Nicholas Russo, CCIE #42518
I started using the INE training materials in Feb 2013. I started with the Dynamips Volume 2 workbooks which I found far too difficult for my skill level at the time. At the recommendation of another CCIE, I enrolled in the All Access Pass and purchased the R&S track workbooks in March 2013. I immediately began cherry-picking videos from Brian McGahan?s R&S ATC to test the quality. I was impressed! Due to some physical injuries at the time, I was not able to use a keyword effectively, so I spent about 3 solid months doing nothing but watching INE videos and doing some very small, less-typing intensive labs. The R&S ATC notwithstanding, I found several additional sets of videos that helped augment my increasing knowledge. For example, the Video Learning Series set of videos, Brian Dennis? PfR vSeminar, Mark Snow?s Voice ATC (for Layer 2 QoS), Brian McGahan?s Security and Service Provider ATCs (for advanced ZBF and MPLS features, respectively), and the ?Deep Dive? series on multicast and security for R&S. I highly recommend R&S candidates to explore some of the other, R&S-related technology videos contained in the other tracks. The CCIE lab will intentionally try to confuse you by giving you topics you didn?t think were on the blueprint. A wise man once told me to ?read the fine print?. Once my injuries subsided, I began with Volume 1 workbooks, blazing through all of them once. Realizing that some workbooks were worth repeating several times (like IP Services, System Management, Multicast, MPLS, and QoS), I started to mix in Volume 2, Volume 2 TS, Volume 3, and Volume 4 labs in. I kept a strict spreadsheet tracker of which workbooks I completed, how many times, and the date. In this way, I could identify which topics I had not studied in some time. This helped me to remember things (we all know this can be difficult given the sheer quantity of material). I scheduled a bootcamp with Brian Dennis for November 2013. I was so excited to attend. By the time the bootcamp came, I had completed EVERY SINGLE INE workbook and lab, to include (7) mock labs and (3) graded TS labs. There was nothing in the INE training set I had not seen at least once. I scored very high on all INE mock labs and was thinking the bootcamp would be a nice confidence builder. Wrong. Dave Smith was our instructor, and although I had never heard of him, he did not disappoint us in the least. The bootcamp was a humbling experience and I took ~35 pages of typed notes over the course of two weeks. The INE bootcamps focus heavily on minutia not already covered in the workbooks, and as such, I highly recommend them as a complement to (but not as a replacement for) anyone?s INE training program. I attended the CCIE lab one week after the bootcamp and came close. I failed TS by 1 point and got about a 60% on the config section across all subsections. Having ?solved? the lab technically (full reachable, functional routing/switching, proper MPLS, proper QoS, etc), I still managed to fail because of minor details and speed. I spent the next 3 months working almost entirely on those weaknesses, spending very little time on core technologies and concepts. I went through the entire Volume 2 TS and about half of Volume 4 again before my second attempt. I passed on my second attempt on 21 Feb 2014, earning CCIE #42518. I was fortunate to have received my score 8 minutes after the lab. I asked the proctor to grade me on the spot; upon his completion, he instructed me to check my email. And from there, the rest is history. Thank you INE for your superior training products, outstanding customer support (Jeremy Brown and Mike Bishop), and unmatched bootcamp! I look forward to training with you as I pursue future certifications in Data Center and Security.