Hands-on Books Online resources Other resources

Hands-on Practice

The most important part of my preparation for the lab was hands-on practice with routers and switches. I only have one router of my own so I made use of three other sources:

A practice lab provided by the local Cisco channel SE
The local channel SE has made a lab of 7 routers accesible via the Internet and is allowing people studying for the lab to reserve time with the routers. He has also made available a set of configuration tasks and a mailing list for the people preparing for the lab, which he monitors. The lab itself consists of a 4000, a 3002, a 2503, a 2524, a 2516, two 2502s, a Catalyst 3100, a 2509, an ISDN switch simulator and a remotely-accessible power-switch. All of the routers are running IOS 12.x. The 2509 and the Cat 3100 are not available for configuration but the rest of the equipment allows for experimenting with a wide range of configurations.
Cisco's CIMs
I went to the CIM-TAG at Networkers Vancouver so I had a chance to look at a beta of the Router Basics CIM which I found very impressive. I was also lucky enough to win the LAN Switching CIM and subsequently bought the Expert Labs - IP Routing CIM. The IP Routing CIM is unlikely to be helpful to someone studying for the CCIE lab, particularly if they have access to 4 or 5 routers to work with. On the other hand, I found the LAN switching CIM quite helpful. It gave me a chance to look at token ring switching and FDDI which I didn't have access to elsewhere.
The CCIE boot camp lab
I bought the sample labs from cciebootcamp and a couple days of access to their lab connected to the Internet. The main attraction for me was the access to ATM equipment and the additional lab scenarios.


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A general comment about this list is that I really like books so I tend to buy and at least browse many of them. I've sorted the list roughly by how useful I found the books (most to least useful). The only item in this list that is required reading is the Cisco documentation. However, I recommend all of these books to a greater or lesser degree. Obviously, the usefulness of any of these books is going to depend heavily on one's background. My background is primarily on the LAN and with smaller networks. Before studying for the lab I had not dealt with BGP, more complex OSPF (NSSA, virtual links), IS-IS,DECnet, Vines, SRB, DLSw+, RSRB, ATM.

There is an Cisco recommended reading list with the suggestions for preparing for the written on CCO.

Andrew Bruce Caslow, Cisco Cerification - Bridges, Routes and Switches for CCIEs, Prentice Hall, 1999.
I found this book very helpful, particularly the "spot the issue" approach. The book covers a wide range of topics with some detailed, though not terribly complex, configurations with good discussion of issues that may be encountered. I came back to this book just before my lab and after I read the Hutnik All-in-One book and found that I was a little disappointed with the sample configs. I was looking at the RSRB/DLSw+ chapters in particular and didn't find enough detail. One of the books I took with me when I went for the lab which is saying a fair amount given its size.
Routing TCP/IP, volume 1,Jeff Doyle,Cisco Press, 1998.
This is a great book covering IGPs for IP with helpful, clear examples including diagrams, sample configurations, sample output. Another big book that I took with me.
Stephen Hutnik & Michael Satterlee, All-in-One CCIE Lab Study Guide, McGraw Hill, 2000.
This is a roughly 1000 page book of heavily commented configurations. Each chapter starts with a discussion of the feature or protocol, then works through configurations supporting the feature or protocol. The examples are not terribly involved but this is a great approach for filling in an understanding of how to configure features with which one is not familiar. The book came out just before my lab and I finished reading it on the plane. Another big book I took with me.
Thomas M Thomas II,OSPF Network Design Solutions, Cisco Press, 1998.
As the title suggests this is a book devoted to OSPF. It is helpful both as an introduction to OSPF and as a reference for some of the finer points. I read this quite a while before my lab and refered to it a couple of time while I was studying.
John W. Stewart III, BGP4 Inter-Domain Routing in the Internet
A short book covering BGP4. It gives an overview of all(?) the options with clear examples of why they were defined/implemented. Particularly helpful for those of us who spend most of our time with IGPs and wonder what BGP is all about.
Bassam Halabi, Internet Routing Architectures, Cisco Press, 1997.
Covers BGP4 with particular reference to the Cisco implemenetation. I am sure that I will be coming back to this when I need to do a BGP4 design and implementation for a client.
Cisco documentation from Cisco Press
Note the following comment from the preparation notes on CCO:
Familiarity with the structure of the Cisco documentation, specifically the command reference manuals and the configuration guides is another important element for CCIE Lab exam preparation.
There is hard copy documentation available in the lab as well as a documentation CD on the workstation. It's definitely a good idea to know where to look for documentation so that you don't burn a bunch of time searching.
Rossi, CCIEPrep.com Study Guide, Genium Publishing, 1998.
Most of this book is composed of sample questions for the CCNA, CCNP and CCIE written exams. However, there is a section that covers sample scenarios with solutions. I found the troubleshooting section particularly helpful.
Merilee Ford & H. Kim Lew, Internetworking Technologies Handbook, Ciso Press, 1997.
A concise, well-written overview of most of the technologies that one is likely to encounter. This is not an in-depth reference but is a helpful thing to have.
Robert Wright, IP Routing primer, Cisco Press, 1998.
I realy like this introduction to routing IP. Anyone serious about completing the CCIE certification should already know the material covered but it might be worth reading it quickly and then passing it on to a more junior engineer in your organization. It's not terribly long, roughly 250 pages.
Roosevelt Giles, Cisco CCIE Study Guide, McGraw Hill, 1998.
Designed to provide background for the written exam. Not withstanding the title the approach is vendor neutral. I don't remember any configurations in the text. To be honest I didn't read all of it though we used its questions for a study group. I have been back to it a couple of times as a reference and may try reading chapters for background on particular technologies. I found some of the material that I did read quite confusing. In some ways I think that something that tries to cover such a wide range of materials might be better as several smaller volumes.

On-Line resources

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groupstudy web & news
The newsgroup in particular is a helpful resource if you have the time to deal with the S/N ratio which isn't really that bad but there is plenty of traffic related to the Career Certifications. Some very accomplished people participate regularly in news. I haven't subscribed to any of the mailing lists but they might also be good resources.
A similar resource to the groupstudy news group but more general in focus. If you can answer all the questions in the group (correctly) then you have too much time on your hands and, incidentally, are probably completly prepared for the lab. I've certainly learned a number of neat tricks from the group.
CCIE Q&A forum
This is a great resource though I,at least, need to poke around a little to find just what I'm looking for. This is partly because I tend to get a little distracted by the other interesting things I find. As far as I can tell, one does need a CCO account to access the forum.
Cisco Documentation
As noted above, you should be completely familiar with the layout of the documentation. For those with limitless time a great way to study would be to read the command reference for each section, then design and implement a network that justifies the use of each of the commands.

Other Resources

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Resources that I did not use but might if I needed to prepare for another attempt.

Used equipment
There is a lot of Cisco equipment bought/sold on eBay but the bidding patterns don't always guarentee that one can buy at a reasonable price. There seems to be a lot of excitment at the end of auctions that drives the price too high. However, given sufficient patience one should be able to find just about anything.
See above for a little information on the book based on the material at this web site. The web site offers a subscription service with access to material similar to that in the book.

Resources that I may or may not have used but are generally useful:

Randall Benn's Cisco in a Nutshell web site
This page has gotten a little big for my tastes (most of the web browsers I use render it quite slowly) but it is a well organized set of links. As a side note, I attended a stripped down ICRC that Randall taught and was duely impressed with his knowledge and his pedagogical skills.
Hollister Associates Protocol Reference Guides
These area handy to have for reference. Each one consists of a single double-sided 8½" x 11" laminated sheet. (note: They are not designed for learning about protocols.)

Resources that I didn't use for various reasons when I was studying that I am using for continuing education or would use to study for another lab:

Radia Perlman, Interconnections second edition, Addison-Welsley, 2000.
This is a wonderful book that covers the technical background for routing and bridging (switching) by the designer of spanning tree.
Christian Huitema, Routing in the Internet, Prentice Hall, 1995.
I started reading this before I started studying seriously and didn't finish it. I don't think that I really had enough background to appreciate it. It is now on my stack of current reading.
Howard C. Berkowitz, Designing Addressing Architectures for Routing and Switching, Macmillan, 1999
This is also on my current reading pile. I picked it up after I was at a presentation by Howard. I had already purchased the book but Howard's contributions to the groupstudy news group confirm that he has a broad technical background and is good at communicating his experience.
John T. Moy, OSPF Anatomy of an Internet Routing Protocol, Addison-Wesley, 1998.
The author of this book is also the author of the OSPF RFCs. The book is vendor neutral and focused completly on OSPF (and MOSPF) so if you can have only one book and Cisco is the only platform you need to support you will probably be better off with Tom Thomas' Cisco Press book referenced above.
Network Design and Case Studies, Cisco Press, 1998.
I bought this before I was seriously studying for the lab. It is a collection of material quite similar to the general discussions in the documentation series though in greater depth. There is a second edition of this book as of 22-Oct-1999.

Other places to find similar information
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