CCIEv5 Topic Breakdown

The CCIE R&S version 5 refresh has finally been announced. There are already a good number of resources available for information on the new blueprint and changes so Im not going to go into those details until I get a solid game plan for my CCIEv5 studies.

The official announcement along with what has changed in both the written and lab can be found here.

I've taken the time to refresh my CCIE lab topic breakdown to line up with the v5 blueprint. If your not familiar with a CCIE topic breakdown it is a way to track what your areas of strength and weakness are across the whole CCIE blueprint.

The spreadsheet I created breaks the blueprint into the 5 functional areas of the CCIE lab and then breaks each area down into details as outlined by the blueprint which can be found here. Simple rate yourself from 0 to 5 with 0 being I dont know what the hell you are talking about and 5 being I configure this in my sleep.

So feel free to utilize this spreadsheet and you are more than welcome to make suggestions or modify to fit your needs.

CCIE Lab Topic Breakdown_v5


EIGRP Summary - Shooting Yourself in the Foot

During my lab session the other night I was bitten by EIGRP summary routes and it took a little bit for me to wrap my head around what happened. So I figured it was a good idea to blog about the unexpected behavior.

The topology is as follows:

  • R1, R2 and R3 run EIGRP AS 100 on all interfaces. Auto-summary is disabled
  • R1 is the Internet facing router and generates a default route via EIGRP 
  • R1 connects two internal networks, and
  • R2 connects two internal networks, and


Ever Changing Direction and CCIEv5 Prep

Over the past 5 months or so my CCIE R&S studies have been up in the air and stop-and-go. Between moving into a new job, hardware issues in my home lab and life in general getting in the way I shifted focus back to my CCIE Written about a month ago.

My thoughts were to set my study schedule aside and focus on the written while everything settled down and I could get my home lab back into shape. I also got the idea that I should book at least one lab attempt before the CCIE version 5 announcement came out. Knowing all dates would fill up once the announcement was made I wanted my attempts set before the announcement.

Over the past few weeks I’ve started questioning if this is the best approach or if I would just be wasting time and money trying to get a pass before CCIEv5 is released. Also if the rumor mill is correct, we are looking at a March/April release date for the CCIEv5 so that leaves me with 6 months to finish preparation for my first CCIE attempt.

Any way I cut it I don’t have the cycles to get through my studies to make a solid attempt within 6 months. Even if I did I have never wanted to rush my CCIE studies. Also since it looks like I am self-funding my CCIE from here on I don’t have the money to throw around for a $1200 lunch.

So with all that said I have decided to back off the written studies and focus back in on my core CCIE study schedule (which if you are interested you can download here). I'm not even going to attempt the v4 written or lab and will instead adjust to the CCIEv5 once announced and develop a game plan from that point. Knowing there will not be a vast change in the blueprint (OSPF is still OSPF) I should not have to shift my focus too much after the announcement.

Over the next week or so I will adjust my schedule as needed and build in time for both blogging of most topics and deep-dives into the areas I am the weakest. Is it any surprise that QoS and multicast or on that list?

So why the hell am I telling you this?

Well, mostly to get my thoughts organized and written down and also to share my strategy for approaching the CCIEv4 / CCIEv5 transition with anyone who cares.

Best of luck to everyone on their CCIE journey and as always feedback is welcome.


Cisco Nexus Index

Cisco Nexus - Part 1 - Introduction

Cisco Nexus - Part 2 - Design Basics

Cisco Nexus - Part 3 - Connecting Cisco FEX to Nexus 5000

Cisco Nexus - Part 4.1 - Virtual Port-Channel (vPC) Design

Cisco Nexus - Part 4.2 - Virtual Port-Channel (vPC) Configuration

I hope everyone enjoys this series. I had a ton of fun and learned a lot researching each topic. Originally I wanted to include post on both FabricPath and OTV but I don’t have access to the Nexus equipment I was labbing with and I’ve completely ran out of time.

If I ever do get back around to adding post on FabricPath and OTV I’ll make sure to update this index page.

Now time to get back to some CCIE R&S post!!

Cisco Nexus - Part 4.3 - vPC Failure Scenarios

Since a Nexus vPC domain uses a shared control-plane, failures within the domain can result in some unusual outcomes. For anyone designing or administering a Nexus vPC environment you need to be very familiar with these failure scenarios and understand the impact of each.

Let’s get started!


Cisco Nexus - Part 4.2 - Virtual Port-Channel (vPC) Configuration

Now lets get to the fun part, configuration of vPC!

There are several steps needed to setup a vPC domain and add devices to a vPC.
1) configure vPC domain
2) configure peer-link
3) configure peer-keepalive link
4) add ports to the vPC

Lets break these steps down and go over some of the details in each.


Cisco Nexus - Part 4.1 - Virtual Port-Channel (vPC) Design

What!?! You thought we would jump straight into configuring a vPC? Well, sorry for yah. Before we can do any configuration we need to go over what makes vPC tick and how you can set it up in your Nexus environment.

Besides, any monkey at the zoo can be trained how to bang on a keyboard and configure a vPC, but a real engineer needs to know how the technology works under the hood, then the configuration comes easy.

So lets get started


Cisco Nexus - Part 3 - Connecting Cisco FEX to Nexus 5000

OK, now that we have the basic theory down we can start configuring some Nexus gear.

First up we will connect a couple fabric extenders (FEX) to a single Nexus 5548 (N5k).

Lets get started!


Cisco Nexus - Part 2 - Design Basics

My last post went over the Nexus line and basics about each device. This post will dive into the design aspect of a DC network and how it differs from a traditional hierarchical 3-tier enterprise network. I'm not going into the deep details of designing a Nexus infrastructure, but touching the main concepts and providing plenty links to further your journey down the rabbit hole.

Now, let me be honest with everyone. I'm by no means a DC architect or Engineer (yet) and my exposure to these concepts in the real world is limited. The purpose of this post is to shed some light on changes to how DCs are designed and also deepen my understanding of “the new way”. This post is based solely on the research I have done and is an attempt to put the puzzle pieces together and present my results.

If you think I missed the point on something, or am just flat out wrong, call me on it. Hell, pick my post apart piece by piece if you see fit. I'm looking for interaction and feedback and welcome anything anyone can bring to the table.

With that said lets dig in!!


Cisco Nexus - Part 1 - Introduction

I'm going to shift gears some and open up a series of post on the Cisco Nexus line. Since I will be working these into my CCIE R&S studies, not all posts will be back-to-back and will spread out over a few months.

I know a lot of people have been exposed to Nexus and Data Center (DC) networking for a while and most likely know a ton more about the subject. My aim for this series is to work from the ground up, giving someone with limited or no knowledge of DC networking a solid understanding of what Nexus can provide in this space.

So let’s dig in!


IPv6 Index

Here is an index page for the IPv6e post. Hope you enjoy

IPv6 Part 1 - The Basics

IPv6 Part 2 - Address Assignment and Neighbor Discovery

IPv6 Part 3 - Routing

 Some might have seen the IPv6 routing post pop up a few days back and then disappear. The post almost got scrapped all together. Basically what happened was after finalizing and proofing I tried to publish the post and Blogger freaked out on me. I finally got the post published just to find out over 8 hours of work was lost and my initial post outline was published instead of the final draft. I then pulled the post.

90% of my work was lost and I tried multiple things to recover to no avail. I originally wasn't going to recreate the post because my time is very limited. The idea of loosing all the work ate at me for a few days until I finally decided to suck it up and bang through it.I can now sleep good at night...

Lesson learned. Always create and edit post in something other than the compose window. When finished copy, paste and make small changes.

Thanks again everyone for checking out my blog!! Also feedback is always welcome and encouraged.


IPv6 Part 3 - Routing

Routing for IPv6 is pretty similar to routing for IPv4. If your comfortable with routing, you should pick up IPv6 routing quickly. Since IPv6 has underlying differences in how it operates you just need to adjust your thinking a little to grasp IPv6 routing.

As for routing protocols, not much has changed and the basics for all of them still operate the same. But there are some differences and we will go over those today. Im not going into detail about each protocol and  I am assuming you already have a solid understanding of how the IPv4 version of each operates.


IPv6 Part 2 - Address Assignment and Neighbor Discovery

Alright so we have established what an IPv6 address is, what it looks like and what the different address types are and how they are used. I also went over basic configurations of each on a Cisco device. So how are link-local addresses assigned? Or what is this auto-configuration and why not just use DHCPv6?

Calm down, calm down!! This post will get into those specifics and also cover IPv6 neighbor discovery. So let's keep this ball rolling!!


IPv6 Part 1 - The Basics

I was first introduced to IPv6 during my CCNP studies about 3+ years back but have not been exposed to IPv6 in production outside of disabling it on anything supporting the feature. For that reason I always seem to struggle with keeping the details of IPv6 fresh in my head.

Im going to start with the basics, then move on to IPv6  address assignment and neighbor discovery and then finish up with supported routing protocols. So lets get started...


OSPF Network Types Part 7 - Multipoint Non Broadcast

Last post of the OSPF Network Type series!! I hope it was as good for you as it was for me.

The last option for your OSPF network type is Multipoint Non Broadcast. As mentioned in the Multipoint post Multipoint Non Broadcast has the ability to apply accurate cost to routes when calculating the metric on Multipoint link who have different bandwidth coming in from the spoke.


OSPF Network Types Part 6 - Multipoint

Alright, so you decided to go with a partial-mesh Frame-Relay WAN and read my last post on NBMA and choose the route of Multipoint. Great!

Now its time to look into the features of Multipoint or what is sometimes called Point-to-Multipoint (P2MP). The reason its called P2MP is because it acts just like a group of individual P2P links connected to the same hub. Awesome we love P2P links!

Here is a breakdown of Multipoint features for your enjoyment!
  • Treats network as a collection of P2P links
  • Sends hellos as Multicast to
  • Neighbor Discovery
  • No DR/BDR election (hence no
  • Hello/Dead timers 30/120
Unlike Broadcast and NBMA Multipoint updates the next-hop value when forwarding an LSU sent from a DRother. This makes Multipoint the better of the three options to choose for your partial-mesh. But just like the other OSPF network types Multipoint has its pit-falls you need to watch out for.

OSPF Network Types Part 5 - NonBroadcast (NBMA)

If you haven't check out Part 4 on OSPF Broadcast network types it wouldnt hurt to run through it now. NBMA is pretty much the exact same as Broadcast with the same pitfalls mentioned before. The key difference between the two is NMBA is geared for,

wait for it...

wait for it...

non Broadcast networks :)

So, Broadcast is geared towards Ethernet segments and NBMA is geared towards Frame-Relay and ATM circuits. Got it!!

This also means multicast HELLOs and discovery will not happen (via and on NBMA networks so you must configure your neighbors manually. Here is a quick breakdown of features in NBMA and then we will dig into the pitfalls.
  • Default on multipoint NBMA media (Frame Relay main interface or multipoint FR interface)
  • HELLOs sent as unicast
  • Manually defined neighbors (only on DR and BDR)
  • Performs DR/BDR election
  • Hello/Dead timers 30/120
  • No DR preemption


OSPF Network Types Part 4 - Broadcast

Point-to-Point and Loopback network types are the only two I have had any real world experience with. By following best practice and proper design techniques, these are the only two you should need. P2P sub-interfaces on a mesh and partial-mesh Frame-Relay WAN are the recommended solution and keep things simple (as you will find out soon...)

But for the CCIE and a full grasp of OSPF, you need to understand the other 4 and their uses. So lets dig in.

OSPF Network Types Part 3 - Loopback

Well since I rambled on and on about P2P network types I had to give loopback network types their own post. I hope you feel special LOOPBACK!

OSPF loopback network types are pretty straight forward. Any hardware or software loopback interface defaults to LOOPBACK for the OSPF network type. 

Routes learned off a loopback interface are considered to be stub networks and propagated throughout the OSPF network as /32 subnets. This makes sense as loopback interfaces are most commonly used to identify the router for management purposes most commonly for RIDs. The loopback does not share a segment with other devices.

OSPF Network Types Part 2 - Point-to-Point

The name pretty much explains it all. P2P network types are used when connecting two OSPF routers who share a directly connected segment. Here are the characteristics of the P2P network type:
  • Default for serial interfaces (HDLC or PPP)
  • Neighbor discovery
  • Multicast AllSPFRouters ( used for all neighbor communications
  • No DR/BDR election (thus no Type 2 LSAs)
  • Adjacencies are formed as long as HELLO parameters match
  • Hello/Dead Timers 10/40 seconds
  • Cisco proprietary


OSPF Part 1 - The Basics

OSPF is the topic for discussion up now, and this one is going to be a multi-parter! I've always thought I had a good understanding of OSPF network types, but running through my CCIE studies I quickly found out I only have a basic understanding of each. So with these post I hope to dig deep into each area and expose the inter-workings.

First up is a quick overview of the basics. If you have worked with OSPF or made it through your CCNP or even CCNA this information will not be new (I hope...). I'm not going deep with these subjects but just giving a refresher.

Now let's quit the yapping and get started!


EIGRP Auto-Summarization

Wait... Auto-Summarization!?! Oh Yeah

Done, end of post!

Not quite. In the real world this is as far as you go, but for study purposes and the lab you might want to understand what EIGRP (or any other protocol) is doing when auto-summary is enabled. Or when you hire that new CCNA who thinks he knows everything and doesn't apply your EIGRP template because he is above templates. You then understand what effect he is placing on the network and can smack him in the face with a shoe! Fine... don't hit him with a shoe. Just calmly explain why auto-summary is bad.

So lets dig in.


Where I Sit

I'm easing into this whole blogging thing and I'm still a little shocked I have a blog. My wife last night made sure to poke plenty of fun at the fact that I'm now a "Blogger". Hell no more than 6 to 9 months ago I refused to join social media outside of LinkedIn. Now I'm all in with Facebook, Twitter and a blog... Who am I!?!

So, where do I sit with my CCIE R&S studies? About 8 months ago I started my CCIE journey with written studies. My aim was to pass the written and move onto lab studies by the beginning of 2013. Well life got in the way and as usual my written attempt didn't happen until February. And on top of that I failed the written, not just once but twice. I'm not going to go into why I think I failed outside of poor preparation and not taking the test serious.

After the second failure I decided to set the written aside and move forward with my lab studies. Once I get to a point where I'm comfortable with taking the written and passing Ill set aside a few weeks to bang it out. I'm in not rush this time around.

Work was gracious enough to purchase me the INE CCIE R&S Ultimate bundle with extra tokens for labbing and such. They have also agreed to flip the bill for a boot camp once I get closer to the lab.Lets hope those plans don't change.

Right now I'm 5 weeks into the INE Volume 1 workbook and digging deep into EIGRP. Later when I have time I'll circle back and get some post up on Switching, Frame Relay and basic routing. I'm currently pushing for 25- 30 hours per week of dedicated study time. For anyone looking to get started with INE workbooks here are the links I used to get a game plan together.

How to pass the CCIE R&S with INE’s 4.0 Training Program
Getting the most out of CCIE R&S Workbooks VOL1 and VOL2
Using Dynamips for CCIE Lab Preparation on a PC

oh and labs...

I currently have a full Dynamips lab at both home and work along with a dedicated server with breakout ports to 3x3550s and 1x3560. I haven't needed to touch my INE tokens for rack rentals yet but I'm sure I will once I hit QoS. Here are a couple links I found very helpful in getting my lab up and running smoothly. Thanks Darren and Daniel for the great work and post!

Installing Dynamips & Dynagen on Ubuntu with Quad NIC’s to Real Switches
Darren's Blog Building my topology
Daniels Networking Blog - Converting INE configs
IEOC- Convert INE Initial Configs for your own rack


First Post

Well I finally pulled the trigger and setup a blog. Yes, it is another CCIE blog and Im sure it will follow suit with the other 10 million CCIE blogs. This has always been the reason I have hesitated on setting up a blog.

My main focus for this blog is to document my journey through my CCIE R&S and help solidify what information I'm learning. I will also throw in various post about other areas of networking to keep things interesting.

Lets get this thing rolling!!

Ryan Booth