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Free CCNA Workbook

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

With comprehensive Labs and great video series this website offer a much-needed FREE CCNA resource. Matthew George, the founder did an amazing work for the good of all the CCNA candidates out there so spread the word 🙂

This is thea part of the intro:

Our mission is to provide quality CCNA lab training materials to assist you as an individual in pursuit of the Cisco Certified Network Associate Certification. The CCNA certification is a globally recognized certification awarded by Cisco Systems to display associate level knowledge of network engineering skills; skills which include a basic understanding and ability to design, implement and maintain networks that utilize technologies such as Frame Relay, Virtual LAN’s, STP, VTP, ISL, Dot1q, Port Security, Static Routes, RIP, EIGRP, OSPF, Access Control List and much much more.

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Computer and Communication Networks – book review

May 8, 2010 2 comments

Now that I covered CCNP topics ranging from switches and routers to security and quality of service, my next book come as a great overall review.

Computer and Communication Networks

Pearson’s Computer and Communication Networks by Nader F. MIR is a comprehensive book that cover many networking topics. While it doesn’t pretend to be a study guide, it does cover many topics and can be a great resource for those who already completed their studies, professionals who lack the official certifications but have good networking knowledge and even new comers without the basic knowledge.

The book has two parts: Fundamental concepts and Advanced concepts.
The fundamental concepts are great for either new comers or those who want to refresh their knowledge. It is updated to the 2010 networking state of mind and cover the basics. The advanced concepts are more complicated and you should have some prior knowledge to make the most out of it. As someone who just completed CCNP and has most of the theory (still) fresh in his head I found it comprehensive but not too deep (that is why we have certification exams ;))

Part I – Fundamental Concepts start with the basic protocol and packet concepts. It covers devices and transmission options and explain LAN, Wireless and Routing. The end of this part cover the most common protocols (such as TCP, UDP and DNS) and network security.

Part II – Advanced Concepts, cover some of the more complex networking ideas like QoS, Switch fabrics, optical networks and multicasting. The last few chapters explain VPNs and tunneling, data compression (video and voice), VoIP, Mobile and Wireless.

I really like the RFCs list in Appendix B. When you study\read\research a new topic and look for some extra information, RFCs are the best place to start. This list can save you the search time and point you directly to the RFC number you need.

This is a good book to keep in your library, one day you’ll need something and will definitely find it in this book.

Check all my reviews here

SIP Trunking – book review

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

This book is waiting on my desk for a while now. I’ve been busy with BSCI and only now found the time to open it, while working on my ONT exam.

I do some maintenance and configurations on my partial IP phone system (Avaya PBX) but it is definitely not the core of my work, not to a level that can be considered as good experience. So I’m new to the VoIP and QoS world and reviewing this book while watching the ONT videos and reading the books is very interesting.

SIP Trunking by CiscoPress is a high level resource that cover a relatively new trend in the IP telephony world.
ISPs and LAN environment converted to VoIP and IP telephony but they still use TDM trunks, the old method or in its other name – the bottleneck.

With SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) you can gain
Point-to-Point VoIP and get better service, QoS and flexibility.

The Book has a clear and very interesting introduction part. As I said, I’m not a big voice expert but I had no problem understanding the concepts, the benefits and the problems.

The second part focus on the design, planning the network for SIP trunking. It covers the component, the trunking models and design considerations. I was able to find many familiar scenarios of different types of offices and get the idea of the added value of SIP trunking.

The third and last part is the deployment of SIP trunks, this was just over my head with commands and case studies that go beyond my understanding (at least at this point of my VoIP life).

Overall I enjoyed reading this book and learned many concepts and models beyond SIP trunking. If I had to work on a SIP project this book would be a good resource and is very recommended. It is also a great book for anyone who work with telephony (IP or not) – this is where the world is moving to and even if you do not see the immediate value, it will prove beneficial on the long run.

Since I’m running a small shop I do everything and this is the type of book that allow me to better understand the big picture. I will definitely read it again after my ONT exam and I assume that with my additional knowledge and some (very basic) lab experience I will be able to get more out of it.

Check all my reviews here

Deploying Cisco Wide Area Application Services – book review

March 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Deploying Cisco Wide Area Application Services from CiscoPress is not for everyone.

Deploying Cisco Wide Area Application Services, 2nd Edition

This is a concept book that aim at professionals involved with design and deployment of WAAS in their networks.

What is WAAS?
In simple words it is a solution (combination of design and technology) to get better performance out of your applications over WAN connections.

The problem (again, in simple words) is closing the gap between the need for bandwidth ($$$) and performance. Some (but not all) of the problem is getting more out of the existing infrastructure. The other part is technology related issues, mostly with the way our cloud is designed.

The book is a great read with detailed descriptions and it covers many design options. It is worth reading if only for the concepts.

After a short introduction the authors review the requirements, planning and implementation.
They cover different scenarios and many options.
They cover different type of connections (like Branch office or Data center) and go over the configuration.

This book has all the steps of the solution and you can either review it all or check out the one piece you’re interested in.

Check all my reviews here

BSCI – IS-IS review

March 10, 2010 2 comments

Buried under dozens of definitions, values and parameters I try to wrap up my studies for the exam. I have to admit that it is as hard as they say and I wonder why am I doing this horrible thing to myself 🙂

IS-IS is one of the topics that I could avoid by taking the ROUTE exam but it is a fascinating protocol that take link-state to another level and open your mind to other ideas. You can think of it as trying a new browser – you know it is working like your Firefox (which 54% of you use) but it has a different feeling, some other features or just a different look. You’ll keep using your favorite fox but it is nice to know what other options are available out there.

Other than my study notes and my study guide, I found Aragoen Celtdra’s BSCI: IS-IS Configuration and even more his BSCI: IS-IS Concepts I BSCI: IS-IS Concepts II posts great reading.

Here are few important points:
IS-IS has 3 types of routers:

  • L1 – intra-area, uses LSP
  • L2 – inter-area, the backbone of IS-IS network
  • L1/L2 – connectors between L1 and L2 areas

IS-IS has 4 OSI routing levels:

  • level 0 routing – ES-IS protocol, same subnet
  • level 1 routing – ISs in the same area
  • level2 routing – L1 or L2 routers find L1/L2 router
  • level 3 routing – L1/L2 pass traffic to other AS

IS-IS must be configured both at the router level and interface configuration mode.

The comparison between IS-IS to OSPF is a major topic as we try to understand which one is better for our network.
Here are some of IS-IS benefits over OSPF:

  • supports more routers in an area
  • produces fewer link state advertisements for a given network
  • supports network layer protocols other than IP
  • forms adjacencies with all neighbors

There are some problems with IS-IS and CLNS:

  • CLNS adjacency can have IP addresses on different subnets at different end of the connection. That would make troubleshooting much harder
  • IS-IS neighbor relationships are established over CLNS and again, the fact it is not using IP make it more complicated

One way to bypass this problem is using only IP routing. In order to make it happen each IS-IS router require NET address and all network devices must use CLNS.

Read about CLNS, NSEL, NET address and DIS, they all show on the exam and Aragoen cover them well on concepts part II.

You can find another great IS-IS document here and a Cisco presentation on IS-IS. Detailed command guide from Cisco is available here.

TSHOOT exam topology

February 21, 2010 Leave a comment

By now you already know that CCNP has a new format. You read all the details here few weeks ago.

Jeremy Gaddis of evilrouters.net posted today a summary of the new CCNP TSHOOT exam topology that Philip Vancil, one of the exam developers from Cisco posted on CLN.

Read Jeremy’s post for more details, topology maps and topology document.

Group Policy Video Mentor – book review

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

I received a new Group Policy Video Mentor kit from Pearson for evaluation.
This is a two plus hour video instruction guide for everything group policy.

Group Policy Video Mentor by Pearson

If you wonder how a Group Policy related post have place in my blog, let me remind you that Microsoft is part of my world and this blog is about my Cisco and Microsoft certification path.

The kit include a DVD and small booklet with short description of each lab. Nothing fancy.

Derek Melber’s short description on the booklet cover says he is one of only 10 MVPs on Group Policy, impressive. Since the last editorial check one MVP lost his title (MVP listing) – only nine left. This is definitely a big gun but I’m not sure this DVD require one.

I did not like the opening module which stand as introduction but actually promote the author, his company and services. When you buy a $70 book you don’t want to get any sales videos!

The video is aimed at entry-level newcomers to the group policy world. For this group it is a great product with the most basic actions like create GPO, Link it to an OU or editing the GPO explained in details both by lecture and descriptive lab.

Each module take one basic action, describe the topic in a 4-8 minute lecture and then show how to do it using a 2008 server and XP client. The quality is great and Derek’s explanations are clear. If you want to familiarize yourself with the Group Policy world this is a great video.

Bottom line: While a very good introduction for newcomers to GPO world, this kit has no use for professionals who used group policy at any level.

Check all my reviews here