Don’t bring a CCIE to a CCDE exam (How to pass the CCDE)
I Passed the CCDE
On August 29th, 2017 I passed the Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) practical exam. I am now CCDE #2017::51.
What is the CCDE?
It is an expert level exam baesd on internet protocol (IP) network design. It consists of two exams.
The practical exam consists of four two hour scenarios. Scenarios are presented as a fictional company. Company background is given and design problems are presented and answered via multiple guess.
Strategy / Approach for Passing
My initial advice is to approach the written and practical as two very different exams. In other Cisco expert level exams, much of what you study for the written will be on the practical. That is not the case for the CCDE. The CCDE is a layer 3 design exam but you will see many layer 2 topics on the written exam. For this reason, review each of the blueprints. CCIE's often approach the CCDE with 'too much' knowledge. Meaning they can overthink the questions. Leave the CCIE level knowledge at the door. With that said here is how I approached the test.
- Study Group
- Safari books online - video series / books
- Practice Scenarios (Jeremy, Martin, Ohran)
When it comes to these technologies start with a realistic self-assessment of your skills. Even though I worked for a service provider when it came to the intricacies I needed help. Do you know the differences between inter-AS option B from option C? If not consider taking a deep dive into service provider technologies.
You will find many opinions is how deep to dive. That leads to the first point, Study group. I recommend you start by finding like-minded individuals. The Cisco learning network is a great place to start. I was lucky enough to find Daniel Dib and Kim Pederson had started a small group back in 2015. This group was the source of many great discussions. Daniel has already written a blog post on the topic.
Cisco has created an amazing resources spreadsheet. It is on their public website under both the written and practical. This is a good place to start if you don't know what resources are available. It contains links to books (by chapter), videos, Cisco Live presentations, etc. It is very good.
When it comes to books everyone is different. I have learned to read ebooks on an iPad. Safari Books Online has a thorough list of Cisco Press and third-party books on various technologies. If you don't have access to Safari Books Online you are missing out!!
When it comes to blogs there are some CCDE focused ones out there. The ones I would reference for the CCDE are Daniel Dib, Russ White, and Orhan Ergun. I learned about topics I wouldn't have found on my own. Topics like shadow route reflectors or shadow rendezvous points.
The last item that is critical to success is practice scenarios. Jeremy Filliben is well known for his scenarios as is Orhan Ergun. Martin Duggan has recently started publishing scenarios on Leanpub. I recommend that candidates check them all out and decide which is best for them.
Combine all these together you should find you are stretching the knowledge you already have. Discussion on topics, scenarios, designs, technologies, and networking create awareness of other points of view. What makes the difference is recognizing that two technologies may provide equal functionality. But there is a trade-off to either technology. Recognizing the business, functional, or political requirements and combine them with the known constraints will help make you successful.
Finally here is a list of my study resources.