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CCDE – Study Group, Anyone?

689 Words. Plan about 4 minute(s) to read this.

After being cajoled by Russ White and others to go after the Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) certification, I’m going down that road. There’s many reasons for this.

  1. Finding success in the CCIE program back in 2008 convinced me that nothing is out of reach, assuming proper study and self-discipline.
  2. The CCDE is not Cisco-specific in the way that many other Cisco certifications can be. The program purports to teach vendor agnostic network design principles. This is what I want.
  3. I am more interested in design and architecture than I am in implementation and operations at this point. I’ve been doing both for a long time. While I don’t want to walk away from the equipment, I do want to get my brain opened up to new approaches building networks. I’ve become myopic, and it bothers me a lot. I want my ingrained patterns to be challenged.
  4. I have just under 12 months to recertify my CCIE. This is my third recertification cycle. The last two, I’ve done at the last minute by recertifying with the CCIE routing and switching 350-001 exam. The CCDE written also recertifies a CCIE, so I’ve got lots of incentive to at least get the 352-001 CCDE written exam passed.
  5. I’m getting to a point in my personal life where I can see more freedom to travel and consult coming. Right now, I am Dad to two kids, and so I’ve been loathe to travel or consider consulting engagements. Instead, I’ve stuck to day jobs where I can be home more or less predictably. While my kids will still be at home for a few more years, they are getting old enough now where I can start thinking about what’s next for my career. Being a CCDE titleholder along with CCIE will, I believe, open up interesting opportunities to participate in projects I might not have been considered for otherwise.
  6. I sincerely love networking (still), and don’t have any interest in doing anything else. There’s so much more to learn and know, as well as ways to contribute to the community. I see the CCDE as a way to get deeper into the belly of the beast.

Despite all of those very good reasons to go after CCDE, I believe that the program will be a challenge for me to complete.

  1. Time is a big problem right now. I have, effectively, two jobs. My day job is as a global network engineer on a small team, where there’s a lot of work to be done and no one I can delegate to (although I’m working with the new guy, and my boss helps out when he’s not in his fifteenth meeting of the day). I’m responsible for all of the backroom infrastructure – routing, switching, security, LAN, WAN, wireless, optimization, load-balancing, etc. Some weeks are mercifully quiet. Some weeks are intense. It’s a full-time job, to be sure. My other job involves creating content for the networking industry. I write for trade magazines, create and produce podcasts, edit a community networking blog, and also do much of the accounting work related to the business, among other things. There’s quite a lot to it. Between the two jobs, I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to make CCDE work. Yet.
  2. My background is that of an enterprise network architect and engineer. I have done nothing in the service provider space. Therefore, I’ve got some challenges in that there’s certain technologies at play I’ve never had occasion to use, and certain architectural problems I’ve never had to think through. Then again, that’s a big part of the point of going through the CCDE program. I want to get a handle on aspects of network design I’ve not done previously.

All of that said, I’m interested in forming (or participating in) a CCDE study group. I’m not sure how such a study group would work or make sense as yet. But I want to explore the option as a way to enforce progress in study, and discussion of CCDE practical issues. If you’re serious about the CCDE program and are similarly interested, contact me via

Ethan Banks writes & podcasts about IT, new media, and personal tech.
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