So after a long and at times stressful night, we finally finished all the tasks we had planned. The second I stepped into the office at 10pm it was all work up until about 8am. I never experienced time fly by as fast as it did. It is almost surreal to think about. So here is a breakdown of my night from start to finish.
Upon getting in I immediately had to start some preliminary work on the floor switches. Basically logging into each one and setting them to vtp transparent mode and saving the configs. One of our older buildings was still using the vtp client/server model so we figured this would probably be the best time to change everything to transparent. After that task was completed I had to run one of our backup internet lines to a 3750 (which hung off the Nexus). At the time the backup line was attached to the 6509 so running the cable to the Nexus cabinet wasn’t much of an issue. It’s about 12am at this point and this is where the fun begins!
So in Phase 1 we are still leaving the 6509s in our network, the only change we are making is that instead of the 6509s running layer 3 they will be made layer 2, and the layer 3 will go to the Nexus. So in order to introduce the Nexus to the network we needed to connect the Nexus to the 6509s. Basically we did this by creating an 8Gb port channel between the Nexus and the 6509. We also increased the connection between our two 6509s from 2Gb to 4Gb. After that it was smooth sailing. We shutdown vlans on the 6509s one at a time and brought them up on the Nexus.
Now that layer 3 has been moved completely to the Nexus it was time to migrate a blade server and a single floor switch. We have a a stack of 3750s in the Nexus rack that is dedicated for blade center aggregation. The blade center has 2 switch cards on the back of it with 4 ports each. So on the 3750s I created 2 port channels going to each switch module on the blade server. Super smooth and had no issues. Well there was one issue, a port on the switch module had gone into err-disabled. A quick shut no shut quickly fixed the port channel link. Next came the floor switch. The floor switch currently was running at 1Gb and we needed to migrate it to 10Gb. Here I changed the modules on the 3750 floor switch to be 10Gb capable and copied the trunk link configs to the 10Gb interfaces. I then created a port channel from both interfaces. Again no issues
So that is basically a breakdown of the entire night. I am going to spare you a lot of the boring details that happened throughout the night. Reason being is that I don’t want to relive them again lol. The next step in our network migration now is finish migrating the rest of our blade centers as well as moving the rest of our floor switches.
The time has finally come to implement the Nexus switches into our production network! I have mixed emotions of both excitement and nervousness because this is the first time I have ever done a change over of this magnitude. However what excites me the most is the experience I am going to gain from doing such a large migration. To help the our team stay organized we have broken down the migration into three phases. I will only talk about phase 1 for now.
Phase 1 entails introducing the Nexus into our core network and moving layer 3 routing from our 6509′s to it. Basically what will happen is we will shutdown all the vlan’s on the 6509′s and bring them up on the Nexus. Besides just moving layer 3 to the Nexus we also plan on moving a single floor switch to a 5548. Reason being is that we want to take this migration as slowly and methodically as possible. Also if the switch move goes smoothly we may even move over a couple more. One other task that we have planned for that night is moving a highly populated blade center to the Nexus. This will help take a load off the 6509′s and also allow us to begin on migrating the rest of our blade centers (if the move is successful of course) .
Oh and best of all? The maintenance window for these changes is 10pm to 7am!!! I have not pulled an all nighter like this in a long time but I am so ready for it. In the next couple days I am going to try and change around my sleeping pattern so that way when it comes Saturday I won’t be a zombie. I’m sure the Redbull and Starbucks will also help I will report back on either Monday or Tuesday on how the night went.
My studying hasn’t been where it should be these past two weeks. Lot’s of things have been coming up with life/work which obviously had to take precedence. In addition to the below study plan I have also been reading Data Center Virtualization Fundamentals in my free time. It really is an outstanding book that also coincides in some ways with my CCNP Switch studies. I have noticed that the Data Center topics have a good amount of overlap with Switch, which is really nice because I am really really growing a liking towards Data Center tech.
I am going to try and kick some of my studies into high gear considering I am nearing my halfway point. If you didn’t know I typically give myself 20 weeks to pass an exam.
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 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 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.
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