The CCIE Service Provider lab exam is an eight-hour hands-on exam, which requires a candidate to configure, optimize, diagnose, and troubleshoot a series of complex network scenarios for a given specification based on dual stack solutions (IPv4 and IPv6). Knowledge of troubleshooting is an important skill and candidates are expected to diagnose and solve issues as part of the CCIE lab exam. Candidate will not configure all end-user system, however the candidate is responsible for all devices residing in the network.
The eight-hour lab format consists of three modules and need to be taken in the following sequence during the day of the exam:
Module 1: Troubleshooting module (two hours)
The Troubleshooting module delivers incidents that are independent of each other, which means that the resolution of one incident does not depend on the resolution of another. The topology that is used in the Troubleshooting module is different than the topology used in the Configuration module.
The Troubleshooting module is 2 hours. If desired, candidates can extent the Troubleshooting module’s time by borrowing up to 30 min from the Configuration module. Note, the total Configuration's module time will be reduced by the extra time spend in the Troubleshooting module (if any, up to 30 min). If candidates finish the Troubleshooting module early, the unused Troubleshooting module’s time will be added to the Configuration module’s time, ensuring a total lab exam time of 8 hours. The Diagnostic module is fixed in duration (60 minutes).
Module 2: Diagnostic module (one hour)
The Diagnostic module focuses on the skills required to properly diagnose network issues, without having device access. Candidates will be provided with a set of documentation that represents a snapshot of a realistic situation: at a point in time in an investigation process that a network engineer might be facing. The main objective of the Diagnostic module is to assess the skills required to properly diagnose network issues. These skills include:
Correlate: Discerning multiple sources of documentation (such as e-mail threads, network topology diagrams, console outputs, logs, and even traffic captures.)
These activities are naturally part of the overall troubleshooting skills. They are designed as a separated lab module because the format of the items is significantly different.
In the Troubleshooting module, the candidate needs to be able to troubleshoot and resolve network issues.
In the Diagnostic module, the candidate need to make choices between pre-defined options to either indicate:
What is the root cause of the issue?
Where is the issue located in the diagram?
What critical piece of information allows you to identify the root cause?
What missing piece of information allows you to identify the root cause?
Module 3: Configuration module (five hours)
The Configuration module provides a setup very close to an actual production network At the beginning of the module, the candidate has full visibility of the entire module. A candidate can choose to work in the sequence in which the items are presented or can resolve items in whatever order seems preferable and logical.
To maintain the total exam time to eight hours, the optional 30- minutes the candidate decided to use in the Troubleshooting module is deducted automatically from the time originally allocated for the Configuration module.
For the CCIE Service Provider Lab, both the troubleshooting and the configuration module run in a 100% virtualized environment. The web-based delivery infrastructure supports this virtual environment, using the VIRL/CML. The diagnostic module however, can be based on real equipment (such as the Cisco ASR9000 Series and the Cisco Metro Ethernet ME 3600x Series). Please refer to the equipment and software list on the Cisco Learning Network. Topologies used within all three modules represent realistic service provider backbone scenarios and between modules. The main focus of the lab exam is to test and validate troubleshooting, diagnosing, and configurations skills, rather than evaluating specific platform and/or software knowledge.