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The Journey to CCDE, a Private Story by David Peñaloza Seijas- Cisco Blogs

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This visitor submit was authored by Cisco Designated VIP David Peñaloza Seijas.   


Since I used to be a child, I used to be fascinated by many issues I discovered fascinating. I grew up being the nosy child, or “preguntón,” in Spanish. I used to be nearly all the time asking “why?” every time I obtained one thing defined or advised, which might drive a lot of the adults to madness after a few hours with me. 

My mother, in an try and get this matter solved, gave me a guide known as “El porqué de las cosas,” which roughly interprets to English as “The why of the issues.”

CCDE Success Story

I might spend hours studying and asking much more questions. It was an countless loop I loved as a (un)naturally curious child. To my shock, the guide had a number of volumes explaining issues all of us surprise about, however not many people have the drive to lookup, or “to Google,” in at this time’s parlance. 

Years later I thank my mother for such an excellent transfer; I picked up studying in my early years and continued to develop keen on it. Encyclopedias (do any of you keep in mind Microsoft Encarta?), novels (Potterhead right here!), tales, newspapers, and my profession area: IT. 

I began tweaking my very own pc when it felt sluggish, as I wished to play the cool video games different youngsters have been enjoying. Over time, it morphed into cracking video games, modifying registry keys, disabling/enabling providers, troubleshooting issues, and working a shared LAN (Hamachi) to play with my pals — the chances have been countless! 

Touching and troubleshooting techniques, putting in gadgets, and connecting cables and printers (gadgets from hell!) grew to become pure, and I began making a residing out of it after I was 16 years previous. It naturally grew into networking, and that’s precisely the place my story with Cisco, being it Academy, certifications, boards, all of it! 

As I grew to become a community engineer, the urge to understand how issues labored simply made it satisfying and compelling. There was an invisible world to us beneath cables, numbers, and blinking lights. I discovered an countless curiosity effectively (or hose) I might drink from every single day. 

Why CCDE? 

Round 2016, after a number of years as a community assist engineer, I made a decision to review community design. However why? By that point, I labored with many engineers and will see a distinction between them. Some have been completely happy to implement issues and see them working, typically with out them being fully clear to them. And another engineers, although, knew very effectively how issues labored and why the adjustments have been being launched. They’d a distinct perspective.  

That instantly caught my consideration; I wished to know the explanations behind issues. I was curious! At the moment, the CCDE neighborhood was rising and all people was so vibrant and welcoming that I obtained lured into it. I made a decision that though it could be a tough factor to do, I wished to review community design. 

You might be normally advised that CCDE is a certification for knowledgeable engineers and, given the quantity of information required, you must have not less than one CCIE earlier than making an attempt it. It initially discouraged me—till I spoke with folks like Elaine Lopes, Daniel Dib, Jeremy Filiben, Mark Holm, and Andre Azevedo. They assured me you that don’t want a CCIE to aim the examination, however you do want the information that comes with it. (Word that each one of them have not less than one CCIE!)

Like my good pal, Peter Palúch, advised me a number of instances: “You have to be on the identical degree. Make know-how your second nature, and perceive issues right down to the bone.” 

That 12 months, I began finding out and assessing myself truthfully, in search of areas to enhance. I aimed for CCDE and the huge information it could require.  

I initially took the CCDP* examination to gauge myself, which lined not solely fundamentals but additionally greatest practices; what was really helpful given sure circumstances. After passing, I keep in mind feeling energized and prepared for extra. 

Again then, I assumed: “What if I strive the CCDEv2 written examination? 

Narrator:And with out realizing, David was setting himself up for a candy and skin-scorching lesson. 

My Cisco certification examination journey 

It took me three makes an attempt and loads of finding out to go the CCDE written examination. The primary one was my means of gauging myself, whereas the second failure felt excruciatingly shut. Lastly, my third try was a candy go. 

CCDE Success Story

The CCDEv2 written examination was a beast. It primarily mixed Enterprise and Service Supplier matters, whereas additionally including some safety as effectively, making it a mighty difficult examination by itself. 

Was all my finding out sufficient to go the written examination? Sure. Barely. 

Was I able to take the CCDE sensible examination? Not likely. Not emotionally… and much much less technically. However that was a lesson I discovered over time after incomes myself a few scars. 

From August 2017 till Might 2018, I studied extra, I mentioned extra, and I assumed it was time. I had heard so many issues in regards to the examination; the model of the take a look at, the quantity of data, the studying and highlighting. It appeared doable. 

Then, my examination day got here! There I used to be in Madrid on Might 30, 2018, arriving sooner than anyone else! The testing middle wasn’t opened till 10:00, though the examination was supposed to begin at 09:00. Don’t ever ask a Spaniard to get up early, or you might be setting your self up for failure! 😀 

It was precisely like I had heard—however on steroids! The data, the emails, the diagrams, the questions. I assumed I used to be prepared for it, however I wasn’t. The examination made me notice that rather more was wanted; extra information, extra studying, extra expertise. 

Generally, that meant that I didn’t perceive a selected know-how effectively sufficient. Different instances, that meant I had missed said necessities or constraints or was not in a position to focus for all the time of the take a look at (8 hours). 

This occurred twice in 2018, in Might and November. On each events, it was a FAIL for me. 

CCDE Success Story

After getting crushed twice, I continued making an attempt. Out and in, it was robust to get on my ft once more. 

In between my makes an attempt in 2018 and 2019, I additionally took different exams to check my information and get myself nearer to the “CCIE-level” information I wanted earlier than I confronted the beast as soon as extra. 

CCDE Success Story

I used to be in a position to go the CCIE R&S** and Service Supplier exams whereas making ready for the subsequent out there makes an attempt for the CCDE examination. It felt nearer, knowledge-wise, in addition to in examination expertise. 

In 2019, I went for it once more. Twice. Each instances, I used to be visiting Frankfurt. And sure, though it felt higher, smoother, and clearer, it wasn’t sufficient. I failed each makes an attempt that 12 months and thought of taking a break earlier than dealing with the examination once more. I didn’t know, nevertheless, that my break can be all that lengthy. 

Taking a break

Between 2019 and 2022, so much occurred in my life. (And doubtless yours too!) A pandemic, adjustments in my private and work life, amongst different issues. I devoted time to understanding myself (I began visiting a psychologist) to discover what else was inside past the technical acumen.  

I used to be not prepared but, technically and personally. However I wasn’t in a position to see it. I used to be too proud to confess it and too cussed to cease making an attempt. I used to be solely bullying by means of the makes an attempt and pushing additional. 

What would you assume after an try? 

  • I used to be not studying quick sufficient. 
  • I used to be studying too quick. 
  • I missed the necessities. 
  • I missed that constraint. 
  • Did they are saying you couldn’t do X? 
  • I should have missed X know-how. 
  • I couldn’t keep targeted all through all the examination. 
  • I introduced preconceived notions into the examination. 
  • No person does that in the true world! 
  • I shouldn’t have second-guessed myself… 
  • God, I hate tables! 

Every a kind of makes an attempt teaches you one thing, however it’s a must to listen. In any other case, it goes over your head, and you find yourself bumping into the identical stone once more. Every lesson burns your pores and skin within the course of, or not less than, that was the sensation for me. Taking the examination was akin to being a meteorite getting nearer to the earth: the extra you method it, the mightier the burn and items of you proceed to fall until you brace your self. 

In my case, I used to be not in a position to see the forest due to the bushes. Though it sounds humorous, it was the case. I used to be an issue as an alternative of zooming out and looking out on the large image with all the transferring items. 

What else occurred throughout my break? Properly, CCDEv2 was revamped to CCDEv3, and matters have been adjusted, together with the exam-taking expertise. Much less Service Supplier, and extra Enterprise, extra Safety, extra Knowledge Middle, extra enterprise, extra Cloud, and extra Wi-fi! 

Earlier than persevering with with my story after the break, we might discuss which issues are vital to your CCDE journey. Don’t fear. We can be shedding some tears in a bit. 

What do you have to go the examination? 

Examine group and pals – AKA neighborhood 

Your examine group may very well be the important thing useful resource you have to go. The extra views you get, the higher your technical arsenal can be when dealing with the examination.  

Throughout my CCDE journey, I had the posh of finding out with folks like Mike McPhee, Jason Beltrame, Bruno Wollman, Fareed Fakoor, Remington Unfastened, Ronald Lopez, Anti Sourdi, Freerk Terpstra, Nicolas Vallet and Fabian Beck. All of them are sensible engineers/architects, they usually all taught me one thing alongside the best way. We shared suggestions and information, had classes to show others about what we have been good at, and naturally, made stunning bonds within the course of. 

On prime of that, I had great pals who weren’t finding out to take the CCDE examination however have been supporting me and educating me issues (educate me your secrets and techniques, grasp!) or supporting me as an individual, as a pal: folks like Peter Paluch, Daniel Dib, Mark Holm, Martin Novak, Ivan Zlatkov, David Chapcak, Matt Saunders, Kurt Claes, Peter Haluska, and Martin Duggan. 

A gaggle of pals and examine buddies, folks to debate with, folks prepared to pay attention, a ground that might assist me… a neighborhood. With out them, I’d not have handed it. This late success was due to them for his or her unwavering assist and motivation. It’s as a lot mine as it’s theirs. 

Each time I felt like quitting (particularly the final two makes an attempt) I used to be supported by them. (Particular point out to Peter, Daniel, Kurt, and Mark!) By individuals who, not less than at that second, believed in me greater than I did. They saved me on observe, pulled my ears when wanted, and hugged me laborious sufficient to drag my items collectively once more after I couldn’t do it myself. 

Know your self 

One other vital a part of your journey is to know your self. This may sound like a cliché for a lot of, however it’s tremendously vital, or not less than it was for me. 

The CCDE examination is completely different from another CCIE examination. It doesn’t depend on muscle reminiscence or quick typing. You should contemplate every choice, learn each doc, and consider each selection. It’s an 8-hour-long studying comprehension examination with technical and enterprise matters. Your psychological state is paramount. 

  • Are you aware if you examine the most effective? Is it in the course of the morning, afternoon, or night time? 
  • How briskly are you able to learn? 
  • How a lot of that may you keep? 
  • Are you able to deal with eight hours of finding out? 
  • What about 4-hour or 2-hour blocks? 
  • How good is your focus? (I get distracted simply.) 
  • How do you address anxiousness? 
  • How do you calm your nerves? 
  • Are you into meditation? Or do you do a fast collection of 20 pushups and really feel like new and targeted? 
  • What about your emotions in regards to the examination? 
  • How do you’re feeling when coming into, leaving, and in the course of the examination? 
  • Anxious? 
  • Nervous? 
  • Scared? 
  • Relaxed? 

All this stuff have been vital for me, and I want I’d have thought of them beforehand. I needed to study to think about them after each failed try. 

Initially, my drivers after I began all this have been: ambition, satisfaction (slightly hubris), and worry. I wished to get as excessive as doable, to be actually good at one thing, to be acknowledged, to close up each mouth that mentioned (there have been many) that I couldn’t make it or it was too laborious and I used to be going to fail, and likewise, my worry of lacking out (FOMO). 

An exquisite tune about that is Vienna, by Billy Joel. 

Over time I discovered (due to my expensive pal Peter Palúch, my psychologist, and a ridiculous quantity of introspection) that though my earlier drivers helped me to remain motivated and go away the nation, I used to be not going to make it any additional with unfavorable feelings, they might chew me up finally. What can be higher? Discovering optimistic motivation! 

I did my greatest to cease evaluating myself with others and solely evaluate myself with David from the previous. All of us have failures, everyone knows one thing any individual else doesn’t, and all of us can study one thing from others. Even the folks we don’t like can educate us one thing. 

I began wanting on the journey in addition to the aim. I didn’t cease chasing the solar, however I began to benefit from the view whereas I used to be doing it. I additionally began to understand extra of what I used to be doing, what I used to be studying, and what I used to be making, as an alternative of pondering, “I received’t have sufficient time in my life to do all of the issues I wish to do; I have to go quicker.” 

Lastly, and the toughest one: I did my greatest to cease worrying in regards to the examination’s consequence. In spite of everything, I had already failed a number of instances. Will it burn extra? Perhaps a bit. Will it’s a disaster? Not likely. Simply decide up your items, regroup, and deal with it once more. The examination is already nerve-racking sufficient, and worrying about failing earlier than taking it’s going to solely make me really feel extra anxious.  

Don’t beat your self up beforehand. Give your self an opportunity, forgive your self, and be type to your self. All of us make errors. Belief me, you might be sufficient. You are able to do it. You will have it in you. 

Throughout my final try, I used to be targeted on the examination itself, and the night time earlier than I assumed: Well, no matter occurs, I’ll give my greatest in the course of the examination. Cross or fail, it will likely be the most effective of me.

I didn’t know if I handed, and I used to be about to test the subsequent out there date for the examination. Little did I do know that I’d go this time, however extra on that later.  

Narrator: After which David ugly cried for hours as a result of he was a llorón when he knew he handed. 

Again on observe 

After the break, I used to be again on sq. one: the examination was revamped to model 3. Its contents had modified, and my written examination (legitimate for 3 years) had already expired. 

What was the very first thing to do? Take the written examination once more! I used to be fortunate sufficient to have a final likelihood earlier than the CCDEv2 written examination can be retired on November 1, 2021. 

I brushed up on all of the matters and studied for some weeks earlier than feeling prepared and, after all, having the looming shadow of the soon-to-be-retired examination over my head. To my luck, I handed, as soon as once more with a candy 860. I can’t lie about this: it was superb. 

I earned the proper to take the sensible examination once more, but it surely was a brand new model. The examination matters have been step one to take. I had new issues to study: Wi-fi, Cloud, and Safety. And in addition others to brush up and eventually study effectively: QoS, and multicast. 

Now, the examination was provided in Brussels like another CCIE examination, so I didn’t should juggle balls to guide an examination in a Pearson Skilled Middle in Frankfurt or Madrid. I might go to the Cisco workplace in Brussels like all people else! 

Additionally, a number of pals work there, so it’s a acquainted place for me. 

CCDE Success Story

In the midst of ten months, I visited Brussels 4 instances. Each time, I used to be welcomed by my expensive pal Peter Palúch and supported until no finish by him and Kurt Claes. 

My first try was an exploratory one. I had completely no hopes of passing. I needed to see what was completely different: the brand new engine, the brand new situations, the model, the know-how. And, God, I did. 

I got here out of the examination wanting like a fish in a fridge: eyes and mouth vast open, however I couldn’t see or say something. So many new issues to meet up with, extra tech, extra enterprise, and the testing engine was cooler and simpler to make use of. (Not every little thing was unfavorable!) 

I spent loads of time studying about Wi-fi, one of many weakest areas in my technical acumen. Freerk Terpstra and Fabian Beck gave me a masterclass on many issues, they defined particulars, deployments, authentication, and the character of wi-fi networks, it was intense! Freerk even created a mini CCDE situation and defined it to us intimately. 

I went once more in February with loads of hopes, nevertheless, it wasn’t but my time. Despite the fact that I felt higher, extra assured, and happier with my efficiency, it wasn’t sufficient. I spotted I wanted extra cloud, extra migrations, extra enterprise acumen, extra studying expertise, and extra focus. It was an countless listing! 

I saved a listing of matters I felt uncertain about and added extra after each try. The listing began big and continued to shrink over time whereas I addressed extra matters—till the final try. 

For the June try, I put loads of effort into finding out. My Cisco Dwell US session catalog was all about issues I wanted for the examination, together with a CCDE techtorial with Mark Holm, Zig Zsiga, and Rick Bauer, and several other classes about design. 

There I used to be within the CCDE Techtorial: “Dude, don’t inform me this bull****, I already took the examination!” (I’m sorry, Mark.) 

I wasn’t making any pals throughout that session. Seems that some discussions aren’t about absolutes or sides, they slightly fall right into a grey space proper within the center, and there are a number of shades of grey to cope with. Some assumptions are honest, however an excessive amount of of that journeys you off. You find yourself strolling on a tightrope like a circus performer whereas the drums resonate within the background. 

I felt assured and proud. I did my greatest and felt prepared for the examination. Proper after Cisco Dwell US, I headed again to Brussels for my third try at CCDEv3. 

I labored on my information, note-taking, studying, and focus and mentioned with the already-certified CCDE of us I knew. I felt prepared. This was my time. I used to be excited whereas taking the examination. It felt good, it felt like a breeze, and I used to be nearly positive. 

I got here out hoping for the most effective and was shot down by a FAIL. It was, by far, essentially the most painful of the makes an attempt. I felt misplaced, that I didn’t know what to work on anymore, and that I used to be not in a position to conquer such a titanic aim after so lengthy. My scores have been exhibiting some enchancment after each try, and but, I failed once more and was terribly confused. 

It took me a number of days to even course of so many issues and deal with my emotions. And after I was about to throw the towel, my pals have been there for me. As soon as once more, they held me up, they assured me I used to be shut, they usually gave me extra encouragement than I might have requested for. 

I felt like Spiderman (Tobey Maguire) getting carried over their heads after saving the folks on the prepare from an imminent crash. However this time, I used to be the one being saved, in addition to carried. 

The final straw 

With their assist, I used to be nonetheless a bit hesitant, however I picked up my items and tried to do one thing completely different for the October try. 

Was it about information? What else was I doing in the course of the examination? In some unspecified time in the future, when you cope with the information gaps (otherwise you assume you probably did), it’s a must to fear about your exam-taking expertise and technique. 

I labored extra on my focus and on workout routines to maintain myself lively. I introduced loads of sweets, caffeine, and water and did many, many pushups in the course of the take a look at. 

Each time I felt my thoughts was slipping away from me, I’d step up, do 20 pushups, stretch myself, wash my face, and are available again to my seat. 

Throughout the examination, I used to be consuming vitality drinks, water, espresso, sourworms, and Nutella biscuits. I used to be glad I might deliver this stuff to the testing room! 

I additionally provided from my arsenal to all of the folks taking the examination with me. Most of them responded to my proposal with incredulous seems and awkward silence. However a few them did get nearer. They obtained Nutella crackers and an vitality drink, some sweets. 

This time my angle wasn’t about passing the examination. It was about having fun with the experience, doing my greatest, and feeling pleased with how far I’ve come. 

This time I didn’t really feel anxiousness crawling over my shoulder in the course of the examination, worrying in regards to the outcome. I used to be targeted, entertained, and optimistic, all about having fun with myself whereas it occurred. 

This time the anxiousness wasn’t within the driver’s seat. I felt high quality, I felt calm (regardless of the irresponsible quantity of caffeine and sugar in my system), and I felt current.  

There I used to be, telling Peter the way it was, how I felt, what I noticed. I wasn’t positive if I handed, however I did my greatest, and I used to be pleased with it. I checked the outcomes someday after whereas sitting subsequent to my pals. To start with, I couldn’t imagine it, I assumed the web site was damaged, and I couldn’t see the everyday “FAIL” I used to be anticipating. 

I assumed: “That is kaput, the place is my fail?

I continued to go looking the underside proper facet of the display screen. 

And there it was, on the prime left of the display screen. It wasn’t damaged. It wasn’t fallacious. I actually handed, every little thing was all proper. 

It was the tip of an period, the closure I a lot craved for. I couldn’t do the rest however cry. I used to be all the time sufficient, I used to be all the time prepared, and the journey lastly made sense.  

CCDE was and can be, for me, essentially the most profitable set of failures I’ve ever encountered. And I’m pleased with it, just like the quote attributed to Thomas A. Edison:

I’ve not failed. I’ve simply discovered 10,000 ways in which received’t work.

—Thomas A. Edison



*The Cisco Licensed Design Skilled (CCDP) certification was retired from the Cisco Certification program on February 23, 2020.

**The CCIE R&S, or Routing and Switching certification, migrated to the CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure certification on February 23, 2020.


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Safety in Community Design: Key Concerns from a Community Architect’s Perspective


One thought on “The Journey to CCDE, a Private Story by David Peñaloza Seijas- Cisco Blogs

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