CCIE Storage Written Passed!

On 4/2/2010 I have finally passed the CCIE Storage Written exam, re-certifying my CCIE R&S and making me a candidate for the lab.  I obviously cannot talk about any details of the test, but I will give some advise that may help you be prepared.

First off, the test is not easy.  This can be expected as this is a CCIE exam, which is designed to test expert level knowledge in storage networking.  I first attempted the written exam over 9 months ago and did not pass.  I was really set back by not passing.  I had never failed a CCIE level exam before.  So what I did was study with a vengeance and really up my game, hitting the books and equipment extra hard.

The main texts for study included:

The Fibre Channel Bench Reference

Designing Storage Area Networks

Cisco MDS 9000 Family CLI Configuration Guide, Release 3.x

Cisco MDS 9000 Family Command Reference

Cisco MDS Cookbook Release 3.1

Storage Networking Protocol Fundamentals

Storage Networking Fundamentals

These were not the only things I have read.  I will try to expand the Links section on this website to include many other place on the Internet where you can read about Fibre Channel and Cisco Storage Networking.

Because I work for a Cisco Partner, I have access to other educational resources on Cisco’s Partner E-learning Connection, and went through the courses of DCSNS, ICSNS and IASNS.  If you are not a Cisco Partner you can still take these courses from a Cisco learning partner, but there would be a fee.

At first, studying for the Cisco Storage CCIE can be a bit deceiving.  It would seem that all of the commands and configuration is on a single device, the Cisco MDS.  The amount of features available on this platform is amazing.  There is much to learn. To give you an idea of just how difficult this test is, here is a letter from Joe Ploehn, Storage CCIE #17658:

I am a Storage Networking CCIE, #17658 having passed the lab exam on my second attempt on 3/29/2007.

I originally passed the Storage Written exam back on 3/17/2006 and at that time only took 3 months worth of studying before I took and passed the exam on my first attempt.  I attended a great Cisco training class that prepared me well for storage networking.

Last year as I was approaching my CCIE recert deadline I took the new, updated Storage CCIE written exam four times from November 2008 through March 2009 failing every time.  I studied, studied, and studied some more and came very close a couple of times but just could not get a passing score.

My CCIE went inactive and I found myself on a long term project.  I heard March 2010 coming quickly so I decided to take my holidays and make 1 finall push to get the Storage Written exam passed once and for all.  I am happy to report that I finally passed the exam, reactivating my CCIE.  Now since 3/29/2010 has come and gone, I get to pass it again 6 months after I passed it in November so that I can make it count.

What finally pushed me over the top?  Hands on work with the 4Gb and 8Gb MDS equipment plus a couple of very complex Cisco MDS implementation projects allowed me to really get deep into storage networking once again and that was what I needed the whole time.  If you don’t use it you will lose it and that is what happened to me from 2008 to 2009.  Now I have many Cisco MDS projects planned for my customers and I am confident I will pass the written exam a third time sometime in May.

Practice, practice, and more practice with the equipment is my secret (besides the book studies of course) to passing the written exam.  I am after all a hands on learner as I have found out recently!


Basically, like any CCIE written exam, you want to look at the information on Cisco’s website for CCIE Storage Networking for what information to study for the written exam.  Know everything, study it over and over, and you will be closer to your pursuit.  I have taken many CCIE written exam’s to re-certify my CCIE, and I can tell you there is nothing easy about this test.  I am just glad that I can finally not worry about passing the written anymore and put all of my time into working configurations on the equipment to prepare for the storage lab.

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