Sunday, July 14, 2013

One week to the CCIE-W lab, An approach

So in just over a week I will make my way to lovely San Jose to take my first attempt at the CCIE Wireless lab.  Sure it's a long shot passing on a first attempt, but even a failure at this point will give me the experience of "The Lab" and help point my studies in the right direction.  Not to say that I'm not going to give it my all, but I also don't "expect" to pass.

I'm currently going through the Fastlane lab material, and a lot of configuration guides and implementing them in my home lab.  I feel ok about the material.  I wish I had more time to to cover topics like MSE and WIPS, but I decided to go ahead with the lab on a short timetable.  At this point I'm looking more at SWTs (Stupid Wireless Tricks), learning some lesser known CLI commands and building a strategy for dealing with problems in the lab.

My focus for skills building is moving away from the simple "How Do I?" to more of a "How Do I Verify?" or "What is the quickest way to configure feature <x>?"

Right now I'm planning on a mixed strategy of CLI, WCS and the controller interface.  I may change that up when I see what's on the lab, but that's my plan to approach it.

I'm also breaking my process into a few categories that are tier'd and tackling groups of tickets together.  The goal here is to break the lab objectives into a typical wireless deployment and then progressing as if I was on a customer site

For example:

L2, L3, End to End connectivity
Objectives: 1, 2, 5

WLC Connectivity
Interfaces, WCS, Controller Discovery, etc,
Objectives: 1*, 2*, 5, 7, 9, 10

Wireless Groups and Organization:
AP Groups, WLANs, AAA,
Objectives: 3*,4*,5,6

802.11 and Wireless Features Config
RF, TPC, DCA, Cleanair, etc
Objectives: 5*,6*,7*,8,9,10,11

High Level Applications:
MSE, WIPS, Location,
Objectives: 8*,9*,10*,11*

My hope is to indicate at which step each ticket is needed and work on it there.  Tickets that I decide to pass on will be circled for work on at the end.  I will mark the final step of a ticket with an * as to when I should receive points for having completed it.

My plan is to spend at least 6.5 hours actively going after objectives.  The last 90 minutes will be spent verifying as much as I can.

A couple of techniques that have been suggested to me.

Turn off your radios.  A lot of your configuration will have to have the a and g radios disabled.  Turn them off until you are done with configuring that portion of The Lab.

Configure your TPC and DCA before lunch.
If you need to reboot your equipment (WLC for Lag), reboot it before you leave for lunch, or schedule it to reboot during lunch.

Turn on your radios roughly 2 hours before the end of the lab, that way you are outside the start-up for TPC.

Don't trust that anything is the default.  Verify everything.  Don't assume that someone didn't monkey with settings before handing it to you.

Leave a notepad and pencil in the car.  Write down as much as you can remember to go back and review for future attempts.  Go home and pull apart what you did and figure out where you could have missed points.

Have fun.