The company I work for is pretty good at sending us on training, we get to pick and choose what we want to do, we get a generous budget and if it’s applicable to our role then we can go on it.
So far I havn’t really taken them up on this, we did a whole group training thing on Zabbix last year, but I have never asked them for any training specific to my role, mainly because my role was so all-encompassing that picking a singular topic was difficult. Now my role is very network centric the idea of attending a CCIE bootcamp is a sensible one. But which one? I have written about them before, but this post is much more polarised, and takes into account the more personal issues with training that I have come to understand as I have progressed in my CCIE studies.
Bootcamps usually bring up a mental picture of being hours and hours of lectures, long days followed by long nights of studying. I did one before when I did my CEH and before that when I went on a RedHat linux course. Finding the correct training partner for you is a tricky one, and the same factors in this decision for one person are not necessarily the same for another.
So here’s the rub. I have twin sons, they are at the great age of two and a half that means that everyday they do something new, the novelty of this has not worn off and I love watching them grow day by day, which means that I relish the time I get with them. This also means that I don’t particularly want to be studying from the time they get up and not getting home until well after their bedtime. Bedtime is daddy’s time with them. I come home, they ask me to get the Spiderman lego out, we play with it, or we watch Bubble Guppies or Fireman Sam, then I put them to bed and read them a couple of stories. My wife looks after them during the day, and twins are tiring. They have the energy of ten Duracell bunnies combined, so that hour or so that I have with them in the evening gives her a bit of a rest.
But I do need to go on the training. But which one did I pick?
CCIE Online Training
Online training is great for some, if you have the quiet environment where you can be 100% dedicated with no interuptions. I do work from home one day a week, and this is because the boys are at my mums for the day. They go to nursery on a Monday and a Friday morning, but that does leave a large amount of time when the noise level in the house would be too distracting.
IP Expert do a great range of online CCIE courses, as well as live ones, but not any live ones in the UK. So they are not really an option for me.
This leaves the choice hovering between INE and Micronics.
INE CCIE Bootcamp
INE offer a ten day course split over five working days, so that would mean that I get the weekend to spend as family time. These are in London which would mean about an hour and half of travel. The days are between 10 and 12 hours long, which would mean that I would get home at around half ten in the evening. If the day runs later then I stand the chance of missing the last train home, and its a very long walk.
I was trying to get on this a few months ago, but it would have been a mix of v4 and v5, and I am only going to try for the v5, it gives me a bit more breathing space. I didnt get the OK in time though to put through the order, so didn’t end up going. I did spend a lot of time going back and forth with Tami at INE though and she was really helpful. The cool things with INE is that they offer a package deal – you can get a free iPad mini loaded with the course ware, or you can get INE to pay for your lab exam, or 2 free graded mock exams. I was going to opt for the free lab exam (option B) which seemed like good value for the $6k that the course costs.
They have another bootcamp in London in September / October, so this would be a good option.
The problem I have with London though is that it would cost me another £350 in travel costs (about $500 ish). The upside is that they have excellent instructors whose names are synonymous with the CCIE, and you get a very excellent workbook.
Narbik CCIE Bootcamp (Micronics)
The other option is the 10 day end to end bootcamp from Micronics training, run by Narbik Kocharians, and he’s the guy who has written the new CCIE v5 Certification guide. It runs over the same set of days as the INE course. It’s called End-To-End “No Excuses”. Why are there no excuses? The course runs for ten days, straight. No weekend off, its ten days long. Here’s the breakdown:
Day 1: 9am – 9pm
Day 2: 9am – 9pm
Day 3: 9am – 9pm
Day 4: 9am – 4am
Day 5: 9am – noon
Day 6: 9am – 6pm
Day 7; 9am – 6pm
Day 8: 9am – 8pm
Day 9: 9am – 8pm
Day 10: 9am – 4am
The nice thing is that it’s really close to where I live in Bedfordshire, so I can drive to and from it, no worries about train costs, missing trains because the day runs later than planned, but look at days 4 and 10. The day ENDS AT 4AM! This is because there are two fully graded 8 hour lab exams. There are three in all, with a 6 hour one on the first day. It’s harsh. It would make for a very tiring course. But they are well placed within the course. The following day for the first 8 hour exam finishes at noon, followed by a couple of 6PM finishes, which means that I would get to see the boys. Still a 4AM finish? That’s hardcore. I don’t stay up till 4AM very often, certainly not since my misspent youth, and that generally entailed (without getting into the illicit details) drinking lots of tea and laughing hysterically at comedy DVDs, followed by a long walk along the river. 4AM now that I am a happily married father-of-two? Yeah, it ain’t gonna happen unless there is a bloody good reason.
Anyway, with the Micronics training you get the Foundation workbook which bridges the gap between the CCNP and the CCIE, you get this before the course starts so you are well prepared. When the course starts you also get Cisco 360s Routing and Switching v5 course ware, the Advanced CCIE Routing and Switching 5.0 Technology Focused Workbook and the Advanced Troubleshooting 5.0 workbook (these are all secure copies in PDF format).
The Micronics training costs less than the INE, but you don’t get the lab exam for free. So it roughly works out the same.
Which CCIE bootcamp did I choose?
The 4AM finishes really made me think again about going for the Micronics training, they also only take PayPal, so I would have to pay for it and then get reimbursed by the company, whereas INE will send you an invoice, and there are not any 4AM finishes. But then there arn’t the graded exams, unless you go for that option (Option C), but then you don’t get the exam fee paid for either.
In the end I went for Narbik’s training. It’s closer to home, I like the fact that you get to do a proper simulation of the 8 hour lab exam and finishing at noon or 6pm does allow me to see my kids. The 4AM finishes is a little worrying, but then this is the CCIE, and no one said it would be easy.
I think I might get this T-Shirt printed up: