Category Archives: CCNP

Cisco Certified Network Professional

CCNP Certified!



In the second week of December 2014 I sat the CCNP ROUTE exam for the fourth and final time and passed.

I have to say that I was starting to get pretty frustrated with this exam, the issue in my mind is that there are many questions that were basically a reading or comprehension exam. Lots of times I was sure that I knew the answer but then I had to spend time reading and re reading the answers so as to not get tripped up by the wording.

I know most of you would say that is the same for all exams but I particularly felt this to be the case fro ROUTE I honestly don’t remember having these issues with SWITCH (but on the other hand it has been 12 months since I sat for that). I really hope that the newer exams focus more on knowing and applying the technology and not trying to trick the examinee by very closely wording the answers and also the ambiguity of the questions.

I assume that these problems are at least partly to combat cheating and to simulate time pressure in the exam and it definitely does induce some stress, at least it did for me.

Exam rantings and frustrations aside I learnt a lot while studying for this exam which I am very pleased about. I did a lot of labbing and made a lot of mistakes along the way which helped a great deal in spotting mistakes in configurations and this helped me as I then got to take the time troubleshooting and learning how to quickly spot basic mistakes.

In addition to this I tried to come up with a better study method than I had used in the past, unfortunately I don’t think I made great strides in this department however I do believe I picked up some good habits but I definitely need to work on this area if I want to take it further (CCIE/University etc).

Once ROUTE was done and dusted I had two of the three required exams out of the way on the CCNP R&S track (version one) and that left only TSHOOT to go.

As the deadline for the old TSHOOT exam was coming up and we were now in the Christmas period I thought I would try and knock it out before January 29 2015 as I already had the study material for the old TSHOOT exam (both the official cert guide and the foundation learning guide).

I had read a lot of forum posts about this exam and lots of people said to just review the ROUTE and SWITCH material and to take TSHOOT while this info was still fresh in the brain. I spent the weekend reading through the official certification guide and I found that most of the material was familiar as I work in a NOC and troubleshooting is a primary function of our job. Long story short I sat the exam and passed first go, only by the skin of my teeth, but hey a pass is a pass.

Whats next?

Honestly at this point have no idea. I know that I would like to focus on routing and switching and I really want to dig deep and expand my knowledge of foundation protocols. To this end I have ordered TCP/IP Illustrated to take a good look at how TCP really works. I am also looking at picking up MPLS VPN architectures vol 1&2 and internet routing architectures plus Routing TCP/IP vol 1&2 for some more light reading.

Will I start studying for the CCIE…the short answer is no, I know that now is not the right time. Before I even think of taking on this beast I want to expand my knowledge wide before I go deep, specifically with service provider technologies and gaining a much deeper understanding of TCP/IP. On top of this I am going to start looking at different study techniques and putting them into practice to see if I can make up some of the study shortcomings I have identified while studying for the route switch track.

I was also looking at the CCDA/CCDP but my hesitation here was that I didn’t want to waste time picking up certifications just for the resume. I’m not going to spend my time on something that may not benefit my technical skills as much as say jumping straight into the SP track and so from this I have decided that since routing and switching is fresh in my head I will be concentrating on service provider technologies (bgp, mpls, isis etc) as well as TCP/IP.

So I hope to be able to publish some more interesting technical blogs in 2015, some no so specifically related to exam topics but more focussed on specific technologies.

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ROUTE Exam Take One

Last week I sat the CCNP route v1 exam and came up short…just.

I took the exam early in the day as I was taking some time off work so I got to the test centre about 45mins before my exam was scheduled to start as they usually let you in early to start even if you are there before your scheduled time.

Like other times in the past I was processed quickly and about to start my exam when there were some issue with the pearson vue system, this took over an hour to sort out, eventually it was a quick fix with a call to the help desk but a lot of waiting on hold in the call queue was not a good start to the day.

I was pretty confident going into the exam, I have been getting some good study time in over the past few weeks trying to come up with a good method and sticking to it. This is definitely something that I lacked when I tackled the switch exam, so I am keen to come up with a new and improved study practice especially as I want to eventually continue on with the design and service provider tracks.

After the initial delay I was a bit thrown mentally, I just kept running through my notes in my head and tried to keep a cool head for when the exam started and for the most part I did this so that was a good learning curve.

Starting the exam I got the initial multiple choice questions and I was feeling good, then I hit the first sim…where i basically had a mind blank and spent quite a bit of time on it, as I continued on I hit some of the same road blocks and started to become concerned with my time management, this caused me to speed up a bit on the multiple choice and also “give up” a couple of the sims which in hindsight was a big mistake, at one point I was looking a the clock for some of the questions and then just guessing at which point I knew it was all over.

I didn’t miss the passing score by much, around 5 percent, so I was happy at least with that, especially as I started to panic on a couple of the sims which made it very difficult to think and troubleshoot and on reflection I think I now know the answers to at least some of these questions.

No doubt this is a difficult exam, at least in my opinion. It has been 12 months since I first sat the SWITCH exam so I can’t really compare the difficulty of the two but ROUTE is certainly challenging. One issue I do have with this exam is that some of the questions are VERY vague, which can make it very difficult to understand what it is the questions is asking or the outcome that is necessary to take all the marks, which is a little frustrating when you have a 5-6 router topology and you are trying to work out what the exam is telling you is broken so you can start to formulate where to start to look for the resolution. I do agree that this is the kind of troubleshooting that is very important to learn, at least I know it is very valuable in my current position as problems are sometimes presented in such a vague set of circumstances it is difficult to know where to begin.

I think I am pretty close to being able to pass and I am happy with my study progress, I will be scheduling another attempt in the next week or two. However first I will look at tackling a couple of areas which I think let me down these being IPv6 and redistribution specifically.

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Default and Summary Routes

Today I ran into some issues with a lab I was doing involving an eigrp default route and summarisation.

Firstly the default route, basically the task was to inject the loopback interface IP into eigrp as the default route. Since the loopback is a directly connected interface a static route would not work so I used the ip default-network [address] command.

However after I entered this command I checked the RIB and found the route was not marked as the candidate default route. I checked and double checked the config (which looked fine to me) and eventually had to resort to It was there I found the simple mistake I made.

When I entered the command, I used the IP address of the loopback interface but the ip default-network command is classful… meaning I needed to enter the class C (in this case) address of the loopback interface, once I corrected this I checked the RIB again and there I could see the correct route marked as the candidate default.

On to the summarisation issue. The task was to summarise four loopback networks which were emulating a LAN network connected to the router. I worked out the correct summary address/mask and entered the ip summary-address eigrp 1 [summary address] [metric] command. When I checked the RIB there was no summary route, so again I double checked my summary address/mask and the command before I hit google.

Here I found that when you enter a summary route you need to enter the interface IP address that is part of the summary route. If you just enter the summary subnet and mask, and there is no interface with that IP address configured the command is allowed but IOS does not put the summary into the routing table. Once I entered the interface IP (which was part of the summary route) and the summarised mask the summary route was added to the RIB and all was well.

Here is a link to the chapter from Troubleshooting EIGRP CCIE Professional Development series that explains the summary route issue I described above.

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