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Cisco CCIP MPLS certification: Introduction

Learn skills required for the MPLS portion of the Cisco CCIP certification. These skills are tested in the CCIP 642-611 -- Implementing Cisco MPLS Exam.

In the articles that follow, I am going to talk about foundational skills required to achieve MPLS certification. In reality there is no MPLS certification. MPLS skills are generally considered a subset of the skills required for multiple vendor certifications including Cisco's Certified Internetworking Professional (CCIP), Juniper Networks Technical Certification Program (JNTCP) and Foundry's Network Certification Program (FNCP). While these vendor certifications represent the major certifications surrounding MPLS, in reality, Cisco and Juniper dominate the deployed base for carrier solutions. I would recommend that those interested in certification pursue either Cisco or Juniper certifications.

Regardless of which vendor's certifications you eventually pursue, there are going to be concepts related to MPLS technology that will be common across all of the certifications. These concepts are what I consider the foundation skills for having a complete understanding of MPLS technology in order to be considered an expert in the field. The key areas of focus are as follows:


  • Virtual private network models -- peer versus overlay
  • MPLS labels and label distribution
  • Frame mode MPLS
  • Cell mode MPLS

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  • MPLS virtual private networks
  • MPLS traffic engineering
  • Customer edge-to-provider edge routing
  • Multi-protocol Border Gateway Protocol (MBGP)
  • Virtual Routing & Forwarding (VRF)
  • Route targets -- import and export
  • Route distinguisher
  • VPN IP addressing -- VPNv4

Read the entire CCIP MPLS certification series
MPLS and Cisco CCIP certification -- an introduction by Ed Tittel

Cisco CCIP MPLS certification, introduction

Lesson 1: Understanding MPLS


Lesson 2: Routing and control architecture

Lesson 3: Distribution of labels

Lesson 4: Label imposition

Lesson 5: Configuring MPLS

Lesson 6: Configuring MPLS and VRF

If you can gain a good understanding of all of these topics, not only will you be well versed in MPLS technology, but you will be prepared for any certification exam that requires MPLS expertise.

Cisco Certified Internetworking Professional (CCIP) certification requires an understanding of these topics as well as an understanding of how to implement these technologies. Subsequent articles will provide a brief overview of the technology and specific configurations for enabling the technology on Cisco platforms. The intent is to provide the foundational skills required to pass the CCIP exam 642-611 -- Implementing Cisco MPLS Exam. This exam is one of three to four exams required to achieve CCIP certification. The reason I say three to four exams is that Cisco provides a dual track to CCIP certification. Check Cisco.com for an outline of the CCIP certification requirements.

I will not be writing any articles outlining the technology or skills required for the other certification tests, only for the MPLS portion of the exam. It is my intent to provide a solid foundation of MPLS skills that can be used to pass the MPLS exam.

About the author:
Robbie Harrell (CCIE#3873) is the National Practice Lead for Advanced Infrastructure Solutions for SBC Communications. He has over 10 years of experience providing strategic, business, and technical consulting services to clients. Robbie resides in Atlanta, and is a graduate of Clemson University. His background includes positions as a Principal Architect at International Network Services, Lucent, Frontway and Callisma.


This was first published in July 2007

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