Cisco VIRL – The Homelab Killer?

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.

CCNP Switch Study Update – 8/5/13

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

Week 3  CBT Nuggets OCG Completed
Monday SICK
Tuesday SICK Chapter 14 X
Wednesday -Wireless LAN: Concepts and Design p1
-Wireless LAN: Concepts and Design p2
-Wireless LAN: Frequencies and 802.11 Standards
-Wireless LAN: Understanding the Hardware
X
Thursday The Switches Domain: Additional Life Saving Tech Chapter 15 X
Friday OFF
Saturday Chapter 12 X
Sunday Monitoring: Your Pulse on the Network X
Week 4   Bryant Advantage Lab Completed
Monday Lecture 2-5 1hr X
Tuesday Lecture 6-8 X
Wednesday Lecture 9-11 1hr X
Thursday Lecture 12-15 1hr X
Friday OFF
Saturday Lecture 16-19 1.5hr X
Sunday Lecture 20-23 1.5hr X

Book Recommendation – Network Warrior

Network Warrior Book Review

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!

 

Continuing the Nexus Grind

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.

Capture

Expectations of your first networking job

So I am just about 3 months into my first networking job and things are going great. I have been learning a ton and working on technologies that I never expected to have a chance to touch so early on in my career. However not all has been great. There are times where I am given work and I say to myself “How is this the responsibility of a network engineer”? I am someone who will get the work done no matter if it falls under my title or not. After all I am trying to help the company succeed, not be someone who constantly complains about the work they are getting. Also I remind myself of all the great things that I get to work on as well. One example of this “petty” work I get is escalated desktop support calls. I am not used to this because at my last job as a desktop engineer I would never escalate a ticket to a network engineer. Typically that would only be an absolute last resort.

I sometimes have to take a step back and realize that I am still very new to the IT field let alone the networking field so having these expectations is unreasonable. Everything has been going great so there is no reason for me to get annoyed or flustered. I am on the bottom of the totem pole so what did I expect? I often feel that many people that are getting into the networking field for the first time feel a lot like I do right now. So I am telling you just take a step back and look at the bright side of things. Continue your studies and show your worth in your everyday actions.

 

CCNP Switch Study Update – 7/25/13

So this week was my 3rd week of studying and damn was it awful….I fell victim to a stomach virus Sunday night and had to take off work Monday and Tuesday. I was really upset about having to take off of work because I have not even been with my employer for 3 months yet. However he was very understanding and told me not to worry about it. He even sent me home Tuesday morning when I dragged myself in/ Obviously this meant my studies went completely to hell on those days too. Honestly, I still feel pretty under the weather but I am going to push forward, I hate going 3+ days without at least looking at the material for 30 or so minutes.

Below is what I completed on WEEK 2. It was a pretty productive week!

Week 2 (L3 & Redundancy & Security) CBT Nuggets OCG Completed
Monday -L3 Switching: InterVLAN Routing
-L3 Switching: Understanding CEF Optimization
Chapter 6 X
Tuesday -Redundancy in the Campus:HSRP,VRRP,GLBP
-Redundancy in the Campus:HSRP,VRRP,GLBP p2
Chapter 11 X
Wednesday
-Campus Security: Port Security and 802.1X
-Campus Security: VLANS and Spoofing Attacks
Chapter 13 X
Thursday -Campus Security: STP Attacks and other Considerations
-Campus Securty: VACLs
Chapter 16 & 17 X
Friday OFF
Saturday OFF
Sunday Campus VOIP: Overview, Considerations, Auto QOS X

Dream.

Cisco Nexus Self-Study Training

Well to top off my CCNP Switch studies I have also been learning about Cisco Nexus. One good thing I have found about this is that a lot of topics from my CNCP Switch are reinforced throughout my Nexus studies. I am not really going for any type of data center certification just yet, however my current company is implementing Cisco Nexus so I kind of have to familiarize myself with all things Nexus. I don’t want to get left behind while all the other engineers understand Nexus and I am always having to ask them questions about it. Basically I am just going through the CCIE Data Center Nexus INE videos to get some kind of grasp for the technology. I feel like I am trying to tackle something that is so far beyond my skill set, but this is something I have to get under my belt.

Currently in our test lab we have 2x 5548s. 2x 6248s, 1x UCS, and 1x Nexus 7010. Another rack is being put together and will basically have the same hardware installed. I really enjoy Data Center technologies and I think it is something that I want to become my main focus in the future. I am not going to lie though, I feel even MORE overwhelmed now. I always take a step back though and think to myself how lucky I am to have been given this opportunity, and that within a years time I will have progressed so much. Heck, just 2 years ago I was taking my A+!

 

First time consoled into a Nexus!!! :)

 

CCNP Switch Study Update – 7/17/13

So I am about 1.5 weeks into my studies and have already covered a lot more material then I had expected. Last week I was able to cover the following:

Week 1 (VLAN & STP) CBT Nuggets OCG Completed
Monday -The Switches Domain: Core Concepts and Design

-VLANS: Configuration and verification
-VLANS: In-Depth Trunking
Chapter 2 X
Tuesday VLANS: VTP Chapter 3 & 4 X
Wednesday -STP: Foundation PVST Concepts Part 1
-STP: Foundation PVST Concepts Part 2
Chapter 5 X
Thursday STP: RSTP Concepts and Config Chapter 7 & 8 X
Friday Chapter 9 & 10 X
Saturday Ether Channel: Agg. Redundant Links X
Sunday OFF

The first 4 chapters were a breeze…and then came STP….I don’t know what it is about these study guides but they always start out so fun and easy and then they punch you in the face with a confusing topic :(. lol. Right now I am just trying to get a solid overview of all the topics so I am not stressing to much if I don’t understand something perfectly.

CCNP Switch Study Plan

Please note that this guide should be altered to fit your study habits. This is a merely to help you organize yourself in your studies. Some days you may do more or less then what is expected.
Materials Used:

CBT Nuggets
The Bryant Advantage
CCNP Switch OCG (Cisco Press)
CCNP Switch Simplified
101 CCNP Labs
Cisco SLM Switch Manual
Week 1 (VLANS) CBT Nuggets OCG Completed
Monday The Switches Domain: Core Concepts and Design Chapter 2
Tuesday -VLANS: Configuration and verification
-VLANS: In-Depth Trunking
Chapter 3 & 4
Wednesday VLANS: VTP Chapter 5
Thursday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Friday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Saturday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Sunday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Week 2 (STP) CBT Nuggets OCG Completed
Monday -STP: Foundation PVST Concepts Part 1
-STP: Foundation PVST Concepts Part 2
Chapter 7
Tuesday STP: RSTP Concepts and Config Chapter 8
Wednesday Chapter 9
Thursday Chapter 10
Friday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Saturday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Sunday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Week 3 (EtherChannel & L3 Switching & Redundancy) CBT Nuggets OCG Completed
Monday Ether Channel: Agg. Redundant Links Chapter 6
Tuesday -L3 Switching: InterVLAN Routing
-L3 Switching: Understanding CEF Optimization
Chapter 11
Wednesday -Redundancy in the Campus:HSRP,VRRP,GLBP
-Redundancy in the Campus:HSRP,VRRP,GLBPp2
Chapter 12
Thursday Chapter 13
Friday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Saturday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Sunday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Week 4  (Security) CBT Nuggets OCG Completed
Monday -Campus Security: Port Security and 802.1X
-Campus Security: VLANS and Spoofing Attacks
-Campus Security: STP Attacks and other Considerations
-Campus Securty: VACLs
Tuesday Chapter 16
Wednesday Chapter 17
Thursday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Friday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Saturday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Sunday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Week 5 (VoIP & Wireless & Monitoring) CBT Nuggets OCG Completed
Monday Campus VOIP: Overview, Considerations, Auto QOS Chapter 14
Tuesday -Wireless LAN: Concepts and Design p1
-Wireless LAN: Concepts and Design p2
-Wireless LAN: Frequencies and 802.11 Standards
-Wireless LAN: Understanding the Hardware
Wednesday Chapter 15
Thursday -The Switches Domain: Additional Life Saving Tech
-Monitoring: Your Pulse on the network
Friday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Saturday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Sunday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up
Week 6 (VLANS & STP & VTP) The Bryant Advantage SLM/101 Completed
Monday Lecture 2-5 Lab
Tuesday Lecture 6-8 Lab
Wednesday Lecture 9-10 Lab
Thursday Lab
Friday Lab
Saturday Lab
Sunday Lab
Week 7 (Adv. STP & Security) The Bryant Advantage SLM/101 Completed
Monday Lecture 11-15 Lab
Tuesday Lecture 16-19 Lab
Wednesday Lecture 20-23 Lab
Thursday Lab
Friday Lab
Saturday Lab
Sunday Lab
Week 8 (Multilayer & Design) The Bryant Advantage SLM/101 Completed
Monday Lecture 24-27 Lab
Tuesday Lecture 27-31 Lab
Wednesday Lab
Thursday Lecture 32 Lab
Friday Lab
Saturday Lab
Sunday Lab
Week 9 (Voice & Multicast & Wireless & Queueing & AAA) The Bryant Advantage SLM/101 Completed
Monday Lecture 33-36 Lab
Tuesday Lecture 37-39 Lab
Wednesday Lecture 40-42 Lab
Thursday Lab
Friday Lab
Saturday Lab
Sunday Lab
Week 10 (LANS/VLANS/STP) CCNP Simplified Lab Completed
Monday Chapter 1 Lab
Tuesday Chapter 2 Lab
Wednesday Chapter 3 Lab
Thursday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Friday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Saturday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Sunday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Week 11 (Adv. STP/EtherChannel/Sec.) CCNP Simplified Lab Completed
Monday Chapter 4
Tuesday Chapter 5
Wednesday Chapter 6
Thursday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Friday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Saturday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Sunday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Week 12 (Multilayer/Redun./Wireless) CCNP Simplified Lab Completed
Monday Chapter 7 Lab
Tuesday Chapter 8 Lab
Wednesday Chapter 9 Lab
Thursday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Friday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Saturday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Sunday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Week 13 (QoS) CCNP Simplified Lab Completed
Monday Chapter 10 Lab
Tuesday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Wednesday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Thursday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Friday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Saturday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
Sunday Review/Flash-cards/Catch-up Lab
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