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My journey to CCIE!

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SolarWinds Certified Professional!

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SCP

Well, I just realized the SolarWinds certification test was available free of charge so the other day I decided to give it a shot, I figured it would be a nice small break from my CCIE studies. I never thought I would bother getting a certification for a management platform but considering I’ve been working with it for years, I figured why not.

Just to give you a brief overview of my experience with SolarWinds:

  • I’ve been working with SolarWinds hands-on for a least 5 years now.
  • I’ve done at least 3-4 installations from the ground-up. Not just install and hit next, planning out and designing the system to manage a few thousand nodes.
  • Deployed and managed various different SolarWinds modules, along with performing the upgrades – NPM, NCM, IPAM, NTA, APM/SAM, Fail Over Engine. (And if you have had to plan for an upgrade for an outdated  SolarWinds environment running more than 3 modules, it’s fun)
  • Created countless user accounts, custom dashboards, custom reports, customer pollers, views, limitations, and so forth.
  • Basically you name I’ve done it within SolarWinds. (Well not really considering how quickly SolarWinds expands their platform but you know what I mean)

Now to talk about the exam itself: (Note, I am going to give away  any details that can’t be found on SolarWinds’ own website)

  • Free of charge (for now).
  • It’s online, meaning you can take this from the comfort of your couch.
  • Around 80 or so questions. So it’s not that short.
  • Covers a wide array of topics from:
    • How to perform NPM tasks
    • What tools to utilize when troubleshooting
    • Some basic troubleshooting steps
    • and more.

Now, for my thoughts on the exam. All around the exam was not that bad, for as long as I have been a network engineer and as long as I have worked with SolarWinds there were a few questions that had me stumped, which honestly surprised me I didn’t think I was going to miss 10-12 questions so it just goes to show you, even though the test is about a management platform or the fact it is free it is not what I would call a push-over. Now don’t get me wrong there were some question and some answer choices that were just gimmes, but usually you can find a few of those on every test. Now since the test is online and you do not have to go into a testing center it is considered ‘open book’ meaning you can have the test open in one window and the admin guide open in another window, which may hurt the value of the exam. As far as myself I didn’t even bother putting forth the effort to read the admin guide (again), I figure if I couldn’t pass the exam with my SolarWinds experience either there is something wrong me or the exam.

Now I’d venture to say this exam is a good measure for those that have been doing network administration for at least 3 three years, with SolarWinds exposure, now whether or not this exam/credential gains popularity is another story. Just remember this is centered around managing/monitoring a network, not how to troubleshoot and diagnose SolarWinds application/DB/Web issues. I will say the whole niche of network management (all aspects) is usually the most overlooked functionality of many networking departments. I would not mind seeing that change, just as I would not mind seeing this SolarWinds test gain in popularity and become a test that requires you to sit in a testing to take. It will be interesting to see where SolarWinds takes their certification surely they have potential to expand it to their other modules and even a ‘design’ designation due to how the architecture can change when you start involving EoC and splitting up modules/roles but time will tell.

Written by Stephen J. Occhiogrosso

July 1, 2013 at 10:36 PM

CCIE: R/S Written Passed!

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Finally knocked out the CCIE: R/S Written Exam!! The countdown has begun I’ve got 18 months to go pass the lab or I’ll be taking the written again!

If you’ve been following I’ve been studying for the CCIE: R/S for around a year now so the trek continues!

Now back to Cisco Live I go!!

Written by Stephen J. Occhiogrosso

June 22, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Posted in CCIE, Certification, Update

My CCIE reading list!

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A few of the CCIE books I have next to my bed!

Well, I’m still working towards my CCIE: Route/Switch, I figured I’d post an update about it, and why not focus on the books I’m using to prep for the CCIE: R/S Written exam:

  1. Routing TCP/IP Volume I 2nd Edition
  2. Routing TCP/IP Volume II
  3. Cisco LAN Switching
  4. CCIE: Routing & Switching Certification Guide
  5. Troubleshooting IP Routing Protocols
  6. QoS Certification Guide
  7. BGP Design & Implementation
  8. Developing IP Multicast Network
  9. MPLS Fundamentals
  10. Deploying IPv6 Networks
  11. IPv6 for the Enterprise
  12. Optimal Routing Design
  13. Cisco Firewalls
  14. CCNP: Security SECURE

I’m sure that will be enough to cover the objectives of the CCIE:R/S Written. I’ve actually already read through a good portion of the books mentioned, hopefully in the next month or two I will be ready to tackle the written exam!

Anyway back to reading and labbing, I’m working my way through the Multicast objectives, then I’m going to tackle IPv6, and review VRF/MP-BGP and then I’ll be ready to take on the exam!

I guess it’s time I should update my library page.

Written by Stephen J. Occhiogrosso

July 30, 2012 at 9:15 AM

Onward to CCIE!!

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Well, I’ve decided to go down the path and become a CCIE! After all I have my CCNP, CCIP, & CCDP I’ve really only got one more level to go to Expert! So while I am still building my lab, I only need a few more routers, a bunch of WICs, and even more cables I have enough to keep studying and moving forward.

So I’ll be trying to get out even more blog posts covering various topics, or whatever topics I stumble upon while tackling the CCIE (and I’m sure their will be a lot of them)

So here goes nothing! (and I’m sure I’ll be saying that 6+ months later when I’m still studying for this)

Written by Stephen J. Occhiogrosso

May 17, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Passed CCDP!!

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After 4 months of getting lost in design guides/books I finally decided to take a shot at the CCDP exam, and passed! I’m sure the experience I gained at worked helped out even more since a good portion of job is network design.

Much like the CCDA it covered the best practice and design for a broad array of different technologies IP addressing, remote access, security, virtualization, multicast, & various other topics. Just from my own experience the difficulty of the questions varied I found the layer 3 routing protocol and IP address questions to be quite simple, what I consider along the lines of just good common sense for any network design. Compared to the data center/virtualization technologies where I found them a little bit more difficult because I don’t typically find myself playing with NX-OS often. I will say however my previous experience managing and maintaining a few VMWare ESX clusters did come in handy.

I am looking forward to a small break before I start going down another path, whether it be CCNP: Security or towards my CCIE: R&S. So for now it’s back to blogging, labbing, working, and living life!

Now to figure out what more I need to complete my CCIE lab!

Written by Stephen J. Occhiogrosso

May 5, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Posted in Certification

Tagged with , ,

Passed QoS and got my CCIP!

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Well after 7 months of studying and 2 exams later I’ve finally obtained my CCIP! When I initially thought about going after my CCIP I said this shouldn’t be too bad after going through Routing TCP/IP Volume II, BGP Design & implementation, and half way through MPLS fundamentals (See my Library page on the left for links) I was really starting to feel it. I kept moving along and passed the 642-691 I got a little bit of hope and jumped right into QoS. The funny thing about QoS was I didn’t realize how much I really new about it, nor did realize how much more I could do with it. QoS certainly was an interesting topic to learn, and I am sure I’ll be learning even more about it as time goes on.

Now that I’m done with my CCIP, I think I am going to take a small break from studying. I am going to focus back on my blog (So hopefully I will get some more updates out) and I am going to start building my own home lab for whenever I decide to start studying for my CCIE (not sure when but I will pursue that eventually). Not a bad way to start the new year right?

Written by Stephen J. Occhiogrosso

January 5, 2012 at 7:58 PM

Expanding skill set to SonicWall.

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Well, I was taking a SonicWall class last week, and finally got around to taking the certification test earlier this evening. It was a 60 question exam, and I passed the exam with an 88%, not perfect but the passing score was an 80% plus I didn’t want to go back and double check all the questions I marked. Since the voucher code I was given provided me with 3 attempts I was not feeling the pressure. It wasn’t a very complex exam it had a mixture of basic IPSec, NAT, VPN functionality, but still not as in depth as what is covered in the CCNA/CCNA: Security exam if you’ve debugged a few IPSec VPN’s on a Cisco device you can definitely read the logs on a SonicWall device. The other half of the test was all related to SonicWall functionality its routing, security, & wireless features. If you’ve got some good security experience and can navigate your way through a SonicWall like the back of the your hand then I’d say go for it. Of course considering my existing number of certifications I have yet to find out if adding SonicWall to my credentials will pay off, only time will tell.

Now back to the 642-642 QoS Exam (Which I was studying for in the middle of the SonicWall class), let’s see if I can take & pass this exam by the end of the year!

Written by Stephen J. Occhiogrosso

December 20, 2011 at 7:05 AM

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