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...
Routers, switches and firewalls. Network blogs, news and network management articles. Cisco, Juniper, Brocade and more all welcome.