How I Prepared for CCIE Storage

Many people have asked me for some details on how I prepared for CCIE Storage.  If you read my blog from the beginning, you will get a pretty good idea, as I documented most of my journey.  However, here is some more information.

Books I read:

Storage Networking Fundamentals

Designing Storage Area Networks

The Fibre Channel Bench Reference

Storage Networking Protocol Fundamentals

In addition to reading these actual printed books, I did extensive reading on

Cisco SAN-OS 3.x Cookbook

Cisco MDS 3.x Configuration Guides

Many Links on my Wiki

I regularly read and posted to two major community / blog sites:

Cisco NetPro Discussion Forums – Storage Networking

CCIE Storage Networking Study Group – The Cisco Learning Network

I also did numerous trainings which were available to me as an employee of a Cisco partner, available on Cisco’s Partner e-learning Connection (PEC).  These are accessed by those eligible at

These e-learnings included many hours of study including:

  • Deploying the Cisco MDS 9000 Generation 2
  • MDS 9506 and MDS 9216I New Product Introduction
  • Cisco MDS 9124 Fabric Switch – QLM
  • MDS 9000 SAN OS 3.2 QLM
  • MDS 9000 SAN OS 3.2 QLM (Downloadable)
  • Evolution of Storage Solutions – SAN – Course 01 – Accelerate (SE)
  • Practical Applications of Storage Networking – SAN – Course 02 – Accelerate (SE)
  • Network Attached (NAS) Concepts – SAN – Course 03 – Accelerate (SE)
  • Storage Area Network (SAN) Concepts – SAN – Course 04 – Accelerate (SE)
  • Fibre Concepts and Session Management – SAN – Course 05 – Accelerate (SE)
  • Fibre Channel SAN Architecture – SAN – Course 06 – Accelerate (SE)
  • Storage Network Solutions – SAN – Course 07 – Accelerate (SE)
  • Storage Network Management – SAN – Course 08 – Accelerate (SE)
  • Tuning and Troubleshooting Storage Network Solutions – SAN – Course 10 – Accelerate (SE)

There were also three very good classes on PEC, which also helped me to gain the Cisco Data Center Storage Networking Design Specialist and Cisco Data Center Storage Networking Support Specialist certifications.  These were the following:

  • Designing Cisco Storage Networking Solutions (DCSNS) v4.0
  • Implementing Cisco Storage Networking Solutions (ICSNS) v4.0
  • Implementing Advanced Cisco Storage Networking Solutions (IASNS) v4.0

For those of you who are not members of Cisco or a Cisco partner, these courses are available for purchase from many Cisco Learning Partners, such as FireFly Communications.  I also did a small 2 day class from FireFly which was provided for free as a cooperation between FireFly, Cisco and HP.  It was basically a very basic crash course in MDS configuration, but it included actual labs and was pretty good when I was starting out.

PEC also had (and I believe they are getting these all back online), many online labs, using actual Cisco MDS equipment.  I spent a lot of time doing these, especially before I had equipment of my own, the labs were as follows:

  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 01 – Initial Switch Configuration
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 02 – Accessing Fibre Channel-Attached Disks
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 03 – Configuring High-Availability SAN Extension
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 04 – Configuring IVR for SAN Extension
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 05 – Quick Start Switch Configuration
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 06 – Configuring Call Home
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 07 – Creating VSANs
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 08 – Configuring Interfaces
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 09 – Configuring Zones
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 10 – Configuring PortChannels
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 11 – Implementing an FCIP Tunnel
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 12 – Configuring FCIP High Availability
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 13 – Implementing IVR for SAN Extension
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 14 – Tuning FCIP Performance
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 15 – Using SPAN and the Cisco Port Analyzer Adapter
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 16 – Upgrading Switch Software
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 17 – Challenge Lab
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 18 – Using Advanced Fabric Services
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 19 – Implementing IVR
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 20 – Implementing Management VSANs
  • SAN-OS 3.0.2 LAB 21 – Monitoring Health and Performance

This was all mostly in preparation for the CCIE Storage written exam, which I failed on my first attempt.  I read the CLI Configuration Guide a few times, and took 50 pages of notes, studied them hard, and then was successful in passing.  The written exam is no joke.

The most important thing I did in studying for the lab, was building my own lab, which I talk about in detail in my blog, and purchasing ieMentor CCIE Storage Training.  I purchased the Walkthrough book and Workbook Bundle in Color.  This was fantastic.  I built my lab to mimic their lab setup and I just went to town, doing at least 800 hours of lab study on the equipment.  Master Lab 2 is particularly challenging, and if you can pass that lab, then your definitely at the “expert” level.

I also read a few of the Redbooks over at IBM such as:

Implementing the Cisco MDS 9000 in an Intermix FCP, FCIP, and FICON Environment

Cisco FICON Basic Implementation

FICON Native Implementation and Reference Guide

I also read all the Cisco Networkers presentations.  They are pretty similar from year to year, but if you have the ones from any of the last few years they should be pretty good.  Many are sessions on Design, Troubleshooting, SAN Extension, etc.  In order to get these you would have had to been a member at Cisco Networkers, or purchased their Online access, or know someone that has these PDF’s.

This is basically the bulk of what I studied.  A lot of it is the same information just presented differently.  Pretty much all you need to know is in the Configuration Guides and Command Reference (as far as Lab preparation).  For written, obviously you need more theory, and for that there are many books such as those I listed above.  If you are using similar trainings for study, please post them here in this thread so others can know about them and benefit.

Best of luck to you with your journey to CCIE Storage Networking!

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