All work and no play, makes one a CCIE

The last year or so I’ve been studying for a certification for my real life job, and it culminated the first two weeks in the new year where I set aside everything else to focus on my studies. The certification is called Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, CCIE for short. It’s the most attractive certification in the IT industry, and requires a significant amount of time, money, and effort to achieve.

You need to pass the written exam first, it’s a 3 hour, 100 question, multiple choice exam. I took that in May last year, and could then start preparing for the real deal – the 8 hour practical exam. The practical exam consists of configuring Cisco routers and switches (The devices that makes the internet work). This is what I have been doing for a living the last 10-15 years, but the lab exam is designed to be much more difficult than a real network ever would be.

I set up my rack with lab equipment and started my training. Here’s what the rack looks like in our lab at Ementor. These are 10 routers, 4 ethernet switches, a console server, LAN switch, frame-relay switch, and lots of cables. Not too messy, but those fat old serial cables are hard to organize in a neat way. Total cost of this equipment is around US$200.000

CCIE rack

And this is what my desktop looks like when I’m configuring the lab exercises. This is some multicast setup that I’m configuring. We always configure the devices remote, as the lab is a noisy and cold environment. I spent most of my lab time in my home office to minimize interruptions.


After reading and labbing whenever I could in between work and flying 2007, I ramped up the effort and spent every day, 12 to 16 hours, the first two weeks in the new year, and then got on the plane to San Fransisco on Monday morning, to take the practical exam at Cisco’s headquarter in San Jose.

I relaxed the day before, and got a good night sleep before entering the lab at 08:00 on Wednesday the 14. Around 9 hours later I stumbled out, exhausted, dead tired, but with a slight hope that I had passed. Everything worked out during the lab, I got in the zone while working, which is when everything clicks right in place like during a good thermal flight where you just know where the thermals are and where to go.

I got the score the next morning by email, that was most exiting email I have opened in a long time. I was very happy to learn that I passed! I am now CCIE # 19831

After some shopping some more BluRay movies at Fry’s I got on the plane home, turned around in Oslo and went to Barcelona for the Cisco Networkers Conference. This is a huge industry event with around 5500 people attending the 4 days. The conference was interesting, with some very nice new product launches, and lots of technical updates and tutorials. And Cisco know how to make a big party the last night, with food and drinks, and lots of nice entertainment and a cool concert.

The conference ended on Thursday, and Georgia flew down to Barcelona to meet me for a weekend holliday in the nice city. We played tourists, saw some of the cool stuff Gaudi designed and built. The La Grada Familia cathedral is quite a sight, what an insane project.

On Saturday Knut, Stein Tore and I will travel to Mexico for the CIVL meeting. We hope to get some flying done in the days before the plenary. When I get back home the week after I will again change bags and go to Brazil for a short winter holliday.

Then it’s easter and the drive to Italy and the Bassano comp – finally some time to go flying for real again…

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