Home > Articles > Introduction: A License to Design

Introduction: A License to Design

Chapter Description

Design methodology isn’t just focused on technology; an architect or designer also needs to focus on business priorities to bring true value to a solution. Martin J. Duggan, author of CCDE v3 Practice Labs: Preparing for the Cisco Certified Design Expert Lab Exam, explores what you can expect in the CCDE v3 Practice Exam.

Final Advice

I attended the CCDE Cisco Live Tectorial in Berlin prior to my success and booked one-on-one time with Elaine Lopes and Yuri Lukin, who were heading up the CCDE certification team at that time. The whole team was really accessible, and they were very keen to offer help and advice. This was invaluable for me—and a turning point. I learned not to be too hasty in my decisions and not to answer the questions based on the facts in front of me but to scan the documents when something wasn’t clear. I was missing clues and needed to be neater in marking what was really important. My technical ability was at the correct level, however. The distracters in the questions are so well thought out that you really have to fully absorb the scenario and the requirements presented within it to be successful.

Possibly the most useful resource for me was being part of a study group that my friends Daniel Dib and Kim Pedersen started. We pretty much had the dream team in our study group. We were blessed with the presence of Russ White, the “daddy” of the CCDE exam, and I was able to ask him questions around the logic of OSPF ABR placement from one of his books, as it was puzzling me. He even gave me some brilliant last-minute advice: “read the question,” he said! It proved to be simple and sound advice, which made me laugh at the time. I made sure I did read each question, at least twice. I had even filled in a table with multiple answers when I remembered the advice and read the question again and found I only needed to check one box on one column, but actually had completed two (thanks Russ!).

If you are more than an hour away from the test center, booking a hotel for the night before would be a smart move. You don’t need the stress of travelling far on the same day. By taking the labs in this book and working through the debrief material, you will be in a far better position and won’t have any surprises on the day.

The practical exam is very tough, but it is fair and achievable. This is what makes it so desirable. If it is your goal or ambition to become CCDE certified, you are very likely to reach it. If you are thinking, “I’ll give it a shot, as I’ve been in the industry for 10 years and design on a daily basis,” then don’t be surprised if you don’t get your number immediately. Just remember that if you don’t pass on your first or second or even third attempt, you haven’t actually failed. You will only have failed if you give up. The exam has to beat you every time, but you only have to beat it once to get your number. It has also occurred to me that if you can’t explain a technology or how a solution functions or scales to a friend who isn’t necessarily even technical, then you don’t actually know that technology. It’s a case of turning your weaknesses into your strengths. For instance, if you are a guru with IS-IS but have no real-world experience of how EIGRP may perform better in certain topologies, it’s time to get the books out or speak to your study group. Be prepared for give and take from your group. Play devil’s advocate to question others and offer to run a study session for your group in your area of expertise. The sum of your group’s expertise will be invaluable. Even if you don’t get your number, you will grow from the experience.

The exam itself is quite simply a credit to its creators. Most people don’t realize the effort that goes into keeping the scenarios realistic, fresh, and protected. The team behind it is brilliant. The distracters are just so good—sometimes you see five correct answers in front of you, but only one will be appropriate to the customer and the scenario, even if not your favorite. Therefore, you just need to connect the dots and find the important requirements that, when matched with your knowledge and experience, will take you to the correct answer.

Put the books down for a few days prior to the exam. Spend time with your loved ones and be energized for the exam. Take your full break on the testing day, and pace your time. The exam status bar you will see throughout your scenarios is actually your friend, not your enemy.

You are going to need some endurance to complete four scenarios in a day. Practice with as many labs as you can as if you were taking your CCIE lab. I like to cycle, and I found I could clear my head and be energized for a long study session after a ride. I certainly couldn’t run an eight-hour study session, but I could easily manage four two-hour ones.

Use the following advice as you work through the labs presented in this book and your real exam, and you should have a good chance of gaining your number. Good luck!

  • Read the question.

  • Connect with the scenario.

  • Take time to analyze the existing environment.

  • Look for missing information.

  • Know what information you already have.

  • Don’t only base your answer on best practices.

  • Do not make assumptions.

  • Only make fact-based decisions.

  • Work on your weaker technology areas.

  • Maintain a high-level approach.

  • Think as a network architect/designer, not as a CCIE.

  • Focus on the “why”!

Cisco Press Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Cisco Press and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Cisco Press products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@ciscopress.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Cisco Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.ciscopress.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020