nearly 20 years now. even passed the CCIE written, but had to abandon it cause my company changed their policy.
you can study as much as you want. you need it for a good understanding in fundamentals, or else, you drown in the real-life troubles you might encounter.
yet onsite, hands on, troubleshooting... thats were the true experts are grown.
network is hard floor, if you do your job well, and all runs like charm... thats it, job done.
but when you solve a problem, where 5 people before you failed, with no hassle - thats true satisfaction and the few moments i really feel like an expert.
This. My favorite moments are when someone is struggling with something for days, and in like 10 min I get it done. That look of exasperstion on their face is priceless.
If someone struggles for days on an issue, then they have too much of an ego. If I can’t figure something out in an hour I start pulling resources. Most projects I’m working on can’t wait a day or two for someone to figure something out. Part of being a good engineer is when to know to ask questions and get help.
Damn right! If I can't solve it in a couple of hours I ask for help. Simple as that. I mean it depends on the situation too... I'm the only Palo guy in the whole office that knows it to the level that I do... I know if there's something that's out of my knowledge base and skill level. If I come across that then I'll call Palo directly for a solution. But I'll be damned if I don't get them to explain exactly what they did to fix it so I can know for next time.
Just to add if doing networking for about 4 years now and there are people I speak to that are networking wizards! It keeps me grounded and I know there's so much to learn. Routing and switching I'm ok with but firewalls I'm better at.theres just so many areas and u can't be an expert at all. At least not a wizard. As it's always changing there's room for improvement in every aspect. I would say find what u enjoy about it and learn constantly. I don't have the patience or the love for it so I will never be the best but I'm cool with that :)
This, along with implementing some huge network changes and are your configs and planning go through without any major issue. An expected 4-5 hours change done in less than an hour is a great feeling.
No, I spent years in networking but there are tons of things I don't know because I did not encounter them. I study more but unless you work where you get to deal with it then it can be difficult to really pick up.
Thanks, now I feel better knowing I am not the only one
I gave thtis dream up in 2011, after narbiks bootcamp back when the book was still printed. Don't beat yourself to much. Chasing the dream still makes you a damn good engineer. My understanding is time management is just as important as knowing the technologies. Oh on the lab there was also a odd question in the 8.x range that is only worth 2 or 3 points... That breaks a lot of stuff unless you really know that area.... Skip it ..
Good luck, be proud you are even trying so many y of us don't or don't anymore.
5 years here, I've worked with several things, yet I still feel as if I knew nothing because it's mostly theory for me, a lot of the things I've studied, worked in labs, etc. I have not experienced in real life. You're not the only one I guess, I tend to believe we're always situational experts. In other words, you won't be the expert all the time, just when a situation you have dealt/suffered with before arises, this doesn't depend on the time you have in the field, and doesn't happen always.
To myself, this doesn't really mean experts are only made by experience, there are a lot of experts in theory which is needed to build, tweak, maintain and fix things based on known facts that are not 100% obvious so you have to dig further into core mechanics and historic data, and also based on prior knowledge of others so the mistakes are not repeated.
I've been the so-called expert many times, while others I'm just the newbie who has to pay attention to what the expert says, then on other times this switches over.
It's the same on all fields, there's a bunch of basic things we all know and then there are those complex, rare to see, yet needed, things that's when "a call for experts" arise.
My only advice to you is to try to keep enjoying what you do, in the end you should do these things because you love them, the more you do something you love, the more you're close to always being the expert and the less you really care about that tittle so this stress just goes away.
Thank you for taking the time to write this, appreciate it!
In any complex field, there will always be more to know. If you know the fundamentals of the field and how to investigate, learn and solve, you are OK. The more of an "expert" you are the more narrow your focus will be. If that is what you want, OK. But don't be driven into being a specialist when you want to be a generalist. Both have their places. If you want to be a generalist, you need to know when it is time to bring in a specialist.
Also, don't be caught by "Impostor Syndrome". The first time I saw this tear up someone, I didn't even know it had a name.
This is a hard situation and I’ve been there. The CCIE is fickle... it really doesn’t mean an expert as what you are being tested on doesn’t represent any design principle today... it’s a gut check and nothing more.
I almost look at it like a military tough-guy school. It’s not so much about applying what the CCIE teaches you as much as it demonstrates that you have “overcome the shitshow” and that you can handle almost any project in terms of stress and workload (not content) through research and testing. You almost have to put blinders on and just focus on the borderline stupid structure that is the CCIE.
It’s really hard to say that your job would or would not help you on your journey but for most it’s the latter.
Keep cracking on INE, Cisco365 labs, etc... you’ll get there! Remember, as long as you don’t stop, it’s not a matter of “if” you get your CCIE as much as “when” you get it!
In the end, the CCIE doesn’t mean you are an expert, and being an expert doesn’t mean you you’ll get your CCIE. It’s a badge of “yeah I did it.” That’s all.
Thank you for the reassuring words. It helped me a lot just to get over the mental block that I have been dealing with lately.
If it makes you any better, I didn't get my digits until 10 years into the field.
You just have to put in the yards and the LABBING. You have to be able to clear the INE and C360 full labs with your eyes closed in 4 hours. Then you know you're ready. Also TSHOOT dear god that is what fails most people. Your troubleshooting methodology has to be SPOT ON with each technology - you should be able to find the problem via drilling down 3-4 show commands - there is no time to log in and stare at multiple show runs hoping to spot the error.
Speed speed speed. Get your speed up. Read the scenarios top to bottom before you start a single conf t. Then notepad that shit in one pass e.g. setting up OSPF, might as well turn on ip mpls as well and run up your LDP in a single pass. etc. Also learn the famous TCL troubleshooting script where you basically ping everything from everything, run that constantly to make sure you haven't messed anything up and catch it right away.
Plus second time round you'll know exactly whats coming... its like you paid 1500USD for an official dump :) The details may change but the basic scenario is going to be the same.
I would say I agree 99%. I say that because I see A LOT of job postings that require a CCIE regardless of what is in the job description. So yes, in one way having a set of numbers is as you put it a "yes, it did it" badge but it also opens up a lot of doors for people.
CCIE is not needed to be an expert. Nowadays you need to be flexible. 😊
BINGO! Two months back, the company I work for fired a guy with a CCIE because he broke three distribution routers. Apparently, the guy never had experience with OSPF, but somehow held the CCIE.
It's known within the community that some ceritifcation centers allowed knowingly or unknowingly someone with false identity to take the LAB exam for you. I don't know how often this still happens, but I think Cisco is more diligent on that part now.
I made a brain excercise... think about a guy from Indian slum how life changing it is for him and his family to hold a certification that pretty much guarantees a high paing job. They are simply willing to take the risk and do whatever is necessary to achieve that. Knowledge and proficiency is secondary for such a mind set.
I've experienced such CCIE on a troubleshooting call. After I had to explain them basic routing principles I just gave it up, asked for a config from their side of the network and told him exactly what commands to execute in order to fix the problem. Few weeks later the guy didn't work at the company anymore, he got a better paying job in another company :)
Indeed, you are correct. One of my offshore head managers mentioned that in India the majority of certifications are paid to pass. He sums that over 90%+ of CCIE/CCNP did not take the exam but paid to had it passed. To be fair, USA and European companies rarely give core access, and most tasks are L1
True, honestly when I hear someone has a cert it increases my doubt into their ability.
If your an 3rd world outsourced IT with a CCIE I won't speak to you, burned so many hours, on pointless calls with "CCIE experts" in India.
I finally found some really good outsourced networking 1 guy from Korea and 1 Irish guy and 1 American that i can rely on in an emergency depending on the time. None have ccie's.
This is dumb.
But this I totally understand.
Home labs help.
Have any work books in mind apart from ine and narbik
Honestly I’ve never used or even heard of any. I mainly use YouTube and replicate what I use at work and add things to it. I really like PFSense, Sophos UTM, and ubiquity switches and AP’s.
Check out r/ccie. Tons of info about preparing for the CCIE. HTH.
Imposter syndrome, it's nothing new.
Personally, I live in fear the humans will discover I'm not one of them.
Oh they figured me out years ago.
6 years working as Linux admin here.
I still describe myself as/feel like a junior. There’s tons of shit I’ve never had to work with in a professional setting and I’m not sure how to “simulate” a lot of the stuff the field requires of senior level admins to learn on my own.
Networking for example is something I’ve never had to really touch outside of DNS (if that counts). I can’t write subnets or convert CIDR to save my life. The concepts just don’t click with me.
I have a similar story in the Linux field. After 6 years doing Linux alongside with some other stuff: monitoring, storage, networking, Windows level 1 support and practically every single technology in the company. At some point I got a job as a pure Linux sysadmin and had the same feeling you are describing in your first paragraph. Mastering anything in life takes time and you are probably better at it than you think.
That's why we have subnet calculators I use them too.
Don't worry about converting cidr, just know what it is and maybe memorize a couple of regulars /8 /16 /22 /24 /30 /32
DNS does not count as networking please stop escalating DNS questions to me, it's getting fucking annoying. (Not directed at you)
You have been working with linux for 6 years, congrats your now a senior linux admin. Never call yourself junior again, you can doubt yourself once per day, but you must never say it out loud.
Look up some reference architectures and build them as close as possible in a lab, use VMware or some other virtualization.
I’ve been working with Linux in junior type positions.
Like I said, there’s more stuff I haven’t done/learned than stuff that I have.
I have no experience patching, packaging software, deploying software to a farm, etc. all the things admins should be doing have all been done by top senior level admins (architects, really) at the places I’ve worked.
I can feel the self doubt in your words. You seem to think that those guys have some magic power or know something you dont.
At one point someone asked them to package an app and they said "ok sure" then they googled how to do it and just did it.
You may not do it 100% perfact your first go, but your second time will be better and by your third time, your an expert. That's how IT works, never say you can't or you dont know.
I'm not sure how to update linux either but you can probably Google "centrally manage linux updates" and get a ton of information.
I dont work with linux at all except the rare occasion of a virtual appliance malfunctioning but I would be willing to a tell a client t I can do all of stuff you mentioned without missing a beat.
DNS does not count as networking
Maybe not, maybe voice doesn't either, but it often falls under our domain.
Only in Cisco world, and I have access to fix some phone stuff, I dont usually have access to domain controllers DNS servers.
I dont usually have access to domain controllers DNS servers.
That's where DNS often lives, but in my current role we use Infoblox and are responsible for it.
No windows domain? Your a service provider?
Windows Domain yes, service provider no. Infoblox is the only DNS solution approved by Microsoft other than their own.
I have 10 years in networking now and I'm still never the smartest person in the room. But that's OK since there are new technologies coming out every year with networking so everyone starts at square 1 when something new comes out.
Also I think I mentioned this earlier, but certifications are good when youre starting out, but certs don't hold that much weight anymore in your mid to senior level. I would take someone with more experience than someone who has more certs. Also Cisco certs have devalued a lot in the past few years bc theres so many vendors out there and limiting yourself to one vendor is not going your company or customers any good.
I know the people with Cisco certs ALWAYS recommend Cisco products even when there are other alternatives that are half the price. Kind of cult-ish.
I've held my CCNA for about 8 years now, and worked on my CCNP (had to retake a test because it timed out). My last job, I was THE wireless guy, with about 4000 access points. I really didn't do crap with our wired side of the net, or firewall, or VPN. Being the "expert" on wifi was nice to really only have to manage one big system, but the scope of all of these things inside the tests don't really hit in the day to day.
At my current job, I have less than 100 APs but manage WAN/SDWAN/multiple firewalls, VoIP... you name it, I have to dabble in it. As most people say, you're going to get there with experience if you keep learning and fixing things. Don't stagnate.
I don't ever plan on getting my CCIE, but I'm ok with that.
The wireless guy.... I'm very jealous. I've been trying to find a network engineer position that will give me wireless exposure as that's where I ultimately want to be.
It's a cool space to be in. There are a lot of different mentalities, some places (and network admins) seem to think it's completely irrelevant and worthless, other places think it's critical. The guy I replaced here did not take care of it, said it "wasn't reliable," and told people such. Yeah, when you run 12 year old wireless APs that are well past their prime, it isn't going to provide the bandwidth and functions modern tech needs.
I have always been Cisco. Hospitals and a lot of Cisco shops gravitate towards Cisco. I am putting Merakis in my remote offices now.
Starting off, I ran WiSMs with about 400 APs, and went from there. Wireless is getting more complex. Clients ultimately get to choose what AP they join, so we have to steer them with various methods to keep connections up.
Don't be jealous though, get your cert. The CCNA Wireless is pretty easy to get if you already have your CCNA. CCNP is a bit more work but doable. Not that I have mine ;)
I dont have a CCIE. Im still up in the air about getting it merely for the achievement but I dont feel it makes you an expert. IMO getting the CCNP R&S puts you where you need to be than branching out to more specific topics makes you the expert. I put alot of time into learning things like BGP, QoS, Design, VoIP, Wireless, Security. It made me really well rounded and I can handle just about anything that gets in my way in my current organization and in my previous one. I do some consultating on the side and this usually covers most small, medium sized business needs as well. Getting the CCIE wont do that for me.
12 years now for me I think, maybe 13, to early for math. I am not sure I will ever be able to feel like an expert, solely because things are always changing in our field. Its one of the main reasons I still do this. Always something new to learn if you burned out of one area. I do believe however you can maintain expertish knowledge for a foundation. So long as you can understand the way things are supposed to work and have a solid troubleshooting, design methodology, you can usualy figure out things in a relatively quick and sufficient manner.
Of course you are not the only one. Bear in mind most certifications are pretty tricky as you need to have previous field experience and need to be good managing the time while taking the exam, not to mention that the logic behind the questions is sometimes twisted and re-twisted. Many IT pros don’t pass the first exam of their certifications because of this. If you didn’t pass the exam the first time, that doesn’t mean you are less professional.
I don’t know how old you are, but don’t get frustrated just because of this. I think I can speak for many others, including myself, who failed to obtain a certificate in the first try. Keep studying, keep working, stay positive and don’t punish yourself. Hard work ends up paying!
I'm 33 years old
Had a friend who worked for Cisco for years, got 4 free exam attempts at his IE so went for his RS. Was studying hard and attempted / failed 3 times over 2 years. Ended up going for his DC IE instead on his final free attempt and got that.
I’m studying for my CCNP R&S, but if I do go for a CCIE it will be a while. I’m planning on aiming for my F5 certifications, Junos certs, CISSP, and several other certs. Branching out will benefit me more in the long run is what I’m discovering. We have several engineers that are specialized and when it gets outside of their AOR, they’re stumped. I’ve got experience to know the other technologies so I can keep troubleshooting at that point.
CCIE or even CCNP does not make one an expert.
Networking at least as I run into it has changed from almost all cisco to almost no cisco. I see a ton of other layer 2/3 companies out in the wild. Most of the time for me its Aruba, Brocade, Adtran and the odd Juniper. Cisco has priced themselves out of a lot of companies.
Dont get me wrong full stack Cisco can be nice but most companies now a days cant afford it. Dont get me started on the dumpster fire that is ASA.
Cisco certifications used to hold a lot more weight than they do now. There's so many other vendors out there that you're doing yourself a disservice by having certifications and only one vendor. It's better to have a lot of General networking knowledge
How meaningful is the CCIE anymore? I know twenty years ago it was practically a license to print money but after 50,000 people have achieved it can it really hold much value?
Has the world ever needed that many Cisco "experts"? Now with virtualization, cloud computing, and higher switch density leading to a reduction in the amount of networking gear needed in many environments it seems to me that chasing that certification is a poor allocation of time and resources. Not to mention the rampart cheating that goes on in many countries where security isn't taken very seriously.
If you are talking about the lab it is tough. Depends on how far you were from passing. You need a combination of knowledge, speed, accuracy and a bit of luck. To pass you should be able to troubleshoot lots of scenarios quickly. The core technologies such as MPLS with layers is where you will need to be very good. I could build an MPLS topology with 8 - 10 routers from the ground up in 10-15 minutes when I passed my exam. Be very good on the core techs and after not passing realistically figure out why you did not. Were you good enough on the core technologies? Could you troubleshoot scenarios quickly and accurately enough?
I always find this funny.. a brand new ccie gets hired at a company and the boss is like yeah, I'm gonna need that mpls network built across the country in 15mins..
That is a single example of the level of expertise. In being able to build MPLS that quickly you also know how to troubleshoot it (also a relevant skill for the exam). The networking world is becoming more complex as is the exam. When I did escalation for networking issues knowing the underlying mechanisms how things worked and to quickly resolve them is a useful skill. Some people might not think so... My company has been trying to hire for two positions that were security CCIE's for months... and you know what not a single engineer without the cert has been close to the ones they are replacing...
no one is an expert in everything, but alot focus on certain technologies.
i feel im always behind the curve, but deal with cisco firewalls all day but i feel like crap when i dont know how to configure say qos
It doesn't really matter how many years of experience you have, it matters what that experience is.
I've known people who have worked 20+ years as a contractor in a NOC. They might be one of the best people in that NOC and very familiar with their backbone, but when you analyze their skills and knowledge you realize they don't actually know networking, they know various "sacred commands" passed down to them, and who to to kick a ticket over to depending on what the command shows.
Meanwhile the guy who worked for a VAR for 2-3 years and set up and replaced entire networks for multiple companies is way more useful experience than that NOC guy.
when you start to feel you're an expert, is when you probably need to quit. as long as you're learning something everyday, you have value to give. there aren't very many CCIE's, relatively speaking.
My friend once told me that it takes 1.5 years to study for the CCIE and 1.5 years to learn the test. That test is about time management in a lot of ways, there are things in there to make you waste time.
Routers, switches and firewalls. Network blogs, news and network management articles. Cisco, Juniper, Brocade and more all welcome.