I've been very busy lately with projects at work and preparing for my CCIE lab. Well I'm back with sad news... I failed my first attempt at CCIE Lab Security.
It's very frustrating since I worked very hard for it and used up a significant amount of my savings. But I guess that's life, win some, lose some.
Here are lessons learnt. This are things I should have done:
1. Really understand the technology behind the configurations. You must know it enough that you won't be thrown off if you encounter an unfamiliar topology or troubleshooting an obscure issue.
2. Really understand the output of relevant show commands. Will really help in troubleshooting and verifying the requirements asked.
3. Do not rely on the lab workbooks. I can say that the workbook I bought was very helpful in brushing me up on the basics of the various security topics. But it is not enough! I don't think any vendors workbook will be enough as a single source to prepare for the CCIE. So my action plan to prepare for my second attempt is to make my own lab scenarios built on top of the labs in the workbook. I believe I would have had a better chance of passing the first time if I continued studying beyond what is in my workbook.
4. Learn to organize your thoughts during the exam. Draw lots of diagram on the papers provided. What I did was isolate each sections into separate diagram. Make sure you include the transit devices in your diagram. It will aid you in spotting issues before you attempt to configure the devices. Some people write down the L2 reachability and routing in tables but I didn't see the need for that (since I was taking the CCIE Security track).
5. Learn to relax during the exam. I haven't figured out how to do this yet. I can tell you I've never been under that much stress for a while since my university days. The first 4 hours before the lunch break was hell. I almost want to give up and jump out the window :) But I managed to loosen up a bit after the lunch break. I think I managed to figure out and answer more during the second half of my lab. So I guess stress management is important here.
All in all, it was good experience for me. As they say, you learn more from your mistakes. And besides, I had the perfect excuse to travel to Brussels and Amsterdam ;)