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Alcatel Lucent Service Routing Architect Lab

September 6, 2015 2 comments

I took the SRA lab a couple of weeks ago and got my result late last week (a pass).  Unlike the CCIE there isn’t really any information about going for the SRA in terms of logistics so here you go, here is how I got to Antwerp and how I got on.

I flew in to Zaventem from Dublin (with Aer Lingus).  Ryanair also fly to Charleroi (never going through that nightmare again) and Cityjet fly direct from Dublin to Antwerp.  I elected to go with Aer Lingus as the timing worked out better.   The lab is from 8:30  to 5ish.  From Brussels airport I took the De Decker coach to Antwerp Central Station (Queen Astrid Square I think).  It cost 10 eurodollars, an absolute bargain.  The bus departs on the hour from Zaventem and takes around 45 minutes to Antwerp.  If you have been to Diegem then you know where the bus to the Cisco hotels go from.  This one is in the same area, on the far left with blue paint on the ground at the stop. Here’s a fancy link .

If you have never been to Belgium before and are a native english speaker then you will find most people have an excellent level of fluency, seems par for the course in Benelux.  I speak French but was advised against doing so in Flanders.

After the short bus trip I got to central Antwerp at around 11am the day before my exam.  Once you get off the bus there is a fabulous looking central station.  ALU are about 10 mins walk from here.  Go in to the station and keep walking past all the diamond shops until you get to the end of the station. Turn left out the glass doors and ALU are just to the left of the station.

I stayed in the Linder hotel, there is also an Ibis within 1 minute walk from ALU.  It was about 180 euro for the night with breakfast and dinner, they have a sky bar where I had some coffee and tried to do some labs.  Some poor soul was doing his soundcheck for thats nights performance so it was loud and he was rubbish, lucky I brought my headphones.  I walked the 1 minute round to ALU just to make sure the reception area was where I was due to go in the morning.  I then had some nice organic fruit and pastries in a cafe type thing beside the hotel.  Le Petit Dejeuner I think it was called (obviously no one told them speaking French in Flanders was uncool, or maybe the joke was on me), staff were really nice and the food was good.   After that I went back to my room and had a nap. A bloody nap!  Who does that?  I have sleep apnoea so I like to snooze whenever I can.  I got up after a few hours and had dinner in the hotel, fine, reasonable quality then I went to sleep for super serial around 8pm.  Big mistake, I was up at midnight til around 4am, dozed off until my alarm went off at 5:30.  Breakfast wasn’t until 7 but I wanted to do some scenarios beforehand, couldn’t focus though.

Unlike when I sat the CCIE I wasn’t worried at all for this one, in fact I was expecting to fail as I didn’t prepare, and I had budget for a second attempt if required.  Because there is so little information on the SRA I thought a recce attempt would be a worthwhile investment.

At 8:10 I went round to ALU and was there around 8:11 🙂 and waited in reception for my proctor.  Like my NRS2 attempt my proctor was cool, explained the rules etc and off I went.

I had an initial read of the paper (which I didn’t do for my CCIE) and checked out all the diagrams.  I redrew them out on the paper the proctor provided me with, working pens too! Take note Cisco! All the SROS config guides were available in a folder on screen, I consulted them a few times, again I hadn’t really prepared.   You know all the ALU courses and study guides, they have 6 routers in them.   I use a network of 14 lab routers in the day job which was fine.

Now here is where I can’t really say any more detail.  I will say this, I would consider the exam somewhat on par with the NRS2 but with more complicated subject matter.  I found it relatively straightforward, finishing well within the allotted time and taking it easy at that.  I left after 6 hours having rechecked a couple of times.  I find some questions ambiguous in most exams, must be very hard for non native English speakers.  I made the decision on how to proceed based on what I felt was more logical in an exam environment.  For example if you need to change a service parameter that is tied to a physical element, don’t change the physical element, accommodate that restriction in your solution.  These exams are there to make you think right?  Not just go for the easy option.  Whether I was right or wrong I don’t know but I did enough to pass.

After the exam I went back to the same bus stop and waited for the bus.  In the lashing rain. For 45 minutes.  The bus was 10 euro back and even though this was around 4pm and traffic was awful our route seemed to go against all the traffic.  Always a plus.  Compulsory purchase of the Belgian chocolates for the family and off home.

I haven’t completed the SRA yet, I still have my elective written exam to complete, which is a weird kind of limbo to be in.

Jerry Springers final thought:  If you prepare with the ALU scenarios then there is no reason you shouldn’t pass this exam.  If I give the CCIE SP a 7-8/10 in terms of difficulty then this one would be a 4-5/10.  Maybe it was easier cos I had already done the CCIE, I don’t know.  It’s certainly not the hardest exam I’ve ever sat.  If you know what you are doing in theory and in practice, and not just learning by rote, then you should pass no problem.

SAVE YOUR CONFIGS OFTEN!!  These are sims so they can break.

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