The two main challenges in the CCIE Collaboration Lab are
(1) The lab contains a wide variety of topics on which you will be challenged.
For example, a typical lab might address the following topic areas:
- Collaboration Infrastructure: This area requires you to configure routers and switches for technologies such as voice and data VLANs, DHCP, DNS, CDP/LLDP, and NTP.
- Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM): This area might require you to register phones to a couple CUCM clusters. Some phones might be run the SCCP protocol, whereas other phones might run SIP. After registering the phones, you will probably be challenged with configuring phone features (for example, native call queuing, call park, or BLF speed dials). You might also be challenged to configure URI dialing, call admission control (for example, Enhanced Locations, RSVP, or SIP preconditions), mobility (for example, Extension Mobility, Device Mobility, or Mobile Connect), and Service Advertisement Framework (SAF) with Call Control Discovery (CCD).
- Dial-Plan and Call Routing Features: This area typically represents a large percentage of the lab points. Be prepared to configure dial-plans to accommodate features such as redundancy, number globalization, number localization, and call history dialing. This topic area requires mastery of a variety approaches for digit manipulation (for example, voice translation profiles, calling party transformation patterns, called party transformation patterns, translation patterns, and transformation masks).
- Cisco IOS Gateways: This area might require you to configure a Cisco IOS router as a Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express (CUCME) router and to register phones (both SCCP and SIP) with that router. The CUCME router might also contain a Cisco Unity Express (CUE) module that you are required to configure to provide services (for example, voice mail, automated attendant, VoiceView, and Voice Profile for Internet Mail [VPIM]) to CUCME clients. Other possible tasks you might be asked to perform on a Cisco IOS gateway include configuring a Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE), configuring SAF/CCD, and configuring an ISDN PRI connection.
- QoS and Security: This area might require you to configure a collection of router and switch quality of service (QoS) features (for example, LFI, MLPPP, FRF.12, cRTP, VAD, classification, and marking) for voice and/or video traffic. In addition, you might need to configure security features available by default in CUCM, such as toll fraud prevention.
- Cisco Unity Connection (CUC): This area might challenge you to integrate CUC with CUCM or CUCME. Alternately, you might have a couple CUC servers (each in their own one-server cluster) and have to configure them to exchange voice mail messages. Other possible topics for the CUC section include the configuration of various call handlers and call routing rules.
- Cisco Unified Contact Center Express (UCCX): This topic area focuses on the Cisco UCCX server, which can be used to support mid-sized call centers. You might be challenged to configure a UCCX server, via GUI interface. Also, you might need to create and/or modify UCCX scripts using the UCCX script editor.
- Presence: The presence feature can monitor a user’s willingness to participate in a call. For example, if a phone is off-hook, that information might need to be reflected on another phone (that is, a watcher). You might be challenged to configure the presence features available in Cisco Unified Communications Manager or Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express, in addition to the configuration of a Cisco Unified Presence server (CUPS). In addition to CUPS server configuration, you might also be required to configure a Cisco Jabber client (for Microsoft Windows).
Keep in mind that the preceding list is just an example of the topics that might appear on your CCIE Collaboration Lab. You should closely examine the Cisco CCIE Collaboration Lab Blueprint (http://bit.ly/collaborationlab) for a complete listing of topics that might appear on the lab.
(2) The number of tasks you need to complete in 8 hours can seem daunting after reading through the lab.
Because time can be your enemy on the lab, you want to avoid going back and revisiting prior tasks. For example, if you configure service parameters, partitions, and calling search spaces early in your lab and then later discover that you need to set up Automated Alternate Routing (AAR), you would have to go back and enable AAR in the service parameters and create the appropriate AAR partitions and calling search spaces.
By spending 15 to 20 minutes at the beginning of the lab to read through all the tasks, you could identify such interrelated topics and minimize having to retrace your steps. Also, the time constraints leave little time to troubleshoot any configurations that you do not get right the first time. So, be careful in your configurations to minimize the issues you will have to troubleshoot.