Network technologies and trends

Feb 28 2018   3:26AM GMT

Cisco announces new version of CCIE SP Written and Lab Contents with version 4.1

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

Cisco IOS
service provider

Recently Cisco updated the blueprint for the Cisco CCIE Service Provider Written & Lab exams, the new CCIE SP version 4.1 is only about 10% different than its preceding version 4.0. The exam format still remains the same, the CCIE SP written exam number also remains the same (400-201) and the CCIE SP lab exam comprises of three modules

  • Troubleshooting
  • Diagnostic
  • Configuration

These minor changes certainly ensure that the changes are minimal, they are frequent (Cisco does minor updates once a year) and incremental.

Below is the domain level comparison of CCIE Service Provider v4.0 and v4.1.

CCIE Service Provider v4.0

CCIE Service Provider v4.1
1.       Service Provider Architecture and Evolution

2.       Core Routing

3.       Service Provider Based Services

4.       Access and Aggregation

5.       High Availability and Fast Convergence

6.       Service Provider Security, Operations, and Management

7.       Evolving Technologies


1.       Core Routing

2.       Service Provider Architecture and Services

3.       Access and Aggregation

4.       High Availability and Fast Convergence

5.       Service Provider Security, Operations, and Management

6.       Evolving Technologies



Compared to CCIE Service Provider version 4.0, domains remained almost identical, except that domain 1 and domain 3 were merged into one single domain: domain 2 (Service Provider Architecture and Services) in the new revision. Other domains were kept, although minor modifications were made within these domains as well. As a result, domain weightings did shift slightly:


SP 4.0 Domains

Written (%) Lab (%)
Service Provider Architecture and Evolution 10 NA
Core Routing 20 27
Service Provider Based Services 20 26
Access and Aggregation 15 17
High Availability and Fast Convergence 10 13
Service Provider Security, Operations, and Management 15 17
Evolving Technologies 10 NA

SP 4.1 Domains

Written (%) Lab (%)
Core Routing 25 30
Service Provider Architecture and Services 21 22
Access and Aggregation 18 21
High Availability and Fast Convergence 14 15
Service Provider Security, Operations, and Management 12 12
Evolving Technologies 10 NA


Domain 1 (Core Routing): No topics were added or removed within this domain, but some items were moved, rephrased, or merged into one single item:

  • “MAM and RDM models” were moved from MPLS QoS Models to MPLS TE QoS:
    • 6.d. Describe, implement, and troubleshoot MPLS QoS Models (Pipe, Short Pipe, and Uniform)
    • 6.e. Describe, implement, and troubleshoot MPLS TE QoS (MAM, RDM, CBTS, PBTS, and DS-TE)
  • The “mLDP and P2MP TE” tasks under within Multicast were merged into a single item:
    • 5.c Describe, implement, and troubleshoot mVPN

Domain 2 (Service Provider Architecture and Services) now holds tasks of the original domain 1 and 3.
Off the original domain 1, the following task, focusing on hardware architecture components was removed:

  • Describe platform architecture components such as RP, Line cards, and Fabric Crossbar

Other items that were part of domain 1, such as software architecture, mobility node functions, and virtualization concepts, were rephrased to better define their scope:

  • 1.a. Describe network architecture components and service provider network domains, for example: PE, P, CE, Metro Ethernet, Core, Aggregation, RAN Backhaul, and eNodeB
  • 1.b. Describe Cisco IOS, Cisco IOS-XR, and Cisco IOS-XR software architecture components, for example: XR Kernel, System Manager, and Interprocess communication
  • 2.a Physical router virtualization, for example: SDR, Multiple-Logical-Routers, and Satellite Network Virtualization
  • 2.b. Network Function Virtualization architecture concepts, for example: Service Function Chaining, ESP, EPN, and NFVI

Off the original domain 3, the following changes were made:

  • “Describe, implement, and troubleshoot GRE and mGRE based VPN” was removed.
  • “Transit policy enforcement” and “Internet peering route and transit policy enforcement” were merged into one single item:
  • 6.b. Describe, implement, and troubleshoot Internet peering route and transit policy enforcement


Domain 3 (Access and Aggregation) had the following items removed:

  • Describe Broadband Forum TR-101 such as Trunk N:1 and Trunk 1:1
  • Describe Link Fragmentation (LFI), cRTP, and RTP
  • Describe, implement, and troubleshoot end-to-end fast convergence (covered in domain 4)

Domain 4 (High Availability and Fast Convergence) remains unchanged, only the weights changed.

Domain 5 (Service Provider Security, Operations, and Management) had the most changes. In this domain, service provider operation oriented items have been removed:

  • Describe, implement, and troubleshoot port mirroring protocols, for example, SPAN, RSPAN, and ERSPAN
  • Describe network event and fault management
  • Describe performance management and capacity procedures
  • Describe maintenance, operational procedures
  • Describe network inventory management process
  • Describe incident management process based on ITILv3 framework

The CCIE Service Provider version 4.1 exam continues to focus on dual-stack solutions for both IPv4 and IPv6 technologies, as it was already deployed in the CCIE Service Provider version 4.0 exam. All solutions, for example, routing protocols, fast convergence, and L3VPN cover both IPv4 and IPv6 technologies.

Recommended Hardware and Software Equipment

The CCIE Service Provider lab exam environment was updated. However, no new technologies or features were added to the exam topics and therefore, the impact of this software update is minor. Candidates who want to prepare for the exam using hardware equipment are advised to use the following Cisco equipment and Cisco Software releases, which are used in the Diagnostic module.

  • P, PE, and RR role: ASR 9000 Series running Cisco IOS XR 6.0 release
  • PP, PE, and CE role: ASR 1000 Series running Cisco IOS XE 3.13 (15.4S) release
  • PE and CE role: Cisco 7600 Series running Cisco IOS 15.4S release
  • Access and Aggregation role: Cisco ME 3600x Series running Cisco IOS 15.4S release


One could say this a good approach from Cisco to keep CCIE exams more relevant to the new hardware and software they release.

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