Alessio L. Andreoli, CCIE #43116
Thanks. This story must start with a big thanks to INE for its incredible effort in providing knowledge over anything else and in whatever track you will ever choose. My story starts two years ago when I decided to "try" the CCIE R&S track to finally reach the next level. As usual, my curiosity let me land on a different world that was the one in which yesterday I have finally achieved (on my second attempt) my CCIE number. I remember that only a year ago I had the courage to start configuring some SP scenarios and to book the boot-camp INE delivered in London in August 2013, and to be honest, the All Access Pass and the Bootcamp were the best investments I have ever made in my career. Until the very last day before that bootcamp, I believed I knew what and who a CCIE was and I was never so wrong in my life. Brian McGahan (or Brian the Great as I have renamed him after that bootcamp) did let me understand that a CCIE is more than a very skilled engineer, it is an attitude and a way to understand technologies that differs from the professional level. In short, it is not only a certification but a way to think and live your job. I do admit that I was already grateful to my luck for this but thankfully that was not all. Among all those brilliant candidates I also met an engineer (Keith Humphreys) who was evidently the most prepared among us and that showed to me that my approach to my CCIE prep was totally wrong. Observing his way to study I did understand much about all what I had to change. And I did. I booked my lab exam for December and I failed for two little points which are only a vague memory now ;-) ! On March 2014 I started to configure new scenarios and I even bought some more materials to check if any info was missing in my head or if anything else could be helpful. Result? I run back to INE !!!! It is unbelievable the amount of knowledge which INE will provide you compared to most of the other vendors. The time for my flight was coming and my prep was getting more and more intense. CsC and Inter-AS Option C were the ones I did implement more times along with a new big love for multicast routing. Nervous and under pressure for the idea of a new failure, I emailed Keith for some suggestions... That was it. In a couple of emails, Keith built up my confidence in the result again and nothing, and I mean nothing else, could be more beneficial. Passing the Lab Exam is only in part matter of skills. You need to know you can do it otherwise doubts and stupid mistakes will be there awaiting for you. April 1st. After sleeping less than 3 hours I went for a good breakfast (eggs , ham, bacon and a liter of orange juice with a final espresso) and got to the the Lab site very early taking even some pics all around to convince myself it was going to be a day to remember :) ... I started to chat with few more candidates and in no time the lab started. Proctors were amazing and, even if one of the two was my favorite, I want to thank them both for their availability. NDA does not let me tell much about the exam as most of you know, but by 11:30 am I had 70% of the lab done and a big smile on my face. Quick lunch and back to Lab. After lunch I had that horrible sensation that the time was with me and that i could take it easy....but I was also remembering that Keith did the same on his exam and that he was not suggesting to listen this sensation to anybody. By 1 pm, 85% of the exam was completed and verified and my tiredness started to play jokes. A few mistakes started to happen and I started to feel nervous for this. Eventually, I got up and went for a little walk to take a breath and relax again and I would suggest to do this to anybody who notices during the lab exam small meaningless mistakes which inexplicably start to happen. Exam completed and configuration saved again and again. Only time to greet the proctor and run for a taxi with another candidate. In Brussels airport I finally went for a beer and unexpectedly .... BIG MASSIVE tears came out. I mean, I did not know yet about the exam result but the idea I did way better than what I did back in December was a miracle in my head. A lot of stress and adrenaline was leaving me in peace, giving me some rest. Yeah, I know, I possibly was looking like a child after the best gift ever received but I did not care. I was really happy about what I had done and because I felt safe enough with 93% of my verified lab tasks which were giving to me, that was also a reason to hope for my number. Flight back to Denmark was pleasant and punctual and while I was on the (second) train back home, Cisco's email finally showed on my mobile. Never a web link was slower to open up !!! A little green was what I was looking for, but a strange beautiful number introduced himself: CCIE#43116 I started to scream in a wagon where you are not even supposed to talk (named silent wagons) and after apologizing, I went out and I started to realize it was not a dream. Admittedly hard this exam can be done. Learn to enjoy it is the key. At last two suggestions: 1) Read carefully the whole exam because in some tasks you could find the answers to the previous ones... 2) Keep your friends with you while your CCIE prep. As Keith was for me, they are an invaluable resource to your real success. Let me conclude this story with another thank. Since CCIE means also curiosity for what is new, a big thank must be given to Kevin Murphy, an amazing manager and an incredible friend who helped me to undertake this road with many interesting challenges.