When to start CCIE studies?

Danielh22185Danielh22185 Member Posts: 1,195 ■■■■□□□□□□
Now, obviously a loaded question so bear with me as this is just to really gauge some of you folks either working at it now or have accomplished it. Also I fully understand that "when to go for it" depends heavily on one's personal life and how much time they can invest in the grind, and also what their current level of experience is, etc. So I figured I'd tell you a little bit about me.

Right now I work as a 2nd level Net Ops support role for a very large enterprise network (50,000+ Cisco devices, ranging from 2690 switches to Nexus 9ks and everything in-between, also including other vendor equipment such as F5, Citrix Netscaler, Riverbed, Arista, and Juniper). This company is my first exposure to a network role which I think has been a really good one for me considering I was working help desk support just 3.5 years back. My role is basically to ensure 90% of all network events are resolved within the company, that remaining 10% would be escalated to our 3rd level support for things unresolved within my group, this could be complex routing issues, unidentified software bugs, design related issues, etc, etc.

I have been in my current level 2 role for 15 months now. Previous to that I was working a level 1 support role (same company) that really did not give me the spring board to learn as much as I have in my current role. However now I feel in my current role I am approaching my learning ceiling.

Also, I feel my story may be a bit different from others of equal amount of time exposure to the industry. In my job I am forced to look at the BIG network picture and to consider everything outside the narrow focus of just routing and switching. As mentioned my role also supports other vendor equipment which also forces me to look outside just routing and switching issues, but also more complex things such as TCP/IP traffic behaviors, web services/ load balancing, WAN acceleration/optimization/analysis, as well as all the physical parts of hardware support too. The IE track I think will help me learn the big picture to even further to better support those layers of networking.

So, obviously I am ready to get down and dirty with the really complex stuff to learn it and develop serious skills. I also feel my role has given me an above average exposure over what most people with just 3.5 years of experience for a smaller network environment could obtain, so I feel I'm a bit ahead of the pack. I've also been studying CCNP on and off about 2 years now (had a baby in the middle of studies); recently I have restarted my efforts to finally finish it off so that I can move on to bigger stuff (expecting to finish NP before the end of the year).

The amount of content to absorb while studying on the CCIE level is huge and yields huge returns in knowledge and skill obtained. I recently actually spoke to one of our network SMEs and he told me I am wasting time studying NP if all I am after is the increase in knowledge and skill, he told me to jump to IE stuff right away. I tend to agree with him a bit however I still feel I have learned a good amount from my current study journey; remember I’ve only been at the networking game under 5 years. I also tend to agree with him because some of the stuff in the NP track is mildly difficult. I'm ready for more!

Also, I feel as helpful as it would be to branch out after I complete my CCNP to jump on something like a Design, or Security, or whatever other alternate track it would just ultimately side track me and cause me to lose the time and focus to achieve my goal (CCIE). My main skill sets have always been focused on Routing/Switching so I feel why should I put that focus aside to study something else for a bit that might not offer me as much total gains towards my end goal. I feel if I focus my efforts to studying CCIE content I stand to gain stronger skills and knowledge to take me to the next level (Tier 3 support for my company or another outside opportunity) as well.

Now, I don't feel I am ready for CCIE in 2 or even maybe 3 years. However as I think about I ask myself why not start now? I have built a huge reading list which will take a considerable amount of time to go through. So I think I stand to gain a lot or the most based on my goals to start now. My NP will expire in 3 years which I think I can renew at that time by taking IE written, then begin the major hardcore prep for the Lab test.

My goal is simple by definition: become an expert in core networking concepts. I think once that is achieved the other side stuff will come easier and also my core networking skill will make me valuable in those areas due to my high level networking knowledge.


Thoughts?
Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
"Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi

Comments

  • DPGDPG Member Posts: 780 ■■■■■□□□□□
    ...to achieve my goal (CCIE)...

    My goal is simple by definition: become an expert in core networking concepts.

    You don't need to become a CCIE to be a network expert.
  • theodoxatheodoxa Member Posts: 1,340 ■■■■□□□□□□
    To add to what ^^^ said, I've seen NPs reading through the CCIE books even when they were not actively pursuing the CCIE. You can always learn new things and reinforce the things that you might not be working with on a daily basis. Plus, should you decide to later pursue the CCIE, you have a head start.
    R&S: CCENT CCNA CCNP CCIE [ ]
    Security: CCNA [ ]
    Virtualization: VCA-DCV [ ]
  • Danielh22185Danielh22185 Member Posts: 1,195 ■■■■□□□□□□
    DPG wrote: »
    You don't need to become a CCIE to be a network expert.

    Agreed! Some of the most network knowledgeable people I know don't have a CCIE and could run circles around some. It's just been a desired goal of mine since the beginning.

    theodoxa wrote: »
    To add to what ^^^ said, I've seen NPs reading through the CCIE books even when they were not actively pursuing the CCIE. You can always learn new things and reinforce the things that you might not be working with on a daily basis. Plus, should you decide to later pursue the CCIE, you have a head start.

    I agree as well, this is why I think I should get my slow start. Like I mentioned, if I decide to go full bore I should have a good amount of study and experience under my belt to carry me to the finish.
    Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
    My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
    "Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi
  • Danielh22185Danielh22185 Member Posts: 1,195 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I guess my main question is do you guys think its worth going after associate or even professional level certs in the other study tracks based on my goals? Would going after those really benefit a R/S focused study track? I personally see little time-to-value gain and should just start dipping into the deep networking stuff covered in the IE R/S track. I really don't want to have a million certs, one because the cost/time to maintain that and two because I know I wouldn't use a lot of it day-to-day. I think after getting IE R/S the only reason I'd go after more would be if my current job then would want me to or offered some type of benefit for doing so.
    Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
    My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
    "Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi
  • lrblrb Member Posts: 526
    Having mountains of certs across different platforms and technology streams is a waste of time IMO. If you had for example a CCNP in R&S, Security, SP, Collab, and DC, it's going to be pretty hard to maintain that level of knowledge and still count yourself at that professional level for all of those different streams. For example I have a CCNA in voice but I haven't touched voice in year, so now its just useless cert attached to my name which I have no desire to maintain the knowledge for.

    Back to your original point, start the R&S once you've finished your CCIE and set yourself a goal to sit the lab in 2 years.
  • MooseboostMooseboost Senior Member Member Posts: 778 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I think that having certifications on multiple platforms/technologies is okay at the associate level, including a mix of vendors (Juniper, Microsoft, etc) depending on your role. There are positions that touch on a bit of everything. As you move up though, you become more specialized. I am a firm believer in pushing the R&S track first, unless you are already senior in a specific technology (Security, DC, Voice, etc) - in which case going for your specialization is a better idea. Otherwise, R&S is a very good foundation. When I think of having multiple professional or expert level certifications, I fully expect one of them to be R&S. R&S compliments any other track, IMHO.


    If you want the CCIE then go for it. If you want the knowledge gained in pursuit of other tracks but don't want to go through the certification process - then just study the material. I know fellow engineers who could most likely pass other tracks because of the experience they gain through working with the technology. The certification is just paper - a credential. There are plenty of paper sharks who have the credentials but have no clue what they are doing. The knowledge is more important than the paper. The paper might get you a job or advance you, but the knowledge will keep you there.
  • Danielh22185Danielh22185 Member Posts: 1,195 ■■■■□□□□□□
    lrb wrote: »
    Having mountains of certs across different platforms and technology streams is a waste of time IMO. If you had for example a CCNP in R&S, Security, SP, Collab, and DC, it's going to be pretty hard to maintain that level of knowledge and still count yourself at that professional level for all of those different streams. For example I have a CCNA in voice but I haven't touched voice in year, so now its just useless cert attached to my name which I have no desire to maintain the knowledge for.

    Back to your original point, start the R&S once you've finished your CCIE and set yourself a goal to sit the lab in 2 years.

    Great point! I think some people might actually be hurting their marketability by chasing after and obtaining a bunch of professional level cert tracks. There is a lot involved with truly learning those tracks and becoming certified. Which unless it applies to your every day job roles I don't see the point. Like the saying goes "if you don't use it, you lose it". I'd image if I was trying to gain several of these certs outside the R/S track i'd only really be getting them for the credential in the end because I can't image maintaining the professional knowledge for several certs, especially if I don't use them.

    At this point I think I am pretty well primed for chasing after IE in the near future and this is what I will do without any side tracks unless for some other reason I need to deviate.

    Thanks guys!
    Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
    My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
    "Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi
  • gorebrushgorebrush Member Posts: 2,743 ■■■■■■■□□□
    lrb wrote: »
    Having mountains of certs across different platforms and technology streams is a waste of time IMO. If you had for example a CCNP in R&S, Security, SP, Collab, and DC, it's going to be pretty hard to maintain that level of knowledge and still count yourself at that professional level for all of those different streams. For example I have a CCNA in voice but I haven't touched voice in year, so now its just useless cert attached to my name which I have no desire to maintain the knowledge for.

    Back to your original point, start the R&S once you've finished your CCIE and set yourself a goal to sit the lab in 2 years.

    How do you feel about people like Neil Moore who have 3,4,5+ CCIE's?

    To the original question:-

    Now having a CCIE myself I can honestly say that I could easily go for a 2nd (as lrb is doing) and honestly could see a 3rd. I'm a NOC Engineer right now and to be honest *some* of the knowledge I got through R&S I'll never ever use in my current role, but that is not to say that I would forget it and would be unable to use that knowledge some day in the future.
  • Danielh22185Danielh22185 Member Posts: 1,195 ■■■■□□□□□□
    gorebrush wrote: »
    How do you feel about people like Neil Moore who have 3,4,5+ CCIE's?

    To the original question:-

    Now having a CCIE myself I can honestly say that I could easily go for a 2nd (as lrb is doing) and honestly could see a 3rd. I'm a NOC Engineer right now and to be honest *some* of the knowledge I got through R&S I'll never ever use in my current role, but that is not to say that I would forget it and would be unable to use that knowledge some day in the future.

    I'm sure there is plenty Neil doesn't even think on anymore from previous studies. However, did he develop valuable skills while studying each of those specialization tracks? Absolutely! He made it to the expert level 8 times after all! I just think with my current goal being CCIE R/S, side tracking myself into other specializations at the Associate or even Professional level before getting to an expert level in R/S isn't worth my time. Do I plan to stop at IE R/S? Never! This is just the first goal of many. I actually see myself getting into data center stuff next but when I think back on the amount of time already invested in the R/S track I should best use my time and hold the course.
    Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
    My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
    "Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi
  • hurricane1091hurricane1091 Member Posts: 919 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I'm getting ahead of myself here but I am going to be starting the CCNP extremely soon. Now, my boss is happy, but he's suggesting after the CCNP I should get the CCIE. At some point in life, the CCNA seemed improbable, and the CCNP seemed impossible, and the CCIE would just never even happen. I really consider myself a normal person (like, not an Einstein at all) and not a prodigy or some sorts - far from it. Can a normal person get the CCIE though? Like, it has to be crazy hard. All the time though I'm looking stuff up and learning about our environment and come across CCIE stuff like even today with BGP route influencing with route maps and local preferences. Now, it's just bits and pieces here and there, but it really makes me wonder if it might be possible one day.
  • gorebrushgorebrush Member Posts: 2,743 ■■■■■■■□□□
    Hey, I'm just an average guy who just loves IT and networking.

    Any task is easy if you enjoy it - that includes CCIE's
  • DPGDPG Member Posts: 780 ■■■■■□□□□□
    Can a normal person get the CCIE though?

    Yes, just not at the insane pace that some people choose to take. Some will blaze through it within a year. For others it will take many years of off-and-on studying.
  • Danielh22185Danielh22185 Member Posts: 1,195 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Where do you guys think I should begin with reading content. I have a giant list of about 15 books I want to get to, probably will add more down the line. I am in a toss up of either getting:

    CCIE Routing and Switching v5.0 Official Cert Guide, Volume 1 (5th Edition): 9781587143960: Computer Science Books @ Amazon.com

    Vol I and II^^

    or

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1587052024/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=2DCWTJ38CWULY&coliid=I2JEN3WZT4SQY6

    Vol I and II ^^
    Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
    My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
    "Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi
  • ScalesScales Member Posts: 95 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Where do you guys think I should begin with reading content. I have a giant list of about 15 books I want to get to, probably will add more down the line. I am in a toss up of either getting:

    CCIE Routing and Switching v5.0 Official Cert Guide, Volume 1 (5th Edition): 9781587143960: Computer Science Books @ Amazon.com

    Vol I and II^^

    or

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1587052024/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=2DCWTJ38CWULY&coliid=I2JEN3WZT4SQY6

    Vol I and II ^^

    Both sets will be very useful for CCIE studies - if you had to pick one or the other Routing TCP/IP for sure.
  • lrblrb Member Posts: 526
    gorebrush wrote: »
    How do you feel about people like Neil Moore who have 3,4,5+ CCIE's?

    Well he's got 8 icon_wink.gif

    There is definitely overlap between the tracks, for example R&S and SP have a heap of overlap, so does R&S and security, and so does R&S and DC, etc. As you can probably see, there is a pattern here. R&S has some core knowledge that is used in other tracks so I think that R&S + one of the others is definitely manageable in terms of upkeeping the knowledge. However, if I had R&S + SP + SEC, I personally would find it difficult to maintain the knowledge at the expert level of topics which don't overlap in all three streams. Everyone is different though.

    I can sense me saying this will come back to bite me after my 2nd lab in March when I get the taste for another CCIE icon_lol.gif
  • gorebrushgorebrush Member Posts: 2,743 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I know the feeling. I've started on the Security track - and having done all the "Core" R&S stuff - I'm pretty much golden already because the core knowledge doesn't change. It's very nice to be able to go and do "more" and it doesn't feel like doing it all from scratch again.

    I might do SP afterwards too, might pick your brains.. :D DC looks fun too. Where does it all end?
  • Danielh22185Danielh22185 Member Posts: 1,195 ■■■■□□□□□□
    lrb wrote: »
    Well he's got 8 icon_wink.gif

    There is definitely overlap between the tracks, for example R&S and SP have a heap of overlap, so does R&S and security, and so does R&S and DC, etc. As you can probably see, there is a pattern here. R&S has some core knowledge that is used in other tracks so I think that R&S + one of the others is definitely manageable in terms of upkeeping the knowledge. However, if I had R&S + SP + SEC, I personally would find it difficult to maintain the knowledge at the expert level of topics which don't overlap in all three streams. Everyone is different though.

    I can sense me saying this will come back to bite me after my 2nd lab in March when I get the taste for another CCIE icon_lol.gif
    gorebrush wrote: »
    I know the feeling. I've started on the Security track - and having done all the "Core" R&S stuff - I'm pretty much golden already because the core knowledge doesn't change. It's very nice to be able to go and do "more" and it doesn't feel like doing it all from scratch again.

    I might do SP afterwards too, might pick your brains.. :D DC looks fun too. Where does it all end?


    I like hearing this, these are pure good reasons why I should stick with R/S to start with then later focus on branching off after R/S is complete. :)
    Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
    My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
    "Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi
  • gorebrushgorebrush Member Posts: 2,743 ■■■■■■■□□□
    Seriously, it is real nice to go through content and hear "Well you need routing in place first before you start VPNs" for example, and it's like "Heh, I know a thing or two about that, would you like static or dynamic" etc etc.

    R&S really is the core of it all - once you've got that down the rest are addons :) Well except DC so much...
  • Danielh22185Danielh22185 Member Posts: 1,195 ■■■■□□□□□□
    gorebrush wrote: »
    Seriously, it is real nice to go through content and hear "Well you need routing in place first before you start VPNs" for example, and it's like "Heh, I know a thing or two about that, would you like static or dynamic" etc etc.

    R&S really is the core of it all - once you've got that down the rest are addons :) Well except DC so much...


    Good to hear. I think I made the right decision to keep pushing down the R/S track!
    Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
    My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
    "Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi
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