2 Replies Latest reply: Jul 8, 2013 1:38 AM by Eric RSS

    How to prepare for CCDE practical exam

    Himawan Nugroho

      I was a bit harsh when I wrote: you have to be CCIE to pass CCDE. Couple of friends of mine, who are not CCIEs, came to me after reading that post and said I had demolished their hope to pass the exam.


      I won't lie. It's easier to become CCDE if you have already had a CCIE. But fear not, there is still chance for non-CCIE to pass CCDE exam as well. And several guys who are not CCIE but able to put their name in this Hall of Fame is the proof.


      The next CCDE practical exam date is on August 27. So there is still time for both groups of CCIE and non-CCIE to pass it, and here is another version of "how to prepare for CCDE exam" that may help to do so:


      1. You still need a good reason to do it

      You need a good reason as your main motivation to keep continue pursuing this certification, after you fail the exam. Or after you fail the exam several times.

      So find your reason.


      2. You still need the experience

      You can't skip experience. I'm not kidding.

      From CCDE Techtorial it says "CCDE Practical is multidimensional, each question or problem must map to all three blueprints"

      And the three blueprints are:

      - Task Domain

      - Job Tasks

      - Technology


      Scope of Job Tasks:

      - Analyze design requirements

      - Develop network designs

      - Implement network design

      - Validate and optimize network design


      You can try to learn those from case study, you can try to practice using sample scenarios from books or from training material, but the best resource to learn the above is always the experience.


      It's recommended to have 7+ years related experience, as shown in table from Cisco Learning below, with multiple technologies covering from Routing and switching, Security to Data Center.



      It's easier to get opportunity to work with the design of those various technologies if you are a CCIE. Ok, nevermind, I will stop pushing it.

      3. Learn the technology

      First, you have to do "self assessment" by checking your current knowledge against the technologies listed in CCDE Written blueprint. From CCDE Techtorial, the technologies include but not limited to:


      - Layer 2 control plane (STP, Fabric, Down detection, Failure domain, multicast, FHRP etc)

      - Layer 3 control plane (OSPF, ISIS, EIGRP, BGP, PIM, Modularity, Hierarchy, FC/Resiliency, Core topology etc)

      - Network virtualization (802.1q, MPLS L3VPN, L2VPN, L2TPv3, IPsec, GRE, routing, scaling, inter-AS, traffic engineering etc)

      - Quality of Services (classification, CBWFQ, WRED, shaping, policing, QoS model, hierarchy, QoS inside tunnel etc)

      - Network Management (FCAPS, SNMP, Syslog, Netflow, RMON, In band, OOB, baseline etc)

      - Security (DDoS, GTSM, RPF, IPsec, Infrastructure security, QoS as security tool, RTBH etc)


      Assess yourself to identify the technology that you are already familiar with, the one that you heard about it before but need more time to study, and the technology that is completely alien to you.

      Once you have the result you will know where you should put your focus on.


      4. Read or watch

      Well, August 27 is near so I guess there is no time to read all the books in CCDE Practical Reading Booklist. But at least you should read Russ White's CCDE Quick Reference, for written exam, and Optimal Routing Design book. And you can skim the scenarios in Definitive MPLS Network Design book. Those three books are the only ones I read during my study.



      And nowadays if I want to learn something new, or to re-fresh my mind, I prefer to watch Cisco Live 365 recorded session instead of reading books. I actually watched more than 40 videos during my preparation, and some of them are not relevant to CCDE exam.


      So even if you have to watch 40+ Cisco Live sessions like me, you still have more than 40 days to do that until the next exam date.

      Watch one video per day, at least.

      And focus on why and when to use the technology.

      If you have spare time, spend at least another hour per day to read CVDs/Design Zone.

      Remember, stay away from CLI but you still need to understand on which device to enable the features.


      I use iPhone as my daily phone, but to watch Cisco Live sessions I use HTC One black edition. No, you don't have to buy one to become CCDE. And I have no affiliation with HTC. I'm just happy to use it to watch any videos while on the move.



      5. Remember Task Domain during your study

      The third blueprint is Task Domain blueprint:

      - Merge/Divest

      - Add Technology

      - Replace Technology

      - Scaling


      Try to consider the third blueprint when learning about the technologies, for example:


      - Merge/Divest

      How to merge two L3 control plane? What is the implication? What are the steps required to implement?


      - Add Technology

      What will be impact to QoS if customer adds new technology like Telepresence? Any security concern when adding new services?


      - Replace Technology

      What is the best network virtualization technology to replace the current physical technology e.g. TDM? Which one is better to the other, on which type of scenario?


      - Scaling

      How to scale each IGP? How to scale virtualization technology like GRE or L2VPN?


      6. Master the skill of skimming

      Make sure you are used to read many information within short time, skimming rather than reading completely, and find the information that's important.


      I think that's all.


      And below are some of Cisco Live sessions that I watched during my study:


      To refresh the IGP, Tunneling, and WAN Concept design:

      - BRKRST-2310 Deploying OSPF in a Large Scale Network

      - BRKIPM-3010 Which Routing Protocol? IPv4 and IPv6

      - BRKIPM-2444 EIGRP – An in depth look at the Protocol

      - BRKMPL-2101 Deploying L2 Based MPLS VPN

      - BRKCCIE-3345 CCIE Candidate Introduction to MPLS L3VPN

      - BRKCRS-2041 Enterprise WAN Architectures and Design Principles

      - BRKMPL-2109 MPLS Solutions for Cloud Networking

      - BRKRST-2042 Highly Available Wide Area Network Design


      To refresh Campus design and QoS:

      - BRKCRS-2661 Designing Layer 2 Networks - Avoiding Loops, Drops, Flooding

      - BRKCRS-2031 Multilayer Campus Architectures and Design Principles

      - BRKRST-2501 Enterprise QoS or BRKCRS-2500 Campus QoS


      I did "speed watching" the following:

      - BRKSEC-4054 DMVPN Deployment Model

      - BRKRST-2301 Enterprise IPv6 Deployment

      - BRKSEC-2000 Secure Enterprise Design

      - BRKMPL-1261 IP Multicast Concept Design and Troubleshooting


      Some Cisco Live sessions that were not recorded, but I went through the slides:

      - BRKRST-2335 IS-IS Network Design and Deployment -

      - BRKIPM-2261 Deploying IP Multicast

      - BRKMPL-2105 Inter-AS MPLS Solutions

      - TECSEC-2011 IPSec and SSL VPNs


      Good luck and let me know when you get your number!


      Himawan Nugroho

      3xCCIE #8171 R&S, Sec, SP

      CCDE #2013::18