Ok, so you want to get the CCDE certification. Where to begin?
Let me share with you my path, and some tips where you might begin.
I’ve been involved with networking since around 1994, when we had no real network on the University of Dayton campus, and I was a student worker. I ran around installing SMC Ethernet NICs in computers and getting them connected to either 10base2 coax or “new” 10baseT twisted-pair networks. Sometimes I had to modify the users’ autoexec.bat files so they would be prompted to either “load CD-Rom drivers” or “connect to the network”. Imagine having to choose! The reason was, most of these older machines couldn’t load all of the drivers into low memory.
Regardless, in around 2000 I completed the CCNA and CCDE, later doing the CCNP and finally taking/passing the CCIE practical to become CCIE #7966 in August of 2001. Suffice it to say, I have forgotten most of what I learned back then, and that which I remember is mostly irrelevant. The two-day lab had IPX and DLSW on it.. not much of that is to be expected on the CCDE.
Anyway, I’ve taken this as a foundation and will be building on this to take the CCDE exams. Here’s what I’ve chosen to concentrate on.
I’ll go take the 642-642 QoS test. Since QoS is a major topic for the written CCDE, I think this will warrant a high amount of study. I’ve been avoiding QoS like the plague for most of my career so this will be hard for me.
I’ll also be taking the 642-691 (MPLS+BGP) test. I’ve very little MPLS experience, and little real-world BGP experience, so this will also require some heavy reading and lab time. I’m going to read the BGP sections of Doyle’s Routing TCP/IP Volume 2, MPLS and VPN Architectures, and Internet Routing Architectures (rereading).
Rounding out the CCIP certification will require the 642-892 (composite) test. This is pretty much foundational Cisco study. It goes over the major RPs and switching technologies. I should be able to take this cold, but for those of you needing some refresher, I highly recommend Doyle’s Routing TCP/IP volume 1 and reading the major documentation on switching technologies from Cisco’s site.
I’ll also take 642-873 (Designing Cisco Network Service Architectures) to complete the requirements for the CCDP. I don’t think I’ll be getting the Cisco press book that they have for this exam, mainly because it appears out of date. A better preparation would most likely be “Top Down Network Design” by Oppenheimer. Even if it doesn’t address 642-873 directly, I think this will most likely be the best path for the goal of passing the CCDE written. I also think the SRND guides will help quite a bit with this exam.