I had the opportunity to get the CCNP INE Series from work and I must say I am really impressed. Brian’s teaching style is on point and he even goes through real world examples which really drives many of the topics home. This video series has definitely been my favorite so far. Honestly I think it has been more helpful than The Bryant Advantage and CBT Nuggets combined. I strongly recommend it if you are looking for solid CCNP training material. Below is what I have completed since my last study update.
So in light of me wanting to expand my knowledge of data center technologies I have decided to go ahead and purchase a book published by Cisco Press titled “Data Center Virtualization Fundamentals: Understanding Techniques and Designs for Highly Efficient Data Centers with Cisco Nexus, UCS, MDS, and Beyond”. Quite the long book title if I do say so myself. The title alone stood out to me because it mentions 3 technologies that I have been immersed in since starting my new job. Nexus, UCS, and MDS are advanced technologies that I hardly even knew anything about 3 months ago and now I am expected to bring myself up to speed ASAP. Well I don’t have to bring myself up to speed, I can just sit back and enjoy the ride however I am not that kind of person. I want to understand what I am working with as well as be able to explain it to someone else. So basically I looked through the books chapters and I saw that it would be very helpful so I went ahead and placed an order for it. What made it more appealing for me is that it is a recommended reading for CCNA/CCNP/CCIE Data Center candidates. As we know there aren’t many published training materials for that certification track yet.
I did buy a book about two months ago published by Sybex titled “CCNA Data Center Introducing Cisco Data Center Networking 640-911″. I skimmed through this book rather quickly however it did not go nearly as in-depth as I needed it too. I could probably even pass the first part of the CCNA:DC at anytime. Seemed like a lot of review of CCNA topics with some Nexus stuff thrown in.
Technologies that I am currently learning for our new data center include Nexus 7010, 5548UP; UCS Blade Servers as well as 6248UP Fabric Interconnects; MDS 9513. Hopefully this book will give me a much greater understanding of all the above.
So I came across a forum post this morning and I just have to write about it. Basically there is this man who has been working at the same job for almost 20 years and is upset because he is not making the money that he wants too. It is evident through his posts that he lacks confidence in himself and blames other people for his short-comings. Saying things like “the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer”. These kind of statements make me sick to my stomach! These are the kind of people I don’t want in my life because they literally try and drain the motivation out of you. They have completely submerged themselves in this mentality that there is nothing they can do to succeed in life so they mine as well feel bad for themselves. Well guess what? I am here to tell you this is 100% false. I can say this in confidence because I am living proof that if you work your ass off everyday and never lose sight of your goals you will be successful. There is going to be hard times, a ton of them in fact, that you will need to overcome. However these are merely testing your will and motivation because once you get past those hardships your goal will be in arms reach.
There are a ton of these people in the working world and I am sure many of us work with one on a daily basis. The people that complain about their pay or that they will never be able to afford a certain thing. Isn’t it funny that these people don’t try and change their situation? Really…they sit at work all day and complain…then they go come and complain some more to their family. It makes no damn sense and it actually makes me laugh. Nothing is free in this world and you will only be paid as much as your worth. So logically we should try and make ourselves more valuable right? Exactly! Go out there and make your employer value your work. Get certifications, go for your masters, lead a big project, do whatever you can to make yourself more valuable in your employers eyes. If after all that work and your employer still looks at you the same way then it is time to jump ship and move on.
“Don’t sell yourself short, decide what you are worth and go and get it”
The past two weeks of work have been pretty busy; filled with Nexus labs, everyday miscellaneous tasks, and now learning Cisco UCS. Basically, at least the way I understand it, the Unified Computing System is Cisco’s way of bringing your network, storage, and servers of your data center together. I might add that it does an awesome job at that too!
In our rack we have two 6248UPs that connect down to the UCS blade server via FCOE (4 10Gb links to each 6248UP for a total of 8 links). We then have the 6248UP connecting up to the Nexus 7010 via fiber Ethernet (4 10GB links, 2 from each 6248UP). Lastly, we have 4 FC links going from each 6248UP to our MDS SAN. Pheww!! you do not want me to tell you how long it took me to wrap my head around all this lol. The 6248UP is an awesome switch that can speak ethernet, fiber channel, and fiber channel over ethernet which makes it very useful in data center environments. Oh and one more thing, the 6248UPs are also connected to each other through their L1 and L2 ports. These ports need to be connected in order to have the two 6248s run in cluster mode. Also management ports were connected. Okay that’s it I’m done lol. I am posting a picture below of the basic topology of what I described above. The only difference is that our equipment and links are slightly better then what the topology shows.
So yesterday I decided to go ahead and start on the initial configurations of getting this all connected. First I cabled everything up as described above. Next I consoled into the 6248UPs and configured them in cluster mode. The whole setup is very intuitive. All I had to do was enter some basic IP address information on each of the switches and say that I want to run them in cluster mode. I also had to enter a Virtual IP that the switches would share. After all that was done I could then open up my web browser and browse to the virtual IP address. This took me to the UCS manager interface. All I can say is this interface is awesome! it gives you information on the entire UCS system on just about anything you would ever want to know. You can also configure the ports by right clicking them. The only configuration I did was changed the 8 links we have going down to the UCS to server ports. Hopefully today I will have time to go back in and play around a little more. Oh and I forgot to mention the UCS manager even builds you a graphical network topology of what it detects connected to it!
So as many of you probably have already heard Cisco announced at Cisco Live that they will be releasing their own routing simulator called VIRL – Virtual Internet Routing Lab. Basically it is similar to GNS3 simulator, but offers a lot more flexibility in terms of what sorts of IOS you can run on it. The Cisco Virtual Platforms that will be supported are IOS, NX-OS, IOS XR, and IOS XE. You can imagine my excitement about this product because of my interest in data center and having Nexus equipment in my home is not very feasible. I was unable to find out if VIRL is going to support switching but I would assume that it would. At least I really really hope it does.
I do not want to speak to soon since VIRL has not been released yet but I think this may actually replace my home lab. This is hard to say since I have spent so much time and money on my home lab already, but it’s true. There really will not be a need for me to have expensive physical gear running in my home in order to get in some good lab sessions. I must say though I would still recommend new CCNA candidates to have a home lab. Getting just that little it of hands-on experience can go a long way. It sure helped me out a lot in my early days of studying. Plus its kind of nice to have a rack in your home. However now that I am getting deeper and deeper into my studies I came to the realization that I really will not need a home lab if VIRL lives up to its expectations. Release date I’ve heard is around January 2014.
The one month mark of my studying has been reached! I feel that I have made a lot of progress this month in my studies, partly because I am actually enjoying the content more then the Route exam. Most people say the opposite and that they prefer the Route content over the Switch any day. I think the reason I am enjoying the material so much is because it is going hand in hand with my everyday work. It has already helped me tremendously in understanding data center switching (I still have a ton to learn). FHRP, Etherchannels, and STP have all been the most overlapping topics with my daily work.
Below is what I completed in Week 3 & 4
-Wireless LAN: Concepts and Design p1
-Wireless LAN: Concepts and Design p2
-Wireless LAN: Frequencies and 802.11 Standards
-Wireless LAN: Understanding the Hardware
If you have not heard of the book Network Warrior I highly suggest you check it out ASAP. If you are already in the networking field I am sure you have heard of this book because it is such a great reference for all things networking. Well maybe not all things but a great deal of topics are covered. When I first passed my CCNA I picked this book up because it advertised itself as “Everything you need to know that wasn’t on the CCNA exam”. At the time I read through many of the topics however I didn’t really appreciate the use that this book could have. Yes the book was well written and yes it covered a ton of real-world topics. The problem was that I couldn’t relate very much since at the time I was still working in desktop support. Don’t get me wrong I still recommend this book if you are trying to get into the networking field.
Ever since starting my first networking job I brought this book along with me. I wasn’t sure if I would ever actually have to use it but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to keep at my desk. Network Warrior has proven to be a invaluable resource for me during the trails and tribulations of my first networking job. My favorite part about the book? The new edition covers Nexus! I take this book with me every time I go into the data center before I start configuring. Another topic that I find very useful that is covered is ASA Firewalls. The CCNA obviously does not go into any configuration of firewalls. However, firewalls are a huge part of an enterprise network that often fall under the responsibility of a network engineer. Definitely a must read topic to at least get some foundational knowledge.
I really couldn’t ask for more in a book. This is the type of book that should be at every network engineer’s desk. If you have not heard of it please go check it out. You will not be disappointed!
So I have still been learning a ton about Nexus these past few weeks and I am starting to feel pretty comfortable at the NX-OS command line. It’s pretty similar to IOS which is good. One thing that took some getting used to for me was enabling specific features. For example, I spent about 15 minutes scratching my head on why I couldn’t create an SVI…and then I facepalmed when I realized I had to enable the interface-vlan feature. I won’t be making that mistake again
My configurations have been pretty basic and currently I am still experimenting with vPC’s. Below will be a picture of my current topology. It’s crazy to think how much I have learned in such a short time period and I am loving every moment of it! You really don’t realize how much work goes into building a data center until you actually have to from the ground up. I have been really enjoying learning about data center technologies and I really think I am going to make it my niche in the coming years.
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