CCIE Recertification changes

Prior to June 6 2017 a person with a CCIE certification had been required to pass any CCIE Written exam every two years in order to re-certify and keep their CCIE active (excluding Emeritus). Cisco have announced an alternative method to re-certify which allows for an existing CCIE to avoid sitting another Written exam for the purpose of re-certification.

In a nutshell there are Cisco-approved training courses that can be taken that count for credits and if you get enough credits by the time you are due to re-certify, then you are good to go and don’t need to pass a Written exam. There is an administration fee of $300 in order to do this.

For full details of the “Cisco Continuing Education Program” click here.

What does this mean? My opinion is if you are a CCIE and work for a company that sends you on a lot of approved Cisco training courses then this is great. You can use the benefit of the training that you are doing and throw in some sessions at Cisco Live and voila- you have re-certified.

If you are not one of those folks who regularly attend Cisco-approved training and learn on the job and via google then you are probably not about to drop $5K to sit Cisco-approved training specifically to re-certify and you are more likely to continue passing a Written exam every couple of years.

Vik Malhi, CCIE#13890
Twitter: @vikmalhi

Upcoming CCIE Collaboration Classes

With the anticipation of a blueprint change in the future, our CCIE Collaboration boot camps are filling up fast!  Let Vik Malhi help you achieve your goal by joining him at one of our upcoming boot camps.

We have select seats remaining in the following classes:

CollabCert ILT

July 10th – 14th, 2017 – San Jose, CA
August 21st – 24th, 2017 – San Jose, CA

CollabCert Lab Workshop

April 24th – 28th, 2017 – San Jose, CA
June 19th – 23rd, 2017 – San Jose, CA
July 17th – 21st, 2017 – San Jose, CA
August 28th – September 1st, 2017 – San Jose, CA
September 11th – September 15th, 2017 – Birmingham, UK

We will be adding Q4 dates to our schedule at a later time as we await any potential changes in the CCIE Collaboration Lab Exam.

Interested in one of these dates? Don’t hesitate to sign up as seating is VERY limited.  Email for more details and promotions.

Jan/Feb 2017 CCIE Successes

As we all hold our breath in anticipation of a new blueprint update for the CCIE Collaboration track, plenty of people have had great success on CCIE Collab v1 in the first two months of 2017. Here are some of our passing students from class. Huge congrats!

Please see our latest testimonials here.

  • Ollie Young – CCIE #55836 (Collaboration)
  • Ahmed Al-Khadar – CCIE #55833 (Collaboration)
  • Bill Donovan – CCIE #55817 (Collaboration)
  • Francisco Fossa – CCIE #55749 (Collaboration)
  • Wisam Ismael – CCIE #55720 (Collaboration)
  • Finn Sandholm – CCIE #55714 (Collaboration)
  • Lloyd Tadena – CCIE #55696 (Collaboration)
  • Nyan Win – CCIE #55589 (Collaboration)
  • Ruben Rojas – CCIE #55530 (Collaboration)
  • Deepak Mehta – CCIE #55529 (Collaboration)
  • Sundar Pandian – CCIE #55500 (Collaboration)
  • Seifeddine Tlili – CCIE #26440 (RS, Collaboration)
  • Eduardo Rossettini – CCIE #24505 (RS, Collaboration)

Vik Malhi, CCIE#13890
Twitter: @vikmalhi

Routing Protocol for Low Power and Lossy Networks

Routing Protocol for Low power and Lossy networks

In this article we shall take a high-level look at an IoT protocol called RPL (pronounced ripple). The long-winded name is Routing Protocol for low power and lossy networks (LLN). Candidates sitting any CCIE Written exam should have some exposure to this protocol as part of the Evolving Technologies section that was added to all CCIE Written exams in July 2016.

Imagine a network of sensors monitoring noise or heat inside a building. All these sensors are continuously transmitting data wirelessly. It doesn’t make sense if you have to replace the battery or sensor every few weeks. Sensor designs should last years before needing to be replaced. They should also be standalone and not connected to any power source. Hence the term Low-Power and Lossy Networks (LLN).

If power was no problem and wireless/radio path unimpeded, you could force all the sensors to talk to a single controller. Sadly this is not the case.

RPL assumes that:

  • The sensors need to construct paths back to a controller of some kind.
  • Some or all of the sensors are power-constrained
  • Some sensors lack a direct path to the controller and will need other sensors to pass on their data to the controller.

Traditional routing protocols are chatty and would waste battery power.

RPL is a distance-vector IPv6 routing protocol that caters for much higher packet loss than traditional routing protocols can handle. RPL is optimized for the many-to-one traffic pattern where many nodes send data towards a border router.

RPL organizes its topology as a  Direction-Oriented Directed Acyclic Graph (DODAG). The idea is to construct a non-looping table in which every sensor has someone to talk to, and in which a path is built for every sensor to reach a “node” (basically an IoT routing device).

The DODAG uses a simple hierarchical model that is similar to any distance-vector protocol you may have come across. Any DODAG will have a “gateway” through which communication to the outside world will traverse (LLN internet router). This gateway, referred to as the DODAG root, is number one in the hierarchy.

Anything that finds itself with a direct path to the root has Rank 2. Anything that can only see Rank 2 devices is a Rank 3 device, and so on. If you have Rank 5, you will regard the nearest Rank 4 device as your “parent” and direct communications to it, assuming that it will pass your communication on to its parent, and so on.

An  RPL instance defines multiple a topology containing multiple DODAG networks that build their trees using the same rules (e.g. two buildings in a campus with temperature sensors).

The RPL topology is built using control messages that are transmitted as ICMPv6 messages. The three key RPL control messages are:

  • DODAG information solicitation (DIS): The DIS solicits a DODAG information object (DIO) from an RPL node.
  • DODAG information object (DIO): The DIO carries information that allows a node to discover a RPL Instance, learn its configuration parameters, select a DODAG parent set, and maintain the DODAG.
  • Destination advertisement object (DAO): The DAO is used to propagate destination information upward (to the root) along the DODAG.

To construct the DODAG topology, nodes may use a DIS message to solicit a DIO, or they may periodically send link-local multicast DIO messages. Nodes then listen for DIOs and use their information to join a new DODAG or to maintain an existing DODAG. Based on information in the DIOs, the node chooses parents that minimize the path cost to the DODAG root.

References: Cisco RPL Configuration Guide (

Student Testimonial – Jeremy Brown – CCIE #54089

I decided to pursue my CCIE Collaboration after accidentally letting my CCNP expire about a year ago. I watched all the videos from a competitor and while thorough they are not nearly as to the point as CollabCert’s videos and training are. Vik has a training style that is easy to pay attention to and watch over and over. I purchased the whole package of workbooks, training videos, and both boot-camps. I took the boot-camps a month apart. It is a lot to digest and work on. I used the CollabCert Rack rentals using the phones, router, and switch I purchased from a former student. I am not strong in route/switch being a long time voice guy and I needed assistance getting going (on the weekend) and Vik was always able to point me in the right direction. He went above and beyond there.

It took me three separate attempts and after each attempt Vik was there for support and to help me understand what I needed to work on. I don’t know where I would have been without that and the time he spent with me went beyond just sitting in a boot-camp and leaving. That is very much appreciated. I  would advise getting the whole package. I felt completely euphoric seeing that “Pass” when the email came. I could not have done it without Vik.

Jeremy Brown
CCIE #54089 (Collaboration)

More Successful CCIE Collaboration Engineers!

CollabCert is happy to announce another group of successful engineers who recently passed the CCIE Collaboration Lab Exam

  • Nick Britt- – CCIE #54108 (Collaboration)
  • Joan Mauri Barbosa – CCIE #54101 (Collaboration)
  • Jeremy Brown – CCIE #54089 (Collaboration)
  • Piotr Glosek – CCIE #53923 (Collaboration)
  • Gary Bates – CCIE #53842 (Collaboration)
  • David Lam – CCIE #53835 (Collaboration)
  • Aaron Hagerman – CCIE #53815 (Collaboration)
  • Kevin Nelson – CCIE #53760 (Collaboration)

Congratulations to all of you!

Here is what David Lam had to say:

“I had been on this CCIE Voice/Collaboration journey on and off for 4 years and I even attempted the Voice Lab in 2013 but it was fruitless. Self study using various training materials that I purchased from various training partners didn’t help me except it only made the journey seem more challenging at the time. I eventually signed up for boot camp with another vendor in March of 2016. I flew out from Los Angeles to Chicago, Illinois and drove to Crowns Point, Indiana to learn that the vendor had just closed shop and filed bankruptcy. That was an overwhelming disappointment for me. The next day, I responded to a blog from and Mike from CollabCert reached out to me. He genuinely wanted to help me. Mike connected me with Vik and I drove up to San Jose for training and the rest is history.

Vik is an amazing Collaboration expert and he has an ability to take complex problems and make them simple to grasp. The training materials from CollabCert is by far the best I have seen. Vik is the real deal. Vik recommended a detailed time table for me and how I should study after boot camp. I took his advice and followed it. In late August of 2016, I flew up to San Jose, took the lab and passed. I wouldn’t have completed this journey without CollabCert.”

Student Testimonial – Aaron Hagerman – CCIE # 53815

I would like first to say thank you for all your help. As soon as I found out about CollabCert I knew this was the place to help me achieve my CCIE dreams. In the past when I was studying for the CCIE Voice track I thought I was on the right track. I took the lab and I thought for sure I passed as soon as I walked out, only later to find out I wasn’t close. It’s very disappointing when this happens time and time again.

The first week of attending CollabCert I was able to find out not only the correct way to study but also shortcuts and tricks to help me attain my CCIE. Once I started the second week of the boot camp you really see the value in the program. Never before was I given feedback on a completed lab before this class. This allowed me to not only see my errors but give me confidence once I was able to complete the lab with a passing grade from Vik. This would have been a great class if it all ended here, but it didn’t. After my class I was able to reach out to Vik on multiple questions that I had and get further information that was needed. And to top it all off the rack rental is great. The servers are fast and the hardware is exactly what you need to get ready for the real lab.

I would just like to say again thank you for putting up with me and all my questions throughout my CCIE lab experience. I truly believe that I wouldn’t have my CCIE if it wasn’t for CollabCert.

Aaron Hagerman
CCIE # 53815 (Collaboration)

Recent Successful Collaboration Engineers

It’s been a busy couple of months with loads of success!!! Determination and hard work definitely pay off.  Congratulations to all of our recent successful students who have passed the CCIE Collaboration Lab Exam!

  • Antoine Nicholson – CCIE #53778 (Collaboration)
  • Nizar Houichi – CCIE #53721 (Collaboration)
  • Tanveer Ahmad Mubsher – CCIE #53718 (Collaboration)
  • Jan Roy Eustaquio – CCIE #53696 (Collaboration)
  • Amit Shah – CCIE #53675 (Collaboration)
  • Hamid Faalzadeh – CCIE #53663 (Collaboration)
  • Cedric Hebre – CCIE #53649 (Collaboration)
  • Youssef Aoufi- CCIE #53647 (Collaboration)
  • Mason Nguyen – CCIE #53632 (Collaboration)
  • Mohammed Al Baqari – CCIE #53531 (Collaboration)
  • Luke Venn – CCIE #53488 (Collaboration)
  • Nathan Gageby – CCIE #53467 (Collaboration)
  • Matt Bergeson – CCIE #53453 (Collaboration)
  • Pat Jensen – CCIE #53452 (Collaboration)
  • Derrick Clarke – CCIE #53434 (Collaboration)
  • Scott Beauton – CCIE #53394 (Collaboration)
  • Graham Andrew – CCIE #53325 (Collaboration)
  • Dylan Cross – CCIE #53232 (Collaboration)
  • Logan Gaffney – CCIE #53188 (Collaboration)
  • Elvis Bottega – CCIE #53150 (Collaboration)
  • Ore Okebukola – CCIE #53076 (Collaboration)
  • Jahem N’Guetta – CCIE #52807 (Collaboration)
  • Wilson Samuel – CCIE #52685 (Collaboration)
  • Peter Strahan – CCIE #52629 (Collaboration)
  • Sean Alexander – CCIE #52377 (Collaboration)

State of the Union – Shift to the Cloud (CCIE Collaboration)

Unless you have been hiding beneath a rock for the past few months, you will have noticed that the Collaboration market is trending towards the cloud and that means less on-premise equipment for Collaboration Engineers to install, configure and maintain. Central to Cisco’s collaboration cloud strategy is Cisco Spark. This is an app that allows secure business messaging / file sharing, meetings through Spark rooms and video/audio calls.

In July 2016 at Cisco Live in Las Vegas, Cisco SVPs Rowan Trollope and Jens Meggers, and Cisco VP Jonathan Rosenberg gave a sneak peek into what the future holds for Cisco Spark. The demonstration at the keynote showed the audience that a new telepresence unit can be taken out of the box and connected to the cloud in a matter of minutes with very little technical configuration. There is no need for anything on-prem-  you just need an account in the cloud and the Serial Number of your client you are good to go. Furthermore, in Fall 2016 Spark will be integrated into iOS 10 which will allow enterprise voice/video calls to be made from an iPhone or iPad. Lots of cool new things in the pipeline! Keep a close eye on Rowan’s blog.

For customers that have an existing legacy on-premise collaboration solution, Spark can be integrated using Spark Hybrid Services which utilizes Cisco Expressway

Job Market for Collab/Voice Engineers

So now that I have covered everything important that has happened in the last 2 years- the question is what does this mean for CCIE Collaboration and the job role of Collaboration Engineers?

The simple answer is: you have to embrace change. I remember being at Nortel in 1997 and the Telco guys thought they could configure DMS switches till retirement and VOIP would never take off. It feels like history is repeating itself with the shift to cloud-based solutions. For greenfield implementations going to the cloud is a no-brainer and I doubt there will be much work involved for your traditional collab/voice engineer. There are always going to be exceptions to the rule – government, large enterprise and niche customers that are slower to embrace newer technology for whatever reason are always going to be exist but make no mistake about it- contraction will happen!

When we talk brownfield, there will be a gradual shift away from on-prem. Lots of companies will want to amortize their investment and will “wait and see” before revising their collaboration strategy. During this transient gap there will be a strong market for Collab engineers being able to design and configure hybrid solutions. Of course the skills for Communications Manager and other on-prem voice solutions won’t go away overnight but the market will inevitably shrink.

And we haven’t even started to talk integration to other clients such as Skype for business and WebRTC clients which will become more and more prominent (see Cisco Acano a bit later on). That is a conversation for another time- for now we will pretend the entire world only knows one vendor and that is Cisco.

Best guess-timate for CCIE Collaboration v2

From the past couple of Cisco Live conferences it is clear that the Cisco DevNet program is gaining momentum. This is no coincidence! In the new world Collab engineers are going to see an increase in demand to help enterprises integrate collaboration tools into their existing infrastructure. The demand for engineers capable of using Tropo/REST/Java/Python/etc will increase and if you are reading this article you might want to start thinking about re-tooling in the coding direction.

I would expect the next version of the CCIE Collaboration to reflect the job role trends that are beginning to happen. Below is a list of likely technology that can be added to the blueprint- bear in mind that this is based on common-sense and no information has been disclosed from any authorized source (they tend to keep these things hidden from everybody).

  • Cisco IOS gateways? CME, ISDN PRI, MGCP, H323.  Maybe the end is nigh!
  • SIP Trunking? will for sure be central to any network diagram for the foreseeable future.
  • Mobile Remote Access (VPN-less jabber)? very likely to be introduced in v2 and has been keeping many collab engineers busy over the past couple of years.
  • Cisco Meeting Server? Cisco acquired Acano in Jan 2016 for on-prem conferencing and interoperability to Skype for business and webRTC clients. The Acano Bridge has been renamed to “Cisco Meeting Server”. Likely to be added.
  • Updated version of Communications Manager, CCX.finesse, Jabber? Yes to all of the above.
  • Physical devices? could be a thing of the past! This would allow a fully virtual testing environment.

Vik Malhi, CCIE#13890
Twitter: @vikmalhi

All CCIE Written Exams change in 7 days

This is a quick note for all folks out there who are planning to sit a CCIE Written exam in the near future, you may want to consider sitting the test within the next 7 days!!!!

This is because all CCIE Written exams will include a new section called Evolving Technologies as of July 25 2016. Please see here for more info.

The new section will account for 10% of every Written exam. The blueprint for the new section is shown below:

Evolving Technologies Domain

1. Cloud

1.1: Compare and contrast Cloud deployment models

• Infrastructure, platform, and software services (XaaS)
• Performance and reliability
• Security and privacy
• Scalability and interoperability

1.2: Describe Cloud implementations and operations

• Automation and orchestration
• Workload mobility
• Troubleshooting and management
• OpenStack components

2. Network Programmability

2.1: Describe functional elements of network programmability (SDN) and how they interact

• Controllers
• APIs
• Scripting
• Agents
• Northbound vs. Southbound protocols

2.2: Describe aspects of virtualization and automation in network environments

• DevOps methodologies, tools and workflows
• Network/application function virtualization (NFV, AFV)
• Service function chaining
• Performance, availability, and scaling considerations

3. Internet of Things

3.1: Describe architectural framework and deployment considerations for Internet of Things (IoT)

• Performance, reliability and scalability
• Mobility
• Security and privacy
• Standards and compliance
• Migration
• Environmental impacts on the network

Collaboration Certification