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CCDA Certification Achieved!

Yesterday, I was able to complete my Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) based on the 640-864 exam.  I thought I’d make a few notes on my process in case it helps someone else out later.


Materials Used:


Cisco Learning Network – https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/community/certifications/ccda 

Cisco Learning Network – CCDA Study Group – https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/groups/ccda-study-group 

Cisco Press CCDA 640-864 Official Cert Guide, Premium Edition eBook and Practice Test, 4th Edition (http://www.ciscopress.com/store/ccda-640-864-official-cert-guide-premium-edition-ebook-9780132748339) – $54

Cisco 3845 ISR Router – $200

I don’t know that the ISR was required, but it helped.  Part of where I think it helped the most was as I was doing research for modules and options for it, to see what might fit or be otherwise interesting for my home lab.  While the ISR certainly doesn’t cover the breadth of all Cisco Enterprise Design, it’s inclusion of VPN, voice, WAAS, wireless LAN controller, switching, routing, various serial based low speed WAN options, etc, did let me spend some time ‘designing’ (plotting?  scheming? Smile) where and how I could use this. 

The CCDA is not very hands on, there are no labs or configuration/command questions that I’m aware of.  So hands on time with the equipment is not as valuable as understanding their position and placement in designing an overall solution. 


Thoughts on the content/blueprint:


As always, the very first takeaway from any certification should be to understand the difference between “The Vendor Way” and “The Real World”.  Not everything in the blueprint is what I would consider practical – unless you were a multinational 50,000+ user company with many branches, and large campuses, etc.  However, the purpose of the certification is to ensure you understand the concepts of a 2 office mom and pop as well as how to design the local University campus.  There’s a ton of information to cover, and a lot one can do incorrectly.  So creating a framework of best practices (which we all know to mean “what you do when you don’t KNOW what else to do…”) to give a good foundation is critical. 

I was a little surprised at the amount of routing questions involved.  However, as your sites get more complex, you start doing transparent failover, or wanting to stretch Layer 2 solutions, you’re going to need to know these things.  Also, mergers and acquisitions are a fact of life and they’re not always going to have the same gear – or have settled on the same standard as you did. 

I’ve also left “Voice” to be something that’s done by “those people”, even more so than I like to do with the networking side in general.  So I found a lot of the voice portions more difficult or frustrating than they likely should have been.  Which codec is used where, what it encodes into, what bandwidth it requires, how many streams per line, what H.something something is used for… unfortunately just wasn’t “interesting” or “cool” for me.  So that was particularly difficult, I think.  Mostly because I just “didn’t care”. 

It should be obvious, but whatever study materials you’re using, check the version!.  If you’re looking at “CCDA” materials that are for the 640-863 exam, you’re going to still get decent knowledge, but it might be dated or with incorrect focuses and weights.  Ensure whatever materials you’re using show “DESGN v2.1” and not “DESGN v2.0” or older. 


What’s next:


At the moment, a bunch of other vendor exams.  EMC, NetApp, VMware, HyperV are in the next 3-6 months.  The next Cisco one, I’m not yet sure on, but it will be later in the year for sure!  CCNA Data Center seems the most appropriate for me, without having to look at Routing/Switching too heavily.  CCDP would require not only the ARCH but SWITCH and ROUTE exams, which is probably doable, but then it’s a lot of switching and routing that I don’t find all that interesting.  However, it puts me one away from the CCNP, needing only the TSHOOT.  That path is 4 exams however, and a lot of studying and work compared to the CCNA: DC.  If anyone out there has advice – or even old gear or training materials, that might help skew the path I take. 

If anyone knows where to get the worlds cheapest SIP Trunk to try some voice stuff as inexpensively as possible, I’m all ears.  Also if you need or would like remote access to an ISR, reach out, I can help.  I plan to do a post on inexpensive lab components as I think I’ve figured out which parts have the “least value” on eBay, and what can be be built on the cheap.  So watch for that to come soon.

I’d welcome feedback and advice, as always. 

Categories: CCDA, Certification, Cisco
  1. March 30, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Congrats Avram. Well done!

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