how to start CCIE R&S LAB preparation

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Jan 18th, 2008
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Hello CCIE Experts out there,

I recently passed R&S written and I'm not sure how to continue. My plan:

-prepare with CCIE workbooks

-maybe do a bootcamp just bevore going to the exam

-use other ressources (cisco online training....)

I have some questions about the details:

-Which workbooks do you recommend? IPexpert and...?? Which other books?

-Which boxes do I need to fulfill all requirements for the LAB's? I know, in the Blueprint they say

3725 series routers

3825 series routers

Catalyst 3550 series switches

Catalyst 3560 Series switches

but, how many of them? Where can I find information about it?

I'm very thankful for all good advices in order to make the preparation as good and as efficient as possible.

Thank you all

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Overall Rating: 3.9 (8 ratings)
tperrier Fri, 01/18/2008 - 05:38
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There are many workbook vendors: IP Expert you mentioned, Internetwork Expert, Netmaster Class, etc. Download the free previews they offer, compare and choose the one(s) you like the most.

As for hardware, you can either buy your rack, rent it online, or use Dynamips and some switches. If you buy, be aware you don't need the latest and greatest: you can very effectively prepare using 2600 and 2600XMs, instead of 3700 or 3800 series routers. Likewise, ideally you would have 4 switches, but 3 can be an alternative (or 3 L3 switches and one "low cost" 2950). 3660s (or 3750s) are still expensive, buy one and complete with 3550s!

Andabout renting, it's the easiest solution, but you have to adapt to the company's schedule and reserve slots in advance. Not necessarily convenient!

About bootcamps: IMHO, they're not necessarily worth the cost. You can get a couple lab attempts or more for the same cost, after all. Your mileage may vary, but many people pass without needing them.

jcrussell Fri, 01/18/2008 - 06:58
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I had a nice response all planned, and tperrier stole my thunder. I agree pretty much 100%. Points for a great post.

The only thing I will add is that I used online rack rentals for doing full-scale labs from my workbook. I did 11.5 hours every Saturday from Feb to July. At my job, I built a small lab with 2 2600's, a 2811, 2 3550's, 3 2500's, and a 7100 series. I used that for practicing mini-labs and mocking up the things I failed in the big labs. I did probably 20-30 hours a week on that.

martinschmid Fri, 01/18/2008 - 07:06
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Thanks for your suggestions. I'll compare the different workbooks, was just wondering if there is a "very good" one, heard always many good things about IP Expert

Well about hardware. I can easy get 3550's and 3750's as well as low cost 2600 or 2900. I'm just wondering if I need the 3560, 3725 and 3825 in order to manage all the LAB's and test the features or if I can do allt this stuff with other hardware.

The second thing is how many do I need? Really interested in the experience of all you guys preparing (or already finished) for the LAB. How is your LAB equiped?

I do not really wanna prepare with dynamips or rack rentals, so I try to do it with "real hardware".

Thanks in advance for further advice.... :o)

srue Fri, 01/18/2008 - 07:21
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jcrussell mentioned getting enough equipment at least for the smaller technology labs - which is what i've done (for security ie prep. then do online rack rentals for the bigger mock labs. This is a pretty good balance of cost v/s online rentals.

my advice as for which workbook is the same as another poster here, download the free samples from the various vendors and see which style you like best. Ideally, you would use at least two vendors workbooks, but the funds of course might not be there.

I've personally never read anything negative about any of the vendors.

good luck.

Edison Ortiz Sat, 01/19/2008 - 17:46
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For the routers, the hardware is not a big factor. The tasks on those workbooks can be done on a 3640 the same way that it would be done on a ISR 3825. The big factor is the IOS, you need 12.4

As for the switches, to do a full lab, I recommend getting 3560s and 3550s. Some workbook labs are heavy on switching tasks where you need all 4 switches to be up-to-snuff. What I mean is that you may need dot1q-tunneling or Layer3 routing in all of them. Kind of hard to follow when you only have 3 of 4 switches L3 capable. In short, do it right and get all L3 capable switches.

As for the workbooks, I recommend trying more than one vendor. I mostly used Internetwork Expert during my preparation but I tried other vendors to avoid any 'comfortable zone'. It's nice to see how other vendors write their lab and it will prepare you better for the real lab where the wording is not similar to neither of the vendor labs.




tperrier Mon, 01/21/2008 - 02:04
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There were many answers about the number of switches, but not about the routers. I used Internetwork Expert, and my lab was very close to theirs (this way you don't have to constantly reconfigure, cable, etc.): one terminal server (2511, serves as backbone router too), one frame-relay switch (2522, serves as backbone router too), and seven various 2600 (XMs and non XMs).

swmorris Tue, 01/22/2008 - 19:17
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Design your own lab based on whose workbook you are using. That way it avoids extra tedious work each time you try to do something to study!

Depending on your situation though, rack rentals have come down a lot in price over the years, so look at your "total cost of studying" before deciding which path to take!

As for bootcamps, it's been noted that you can take a few lab attempts for the same/less money. But with a bootcamp, you get dedicated time with an instructor who has been there/done that, and can offer some insights and constructive criticism on things that isn't possible to have working on your own.


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martinschmid Mon, 01/21/2008 - 13:51
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Thanks a lot for this very helpful advise! So I think best is to organize the workbooks and then get the hardware as requested. To organize 3550's or 3560's should not be a problem.

I was just wondering which routers to use since we have some of them laying around, just not the ones on the Blueprint. Would also 7200 match?

Edison Ortiz Mon, 01/21/2008 - 15:18
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7200 would work, though it may be an overkill :) If you have them, throw them into the mix.



martinschmid Mon, 01/28/2008 - 05:25
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Hi Guys,

Last question to this topic (it's really hard to get all the detailed information....):

Is it also possible to use Cat3750-Metro instead of Cat3560 or do I really need exactly Cat3560? When I look at the Interfaces, the Cat3750-Metro is even better equipped as the 3560 and I think also the features are even better on the 3560.

Thanks again in advance

swmorris Mon, 01/28/2008 - 05:51
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The hardware architecture on the 3560 and 3750 is almost the same.

The feature set on the Metro line is a little different though. Use the Feature Navigator ( to compare the specific IOS images from 3560 EMI to the 3750 Metro and make sure you know them.

In general, no, there's nothing wrong in using that switch (aren't they more expensive?) but make sure you understand all the differences so you don't get caught off guard by anything on the real lab!



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martinschmid Mon, 01/28/2008 - 07:08
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Hi Scott,

Thank you very much for the answer, this is really helpful. I'll use the feature navigator and check it.

Yes, they are probably more expensive, but we have lot's of them on stock, so it is very easy for me to get them. Cat3560 is harder to organize....

I'll see. Thans anyway.


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