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Hey guys, Joe here typing at you all from my hotel room in San Jose, California! It’s been a GREAT week out here at IPexpert bootcamp. Aside from losing my job recently, and being worried out of my mind, this has been a really good end to my first attempt preperation.

I decided to take the class after I got a fairly decent tax refund this year, mainly to review right before my exam, get a different perspective on some things I was struggling with late, and get a real CCIE instructor’s opinions on if I was “ready” for the beast.

I had no idea what to really expect, and I have to say I have been thoroughly impresssed by the overall quality of the program, and the instructor.

I landed in San Jose late Sunday night (about 10:00 PM PST). By the time I got my luggage, found a shuttle to the car rental, waited in line, got my car, found and checked into my hotel, it was about midnight or so (3:00 AM EST so I had a little jetlag). I got right to bed so I could start off the week on the right foot.

I was so grateful I did my hotel research, and that as a result the Holiday Inn I am at ended up being about 1 mile from the IPexpert facility out here. I managed to find no less than 2 Starbuck’s on the way there! I had no idea what to expect going in…who would my classmates be? Would Jared live up to his reputation? How would the course turn out?

I walked into the IPexpert building…after bumbling around like an idiot with one of my fellow students, we managed to find the right room (somehow or another we both ended up on the 5th floor, and IPexpert is on the ground floor hehe). When we walked into the room, Jared was busy handing out the class material and getting situated…pretty soon it was decided to move over to a more spacious room so we could get more comfortable. We all worked together to move all the 7960 IP phones out of the bigger and nicer room to accomodate the 11 of us students. After everybody got comfortable Jared shared with us his personal story, which was quite inspiring for me personally. Then, we went around the room and introduced ourselves…what our experience was, how many times if any we had taken the lab, what we wanted out of the class, etc.

I think sometime around 10:30 we started into material. Each student was given a very nice looking binder that contained the class slides for the entire week. It has a nice IPexpert cover on it, room for notes, and is generally very well put together. I tried to follow along in the slides through the different technologies. Day 1 we covered what you would expect, catalyst switching, bridging, STP, catalyst macros, VLANs, VTP, etherchannels, as well as some more advanced features.

As far as the instructor, Jared was definitely on his game, and firing on all cylinders. He has a confidence about him, that definitely shows in the way that he teaches, and explains things. He was always more than happy to slow down and review something again, or answer any questions from the students. The nice thing was, that we all quickly found out we had a “good class” with lots of participation from many of the students…that meant more overall fun, some good laughs, and a much better environment.

The majority of the class was more at the beginning end of their studies…a few guys there had attempted the lab before. I’d say about 1/3 of the class was pretty much just starting out, 1/3 in the middle, and 1/3 pretty damn well prepared. It became apparant to me pretty quickly through the first day, that I was more on the prepared side, which was a nice confidence booster. By the end of day 2 I really decided to sort of shut the hell up, because I was “that guy” answering the majority of the questions. That is nice, and makes you feel a bit more confident for an upcoming lab, but at the end of the day, I want everybody to get as much as possible out of a lab experience and actually learn.

As far as the layout of the class, Jared usually covered 2 or 3 large topics, then let us grab a 5 or 10 minute break. I found that method really useful, because after so much technical stuff, you really do just need to grab a breath of fresh air and clear your head. We went solid every day from 9:00 AM until about noon, then took our lunch break. IPexpert had a hot lunch waiting for us everyday in the kitchen area. Additionally, their office fridge was stocked full of soda, bottled water, and juice. We also had coffee available to brew up any time we wanted. All this stuff was really nice, and all included in the bootcamp. It was really nice to be able to go grab a pop or a water or coffee part way through the day. Jared usually lectured on the technologies until about 5:00. At that point, he handed out our lab work for the day.

Another awesome thing about this camp, is that each student was assigned their own personal rack of Proctor Labs gear. If you have ever worked with Proctor Labs gear, you know it is the latest and greatest stuff… 3800, 2800, 3560, 3550 …the works. We were all given our pod# , login, and password the first morning. The other great thing is that the pods are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Many of the students did lab work at the facility as well as in their hotel rooms, which was nice. Basically, what they did is break up one full scale 8 hour mock lab into 4 days, giving you the material you covered for that day for your lab work. Each day at the end of the lecture you would get a lab booklet with questions and solutions. We were also provided awesome network diagrams, laminated and everything.

The first 2 days I was smoking the material pretty damn well…I was feeling good. It was mostly review but good review for sure. More practice can never hurt.

Day 2 and 3 we covered all the IGPs, BGP, IP services, Multicast, and Security. Today (day 4) we hit up the rest of security, IPv6, and QoS.

Day 5 is strictly a full 8 hour mock lab experience. Today Jared gave us our lab booklets. This sucker is THICK : ) One of the guys in the class was taking it for the 2nd time and will be soon going for his 3rd lab attempt. He basically said that if you can get more than a 30 on this mock lab, go take the real deal and you will pass : ) Jared concurred that only 1 student EVER had passed this lab, and that it even kicked his ass when he was a student hehe. With that being said, I was fully ready to get my ass handed to me Friday.

I’ve read over the full lab twice, and I have to say…I’m confident : ) It is definitely challenging, but I think I have a chance of passing it! Only time will tell….

The week sure has gone by quickly…all in all, it has been a great experience, and a very well run bootcamp from IPexpert. I couldn’t recommend it more for anybody out there. If you are wondering if it is worth it, it is…every penny. You are dealing firsthand with a guy that has THREE CCIE’s , teaching you in a small group, in depth for an entire week…available for questions, or to clear things up you misunderstood. Additionally, I made alot of great contacts this week. Inevitably, when you are in a class for the CCIE you are surrounded by a lot of smart people. I plan on staying in touch with some of the guys I met this week for sure! Jared also demonstrated to me right away that he actually cares about your personal success. He isn’t just there spouting off facts…he wants to hear from his students, and he wants to help you as much as he can. You can tell that not only does he have a passion for the technology (obviously) but a passion for teaching it as well. That in itself is valuable.

Jared seems to have faith in me…and thinks I am ready to have a go at the beast that is the CCIE lab. Hearing that from a guy like Jared certainly is nice, and gives me some confidence going in. I am still fully prepared to fail though. Only time will tell! In a little over a week I will either be CCIE #24xxx or I will be demoralized and getting back on the horse : )

P.S. If you are reading this and you were one of my classmates, shoot me a line, I’d love to hear from you guys, and good luck in all your preperation!

– Joe


4 Responses to “Product Review: IPexpert 5 Day Instructor Led Bootcamp (San Jose)”

  1. Elizabeth on May 1st, 2009 7:24 am

    I’m so glad you had a great time! I’m so proud of you. I’m anxiously awaiting your results on the mock lab today. I hope this doesn’t embarrass you in front of your CCIE friends, but I can’t wait to have you home sweetie, I miss you!!

  2. CCIETalk on May 1st, 2009 10:05 am

    Joe – First of all sorry to hear about your job. I hope good things come your way. I am sure once you are done with R&S you will be able to find one right away 🙂 Good luck with your first attempt.

  3. Christian on May 1st, 2009 9:52 pm

    Great review! I am attending this bootcamp in Columbus in July. Looking forward to it. Also attending Narbik’s bootcamp in a few weeks so it will be good to compare the different approaches.

  4. CPOMEROY on December 1st, 2011 1:46 pm

    Waring about IPexpert, I signed up for a bootcamp class in RTP. Withing minutes of taking my money they informed me that class was no longer available. I immediately asked to a full refund, they so far have refused to refund my money. All along they have lied to me. It has been 3 weeks and the company will still not refund my money, even though they no longer have a boot camp that will take place prior to my lab. DO NOT USE IPexpert, they have horrible customer service and fail to provide the services that they have contracted for.

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