CCDE Preparation Tips and Tricks by Yoshinori Okayama – World’s first 8xCCIE & CCDE

Yoshinori Okayama

Disclaimer : This is a Guest Post, prepared by Yoshinori Okayama, 8xCCIE & CCDE for which is the most visited and well known network design website in the world.

First of all, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Yoshinori Okayama. As a CEO, I’m managing my own company called Root Riff Systems, Inc. in Japan and holding 8xCCIE/CCDE.

I started my career as just a PC support engineer for consumer users, but I got bored with this. To enter IT infrastructure world, I passed MCSE 2000 and CCNA certification about 13 years ago as a server engineer.

But I got bored and tired with the server world with AD, Exchange, Linux/Unix, scripting, SAN, too much unnecessary logs and so on, jumped into the networking world and ever since I keep doing this.


There were several reasons why I tried to pass CCDE.

  1. To prove my design skill globally

I already hold 8 CCIEs as below.

  • CCIE R&S
  • CCIE Voice
  • CCIE Security
  • CCIE Storage
  • CCIE Wireless
  • CCIE Collaboration

Looks like it’s enough to prove the skill set isn’t it? But CCIE is a test to verify your technical knowledge, configuration and troubleshooting skill, NOT design skill. These are totally different skill set. For CCIE, you need to know many features and commands as possible to pass the exam, but CCDE never asks you what kind of command is needed to answer the questions. I’ve been designing and re-designing many network environments for a while, so I would like to prove that I have this kind of skill set with the globally well-known certification.

  1. To entertain the people in the world!

The more you get multiple CCIEs, the more people expect you to get CCIEs. So people will ask you like “When you will try?”, “Why you don’t do that?”, “I’m really expecting that you will pass soon!”. So I just would like to meet the people’s expectation and entertain them.

  1. As an advertisement

I’m running my own company and providing consulting, integration, and training for various customers. If I could be a first 8xCCIE/CCDE, this would be a good advertisement that’s what I thought.

How to Study?

Studying CCDE is searching and reading many documents, books, and any resource as much as possible. CCO, Cisco press, Cisco live docs, web sites like, RFC, and so on. Sometimes you need to do the lab to make sure the technology is working as you understand.

Also, CCDE is the scenario based exam, you should get familiar with the long scenarios. If you are not native English speaker, this is really important thing to do. Because you are forced to read very long story in English during the exam and find out what is the key to answer the questions in limited time.

Practical Exam

Again, this is totally different from CCIE Lab exam. Go to VUE test center as same as CCNP/CCIE written, and mostly answer the questions by just clicking the mouse. NO devices to verify your answer, NO proctor to help you, NO dictionary to clear translate English, and may be NO other CCDE candidates.

However, you may use PC or smartphone during 1hr lunch break. Because you will face 2 scenarios during AM for 4 hours, 1hr break, then 2 more scenarios during PM for 4 hours.

It’s better to utilize the tools Cisco gives you such as highlight the words in colors, take notes. I used highlight colors like security related word is in blue, routing is in yellow, business is in red and so on.

Why Failed

It took me to take 5 times to pass this exam! Even 8xCCIE got failed 4 times!! I know there are several reasons for this.

  1. Very different environment than networking environment in Japan.

The scenarios are mostly based on U.S and EU environment, so I was not much familiar with the environment like that. That’s one of the reason even Cisco employee who has multiple CCIE give up on CCDE in Japan.

  1. Doing another expert level cert preparation at same time

I took CCDE practical on Feb 5th 2015 even I was still doing CCIE DC which I cleared Feb 26th. Also, I started preparation for CCIE Collaboration on Apr 2015, and took 2nd CCDE attempt on May 2015, third attempt on Aug 2015, and fourth attempt on Nov 2015. I passed CCIE Collaboration on Nov 2015, so It consumed my time to study for CCDE. So this was the biggest mistake I made, this is exactly the situation of “fall between two stools”. Guys, NEVER DO THIS!!! (I bet you don’t though).

  1. Get rid of configuration oriented thought!

This is the advice for the candidates who already have CCIE. For CCDE, you should NOT think like “how to configure to realize this design? “. It really narrows your view and guide you to wrong way. This is the test to verify your design skill which includes your project planning skill as well.


How to Pass

As my recommendation, this is NOT only for CCDE, but also CCIE, the most important thing to do is “To know what you are not good at” you must find out this first, then stay focus on that.



This is really tough exam, CCDE program team is doing really good job to test us. As I proved, even multiple CCIE holder could fail. Reading many materials and find out what is the best answer in the scenario’s environment, NOT general environment in limited time. As my opinion, if you study till you get passed, CCDE will improves your design skill much more. CCDE is the exam to test not only your knowledge, but also your ability to understand the customer’s situation from both business and technical point of view.

Finally, good luck to all candidates who will try on this exam, you may fail but don’t give up like me! I hope this article would help you in any ways.


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