Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert – CCIE Storage Networking

by Mirek Burnejko

Storage NetworkingCCIE Storage Networking is an expert level IT certification from the Cisco portfolio that concentrates on Fiber Channel networks.

From one side, the certification has not been updated for a long time. The exam concentrates on an old version of the SAN-OS software. From the other side, it is one of the most respected IT certifications in the world.

It is also one of the hardest IT certifications to prepare and get.

Do not forget to read our QA session with Antonella Corno from Cisco.

What Exams You Must Pass to Become a CCIE Storage Networking

You must pass two exams.

  • Written exam (350-040) which gives you an access to the website where you can schedule your lab exam
  • Lab exam – CCIE Storage Networking

You do not need to pass any other Cisco exams (like CCNA or CCNP). You also do not need to attend in any official training.

Format of the Exam

Qualification Exam
This is a normal computer-based 2-hour long exam. You must answer 90-110 single and multi-choice questions.

Lab Exam
You have eight hours to configure and troubleshoot scenarios from a workbook. You will receive a remote access to the lab. The exam is proctored be a CCIE proctor.
(Core Knowledge questions were removed from the lab exam in 2011).
The list of equipment on the exam.

Where You Can Pass the CCIE Storage Networking Exams

Qualification Exam
You can pass the written exam in any Pearson VUE center. The nearest center you can find here. Just create an account on the website, choose your localization and register to the exam. You can also call to the nearest examination center directly.

Lab Exam
When you pass your CCIE Storage Networking written exam, you can schedule the lab exam. On the CCIE website you can register to the lab using your information from the written exam (score, date of the exam and so on). Then you can choose the exam and register to the lab in one of the examination centers around the world. At this moment you can pass the exam in four locations: Brussels, San Jose, Sydney and Tokyo.
More info about examination centers here.

How Much Do the CCIE Storage Networking Exams Cost

The written exam costs $350. The CCIE Storage Networking lab costs $1500.

How To Renew your CCIE Storage Networking Certification

After passing the CCIE Storage Networking lab exam you must during two years any of these exams to renew your certification.

  • CCIE written exam (Routing and Switching, Security, Storage Networking, etc.)
  • CCDE written exam
  • CCAr exam

Scope of the CCIE Storage Networking exams

The actual version of the exams is based on SAN-OS 3.2.
This is very important, because MDS switches in 2012 can work with NX-OS (transformation of SAN-OS). The newest version of the software is NX-OS 6.0.
You must know how to configure and troubleshoot:

  • Fibre Channel Infrastructure like trunks, VSANs, Zoning
  • Fibre Channel Advanced Features like IVR NAT, Cisco Fabric Services
  • Interoperability with other vendors’ switches
  • IP-Based Solutions like VRRP, iSCSI, FCIP
  • Management Features
  • Intelligent Features like SANTap, Write Acceleration

The actual list of the topics you can find on the Cisco website. (You must have an account)

How To Prepare to the Exam

  • Books
  • Trainings
    • We recommend only materials from one company – ieMentor. First, they are only one (good) provider of materials for CCIE Storage Networking. Second, you can find, in their materials, every command that you can type in Cisco MDS switch and great labs for the final preparation.
    • CCIE Storage Workbook + Walkthrough Bundle for $895 (the best for combination with a remote lab from ieMentor)
    • CCIE Storage Bootcamp for $5000 by Roman Rodichev 6x CCIE
  • Lab
    • You can build a lab for yourself (very expensive). The list of equipment on the lab. You can also read great article by Brian Fenny.
    • You can rent the lab. ieMentor has in the offer a remote access to the lab for $1200 (7 days). You can also buy this access for shorter or longer period of time.
  • Bonus
    • If you work with a Cisco partner you should also check Partner Education Connection (PEC). You will find there a lot of FREE training materials. Amazing as a start with a Cisco technology. For the Storage Networking track we recommend materials for Cisco Data Center Storage Networking Design Specialist (DCSNDS) and Cisco Data Center Storage Networking Support Specialist (DCSNSS). I was using these materials before my first implementation of Cisco MDS 9148 Multilayer Fabric Switches.
    • You should also check the official study group. On this group you will find all answers, also about technology. The leader of the group is Antonella Corno. She creates once a while a free webex session with CCIE Storage Networking candidates.
    • If you want MORE you should check this official list of learning materials by Cisco.
    • You can also register for FREE to Cisco Live Virtual. You can here and materials from Cisco Live evens, especially presentations about FC, FICON and troubleshooting Fiber Channels switches.

Examples of Job Opportunities

Success Story

The Storage track requires you to know EVERYTHING that is possible on the MDS. Additionally I think that the written is the hardest written test to pass! That took some blood, sweat and tears to pass as the questions are so theoretic and really require you to know the Fibre Channel protocol by heart!

Rick Mur – CCIE #21946, JNCIE #851

Questions and Answers

Q: Can I find somewhere blogs or articles by people who have the CCIE Storage Networking certification?
A: We can recommend two articles. First by Rick Mur (we did an interview with him) and Brian Fenny (who also helped us with the EMCISA article).

Q: Haven’t you heard about CCIE DataCenter? Why I should spend my money and time when CCIE DataCenter is almost here?
A: I have heard about that for two years :). There are a lot of rumors about the CCIE DataCenter certification. Cisco does not tell official about it, so there is no 100% chance that we will see this certification. CCIE Storage Networking has amazing value on the job market. Even if we see CCIE DataCenter in 2012, CCIE SN will be valid and evaluated as a separate path.