The long and storied history of Cisco’s first certification begins in the 1990s, when the Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) certification was launched. 30 years later, the CCIE certification is widely recognized as the pinnacle of achievement in networking, and attaining it despite the arduous nature of certification demonstrates mastery of your chosen domain.

As a two-stage certification, the successful candidate must first qualify to sit for the practical exam by passing the relevant CCNP core exam. After that, the candidate begins preparing for the “Lab,” or practical exam. While the practical exams are no longer two-day affairs as they were in their early days, they remain daunting to the first-time seeker of the CCIE. Regardless of how much you’ve prepared, how much lab time you’ve spent studying in your garage (or wherever you can warehouse the gear), or how much time you spend in study groups, that first experience in a testing center can be daunting. But, what if you could reduce that initial terror? What if you had the chance to familiarize yourself with the topology? To practice with device access? To know what sort of hardware you would see? What if?

With the latest evolution of the CCIE program (part of 2020’s major evolution of the Cisco certification portfolio), the new CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure (formerly CCIE Routing and Switching) practical exam was refocused around the latest topics in campus and enterprise networking, with specific regard to the recent rise in intent-based networking. Gaining the requisite experience in these areas requires access to both Cisco DNA Center and Catalyst 9000 series switches.

In the CCIE Routing and Switching era, it was common (heck, it was expected) that candidates would have plenty of gear in their home or garage, on which to practice various scenarios in preparation for the CCIE practical exam. However, with the addition of Cisco DNA Center and Catalyst 9000 switches, personal ownership has become an expensive proposition, pricing effective preparation out of the reach of most candidates.

Enter CCIE Practice Labs

Shortly after the new CCIE exams launched in early 2020, we realized that there were nearly 2,000 individuals who were eligible to sit the CCIE lab exam who would struggle to gain valuable experience with the hardware they would be asked to configure, optimize, and troubleshoot during their practical lab exam. We knew we needed to provide some structured access to allow candidates to adequately prepare.

And thus, we have set aside a handful of actual CCIE Practical Lab pods that qualified candidates can rent for a four-hour block to practice in and prepare for the CCIE Practical Exam. For a very reasonable price, you can have completely unfettered access to an actual set of gear you would be interacting with on the real CCIE Practical exam. You’ll have access via SSH to devices, jump hosts, and be able to navigate, tweak, and experiment to your heart’s content. For those four hours, you’re the boss.

Gain the experience and confidence to position you for success.

Explore CCIE Practice Labs now.

Additionally, to help facilitate your experience in the lab, you can select from several recommended scenarios upon booking your lab session. For Enterprise Infrastructure, you can choose from 5 options: SD-WAN Basic Routing Lab, SD-WAN Intermediate Routing and AAR Lab, SD-WAN Intermediate Routing and Security Lab, SDA Basic Provisioning and Intra-VN Connectivity Lab, and SDA Inter-VN Connectivity with Fusion Router Lab.

Which CCIE Labs are available?

At this time, CCIE Practice Labs are available for CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure and CCIE Security Lab exam candidates. However, we intend to add the other CCIE variants to the mix in the future. Booking time on either lab requires that you be qualified to sit the respective CCIE practical exam, which means you have passed the ENCOR or SCOR exam in the last three years. Since capacity is limited, we must enforce access only to those who are entitled to sit for the CCIE practical exam.

Learn more about CCIE Practice Labs

—including how to book your preferred time slot and pay for your session.

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Geoff Anderson

Product and Portfolio Manager, Digital Transformation

Learning at Cisco