Just a quick note to say I passed my CCIE R&S lab on 31st March 2008. I am now #20394.
After spending time with a number of other suppliers I eventually started using the study materials from Internetwork Expert. The ethos with this company is that you need to first know your subject. The you need to practice till you could almost write the configs in your sleep. I completed their three work books and then redid workbook two over and over again. Whilst I know that once you’ve already done workbook lab you know the answers. Well the answers given are deliberately vague which means you have the option to solve the problems in different ways each time. Which means that you get to learn more each time you complete the tasks. Firthermore you get faster at it.
When I first started out doing my CCIE R&S I rented rack space from remote vendors. Well if the budget is there I would strongly recommend building your own. Two reasons for this. Firstly the experience building up the lab from scratch which helps to understand more as you built the backbones. And Secondly you can leave a task unfinished get the badly needed sleep and get back on the horse. When using remote kit quite often unless you were to save your configs when you finished. Which might not necessarily be that easy to do due to time constraints. You have to start from the begining each time.
Another tip is to get into the habit of writing config in a text editor; notepad for example. This also gets you out of the habit of using the question mark key.
I have attached photos of my lab kit.