Disclaimer: As with all my reviews, I have not received any compensation or special benefits to write this. I don't write reviews unless I really enjoy the material and would like to endorse it because I found it to be great material.
It's been awhile since I've written on my blog and I wanted to update you all with a review of some of the training material I'm going through. A few months ago, I saw an ad on Facebook for a trainer called Khawar Butt who was selling an "All Access Pass" for his CCIE training. I remembered thinking that I had heard that name somewhere but I couldn't place it.
From a quick Linkedin search, I saw that he had 6 CCIEs and a CCDE and was located in the middle east. I'm always a bit skeptical of overseas trainers with a LOT of CCIEs and who aren't part of any institution I know but after talking to a few friends in the industry whom I trust, I found out that they knew more than a few folks that went through his Service Provider course and had nothing but positive reviews and claimed he was a legitimate training. Narbik also mentioned to me that he did some work with him in the past too which was another good endorsement. I believe Khawar will be doing some bootcamps through Micronics in the future as well.
Personally, It's not easy for me to follow along and understand trainers with a thick accent but a friend of mine gave me a link to his Youtube channel (here) and found that he didn't really have much of an accent at all. In fact, he was very easy to follow so I decided to email him about his prices for his class. He gave me the price of a single bootcamp ($2000) and the price of his All Access Pass ($3000). Let me explain his All Access Pass for a moment: essentially I would get to go to any bootcamp he did over the year, get the workbooks for all his tracks, and if I could not attend live, it was ok because he would provide recordings of the class. He also emailed me a link to the last Security v5 class he did the previous day which happened to be on FTD. I ended up watching it in one sitting and decided to go for it.
For me, I ended up going for the All Access Pass since it made more sense from a learning perspective to pay a little more and get that much more content. With the All Acess Pass, I am able to get all the bootcamps he does for all the tracks he teaches. Khawar runs bootcamps for the following tracks all year long:
- CCIE Security v5
- CCIE Routing and Switching
- CCIE Service Provider
- CCIE Data Center v2
Pretty much by paying $1,000 more, I would get access to either watch the sessions live or get the videos after the class. Since our timezones are vastly different, I haven't attended a single class live but I've received all the videos of the classes. I've been very happy so far. Even though there's no way I can study that many tracks all at once while beastmoding for the CCIE Security v5, I at least have them for later when I decide to brush up on my DC skills, learn more about SP, or go after my CCIE R&S. More than just certification training, they provide a great amount of job and skills training.
To give you an idea of how much content I've received, I signed up for the All Access Pass in May of this year and this is how much content I've received so far:
CCIE Security v5 1st Bootcamp:
CCIE Security v5 2nd Bootcamp - Still running and not yet completed:
Sessions done so far:
400 Page CCIE Security v5 Lab Workbook
CCIE Data Center v2 1st Bootcamp:
Note: He's already ran one Data Center bootcamp this year and will be running a second one later this month. If his pattern is anything like what he did with Security, I suspect he'll go into a deeper dive of DC in his second bootcamp.
There is also a lab workbook for this course but I never asked for it. Mostly because I'm not actively studying for it and I forgot to ask.
CCIE Routing and Switching:
Sessions done so far:
Note: There is also a lab workbook for this course but I never asked for it. Mostly because I'm not actively studying for it and I forgot to ask.
CCIE Service Provider & CCDE - He hasn't done the bootcamps for these yet but according to his Facebook, he will do them by the end of the calendar year so I will have even more videos to add to my collection.
So beyond the massive amounts of videos, courses, and workbooks, what's so great about Khawar's materials that make it different than most other providers out there?
- Great value - For the diverse amount of tracks, the ability to keep the videos for later, workbooks, etc for $3000, that's an GREAT price
- Quality - His quality is consistent among all the tracks he teaches. Khawar has an amazing aptitude for breaking down complex topics in a way that anyone can understand. His teaching style isn't to go over every nerd knob and switch but to explain the concepts in a way where you TRULY understand it and wrap your head around it and then layer it on. He chooses to only teach the tracks he feels comfortable whiteboarding and configuring from scratch on a live session. A different person could try to teach all the tracks for more money and probably get away with it to some degree but I have to respect the fact that he doesn't do that. He knows the tracks that are his strengths and somehow is able to pull consistent quality across all for it.
- Experience - Khawar Butt comes with production and consulting experience. He's definitely no professional pointpoint reader.
- Teaching Style - His explanations are EXCELLENT. He has a way of explaining the "why" of different concepts in a way that makes a light bulb go off over your heard. For example, beyond the use of some different authentication methods, I didn't really understand the "why" of using FlexVPN or what was so special about it. After watching his session on it, he broke down how things are currently done with IKEv1 and then explained how IKEv2 and FlexVPN optimizes VPN. During his 10 minutes of explanation, the lightbulb went off over my head and I switched to "Team FlexVPN." If you would like an example of his teaching, I would urge you to watch this session he did on Routergods for DMVPN which can be viewed here. In 2 hours, he broke down the core concepts of DMVPN but I loved the part where he configured GRE and did static mappings to show the kludginess of site-to-site VPN with GRE without DMVPN and then showed a better way with mGRE. Watch that entire video and lab along with it. At the end of the video, you are going to know what problems DMVPN fixes, why it makes our lives easier, and what you get out of each phase. Another important factor: At the end of that video, you will probably say "Oh, that's actually not too bad to configure" which is great because DMVPN is one of those things that is so hard for most people to wrap their heads around initially for CCIE R&S and Security.
If I must be honest, I might have not given him a chance if I was just going off Google search results because while there were a LOT of positive search results, there was one anonymous wordpress site that claimed that he would not be the one training you and that you would be trained by someone unqualified. I can't be sure of the author's intentions or whether it's just a competitor trying to sink some search results - but I can vouch for the fact that of all the training videos I've been provided and the coursework that's been written have all been him. I'm glad I took a risk and tried it out.
Another thing I get asked a lot since I wrote my initial review of Micronics Zero to Hero and I'm sure I'll get asked here as well: Is this one bootcamp enough to get me to the CCIE Security? I'll give you all the same answer that I give for Micronics: No because there is no single training provider that covers every single macro subject on the blueprint. During the course of a CCIE, expect to have a layered approach to learning: Videos, bootcamps, a LOT of reading, etc. It all depends on your style of learning what you might be relying on more but I always recommend a mix training training vendor approach. If you don't take that approach then it doesn't exclude you from being able to study for the CCIE but expect to read a LOT of dry configuration guides and books if you don't adopt a layered training approach. I know it's not easy or cheap to go a layered training vendor approach but I would recommend getting your employer buy-in prior to committing to the CCIE if you can't afford it out of pocket. It will go a long way to offsetting the costs for quality materials.
Another question I get asked a lot from folks who know I've attended both courses: If I pick only one, which one should I pick? That's a hard one to say. I like them both equally for different reasons and they both have an equal value add. I would say they are very complimentary and I learned unique things from both. I would say that Zero to Hero was great for a drill into security and there was a deeper dive into the nerd knobs and switches. I found Piotr's experience made it impossible for us to ask a question he couldn't answer. For Khawar, I found that he provided the best explanations on the "why" of each technology and was excellent at explaining the core of the techology. Plus the depth and breadth of all you get with his All Access Pass. I can't speak ill of one- they just have different teaching styles and there's a different focus on both. If anything, they are extremely complimentary and I never felt like I was being taught something redundant by going from one class to the other even though they both were teaching the same core technologies.
Thanks for reading this review and I hope it helps you guys out!