CCIE Pursuit Blog

February 19, 2008

CCIE Boot Camps

With Ethan Banks currently attending Nabrik Kocharians’ boot camp, CCIE Journey wrote about the dilema over whether or not to include a bootcamp in your CCIE preparations.  Since all of the cool kids are doing it, I’ll weigh in on the debate as well.

I really haven’t considered attending a boot camp as part of my CCIE training.  I have attended exactly one boot camp ever and I was pretty underwhelmed by the experience.  To be fair, my circumstances were a bit odd.  I was sent to the boot camp because it was part of the required training for a new position at my last job.  It was a CCNA boot camp taught by Global Knowledge (the only training vendor we used).  I tried to get out of the training because I already had my CCNA, but corporate bureaucracy dictated that I must attend.  So…I chose to take the training in Orlando and bookend it with scuba trips (2 days in the Keys prior and a 3 day Bahamas diving cruise after).  :-)

I actually did not realize that this was a boot camp until after I began the training.  The training ran from 7 am to 7 pm with an option to stay until 11 pm.  You were also assigned a few hours worth of “homework” each night.  There were hands-on labs and you were allowed access to the equipment during lunch and after 7 pm.

The class was an interesting mixture.  About half of the students were already working in networking.  Quite a few of those students worked for companies that either required that you get/maintain CCNA certification or they worked for companies that paid bonuses for being CCNA certified.  My company did neither.  Most of the remaining students were IT professionals who worked in non-networking technologies and were either trying to break into networking or expand their knowledge base.  Finally, there were a few students who were absolute newbies.  I felt pretty bad for them.

I found out quickly that 12+ hours of instruction was not for me.  There came a point each day where I knew that I was saturated.  I would usually start surfing and clock watching while promising myself that I would review the topics at the hotel that night (that rarely happened).  I also blew off the “homework”.  I really couldn’t be bothered to do sets of subnetting questions after 12 hours in a classroom.

At the end of the course you are given a voucher for the CCNA test.  You were also encouraged to take the exam as soon as possible so that you didn’t lose the information that had been crammed into your head during the boot camp.  I kept in touch with a couple of students from the class and out of the five of us, only two passed the CCNA test after the class.  I was one of the two, but I took the test only after finding out that I could not sell the voucher or use it towards another test.  Since I couldn’t get rid of the voucher I took the CCNA “for kicks”.  I would strongly recommend against doing this.  I passed the exam, but only by a few points.  It was the closest that I have ever come to failing a certification exam and the first time that I did not complete the exam in the time given.

I’m way off topic here, so I’ll just point out what I considered to be faults with the boot camp:

1) Mixture of experience levels led to an uneven training experience for all students.  You could sense the pull between newbies needing clarification on basic topics and “old salts” wanting to get to the more complex technologies.
2) Long days meant mental burnout for me.
3) The course covered the blueprint, but not the actual test or testing strategies.  Everyone who took the test (myself included) quickly discovered that the technologies emphasized on the exam were not equally emphasized in the class.
4) Expense.  Although most of the students had the class paid for by their employers, about 20% of the class were there on their own dime.  The class ran abou $3,500.  As I explained to one of the self-financed students, you can take the CCNA exam (it cost $125 at the time) 25 times for the cost of the training.

Sorry for the long walk down memory lane.  I just wanted to provide the background behind my opinion that boot camps are best suited for professionals that have a good understanding of the topics but just want to polish up on certain topics.  As far as the CCIE goes, I can recognize the value of a boot camp for candidates who are well into their studies (like Ethan) but just want that little extra to sort out some finer points. 

My current employer has a policy that they will not pay for any training that is designated as a boot camp.  The reason is that they feel that a boot camp is geared specifically to pass a certification exam and not to impart generalized knowledge.  In other words, a boot camp will prepare you only for test questions and not for general knowledge.  I don’t know that I agree with that stance (especially with my (albeit limited) boot camp experience), but I think that it stems from the glory days of the “Pass The MCSE In Five Days And Earn $75,000 Guaranteed” boot camps.  Also, boot camps tend to be more expensive than “conventional” training, so I’m sure that factors into the equation as well.  All of this is just a wordy way of saying that if I wanted to attend a boot camp, I would have to foot the bill myself.  It looks like Ethan and CCIE Journey are in the same (self-financed) boat as me.  This means that I have to evaluate the value of a $2000 – $5000 boot camp against other learning options.

For me the cost is just too much for the perceived value of a boot camp at this time.  This position is obviously subject to change.  However, at this point I’m more interested in a mock lab workshop (still working with my employer as to whether they will fund that or not). 

If you are interested in researching/attending a CCIE bootcamp, here is a (non-comprehensive) list of CCIE (Routing and Switching) boot camps:

Vendor CCBootcamp
Course CCIE Routing and Switching Instructor-Led Advanced Lab Boot Camp
Duration  5 Days
Location Newark, NJ – Toronto, ON – Las Vegas, NV
Cost $????
Vendor CCBootcamp
Course CCIE Routing and Switching Executive Online Program
Duration 17 Days
Location Online
Cost $14,995
Vendor Global Knowledge
Course CCIE Routing and Switching Prep Boot Camp
Duration 5 Days
Location Various US Locations
Cost $3895
Vendor Heinz Ulm
Course Heinz Ulm’s CCIE R & S Bootcamps
Duration 5 Days
Location USA – Germany – Spain – Eqypt
Cost $2000 – $4,385 (Depending on location)
Vendor Heinz Ulm
Course Heinz Ulm’s CCIE R & S Bootcamps
Duration 10 Days
Location USA – Germany – Spain – Eqypt
Cost $4000 – $7,195 (Depending on location)
Vendor Heinz Ulm
Course Heinz Ulm’s CCIE R & S Bootcamps
Duration 15 Days
Location USA – Germany – Spain – Eqypt
Cost $6000 – $9,650 (Depending on location)
Vendor Internetwork Expert
Course CCIE Routing & Switching 5 Day Bootcamp (IEBC-RS-5D)
Duration 5 Days
Location Reno, NV – Dubai, UAE – London, UK – Chicago, IL
Cost $3,495
Vendor Internetwork Expert
Course CCIE Routing & Switching 5 Day Bootcamp Class-on-Demand (IEBC-RS-5D-COD)
Duration 5 Days
Location Online
Cost $995
Vendor Internetwork Expert
Course CCIE Routing & Switching 12 Day Bootcamp (IEBC-RS-12D-RNO)
Duration 12 Days
Location Reno, NV
Cost $7,995
Vendor IPexpert
Course IPexpert 5-Day CCIE (Routing and Switching) Instructor Led Boot Camp
Duration 5 Days
Location San Jose, CA – Columbus, OH
Cost $2,999
Vendor Micronics
Course CCIE Routing & Switching Lab Boot Camp
Duration 5.5 Days
Location Pasadena, CA – Dubai, UAE – Sydney, AU
Cost $2000 – $2500 (Depending on location)
Vendor NetMasterClass
Course RS-NMC-1
Duration 5 Days
Location Reston, VA
Cost $3995
Vendor Netmetrics Solutions
Course CCIE Routing & Switching Boot Camp
Duration 7 Days
Location Bangalore, India – Nigeria – Singapore – Bangkok, Thailand
Cost $1,025
Vendor Unitek
Course 6-Day CCIE Lab (R&S) Boot Camp
Duration 6 Days
Location Various US Locations
Cost $4495

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