CCIE is devalued? Get real.

My favorite provocateur has dreamed up another sensational story ... and even has numbers to back it up. Reverse engineering the increase in reported number of CCIEs and taking in account the estimated number of seats in Cisco's labs worldwide, he concluded that the pass rate for CCIE R/S is currently at 35% whereas in the past the rumors claimed it was only around 10%. The conclusions in the story should not surprise you ... it must be the braindumps and the devaluing of the CCIE program. Of course it's the braindumps: people like Petr Lapukhov, Jeremy Stretch, Arden Packeer, Joe Harris and tens of others (including yours truly) are dumping the contents of their gray cell matter into blogs and wikis, creating astounding amount of information that we've never got from Cisco in the past.

The CCIE preparation programs also cover an enormous amount of scenarios and variations, giving you lots of material to practice (BTW, when I was teaching CCIE preparation bootcamps 15 years ago, the pass rate of my students was over 90% as I simply forced them to configure all the possible stupidities Cisco IOS could do at that time). The tests don't have to get any easier; the participants (if the calculations are correct) are simply better prepared. Whether the increased number of CCIEs results in the perceived devaluing of the program is another question (remember: the supply/demand rules), but I am absolutely sure that people passing CCIE lab exam these days know approximately as much as those passing it two or three years ago.

Of course you could argue whether someone who did tens (or sometimes hundreds) of scenarios in his lab and then passed the CCIE test is an expert or a braindump cheater (let's wait for the first blog post that claims that), but I doubt anyone is able to remember so many recipes and apply the correct one without a profound understanding of the underlying issues.

9 comments:

  1. Great article. The CCIE is not devalued IMHO. The amount of work, dedication, preparation, time and money as well as other resources to obtain this certification is very high. I agree there are brain dumps for both the written and labs (I heard there are courses in China that you sit for a month for the price of USD 10,000.00 and that will guarantee you a CCIE certification) but all those will not be relevant in the real world. Would we employ a CCIE who only knows questions 1,2,3 on the dumps and not how to actually solve them? The answer is obvious :-)

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  2. I'm just starting my CCIE journey and this is a great post. IMHO, braindumps at the CCIE level are totally irrelevant. Like nickelby said, in an interview it will become quickly apparent who the prepared and experienced CCIE's are.

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  3. Tom Hollingsworth14 August, 2008 17:53

    Okay, I'll admit it. I 'braindumped' my first practical exam...my driver's test. I got the blueprint and made sure I knew all the scenarios. I talked to people who had taken the test and knew what the 'gotchas' were. And then I cheated by going out in a car and practiced parallel parking and parking on a hill until I felt comfortable and knew I could do it right. Then I went in and passed. When the time came to parallel park, I was nervous because I wasn't parking between a blue car and a red truck like I practiced, but I knew the basic procedure, so I felt I could do it.

    When you put it into that kind of context, it does sound kind of silly, but the basic premise is the same. If you have the blueprint for the exam and you practice all the combinations of things you might see, then you should know the material well enough to pass. Even if you don't get the blue car/red truck in your lab exam.

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  4. I agree with your comments. Reese puts SOME useful info together, but quite often the speculation is rampant and clearly designed as "poke Cisco in the eye" fodder. Not sure what the point is with that.

    The funny thing is that I think the guy actually has an idea of what us CCIE "Suckers" go through to get there.

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  5. The CCIE certification is less mysterious now that bloggers and training vendors have made mastery of the required material accessible. It is possible with little "real world" experience to earn the CCIE designation.

    When you get down to it, that's all the griping is really about. Holding the CCIE title doesn't mean quite what it used to, because it's easier to get at. There's not as much pride in being a CCIE, because there's a decent chance that you work alongside someone with their own digits.

    Does that mean the CCIE is devalued? Only if demand for CCIE talent is flat. My understanding from the various recruiters that contact me is that demand for CCIEs still exceeds the number of CCIEs available. The six-figure base salaries back that up.

    I sorely wish we had another CCIE in-house. I could keep him as busy as I am myself.

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  6. @Anonymous #2: The Reese's point is simple, it's evident at the end of every post: "http://www.BradReese.Com
    Search 3,110 current Cisco CCIE Job openings worldwide."

    He's generating dubious publicity to promote his web site.

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  7. IMHO CCIE isn't what it used to be. Most people passing the lab nowadays are non-experts. And you can easily find people with 2 or more CCIE designations at your work place. Double CCIEs were a rare commodity during the golden years.

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  8. Ok-

    Where do you work that you think double CCIE's are... common.

    They are not that common.

    A double CCIE is Security/Voice in my town in Orlando is being sought for between $150-200k per year.

    Send those doubles the news.

    I just took a call from another recruiter for another CCIE Job in a neighboring city.

    I just intereviewed for two CCIE-Level positions this past month or two.

    I was considered for 2 others after I had already accepted a position.

    No - I have to say that CCIE's are in demand.

    Those who think the knowledge is being saturated probably have not yet taken the time to get sit and take the CCIE Lab yet.

    It's just not quite as easy as people make it out to be.

    Not that anyone who ever passed ever called it "easy" in the first place.

    Don't think I right. Find me and contact me, I'll throw a few scenarios at you that I've found interesting over the years, let's see if you think they are easy.

    Better yet go to a CCIE Training company and fork over a few dollars $100-250 for a graded exam and see how you fare.

    Now if it is that easy you'll pass with flying covers.

    I've known people who take those exams and could not tell how many devices were in the lab.

    ... It's not quite as easy as it looks. Trust me from friend.

    The Value of the CCIE is still the best around.

    Now many people passing today have had the benefit of a decade of vendors who only made higher quality products and the blogs and wiki's are a higher quality than was ever seen back in the day.

    The CCIE's of yesteryear did not have as much detail to worry with that today's CCIE's do. Granted thay had more technologies in some respects and they had to actually come up with an ip schmeme and even cabling their own rack.

    Today's CCIE's have some of the fiercest scenarios that really tax the technology.

    Don't believe me... I've got the CCIE Bootcamp from ECP1 and ECP2 from over 10 years ago.

    I've been to the bootcamps for NMC-1 and NMC-2 today.

    Similar material. Similar technologies.

    However, A well-prepared CCNA can do well on the labs from ECP1/ECP2 in a modern context.

    A well-prepared CCIE Candidate can choke easily on NMC-1/NMC-2 or any of their CheckIT Labs.

    It's true.

    The level of difficulty is enourmous compared to that required in the past when VLSM was classful/classless routing was the challenging topic of the day and split-horizon was a one of the nastier beasts seen in a lab.

    The IOS is more feature-rich today.


    Starting to get the picture?

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  9. I'm a CCIE in Security and i would say it's not easy to be a CCIE.It needs a lot of dedication,luck and hardwork.Once you become a CCIE the expectation gets changed and always you have to be on Top.

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Ivan Pepelnjak, CCIE#1354, is the chief technology advisor for NIL Data Communications. He has been designing and implementing large-scale data communications networks as well as teaching and writing books about advanced technologies since 1990. See his full profile, contact him or follow @ioshints on Twitter.