Much like others before me I thought it best to outline the resources I used in preparing for my second, and ultimately, successful attempt. If you haven’t already looked to Daniel Dib’s excellent blog, I’d encourage you to do so. For this post, I’d look specifically to his listing of resources used. I’d also recommend reading Petr Lapukhov’s recommended reading list.
My listing is essentially Daniel and Petr’s list plus some additional things (as I started at a far, far lower technical level than Daniel or Petr operate at). I also like having a few different variations of a topic as it helps me to round out my understanding and provide the same material with a different approach. I also understand funds can be limited for many CCDE candidates and directing them towards scenarios and away from buying lots and lots of books is a good thing. I believe you can easily find all the technical information to complete CCDE for free and hope this listing makes that easier to do.
I’ve posted my thoughts on the test, and my second attempt previously here. I’d encourage readers to look there first and then come back to this post if you haven’t already read that one. In that vein most of these items are about bringing yourself to a state of technical completion while understanding the why’s of deploying a technology. The obvious stand out are the scenarios which are to help reinforce/validate technical completion and prepare for the specifics of the test.
DC Spine-and-Leaf Architecture Overview – A great, relatively short overview of spine-and-leaf designs and how overlays, underlays and traffic handling all work in these topologies. This is a great place to start and orient on this topology.
NSF and SSO Deployment Guide – This is an older document covering NSF and SSO. Most of the value is right up front in first few pages and, especially, in the diagrams showing where you benefit the most from NSF. If you are looking for something to help ensure you can understand where (for those fun diagram questions where you pick which technologies to deploy) and why, this is a good one.
Cisco DCI Design and Deployment Guide 2.0 – I like this document over some of the newer ones as it seems to more closely align with the technologies for the exam (which I don’t believe covers VXLAN yet). It also does a good job of covering some options for DCI, all the attendant considerations for that option and why those options are needed. I found it helpful in thinking through why a certain technical solution generation follow-on effects that needed handling in the design.
Detecting Network Failure – Again, clear and concise information by Mr. Dib.
Understanding DHCP Option 82 – I’m not sure why I have this in my Readings folder but I have it there. It’s short and can likely be condensed into a single flash card…so not too much to tackle.
ITU-T G.8032 Ethernet Ring Protection Switching – Cisco’s IOS configuration guides is the source here. If you are like me and have never deployed G.8032 or have any familiarity with it this is a good document to help explain how it works and what it does.
Optical Impairment-Aware WSON Control Plane – Data sheet that covers wavelength switching and GMPLS. I was familiar with WDM techniques and features but wasn’t familiar with GMPLS and WSON. This helps plug that gap.
Protection and Resiliency in Metro Ethernet Networks – A very concise article from the MEF about FRR, G.8031 and G.8032, and others. While very short it has a nice diagram for each type and allows you to see and compare all of the technologies to help in protection for L2 networks.
I could cite several here but I didn’t use them a great deal. I felt my day-to-day role in helping customers plan and design networks gave me a good feeling for how to approach most of the requirements and other high-level items needed for the CCDE. Definitely good nuggets were excavated from these but I didn’t feel them crucial to my success:
The Art of Network Architecture – I didn’t use this text at all.
Top-Down Network Design – I didn’t use this text at all.
CCDE Study Guide – I mostly skimmed this book and/or used it is a “framing” reference on a topic. I did use it for periodic refresh as well but do not recall reading it exhaustively.
CCDE Quick Reference – This is truly a quick reference and I’d urge caution in thinking it covers a topic in detail to assist you in the test. I’d almost recommend reading this as an initial text to help test/set/validate your understanding of topic for digging deeper via other references.
BRKRST-2365 – Unified HA Network – I don’t think this presentation is easily found on the main CL website but some internet crawling can likely yield the slide deck. It’s a superb example of how multicore network design works, how adding links can (or not) improve uptime and resiliency and general recommendations around network design. I wish they’d re-do this session and make it available via video too.
Cisco TAC Security Podcast – Securing Routers – First, its a real shame they don’t release more episodes. This was a FANTASTIC podcast. Good coverage on how/where/what to do in securing Cisco Routers.
RIPE BCOP lPv6 Prefix Assignment – There is
much some discussion in the industry regarding what size prefix to use where in IPv6. I found this helpful in explaining what to use, where and, critically, why.
Implementing First Hop Security in IPv6 – A solid and clear document regarding IPv6 security in the first-hop. This is a document you want to read and ensure you know.
IPv6 – Service Provider in Advanced MPLS Networks – This is an older article but features a really clear explanation of 6PE and 6VPE including a breakdown of how the two work in the provider network. Excellent first read on the topic.
IPv6 Multicast – A good short document on IPv6 multicast completed by Daniel.
Mythology of IPv6 – Really fantastic article by Geoff Huston. I like the article for helping to dispel some myths that persist for some folks around IPv6. It is key to make sure you don’t share these ideas before thinking through designs that involve IPv6. Geoff has a somewhat controversial stance on IPv6 vs. IPv4 in other places but the article is well written and reasoned.
IPv6 Technology Overview I
IPv6 Technology Overview II
These PowerPoints cover the basics in IPv6 workings as well as some transition methods (at the end). Good as a free introduction/run through of IPv6 and how it works.
IPv6 Security Brief – An older document regarding IPv6 security but does cover some key points of interest. Helps explain some differences between v4 and v6 and how they play out in securing v6.
NAT64 Stateless vs. Stateful – A good white paper covering stateless vs. stateful technologies. This helped me in framing up the options for v6 transition and the table at the bottom, I think, makes a critical point about conservation of IPs vs. connectivity.
Somewhat amazingly I didn’t read any real books on IPv6. The recommended v6 reading in the blueprint is paper only and I have a strong aversion to getting physical copies of books at this point. I cannot recommend this as a course of action but I can say it worked.
BRKRST-2022 – IPv6 Routing Protocols Update – I cannot recall this being especially excellent but it does provide information on IPv6 and does so in a video/audio format to help with other intake methods.
PIM BiDir – A good overview of BiDir from the older IOS configuration guides. I found it to be clear, and brief, on what BiDir is, and more critically, why it is advantageous to the network. Again, understanding the why is critical. Also is covered how the deployment of BiDir gets rolled out and covers caveats in doing so – key information in answering implementation questions related to migrations etc.
Using Multicast Domains – This is a short introduction to mVPN by the extremely formidable Ivan Pepelnjak. I liked it as it helped set the stage for understanding the issues associated with multicast in an SP world and HOW multicast will be supported by an SP. While the book it is sourced from is excellent too, this article is free.
Interdomain Multicast Solutions Using MSDP – I really liked this document as it is a mini version of Definitive MPLS Design’s various scenarios and walks through how four different ISPs implement interdomain multicast using PIM-SM, MBGP and MSDP. It covers a good bit on MSDP which was helpful on that specific piece too. When you are looking for scenarios it can be a good one to talk/think through.
IP Multicast Best Practices for Enterprise Customers – A great Cisco white paper reference regarding multicast and, really, faster convergence in general. It is a condensed explanation of timers and features of multicast, how to tune them and the benefits provided by tuning to an enterprise.
PIM BiDir Overview
More PIM BiDir Details
Another great article from Daniel. Provides a nice, fast review of BiDir.
IP Multicast, Volume I – This was my primary reference text on multicast to prepare for the test. Between this and the few articles above I felt well prepared. If you must pick, I’d just focus on this book for your multicast needs. It should be sufficient.
IP Multicast, Volume II – This released after I passed but I list it here as it covers MPLS+multicast interactions and seems solid on that portion as well as some specific deployment concerns. I cannot say I used it to help in passing (I didn’t) but I do find it valuable as a text.
BRKIPM- 3017 – mVPN Deployment Models – Luc (the presenter) does a great job of covering the material but occasionally doesn’t fully clarify a term before using it. I found the session excellent but very dense on material. If you are not solid on the fundamentals before starting it you will drown as the complexity continues to mount throughout the session.
Demystifying H-VPLS – While other, Cisco-created documents talk about H-VPLS I found this one from Juniper to be clearer on the what and why of H-VPLS. It breaks down the solution while covering tradeoffs. And it is short for the concepts in play.
EVPN and PBB-EVPN – I’m putting this here as it is commonly lumped into other presentations around SP concerns and MPLS. It is NOT MPLS however but can be combined with MPLS in a core. I found the document excellent at laying out what EVPN is, what PBB-EVPN is, and how it improves over VPLS and other, existing, solutions. After listening to the CiscoLive presentations this was a good way to review and see things again in a condensed form. It also helps cover the benefits (and hence tradeoffs) made in VPLS and other technologies.
Hierarchical VPLS – While other documents and books cover H-VPLS (including the one above by Juniper). I found this to be a very good explanation of VPLS and then H-VPLS in a digestible format for me. This was the first VPLS related document I went through in preparing for the CCDE.
MPLS-TE FRR with Link and Node Protection – A very nice explanation of the moving parts for link and node protection. It does cover a number of caveats in deployments as well. This is very concise but good for a fast review.
MPLS Auto-Tunnel – Daniel strikes again with a concise explanation of what and why on auto-tunnel.
Definitive MPLS Network Designs – This one is pretty much the go-to on MPLS and one of the best books in general for CCDE. It explains the technical moving parts and then works through a series of designs, with greater complexity and requirements, to showcase how the different MPLS technologies can be leveraged. It’s an outstanding book despite being older. The first few chapters I found to be informational dense enough (or I lacked sufficient focus…) that I had to come back to it after reading the next book and some time on CiscoLive presentations.
MPLS Fundamentals – I found this one to be a great read and used it to get to speed on more concepts before going back to Definitive MPLS Network Designs. Luc also does a LOT of presentations on MPLS and multicast so he really, really knows his stuff.
Traffic Engineering with MPLS – I liked this one as it was a lot like Cisco’s documentation in terms of summary of function or feature and then configuration to deploy. As CCDE doesn’t go into the details of deployment it means you can get a pretty fast summary of things by skipping those parts and just absorb the summaries.
BRKCRT-2601 – VRF, MPLS and MP-BGP Fundamentals – A good warm-up session that helps explain how to transition into MPLS Networks and how portions of them communicate. If you are need a real beginning level session, this is a good pick.
BRKMPL-2101 – L2 VPNs in MPLS – This was excellent and provided a LOT of material and information. Due to pausing and note taking it took about 3 hours or more to go through it. Nonetheless, my understanding was much stronger on VPLS and EVPN after the effort.
BRKMPL-2102 – IP VPNs in MPLS – I didn’t get through this one yet but it is on my list for listening as well. I suspect it would round out the topic by covering L3 VPNs.
BRKMPL-2100 – Deploying TE – This helped clarify a lot of the concepts I had around TE and even covered some QoS interactions that were helpful. Speaker is engaging and interesting too.
BRKMPL-2112 – MPLS WAN Backbone Solutions and Designs – Great session that helped explain design and lessons learned from deployments. Helped to gather different concepts in my head. It covered some topics of less required interest (like encryption) but still a good one.
Network Collective – MPLS Part I
Network Collective – MPLS Part II
Network Collective – MPLS Part III
Network Collective – MPLS Part IV
A great series walking through MPLS and its various parts. While it isn’t as in-depth as the CL presentations or the books it can be good as a refresh or to help start your learning.
QoS for IP/MPLS Networks – I found this to be the superior read on QoS. While Szigeti et al is considered the definitive work on the topic I found the reading to be a bit harder and most of End-to-End devote to optimization on specific platforms…something CCDE doesn’t care about at all. Having a single book that focuses on QoS in both IP and MPLS was huge gift and help to ensure my understanding was seamless on QoS deployments. I’d really recommend reading this if you are struggling to get through End-to-End.
End-to-End QoS Network Design – Little to add here. It’s the de facto book for QoS and the recommended reading per the blueprint. It is something of a must-have and possessing it is likely good for when you need to assist your design into deployment…but from a reading/study view, I’d go for the title above.
BRKRST-2509 – Mastering Data Center QoS – I generally don’t see a lot of folks running any real QoS in the DC but I found this presentation helpful in covering a variety of QoS topics and considerations that I hadn’t seen in other QoS readings (which tend toward WAN and Campus deployment scenarios). I also found specific nuggets about how storage traffic types would require CoS vs. DSCP uses. This is from an older CL session and I don’t know that it is still available on-demand.
Forgive the breakdown in structure but I need to break things out on a per protocol basis.
BGP AIGP Configuration – This one is from IOS configuration documents. It provides a good overview of AIGP and another chance to read through the concept and cement it. Also helpful if you need/want to lab it up.
BGP and Suboptimal Route Reflection – From the great Russ White this is a good review of the suboptimal routing possibilities that arise from RRs. While the series below from Diptanshu Singh is more thorough and required reading I found it helpful to reinforce concepts and, sometimes, have a less deep version of something to warm up with.
BGP Confederations – Great write up by Daniel. Walk through all you need to grasp the main moving parts. I agree with his conclusions on avoiding it as well.
BGP Convergence – Very good article regarding BGP convergence times and the various timers, knobs and bits that influence it. This is a condensed version of similar material from BGP Design and Implementation.
BGP PIC Edge – A good explanation of PIC by Orhan, including drawings to help illustrate the points.
BGP Route Reflection and Multiple Cluster IDs – A solid article by Cisco directly regarding cluster IDs and how they fit into route reflection. Much of the document is given over to outputs from the various devices to help in showing how the devices see the routes and how reflection is working. You can either skip these outputs (reducing the reading time) or use them to help you in labbing or understanding specifics if you aren’t clear.
BGP Route Reflector Clusters – A shorter article by Orhan regarding RR and cluster IDs. Helpful if you need to get a higher overview of the concepts before going deeper.
BGP RT Constrained Route Distribution – A very good bit of documentation from the configuration guide of IOS on what RT constraint is and how it works. I found this helpful as a clear, concise resource on this particular knob and it help in clearing up some group discussions regarding RT constraint vs. ARF.
EIGRP Query Scoping – A great, concise document by Petr regarding query scoping. I recommend listening to the Network Collective podcast first, then reading this to re-enforce things. If you aren’t solid on the concept of how EIGRP queries work and WHY and WHERE you need to scope the domain this can help.
Achieving Subsecond IGP Convergence in Large IP Networks – This is an academic paper completed by a group of networking folks. It covers how convergence can happen, how it was tested and walks through the components of convergence. It is an interesting and different type of read from the traditional blog or book and I enjoyed it. I believe I came across it as part of a Slack discussion regarding the benefits (or lack thereof) for iSPF in modern routing stacks.
OSPF as PE-CE Protocol and Loop Prevention in MPLS L3 VPN Networks – Cisco document regarding how DN-bit functions when using OSPF as the PE-CE protocol and providing L3 VPN MPLS Networks. It is a solid read with diagrams showing how the parts work to break a loop. It also shows the topology ramifications of using DN-bit.
OSPF Design Guide – An older Cisco document that covers OSFP in detail. If you cannot get Doyle’s book this is likely a decent replacement on OSPF.
OSPF Prefix Suppression – This is a cool feature and one I wasn’t aware of before my studies. I’m not sure why this blogger stopped publishing (they have only a few up) but this was an extremely good article showing the specifics on the feature and how it changes the routing table.
OSPF Route Filtering Demystified – Superb article by Petr regarding filtering and LSAs. Was very helpful in helping hammer home how each LSA type works in OSPF and also how you can filter in the protocol and, critically, the ramifications of filtering.
OSPF LFA FRR – Cisco IOS configuration guide on LFA, FRR and SRLGs. Concise and helpful in reviewing these concepts and how they can help in a design.
BGP Design and Implementation – Great book on the protocol and how it is used as universal
garbage dump truck now. It covers all the major needed topologies and deployment knobs.
OSPF and IS-IS – A fantastic book covering two of the key protocols for the test. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It seems like the book was out of print or something for a bit there but getting a copy is awesome if you can.
Optimal Routing Design – I felt this was one of the most critical readings for the test. Routing design, specifically getting it optimal, is the entire point of the largest value section on the test. I suspect many candidates have a good working knowledge of routing but I found the book helpful in explaining through the why’s of it all.
Routing TCP/IP, Volume 1 and Volume 2 – I found Volume 1 and 2 helpful in re-reading through how one of the routing protocols worked or just to quickly check something. I felt there was a gap in my understanding of routing from CCNP R/S to the CCDE level (which, I think, is much closer to CCIE R/S level understanding). Going through these texts was helpful in fixing that gap.
BRKRST-3363 – Fast Routed Convergence – This session, and the accompanying slide deck, are must haves for serious network engineers doing routing. Denise is extremely sharp, spends/spent a LOT of time emulating customer networks and helping to tune/improve/prove they work so she really knows what she is talking about. Walking through each protocol, what knobs to turn, why to turn them, and how the interact is awesome. I can only say I find it a shame this was only run once at CL…it should be a regular so more engineers can be exposed to the ideas in it.
BRKRST-3310 – Troubleshooting OSPF – This is the 2018 version of Nick’s great session. While most folks understand how/why OSPF converges in the way it does it can be handy to refresh and it can be handy to get into the mindset of how the protocol works. I found Nick’s session to be great at this – after all the noise you have in studying LSAs and area types and deployment of the areas Nick’s presentation allows you to apply it and then get validation. Highly useful.
BRKCRS-2040 – WAN and Remote-Site Deployment with CVDs – Stephen Lynn does a good job of explaining the why’s and how’s of what was/were/are the CVDs for iWAN. Similar to Nick’s session this is a great way to think through how the various decisions in a design interact, conflict and harmonize. It also provides some insight into the decision’s Cisco made in release the “official” design.
Network Collective HoN – BGP Route Churn – Explanation for route churn, add-paths and other knobs. Again, the history portion helps understand when/how the problem arose. I find that critical to anticipate what will happen in the future if a design is carried forward. A good design tries to solve future problems before they arise.
Network Collective HoN – BGP Optimizations – A good episode in explaining how BGP has been optimized as a protocol. The optimizations help in clarifying how the protocol works which is key to know its design.
Network Collective – BGP Traffic Engineering – An audio version of BGP best-path selection. Good for refresh/audio review of the topic.
Network Collective – BGP Peering and Reachability – Good refresh and covers some on RR use and DMVPN interactions.
Network Collective – All You Ever Wanted to Know about EIGRP – And now EIGRP! The portion where they discuss limiting query scope is great. Nick has an uncanny ability to diagram with words.
Network Collective HoN – EIGRP – Donnie Savage is amazing and hearing about how and when the protocol evolved is key to understanding how it works…which is key to how to design around it.
Network Collective – Digging Deep into IS-IS – Pretty similar to commentary on the OSPF piece just with IS-IS.
Network Collective – What Your Momma Never Told You About OSPF – It’s hard to beat Nick Russo joining the regular NC hosting crew to talk OSPF. Very good at explaining how OSPF’s features as a protocol can interact with your topology and design.
DMVPN Crypto Design Considerations – A shorter article by Daniel that helps explain things to think about regarding securing, via cryptography, DMVPN tunnels.
DMVPN and GDOI (or GETVPN) Implementation – I believe this link is now a broken one but I preferred it over the newer, GETVPN Design and Implementation Guide due to brevity. It’s about half the length and covered all the major moving parts in the technology. While the naming has shifted some the tech is the same really.
GET VPN Design and Implementation Guide – I touched on this above, it’s a newer, more updated document that is specific to GETVPN. It does a good job of walking through designs and then various topologies in which you can deploy it.
GET VPN Design Considerations – This is another from Daniel and is a great distillation of the above guide from Cisco. When you are looking for a shorter, more review type read this is a good one.
Layer 2 VPN Architectures – This book is the only major resource I could find on L2TPv3 and considerations for deploying it. It has other protocols and even some case studies to explain when/where to deploy but I used it exclusively for L2TPv3 learning.
Cisco TAC Security Podcast – DMVPN and GetVPN – Very good explanations on both protocols including differences. These guys spend a lot of time every day working on it and were great at explaining how they work.
Scenarios are critical to success on the test and likely are the most important piece as they are used to confirm your understanding. Spend as much as you can on these to the point of going with free/openly available resources on the other materials to get more scenarios.
Martin Duggin’s Scenarios (Amazon, Leanpub) are the closest thing to the real test in terms of content, time to complete and complexity. I’d rate them as an absolute must.
Jeremy Filliben’s Scenarios/Training (Personal Site) are also critical. Not only do you get great scenarios but you get access to Jeremy’s in-depth explanations and a Slack room to interact with other CCDE hopefuls. It was this room that allowed me to find other, like-minded (and mostly) time-zoned folks to form a group. Jeremy’s scenarios are a bit shorter than the actual test but are explicitly written to put you through the types of questions and scenarios found in the test. I found them superb in ensuring my mindset was correct for the test and in helping me to connect to the scenario.
Marwan Alshawi (Leanpub) given his role in writing the CCDP book (which is excellent I feel) I thought these might be the best of the group. I often found myself in significant disagreement with the answers and general things in them however. Other members of the group were more favorable in their review and I know they have gone through additional editing and changes since their first release. Nonetheless, I’d rate them as the least critical of the scenarios I purchased.