CCIE recertified, CCDE Written Exam Review

This week I took the CCDE written to recertify my CCIEs. That chalks up 8 years now of being a CCIE.

Firstly, why did I recert? Ethan Banks recently wrote a great post “Is the CCIE Certification Losing value?” in which Ethan talks about his upcoming re-certification deadline, and if he’ll take the exam or not.

I decided to recertify for a few simple reasons:

  • It took a shed load of time and effort to become a dual CCIE. So much went in to achieving the R&S and SP, I’m not ready to let them go just yet.
  • In comparison to the actual lab, the written is a fairly simple way to keep the certs alive. I don’t necessarily agree with being able to recertify any CCIE by taking a single expert level exam, but as I don’t have much spare time,  it sure makes life easier!
  • Having the CCIE is a meaningful and simple way for clients to gauge my skill level, to a point of course. As with many CCIEs, my experience extends way beyond working on the CLI (which is one of the reasons I originally became interested in the CCDE).
  • In my opinion, the CCIE is valuable and isn’t going away any time soon. Whilst it has a place I’ll aim to keep the badges.
  • I like learning.

One thing for sure though – if you are working on the CCIE right now, great, but when you’ve finished I think it’s important to learn more than just networking. How about Python? Do you know virtualisation? What do you know about SDN? etc


Now on to the exam itself. I took the CCDE v1 written exam at the last recert, I thought I might take the CCDE practical. I still might, who knows, but this time I wanted to check out the v2 exam.

The 1st thing to note about the exam blueprint is that it’s huge. You can be tested on pretty much anything – networking, wireless, datacentre, standards, process, etc. There is no formal training requirement for this exam, just a load of books to read. Check out the list. Over the years I’ve read most of the books on this list already cover to cover. Some more than once! Having a Safari books subscription is a great investment. If you don’t have access, I’d recommend it – particularly whilst you are working up to taking an exam. This time around I re-read my notes from last time, picked out the sections from the blueprint that I wanted to improve on, and went to town on the book list, CCO etc.

The exam itself is quite challenging – it is very different to other Cisco exams that I’ve taken in the past. Whilst it might not always go in to the depth and nuts and bolts that you’d see right the way though for example, the CCIE SP written, there’s a lot to the questions and you need to be prepared to take time to think clearly through several different designs, technologies & concepts before finding the best answer and clicking that next button.

You can go from R&S topics, to SP, to Datacentre! Everything is in there. But, in my opinion, it is a fair exam with a good distribution of the topics. Most of the questions were quite clear, but as can be expected there were several that I left comments on – some of the questions were just crazy, but that’s exams for you…

Overall I enjoyed the exam, and that’s the CCIE re-certification done now for another 2 years. Next time around it will be 10 years! That’s flown by.

If you are taking the CCIE or CCDE exams right now, or any vendor expert level certification for that matter, best of luck with the journey. It’s hard work, but most importantly make sure you enjoy the ride!

No rest for me yet though, now I’m working through the Juniper certs…




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