A retrospect of the 53 year old veteran’s networking career runs parallel to the emergence of Cisco’s most reputed and award-winning Certification CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert). It lays forth a mixed platter of awe and excitement to muse over those initial days in Cisco where a team of pioneers scooped up the best the Networking world could ask for.
Biggs started his career in the field as Tech Support in 1983, following an MS in Electronic Engineering from Stanford University, California. After changing job roles like Sr. Software Engineer, Support Engineer and Principal Engineer with a few companies like 3Com, Fore Systems etc, Biggs joined Cisco Systems in 1991 (till 1994) as Support Engineer. After his bit of job-hopping, Biggs rejoined Cisco in 2002 as Technical Leader, only to stay put with the Networking top gun till his recent demise.
Stuart Biggs had played a key role in co-leading the team that developed Cisco’s innovative and highly acclaimed CCIE certification program. This Cisco CCIE program was the brainchild of the Cisco Chairman and CEO Mr. John Chambers, who was back then a vice president.
The First CCIE
On October 1992, Biggs, along with a few other Cisco seniors, came up with a team who could serve as Technical Connoisseurs on Cisco products; who could maintain their own networks or help in maintaining them. One of the tasks of this expert team was to create a course that would highlight the expertise on Cisco products in a real live environment. The main aim of the program was to recognize the top talent in network design and problem-solving among Cisco’s diverse customer base.
A rigid set of requirements was made mandatory to ensure that only the best of professionals got selected. “Prospective candidates need to be highly qualified just to enter the program, and after taking an intensive troubleshooting course, must pass a rigorous hands-on lab test conducted by senior support engineers”.
A lab was created based upon the technology of the early 90′s like, FDDI, Ethernet, a bit of X.25, IBM SNA along with 1 or 2 routing protocols. The written exam was added later, only to serve as a qualification for admission to the lab exam. Brad Wright, the new CCIE program manager, assigned Stuart Biggs, the Cisco Senior Customer Engineer, to write the CCIE test and assemble gear for the CCIE test lab.
Some interesting facts about the CCIE bloomer days:
The CCIE Certification was planned to be named as Cisco “Top Gun”! But as the famous Tom Cruise starrer with the same name was recently released, Cisco changed it to “Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert” to avoid any legal issues.
The CCIE program was publicly announced on Sept. 27, 1993
As Cisco didn’t have switches then, the lab gear consisted of AGS, AGS+ and MGS routers.
In those times the hands-on test took two days: One day of build-it and next day of fix-it after they break it!
The CCIE inventor team chose to start the CCIE numbering
system with 1024 (2 to the power of 10)
The company assigned the first CCIE number - CCIE # 1024 to its own Cisco testing lab, placing the number plaque on its door.
Stuart Biggs was awarded the second number - CCIE # 1025, as he created both the CCIE written and lab test.
Stuart Bigg’s employee ID was the same as his CCIE No. #1025
The first non-Cisco person to pass both the written and lab exam was Terry Slattery, who used to work as a Consultant to Cisco. “……..Terry passed the hands-on test, designing and building the network in one day, then fixing the things that Biggs (the lab test creator) broke in just over half a day.”
Biggs received #1025 on July 19, 1993 and Slattery got #1026 on 03-Aug-1993.
The 2013 worldwide Cisco CCIE count has been officially reported as +11,371 CCIEs
The Year 2013 is the 20th year of the CCIE program