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Network Warrior 228

Posted by samzenpus
from the fight-the-good-fight dept.
Fatty writes "Entry level certifications such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) have become the source of many jokes to people in the industry, largely because of the seemingly inept people that proudly display their certifications. This is made worse by the volume of books geared only to get people through the exam. Network Warrior bills itself as the exact opposite — if the subtitle is to be believed it contains "Everything You Need to Know That Wasn't on the CCNA Exam". With everything from the architecture of the 6500 to layers 8 and 9 of the OSI model (politics and money), it does a pretty good job." Read below for the rest of Sean's views on this book.
Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn't on the CCNA Exam
author Gary A. Donahue
pages 598
publisher O'Reilly
rating 9
reviewer Sean Walberg
ISBN 9780596101510
summary A practical look at what you really need to know to run a Cisco network


The CCNA exam is supposed to test a candidate's understanding of networking fundamentals. Over the years it has expanded to include more advanced material, and now covers networking theory, switching (including spanning tree and VLANs), and some of the intermediate routing protocols such as EIGRP and OSPF. Despite the breadth of content the exam doesn't (and can't) cover things that many network folk take for granted, even things like what the "demarc" is (short for demarcation point, the the place where the carrier's responsibility ends and yours begins). While the exam's topic list is broad, the level of detail is shallow in most places. Someone may study spanning tree enough for the exam, but have no clue where to place their root bridge when they get into the real world.

It is for this reason that I found Network Warrior to be helpful. It's goal is to point out both the technical areas in which the CCNA falls short, and to teach the reader the non-Cisco aspects of running a network.

Technically I found this book quite sound. There were a few things one might disagree with but nothing that detracted from the rest of the book. In several spots the author was keen to point out behaviors that deviated from the documents, such as in Quality of Service (QoS) and in upgrading certain modules in the 6500 chassis. He also illustrated where the theoretical concepts on network design fall short in the real world.

Routing and switching takes up the first third of the book. The switching section is largely a review of the CCNA material with some notable exceptions. First and foremost is a chapter exclusively on autonegotiation. The CCNA exam may only discuss how to set a port to a fixed speed, but anyone who has worked with a network for more than a few weeks will have run into a speed or duplex mismatch. This chapter explains some of the history behind Ethernet and its relevance to autonegotiation, explains how it works, how it fails, and how to recognize the problem, and finally offers advice on when and where to use autonegotiation.

The second major deviation from the CCNA switching syllabus is in depth coverage of Etherchannel and spanning tree (STP) Both of these protocols are integral parts of network design and operation, but the exam barely touches Etherchannel and doesn't get into the complexities of spanning tree (though this changes with each iteration of the exam.) Network Warrior provides techniques and a demonstration of finding a layer 2 loop. Surprisingly though, there is only mention of standard 802.1d legacy spanning tree and some Cisco extensions such as Per VLAN STP and backbone fast, and no mention of the newer standardized enhancements of 802.1s/w (rapid spanning tree and multiple spanning tree) which have been in common use and have been put on the latest version of the exam (released after this book went to press)

The third deviation is the inclusion of CatOS commands instead of just IOS like the exam. As the author repeatedly points out, CatOS is in use on many 6500 chassis and is still in active development, so there is no reason not to know it. This theme continues throughout the book whenever the 6500 is used as an example, which is often.

The routing chapters are full of new material. The sections on the routing protocols themselves are short and don't add much beyond what the CCNA certification teaches. Redistribution and route-maps, however, are well explained. These two technologies which can be used separately or together can be found on almost any network and are very complex. I thought these sections were well done, as they gave enough details to be practical without getting down into all the different scenarios. Tunnels make an appearance in these chapters, which themselves aren't very complex, but aren't a part of the CCNA blueprint.

At this point, roughly page 180 of 550, the rest of the material isn't found in the CCNA blueprint.

Part 3 of the book is all about multilayer switching, specifically the 3750 and 6500 platforms. In particular the description of the 6500 architecture is much more succinct that can be found by searching on Cisco.com. There is an in depth explanation of how the various backplanes on the chassis works, which leads to an explanation of how to determine which cards are slowing down your switch.

I think the hidden gem of the book is part 4, though, which is all about telecom. In these chapters are an explanation of how carriers operate and how to speak the lingo of telecom techs. Even though networks are moving to Ethernet based services, traditional DS1, DS3, ATM, and frame-relay networks are still commonplace. The book has a solid explanation of how TDM based circuits actually work, the various options available to you, and how to properly order and troubleshoot them. I think back to when I was getting started in this field, and dealing with carriers was difficult.

Quality of Service, the features that let you guarantee and limit bandwidth to different types of traffic, have a section in this book too. The book largely focuses on the simple weighted-fair queuing (WFQ) and the current class-based WFQ with low latency queuing for voice. Configuration instructions can be found on Cisco's site easily enough, but Network Warrior delves into some of the behavioral aspects the documents shy away from such as when the queuing mechanisms actually get used. There is also a solid look at how to make sure the QoS is working as intended.

In the middle of all of this are chapters on the firewall and load balancing modules for the 6500, the PIX firewall, and IOS based load balancing. For someone with an ecommerce slant these might prove helpful, but given that these topics are books in themselves, it's hard to do them justice in a few chapters.

The last part of the book is on network design, which encompasses not only the steps needed to build a network, but also planning IP address allocations and how to pitch your ideas to management. Again, the book is not trying to be the definitive text on the subject, but it manages to impart a few words of wisdom, especially the so-called "GAD's Maxims", and "How not to be a computer jerk".

Well thought out examples were plentiful, along with anecdotes from the author, usually showing the consequences of doing things wrong. The illustrations did a great job of conveying the point at hand. Even though I've been doing this stuff for a while I learned several time saving techniques that I've already been able to put to use.

This is a great book for people just getting into the industry, with their CCNA or without. It offers practical advice rather than dry textbook like explanations which is a welcome change. Even those with a few years of experience under their belt will be happy reading through Network Warrior.

Sean Walberg is a network engineer and author living in Winnipeg, Canada.


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Network Warrior

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @02:23PM (#20320985)
    Can't geeks do anything network related without pretending to be gladiators? Wardriving, network warrior, DMZ, ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tuoqui (1091447)
      Considering the internet as we know it today was built off a US Military ARPANET... Designed to survive multiple nuclear strikes... Yeah you can see why people might empathize with the military terminology and such.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kryliss (72493)
      Don't forget code-fu!
    • Not all that surprising considering a huge percentage of wire-chasers are ex-military types who get into corporate IT because they're desperately scrambling for a job when their minimum enlistment suddenly expires. The petty-kingdom mindset of restricted access, password protection, and inflexible policy is practically custom-made to appeal to the barely-adult mind that has been carefully trained to worship at the feet of military-style absolute authority, to respect the chain of command, and above all else
    • I see job ads for "Java Ninjas" or "PHP Rock Stars" and the like. Consider common office expressions like: "I dodged a bullet on that one" or "I'm up to my ass in alligators" or "I've been putting out fires all day." People are said to "pirate" software. We "surf" the net.

      We compensate for our lives being so pathetic and boring by using all kinds of action/adventure expressions.

      I wish I could remember that dilbert quote. Something like: "This day memos will be writen, messages will be faxed, and files will
  • I'm CCNA! (Score:5, Funny)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @02:27PM (#20321029) Homepage Journal
    BTW--what is this 6500? And what is this .... 'OSI model'? Is that a new router or something?
    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @03:06PM (#20321477)
      > BTW--what is this 6500? And what is this .... 'OSI model'? Is that a new router or something?

      OSI is the Office of Special Investigations. Whenever there's an illegal operation, they're the ones who come and investigate. Their arch-rival agency is the DRM, Digital Rights Mafia. Constant turf battles. Oh, and they're getting their own show on ABC this fall.
    • by david.given (6740)

      BTW--what is this 6500? And what is this .... 'OSI model'? Is that a new router or something?

      The 6500 is a popular processor architecture made by MOS.

      • That's funny, that's the very first thing that popped into my head when I read TFS.

        Of course, I have FAR more experience with MOS Technology than Cisco. I don't know if that's sad or not.
    • Re:I'm CCNA! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by toadlife (301863) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @08:50PM (#20324645) Journal
      The 6500 is a $70,000 switch with a $10 Compact Flash memory card which is too small to hold anything but the copy of IOS it's shipped with. Fortunately, Compact Flash memory cards with enough space (16MB) to hold new IOS releases are available for only around $399.99 from Cisco.
  • by lymond01 (314120) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @02:32PM (#20321067)
    After moving to a different state, the first interview I went on was with a larger company. After being a Windows/Mac admin (this is in the mid-90s) for a couple years, I was vaguely surprised that I knew the answer to almost none of their very obscure questions. I had been one of three administrators of a medium-sized WAN at my old job, and nothing they asked seemed relevant at all to real-world circumstances. Disappointed at my lack of knowledge (not to mention the fact I didn't get the job), I decided to study for the MCSE, as there was clearly stuff I didn't know.

    To my surprise, every single one of their obscure, imaginary-world answers were straight from sample MCSE tests. And after 10 more years working in a mixed environment, those questions still don't apply.
    • what Questions did they ask?
    • That's exactly the kind of shop you don't want to work for. If they don't understand which questions to ask then they don't understand what it is they need you to do (or say, that you're doing it right). Terrible situation to be stuck trying to work in.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by porkThreeWays (895269)
        I think a lot of people miss the point that a job interview is a two way process. A place may look great in the ad, but when you actually get to the interview you may discover you potential boss is a complete tool. If I were reeeeeally desperate for a job I might take the job regardless, otherwise it's just not working somewhere you know you'll be miserable from the get-go.
        • And I think you're dead-on. It's taken me years to learn that. That and the fact that not only am I replaceable, but so is my employer. It's definitely a two-way street and change isn't alway bad (it's usually opportunity actually, whatever you might chose to make of it).
        • by TheLink (130905)
          If you know your stuff, you should think about what questions to ask them, so you know if they're worth working for.

          It's definitely very important to figure out who your boss is going to be (remember sometimes the boss might be "exiting soon"), and what sort of person the boss is.

          Might also want to ask what the "staff turnover" is for the department you are joining.
    • by paganizer (566360) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .1evorgeht.> on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @02:52PM (#20321311) Homepage Journal
      That was me in the late 90's. I had been a computer geek in the Navy, a Solaris/NIX admin for bellsouth, a router tech for Nortel, ran my own shop for a while. even got some Novell experience in somewhere.
      I just got lucky on the obscure questions they asked, they actually picked something that it was possible to come across in the real world (like, what command do you use to change a NT server to NT workstation?)
      However I could swear I lost ability when i got my MCSE; so much of the stuff they test for is Microsoft "truthiness" that it causes confusion when you come across similar circumstances in the real world; if you are working with or for people who are Microsoft trained, you have to find some way to spin the real solutions so that it doesn't violate MS canon law.
      Never did get my CNE; that was my next step until I decided to retire instead (I couldn't get a job doing anything fun, due to age barrier, my lack of desire to be management & everyone thinking I wouldn't be happy taking a pay & power cut from my previous job).
      • by charleste (537078) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @04:03PM (#20322093)
        Yeah... when you take the MCSE test, you don't answer with how it's really done in real life, you answer with the answer MS wants you to answer with. For me, it seemed that the "correct" answers were either downright wrong (from real life) or an obtuse method so frequently, it has made me so much LESS likely to hire someone who boasts about their MS credentials. We'd spend too much time "unlearning" them...
        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by arivanov (12034)
          Yep. And Cisco is not any different. Neither is Sun, RedHat or any other.

          The reality is that certification and exam materials are viewed by companies predominantly from the perspective of product revenue assurance. This is considered even more important than actually having revenue stream from certification fees and revenue from the courses themselves. As a result courses and exams are designed to indoctrinate, brainwash and secure future custom. They have nothing to do with qualification, knowledge or abil
          • by Nevyn (5505) *

            That's way too harsh, for the RHCE anyway. While I wouldn't hire someone just because they got an RHCE, I would certainly not hire someone if they failed it (as the only people I've seen who failed it were clueless in real life).

            Some of that might be due to the significant portion of the RHCE that is practical "this is broken fix it" or "this box needs to X, Y and Z ... make it happen".

      • by TheLink (130905)
        If I'm hiring, an MCSE on your CV counts as a negative.

        Especially if:
        1) You personally paid for it and wanted it
        2) You thought it was a good idea to put it on your CV.

        CCIE is still ok I guess.
    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @03:02PM (#20321441)

      After moving to a different state, the first interview I went on was with a larger company. After being a Windows/Mac admin (this is in the mid-90s) for a couple years, I was vaguely surprised that I knew the answer to almost none of their very obscure questions. I had been one of three administrators of a medium-sized WAN at my old job, and nothing they asked seemed relevant at all to real-world circumstances. Disappointed at my lack of knowledge (not to mention the fact I didn't get the job), I decided to study for the MCSE, as there was clearly stuff I didn't know.
      That's the same boat I'm in. I'm a 100% self-taught geek, not the best there's ever been but good enough to get the job done. There's a ton of stuff I don't know but what I do know is enough to get the job done. Since the company was willing to pay for it, I went for the certs training.

      I've seen the point argued back and forth on Slashdot. The anti-cert people say that there's little value in a cert that can be crammed for, a cert that doesn't really certify that the holder knows what he's doing. There are plenty of people with fancy certs on the wall who don't know what they're doing, just like there's plenty of people with no certs who are shit hot at what they do. The pro-cert people say that the certs serve as a measuring stick for non-techs who are looking to hire techs, a way of making sure that a candidate has a minimum level of experience before putting them through a serious evaluation. There's also the arrogance of geeks who think they don't need to bone up on theory and there's nothing more dangerous than the problems caused by what they don't know they don't know. The pro-certs people argue that the process forces you into a structured method of learning the topic.

      I'm hip-deep in the process right now and I'd say it's a mixed bag. I think that the classroom instruction is good since it gives you a conversational environment to work through problems instead of just hitting the books on your own. The instructor, if he has real world experience, can also give you pointers you'll not find in the book. The bad part of all this is the testing. You can read the entire book, do the sample questions, and still be blindsided by the real test. The questions themselves are more designed to trip you up on stuff you know than really test you to see what you know. The technicalities and bullshittery of these questions is as bad as the worst tests endured in college.

      From the cynical side, I've been told that the real scoop behind the certs is that companies like Microsoft want to make them seem like they have value so they want a high fail rate. If someone gets one, they should feel like they sweat blood. Now you can either make an exam tough with fair and exacting questions or you can use cheap tricks to fuck people up. Microsoft seems to prefer cheap tricks. And what's the worst thing that happens when someone fails? They pay to take the test again.

      To my surprise, every single one of their obscure, imaginary-world answers were straight from sample MCSE tests. And after 10 more years working in a mixed environment, those questions still don't apply.
      That's what I'm seeing. I'm going to finish taking the tests since the classes are paid for but it seems like a gigantically wasteful process of hoop-jumping. If I were coming into the IT industry as a fresh-faced novice, I would not feel that these classes would have prepared me for a real world environment. I'm just glad I'll have the work experience to put down on the resume in addition to the certs.
      • by UncleTogie (1004853) * on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @04:01PM (#20322075) Homepage Journal

        The pro-cert people say that the certs serve as a measuring stick for non-techs who are looking to hire techs, a way of making sure that a candidate has a minimum level of experience before putting them through a serious evaluation.

        I'd almost buy that, but for a local vocational school that is notorious for "You pay, you pass" assembly-line certs. A guy that we tried out was a card-carrying CompTIA A+-certified tech. To help test him {having had experience with this school's graduates before..} I took him to an open PC on the bench and asked him to point at the motherboard.

        He pointed at the case.

        I told him, no, not the case, the *motherboard*.

        He blinked twice, and pointed at the case again. He didn't last the day.

        IMHO, those little pieces of paper don't guarantee jack anymore. -sigh-
        • I'd almost buy that, but for a local vocational school that is notorious for "You pay, you pass" assembly-line certs. A guy that we tried out was a card-carrying CompTIA A+-certified tech. To help test him {having had experience with this school's graduates before..} I took him to an open PC on the bench and asked him to point at the motherboard.

          He pointed at the case.

          I told him, no, not the case, the *motherboard*.

          He blinked twice, and pointed at the case again. He didn't last the day.

          Wow. That's just....wow. I went through the A+ portion since the company paid for it and it's one more checkbox for the resume. I assumed that there would be some stuff in there that I didn't know. Turns out that I knew everything practical they were covering. The practice tests for A+ were awful because they were so much more difficult than the real test. The real test had some questions with grammatical errors, multiple correct answers where only one was required (which troubleshooting step should be tak

          • I tell you what. The true measure of a man is if he can take apart a computer completely removing every part, and putting it back together and seeing how many screws are left over. My best is two... but I saw this guy once only have one. Damn it someday I'll win that game
            • I tell you what. The true measure of a man is if he can take apart a computer completely removing every part, and putting it back together and seeing how many screws are left over. My best is two... but I saw this guy once only have one. Damn it someday I'll win that game
              What worries me is there's probably a post just like this on Slashdoc. :)
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by UncleTogie (1004853) *

              Agreed, folks. When I inquired about a job at my first shop, the owner led me to a room with a pile of parts and a case. The job was mine if I could build a working computer, with DOS 3.2 installed.

              I got the job. ;)

              Now, 15 years later, I'm one of the ones that vet the techs we use now. It's fraggin' scary, boys and girls. Most have never worked with anything pre-2k. One saw an Ubuntu desktop and asked if it was Vista. Another kept asking what to do at "back/next/cancel" prompts when just installing XP. Y

        • by deniable (76198)
          I have an easy one to start with. I forget where I got this idea. Put a #2 Phillips driver on the table and ask them what it is and what it's used for.
        • The motherboard is typically about 3/8" from the case. Maybe he was pointing to the motherboard all along?

          I would have given him double or nothing on the location of the power cable. After all, why does he need to know where the motherboard is to say, "Is it plugged in? Is it turned on? What version of Windows do you use?" all day long?
      • Ah yes. Certain contracts at a previous employer REQUIRED certain MS test certifications to work on the contract. So my employer paid for them. I took two before I told him to quit wasting his money. The first test "Windows NT 4.0 administration" had ZILCH about really administering an NT 4 machine/network, but COMPLETEY about Novell migration. Test 2, "Visual Basic Development", didn't ask ONE SINGLE QUESTION about Visual Basic. It was completely about some Packaging and Deployment Wizard that you only got
        • Yeah, I remember picking up practice quiz software for the Windows 2000 test. The first question was about startup options, and I was asked how to do something obscure (go into Safe Mode with networking support or something.) Of course, my answer is, press F8 and select it from the boot menu, but the right answer was some stupid Ctrl-Shift-function key combo that to this day I don't remember. At that point, I deleted the software and went back to the real world.
      • by Lars T. (470328)

        I've seen the point argued back and forth on Slashdot. The anti-cert people say that there's little value in a cert that can be crammed for...
        The problem is more that you have to cram for those tests, if only because some questions have to be answered in a way most sane persons would never do. And most of the others make you remember stuff that in the unlikely event that you should ever need to know, you will have forgotten anyway.
        • The problem is more that you have to cram for those tests, if only because some questions have to be answered in a way most sane persons would never do. And most of the others make you remember stuff that in the unlikely event that you should ever need to know, you will have forgotten anyway.

          My precise complaint. The argument I use against happy dappy college degree people is this: "Would you be able to pass all of the finals you took from all of your courses? No? Then what possible purpose was served by those tests? You have a degree that says you knew this stuff a while ago but you've forgotten everything that would let you earn that degree again." Now the ridiculous side of my argument would be the claim that all of that learning was of no value and the graduate has nothing to show from the

    • by COMON$ (806135) *
      I am a Computer Science BS graduate and while my degree has compelled me to avoid certs I am getting to the point that I fear the hysteria that comes with companies looking for MCSE kiddies. So I look at the "real world" questions they have and having worked in this field for 8 years, 5 of which were in a 1000 node network spanning 500 miles, I can honestly say that I cannot figure out when in the past or future, I will come across any of the situations in the MCSE program. Good thing they are killing the
    • by Khelder (34398)
      I learned some details about the MCSE-like certs a few years ago when my wife was studying for them. It seemed like a lot of rote memorization that would rarely actually matter. Now whenever I interview someone who has a cert like that on their resume, I ask them what they thought about the exam and cert.
  • Not accurate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I find the discussion of this to not be accurate. The CCNA is intended to be an entry level certification for someone with little experience in networking. It is this fact that should not be overlooked when said person has a CCNA and does not know everything there is to know about configuring a router/switch. Also, topics such as multilayer switches and QoS are NOT entry level subjects. These topics are covered in great detail for the CCNP certification, which requires 4 exams to get (on top of a CCNA).
  • OSI Model (Score:4, Funny)

    by hodet (620484) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @02:42PM (#20321187)
    layers 8 and 9 of the OSI model (politics and money)

    Good one, I wish I could have added that to various exam answers over the years. :-)

    Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza Away P? M?

  • Layer 8 (Score:5, Funny)

    by laurent420 (711504) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @02:48PM (#20321247)
    Layers 8 and 9 can't be politics and money. As layer 7 is described as the layer closest to the user, I've long asserted that layer 8 _is_ the user. With users learning what id10ts and pebkacs are, "layer 8 error" makes for a subtle and safe alternative ;)
    • by mikael (484)
      So, according to the Dilbert Systems Interconnection model [dilbert.com] the layers would be:

      Layer 15: Phil, The Prince of Insufficient Light
      Layer 14: Mordac, the Director of Information Services
      Layer 13: Catbert, Human Resources director
      Layer 12: The Pointed Hair Boss
      Layer 11: Carol the secretary
      Layer 10: Dilbert
      Layer 9: Asok, the intern
      Layer 8: User
    • by macdaddy (38372)
      PEBCAK. Sheesh. What an ID10T.
  • CCNA, MCSE (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @03:14PM (#20321577)
    CCNA's and MCSE's are good certifications, it essentially tells me that people know at least how to reboot routers, pull cable, reboot microsoft machines, and apply basic patches. I use these qualifications to find entry level helpdesk people, and provide better training if they cut the mustard after a few months.
  • by stanleypane (729903) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @03:19PM (#20321617)
    Sorry, not on topic, but...

    I get tired of hearing this crap about certification X being a joke. Any kind of memorized knowledge is a joke if you can't apply it to real world situations. There are too many people out there getting certifications without the requisite knowledge and experience necessary to actually get something done.

    If a company can't interview a candidate properly and gets stuck with someone who has no ability to think for themselves, then it is there own damn fault. Too many companies just want the hiring process to be as easy as reading a list of certifications an applicant has.
  • passed it years ago without ever touching a router. next job i did some minor stuff on routers and switches and the commands our WAN people taught me weren't in the CCNA books i had. And neither was our networking gear as the CCNA books had the cheapo routers Cisco sells and not the higher level stuff
  • by braz (68726) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @04:19PM (#20322267) Homepage
    This is a really nicely put together book. It fills a nice niche at Intro to Middle level of the Cisco areas somewhere just after the CCNA and probably touching on some of the CCDA topics. Its not meant as a real cookbook - that's why there is the excellent Cisco IOS cookbook also from O'Reilly which deals with the particular obsure, nutty but damn valuable gems that are out there, from Net engineers who've had the long hours and coffee to hand us great tricks.

    How to place this book is like this, so you've finished or are close to your CCNA and would like some sound practical advice to round out the course or maybe to help you revise it, well this is the book for you. If you know more and are in deeper Cisco terrority well you might like this but you'd probably prefer the Cisco IOS cookbook.

    Off topic - I also got a copy of Limoncelli et al's revised version of The Practise of System and Network Administration in the same batch, given the first edition was most excellent there is little to say except the second is even better. Common sense and practical knowledge without getting lost in OS or application issues.
  • I picked this up a couple days ago on a whim of geekyness and read it, I was intrigued by the fact that a network book existed that wasn't A. a basic what is a network B. a product specific advertisement or C. exam cram for some lame cert. It has some good points, it also fails in a few. The VLAN stuff gets glossed over like a Christmas ham, and seriously important areas to real life missing. Overall it is written well, and in a decent conversational tone. I'd say it is an OK add to a network library but it
  • Was probably interesting, but;

    "... and finally offers advice on when and where to use autonegotiation..."

    would undoubtedly be the shortest paragraph in the chapter. A single word would do.

  • I disagree... (Score:5, Informative)

    by LilGuy (150110) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @05:00PM (#20322665)
    I went into networking with NO prior experience other than setting up a simple linksys router for home-use. I learned everything I know about networking ON the job. It took me a good 3 months just to get the lingo and basics down, but afterwards I had to start plowing through vlans and the different routing protocols like BGP and OSPF.

    My point is had I actually studied for a CCNA before I was hired, I would've hit the ground running most likely would've advanced to my NOC position in 3 - 4 months less time. The CCNA is not a joke. It may not teach you ALL the terminology and EVERYTHING you need to know about EVERYTHING, but it's a hell of a good start.
  • by Knowbuddy (21314) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @05:48PM (#20323157) Homepage Journal
    Having just obtained both CCNA and A+ certifications within the last 9 months, even though neither was really necessary for my current job, I feel the need to defend the CCNA exam by contrasting it with the A+ exam.

    The A+ exam is a complete joke. It might have been relevant 10 years ago, but isn't anymore. The vast majority of questions were completely irrelevant today, and mostly irrelevant for any computer faster than 500MHz. Most of it was pure memorization, the kind all those cram books are for. There were very few real-world questions -- less than a half-dozen. There were even a few questions that were nonsense -- none of the answers were applicable, much less valid, and in some cases the question didn't even make sense.

    The CCNA, however, is a killer. I took mine in May 2007. The first part of the exam is roughly one-third memorization questions, one-third diagram interpretation questions, and one-third real-world questions. Most of the diagram questions are trick questions with multiple realistic-looking answers. (In other words, you can't just look for the "obvious" answer.) This part of the exam is meant to test your grasp of networking concepts.

    The second part of the CCNA exam is what really gets you, though. It's all about configuration. Most of it is spent in a simulator. And not just a simulator for one router or switch, but a simulator for an entire network. One of my questions involved configuring 4 different routers and 3 switches. Oh, and they can disable parts of the simulator to make your job harder -- like having to diagnose a connectivity problem without being able to ping or traceroute. And yeah, they like to throw multiple IOS versions at you to make sure you know the different variations of the commands (especially for switches). You cannot cram for these simulator-type problems.

    I tend to consider myself a pretty smart guy. I've been working as a network admin for 10+ years, albeit not with Cisco equipment. I aced the classwork for the CCNA courses without putting forth any effort whatsoever. I did homework in class and never had to come in after hours to catch up. And yet, I had ~45 seconds left on the timer when I finished part 2 of the CCNA exam. It's that tough, and they've got it timed down to the last minute. You do not have time to flounder and guess.

    If you don't know your stuff backwards and forwards, you are not going to pass the second half of the CCNA exam. It's that simple.

    Now, having said all of that, remember: the CCNA is the entry-level exam. It's not meant to certify that you can walk into a company and rewire an international infrastructure by hand. It's meant to certify that if you put me in front of a router or a switch or a small network that is having problems, I can most likely figure out what the problem is. The building-huge-networks stuff is part of the CCNP, not the CCNA. (The first CCNP class is, after all, "Building Scalable Networks".)

    I see plenty of haterade about the CCNA exam, but I never seem to see it from people that have taken the tests. And I have to wonder: for all of those exam-crammers with CCNAs that everyone seems to know, when did they get their certs and are they current? I doubt it.
  • The constant CCNA bashing is lame: CCNA is Cisco's lowest level certification. Instead of complaining that CCNAs don't know anything, they should be looking at CCNPs and CCNEs. The CCNE exam is damn tough: It has a large question bank so it is hard to memorize your way through it. It has scenarios instead of just multiple choice. It uses IRT scoring, and automatically adapts to your knowledge level. This test has a reputation for being really tough.
  • Does it matter!!! Well I can't tell it anymore, having finished CCNA and SCJP 5, hoped to get a job more easily. But not. Before getting certified I'd hear "How do I know you now anything if you're not certified", after certifications "those are just crap, just piece of paper", well that was a surprise, wasn't it??? Now I'm asking my self is it worth to spend more time and money on the certifications, or continue giving the money to Sun, Cisco, Microsoft, blla blla????
    • by Shados (741919)
      It depends. Usually, lower level certifications are there to get rid of the silly crap. Lets take Microsoft's certs for example, cuz its the ones I did. If you apply for an intermediate or (god forbid) a junior position, get ready for the basic questions. "Do you know what a class is". "Do you know what a dataset is". "Do you know how to connect to a database?!". And only once you answered to all of those well, do they push the interview to the interesting bits.

      If you're certified, usually they'll skip thos
  • I bought what I thought was a CCNA book, from Cisco, that laid out a lot of great details about networking, from LL up to TCP, and filled in plenty of the remaining gaps of my networking understanding. Emboldened by this, I looked into the CCNA exam. And it became rapidly clear to me that the CCNA has nearly nothing to do with networking, and everything to do with using Cisco's arcane, obfuscated interfaces.
    • by imemyself (757318)
      Considering that Cisco's market-share is something around 80% in LAN switching (not sure off the top of my head what they have in Enterprise routers), I think its safe to say that knowing how to do basic stuff in IOS is pretty important to have a career in networking. That's not to say you shouldn't know the OSI model or subnetting, etc. But CCNA covers that, especially in the basic/intro CCNA, part one (of four). While 3com, HP, Juniper, Extreme, etc, have some good products, chances are that most busin

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