The “Sometimes the path is more important than the destination” post has generated numerous highly interesting comments. I already planned to write about some of the issues raised by the readers (certification grind mill) or wrote about others (knowledge or recipes), so I’ll skip those and focus on the other interesting bits-and-pieces (but please make sure you read the original post first).
In reality, at the lower levels of certifications, knowledge is limited anyway. It’s only at CCIE+ that knowledge comes into its own with or without the cert and that means several yrs of experience and learning down the scenic route.
I have to disagree. The medium-level certifications (CCIP, CCNP) have topics where knowing how things work definitely helps you. Just to give you an example: if a student manages to walk from a BSCI class (or reading equivalent book) without being able to explain how OSPF computes the cost of a distant IP prefix (but still knowing all the answers by heart), something is wrong with the course materials (or the book), the teacher, the student or the certification process (this is a multiple-choice question that includes »all of the above« answer :). Likewise, if a CCNP cannot describe TCP port number selection and session setup process, something is wrong (if nothing else, you need this knowledge to create sensible ACLs in some scenarios).
The fact is that even CCIE level BGP is not enough to design an Internet policy.
Of course. To start with, CCIE is not a design course; but if someone has designed an Internet policy and a CCIE cannot implement it, we have a problem. You're also mixing apples and oranges. Passing a driver exam does not mean you can get from point A to point B in the middle of the night without directions; you need further experience to do that.
QOS learned for CCxP and CCIE is not enough to be able to build a multiservice backbone with tight SLAs.
Absolutely agree. Read the previous answer.
Where is inter-as MPLS and MPLS TE (and reasons for tactical vs strategic) in the certifications?
The certifications have to stop somewhere. Are you sure that there are so many networks out there using Inter-AS MPLS TE that it should be included in the certification process? If everyone with a pet technology (or solution or product) would be able to get their topics into a certification course, they would become horrendous. Unfortunately it happens every now and then … and then you can see a superficial module in an otherwise well-designed course.
I would suggest you redefine your definition of advanced because up to CCIE level OSPF/ISIS et al are to intermediate level and moreover, pretty much implementation.
The certification folks at Cisco should yell »Hooray, we did it!« You've just described their goals. But knowing how things work nonetheless helps you at the intermediate level as well.
You are saying that BGP is an advanced topic per-se. I am saying that BGP can be basic, medium and advanced.
If we really want to go nitpicking: like any other technology BGP is basic, medium and advanced, but the basic BGP is probably at the same level as intermediate OSPF.
I am of the opinion that I will never truly understand some things until I really do them.
I couldn't agree more. But if you don't have the underlying theoretical knowledge, you will not be able to understand what's going on anyway. The cavemen were not able to understand solar eclipses even though they saw the same thing we do.
And the remark I liked best:
Why does it feel like Cisco asks you questions on exams in the most vague way possible.
Because that's one of the ways to make a too-simple test more complex. Writing good exam questions is tough (more about that in an upcoming post) and sometimes writers take dubious shortcuts.