Network technologies and trends

February 20, 2015  7:42 AM

The Journey of CCIE – Make a plan – Series 6

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCIE, Cisco, Network Technology

So far we were taking about the initial plan one should have to start the journey of CCIE, we went through why we want to be CCIE? We did question ourselves few questions and then we were aware of the major Vendors offering study materials and we did reviewed INE and Narbik workbooks.

make a plan

The next important thing I personally feel is to make a complete plan for the CCIE journey. This gives you the motivation, accountability and a reason to peruse CCIE. It’s a know fact that when someone writes down his goals and the path to reach towards his goal his success rate is over 70%. So I strongly recommend to make one detailed plan with timelines, which may comprises of the following

  • Study Materials to be used
  • Study Partner (I will talk about this in detail in next post)
  • Study plan (what will be the first step with CCIE study materials)
  • When to schedule the lab?
  • How to practice the lab?
  • What is failed to pass the lab.

I have posted one detail project plan for this in Cisco Learning Network, I encourage to have a look at the plan I followed.

Yes I took CCIE as a project and monitored my progress. Everyday night just before going to the bed I used to ask myself

“What did I do today to get closer my dream of CCIE?”

I strongly believe, mental preparation and accounting is very important in the journey of CCIE. So better have your own detailed plan for the journey of CCIE

February 18, 2015  5:37 AM

The Journey of CCIE – A review of INE Workbooks – Series 5

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

INE is considered to be one of pioneers in the area of developing workbooks, training videos and boot camps for the CCIE exams. I started my journey of CCIE during the version 4 and I did purchased their CCIE Routing and Switching Ultimate Bundle, which had the following materials.

CCIE R&S Written Exam Course

CCIE R&S Advanced Troubleshooting Course

CCIE R&S v5 Advanced Technologies Course

CCIE R&S Lab Preparation Course

CCIE Routing & Switching v5 Workbook
(includes v4 workbooks Vol I-IV)

CCNP R&S Course

CCNA Associate Course

1450 Rack Rental Tokens included FREE


By having the CCIE Routing and Switching Ultimate Bundle I had access to INE materials along with their racks. This was a great deal for me. I watched most of the CCIE R&S v5 Advanced Technologies Course videos and did started working on their workbooks. INE workbooks are divided into four main sections

  • Advance Technology Labs
  • Advance Foundation Labs
  • Advance Troubleshooting labs
  • Full Scale practice Labs

I personally started with Advance Technology Labs, which comprises of over 500 labs, which can be fully virtualized and also someone can use INE online racks. The great thing about this section, is the tasks break down , which not only covers  the blue prints of CCIE released by Cisco but also the Blue Print of INE as well, by doing so INE team are preparing you not only for the lab but also to face the day to day challenges at work with upmost confidence. The tasks are explained in details and it gives you hands on experience of the technology in depth. I personally like liked the BGP topic of INE Workbook, which really gave me the better understanding of the topic.

INE’s Full-Scale and Troubleshooting labs are good once you completed the Advance Technology Labs , these labs takes you through the approach one should have in the real lab.

The best part of INE workbooks are, there are no security restrictions which gives you the flexibility to use their workbooks on any platform or device.. The workbooks are presented well both in html and pdf format. Personally I liked their HTML format where one can bookmark the progress and can implement the task without accessing the solution. One can see the solution by clicking it. The second thing I liked about their workbooks is their approach towards building a virtual lab, there are blogs written by Brian Mcgahan on the INE website as well they shared the topology of VIRL . Some one can purchase VIRL and can easily import the topology shared by Brian Mcgahan and can start working on the workbook tasks straight away.

At times I found INE workbooks are more time consuming to complete a tasks, hence I used other workbooks, which were brief in nature and serving my purpose. But for someone who wants to have an in-depth understanding of concepts and technologies there is no other alternative to INE workbooks.

To conclude great workbook which covers topics in detail and takes lots of your time to implement and practice.

February 15, 2015  5:28 AM

The Journey of CCIE – A review of Narbik Workbooks – Series 4

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

As promised I am back with the review for the  Configuration workbooks provided by Narbik Kocharians of Micronics Training and Consulting. Personally I had purchased his

R&S Workbook Bundle v5.0

The bundle comprises of following workbooks.

 Foundation v5.0

Advanced CCIE Routing & Switching v5.0

Advanced CCIE Routing & Switching Troubleshooting v5.0

Narbik work books

Each workbook is divided into two volumes and covers all the topics of the blue print mentioned by Cisco for the CCIE Routing and Switching Lab exam.

Foundation v5.0 workbooks are quite simple and intended for those who want to start from basics and build the strong foundation of the technologies, the great thing I liked about these workbooks are they are quite simple and easy to understand. Also these workbooks have a brief explanation of key technologies. The topology designed by Narbik is quite simple and easy simulate either in the virtual platforms be it GNS3 or VIRL. If you successfully built the structure of the topology then its easy to configure every section of the workbook be it EIGRP, DMVPN or OSPF. You will also have an access to initial configuration files of the each sections of the lab, you can just copy and paste the initial config in a lab built using real equipment’s. For virtual labs you need to some modifications and tweaking.

I personally opted to start with Advanced CCIE Routing & Switching v5.0 workbooks. The workbook straight away starts with Switching and then the DMVPN part; I feel I am not lasted especially when I skipped the Foundation part. I would highly recommend to make sure your foundations are strong, if your foundations are strong it easy to understand and implement the advance topics. The distribution of topics is also quite logical and takes you from one step to next in a smooth way with better understanding of those topics .

Narbik does also offer rack rentals for his workbooks but honestly I have no experience on his racks. One thing certainly Narbik can improve is the virtual support or virtual topology for his workbooks. As some vendors do offer VIRL topology and even the steps to configure VIRL topology on Cisco VIRL.

There are many great things about workbook but in short, a very concise workbook and  the time taken to configure each task is considerably shorter compared to other workbooks, this gives an edge for me. A must Workbook not only for those who are aspiring to be a CCIE Routing and Switching, but also for those professionals who just want to configure and practice certain technologies for their own development. I would like to thank Narbik for coming out such an amazing workbook.

February 9, 2015  5:08 AM

The Journey of CCIE – Work Books – Series 3

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

In the previous post we did discussed about the Reference Materials available for CCIE R & S Lab, one thing I forgot to mention was Cisco documentation, this is a great tool and quite handy. You need to master this while preparing for the lab, try to figure out where the key topics are located and how to access them. Brain Brain map them as this will be a great asset for the exam and you do have an access to Cisco documentation in the exam. Brian McGahan demonstrates this very well in his CCIE Routing & Switching Advanced Technologies video course

The next big thing we need to decide is on the workbooks, which are the key resource for our practical understanding and implementation of the technology and concepts. We all are aware there are plenty of experts and training companies who offer Workbooks but leaders according to me are Micronics Training and Consulting, INE and iPexpert . I believe all three are widely used and recommended by CCIE’S.

I personally had access to Micronics Training and Consulting and INE workbooks and found them great resource. Since I had no time to practice both I preferred to use work books offered Micronics Training and Consulting (Narbik Kocharians ) as they were simple and easy to follow.

INE have some great workbooks as well, I did started the journey using the INE workbooks, in the upcoming post I will try to review both of them so you can decide which work book to opt. Again these are my personnel opinions you are not entitled to go with my preferred workbook. I know Micronics Training and Consulting, INE and iPexpert spent their valuable time and resources to create these workbooks. These workbooks are not a product of a day or two it’s their decades of experience, dedication and understanding of concepts made them outstanding.

February 8, 2015  5:09 AM

The Journey of CCIE –  Reference Materials – Series 2

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

In my previous post we discussed about the mental preparations one should undergo before taking up the challenge of CCIE.  These posts are based on the experience I underwent  to achieve the CCIE Routing and Switching lab.

One has to read , watch and practice a lot to pursue CCIE and there are plenty of reference materials available. When it comes to books Cisco Press have many tittles which covers the  wide topics of CCIE, the good reference for this is to go through the INE web site they have mentioned all the books one should refer.  One title I will certainly recommend is CCIE Routing and Switching v5.0 Official Cert Guide Library, 5th Edition, a very well written title by Narbik Kocharians, Peter Paluch, Terry Vinson.


The second most important thing one need to select is the video series he/she wants watch. The most popular among are INE’s CCIE Routing & Switching Advanced Technologies video course and iPexpert’s Cisco CCIE R&S (v5) Lab Video on Demand. These two Companies are offering word class video resources for CCIE preparations.

Personally I went with INE’s CCIE Routing & Switching Advanced Technologies video course as I liked the way Brian McGahan  teaches. I am a great fan of him,  his videos gave me the through understanding of concepts. His way of teaching is quite unique and engaging. The best thing I liked about his approach is , the live troubleshooting he does while delivering the lectures.

This doesn’t mean that iPexpert’s Cisco CCIE R&S (v5) Lab Video on Demand are not good. I heard a lot of great things about them as well. I suggest you to watch the demo video from both INE and iPexpert and then take an informed decision.

In the upcoming post lets see talk about the workbooks available and if possible I will try to review some of them as well.

February 6, 2015  4:13 PM

The journey of CCIE  – Series 1

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCIE, Networking

As promised I am back here to share the journey I had, to accomplish the CCIE Routing and Switching Lab. I did received tons of emails, LinkedIN messages , phone calls, Facebook messages etc to know the approach I took.

I believe the courage is what most of us lack to start the journey of CCIE. Most of us are hesitant and afraid of the unseen lab, even before starting most of us gave up the journey of CCIE. The best way to come out of this fear to sit down in a clam place, take a break from every thing do a serious thinking.

Those who ask questions cannot avoid answers. So ask yourself set of questions like and answer them, better write them down in the piece of paper. I have personally experienced whenever I wrote down my goals they were turned into reality

1. Why do I want to be a CCIE ?
2. What is stopping me from becoming a CCIE ?
3. What extra mile I can go to over come my obstacles to achieve my CCIE?
4. What resources I should choose to pass the CCIE?
5. Who else in my professional group are interested in CCIE ?
6. What impact will have on me after CCIE ?
7. What is the time line I am looking for to complete CCIE ?

Once you write down answers for the above mentioned question you will certainly have the clarity and the motivation to start the journey of CCIE.

I literally took a break , went near the beach , enjoyed the cool breeze and wrote down my thoughts and now my dream of being CCIE has turned into reality. I will come back with more suggestions and experiences I had all over the journey.

February 2, 2015  7:50 PM

 Passed CCIE Routing & Switching Lab Exam

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

By the grace of Almighty I passed the CCIE Routing and Switching lab exam. I have been preparing for this for almost a year and was vigorously working hard for past four months. The preparation kept me away from blogging for almost a year. My dream to peruse CCIE Routing and Switching has turned into reality. I would like to thank especially my Wife and my Son for their tremendous support. Without their support I believe it was not possible. I would also like to thank Narbik Kocharians for his amazing work books and Brain McGahan for the great Advance Technology Class videos, they are simply awesome. I really enjoyed watching ATC videos and it gave me the thorough understanding of the concepts. Whereas Narbik Kocharians work books gave the practical experience and further strengthened my understanding of the concepts.


Since I passed I received lot of emails, linked messages and phone calls to know what my approach was. I believe IT Knowledge Exchange is a best platform for me to share my CCIE journey not only with my friends but also the readers of this blog.  Sine this is the first post of year I thought of sharing about the work books I used and the videos I watched.

I will keep this short but promise to comeback to share my experience and the path I adopted to pass the CCIE Routing and Switching lab.

December 6, 2014  5:21 AM

VIRL is officially launched

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

The much awaited Cisco’s network simulation software Virtual Internet Routing Lab (VIRL) is available for all. It can be purchased from VIRL Website. We all know when it comes to practice for CCNP, CCIE or any other Cisco certifications we think of having some sort of simulator to practice the technologies or work books provided by leading training companies like INE, Micronics or IPExpert. So far none of the available Simulators/ Emulators provided optimum solutions. Always you find its users tweaking the simulator to fit their needs.

It’s been a painful experience to spend more time on tweaking rather than practice the technologies. I believe everyone was waiting for a Solution from Cisco to practice their technologies on wider scale. Cisco did came out with a solution called Virtual Internet Routing Lab (VIRL) hopefully this servers our needs. I did order a copy of mine online and waiting for a download link from Cisco. The good news is these days Cisco is offering 50 $ discount on personal Edition.

Cisco does offers VIRL in different editions like Personal Edition which costs you 199 USD per year and Academic Edition which cost 79.99 per year.

Once I get the download link, I will install the VIRL and update you all. I am basically targeting the VIRL for my CCIE Routing and Switching Lab preparations.

What is VIRL?

VIRL is a comprehensive network design and simulation platform. VIRL includes a powerful graphical user interface for network design and simulation control, a configuration engine that can build complete Cisco configuration at the push of a button, Cisco virtual machines running the same network operating systems as used in Cisco’s physical routers and switches, all running on top of OpenStack. (Source VIRL website)

October 14, 2014  6:42 AM

What is Route Dampening?

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

In order to reduce the propagation of unstable routes also known as flapping routes, in BGP Protocol one can use the BGP feature called Route dampening. A route is considered to be flapping when its availability alternates repeatedly. Since BGP routing tables are huge, it’s not practical send those routing updates to all the routers especially when a route flap occurs. This could affect the performance of the network as well as consume more routers resources like CPU.

When a prefix flaps it will be assigned a penalty of 1000 and moved into the dampening state “history”. Each flap incurs another penalty (of 1000), which is applied cumulatively. If the penalty reaches the suppress-limit, the route is dampened, meaning it won’t be advertised to any neighbours.

BGP Route Dampening Terms:

  • Flap—A route whose availability alternates repeatedly
  • History state—After a route flaps once, it is assigned a penalty and put into history state, meaning the router does not have the best path, based on historical information.
  • Penalty—Each time a route flaps, the router configured for route dampening in another autonomous system assigns the route a penalty of 1000. Penalties are cumulative. The penalty for the route is stored in the BGP routing table until the penalty exceeds the suppress limit. At that point, the route state changes from history to damp.
  • Damp state—In this state, the route has flapped so often that the router will not advertise this route to BGP neighbours
  • Suppress limit—A route is suppressed when its penalty exceeds this limit. The default value is 2000
  • Half-life—Once the route has been assigned a penalty, the penalty is decreased by half after the half-life period (which is 15 minutes by default). The process of reducing the penalty happens every 5 seconds.
  • Reuse limit—As the penalty for a flapping route decreases and falls below this reuse limit, the route is unsuppressed. That is, the route is added back to the BGP table and once again used for forwarding. The default reuse limit is 750. The process of un suppressing routes occurs at 10-second increments. Every 10 seconds, the router finds out which routes are now unsuppressed and advertises them to the world
  • Maximum suppress limit—This value is the maximum amount of time a route can be suppressed. The default value is four times the half-life.

BGP Route dampening is one of the keys topics covered for Cisco CCIE Routing and Switching exam, so its better to understand the concept of Route Dampening and how it can configured in real networks. In upcoming post I will demonstrate how to configure Route Dampening on Cisco Routers.

October 2, 2014  5:31 AM

A review for “CCIE Routing and Switching v5.0 Official Cert Guide Vol 1”

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

I have been waiting eagerly and patiently for the release of the title CCIE Routing and Switching v5.0 Official Cert Guide Vol 1 from Cisco Press. There were two reasons behind my eagerness first being written by two different authors Narbik Kocharians and Peter Paluch and the second reason being the version change of the CCIE Routing and Switching exam. Thanks to Cisco Press and a Jamie Shoup for proving me the copy of the CCIE Routing and Switching v5.0 Official Cert Guide Vol 1.


The tile CCIE Routing and Switching v5.0 Official Cert Guide Vol 1 does follows typical style and format of other Cisco Press books, yet it’s quite different in many aspects. In past one volume used to cover all the topics of the CCIE Routing and Switching exam, however for version 5 Cisco Press came out with two volumes, the first volume covers topics like

  • –Virtual LANs and VLAN Trunking
  • –Spanning Tree Protocol (STP)
  • –IP services (ARP, NTP, DHCP, NAT, SNMP, NetFlow, and more)
  • –RIPv2 and RIPng
  • –EIGRP
  • –OSPF v2 and v3
  • –IS-IS
  • –Route redistribution, route summarization, default routing, and performance routing

This approach is quite good especially when the CCIE Routing and Switching exam demands more resources in depth, which the authors Narbik Kocharians and Peter Paluch have done in an excellent fashion. The OSPF chapter is the most liked chapter for me, especially the way the authors have simplified the topics is quite interesting. OSPF always remains to be the confusing and hard topic either when it comes to wither exams or a job interview. This chapter certainly helped me to understand the concepts in much more simpler fashion.

The second thing I liked about this title is the language used by the authors, it’s quite simple, easy to understand and the examples demonstrated for any topics are quite helpful.

I have been using the Advance CCIE Routing & Switching v5.0 work book developed by Narbik and it’s quite good, and did had huge expectations from Narbik Kocharians and Peter Paluch which they kept.

This title does comes with practice test as well, the good thing I noticed from Cisco Press is they included the “ Do I know this Already” questions from the title. This makes life easier for the CCIE aspirers.

When it comes to resources for the CCIE Routing and Switching exam one does needs to go thorough lot of resources, I certainly recommend this title to part of their journey of CCIE Routing and Switching exam. Once I get an opportunity I would certainly like to review the second volume.

In a nut shell a very good resource not only serves the journey of CCIE Routing and Switching exam but also serves as a reference guide for Network Engineers.

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