I came to the realization after taking the demo that I should probably be changing how I’m studying for the CCDE. When I went for the CCIE I followed the path laid out from Cisco going CCNA -> CCNP -> CCIE and was satisfied with the preparation that this entailed. When I began in earnest to study for the CCIE lab I was much better prepared. Primarily in knowing exactly what I did not know and needed to concentrate on. I think the design track may be a better path for me to take in my pursuit of the CCDE – rather than proceeding directly to the CCDE written without getting the CCDP first. I’ve not taken the written exam yet, but plan to take the CCDP exam I need, 642-873, soon. What I’ve found so far is that the materials to prepare for 642-873 are just what I’ve been lacking. It goes into design topics at a more basic level than CCDE (obviously) but with enough detail to sate my appetite for network design that I’ve been looking for. The CCDP is a good certification to strive for, especially if you’re on the fence about how to study for the CCDE. Regardless, I recommend the CCDP as an end in itself, whether you want to pursue the DE or not.