Well, the big news today in the CCIE world is that Cisco has finally announced the much anticipated changes to the CCIE Voice Lab read here. Although I have placed a lot of time in my preparations for the current voice lab, I feel this change is way over due and definitely needed. Not only will it bring the exam contents more in line with what we are deploying in the real world, we can finally get rid of some of those things that are EOS and outdated ( later 6500CatOS, and don’t forget to take your whacked out QoS with ya! )

So, I guess one question is what does this mean for me? Hopefully it means nothing! Hopefully, on February 17th, I show up in San Jose, nail this thing, and move on. But worst case scenario, and I end up not passing before the changes are made, I don’t think I will be that bad off. First, all of the core knowledge I have gained over the last year will be valid on the new exam. Callmanager 7.0, excuse me, Unified Communications Manager :-) , is not that much different than 4.x, with the exception of a few new technologies and a slightly different interface. No big deal. QoS is still QoS, gatekeepers, gateways, etc. All the core technologies are still there. A few “new” technologies have been added, such as Presence and Unity Connection. Which takes me back to what I stated earlier, bringing things more in line with current real world deployments (I recently deployed CUCM Business Edition which includes connection for a customer and another Engineer on our team recently deployed Presence for a different customer.) Now, another question that some of you may be asking yourselves is, “I am just starting my studies, should I start studying the new blueprint?” and my advice would be yes. I believe seats between now and Mid July 09 are going to be very hard to come by, and a chance at a 2nd attempt will be nearly impossible. The good news is that IPexpert has announced that they have been working for the past several months getting ready for this change and will have updated materials for the 3.0 lab soon. I suspect most of the popular CCIE vendors have been taking this same approach.

As far as my current studies, I am back in full swing. Weekends have been spent doing full 8 hour mock labs. Days are spent working on specific technologies. I spend a couple hours in the evening with my family and then practice some more at night along with reading. I finally took the time to learn VPIM and can now network CUE to Unity in my sleep :) . I also printed out every single service parameter in callmanager and have been going over these every night as well as just finished reading the QoS srnd completely, AGAIN. My main technology focus now is IPCC and scripting. I plan on being very confident with this by my next attempt. I have also been trying to come up with some of my own scenarios and plan on trying to integrate callmanager with CUE later this week. It should be interesting.

On another note, Matt Brooks over at IPexpert just hooked me up with the latest Voice Audio Lecture on Demand. I was a big fan of the older audio (came with my BLS) and I can say, from what I have listened to so far of the new, it is very good and much improved. I have the audio on my iphone which means I can listen to it anytime. Very convenient. I haven’t used any of the other CCIE tracks audio, but if it is anything like the Voice, it is well worth the money. Well, time to do some reading; I believe I hear those service parameters calling my name :-) .

James

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