The Cisco Meraki Solutions Specialist

For quite some time Cisco/Meraki was talking about a new Certification focusing on Meraki Technology. Two days ago Meraki announced the availability of this exam:

Announcing the Cisco Meraki Solutions Specialist Certification

The Cisco certification area has more details, most important the exam blueprint:

Cisco Meraki Solutions Specialist

When going through the blueprint, you see that this exam tests the knowledge of the Meraki Fullstack. Although every network engineer has his strong and weaker areas, you have to know all Meraki products to pass the exam. Of course the new Sensors (the MT-line) are not covered in the exam.

For me as an Meraki-Enthusiast (some people say I am Meraki-Evangelist), it was clear that I’ll do this certification. So I booked my exam for today.

My Testing experience

After my CWNP Design test six weeks ago, this was my second onlie testing with Pearson Vue.

The first test ran perfectly smooth, but this time things were not that easy …

When thinking about problems I typically watch out of the window. So did I while testing and immediately the Chat opened and the proctor told me not to look to the side. I have to look at the screen. Ok, did that.

Some questions later I had problems reading the extremly small writing and deciphering what was on a screenshot. So I went nearer to the screen trying to decipher the text. Chat opened and I was told to make sure that my face is within the webcam-picture.

Again some questions later, I had my hand in front of my mouth (like Auguste Rodins “The Thinker”), the Chat opened and the proctor told me that I should not cover my mouth.

Well, after three “warnings” I got a little nervous. But luckily that was the last contact with the proctor.

Preparing for the exam

I work with Meraki gear for over five years now, but I assume that experience alone is not enough to pass the exam.

The two official preparation courses outlined in the certification description are ECMS1 and ECMS2. About a month ago I started to work through the Cisco Ondemand Learning for the ECMS2. This online training was the worst I ever attended. In other Ondemand-Trainings you typically have videos where a particular topic is introduced, and lots of text and images to get deeper into this topic.

The Cisco Ondemand-version of the ECMS2 is basically the slidedeck and nothing more. When taking this training through a Cisco learning partner, it will heavily depend on the trainer if a “story” can be told for these topics.

The most important part in this training were the last slides of each chapter where the documents were referenced that you should read in addition. And yes, in the last month I’ve read hundreds of pages of the Meraki Documentation at https://documentation.meraki.com. Many of them I have read before, some of them were completely new to me and some of them I had to read more than once. Where possible I replicated the stuff in my lab and/or compared it to customer networks.

All in all, I think it is a tough exam. The overall question quality was slightly better than other Cisco exams I took. No question where you have four answers, but two of them had the text missing. No question where you have to pick one answer but two answer-lines are absolutely identically. But some questions were not clear to me and could be interpreted in different ways which would make different answers the right one. Perhaps this is easier for a native speaker, but as often in these exams, I had some problems with this. And of course there were some question where I had no idea what the right answer was. Questions, where I not even remembered that I have read about it in the documentation. With some experience, an “educated guess” after sorting out the obviously wrong answers can help. But these questions often give you this “Damn, I really have to know that!”-feeling.

Well, the test-result in the score report is only preliminary, but I assume that I am a certified Cisco Meraki Solutions Specialist now.

Happy learning and good luck with your test.

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