I did my CCIE wireless lab attempt yesterday (7th May) & was not able to go over the line. Here is my experience & have to better prepared for the next time.
I had a basic plan of reading the questions within 30 min & do initial troubleshooting to fix L2/L3 infrastructure section within next hour. I felt I was too slow on this and nearly It took me 1 hr to go through the questions & note down what they have asked us to do. Troubleshooting is another time killer & you have to do these so fast. I knew what I have to do (verifying IP address, subnet mask, gateway, DHCP options, ping, debugs, PIM, STP, NTP, routing etc), but it took time than I thought. So you have to practice these many times & that’s the only way you can speed this up (Lesson 1- learned)
2. GUI vs CLI
There will be around 20 separate desktop icons for lab devices connectivity (Telnet & RDP) which you need to open as separate windows (No tab options in SecureCRT). So managing this in order & go back to them without wasting time, you need to well organized. On top of that in GUI, I felt it is too slow (you have to wait 3-5 seconds each time you click a button in WLC GUI to take effect. Most of the time if that complain about some mistake I have to re-tick everything and time waste is double). Not sure this was the behavior other lab locations. Definitely If you sit for exam at Sydney Lab you will feel it. This impacted most of my unified deployment section & I tried to managed it via CLI as much as I can. but I never prepared to do this purely on CLI. But next time I will ( Lesson 2 – learned)
3. How much do you know ACS 5.2
I knew this was one of my weak area and during the exam it proves me again. Unless you know in and out how to configure advanced policies, troubleshooting you will get trap somewhere. If you are new to this like me, never mind learn it well. Be comfortable with it’s configuration (Lesson 3 – learned)
4. Autonomous – Advance Config
This is another area let me down during the exam. To be honest I haven’t go through all the advanced radio configurations given in the configuration guide. So it bites me trying to find out solutions for what they ask for. Also they have given us half-done configuration, so you need to know troubleshooting commands to find out what’s missing. (Not like you configure everything from fresh).You have to know all these well if you want to get 100% marks on this section ( Lesson 4 learned)
5. Too many sub items in a given question.
This is one thing I feel really uncomfortable. There are so many items to be completed to claim the point in the question. Sometime this make very hard to claim the point as you may easily miss a piece. You will notice this difference in wireless specific tasks (unified, autonomous) compare to L2/L3 & Infrastructure services questions. I could not get my head around to summarize what they have asked for on those sorts of question. I think that make this CCIE wireless too tough & I do not see a way around unless we face it and absorb as much as we can. (Accept this & keep your mind ready)
6. Technical issues
Before starting the exam, proctor mentioned there may be some issues with the lab. Specially If you cannot see the SSID you created on remote PC let him know straight away. I had that issue during the exam (since I was slow, I was able to test this later part of the exam) & proctor had to reboot the remote PC to fix it. Not sure what are the other known technical issues on this wireless lab, did not encounter this time (may be next time 😯 )
7. Practice, Practice & Practice
This is the most important thing you should have. Even though I knew what I have to do, I could not do it within 8 hrs considering all the challenges I came across (item 1 to 5 above). During the last 2 weeks I managed to get some time off from my work & dedicated for studies. Booked some rack time with IPExpert & Fastlane to practice. Only last week I was able to practice IPX-Volume 2 labs as their racks/workbook not ready until that. But that 5-6 days practice on full scale labs would not sufficient. You have to practice at least 2-3 times of those 5 labs (There are no any other Mock labs to practice)
So what’s next.
Next available lab dates in Sydney in August (3 months time). So I have booked 20th Aug as my next lab date. Now I have to close my skill gaps & be prepared for the next round.
1. 20th Aug – My Lucky Day
2. My winning Strategy
3. How to Become a CCIE Wireless
Thank you for sharing Nayarasi.
The lessons you’ve learned are helpul for other people for sure. There are not so many wireless lab review on the web.
I wish you all the best for round 2.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Wish you all the best for your 2nd attempt.
yes, Until this finish keep going…
Prasanna Yabaluri said:
Don’t worry! You are on right track! There are very few CCIE’s in this track…..surprised to not see big guys like Brian’s*(INE), Scott or NetMasterClass group crack this one.
I am not sure why they stress lot on Autonomous section…..Cisco path is WLC based and very few odd installs are Autonomous. Now since Meraki has been purchased they might include that and reduce Autonomous for next version.
Also on ACS….normally in real life, security team tends to manage ACS and they do not let you touch them. Wireless team tend to get more involved in ISE(NAC) than ACS.
I think Autonomous will be around 10-15% overall. But those are important points to win this battle. If you know , you will get easy points.
For other stuff, they expect candidate to know stuff well in ACS, R&S even though they are not direct wireless. Practical world these may handle by two groups. I think ISE will be a big part in CCIEW v3.0.
Also because of remote PODs slowness will impact differently for different lab locations (I think Sydeny is worst). Hope you guys in US won’t feel it (I did not see anyone complain on that). So strategy should be little different depend on your lab location. Unfortunately for me need to go through via Sydney as its cost effectiveness & only practical option available to me.
Great feedback, very much appreciated by aspiring CCIEW’s!
Thanks for the comment. Such is the life with this exam…. you have to try , try & try….. then only you will get it.
Tracy Sutton said:
Nayarsi, don’t get down with the 1st attempt! I’m sure your learned a lot about how the lab exam is setup and flows. I passed this back in October 2012 and it took several attempts to pass. I had some similar issues as you discussed in your details (SSID not showing up, issues with the clientPC etc). Most problems with the lab were addressed during the exam via the proctor. It does help to know the technology very well so you know it’s a lab issue and not your problems to solve. I would suggest that you get ACS down to 15-20 minutes to configure so your time is spent working on other areas. Use cli as much as you can as well! I did manage to get most lab topics working in 6 hours and had 2 hours or so to test and correct any items that needed work. Keep practicing and you will get it.
CCIE Wireless #37101
Thank you very much for encouragement & give some guidance. It is really appreciated.
Yes I will not let me down by this & keen on practicing & get this done soon as possible.
Ken Wyan said:
Good attempt & your blog is also useful.
But why do you book your next lab attempt in such advance? Isn’t it possible to book it few days in advance after confirming everything is 100% ready.
One good thing is cisco doesn’t want us to read radiation patterns of antennas in lab exams. As far as I understand that of cisco’s integrated antenna model APs are not documented correctly. Cisco data sheets have signal graphs (azimuth & vertical) , but no one knows what’s these directions of APs as they are mountable in ceiling & wall both. As many Cisco Experts (in support forums) are unaware of RF fundamentals , their explanation is AP will have documented horizontal & vertical coverage irrespective of AP orientation.
Thanks for the comment.
For the lab booking, Only Sydney is the practical option for me & they only conduct CCIE Wireless lab once a week (every Tuesday). If I look at today earliest available lab dates, they are in August. So If I waited few more days sometime I cannot find a date in Aug/Sep. So best thing is to book a date & work towards it.(anyway it would be 2-3 months advance as lack of availability of lab dates withing 3-4 weeks)
Yes it is good they do not test of RF pattern as of those ambiguity.
You will soon get your certification with your hard work and dedication! btw, as you had seen, it is impossible to pass in the 1st attempt. I recalled that you mentioned about someone who passed in his 1st attempt and to be frank, I just don’t trust any CCIE who passed in their 1st attempts. Even if we are given an additional of 8 hours and a true wireless expert, it is impossible to pass because of the way the questions are worded and the difficulty. Well, I’m into my 5th attempt now but I will not give up. Hope we both pass by this year!
Thanks for the comment & encouragement.
Yes. that’s true. Passing CCIE Wireless in their first attempt is impossible (do not know how those guy did that on their first attempt).
I wish you all the very best for the next time & hope you will clear it. By the way all your attempts are on version 2 or mix of v1 & v2 ?
Ghassan Awadallah said:
I think you will pass in the next time , because you know what is the wrong . good luck
could you explain more about distribution the marks by the subjects , what is the important subject and what is the less
I think Unified Wireless section is having most weight (~40%). All other sections (L2/L3, Infra Application Services, Autonomous, WCS/MSE, WLAN Services) are having ~ 10-15% each.
Wish you all the best for your 1st attempt in Aug
Better luck next time!Keep on the hard work and you will beat the lab challenge!
As a total overview of the lab format,were the questions straightforward or i was a bit challenging to understand what they asked you and what you should do?
Regarding WCS and MSE, how did you find these tasks?Basic stuff or advanced?
As you know in any CCIE tracks questions are not straight. We need to think twice always. You can talk to proctor if you require any clarification.
WCS & MSE I would say basic stuff (but never know, I only faced 1 time). Better prepared for any tasks on these topics
i made my first attempt the day after you (in san jose) and also failed (as i expected i would). all of your points are very valid. luckily in san jose there wasn’t much lag so i didn’t encounter that same challenge.
i too wasted time in the initial L2/L3 config, verifying connectivity. one feature tripped me up in acs. ios kicked my ass. never did get my bridges working and don’t know why. i work for cisco selling wireless and i spend maybe .5% of my time dealing with ios. that said i can see why it’s on the exam (just wish it wasn’t). at least there wasn’t a wlse and wlsm on there 😉
i felt that 8 hrs is enough to get it all working. now i need to practice my weak areas. also i think there’s a bit of luck involved (or perhaps it just comes from making many attempts at the lab) to find the correct configs for the very vague scenarios and questions we’re presented. for example, i can accomplish the L2/L3 tasks they outlined in a couple of ways. is one way correct and the other not because it doesn’t match their grading script?!
my approach for dealing with the speed factor was to have a few notepad windows open and i would enter my cli configs there and then could copy & paste them across my wlc’s. definitely a time saver.
another thing i wasted time on was asking the proctor questions. after a few questions i realized he wasn’t helpful and just figured things out.
Thank you very much for your feedback & share your experience. Glad to hear that slowness did not impact your exam effort & did not waste your valuable time. I think very first time we are too cautious & spend more time for L2/L3 troubleshooting.
Yes, that’s true, finding the correct config which matches grading scripts are hard. Unless you got 100% for certain section it is very difficult to judge which question you got correct & which one is wrong.
Wish you all the best for next time. Keep in touch
Great blog, I am really hope that you will make it in August.
Do you find IPexpert or Fastlane materials(workbooks) relevant to real labs experience?
IPExpert topology is more closer. Both workbook cover the technology coming in the exam.
But the way written in IPexpert workbooks (specially volume 1 solution guide ) it is very difficult to learn. No step by step guidance. Fastlane is much better in that sense.
Only IPexpert is having few mock labs (Volume 2), Fastlane give 1 mock lab only if you attend their bootcamp.
Rasika, Have you thought or reviewed taking a bootcamp like IPExpert Online?
I do not know what would be the agenda of IPExpert bootcamp (mean how they spend 5 days). If it is purely going through their volume 2 or Volume 1 material then there is no much value.
I would prefer to go for real lab 3 times rather spend that money for a bootcamp. (since I have to spend my own).
But if you have budget or your employer assist then go for it.
Luck, for this time!!!