Sami Abunasser, CCIE #48849


On Saturday May 30th 2015, in RTP, I took my second CCIE Data Center Lab test and passed. The first time, I didn't pay enough detail to exactly the wording of the questions, and barely failed (scored 76% based on provided percentage breakout). This time, I read and re-read each question before answering it, to make sure that I was actually giving them the answer they were looking for and not just what I thought was the correct way of answering. Here's my story, hopefully it'll help someone, and I apologize in advance if I go on too long and bore you. I have years of experience with Cisco routers and firewalls, not much at all with Nexus as I hadn't had the chance to work on it much. Last year, in November 2014, we had an outage in our DC, and I was working with my colleagues to troubleshoot and resolve it, and at that point I realized how poor my Nexus knowledge and skills were, at that point I decided to do something about it. I know the typical solution to that would have been to do some reading, but I decided that I would pursue the CCIE certification in Data Center. I had been thinking of working on obtaining my CCIE for a few years, but I hadn't committed to anything. So in November 2014, I decided I'd become an INE All Access member and start working seriously towards my goal. Luckily, that time of the year is a slow time at work, so I was able to go through all of Brian and Mark's videos by end of December. I then followed that by watching the Cisco Live videos that Brian had referred to in his blog "how I passed the CCIE Data Center Lab Exam", I also watched all the "related videos" that were listed with them. I have to say, there are some amazing videos on Cisco Live that help you understand how the hardware actually works, along with how to configure them. For those who might be interested, the following are the training videos I used to prepare for the test: - INE's DC CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE videos... They are truly a fantastic training series, and I owe a lot to Brian's teaching as it helped me achieve my goal. - The following Cisco Live 365 Videos: - BRKARC-3470 - Cisco Nexus 7000 Switch Architecture (Tim Stevenson) - BRKARC-3452 - Cisco Nexus 5000/5500 and 2000 Switch Architecture - BRKARC-3471 - Cisco NX-OS Software Architecture (Ron Fuller) - BRKDCT-2237 ? Versatile architecture of using Nexus 7000 with F1 and M-series I/O modules - BRKDCT-2204 ? Nexus 7000/5000/2000/1000v Deployment Case Studies - BRKRST-2930 ? Implementing QoS with Nexus and NX-OS - BRKARC-3472 - NX-OS Routing Architecture and Best Practices - BRKDCT-2048 - Deploying Virtual Port Channel in NXOS - BRKCRS-3146 - Advanced VPC operation and troubleshooting - BRKDCT-2081 - Cisco FabricPath Technology and Design - BRKDCT?2202 - FabricPath Migration Use Case - BRKDCT-2049 - Overlay Transport Virtualization - BRKDCT-3103 - Advanced OTV - Configure, Verify and Troubleshoot OTV in Your Network - BRKSAN-1121 - Fibre Channel Networking for the IP Network Engineer and SAN Core Edge Design Best Practices - BRKDCT-1044 ? FCoE for the IP Network Engineer - BRKSAN-2047 ? FCoE ? Design, Operations and Management Best Practices - BRKCOM-1005 - UCS System Architecture Overview - BRKCOM-2002 ? UCS Supported Storage Architectures and Best Practices with Storage - BRKCOM-2005 ? UCS and Nexus Fabric and VM?s ? Extending FEX direct to VM?s in UCS and Nexus 5500 - BRKDCT-3144 - Troubleshooting Nexus 7000 switches - BRKCRS-3145 ? Troubleshooting Cisco Nexus 5000 / 2000 Series Switches - BRKDCT-3313 - FabricPath Operation and Troubleshooting - BRKCOM-3001 - Troubleshooting the Cisco UCS Compute Deployment - BRKVIR-3013 ? Deploying and Troubleshooting the Nexus 1000v virtual switch - BRKCOM-2003 - UCS Networking - Deep Dive including VM-FEX - BRKSAN-2282 - Operational Models for FCoE Deployments - Best Practices and Examples - BRKDCT-2131 - Mobility and Virtualization in the Data Center with LISP and OTV - BRKDCT-2334 - Real World Data Center Deployments and Best Practice - BRKDCT-2218 - Data Center Design for the Small and Medium Business - BRKSAN-2304 - Advanced Storage Area Network Design With the assistance of my very supportive wife, I was able to dedicate every spare minute I had to studying, and I was able to complete all of these training videos in 2 months. I then took the written test and passed on the first attempt, my only comment on that would be that it was the weirdest Cisco certification test I've taken and the questions were unrelated to the real world, but that's typical for most of Cisco's written tests. In January 2015, I started using the INE DC Racks, and following the DC Nexus and UCS workbooks. I probably was able to do somewhat close to 80 hours of labs. I also caught a break at work, where we were developing a new QA environment that was fully nexus with UCS B-Series for Unified Communication, so I got to build out that complete environment and further solidify my knowledge of these topics. By March 2015, I was ready to make the commitment and take the Lab test. I scheduled my first attempt for April 22nd in San Jose. I can't get into details about the lab test, but what I would advise anyone is to read the question closely and follow it exactly as they specify, there are many ways to do things, but they want it done there way. What I missed in my first attempt was exactly that, I read the question as "do x for me" and I did it my way, which wasn't what they were looking for. I didn't get deterred, I knew I failed because I'm too relaxed and don't get stressed in exams and I didn't focus enough in the test. You might say I was a little too confident with myself. I was extremely lucky, that I found an available date on May 30th, so I booked it immediately. I'll be honest, I did not read or study anything again after my first attempt, I was confident that I failed because I didn't follow the instructions in the questions and not because I didn't know how to perform the requested tasks. Which, upon retaking the lab, that was confirmed to me, because I still remembered what I had done in the first attempt (it was only 4 weeks ago), and when re-reading the questions this time, I realized which ones I missed and I couldn't believe that I missed them, the reason was exactly what I thought, I didn't follow the instructions..... But thankfully, it's all over now, I got my Passed result around 11pm CST on Saturday, and was able to relax and enjoy my weekend knowing my hard work paid off. I hope anyone reading this will at least take one lesson from this, please read the questions closely and follow the instructions exactly as they are laid out. Also, read the complete exam before starting, which was a great piece of advice in Brian's blog that I followed. So that's my story... I'd like to again, thank INE for their amazing training material and lab workbooks, and a special thanks to Brian McGahan. Thank you for reading this and best of luck on your CCIE attempt. - Sami Abunasser CCIE#48849::Data Center

- Sami Abunasser, CCIE #48849 (CCIE Data Center)