Blog Archives

Trouble Finding Good Network Engineers

This is going to be a rant so I just want to apologize beforehand. I want to express my concern with the current state of network engineering applicants. I have had the displeasure in trying to find a few more guys to fill our team of network engineers. At first I thought, “Oh this will be fun!” But wow I was wrong. The applicants we have had so far has really made me realize that there is a serious problem in our industry. That problem being PAPER NETWORK ENGINEERS! If you have read my blog at all your know that I am a huge supporter in getting certified. But c’mon some of these guys we interviewed are CCNPs and can’t even answer simple subnetting questions! WTF! Oh its gets even better when we have someone that claims to be a CCIE candidate. Jesus Christ I just facepalm every time. The questions we ask are not even difficult. Were not looking for a superstar, just someone that loves networking and also can back up what they write on their resume. Simple VTP questions stump some of these guys. VTP the protocol we all learn about in CCNA stumps CCNPs….somethings gotta give.

Either we have been very unlucky or we are just getting braindump’d network engineers.  This is why most companies only take referral candidates. All these people that can’t back up their certs ruin the job market for the rest of us when we apply without a referral. My company goes through a lot of network engineer applicants since we are always looking for talent. We get FLOODED with resumes daily. It’s not wonder that most of the people we actually hire are people that were referred to us. One word of advice to the people applying for network engineering positions. BE HONEST. Really that’s it, be honest on your resume and don’t claim to know something that you’ve worked with once. Don’t be the CCIE candidate that we interviewed who claimed to know Nexus yet couldn’t explain VPCs or VDCs. Literally these applicants give me a headache, it’s so hard to keep my cool and not burst out at them and say “STOP BRAINDUMPING AND LEARN YOUR SHIT!!!” lol

/end rant

New GNS3 1.0 Early Release

If you havn’t heard by now you should probably crawl out from under the rock you’re hiding. GNS3 1.0 is coming! And today marks their kickoff crowdhoster campaign. Basically GNS3 is offering package deals to get an early release to their software. For as low $5 you can have access to the new GNS3 software a year early! Personally I went with the Premium Package since GNS3 has provided me so much help ever since I began studying Cisco. So check out the link below and contribute to the software that we all know and love! GNS3 FIGHTING!!!

https://gns3.crowdhoster.com/become-an-early-release-member

 

Phase 1 COMPLETED!

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.

Data Center Virtualization Fundamentals Purchased

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.

 

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 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

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.

CCNP Route Study Dilemma

So I have found myself to be stuck at a crossroads. My new job and my studies have both been going great however upon starting my job I can’t shake the feeling that CCNP Switch would be so much more beneficial for me at this time. The reason I say this is because in my current role I will being dealing mostly on the LAN side of things. Yes occasionally I will have to troubleshoot WAN problems but I honestly don’t think those will come up as often as LAN issues.

I’m way to far into my Route studies to just switch to Switch so I am just gonna have to finish up strong so I can begin the Switch studies asap. I glanced through the Ciscopress Switch book last night and even noticed things in it that other engineers were discussing just that day. I hope to take the Route exam in the next 2-3 months, however now I feel like I am going to be rushing to get it done so I can move onto Switch. I really want to grasp all the concepts well so I am not just doing it for a piece of “paper”.

If anyone can comment on which has helped them more in the workplace Switch or Route that would be great! Thank you!

 

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