First of all, the recommendations in this blog are based on proven outcomes. However, you can always consider the preferred approach that works best and is most comfortable for you.
Before you go through the recommended reading lists in this blog or any other suggested reading list, remember that you are reading to design, and not to implement or troubleshoot. Therefore, when you read any book, first you need to set your plan, strategy and goals in order to get the most out of it. This means not every book has to be read cover to cover.
Consequently, you should focus on the following approach when you read any resource:
It is also important that you use the comparative reading approach, in which you refer to multiple resources to cover a certain topic to see the different perspectives. For example, if you want to read about OSPF you may start with the upcoming CCDP ARCH 4th edition then you read the Optimal Routing Design book to take it a step further, then you can read about OSPF and IGP design considerations using the CCDE Study Guide. With this approach, what you may notice, is that some old resources may suggest to design OSPF ABR with maximum of 3 areas. This recommendation was mainly driven by the performance aspect, because the more areas you have, the more link-state debases the ABR will hold which may consume the ABR hardware resources. Nevertheless, today this may not be always a valid point, because the next generation routers have much more HW resources compared to the ones used 5 or 7 years ago. On the other hand, if your ABR is not a high-end device, the HW resources is something that you should take into account when you design OSPF areas.
This is a very simple example of how you will start ask the question “why” and analyze the different perspectives from the different resources to build a design mindset with analytical thinking. Last but not least, don’t waste your time with CLI and configurations related sections/chapters unless you like to try it in a lab to see how it works.
Although the more you read the more you learn, keep in mind sometimes this can lead to some confusions and repetitions.
The following figure illustrates a proven study approach, in a high level, as the required level of details and duration can vary, depends on the candidate’s knowledge and experience with the topic(s).
By considering the following lists, you will ensure that you cover the key technical aspects that you need for the CCDE practical exam taking into consideration your design background and experience can reduce the amount and time of studying.
Reading List 1: Cisco Press Books – Must
The following books in my humble opinion are MUST to read and understand “cover to cover”. The good thing here is, all these books are design focused and if you like network design (which I am sure you do) you will enjoy the reading journey. However, you still need to keep in mind the aforementioned approach when you read these books.
Cisco Press Books:
Reading List 2: CiscoLive breakout sessions
CiscoLive breakout sessions (available at www.ciscolive.com) are extremely helpful and valuable resources.
Be aware that you will find a large number of topics available there. In general, you can read whatever topic you feel you need to understand more about. I recommend you to consider the following topics as a minimum:
Reading List 3: Optional and Recommended books
If you feel you have a gap in your knowledge in any of the topics covered in these books or you want to expand your learning further, you can consider reading all or some of the following books (you may read some chapters or sections from these books based your self-evaluation to your knowledge):
Furthermore, you should also consider read some of the Cisco Validated Designs such as:
CCDE Practical Exam Practice
Last but not least, always refer to the CCDE Practical Exam Reading List at the Cisco Learning Network to see if there is any change or update.