So I finished up on remote connectivity rather quickly. I finished it in about two days. Unfortunately their was not much lab work for me to do that goes along with it so I started on IPv6. I watched the entire Bryant Advantage video series last night, which was about two hours or so. Today I started on the IPv6 labs. I did run into some trouble though because four of my routers did not support IPv6. So I had to update their IOS which took me about an hour and a half. After getting all the IOS stuff straightened out I started on the SLM labs. I finished the first three labs and plan to complete the last two tomorrow. On Saturday and Sunday I hope to finish up the IPv6 labs from the 101 CCNP labs workbook. They usually take a bit of time so I won’t be too bummed if I don’t finish it all by the end of the weekend.
Cisco study partners? Are they good to have? Or is it better to go through the Cisco certification path alone? What does one expect from their study partner? What if they are not on the same level you are on? If that is the case you will have to waste your time waiting for them to catch up to your skill level. Yes you could help them catch up to you and refresh yourself on some concepts, however that is valuable time you could be spending learning new topics. What if you and your study partner have different schedules? I am sure that will effect studying greatly. A time that is convenient to study for you may bot be so convenient for them.
Personally I have given a study partner a chance when I first started studying for my CCENT, and all I have to say about that is that I h\am never going to have a study partner again. Coordinating schedules was such a hassle and I felt like I was just wasting time often. Lets just say that the study partner and I only lasted for about a month. I truly believe that the path of certifications is a lonely one. You can really only rely on yourself to get the studying done and not expect someone to be right their behind you. I feel that is almost impossible for two people to be able to match each others study habits.
So my recommendation is to just go along the path alone and just focus on bettering yourself everyday. If you do come across a study partner one day and want to give them a shot, go for it, it may work out for you. I am not saying that all study partners are bad, it is just that I had a bad experience and am not willing to give it another chance.
I had a pretty successful weekend in my studies. I was able to knockout almost all the Chris Bryant OSPF videos. I have only one more left that I will finish up tonight. After finishing up the videos I will dive right into heavy OSPF labing. First I will start with the Cisco Student Lab Manual and after I complete that I will lab from the 101 CCNP labs. This should take about 3-4 days to complete.
The reason I am doing the SLM Labs first is because I have noticed that they are somewhat easier. The 101 CCNP labs incorporate redistribution and manipulating your routing tables very early on. At least that is what I noticed from labing the EIGRP section last week. I like that they are more challenging because it will better prepare me for when I go and study that topic again. I have already read all of the CCNP Route Foundation Learning Guide and watched CBT Nuggets so I already have a decent grasp of what to expect.
I will update again after finishing up with OSPF.
So a new addition to my Cisco home lab arrived to my house yesterday. Finally! I got a console server! I decided to go with the Digi CM32 because I read reviews that it was a great alternative to the Cisco 2511. The Digi CM32 is also a lot cheaper! I bought mine for $50 USD off of eBay. Great Deal! The setup was also super easy that even a caveman can do it All I did to configure the server was change the static IP and also I turned off authentication on each of the serial ports. The reason I did this is because I do not feel like typing in my username/password each time I log into a different device. Another great thing about the Digi CM32 is that all the console connections are done through Ethernet! It’s as simple as plugging one end into your router/switch console port and the other end into the Digi CM32. All in all I am super impressed so far by the Digi CM32, also I can’t believe I waited so long to get a console server. Labing is a lot less tedious now without always having to move the console cable around. Below is a picture of the Digi CM32 racked at the top.
Sorry for not updating the blog lately, I have been pretty busy with my studies lately. In the past 4-5 days I have gone through the entire EIGRP section from Chris Bryant’s Video Series, and yesterday I began labing from the Cisco Student Lab Manual. I have been very impressed from this manual so far. Very nice clear and concise instructions. I went through about 3-4 labs yesterday which took me about 2.5 hours. Took me much longer than I had anticipated.
So that is pretty much my goal for this week. I want to finish up all the EIGRP labs from the Cisco Lab Manual and also the EIGRP labs from the 101 CCNP Labs. This should take me about 2 more days to complete. After that I plan on jumping into the OSPF video series.
So two days ago I decided I was going to start the Chris Bryant CCNP Route series a few days early. The reason for this is because I really wanted to start getting back into my home lab and personally I enjoy following along with Chris Bryant as he configures throughout his lectures. Basically my plan is to do 3 lectures a day and lab along with them (1-2 hours). After that I will work through the 101 CCNP Labs workbook (1-2 hours per day). This book is a beast. I printed it out and it was over 1700 pages!! I have to take a picture of this monster and show you guys, and yes I did print double sided.
At this point I have gone through about 6 lectures and have been enjoying them a lot. Chris Bryant is very knowledgable and I really like his teaching style. However, I do wish the eBooks were included with the purchase of the course. So far I have gone through a review of routing fundamentals and EIGRP fundamentals. Both sections were a nice review of the basics. I hope to move into Advanced Eigrp lectures tomorrow since tonight I will be going out with a friend.
Lastly I do recommend the Chris Bryant CCNP series for anyone considering going for their CCNP. You will not be disappointed, I promise.
Oh a question that has been asked time and time again….What should I use for my Cisco certification studies? Should I buy a home lab or use packet tracer/gns3? I am going to come right out and say this. If you are NOT in the networking field and are pursuing Cisco certifications you need to get a home lab. Period. The troubleshooting experiences that you will experience through your home lab is something no emulator/simulator can teach you. I can honestly tell you this because I am speaking from experience. I am someone that started out as a desktop engineer and have worked my way up into a networking position within a year. Not only does a home lab make you a better engineer but it will also impress employers during your interviews. Again, I am saying this from my own experiences. Why would employers want to give you a shot at becoming a network engineer if you have never even touched Cisco equipment? Think about that. Would you rater hire someone that has a year of hands on experience in a home lab environment or someone that has a year experience messing around in GNS3. Having a home lab shows your potential employer that you are dedicated to your studies.
I am not trying to knock GNS3 because I do use it often when I am traveling. It is a very useful tool to have in your arsenal. However it should not be your means of getting “hands-on” Cisco experience. Yes a home lab may be expensive, but truthfully the experience you will gain from it will pay itself off. Also do not go out and spend a ton of money on a home lab if you are just starting out with your CCNA. Start off with 2x switches and 2x routers. Add things to your lab as you find necessary.
(My CCNP home lab)
So this morning I decided it was time to give my two weeks notice. I was extremely nervous and anxious because I have never done something like this before. As you know I am still young and have only held one IT job. I talked to a few family members and they gave me some good advice on how to approach the situation. I wanted to be as honest as I could with my employer because I knew this would be the last time that I could get things off of my chest. Obviously I would do this in a professional manner.
So when I went into my managers office and told him about the new job I have accepted he was surprisingly happy for me. He even said that he didn’t expect me to be working here very long because of how driven I was to work in the networking field. This calmed my nerves a lot and I really do hope to keep in contact with him. I really will miss the people I currently work with. Of course there are ups and downs but I do genuinely like the people and work I get. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, but I know I am making the right decision to accelerate my career.
So I finally got my offer letter for the position of Network Engineer. I am super excited about the position; it has been what I have been working towards for the past year. I feel very privileged to have been given this opportunity because I am still very young and also do not have much real-life IT experience. However the company that is willing to give me a chance sees the potential I have and is willing to give me a shot. I study very hard just about everyday and certification is very important to me. The company sees this passion I have and they think it will be of added value to their network team. They even told me that I can setup a lab at work so I can practice topics in my free time. Finally! A company that encourages me to go towards higher level certifications! I really hope I exceed expectations in this new position, but I know it will be a huge transition for me. I only have about two years IT experience (1 year interning, and 1 year as desktop support). I believe that as long as I continue working hard in my studies everything will work out for me and I will grow into a great Network Engineer. Wish me luck.
Just wanted to make a quick update on where I am at in my CCNP Route studies. Yesterday night I finished up with IPv6. For the rest of the week I am going to be reading Chapter 1 and 7 from the CiscoPress FLG Route guide. The following week is where I will begin Phase 2 of my study plan (I have a post with my study plan attached). Phase 2 will consist of me going through Chris Bryant’s CCNP Route video series along with labing each day for about two hours. This should take a little more than a month to complete. I will continue update the blog periodically.