Hello and Welcome.

As I feel like I learn things much better by teaching them, I’ve decided to blog and explain all the topics I learn throughout my CCIE Enterprise lab study. I will include my study resources, screenshots of labs, maybe some notes made, as well as describing and explaining the topics. I don’t quite know yet, we’ll see how this progresses.

Firstly a bit of background about myself. My name is Jack and I’m the technical lead and founder of ackio, as well as the technical lead of Talking Business (the umbrella company.) I have been working in the networking industry for near on 14 years now, although my first exposure to networking was very rudimentary stuff surrounding IP telephony. Talking Business were primarily are a telecoms company, so my networking knowledge existed of IP addressing and (a bit later) VoIP/SIP.  I took a sabbatical at Talking Business in order to study for a degree at university and returned with an enthusiasm and endeavour to progress and learn more about networking. Within a year, I have passed my CCENT, CCNA R&S and CCNA security. The following year I passed all 3 exams required for the CCNP R&S (SWITCH, ROUTE and TSHOOT). I also undertook the EC-Council CEH (certified ethical hacker) to supplement my security knowledge.

As we’re all aware, in February 2020, Cisco carried out the ‘CERT-POCALYPSE’ effectively transforming their certification hierarchy, introducing new certification routes and exams, and updating current certifications. Therefore, according to the lovely people at Cisco, my CCNP R&S then became a CCNP Enterprise, as well as a Cisco certified specialist – enterprise advanced infrastructure implementation (what a mouthful) as well as Cisco certified specialist – enterprise core. But hold on?.. Isn’t that the exam required before you take your CCIE lab exam?

CORRECT. As a CCNP Enterprise, I can skip over the ENCOR exam, and go straight to the lab! Good news right!?

Well, there are 2 ways to look at this. 1. One less exam to take. 2. I took the CCNP exams over a year ago and a lot of what I learnt I haven’t even touched in production networks since (or have I refreshed), so the information is LONG GONE. I’m going to have to learn it all again anyway. To be honest, if you know enough to be able to pass the lab, you should breeze the ENCOR, as it actually makes up part of the CCNP route now too. So I figure lets go straight for the lab. COJONES.

So… this is all great, but where do to even start?

I started by downloading both the ENCOR syllabus, and the practical exam syllabus.

Good place to start right? These list the topics that will be in the ENCOR and the lab exams. The first thing I noticed is the lack of wireless topics on the lab exam when compared to the ENCOR. Obviously the ‘Enterprise’ exam has now become all encompassing, including a bit of security and a bit of wireless. Looking at this lab syllabus can be quite daunting, but when broken down into segments, it becomes achievable.

(At the time of writing this, COVID-19 measures are still in place, so I’m not sure on the availability of the lab exam at the moment, however I wont be taking this any time soon anyway!)

To conclude this post, I would like to briefly talk about the way the role of the network engineer is changing. Knowing the Cisco IOS CLI is no longer enough, although it’s still very useful and important knowledge to have. Due to the emergence of virtualisation, containerisation, automation and programmability, the list of topics we’re now required to understand and become proficient in has increased. To be honest I feel quite sorry for network engineers just starting out as I feel like it could be quite overwhelming. However, again when broken down into topics, it appears achievable. The list of technologies the proficient network engineer is now expected to understand are as follows:

  • Solid understanding of Linux (and understand the difference between the different builds)
  • To be able to code simple scripts and understand python
  • To be able to script playbooks in ansible or understand how to utilise another automation tool such as chef or puppet
  • Understand virtualisation and containerisation technologies (and to know the difference) such as docker, and technologies to manage them at scale such as Kubernetes
  • Data centre technologies and topologies and SD-WAN
  • And obviously, the networking fundamentals such as routing and switching, security, best practices, the IOS CLI etc

I’ll leave this one here as its getting pretty long! My next post will discuss the books and software I’m using to study, as well as the first topic/s of the lab syllabus.

Jack x

P.S – email address is jack@ackio.net if anybody has any questions or would like to get in touch about anything I’ve written.