The CCIE R&S v4.0 was implemented back in October of 2009. It was announced in June of that year, and the blueprint was probably finalized a couple months before the announcement, so the version 4.0 is close to five years old.
At the time, Cisco said that they planned to make the lab exam more reactive to changes in technology compared to previous versions. Obviously that didn’t happen. So, bringing the CCIE R&S up to date for technologies that are in use in the real world was a must.
Therefore, for starters, Frame Relay had to go. But, Frame Relay gave us some interesting issues we had to overcome with the hub and spoke configurations and the routing protocols that have to run over them. OSPF is practically interesting with a hub and spoke topology. So what’s current that gives us that type of topology? Dynamic Multipoint VPN (DMVPN), that’s what.
The other changes just make sense.
Integrating IPv6 as more of a core topic makes sense since there is a large effort around deploying IPv6.
Changing the version of IOS being tested on makes sense as well. Cisco IOS 15 code has been out three plus years—time to upgrade.
What’s really interesting with the CCIE R&S v5.0 lab exam is the move to a 100% virtual environment. In v4.0, you configure real hardware, but you troubleshoot on IOS over UNIX (IOU). Version 5.0 is 100% on IOS over Linux (IOL), giving Cisco the luxury to add or remove the number of racks as needed for any given test day. It also gives them the luxury to change the topology periodically as needed, which will add complexity to simulate the lab with real hardware for study (really, you need to study the protocols and technologies and just about any topology would lend itself to studying for the exam).
IOL makes it so hardware-based tasks cannot be tested on, since there is no hardware to configure for. Some of those topics are being dropped, while others have been moved to the written exam.
The “routers” and “switches” will act a little differently than their real hardware counterparts. Some commands work, others do not. They reload way faster than the real thing, since there is no hardware to initialize. There can be an issue in which the configuration is correct but the function is not working. Reloading the “box” should be a part of your troubleshooting tool kit earlier in your process. You should think about getting your hands on a virtual rack at some point in your exam prep process, so you can see and feel the difference and not be surprised by it in the real lab. The Cisco 360 program has been updated to version 5.0, and partners are rolling it out. All the labs are done on IOL, and you can rent virtual rack time as well. Take advantage of it and get your hands dirty on IOL.
Bottom line, this change to CCIE R&S v5.0 is long overdue, and I think it looks promising. If you are current with technologies and are studying for the CCIE R&S, v5.0 is nothing to be scared of. I think it’s an exciting change.
The last date for CCIE R&S version 4.0 testing is June 3, 2014. CCIE R&S version 5.0 will go live on June 4, 2014.