Not exactly. The CCIE exam has matured over the years. The technologies and content required for each direction can be learned through corresponding technical studies, both in theory and practical application, making it relatively easy to pass the exam. In the CCIE lab exam, you only need to accurately perform the experiment and carefully check the operation to ensure its accuracy. If successful, you pass (for example, configure X to obtain Y, etc.). In contrast, the CCDE practical certification focuses more on testing the candidate’s technical and business experience (for example, what technology should customer X choose to meet requirement Y?).
The development of CCDE certification is due to Cisco employees’ growing recognition that, despite the daily network problems and TAC’s successful implementation and troubleshooting of network problems, there is no expert-level designer to ensure that the network is designed correctly from the beginning.
Do I need to become a CCIE before becoming a CCDE?
This question needs dialectical thinking (the ability to view issues from multiple perspectives and arrive at the most economical and reasonable reconciliation of seemingly contradictory information and postures.). Having a CCIE is an advantage, but if you want to take the CCDE exam with the attitude of taking the CCIE, it is usually quite tricky. You may focus too much on minor issues and ignore the big picture you are looking for.
The former CCDE and CCAr exam project manager Elaine Lopes once said, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight!” Bringing the correct professional knowledge and attitude to the exam will significantly increase your chances of success.
Everyone committed to or passed the CCDE exam has said their value has dramatically improved during the preparation and acquisition process, regardless of whether they pass. The method of obtaining the CCDE certification is more important. By studying architecture-related technologies and skills, you can enhance your career competitiveness, provide perfect solutions for enterprises, meet their current network requirements, comply with budgets and schedules, and focus on the future.
CCDE Exam Introduction
The Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) exam is a certification exam for experienced network architects and designers. The CCDE certification validates a candidate’s ability to design and deploy complex network infrastructures. The exam consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical exam. The written exam is a two-hour test that covers design methodologies, network theory, and best practices. The practical exam is an eight-hour scenario-based test that evaluates a candidate’s ability to design and troubleshoot complex network infrastructures.
CCDE written exam subject: 400-007, exam fee: $450, reservation method is the same as CCIE written tests.
The CCDE v3 practical exam is available at specific global test centres. The scheduled time for the exam in 2023 is as follows:
You will see four scenarios during the eight-hour exam process (two before and two after lunch).
Components of CCDE Exam Question Scenarios
There will be three scenarios based on core competencies, followed by a professional field module as the fourth scenario. Each question scenario will include the following components:
Use Cases: The use cases are the themed scenarios in which you perform one of the following operations.
Add Technology/Service: Here, you can add a new application to an existing network or new technology (such as VoIP, Wi-Fi, etc.). It would help if you determined what to do to support the addition, including implementation and how it affects existing infrastructure/services.
Replace Technology/Service: You can replace legacy technology/services currently running in the network. It would help if you determined what to do to support the replacement, including implementation plans and how it affects existing infrastructure/services.
Merge/Divest: You may need to merge or divest businesses or departments and determine how this will affect the legacy infrastructure and services.
Scaling: You must consider the network’s ability to grow organically at planned growth levels while maintaining regular operation. For example, do you need modularization?
Greenfield: This is usually the best-case scenario for every architect, but it requires planning and implementation. You must now consider migrating traffic or applications and how your design will meet these requirements.
Design Failure: Here, you may see a suboptimal network due to poor design or organic growth that no longer operates normally. Your design plan must provide optimization and may introduce fault domains, scalability, and enhanced manageability. As part of your implementation plan, you should optimize the network, redesign it, and ensure all necessary migration steps.
Design Lifecycle: You must analyze, design, and create implementation plans and verify and optimize throughout the scenario.
Technologies: Make effective design decisions based on the requirements and constraints presented in the scenario through your professional technical skills. The blueprint provided is where you should be proficient in which technologies, but ultimately, you need to be an expert in the third-layer protocol to succeed.
CCDE Practical Exam Tips
- Progress Bar: Each scenario in the exam has a progress bar that shows your progress as a percentage. Make sure to keep an eye on this so you can manage your time effectively.
- Reading Time: Allocate 15 minutes to read the background information and annotate essential details before starting to answer each scenario question. This will help you better understand the scenario and identify key information quickly.
- Use Color: Use different colors to highlight critical areas and other theme areas for faster information positioning when answering.
- Note-Taking: The CCDE exam practical allows for note-taking, so if you are more accustomed to this type of exam, write down relevant important information to replace searching multiple documents and re-reading.
- Comprehensive View: Throughout the exam, ensure that the scenarios are always connected, and maintain a comprehensive view. Although there may be changes in directions and technologies, you should not answer each question in isolation.
- Information Gathering: If you do not have enough information to answer a question, you may need to return to view the background information.
- Order of Steps: If asked how to implement or migrate to a new solution, you may need to put multiple steps in a specific order. There is usually only one or a limited number of ways to achieve the correct order, so be careful when answering.
- Attitude: The CCDE practical exam is high-intensity, so it is essential to maintain a good attitude. Taking a break between each scenario can help refresh your mind and better tackle the following scenario.
- Noise-Cancelling Headphones: If available at your exam center, consider wearing noise-cancelling headphones to minimize distractions and help you concentrate.
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