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Re: IPEXPERT posted 11/06/2002
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I have no affiliations with either IPeXpert nor with NLI.

I bought the original IPeXpert v1.0A workbook and then the upgrade to
v2.1 and more recently an upgrade to version 3. In all my dealings with I have found Wayne and his merry men (women even) most
responsive, helpful and professional. All my dealings have been direct
with, I am not sure from whom Alexander bought his copy on

There was a special offer running in Summer to upgrade to v3 at $99 for
existing customers which seemed reasonable.

When the release was delayed, Wayne offered a 1 month free Gold
subscription which included a significant number of other lab scenarios
by way of thank you to those who had already placed an order for the

I found the v3 workbook quite helpful there is a section in it on the
3550. However, it was perhaps more relevant to the change over period as
it covered the standard CAT L2 features but from a 3550 perspective.
Post Nov 4th the L3 features need to be covered but as an introduction
to the 3550 I found it particularly helpful.

I also have the NLI workbook. My personal preference is for IPeXpert in
that all the scenarios are designed to run on a single physical topology
which means that you can cable up the rack once and just change the
initial config load to run different scenarios.

IMHO The NLI workbook suffers from two main drawbacks, the fact that it
was originally designed as a number of separate labs and it is printed
on red 'anti photocopy paper' which makes it very difficult to read and
rather hard on the eyes.

Brad & Marc have done a lot to rework many of the labs into a 'standard
topology' but it still suffers somewhat from its original multiple lab
scenarios heritage but no doubt they will be upgrading it shortly. If
you want to run all the NLI labs without re-cabling then you will need a
very serious Frame Relay switch with a significant number of ports c 10
and careful purchase of routers and modules.

The early labs in V2 NLI workbook suffer somewhat from having had the
old technologies ripped out of them and nothing put in to replace the
missing items.  However, the later labs (16 onwards) are excellent and
are probably harder than IPeXpert full labs. The NLI labs are supported
with an excellent website with many interesting questions posed and
useful insights, there is also a larger community of users both past and
My v3 IPeXpert workbook came a little too late for me to obtain maximum
benefit from all the additional scenarios. The labs that I did manage to
do were helpful and there are a number of additional topics included
like MPLS. I did find it interesting reading to think about issues and
to ensure that I had covered the topics or atleast knew where & how to
find them on the documentation CD.

I did not like the plastic comb binding used on the v3 workbook. I much
preferred the metal wiro-bind lay flat binding of v1. I find that the
plastic binding always falls apart with even modest use and prefer work
books that will lie flat open on any page you like. (NLI is perfect
bound and you have to 'break the spine' to get it to stay open on a
particular page then the next thing you know pages are falling out.)
The solutions to IPeXpert are included with the work books though in the
case of my early v3 not all of them were on the CD! Additional solutions
are available for download from the website. Though perhaps the main
benefit is to be gained from working out your own solutions. Remember on
the big day there are no hints pages nor are there worked solutions
available to guide you!

Both workbooks are good and cover the main topics of interest to a CCIE
and will provide challenging scenarios to stretch and test your
understanding. IPeXpert has early sections on particular technologies
followed by full 1 day style labs.  NLI has full labs from the start. If
you can afford it, buy both.

Yes $600 ish is a lot of money in absolute terms and particularly if you
compare it with a book price (e.g The Solie book at $75). However, it is
only about ~ 1/2 the entrance fee to the lab exam and typically
candidates take several attempts to pass the lab (this is certainly true
in my case, 3rd time lucky and in the cases of several of my study
buddies, some of whom work for Cisco) so as such although it is a lot of
money it is probably not a bad investment.

Either of workbooks will help you in your preparation and none of them
will give you a CCIE, you need to put in a significant amount of work,
perhaps some 500 - 1000 hours working hard solving lab scenarios. Just
reading the solutions you will never be ready!

In the end I found it invaluable to go on one of the finishing bootcamps
to put you through your paces. (I went on the two week Kinetic bootcamp
in the UK, run by Martin Shortland.)

It rather depends on your view of what CCIE means, is it a significant
level of expertise in a wide range of topics or does it mean that you
have memorised a few scenarios and know very little about anything not
included in those scenarios. At the end of the day whether you have the
piece of paper or not does not make you a better engineer it is the
journey towards getting that piece of paper that is probably worth more
to you.

Yes you need scenarios to stretch you on new topics. But if you are at
CCIE level then whether there is a CATos CAT or an IOS CAT is
irrelevant. At present Cisco have not announced any new topics to be
added to the lab or even a change in IOS version so all you have is a
couple of IOS CATs that include L3 routing functions and QoS features
together with a redistribution of points on the existing topics. (More
tricky scenarios, using 8 instead of 6 routers.)

In real life you cann't say to the client, 'sorry that particular CAT
was not on my lab exam'. You need to know where and how to find out
about it, PDQ.

Peter CCDP, CCIE #10471

In message <BIEDJKGHDDELODPJAELIKEIEELAA.lseto@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Leo Seto
<lseto@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> writes
>       I'm thinking of buying the IPEXPERT 3.0.  almost $500 -- ouch.  It comes
>with solutions, right?
>       What's your opinion on this?  My gut instinct tells me I should wait to
>hear more feedback from new format lab-takers before anything else.
>Leo Seto
>Also,  I'm selling my token ring router 2502 + 16 port mau on ebay
>16flash/16dram + 16 port IBM MAU + TR cable.  first $170 + 25 shipp gets it.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: nobody@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:nobody@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf Of
>Eric R.
>Sent: Tuesday, November 05, 2002 1:23 PM
>To: ccielab@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx; afoster@xxxxxxx
>Subject: Re: IPEXPERT
>I bought this from them via ebay thinking I would get the most current
>book NOT! The newer version came out a couple days after the auction
>ended but before they recieved my payment. When I asked about getting
>the latest it was "pay up sucker, AGAIN!". I've bought from a few of
>these different lab prep places and the others always let me get the
>updates minus a few bucks for shipping and the like - thank you very
>much. Of course now I realize everything I need is FREE via
>You live , you learn...
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Annu Roopa" <annu_roopa@xxxxxxxxx>
>To: "Foster, Alexander" <afoster@xxxxxxx>; "ccielab"
>Sent: Tuesday, November 05, 2002 11:30 AM
>Subject: Re: IPEXPERT
> > Foster,
> > I am little surprised at this. When i contacted IPEXPERT and spoke to
>them they had agreed to send me the new updated material for a small
>upgrade fee in August-September. They have been too good at sending new
>material and also prompt at responding to techincal queries. i have
>found there new 3.0 material very good and absolutely helpful. Maybe the
>promotinal date is over. Did u talk to someone there ?
> > I do not work for them or affliated to them in anyway.
> > Annu
> >  "Foster, Alexander" <afoster@xxxxxxx> wrote:Did anyone every had
>issues with IPExpert.
> >
> > I purchased 2.1 workbook, but the scenarios are useless since Cisco
> > changed the switches to the 3550. Now I asked IPExpert if there is any
> > update to 2.1 workbook...but, they tell me to buy the 3.0 workbook
> > instead. Has anyone had a similar experience.
> >
> > Alexander C. Foster
> > Sr. Network Engineer
> > x5912