Often there comes a day in a CCIE candidate's life when he ask a question - "should I attend a bootcamp?". This may be difficult to answer, especially when one has to get funding himself. Yesterday I came back from Warsaw after attending Narbik's 5 day CCIE RS bootcamp. In this post I'll share my thoughts.
Before I decided to talk with my boss about the bootcamp I did some reading about bootcamp, how it is structured and how Narbik does teaching. I read a few reviews, to name a few * Nicolas Michel
and this has helped me to make the right choice.
Once I got my boss approval I contacted Janet (Narbik's wife) to arrange the details. At this point it is important to mention that Micronics Training and Networking is a small company - most of the work is done by Narbik himself and Janet. Despite that everything that has to be done is handled very smoothly, usually you get an email reply in a couple of hours or next business day in the worst case.
Once my company made the payment I have received two workbooks titled CCIE Foundation 5.0. I was also told that I will receive two additional workbooks, Advanced Labs and Bootcamp on the first day. It is recommended to be familiar with these workbook upon attending bootcamp.
Bootcamp is structured as following:
- Day 1 - L2 security features, fully asessesed Cisco360 Mock Lab
- Day 2 - OSPF
- Day 3 - BGP, MPLS
- Day 4 - QoS, fully asessed Cisco360 Mock Lab
- Day 5 - Transitional Services
In the classroom
On the 1st day Narbik appeared about 9 AM. He introduced himself and gave 1000 ft bootcamp overview. Then he asked us to introduce ourselves to the class and tell about our weaknesses. Most people said they were lacking OSPF, QoS and MPLS skills. There were 10 people in the class and most of them were Polish. Two of them were re-takers. During Day 1 we received additional workbooks, called "CCIE Advanced R&S 4.0" (vol1 and vol2) and "CCIE Advanced Bootcamp". Together they are 4000+ pages!
Around 11 AM we started with fully asessed, eight hour mock lab. According to Narbik its difficulty level was around 3 comparing to the real lab, which is 7. Since this is Cisco360 Learning Program, the look & feel of the mock lab is exactly the same as on the real lab.
After we finished mock lab Narbik started lecture on L2 Security features. This guy really does the old-style teaching, just like in my early school days. Everything was done on the whiteboard. Every command was written with a great level of detail without referencing the documentation. What I enjoyed much was that Narbik kept us engaged by asking questions and telling jokes.
As you can imagine, the bootcamp is pretty intense. It's probably a good idea to eat some good food in order to keep your brain working fast, right? I have read that in some locations Narbik brings food into the class, but for some reason in Warsaw this doesn't happen. Instead we have been coming to a nice restaurant each day. At 1 PM sharp we have been saving our work and leaving the classroom.
We finished class around 9 PM and before we left the classroom Narbik gave us some homework. He said "well, but you're not kids, right? So we won't call this homework, let's call this project". We got access to two sets of racks, one was one from Cisco360 and the other was in Narbik's basement. The first one we used to do asessment labs, the second one was cabled according to the topology in Narbik's workbook, we used it during hands-on labs in the class and at the hotel.
The bootcamp fee was $2995. What I like about Narbik's course is the retake policy. In short, they allow you to come back as many times as you want under two conditions:
- The bootcamp version does not change
- You will not get access to Cisco360 labs anymore
DRM protected workbooks
One thing that you should be aware of is that each workbook you get is protected with Locklizard. This become real pain when you start doing labs on your own. You get only two licenses, so you can open the documents only on two machines. I had a numerous cases when I had to ask Janet for additional licenses. Fortunately I always have been receiving them very fast.
If you are like me and use Evernote a lot, you will have a hard time working with these workbooks, since they will not open until you close applications like Evernote, Greenshot etc. Also you cannot highlight text or add any notes like in an ordinary PDF document.
I ended up with printing workbooks. This wasn't very cost effective and environment friendly, but at least I can make notes and highlight interesting parts.
The labs are well written and structured. For example, in the Foundation workbook you configure devices from scratch. At the beginning it was a little bit annoying, but later I realized that this is an important process to improve my speed.
I enjoyed the bootcamp very much. I came back home highly motivated which is very important aspect of this journey. I learned new things, refreshed topics that have been rusty and met a few nice people. Although I've been lucky enough to attend the bootcamp without spending money from my own pocket, I wouldn't hesitate if I had to.