I finish reading a chapter, I go through again, and take notes on important topics. Nothing crazy, or extremely detailed (I can always refer back to the material if I need to fill in blanks), maybe some quick sketches or screen captures. Maybe it will help you to take the notes in your native language, actively translating material may help it stick.

    After I take my notes, I might reinforce those notes with videos on the subject. And after all is said and done, I'll sit and try to explain to myself the technologies I read, trying to remember all the details I can. And the most important part with a lot of information, I find, is frequently reviewing your notes until you have it memorized down pat. That's a reason I like Evernote. I have all my notes synced across all my devices, so whenever I have down time, I can pull them up and review all my notes, wherever I am... At work, on the bus commute to and from work... Where ever.

    That's just the studying/note taking part, not including the reinforcement you get from actual lab time.

    But find out what works for you. I know there's a good reddit out there that has a lot of helpful tips for maximizing study time that might be useful to you. I don't remember it off of the top of my head, but I'll look it up and update the thread for you.
  • brobertsbroberts Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□

    If you take some time and go through it, you can find some good information and a lot of people willing to help.
  • d4nz1gd4nz1g Member Posts: 464
    Taking a look at that right now!

    Thank you.
  • 21ctl21ctl Banned Posts: 93 ■■□□□□□□□□
    i love your method,am planning to follow same path...
  • brobertsbroberts Member Posts: 23 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Got some good news today. After reviewing my study plan, work approved funding for my studies! So I'll be looking to purchase a boot camp and lab hours at the beginning of the year.

    Last couple of weeks have been really busy at work. I read through the CCNA level books and I'm back to reading DC Virtualization Fundamentals and watching the IPX CCIE written videos. Jason is a great teacher, but I do find myself counting how many times he says "ok" and "alright" throughout his video lol. Still enjoying his videos and teaching style.

    Anyways, just wanted to stop in and provide a quick update!
  • 21ctl21ctl Banned Posts: 93 ■■□□□□□□□□
    nice one bro..i will surely follow your thread because am also going to prepare for DC.. but now am working on CISSP.....
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