HCIE R&S Lab exam

Welp, my 8-hours long HCIE R&S Lab happened on June 2nd and today I’ve received a confirmation that it has been passed! Woohoo!

Still early to place a logo there, because of HCIE contains three stages – a written exam, a lab exam and an interview.
Therefore, the next step is to be prepared for an interview and I have no idea how it looks like or what sort of questions are going to be asked.

 

Under the cut, a few thoughts about the lab and HCIE process overall.

HCIE overall

Since one has an account at Huawei’s site, quite comprehensive and understandable information about a process is easy to find.
Above all, there are no any specific requirements to deal with before an HCIE journey becomes available:

As to a process, it contains three stages with the overall price of $1500:

The predefined list of resources is unavoidable for all 3 stages:

  • Mock exams (one for Written, two for Lab);
  • Official documentation for AR (routers) and S (switches) series;
  • Online video course (aka E-learning course) observing and lightly labbing all main technologies.

Most of them are reachable via this page – HCIE R&S Certificate Summary.
Speaking of documentation and running slightly forward the software known for every Huawei network engineer – HEDeX (Huawei Electronic Documentation EXplorer) is freely available during a Lab exam, thus to be familiar with that tool is quite significantly increasing a chance to quickly cope a tricky task.

HedEx Lite V200R006C00 available to download for every registered user.

Written Exam

I’ve passed my written exam on 28th November 2016 just because my employer generously paying for any exam I wish to take.
That was just another one exam I took because “why not” and to continue a track with taking the lab exam was not at the consideration at all.
It’s hard to say something useful about the written exam since I spent just one weekend to refresh some knowledge about IS-IS and Multicast.
A low amount of points as the result, but enough to pass and the story should have been stopped at that moment. But.

Lab Exam

Why

Fortunately, Huawei intensely continues to harden their position in Russia and starting the year 2017 aims the weakest part of their presence – the belief that hardware and software are not worth to be trusted. In fact, the source of such uncertainty are engineers themselves.

I dare say, it is a great move that the vendor C understood years ago. Engineers are those who easily argue against a vendor and those whose arguments have solid weight during the decision process. Build an army of engineers and they will bring you a piece of cake (the market) for free!

To sum it up, the Huawei proposed free vouchers for any exam, including labs and interviews, for selected partners.

My colleague, a huge fan of Huawei instantly reacted to such opportunity and recently passed his interview. I would recommend looking at his blog with the funky Huawei-related name – dis-this.com and follow him on Twitter. And I also wish to thank him for outstanding help during my preparation.

Hard to believe, but I wasn’t excited to take a free seat and delayed the real preparation for a few months. The day I’ve said to myself: “OK, let’s do it” was on April 9th and Lab exam reservation happened a week later.

Preparation

As I been noticed that there are no theoretical questions during Lab, the main focus of preparation took practical exercises – to sharpen CLI monkey skills.
Once you able to write a whole configuration of a task or even section in a notepad the edge been crossed.
Two mock lab exams available and fully prepared to be started in awesome Huawei simulator named eNSP (Enterprise Network Simulation Platform).
An every mock exam is a pack of following parts:

  • eNSP click ‘n’ play topology;
  • pdf-formatted file with diagrams and tasks;
  • doc-formated file with answers and short explanations.

Once you able to finish an any mock exam within 3-4 hours without any interactions with Hedex or answers – you are done with labs.

I do strongly recommend to spend hours on “HCIE-R&S Elite Training-Mock Lab 1&2” video course. Tens of useful display commands and an understanding how to read tasks will be an outcome.

Format

The lab is a 8 hours process plus up to 60 minutes break for a lunch. You may reject to take a lunch, but it is not going to add any additional time. I do recommend taking a break as it helps to be not that exhausted at the end of the day.
The countdown itself starts at 9:00 am so to be at a place a bit earlier is crucial. Proctor shows where coffee room and WC are, gives a pen and a paper, switches on an air conditioner if required and makes all others moves to enhance your presence.
I would also recommend taking comfortable shoes, a bottle of water, napkins, maybe some energetic drink and chips. A pen and a writing pad were on my list as well.

The photo of a table, 30 minutes before the beginning. Clickable.

Following core sections taking not more than 60% of points:

  • STP;
  • OSPF;
  • IS-IS;
  • BGP;
  • Frame Relay;
  • RIPv2, RIPng.

Rest 40% of points are about to following features:

  • Multicast (PIM-SM, BSR, StaticRP, IGMP)
  • Smart Link
  • Standby
  • Anti-attack
  • ARP security
  • DHCP + Snooping + DAI + IPSG
  • NetStream
  • NTP
  • Info-center
  • Storm control
  • QoS (all varieties including queue-profile, shaping, policing, remark, drop profiles, 802.1p, DSCP, etc)
  • Packet capturing
  • Frame mirroring
  • Serial interfaces (PAP/CHAP authentication, aggregating to Mp-group, handshakes)
  • NQA
  • VRRP
  • SNMPv2c/v3
  • GVRP
  • BFD

Moreover, a lot of others things have to be embraced and understood to feel confident. Like route preference table:

Just for the record, the fact that Huawei ACL has an implicit permit if applied to an interface and implicit deny in any other case.

Be prepared that, as it happens in both mock exams, everything is imported to everything, with summarizations and aggregations, marking and filtering.

To keep in mind a topology and apply a task according to its current state and all specific manipulations happened previously are very important mind tracks of the Lab.

The day

A week before the day I started doing all mock exams at my work laptop again and again and use only laptop keyboard during my work. Thus, I was ready to use Lenovo laptop keyboard to at fastest manner. Water, comfortable shoes, a pen, a writing pad, napkins and a bottle of Redbull been in my backpack. Plus good mood and positive mindset.

My rack was number 9. My colleague had numbers 6 and 12. I think there are at least 20 versions of the lab, not sure how much they differ from each other, but if you have seen both mock exams, you know that the difference might be just colossal.
[!] Please, be noticed that recently Huawei made some changes with numbering. The idea, that both official mock exams and the video course inspire, are not a truth anymore.
Recently, a number of a rack was a Y in IP addressing format 10.Y.Z.X and all routing processes had to have Y number, but it’s not a MUST anymore. Read very carefully and ask a proctor if any doubts.

The main tactic for the lab is to complete a core part (STP, Frame Realy, RIP, OSPF, IS-IS, BGP) until a lunch and use the remaining time to solve rest with Hedex assistance.
Switching between tasks and topologies occurs within a single web-browser window and very time-consuming. I redraw all topologies to my writing pad and used a few lists for notes like to write tasks numbers I postponed to.
In the long run, a reader understands that I cannot say much, but eventually the lab was challenging with a few sneaky and mean tasks.
No dedicated troubleshooting session, but during the configuration, not just a check of current task state has to be done, but a re-check that all previous aren’t broken since recent changes been applied.

Next

Deep down, I hope an interview, the next step before an HCIE R&S logo, will be a discussion, not just a memory test.
The reason to make all this true is still “why not” and I hope you wish me luck as I do.

 


There is also a dedicated workbook by InetZero, but I didn’t use it.

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  • MkanyaGP

    Thank you Evgeniy Belyaev. I am sitting for my lab exam on the 29th of August. This information is going to be very handy.