Wednesday, December 17, 2008 it is! That is the day I passed my CCIE Written and the day I am officially considering the start my CCIE Security journey. At this point the focus will change and intensify. I know the lab is a completely different animal than the written exam. As a result, I am going to put all of my efforts into lab time and work through every conceivable scenario I can think of.
Several years ago, I was at the exact same place in the Routing and Switching track. Having passed the R&S Written, it was time to move forward or stand still. Standing still, I chose not to pursue the Lab. Looking back, that was probably a wise decision. I actually see it as more of a decision that I did not make, than a decision made not to pursue it. In any case, I think the timing would have been all wrong and I would have been fairly discouraged (and probably divorced) with the effort that would have been required.
So what’s different between then and now. First and foremost, I have gained several more years of “trial by fire” experience. I think experience is key to how we function day to day in our careers and I am sure I can benefit from it on the lab exam. Additionally, through the projects I have been involved in, I have gained quite a bit of additional knowledge in the past few years. Experience is not that valuable without the fundamental knowledge. In any case, I am much more confident in my ability to pursue and pass the Lab. Looking back, I was confident then as well, but I’m not sure that it was justified.
Another thing that has changed is I have switched tracks. Initially, going down the path of CCNA/CCDA and CCNP/CCNP path, the logical next step would have been CCIE R&S. However, as a consultant and engineer for a small reseller, my focus exposure is typically on Small to Medium Business customers. The CCIE R&S is beneficial, but does not mesh as well with these types of customers as the Security track. When you are a network consultant for SMB customers you deal with most of the components on the CCIE Security Blueprint on a regular basis.
The final thing that I think will motivate me this time is money. Not the potential to make more, but the fact that fact that I have invested some and want to see it through to fruition. The written exam itself was required to renew my CCSP, so that was really a sunk cost. However, I did bite the bullet and purchase the IP Expert CCIE Security Blended Learning Solution. That was roughly $799. That is a drop in the bucket when compared to what the total cost will probably be, but I definitely don’t want to fail to take full advantage of it.
PS. The Written Exam is difficult but could have been worse. This was my first time. My test did not require a very high percentage to pass, but I scored about 10 percent above the pass mark. I felt like there were several beta questions that had no correct answers and were likely not scored. I’ll not violate NDA by going into specific detail.