CCNP ROUTE PASSED!!!

And boy does it feel good! I took the test early Saturday morning and came out with just below a 900. I really wish I could have scored above a 900 but hey a pass is a pass. It’s weird to think that I have been working on this certification for 5 months. Time has really flown by. Guess what the next 5 months of my life is going to entail? Yep you guessed it…onto the Switch exam. I just informed my employer of my pass and they are very excited for me. I am also happy that they are going to reimburse me too. I will be posting the Switch study plan hopefully later today.

CCNP Route Scheduled!

Its been 20 weeks since I began studying for my CCNP Route exam and the time has finally come to show what I have learned! I scheduled my exam for this Saturday at 8am, reason I am taking it so early is because I am going to the beach afterwards :).  Hopefully all goes well and I pass so I can have an enjoyable weekend of rest and relaxation at the beach. If I pass Route then I plan to dive right into my Switch studies on Monday. I am still working on the CCNP Switch study plan. However expect to see it posted in the following week. Just to recap here is what I have used to prepare for my CCNP Route exam. 

  • Cisco Press FLG Route
  • CBT Nuggets
  • The Bryant Advantage
  • 101 CCNP Labs
  • Cisco Student Lab Manual: Route
  • GNS3vault.com

Books can’t teach you everything

So having worked as a network engineer for little over a month now I have come to the sad sad realization that the books can not teach me everything about networking. This fact was essentially enforced when I was racking the Nexus 7010/5548s. You really do not realize how many more things go into a data center then just servers, routers, and switches. So much planning and meetings with various vendors to discuss topics ranging from cooling to electricity. It really is all just overwhelming for me at times. One thing that I also find myself somewhat lost in is fiber connectivity. There are so many different kinds of connectors and the idea of fiber patch panels somewhat confuses me as well. I am starting to get a grasp of it a little more and I am sure as I build up our new data center I will get to see how everything is interconnected. Which in turn I hope clears up any confusion I may have.

Today I also ordered Todd Lammle’s CCNA Data Center (640-911) book. The reason I bought this is because I need to get a better understanding of Cisco Nexus at a basic level asap. I am going to have the opportunity to play with the Nexus in a test environment for a few weeks so I want to take advantage of that as much as I can. I am not losing focus on my CCNP studies, that is still my number one priority. However after I pass CCNP I hope to go for my  CCNA Data Center as well as CCDA.

Racking the Cisco Nexus 7010

So yesterday was a very eventful day. We finally got around to racking the Nexus 7010. The process took longer then expected however at the end of the day it got done. You don’t realize how much thought and effort goes into just racking a unit. First we had to put the APC rack together, well it was already put together but we had to adjust the rack posts so they would sit how we like. Next we had to unpackage the Nexus and get it into the rack somehow. We used a device called a server lift. Its basically a smaller version of a fork life that was designed to be used in data centers. Ill spare you the details on how we got the Nexus on the lift but it was interesting haha. Once we finally got the Nexus in the rack it came time to screw it in, which in itself took a solid 30 minutes because putting in cage nuts is not fun. Today we continue filling up the new rack, I believe we are putting in the Cisco 5548 and the Cisco UCS in next.

below is a picture of the Nexus after we racked it.

photo

Cisco 2960X announced!

Cisco Catalyst 2960-X Series Switches are the next generation of the world’s most widely deployed access switches, providing Layer 2 and Layer 3 access features. They are scalable to meet your growth needs, and smart with intelligent services.

Features and Capabilities

Designed for operational simplicity to lower TCO, this platform also offers superior security capabilities. The switches deliver best-in-class energy efficiency, while preserving your investments through mixed stacking with existing Catalyst 2960-S and SF switches.

Scalable and Resilient

  • Allows stacking of up to 8 switches and 80 Gbps bandwidth with the optional Cisco FlexStack+ module
  • Provides PoE and PoE+ support with up to 740 W of power (without an external power source)
  • Offers control plane redundancy across the switches in the stack
  • Provides redundant power supply for power resiliency

Smart

  • Built with true stacking — enables cross-stack QoS and cross-stack high availability
  • Built for network programmability — is ready for onePK and software-defined networking
  • Built for application visibility and control — NetFlow Lite prioritizes business applications
  • Built for Cisco Unified Access — offers one policy and centralized management

Simple

  • Automates software installation for zero-touch deployment with Smart Install
  • Automatically configures ports based on device type for rapid deployment with Auto Smart Ports
  • Offers proactive diagnostics and remediation of hardware and software issues with Smart Call Home

Highly Secure

  • Uses standards-based 802.1X for port-based network access control
  • Helps enable scalable and dynamic role-based access control with Cisco TrustSec
  • Protects against IPv6 address theft and malicious attacks with IPv6 First Hop Security

Green

  • Saves energy during off-hours with Cisco EnergyWise
  • Downlink hibernation mode puts the downlinks to sleep when not in use
  • Switch hibernation mode puts the switch to sleep, consuming less than 10 watts
  • Helps enable dynamic power savings on all switch ports with Energy Efficient Ethernet

Protect Your Investment

  • Can be stacked with Catalyst 2960-S and 2960-SF switches
  • Enhanced Limited Lifetime Warranty with next-business-day hardware replacement (where available)

Specifications at a Glance

Total 10/100/1000 Ethernet Ports 24 or 48
Uplinks 2×10 GE (SFP+) or 4×1 GE (SFP) options
FlexStack+ Optional on all LAN Base AND IP-Lite models
PoE/PoE+ Power Available 370W or 740W

Source: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps12995/index.html

Certifications in the Real World

So I thought this would be a good topic to discuss since many people have various opinions about the topic. How valuable is your certification in terms of your everyday work? Some people say that certifications are unnecessary and that real world experience is all that matters. Others, like myself, think it is good to have both. However the question comes up, how much of that knowledge that you learned through certifications will you actually use in the work place? The tons and tons of knowledge that we beat into our brains will definitely not stay in there for long unless we use it everyday. Honestly though, I don’t think it is possible to retain all that information for long even when using it on a daily basis. The little details that go with each technology is bound to leave our minds.

What I have discovered though is that a lot of the networking topics that I have learned have almost become second nature to me. What I mean by that is that I don’t even have to think about a particular topic, its already etched into my mind and I can discuss it. Even if I have not read about it in a long time. For example, I have been studying for my CCNP Route exam, which as you may know does not contain any switching topics. This is really unfortunate because in an enterprise network you are going to be working on switches much more then you work on routers. That’s not the point of this example so I digress. So I am studying for my Route exam which means I have not touched switching topics since studying for my CCNA. Which is probably about 6 months ago. However since starting my new job I was thrown right away into the switching world again and I shocked myself how much I still subconsciously knew about the switching concepts. I was able to manage port-security, vlans etc without even thinking twice. It was really cool to see how far I have come!

So in conclusion I believe that all the studying of certifications and all the technologies you do learn from them do stay in your mind. Maybe you will not be as proficient in it as you used to be but it is up there, and the next time you use that knowledge you will see how easy it comes to you.

Work Update – UPS deployments and 3750 research

Since I have not posted in about 2-3 weeks I thought it was fitting to give an update on what I have been working on at my job. I have been working on two solo projects. One involves replacing all our old UPS’s from our IDF’s, I am just about finished this project and let me tell you coming it at 4:30am is quite a trip when its time to plug the switches into them :) Honestly though, I loved waking up that early to do it! I am so happy to have been given the opportunity. I should be finished this project by next Friday.

The second project I am working on is a major switch upgrade in the late summer. This will involve replacing our remaining 2950/3550 switches and replacing them with 3750 stacks. I have been doing a lot of research lately about this because our current uplinks are 1gbps and we want to upgrade to 10gbps when replacing the switches. Problem that I am having though is that some of our IDF’s are a good distance away from our data center so the in place 62.5 micron fiber will not work. My research has been heavily involved with learning about different fiber types and also compatible SFPs for the 3750. One interesting module that I found is called an LRM which apparently will allow you to extend the distance of your 62.5 micron fiber. This module could prove useful to my organisation if we decide to not replace our fiber runs.

As for my day to day work I am always kept busy with new calls and tickets. Its awesome to finally be able to log into switches and make as needed changes! Makes me feel so good and that all my hard work is finally paying off when I fix a problem!

CCNP Route Study Update – 6/5/13

Been super busy with work lately so I have not had a chance to update the blog. However I am still going strong in my studies and hope to take the Route exam in about a month or so. In my last update I left off by saying that I was working through CBTnuggets and gns3vault.com labs. Since then I have completed all the  CBTnugget videos and have also completed a good chunk off labs from gns3vault. For the past week and a half I have been speed watching the Chris Bryant videos. Reason being is that at this point everything should be a review for me. I am going to be finishing up the video series tonight.

For the next two weeks I want to skim through the Foundation Learning Guide again as well as complete the SLM labs. So hopefully in the coming weeks I can take a shot at passing the exam. As it stand right now I have been studying for the Route exam for 16 weeks.

CCNP Route Study Update – 5/21/13

I have not posted a study update in awhile so I decided since I have some free time this morning I would let everyone know where I stand. In my last study update I told you that I was in a dilemma about what to start studying next since I have just about finished up all of my study materials. Well I decided I am going to go through all those materials again but at a much faster pace since it should all be a review for me at this point. Last week I went through the EIGRP, OSPF, and Redistribution sections of CBTNuggets. I plan on finishing up the rest of the videos in the next 2-3 days.

I also have found myself to have some downtime at work where I am able to practice some labs. I have always known about GNS3vault.com however I never really used it as a source for my studying since I have my own home lab. Let me tell you though…those labs on that site are GREAT! I have been going through them rather quickly to refresh my memory on all the topics.

Getting your first networking job!

So I had a question asked to me…one that I myself even asked many people before I got into networking. “How do I break into the networking field with little or no experience?”  This is a very common question among both young and old IT people who are determined to get into the networking field. However it is always easier said then done. Networking is a tough field to break into especially if you are young, fresh out of college, and no experience under your belt. So what does somebody do in this kind of situation? Well here is what I did and I suggest you do the same and I can almost guarantee that an employer will be sure to take a chance on you.

Firstly you need to be dedicated to your networking studies…specifically Cisco. You not only need to be dedicated but you also need to have a passion for it, you need to love to learn it and it should become somewhat of a hobby for you. If you don’t have any experience in the field I recommend getting your A+ so you can at least get your foot in the door with an entry level IT job. After that you should go for your Network+ and your CCNA. You could skip on the Network+, its all personal preference. The only reason I got mine was because I had no experience in networking and wanted to learn as much as I can. Even if you do not get that entry level job after your A+ you should always be studying and going for your next cert, never stop studying!

Now after you have your entry level IT position and also just past your CCNA you should be putting your resume up on as many job posting sites as possible. I have another blog post about this, just search for it in the top right. During this time you should also be studying for your CCNP, trust me when you go into those interviews and say that your currently studying for your CCNP they will be very impressed. I know this from my own experience. Another thing is that you should have a home lab that you can get some hands on experience with, this will also impress potential employers in interviews.

It may take a few interviews before someone gives you an offer on that entry level networking job but it will happen, you just have to stay positive.

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