How To Achieve REAL Success With Or Without Certification – with Darby Weaver

by Mirek Burnejko

Darby WeaverThis is an interview with Darby Weaver. Darby Weaver is a Global Network Architect who serves as a Systems Integration Consultant and Network Planning/Design Engineer for National and International private, public, and government entities. Darby specializes in Network Design (LAN/WAN/Data Center/WLAN) Routing and Switching, Security, and Wireless Technologies.

Darby is certified as a CCNP, CCDP, CCSP, CCNP Voice/Wireless, MCSE+I, MCSA/E + Security/Messaging, Sniffer Certified Master, ITILv2, and a number of other certifications. He has also passed the CCIE Routing and Switching and the CCIE Security Written certifications. He has served as a SME for the CCNP/CCIE Wireless Written Exam certifications and has served as a CCIE Routing and Switching Version 4 Lab Prototype tester for Cisco and Pearson VUE. He has been certified on a variety of Cisco certifications since 2000.

Darby is prolific writer of exhaustive technical and non-technical articles all over the Internet and serves or has served as a Moderator or Admin of several online communities over the last 11+ years or so, including the CCIE Flyer, Sadikhov.com, Cisco.com forums and many others.

In this interview you will find:

  • How to achieve true CCIE level expertise?
  • Does CCIE certification has big value on the job market?
  • How to get a $25-35k raise using proven techniques?


Miroslaw Burnejko: Darby, it is a pleasure to have you here in IT Certification Master. You are a legend in the networking industry. Before we get started, tell me about your beginnings in the IT industry.

Darby Weaver: I received my first computer – a TSR-80 back in 1983 it seems to me. I learned how to program colors and sounds, I then learned to backup on a tape recorder type of device… Then I put it up on a dresser for good. My house burned to the ground and my first computer went up in smoke. I didn’t miss it.

I used computers a time or two but surely not three while in high school. I didn’t miss em. I then went into the US Navy and somehow found myself in the “Help Desk” which incidentally used a lot of 286/386 computers. So I had to learn how to use them. Got another job when I had to have a surgery and I still didn’t miss em. I took over a job where I was responsible for the Disaster Management Division and I was also responsible for the Transient Unit at Mayport. I got a little time on some more PCs and got to work on one of the world’s first Microsoft Windows 3.11 Networks in the world. Time flies. I managed to find myself working at ADP in Orlando before I got out of the US Navy and I was introduced to Novell Networking and PC Repair. Got some good advice and I bought my own first PC in about February of 1994 after I left the US Navy.

I spent a year playing some games and going to classes for more computer topics. I spent another couple of years taking computer classes at night and at college as courses.

In 1995, I started working for “FREE” at a place called Computer Depot and did this for 3 months. I quit and the owner hunted me down and found an e-mail I had back in 1995 (I had e-mail – both from the college and the local user group as I recall – pine/trumpet winsock/chameleon/etc. – he hired me back this time paying me minimum wage. I really didn’t need the money so I worked with him for some 3+ months and then… IT happened!!!

I got my first network gig. I had started consulting. I had a job copying floppy disks and made a quick $300-400 just doing that at about $15 per hour or so and then got the Lantastic Network contract with a local Doctor’s Office for $35.00 per half hour (just like that). I was in. I made some $3000-4000 or so my first month and felt extremely guilty earning money for helping with a $6 mouse… Seriously!!! So then I stopped and let my client go. I like to work for my money.

I started repairing computers, installing operating systems, selling PCs (new or used), recovering hard drives, low-level formatting to recover bad sectors, compressing/uncompressing hard drives, modem setup, and virus removal, etc. Data recovery was my thing and it paid well too. Life was good. I earned over 400+ customers and quite a few local small businesses.

I had some networks here and there and while most were successful, I learned TCP/IP the hard way and even had to refund one guy. Seriously – I couldn’t figure out the problem and deliver the solution fast enough. I bought some $500.00 on books and still no cigar. Let’s face it Windows 95 books were not the place to learn IP easily or completely for that matter. At least not solo like I was trying back then. I refunded the man’s business and took the hit. I learned. I took my gear and went home and mastered setting up networks. That was it. I was in networking now.
I spent the next three years enjoying setting up the TCP/IP Stack up in DoS and juggling memory with NE2000 NIC Drivers, etc. I got experienced in Windows 95, NT Workstation, NT Server, Lantastic (then my own network), and Novell (various versions). Life was good and promised to get better.

By 1998-9, I was buying Cisco CCIE Books and wanting to know more of those hieroglyphics that defied understanding.
In 2000, I studied Cisco and in 3 weeks or so, I was a CCNA. I took my CCNA and found a project with the American Red Cross of Central Florida and setup 4 networks and rebuilt the Microsoft Network for free but still earned some $17,000 or so for the project deploying 4 1600/1700 routers.

Amazing!!! I used Bridges, Routers, and Switches and made it happen – Thanks Bruce Caslow and Val!!! So much for being brief on this one… Let’s move on…

MB: Inspiring story. Let’s talk about certifications. What was your the first and what was your last one?

DW: My first certification exam I attempted was IBM’s Networking Essentials – I failed it. I failed because of SNA. I just didn’t know it. I aced everything else. I worked it every day and was the Go-To guy for it at work within my team for Network Support. I took the first class from the University of Phoenix for the Microsoft Networking Essentials and passed it !!! I learned about using Transcender Exam Simulators. Funding died for the program – I got left in the lurch and I had to complete the MCSE all on my own. I found Exam Cram by Ed Tittel. I was in!!! By the time I passed Microsoft NT 4.0 on a Friday, I landed my first Network Administrator job that Monday. I was in. I was also a bit of a Y2K Consultant. It was February of 1999 and I was being billed out at $1600 per day plus expenses + 20%. My side jobs were netting me about $1000-3000 per day at the time. Not every day but hey… Set up a 3-person network over a day or two and make $5k… Setup a 10-person greenfield network and earn another $10-12k, and 4 Routers and earn some $16-17k, and let’s not forget just working on small networks for some $12k to fix security issues and ensure the integrity of some 20 computers, MS Exchange, Firewall, etc. Just a few examples… I’ve worked larger campus network on the side too… say 3000 users and charge something in the neighborhood of $8-12k and have my client bill the customer around $20k for the same job over say a month or so – mostly analysis… and reports.

My last certification was not one but two exams – I took the CCNP Troubleshooting Exam and the CCIE Routing and Switching Exam at Cisco Live 2010 in Las Vegas and passed both. Just like that. I spent about 4 hours troubleshooting the CCNA Packet Tracer Labs and they were a lot like the CCNP TSHOOT to me as I recall. It helped me warm up. I took the two exams during the brief lunch period and made them look easy. They updated a ton of my other Cisco certifications. I just can’t beat that. The CCIE RS Written was my freebie exam. I paid for the TSHOOT as I recall.

MB: You write a lot about CCIE topics, but you don’t have the CCIE certification. You also attended many CCIE boot camps. Can you share some details why you don’t need/want a CCIE certification?

DW: Hmm…. No one ever said I did not want or need a CCIE Certification. I never said that at all. Just the opposite, the CCIE Certification complements my skills, experiences, education, and certification. There’s no doubt about it, not even a little bit. 🙂

I said I was not willing to lose my integrity by just simply cheating the CCIE RS Lab – since I actually want to beat it and not cheat it. Not an easy task by the way. It’s just not. Today, people use CCIECERT and tell about it in their blogs… It’s not considered cheating any more I suppose… I guess the philosophy is a pass is a pass and any CCIE is equal to any other CCIE.

I work with at least 6 CCIE’s on my immediate team and many others daily. Literally hundreds of other CCIEs hired by the same employer and not even a Cisco Gold Partner either. No one looks down on me or doubts my technical acumen at least not that I know of. I work pretty hard and persistently to be in this field and anyone who works with me knows it. I’m paid on the same scale and in the same range as each CCIE and in some cases – maybe more – who knows?

I get a lot of offers.

Darby Weaver LabI write CCIE Materials for Vendors, review Materials for Vendors, write CCNA/CCNP/CCIE Exam questions for the Drake exams for more than one track from multiple testing providers (think about that for a moment). I was invited to the Prototype of the CCIE v4 or v3 or version something before the OEQ were announced. I know how to procure lab seats when there are none for most other folks… The CCIE Program Managers know my name, so do the proctors, they seem happy to meet me when we meet. I’ve shared conversations with the guys who develop the CCIE Labs, the CCDE, and the CCAr before.

I’m probably the only person to very get kicked off of Groupstudy.com at least 3 times and the only person whose posts were rooted out and deleted for a couple of years at one time over comments that were not deemed healthy to a budding Cisco 360 Program (which I actually like very much by the way). Apparently some people thought my written words were very loud in the CCIE Community.

Check it out. I hold more endorsements than the majority of the CCIE Trainers on this little planet and you’ll be hard pressed to even find a CCIE with as many as 7 CCIE titles holding as many endorsements as I. Check it out and look it up. That may change since I noticed it, but you heard it here first. Strange but true!

Wonder why that it?

Umm… I guess I could add that I am currently engaged with a small team in writing the exam questions for an entire CCNP Specialty track and was engaged to write the CCNP RS track’s exam questions as well. If I write the questions in the various exams… Does it matter if I still take the exam? Maybe I need to make sure I understand the other team members’ questions…

MB: You work as a network consultant. Do clients require from you some certifications?

DW: Do you have Deja Vu? I just got asked today to demonstrate some of my credentials for a client, none other than Microsoft itself for a large network project I’m the lead network planning engineer/systems integration consultant for.

I also got asked this by a training company I was solicited to write their entire CCNA/CCNP curriculum for… And yesterday a recruiter who was referred to me to become the Director of a CCIE Gold Partner and help build their brand also asked how it is I became so well known and respected. He even asked me if I even had to interview any more… I still get interviewed… sometimes… 🙂 No kidding. Sometimes not. I get a lot of referrals by former students, people I’ve helped and people I’ve worked with in the trenches. You get what you pay for. So to answer the question… IT depends…

MB: I know you work with CCIEs and other certified experts, but sometimes they are not real experts. What is your recommendation to become a real expert? Is CCIE required for that?

DW: A CCIE is a credential, a benchmark, and quite achievement even when a shortcut is used to attain it. No doubt.

However, true expertise comes with time and effort – mostly persistent effort over a period of time with a lot of sustained energy and positive outlook. It’s kinda like hacking. You try all options until there are no more – just like hacking.

Back in the day a person became recognized as an expert by their deeds, hard work, and achievement – even a few got lucky for one reason or another and were recognized as an expert – some got motivated and made it so, now they are the experts.

“Persistence will prevail where raw intellect may not suffice” – Darby Weaver

MB: How about you’re learning process. You know many vendors and many technologies. What’s your secret?

DW: Whew!!! I like to read. I love notes. I use question banks that are on either paper or test simulators for hours at a time – I can master about 50-60 questions on any topic in just one hour. Simple as that. Got it down to a science. I digest 20 pages of technical material every hour or so. Got this down to a science too. I then re-read it casually and a lot of times I’ll thumb the material to be mastered first. I find after the QA, then reading for mastery, I’m now well versed enough to suffer the CLI and configuration phase of learning. I use whitepapers and vendor materials to perform the various designs or exercise I find I want to perform. No shortcuts.

MB: Do you have a preference for real or virtual hardware for learning and preparation for certifications?

Darby Weaver RacksDW: I love real hardware. I own about 12 racks of Cisco equipment. I have owned more over the years, a lot more. I’m warming up to emulators and simulators too. They work for what they are designed for. The IOU is interesting to say the least and I can hardly wait to meet VIRL. I think my favorite will always be real equipment – I’m not adverse to virtual but I am old-fashioned a little bit. SDN may change this for me at some point. Not today. Hold your horses. I am working with a product called AFM for Active Fabric Manager and am the SME (Subject Matter Expert) for AFM for a team of consultants on a global basis who deploy AFM to the Enterprise. It’s a lot of new acronyms for Cisco folks but hey… We all have to improvise, adapt, and overcome IT.

MB: Do you recommend trying to achieve the highest certifications from one vendor (Cisco, Juniper) or maybe trying to diversify our portfolio?

I think there’s an argument for both options. I know the CCIE is hard to achieve and some never will, so diversification is probably the best route for most till at least the CCNP level or so. Then go for a CCIE track for mastery. Enjoy the process – either way.

Never miss an opportunity to research an issue or look up a problem you don’t understand.

MB: What is your recommendation for people who don’t have any experience and want to start their career in the networking career? Is an entry-level certification a good starting point?

DW: I actually wrote a very well cited article on the matter and posted it on the Cisco Learning Network, Linkedin.com, and my own blog – it’s called – How CCNA’s Get Hired Without Experience. I also wrote a CCIEflyer.com article called: Total Quality Networking – I guess these are two of my favorites.

I help people out from time to time and with startling results – I have many cases of $25-35k raises after using just a few of my own techniques, and I have a couple that sound like a 6 digit increase in salary after only a couple of months of working my techniques.

I’m starting to think it may not be a bad idea to offer a class for folks in our field on how to get a start/opportunity or how to get that $50k/$100k raise in salary resulting in maybe up to over a couple of million dollars over a 20-30 year career that may never be realized otherwise.
Just a thought… but why not? Who wouldn’t want to learn how to make more using the skills each person already has or with some minor upgrade – a CCIE may not be for everyone, however, a $100,000.00 plus job can most certainly be – if one knows what I know about the industry. Interesting concept – but now you got me thinking…

No, I’m not a recruiter – not even close. I recommend one get introduced to Eman Conde for that kind of thing.

MB: The last question. What are your certification goals?

DW: I’ve been re-taking all of my Cisco certs about every 2-3 years, whether I need them or not. It’s expensive and not many would do it, as none have to do it this way today. It’s just me. But few if any doubt my credentials and expertise – if you don’t have that problem one test will work. I’m working on my CCIE, of course – RS/Security/DC/SP/SAN (retired)/DC/CCDE/Wireless and Cisco Certified Architect – after I get past the CCDE. I keep my lab equipment for each certification and each level from the CCNA to the CCIE via the CCNP/CCDP.

MB: Thank you so much Darby.

DW: My pleasure – Let me know if I can be of further service to our community.

[This is part of the Interviews with IT Pros Series]

  • Concerned W Darby

    Hello everyone,

    I know you don’t know me. I am trying to reach Darby Weaver. I am in desperate need of help. My name is Kat, Darby and I met when I was 15yrs old, he was my first love.
    We were married for 20yrs. Unfortunately he decided to have his mid life crisis and abandoned me in Orlando with our 2 little yorkies.

    He left Orlando with the excuse that his “dad” was having heart surgery and he was going to Alabama to take care of him, mind you all his family is in Alabama. I told Darby when his dad was feeling better to bring him to Orlando and we could give him the master bedroom in our home so he could be more comfortable and we could both take care of him so he could have a break from all the drama that goes on in Alabama.
    His dad had 2 stents put in his heart, not a quadruple bypass like Darby tells people, and is doing great, and is back to work.

    Darby emptied our bank account before leaving Orlando and lied to me about coming back, even this year he was here right before Easter and said he was coming back, instead he returned to Alabama and requested my mail to be forwarded to his P.O. Box in Alabama. Our house in Altamonte Springs went to foreclosure, he refused to sign the papers to short sale the home. I have been staying in the house until I get evicted, I have no where else to go. Darby refuses to pay the court ordered alimony since he was the main provider of the household, and expects me to survive on $1,200.00 a month.

    He is claiming he is not working and not earning an income, yet he blogs about his “apprentice” a prostitute he met in Alabama and who he had the gull to bring into our house with his sister and nephew when they came to pick up all his Cisco equipment and this “women” introduced herself as his “married cousin” while the whole time she was having an affair with my husband.

    I have no family in this country. My grandparents were my legal guardians and unfortunately they have passed away.

    Darby’s latest inhumane and cruel action towards me was to turn the water and electricity off on our house this Friday.. He has not paid any bills for over a year, yet blogs about his apprentice and how she’s a dyslexic grandma who has never even read a book before, all the trips he has taken with his “apprentice”, and how he thinks he is going to take this “women” and turn her into a CCIE. The man has lost his mind.

    I guess for Darby it was not enough to leave me, homeless, carless and penny less but also to leave me with no water and no electricity while I can still stay in the home.
    I have no money to put a deposit and have the utilities be put in my name.

    If anyone out there can help me, or reach out to Darby on his twitter, lynkedin, email etc. Someone please try to advice him that what he is doing in cruel and inhumane. I need his help.
    I’m not sure what type of people he has surrounded himself with in Alabama, but apparently they have no conscience, no respect for a 20yr marriage.

    He should not have asked me to return to the states and work my butt off to build a life together. Now that Darby has a career as a network engineer and can earn up to 100k a year and his child support payments are gone he decides to abandon me with nothing. Hew tells people he has to pay me 40K in alimony, not true. The judge ordered him to pay $2,000.00 a month, and he has paid $40.00 this year, this is a tax deduction for him.

    When we got married I was the support of our household thanks to the help of my grandparents, he was recently divorced, had filed bankruptcy, and had child support payments for the next 17yrs, did not have even $100.00 worth of credit.
    back then his family did not have a problem, since many times I had to help them with money my granny had left me. Now these people could care less if I have a crumb of bread to eat.

    Darby blogs about how he has integrity and does not want to cheat on taking the CCIE tests, how he likes to help everyone, apparently not, because he could care less if I have a roof over my head, and is taking advantage that I have no one.
    He has no values, and no morals, and is acting like the garbage he has surrounded himself with, I am very sad for him. I know I should not say this but Darby is pushing me to the point where I just want to end my life, and then he will be happy.

    If anyone can help me or knows how I can reach him, please let me know. I do not have a number for him and he hides behind his family like a coward.
    thanks,

  • Darby Weaver

    Update:

    Certification Goals and Accomplishments:

    Passed the CCDE Written – So I am an official candidate for the practical and booked.

    Passed the CWDP and am looking to pass the other 3 ASAP and make my application for the coveted CWNE after I complete my 3 design paper write-ups.

    Passed the ACMA 6.1 and hopefully will take the ACMP and and the Aruba Mesh this week if time allows for it.

    I’m sitting a 2-day ILT SonicWall Admin class this week and hope to take the Basic and Advanced certification exams soon after. I was given a TZ to work with to speed me along this path. Hey a freebie and vouchers… Can’t beat it.

    I gotta get an Aruba WLC and some APs…

    Darby Weaver

    • Great job @disqus_dsQ7xhGW1e:disqus. Good luck with CCDE !!!

  • Muddassir khan

    ‘exhaustive’ profile! woooh… there is too much to study 😉 thanks for sharing!

  • Darby Weaver

    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly about taking Certification Exams:

    I just failed the SonicWall CSSA Exam (Retail Cost: $400.00) and ouch! by only 2 miserable little points – I have something like 45 minutes to spare and could have reviewed the exam and some questions I marked for review – I didn’t because I was a little fatigued from the first 2 hours and 15 minutes of taking the exam…

    Live and learn – a little review may have made the difference.

    The good news is I learned quite a bit from it, some of which I seem to have forgot too, before the exam, and some I missed from the class. Gotta give it another go.

    Also I got a free voucher for it – so I’ll take it again after my bruised ego heals a little.

    I’m working hard at being a Russ White Stalker for the CCDE and his philosophies on on Network Design.

    Darby Weaver
    CCNP/CCDP

  • Update: December 2014

    Well, I went on this past summer and passed like 65 Certification Exam in about month or so – nonstop skills verification prior to attempting the CCDE on my own – no other training and I really didn’t even do more than start reading a book on it prior to the test and I scored in the thirty something percentile. I don’t feel bad since most CCIE’s locked in a room with themselves to help each other scored as an aggregate of all that brain power 1/2 on practice CCDE scenarios.

    So how do we define success?

    I can tell you that using not much more than basic/advanced CCNA level skills, one’s own earnings can do this:

    1. Allow a person to work from home/remotely.
    2. Allow for a $280k+ income while working remotely from home.
    3. Allow one more training opportunities than one would even have working brick and mortar – literally more than 4-6 weeks paid if one has the inclination.
    4. Allow more free time to do whatever to help with one’s quality of life.

    However, one might have to work from car, on an iPhone, over the Internet, through a VPN, on a webex or lync video conference and sometimes at the same time, while talking, taking emails, and working on visio diagrams and excel spreadsheets. I’m just telling you the good, the bad, and the ugly parts.

    I owe some pictures of my home operations center and my home data center – so expect them soon enough. I may have to take them in the interim, since construction is in progress.

    Later

    Darby Weaver
    http://www.darbyslogs.blogspot.com

  • Kelvin Johnson

    Wooooow, i am so thrilled, so moved, and so motivated reading this. You are really a motivator sir. you have just given my mind a kick start that i don’t need to give up at all.
    Thanks for sharing. Success to you in all your endeavors.

  • Your welcome Kelvin! Thanks for the feedback.

  • I’m working on confirmation that a CCNP can earn as much as over $400k working from home, whenever, wherever and enjoy all the benefits of a permanent employee to boot.

    Darby Weaver

    http://www.darbyslogs.blogspot.com
    http://www.darbyweaver.com

  • 2015 Training and Certification Goals:

    1. Complete Chris Bryant CCNA/CCNP and CCNA Security Training…

    2. Complete Lazarro Diaz CCNA Training and then some…

    3. Complete Paul Browning CCNA Labs and then some with his CCNA in 60 Days.

    4. Complete some Cisco Partner Education Training – particularly Storage, Data Center, Nexus, MDS, and UCS

    5. Complete several Brocade courses.

    6. Complete several Dell, Force 10, Compellent, Equallogic, FCoE, and various other Convergence Courses – media types etc.

    7. Complete some Wireshark and Sniffer Courses.

    8. Complete several CCIE Tracks’ Training from my 2- Year All-Access-Pass from http://www.ine.com – Think RS, Security, Collaboration, Data Center, and Service Provider.

    9. Complete the Cisco Learning Network Courses for CCNA/CCNP, BGP/MPLS, and the Cisco 360 for RS and Collaboration. I have 12 months to complete the CCNA/CCNP, BGP, and MPLS Labs/Courses, and 18 months to complete my Cisco 360 courses starting with the CCIE RS – my favorite.

    10. I’m thinking of some others but… hey… I only have so many milliseconds in a day…

    Anyway I have some training to do over these holidays…

    No rest for the wicked!

    Darby Weaver

    http://www.darbyslogs.blogspot.com
    http://www.darbyweaver.com

  • darbyweaver

    Here’s an update of my Home Operations Center and some of my CCNP/CCIE Racks as I pursue my CCDE and various CCIE Certifications. I’ll be completing this phase of the build out in March of 215.

  • darbyweaver

    Update: Passed the CCDE Written (again).

    I took the lab, almost a year passed and I tried to sign up for the Practical again and it was 4 days outside of the 2014 exam in May, so I had to re-take the Written.

    So…

    I took the CCDE Written again and I passed it once again.

    Renewed a boat load of certifications – like an Aircraft Carrier full.

    Now I’m working to get a date with the CCDE Practical here in 2015.

    Later

    Thanks

    Darby Weaver

    http://www.darbyslogs.blogspot.com

    • Edward Nuñez

      Hello Darby! I tried reaching you on the cisco learning but it seems you’re all over the place! It’s really impressive, I came across this article from LinkedIn actually. I wanted to ask you what do you recommend for some one who has gotten the certs (CCNA RS) to do for building their path to becoming a reliable consultant? I work for a tech reseller company and I’m currently the lead technician for all cisco devices. I work with WAP, routers, switches and firewalls, but unfortunately I don’t build the configurations I just apply the configurations that the client’s engineers make. I get to play around with them and see exactly what the thought process is and how to read some one’s configuration thoroughly now! But I don’t know how to go about say “I know exactly what you need for your branch and how to make it secure” I know the concepts and CLI but I don’t know how to put it together…

      • darbyweaver

        Well… If you follow what I’m doing right now on my warpath to the CCIERSv5 and the CCDE, then you’ll see I’m doing the following:

        1. CCNA thorough review (90% of what I do is at the CCNA level) – Chris Bryant comes first. Don’t forget Cisco Press CCNA/CCNP Libraries, and Video Series, the Cisco Learning Network has a lot of training material but I’ve not delved into all of it yet – They have an affordable subscription that is cheaper than EVERYTHING else for like $11.00/month – Udemy.com is having some sales at like $15.00 per class – including Chris Bryants stuff and some others there like Lazarro Diaz for example and Paul Browning among others.

        2. CCNP do the same.

        Watch the videos and learn what every command option is and what possible outcomes are when things don’t go as planned.

        3. CCDA/CCDP – This is where you take everything from the CCNA/CCNP level and make it stick. If you have access to PEC, then consider the “Foundation” set of training where you start learning a whole lot more about how the pieces come together.

        4. Watch videos on Design and learn why. Top Down Networking is great.

        5. Cisco Validated Designs are awesome and quite free and some get turned into Cisco Press Books.

        – Look at Small/Medium Office Designs, Data Center, and Remote or DMZ Designs and you’ll see how everything works… They have these for everything!!!!

        Can’t beat a solid Cisco education.

        Most of the resources are at your fingertips.

        Wanna get paid more? Its not all about certs – consider learning:

        1. Nexus 9000 -> Watch videos and get engaged on forums – learn it all down to the airflow and electrical requirements… port count and density and comparison with other vendors. IT pays TODAY!!!

        2. Load Balancing – ACE is great – F5 is TRUMP and the training is totally FREE.

        3. Cisco’s ASA Product is my favorite but Palo Alto has a great product too -> Learn why.

        Get on linkedin.com and get out there. Find me and hook up.

        This should get you started.

        Later

        Thanks

        Darby Weaver

        Chronicles of Darby Weaver – Network Architect

        • darbyweaver

          I copied my reply from the Cisco Learning Network that I had sent you here.

          However, it looks like you have a more practical version of your query here…

          So…

          1. Get in touch with me on linked in and I’ll work with you one on on on becoming a bit more of a consultant and learning the hows and whys of what we do and look for in a given network (any given network) that will help you achieve the desired goals.

          2. The main thing to learn first is the “Fundamentals” and for that I have to recommend the Cisco Press books on exactly that “Fundamentals” and Design series. I also highly recommend you take a moment to learn what other vendors, like Microsoft and whatever network you walk into has to say about “Design” and learn their perspective.

          3. When you find yourself at a new site or observing configs – learn to read them thoroughly and ask “Why”, then learn to sanitize the configs (remove any particular names, IP’s, passwords (especially), and then keep either the snippits that make the config work or maybe the whole config and apply it in a lab and test it. Not once, spend 10-20 or more hours until it works and you are crystal clear that you can explain how it works – in simple terms to someone at your own dinner table. You’ll have to do this many times as a consultant. Prepare for it early.

          Thanks

          Darby Weaver

          http://www.darbyslogs.blogspot.com

  • Darby Weaver

    Update: Status

    Wow! It’s been over 3 years since I last updates and my perspective and goals have changed a bit. I’m not as CCIE or CCDE Certification focused any longer – more like guidelines. Not that they are out of the question, it’s just that I can’t use them for benchmarks per se.

    I used to have the idea in my mind that a CCIE was somehow an unwritten requirement to attaining a certain level of achievement in the workforce. I don’t see it as such any longer.

    I used to believe that a certification such as the CCIE/CCDE was required for a solid and steady 6-digit income and a benchmark for success and I’ve proven to myself at least that this just isn’t true.

    I work for Fortune 500 Companies, foreign governments, entities dealing with the U.S. Government and so many State/Local governments, etc. with a modest Associate’s Degree and my experience level and every once in a while my certifications play a hand in the decision making process.

    As far as income the old “$100k” job or below is just not going to happen these days… I’m routinely offered jobs at $50-100.00 per hour as many times as maybe 100 times per day now. That’s quite a bit. I get offers near the $200.00 mark for contract and limited projects and I see some exotic offers that are unique for up to $600.00 per hour or so.

    Needless to say cash is not the only incentive or even an incentive at all for me these days…

    Quality of Life? Well, I work 100% remotely and have for about 6+ years now rarely even mentioning seeing an office. It’s a foreign word. Yet I work a Global LCM Lead Network Architect for a not one but at least 2 Global Companies at a time and technically at 3 that I count and as many as 6 that are counted if we use all the titles that I am listed under and all at the same time. Sounds crazy, huh?

    It’s true.

    So… Now I virtualized my life and automated my profession. I help others with their own careers and resumes whenever someone asks and I have the time. I enjoy helping others.

    I owe Miro some new pictures of my physical lab, offices, library, and even my virtual labs and designs – I specifically designed my own diagrams, spreadsheets, and tools/procedures so that I could share them when completed with the world and not be subject to any sort of restrictions or NDA policies.

    That’s where I’m at.

    Thanks again MB!

    Darby Weaver
    The Cisco Network Architect