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Well, Now What?

by Jeremy L. Gaddis on September 29, 2010 · 7 comments

in Certification

At the end of July I passed the Cisco Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks (BSCI) examination, the last of four to earn the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification. I recently found myself wondering, “Well, now what?”

A year ago, if you asked me what my plans were after completing the CCNP the obvious answer would have been “CCIE, of course”. Now, though, I’m not so sure.

Over the last few years, I’ve followed along (through the “blogosphere” and via Twitter) with a number of folks as they attained the prestigious Cisco CCIE certification and I’ve seen just how much hard work and dedication it takes to get there. Arguably, I know myself better than anyone else, and I just don’t think I’m cut out for it. Do I want to spend the majority of my “free time” over the next year or two reading all the necesary books and sitting, hunkered down in my home lab, next to a rack full of routers and switches?

Three or four months ago, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to attempt completing the CCNP. In January, a new curriculum was announced and, at that point, I still needed to pass the BSCI and ONT exams. After some thought, I decided that the CCNP had been a long-term goal of mine and that I should at least give it my best attempt. Fortunately, I managed to pass the ONT exam and then the BSCI just before the July 31st deadline.

Instead of continuing down the obvious path toward the CCIE, I think I’m going to make a slight detour. While evaluating my options, the BGP and MPLS exams in the CCIP Certification jumped out at me. I really enjoy working with BGP and have previously written several articles on BGP. I find MPLS truly fascinating, from a technical standpoint. If I were to take and pass the BGP and MPLS exams, only the QoS exam would stand between me and the CCIP, so I’d feel obligated to do that too.

So, at this point, I think I’m going to dive headfirst into BGP. I know the basics (enough to pass BSCI anyway!) and have the equipment to lab up just about any scenario I could come up with. That, of course, means I get to again write up some technical “how to” posts on BGP. I have a tentative goal of completing it by the end of the year (I could likely do it quicker, but I procrastinate a lot). By then, winter will have set in here which means I’ll be home more and, as a result, have more time to completely jump into MPLS and all that it entails (L2VPNs, L3VPNs, and Traffic Engineering, for instance).

That said, If anyone wants to throw any suggestions my way regarding reading/study materials, lab scenarios, etc., I’m all ears!

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