Monday, May 17, 2010

Passed SP Lab!

the loong frustrating SP journey has reached its destination..i passed
the SP lab yesterday.

it was a bigger battle with bugs, vague wording and crappy oeqs than
the technology itself.

few things i wud like to share with people preparing for sp lab -

1. mpls vpns -
ahh thts the biggest chunk in sp lab, almost everyone who failed has
got shocking results in vpn section. vpn constitues more than 30% of
the score so less score guarantees a failure.
understand "send-label" feature correctly, when, how , restrictions
etc..knwing the difference between "mpls ip" and "send-label" is
important. The figures shud knw wht to type the moment we see inter-as
and csc. Know when to use “set mpls-label”, and the scary things tht
might happen when not using it when it’s a mandate.

2. multicast -
the RnS bits of multicast is the base. For MVPN/inter-as-multicast
understand RFC3618 for rpf check thoroughly, understand the order of
rpf preference. understand when to make use of bgp multicast SAFI.
Understand which inter-as supports inter-as multicast, and how it
works on a 12.2S code without the mdt safi. Look for Petr’s blog on
mvpn, refer to my blog for some explanation too.
this is one of the easiest sections to score if we knw the game.

3. the important command "reload"! if you know its configured
correctly, you shudn't shy away from doing a reload.

4. join forums, there are some forums where nda stuff is brainstormed
candidly. not the right thing but it helps.

5. for first attempt, avoid locations like bangalore. in B'lore you'll
most likely get ONLY a "smile" as an answer with some ambiguous facial
expression and words to ur questions. Choose a location like brusells
etc. where u have an inhouse rack and a knowledgeable SP related

6. avoid complex solutions, i have got real feel tht there is a high
possibility of marking the task incorrect if the proctor doesn't
understand them. its not a matter of just the output. anyways it'll
stay a mystery if something is marked incorrect so keep it simple.

7. think like a script!. take extra precautions like removing alias
etc...anything tht can affect an automated script shud be removed.
it'll hurt a lot to lose marks for such silly things so my
recommendation is to remove them once the lab is about to get over.

8. the lab will have old junk IOS codes running somewhere in the
corners, specifically added to give us a nasty ride via the buggy
road. show outputs might change after reload, so be aware for a double
check. if possible practice on few of them b4 the big day.

9. Read between the lines. Take some time out of config/keyboard, just
read and focus on the tasks thoroughly. try to think beyond the first
instinct. if it says to do something for X and Y, doing it for X,Y,Z
is wrong. in the verification you’ll see tht you successfully did it
for X and Y, but might missout looking at Z. make sure Z is left as
it is. Cryptic but shud be comprehensible as it makes a hell lot of
difference to the score! This is one of the major reasons of getting
low score in vpn section even after having proper end to end

10. know the silly rules. there is some fictitious cut off marks below
which you can't request a reread. if u still need it, u need to create
a lot of hell with cisco. (i managed to do it b4 ;) ). So think if
it’s worth it, else move on.

reference list -
1. CCO
2. ciscopress mpls configuration on cisco IOS - very good to start
with, more related to configs than concepts/theory.
3. ciscopress mpls fundamentals - very good to start with, better for
concepts and understanding the nut bolts.
4. l2 vpn architectures - this is by far the best for L2 mpls. Very
good for the crappy OEQs.
5. ciscopress isis network desgin and Jeffdoyle's TCP/IP - covers IGP
including isis very well
6. for ATM/FR srch CCO - it has good reference for OEqs

My actual list is much longer, but these are good enough.

now the lab experience -
lab was somewhat similar to my previous attempt. i got over within
4hrs 20 mins, so i had loads of time for verification. Found few silly
missouts, corrected. Round1 of verification was over in around 2 hrs.
all 100% working. then i left the keyboard, just read the questions
again. thankfully all was ok. I started a second round of
verification, in last 15 minutes i spotted my TE tunnel was down.
WTFFFF! was up an hour back...rechecked everythng dependent.
didnt dare to reload the core coz the lab was to get over soon.
prepared a list of clear commands related, applied, thankfully it came
up and stayed up. last minutes saved such important points. game over.
Got a pass in next 3 hrs. WOWW!

Vincent (SP program manager) has posted that Cisco is over with
finalizing the content for new SP lab blueprint, it will soon be
declared official.

And salute to the Lapukhovs and Scriveners who did all their IE's in
first attempt.


#19804 (SP,Sec)


  1. Congrats!
    I am soo happy you made it this time.
    Hearty Cheers!

  2. Can you please share the OEQs. Thanks

  3. Huge congrats mate.
    Its very motivating to come across recent passes.

  4. Well Done ....Congratulations !!

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