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Cisco CCNA certification

I finally obtained my Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. Because of life happening I spend a few years trying to get it. Here’s why.

I have always had an interest in networks, and my current job also demands a lot of network configuring. It was only logical I would obtain the CCNA certifications, also because there are only Cisco devices at my current job.

My employer (KPN Consulting) has always been willing to help me further my knowledge so in 2009 they send me on the Cisco CCNA Basics (Introduction & ICND) course at Startel. It was a big course since it was 2x 3 days and it covered all the basics you need to take the exam. I was planning on taking the exam shortly after the course. Even though I was told there would still be about 60 hours of self study involved.

Here is the part where it all went spiraling down. There were some things going on at my job that required my attention. And my 1 year old daughter also demanded my attention. That and I could not muster the focus I needed to spent hours studying every night. There was a promotion, and a son, and another promotion…and time was passing by and the knowledge I had acquired on the course was gone.

The last certification I obtained was VMware’s VCP on Infrastructure 3 back in March 2008. Since then nothing. So I knew it was time to act. I talked about this with my manager at KPN Consulting and I told him one of my goals in 2011 was getting CCNA. I made sure I was motivated because I went  ahead and put that goal on paper and we both signed of on it. I would get a ‘very good’ on my yearly review (meaning more money) if I obtained the certification before September 1st. So wanting to finally get it, and the agreement I made with my employer got me motivated again.

So in April this year I started studying for the first part of CCNA which is getting CCENT (ICND1). It  took me till June to get it all in my head and I passed the exam on June 8 with 930 points. I used a combination of study material. I used the CBT Nuggets ICND1 series. I really love Jeremy Cioara, the CBT Nugget Cisco trainer. So watching those videos was fun and really good. Through my employer I also got the official Cisco CCNA Preparation Library, which covers both ICND1 and ICND2. They are big books and hard to go through. I have actually fallen asleep on them and spending several hours sleeping on them. So that is when I turned to the CBT Nugget series. There are also some online sites that give you test questions and test simulations to get you a feel on the  Cisco iOS. Especially the Cisco Packet Tracer tool is awesome. It will let you build an entire lab with the different Cisco devices out there and let you configure it and play with it as if you actually had the hardware right there. Powerful stuff. On top of that I found the website http://www.networkingexamacademy.com where Blake Erickson has a guide for sale that will help you study what is needed for the exam, and leave out the many pages in the Cisco books that you don’t need. That was also a big help.

After I got ICND1 on June 8 I gave myself a week off and started working on ICND2. I found ICND2 a lot more difficult. Mainly because you really need to know every little detail there is about routing protocols. I mean trunks and vtp and subnetting is stuff I work with everyday, but frame-relay and serial connections is not something we have where I work. So that was all new to me. After hours of studying I planned my exam for August 24. But as it turned out there were more details then I had stuffed in my brain and I failed with 776 points (825 needed). Crap. I immediately rescheduled for August 31. And after a crap session of a week I went back to the testing center. Just before September 1st 🙂

I had my exam scheduled for 11am so when I got there at about 10.40 I heard that there was an overbooking…and I might have to wait for like 2 hours. Crap again. Time for coffee. But after about an hour I could enter the testing room and start. This time I was better prepared and even got some of the question I got a week before. After about an hour I saw that I had gotten 888 points. Pass.

CCNA finally! And even within the time frame I had set. Yay. I have already requested the ‘vSphere 4: Whats new’ course and my manager has already approved the course. Now let’s get cracking on VCP4 and 5.

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