The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification is highly regarded in the IT industry and is recognized as one of the most prestigious networking certifications worldwide. The CCIE Service Provider (SP) certification focuses on the skills required to design, implement, and troubleshoot service provider network infrastructures.
The CCIE SP version 5.0 Lab Exam is a rigorous eight-hour exam that tests candidates’ ability to configure, optimize, diagnose, and troubleshoot a complex service provider network topology. This exam is designed to evaluate the candidate’s ability to handle real-world scenarios that service providers encounter in their daily operations.
The CCIE SP version 5.0 Lab Exam comprises three modules: the Troubleshooting module, the Diagnostic module, and the Configuration module. Each module is designed to evaluate specific skills and knowledge areas required for service provider network engineers.
This exam review will provide a comprehensive overview of the CCIE SP version 5.0 Lab Exam and its requirements. It will cover the exam format, the topics tested, the recommended study materials, and tips and strategies for success. By the end of this review, you will have a solid understanding of what to expect from the CCIE SP version 5.0 Lab Exam and how to prepare for it effectively.
What is the CCIE certification track?
The CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) certification is a prestigious certification in the networking industry offered by Cisco Systems. It is the highest level of technical certification provided by Cisco and is recognized globally as a mark of expertise and proficiency in designing, implementing, and managing complex network solutions. The
The CCIE certification is available in various tracks, including Enterprise Infrastructure, Enterprise Wireless, Data Center, Security, Service Provider and Collaboration. Each CCIE track has its own set of requirements, exams, and training programs. The certification process involves passing written Exam# 350-501 SPCOR and hands-on lab exams that test the candidate’s ability to configure and troubleshoot complex network systems.
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Employers and IT professionals alike highly regard the status itself. It demonstrates an individual’s deep understanding of networking technologies and ability to solve complex network problems. Achieving CCIE certification requires significant time, effort, and resources but can lead to career advancement and higher salaries in the networking industry.
How do you obtain the CCIE certification?
To obtain the CCIE certification, you need to follow a rigorous process that involves several steps, including:
1. Choose a CCIE track
First, you must decide which CCIE track to pursue, such as Enterprise Infrastructure, Enterprise Wireless, Data Center, Security, Service Provider or Collaboration. Each track has its own set of requirements and exams. Often people choose a CCIE path on which they have real-world experience. 591LAB advises at least 5+ years of experience in the networking deployment field.
2. Pass the Core Technologies exam
To qualify for the CCIE certification, you must meet specific prerequisites, including passing the relevant qualification exams or having equivalent knowledge and experience. Each track has its own Core Technologies exam with various topics tested. The written exam SPCOR 350-501 tests the theoretical understanding of your chosen CCIE track. 591LAB has written and real Lab dumps that you may consider availing of their services.
3. Prepare for the lab exam.
Preparing for the CCIE lab exam requires technical knowledge, hands-on experience, and strategic planning—more details about this are in a dedicated topic under 591LAB blog content lists.
4. Schedule and Pass the lab exam
After passing the written exam, you must schedule and pass the lab exam, an eight-hour, hands-on exam that tests your ability to configure, troubleshoot, and optimize complex network scenarios. Cisco holds the lab exam at designated testing centres for instance Beijing, China.
5. Maintain the certification
After obtaining the CCIE certification, you must maintain it by completing ongoing professional development requirements, such as continuing education or passing a recertification exam every two years.
The CCIE certification is challenging and time-consuming, but it can lead to significant career advancement and higher salaries in the networking industry. It requires dedication, hard work, and a deep understanding of networking technologies.
CCIE Service Provider v5 certification
CCIE Service Provider Prerequisites
Before sitting for the practical lab exam, you must pass the Core Technology exam called Implementing and Operating Cisco Service Provider Network Core Technologies or SPCOR.
The SPCOR (Implementing and Operating Cisco Service Provider Network Core Technologies) exam is a certification exam that tests a candidate’s knowledge of the fundamental technologies and concepts required to implement and operate service provider networks. The SPCOR exam is one of the core exams for the CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) Service Provider certification. It is a requirement for the CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) Service Provider certification.
The exam is a 90-minute exam consisting of 70-80 multiple-choice and simulation questions, and it costs 300$. The passing score for the exam is typically around 825 out of 1000 points. Candidates can take the SPCOR exam at a Pearson VUE testing center or online through the Pearson OnVUE platform.
CCIE Service Provider exam location and cost
The CCIE lab exam is a hands-on, practical exam administered at Cisco’s designated testing facilities, known as CCIE labs, located worldwide. Cisco equips the labs with the hardware and software required to simulate real-world network environments, allowing candidates to work with the same technologies and tools they would encounter in a real-world networking environment.
There are currently eight CCIE lab locations around the world:
Candidates must book their CCIE lab exam at one of these designated testing facilities through Cisco’s online scheduling system. The availability of exam slots can vary depending on the location and time of year, so candidates need to plan and schedule their exams well in advance.
As of April 2023, the CCIE lab exam cost for an attempt is $1,600. The price for re-attempts of the exam is $1,600, so you get no discount if you fail for the first time.
It’s worth noting that these fees do not include any travel, accommodation, or other related expenses a candidate may incur when taking the exam. Candidates must make arrangements for these expenses, which can add significantly to the overall cost of the exam.
CCIE SP exam format
The CCIE SP lab exam consists of two main sections, during which candidates are presented with scenarios and must complete a series of tasks related to those scenarios.
Module 1 – Design (3 hours)
The Design section consists of scenarios requiring candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in service provider network architecture, network security, QoS (Quality of Service), network availability, network scalability, and network management—typical scenarios like real-world service provider network environments and design solutions that meet specific business and technical requirements.
To prepare for the Design section of the CCIE Service Provider lab exam, candidates should focus on developing their CCIE Service Provider design skills and their knowledge of Cisco technologies and best practices in a CCIE Service Provider lab context. They should also practice analyzing service provider network requirements and designing solutions that meet them while considering scalability, availability, and security.
Module 2 – Deploy, Operate and Optimize (5 hours)
The DOO module consists of scenarios requiring candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in service provider network operations, network maintenance, network troubleshooting, and network optimization. Cisco based their scenarios on real-world service provider network environments, and candidates must demonstrate their ability to implement and troubleshoot service provider technologies and networks.
This module tests a candidate’s ability to configure and optimize network devices and services. Cisco presents the tasks in the same order and format as the blueprint, and you are also informed about the number of points each task has.
Tips & tricks for passing the CCIE SPv5 lab exam
The exam requires technical knowledge, hands-on experience, and strategic planning. You will need more than just one of these (like technical knowledge) to ensure your success. Here are some steps you can take to prepare:
Review the exam blueprint.
The exam blueprint outlines the technologies and topics covered in the exam. Reviewing the blueprint thoroughly and ensuring you have a deep understanding of all the topics is essential.
You can use the exam blueprint to grade yourself, learn the topics you’re familiar with and confident about, and understand where to improve. You can grade yourself from 0 to 100% and update the status every week. Here’s an example of the LDP and MPLS TE chapters. It would be best to reach an average of at least 80% before taking the exam.
Build a lab environment.
Creating a lab environment is crucial to prepare for the CCIE lab exam. You can use Cisco’s CML or GNS3 to build a virtual lab environment that matches the exam blueprint, but my all-time favorite is EVE-NG.
EVE-NG is a network virtualization platform for emulating and testing complex network topologies. It allows users to create virtualized network environments using physical and virtual network devices and software. It can be deployed in different ways depending on your needs and infrastructure. Here are three standard deployment options:
- Bare-metal installation involves installing EVE-NG directly onto a dedicated physical server. This approach provides high performance and dedicated resources but can be costly and require maintenance.
- Virtual machine installation: This option involves installing EVE-NG as a virtual machine on a hypervisor, such as VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V, or VirtualBox. This approach provides flexibility, lower costs, and easier management but may sacrifice some performance.
- Cloud deployment: This option involves deploying EVE-NG on a cloud platform, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP). This approach provides the most flexibility and scalability but can be more expensive than other deployment options.
A significant advantage of the Service Provider track is that you can emulate everything that you get presented to in the lab; here’s the complete list of the devices (virtual equipment):
- RR, P, and PE role: Cisco ASR 9000 Series running IOS-XR 6.5 Release
- RR and PE role: Cisco ASR 1000 series running IOS-XE 16.6.5 Release
- PE and CE role: Cisco Edge Routers running IOS-XE 16.6.5 Release
- Access and Aggregation: Cisco Access series running IOS 3.2.1S Release
- Cisco Network Service Orchestrator (NSO) running 5.2 Release
For this purpose, I have purchased an old Dell server with 24 vCPU, 128GB of RAM and 2TB of storage and deployed EVE-NG as bare-metal. You can get old servers for a fraction of the price without worrying about old technology. Older intel generations or DDR technology like DDR3 will work just fine.
Here is a screenshot from the eve-ng resource calculator that helps you forecast the resources needed. From experience, the actual amount of resource usage is at half.
I recommend using the Cisco XRv 9000 software for PE node emulation and Cisco XRv for P nodes. This way, you will save resources and be able to deploy more nodes which is crucial in developing the speed you need to pass the exam.
Practice hands-on lab scenarios.
Practising hands-on lab scenarios that simulate the exam environment is critical to prepare for the CCIE lab exam. You can use Cisco’s CCIE lab exam practice scenarios or create scenarios that match the exam blueprint. You should not just use them to practice the technologies but also build speed because it is one if not the essential skill in your toolset if you want to pass the lab exam.
You can use the same physical topology and deploy routers in different ASs with various services, and it is a good start.
From here, you can develop different topologies and practice all topics in the blueprint.
Use study materials
Several study materials are available, including Cisco’s official study guides, third-party books, and online training courses that can help you prepare for the CCIE lab exam. Here’s a list of those I recommend; I’d recommend 591LAB CCIE SP lab full-package services to pass the exam in one shot. Other recommendations for the fearless SP warriors are:
Luc De Ghein’s “MPLS Fundamentals”
Luc De Ghein’s “MPLS Fundamentals” is a comprehensive guide to MPLS technology. Here’s a brief review of the book:
The book provides a clear and concise explanation of MPLS technology, including the underlying principles, protocols, and architectures.
The author also covers advanced topics, such as MPLS VPNs, traffic engineering, and QoS, making the book suitable for beginners and experienced network engineers.
The book is well-organized and easy to follow, with clear illustrations and diagrams to help readers understand complex concepts.
In 2006 the book was published, so some of the information may need to be updated, although the fundamental concepts of MPLS remain relevant.
Jeff Doyle’s book “OSPF and ISIS: Choosing an IGP for Large-Scale Networks.”
Jeff Doyle’s book “OSPF and ISIS: Choosing an IGP for Large-Scale Networks” is one of the most comprehensive resources on OSPF and ISIS routing protocols. Here’s a brief review of the book:
The author provides a clear and detailed explanation of both OSPF and ISIS routing protocols, covering both the theoretical and practical aspects of implementation.
The book thoroughly compares OSPF and ISIS, highlights each protocol’s strengths and weaknesses and offers practical guidance for selecting the best protocol for a given network environment.
The author provides real-world scenarios and examples to help readers understand the practical implementation of OSPF and ISIS, including configuration examples and troubleshooting tips.
The book can be pretty technical and may not be suitable for beginners with little networking knowledge or experience.
The book focuses exclusively on OSPF and ISIS and does not cover other routing protocols, which may limit its usefulness in specific network environments.
INE CCIE SPv5 learning path
INE (Internetworking Experts) is a popular online training platform that offers IT professionals a wide range of courses and certification programs. Their CCIE Service Provider (CCIE SP) online training program is one of the most comprehensive and highly-rated training programs for those preparing for the CCIE SP certification exam. Here is a brief review of INE’s CCIE SP online training program.
INE’s CCIE SP, online training program covers all the topics required for the CCIE SP certification exam, including MPLS, OSPF, BGP, QoS, and more.
The program includes video lectures and hands-on labs, providing a comprehensive learning experience that helps students develop the skills required for the CCIE SP exam.
INE’s experienced CCIE instructors deeply understand the exam and provide practical tips and advice for passing the exam.
The training program includes various study materials, including practice exams, lab exercises, and course notes, which can help students prepare for the exam more effectively.
INE’s online training platform is user-friendly and easy to navigate, making it easy for students to access the course materials and track their progress.
The course is quite expensive compared to other CCIE training programs, which may be a barrier for some students.
Some students may find the course too focused on exam preparation and need to provide more real-world context or applications.
The course is self-paced, which may not be suitable for students who prefer a more structured learning experience with set deadlines and schedules.
Overall, INE’s CCIE SP online training program is a comprehensive and effective course that provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to pass the CCIE SP certification exam. The course includes various study materials, hands-on labs, and practical advice from experienced CCIEs, making it a valuable resource for exam preparation. While the course may be expensive and focused primarily on exam preparation, it is an excellent option for those who want a comprehensive and flexible learning experience.
BGP Design and Implementation by Randy Zhang and Micah Bartell
“BGP Design and Implementation” is an excellent resource for network engineers who want to gain a deep understanding of BGP technology. The book provides clear explanations, practical examples, and advanced topics, making it a valuable resource for beginners and experienced network engineers. While some of the information may be outdated, the fundamental concepts of BGP remain relevant, making this book a valuable resource for anyone working with BGP technology.
Clarence Filsfils’ “Segment Routing Part I & Segment Routing Part II: Traffic Engineering”
Clarence Filsfils Segment Routing Part I & Segment Routing Part II: Traffic Engineering is an excellent resource for those interested in learning about segment routing technology. The books provide a comprehensive overview of the technology, including its operation, benefits, and practical applications. While the books may be too technical for some readers, they are well-written and organized, and the practical examples and case studies make the material easier to understand. While the books may be a bit pricey, they are a worthwhile investment for those serious about learning about segment routing technology.
Cisco Live videos
Cisco Live videos are educational and informative videos covering various topics related to Cisco products and technologies. Cisco experts present these videos and cover a variety of topics. I used them to gather a basic understanding of new topics like Multicast, Multicast VPN, Segment Routing, EVPN, etc.
Join study groups
Finding a study group for the CCIE SP lab exam can be a great way to prepare, as it allows you to collaborate with other like-minded individuals working towards the same goal.
Several online forums and groups, such as Cisco Learning Network and Reddit, are dedicated to CCIE SP lab exam preparation. Joining these groups can help you connect with other candidates and form study groups.
Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be great resources for networking and connecting with other CCIE candidates. Use these platforms to search for and connect with other candidates preparing for the exam.
If you work in the networking industry, chances are you know other professionals also preparing for the CCIE SP lab exam. Reach out to your peers and see if they would be interested in forming a study group with you.
Join boot camps
Even though I have not participated in any of the boot camps because they are costly (thousands of dollars), I could recommend one based on reviews. Many candidates who have attended Narbik’s CCIE boot camp recommend their program. Many candidates have reported that the boot camp provided them with the knowledge and skills to pass the CCIE exam. However, some candidates have also said that the boot camp can be challenging and requires significant preparation time and effort.
Time management is crucial during the CCIE lab exam. Candidates should practice time management techniques during lab practice sessions to ensure they can complete the tasks within the allocated time.
Typing speed and accuracy
Typing speed is essential in the CCIE lab exam because the exam is timed and requires the candidate to configure and troubleshoot a complex network topology within a limited time. There’s a saying that more than 90% of the candidates would pass if they had 24 hours to finish the lab. But in reality, you only get five hours and must be fast.
In addition to typing speed, it’s also essential to have good typing accuracy. Mistakes can lead to wasted time and potential errors in network configurations. Therefore, candidates should also focus on improving their accuracy while typing. Practising and improving these skills can increase the chances of success in the exam.
Practice with the same mouse and keyboard
It would help if you practiced with the same mouse and keyboard model you will find in the lab. Using the same keyboard and mouse is vital in the CCIE lab exam for several reasons. The exam is a high-pressure environment, and you must work as efficiently as possible. Using a keyboard and mouse that you are familiar with can save valuable time and prevent errors due to unfamiliarity.