AI, ML, Development + Cisco Learning Blog Learning about Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, related devlopment topics and formerly Routing and Switching, Datacenter, Security and other topics, CCIE #23664, Frank Wagner

20. April 2011

New start

Filed under: gns3,Lab,Security — ocsic @ 16:36

Hi there,

as i move across a boarder up to Switzerland from Germany and also to another employee. I have decided to startup with my preparation for the sec lab again. I managed to setup gns3 version 0.7.4. Here is my .net file. I have implemented all related devices for compatibility.

I find it really great. Seems like it’s possible to simulate 100% of the lab equipment and functions on my laptop. I have a notebook with the intel m620 processor ( and 4 gb ram (windows 7, 64-bit). After adjusting idle values i got about 30-40% processor usage after starting all 14 devices (ASA1, ASA2, IDS/IPS, R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, SW1, SW2, BB1, BB2, BB3). ASA1, ASA2 and IDS/IPS is producing most of the load. While „only“ the routers are doing about 5-10% when idle and with no configuration.

Here is my gns3 .net file for version 0.7.4. You have to adapt the directories to your environment.

21. August 2009

Where to start and where it could end up to

Filed under: Certification,Lab — ocsic @ 00:33

Last week a friend of mine just got his CCIE number. We have been together in a book camp last year in October. It was also his third attempt. And, as i heard from him, he was also quite unsure about his final result and could not believe what he has seen the next day on his CCIE profile. Congratulations to him. Also, because he did it, having a 16 month old child, that not always will let you do what you want. But as you can see, it is possible. It’s just quite hard to get motivated every time, but as you stick to it, it is possible.

So where to start, when your just at the beginning of everything and don’t know where to head to. Do you to build up your lab yourself or is it better to rent a lab? What study materials do you need? How much time do you need? What is the best approach for learning and for the lab.

I will try to answer some of the questions here and hope you will find it usefull on your trip to CCIE.

  • Written ist the starting point

First of all you have to pass the Written test before you even can think of the practice lab at all. This needs already quite some time.

Always check out the Cisco homepage for the most actual news on this. This should become your primary pointer where to go to and where you can find all informations regarding the lab.

  • Always the most up do date informations about the CCIE Certifications path

Just go to „“ and there you can start reading about topics and book recomandations regardings the Written Exam and the practical Lab exam.

After you have completed your Written Exam, you will need to schedule your lab date.

Add yourself to groupstudy. This mailinglist is a good resource for questions during your study.

This Lab will last 8 hours and you can take it at several places on earth. The only place in europe is brussels in belgium.

What you have to do in the next weeks or months, depending on your skills is mainly configuration speed and knowledge. And you have to make your plan, how you will beat the beast.

Most important points will be:

  • Configuration speed
  • Time management
  • Technology knowledge
  • A good sleep the night before


Just try to practice each technology one by one. Don’t start with doing just one lab after the other. Look at each technology one after the other and debug/confirm things as much as possible. This will be the key, to become more and more self confident.

Try to do some Labs. If your working for a Cisco Gold Parter you can do Cisco’s ASET Labs. I can really recommend them, since thery are a very good chance to get an idea of what Cisco wants you to do in the real lab. The have the AutoVerify function, which will let you check out, what is wrong and what it right.

Since, mostly you will not find your mistakes easily yourself. It’s good to have a tool that will the the grading for you.

Don’t worry if you can not access the ASET labs. Different Vendors have Mock Labs or grading systems, that will be very similar to Cisco’s ASET Labs. Just to them, when your ready for the Lab. If you have done some vendor 8 hour labs, you should check where you are and if your really ready to take the lab. You will find out quite easily.

Then focus on topics you don’t know. Try not to focus on topics you already know. If possible pick out some of them at test your knowledge on these.

Be carefull to not cheat yourself with only doing configurations, that you know already very good and leave out others that need more practice.


At least on the lab day you need a good sleep. Just go through every task and if you can’t solve it right away, just leave it alone and move to the next task. Just remember, you only get 2-4 points on every task. If you stay with one for more then 30 minutes it’absolutly not worth it. Just leave it alone if possible.

If you have to skip more than 15 questions right away, it might be not your day and you have just spend a lot money for the meal this day.

Try to verify your solutions more than once. Read every questions more than once. Also after two, three times reading, you could still miss something. Double check everything.

After you have been through the whole lab, check out things you have left out before. Then you might able to find a solution for the missing topics more easily, with the most of the lab already solved.

You have to have more then 80% of the available points. You don’t have to get all 100%. If you have passed the lab, you will not get the number of points you have reached, only pass or now is noted. So if someone tells you, he got all 100 Points, he could never now, if this is the case.

And you have to answer at minimum 3 out of 4 questions correctly. These questions will be asked in the beginning of your lab and will focus on core topics. Don’t worry about these questions.

Some say they have had an easy lab some say, that it has been a difficult lab. I would say it depends on your preparation. Most labs will have a similar level.

So when will you add yourself to the growing list of ccie’s worldwide? Good luck.

13. Mai 2009

Have done my CCIE Written for security now …

Filed under: Allgemein,Certification,Lab,Security — ocsic @ 20:55

As i was looking for something i could do next, after passing my ccie r&s, i took the security path next and last week, i did the written as a first step. It have been 105 question with a 790 points passing score. I managed to pass the test. It was quite close, i didn’t expect to pass. I was feeling i would fail, but tried my best and the last 10 – 15 questions and there must have been some correct answers.

With the new written in security i also recertified my r&s ccie for nearly the next 4 years now. The next time until i had to recertify is the 26.2.2013. Cisco just adds the new Written at the end of the first ending period. So that will take some time.

Since i read that the Security ASET Labs have been a great help for preparation, i have already booked some ASET Labs at the end of may until june. I know that for r&s they have been absolutly helpful and one of the best resources.

I still will look for some PEC courses for security. I found some for r&s with have been at least interesting. But the PEC was reorganized and the website changed a lot. I found it very difficult to get to the courses i have seen before.

I have to look again at the PEC. Might have been changed again. 🙂

I have booked the lab at the end of October in Brussels. But I’m unsure if this will be enough time for preparation. I will see. I had to decide until end of July. So until then, i will probably know more about, if it will work.

Currently i reorganize my testing environment also. Still was using a OpenSuse installation on my notebook. But i feel moving to another distribution. Might be Fedora or Ubuntu. Shouldn’t be a problem with dynamips on both. I have ordered a new HD with about 320 GB, so i will have more space available for my vmware installations. Still using my Lenovo T60 though. Have 3 GB of main memory, but i’m already looking for notebooks with more than 4 GB. I’m still waiting for.
But first I will be on holiday with my now 1 year old son for some time. 😉

If you wounder how often i could go on holiday, that nice time will shortly be over. I’m still on parental leave until midst of June and until then it have been 7 months altogether for me. My wife did the other 7 months before. Since 2007 in Germany it’s possible to parents sharing the time. And if one of them is taking at least two months, i will be 14 altogether, instead of only 12. It’s a great time with my son. He develops so quickly, for me it’s absolutely to quick. A few months ago, he was so small and now he is close to being able to walk already. It’s fantastic to see him every day and to experience his presence.

Have a nice time.

27. Februar 2009

This is the story in short :-), CCIE R&S done

Filed under: Certification,Lab — ocsic @ 23:38

Sitting here and still staring from time to time at the Cisco Certification Status Page. Cause i’m still in the process of realization.

After the lab the proctor told us, that the result would be there at 9 PM in the evening. Was still waiting the same evening until 11 o’clock, but got no mail regarding the grading. Then after i woke up the next morning, i got the mail from Cisco in my inbox, that the score result is available. The mail does not tell you anything about failing or passing the exam. I had to open my certification profile on the cisco website to see the result. Two times before i had failed the exam and this time i was not sure if i had passed. But i did it.

I was through the exam before lunch, except for 4 question, which i had just skipped and one left over question at the end. The key for me to success was time management.

In the previous attempts i was also spending to much time on tasks, while in the middle of the exam. This time i just skipped any question i was not able to solve right away and noted it for later processing.

So i got more and more confident with my overall performance in the lab and after lunch, i double checked everything and could spend the rest of the time to search DocCD and double or triple check all configurations. Also noted tasks, that i found suspicious of hidden elements, that i could not see first time looking at.

And it worked out. The technique was very important for me, cause i got more and more self confident while proceeding the lab tasks.

This all is a long story. I did not believe i would get that far.

I started my first attempt in Jan 2007, were i got the best score. But i wasn’t really ready, but still got quite close. But i was just to nervous. And could also not sleep the night before. I wanted to waste some money and asked for a reread after the lab, but with only very little success. They gave me some more points. I think for 250$ they can do this ;-), but i think i did not really had a chance.

Then the second attempt, i tried to time the lab just some days before the estimated birthday of my sun, but that has not been of any interest to him. He decided to came one week to early, and so he was born in April 2008 one week before my lab date, where i think i didn’t got much sleep again.

And now, after i got myself motivated again, and i know this can be hard, rearranged my own life a lot in this new situation, 10 months on my third attempt i did it. This is such a relief guys, i can tell you.

During this time a learned a lot on Cisco, IOS, employers and learning partners. How to learn and how to manage time while also working. Also for me, it was very important doing sports or other kinds of recovery activities. It’s also very helpful if you have an employer, who supports you and grants you time for learning. Even, if it’s only two weeks.

Had this sentence in my had from the beginning:

„Stick to it.“

Do not let you get discouraged. Look at those things you might not be that good and concentrate on them. I know it’s hard to motivate yourself sometimes. And to get on the learning path again and again. But you know what’s it for.

I used InternetworkExpert and IPExpert for preparation. Cisco ASET Labs have been also a great help.

Graded labs are very valuable for preparation. Since you see directly what you did wrong and can then directly focus on topics which need improvement. So you can start learning what you don’t know and not what you know already. Big topic for me. 🙂

Thank you guys. Thanks for reading. Keep up. Stick to it.

Thanks to my wife for her support and letting me do this and my son for motivation.

CCIE 23664 🙂


Filed under: Allgemein,Certification,Lab — ocsic @ 06:53

DID IT! DID IT! DID IT! Can’t believe it still. I am happy. 🙂 Long way has ended and new journey beginns. What a relief! Fantastic.

CCIE Number 23664. Yesterday in Brussels.

20. Februar 2009

Free graded lab by ipexpert including 8 hours rack access

Filed under: Allgemein,Lab,Tips / Hints — ocsic @ 17:15


here is the good news, thanks to my colleague pointing to.

Everyone who wants to try a graded lab, can do this for free, including a free 8 hours rack rental session .,bcHBn6KQ,w

17. Februar 2009

Graded Labs IPExpert / IE / Cisco

Filed under: Allgemein,Lab,Tips / Hints — ocsic @ 15:10

While IPExpert and proctorlabs has the grading feature for their labs, IE is now also the offering of the Poly Lab Assessment. I tried both and i can suggest both of them. While the Poly Lab is quite new, i tried it twice and the results have been interesting for learning. You can generate your own lab, depending on you skills. If you are novice, beginner, intermediate, advanced or expert in the different R&W topics. The lab questions are then generated on behalf of your skills. The difference to a mock lab is, that after you hit the grade button, your result will be generated in 5 minutes by tcl scripts. The mock lab will be graded by a human and you will get comments on your configurations.

The IPExpert labs have been also very interesting and grading has worked well.

You should try a graded lab. You will probably be astonished about how many errors you can make even with a first looking working configuration. That was for me also the most important thing. Since you will overlook many little errors looking at your own configuration. Many things you wont see that fast and the secure and more easy way to have a script grade you. Since it will not be able to overlook missing or wrong configurations parts. Very good for learning also.

If you are working at a Cisco Gold Partner, then you could also ask your Cisco SE for the ASET Labs. They have a grading machine in the back also from There are several different topics for about 4 hour sessions and also currently 6 different full time labs. All labs can be graded. These are very similar to the real labs, although they are not written by the CCIE Lab team from Cisco. But most important thing is, that you will get them for free and they come from Cisco. You can get about 72 hours per month lab time from Cisco. Even if you just want to lab some things out, this is possible on Cisco’s lab equipment.

If you want to get in touch with the real Labs, you can try the Assessor Lab from Cisco. The will cost you about 200$ each. Still only two four hour labs available, but is also good for a try.


4. November 2008

Cisco announces Mobile CCIE Labs

Filed under: Lab — ocsic @ 14:35

These are interessting news for ccie lab takers. You might save time and travel costs, by beeing able to chose a lab more close to your location. There are several new so called „Mobile CCIE Lab“ locations. Some of them are already open, some are still to be opened. Currently it’s starting to open for the R&S exam.


27. August 2008

UniverCD in the lab

Filed under: Lab — ocsic @ 14:14

Cisco Announces to discontinue their univercd in the lab. Starting from the 24.9. this year, only

will be available as documentation.


17. Mai 2008

Failed my second lab attempt and what comes next?

Filed under: Allgemein,Lab — ocsic @ 13:50

I have a child and i really enjoy it to be with him. Configuring devices is still quite nice, but it will not be as good as playing with my son. So he learns the most in his first year.

How to motivate for the next try? Learning from the last attempts is quite difficult for me. This attempt was quite strange. But maybe i did not had enough sleep the days before my last attempt.

So what to learn from my last attempt? The sections i did not thought i was right, i was 100% and the others that have been my stronger topcis, i did not came above 2/3 percent. All over the other, i was better on my first attempt.

What i think i can learn about my last attempt is that, sometimes i think the question is more difficult that it is at least. So i think i need more practise in some certain topics to make sure to be more confident about the configuration. I think i test to much and i heasitate to much of choosing the right way.

So here is my todolist of what to improve next time and how to do it at my next and third attempt.

  • become more self confident about the configuration i use
  • improve on certain topics, i still have some weak topics and i sometimes hope they will not be present, but this is just a hope 🙂
  • maybe more improvement on my speed, but like last time i wasn’t to slow, but might be even quicker, maybe i can try to finisch most of the config before lunch
  • just do more practise and test more different technices
  • get more sleep the days before my next attempt
  • look again through the topics and again starting first with an overview of things, then go into detail

Here is what was good and what i will do again like last time:

  • make a diagramm from the layer 2 and layer 3 topology and start reading the different questions over
  • don’t spend to much time on diagramms but make them readable on the first try
  • use earplugs 🙂

But how to motivate for the next attempt. Two weeks have passed from my last attempt now. And still i feel like i have to move a rock on my next attempt. I need a bit more to recover before i start it all over again, but i will do it again and i won’t wait to long this time.

As last time the proctor was really good, at this attempt i got the feeling, better not to ask and proctors have been absent from the labroom for at least 30 minutes. I did not feel good this time. But it have been also more participants this time.

Cisco has not really commented about the dynamips usage as a learning tool. But since the cisco commandline will spread more and more with this tools, it maybe the reason why they don’t comment much on using dynamips.

Even now it’s possible with pemu to emulate a pix. Many using this also already as a learning tool.

I will start it all over again and this time i will take the lab, when i’m ready. And this will be when i know i will pass.

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