Recertifying Keeps 10-Year CCIE At the Top of His Game
Keeping his CCIE certification current has served Phil Remaker well over the years, opening the door to a variety of interesting, higher level positions in technical support.
According to Phil Remaker, recently honored as a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco and ten-year CCIE, the original CCIE certificate awarded to him just over ten years ago is "a tribute to a deep knowledge of things that don't matter any more." Phil observes that the CCIE exam of that time "covered things like AppleTalk and IPX over 10Base5 Ethernet using IGS and AGS hardware -- not one of which is in common use today," he says. He was also the first person to take and pass the now discontinued CCIE exam for ISP Dial. Yet Phil points out that CCIE program developers anticipate and handle product changes through stringent recertification requirements. "The CCIE exam and tracks are continually adapted to stay current. If you've been re-certified, you're current. That's one of the beauties of the program."
Staying recertified or achieving additional CCIE certification is a challenge even for someone as experienced as Phil, who today works on vexing problems around security, software reversion control and product manageability in Cisco's Technical Assistance Center (TAC). Over the years he's had some trouble passing the certification exams when he hadn't spent enough "hands-on" time with the routers. "You've got to get your hands dirty," he says. "There's no substitute for 'cockpit' time with the devices. The CCIE exam is designed to test for that." Still, Phil welcomes the challenge. "Studying for the re-certification exam forces me to stay current with new products and technologies and staying fresh helps me be more effective in my day to day work."
"You've got to get your hands dirty. There's no substitute for 'cockpit' time with the devices. The CCIE exam has always been designed to test for that."
Phil worked alongside the CCIE team who were developing the certification test back in the early 1990s. "They were taking a hard look at the problems Cisco's TAC were engaging in at that time and using those as the test cases for the lab." He remembers a lot of conversation about which deep technical concepts an individual would need in order to: a) run a network, b) never call TAC, and c) if they did call TAC, make them an absolute pleasure to work with.
Phil still experiences a great deal of pride in being a CCIE and finds it as useful a credential today as it was ten years ago. His rise from customer support engineer to recognition as a Distinguished Engineer within Cisco was assisted by the experience of studying for the exams. Phil has achieved distinction in his work with IOS quality improvement and defect tracking systems, as well as the development of best practices for access, voice and video networks. "Certainly attaining CCIE certification has provided a pathway to the more interesting, higher level technical positions at Cisco," he says. "But it's also an instant credibility generator when I meet with external customers. Ground can be covered more quickly as people have an immediate understanding of your skill set."