Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CPQRG 2010 Released

Well I'm not sure how 'hot-off-the-press' this actually is, but I received an automated email from Cisco that the new Cisco Product Quick Reference Guide for 2010 (August) has been released. It can be downloaded for free here (of course after signing up through another form): http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/qrg/index.html.

According to the PDF details it was last modified on October 22, so its release is certainly 'new'.

As for the content, its pretty much standard for Cisco. Nothing really special to note, except for the addition of the relatively new ISR G2 series routers, and the CRS-3 carrier router (but honestly who really cares about the CRS-3 being in the 'quick reference guide', not like anyone seriously considering buying one would even look in this guide for it, hah).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Passed the CCIE RS Written!

Well I've got some great news from yesterday, I passed the CCIE Routing and Switching written exam on the first attempt! I spent pretty much the entire past month constantly reading whenever I had the chance, including most of my free time on the weekends, and it paid off!

I have to say though, about a third of the way through the exam I felt like I was bombarded with these strange L2 switching troubleshooting scenarios, and was sure I wasn't going to pass. I kept reminding myself to keep pounding through it though, and it worked. I was a bit surprised with the range of question topics, as I was expecting questions about several other protocols/configurations that were never asked.

Overall it was a decent test, but there were a few questions based on images that were so small and low quality that the text in them was incomprehensible. Fortunately, those questions didn't really focus on the image text and more so about the topology.

To study for the exam I used the following materials:
- INE Written Bootcamp Class-on-Demand
- Routing TCP/IP Vol. 1, by Jeff Doyle and Jennifer Carroll
- CCIE R&S Exam Certification Guide 4th Edition, by Wendell Odom
- CCIE RS Short Notes, by Ruhann du Plessis (http://routing-bits.com/ccie-rs-short-notes-v4/)

To rate the effectiveness of each, I would have to give Wendell Odom's 4th Edition Exam Certification Guide and the CCIE RS Short Notes by Ruhann the best bang for the buck. Wendell's guide had particularly great detailed explanations of OSPF, EIGRP, and Multicast. Ruhann's Short Notes also provided an excellent quick reference guide for everything as well, and is very reasonably priced. Jeff Doyle's Routing TCP/IP Vol. 1 has a great explanation of IPv6 and lots of background information, but also a lot of extra information not needed for the exam (definitely not bad to have the extra, useful information, but if you're in a rush, it's not the best use of time). No content on switching in Doyle's book either, which there were quite a few switching questions on the exam (not that that is a pitfall about the book). INE's CoD material I have to rate not-so-great as it just covers the broad basics of all the technologies in the blueprint, and at $300+ with a 30% discount is not that great of a deal. Most of the exam questions were beyond the scope of INE's CoD.

Now that the Written exam is complete, I have 18 months to get my Lab attempt in, hopefully much sooner than that. My next goal is to have my first Lab attempt in 6-8 months. Based off of a few friends who have their CCIE numbers already, they recommended the INE workbooks, and is what I plan on using in the upcoming months to prepare. A buddy of mine said that he practiced their workbooks for 3 months straight, knew them front and back, and passed the Lab on his first attempt. I won't have the time to study that much in 3 months as he did, but 6 months I believe is a reasonable goal.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Current Status of My Certification Path

Well its been a month since I've posted here, but after I finished up my CCIP, I went ahead a took the CVOICE exam (for the CCNA Voice certification) and passed. Certainly some good news there, although nothing that great :P.

As for the past couple weeks now, I've been hittin the books hard for the CCIE R&S Written exam. I ended up purchasing the INE Written Video-On-Demand series to help speed up the studies, which has been pretty good so far. I was expecting a bit more detail in the material, but hopefully the level of detail I was expecting isn't actually on the written exam (fingers crosses, but who knows with some of those wacky Cisco exam questions they throw in there).

I hope to finish up with the INE VOD series by the end of this week, and we'll see how I feel about the exam from there. I feel like I'll need to brush up a bit more on topics I don't work with daily (IPv6, advanced STP, PfR, etc), but after that I may be ready to take the written. We shall see, maybe I'll be attempting it in a little over a week. Why not, it's only a $350 exam :P.

The Not-So-Surprising Federal IPv6 Mandate

It was just announced to day by Kundra, the new 'Federal CIO', that ALL Federal agencies have native IPv6 connectivity to public services, including Web, Email, DNS, and their Internet gateways. Equally interesting is the fact that the Federal agencies have 2 years to comply with the 'due date' of September 30, 2012.

Quite the game changer when it comes to IPv6 adoption, which has been painfully slow in the U.S. (non-North American areas are practically being forced to IPv6 because of the lack of IPv4 addresses for their country/region).

A very much needed push from the Federal government to get the commercial/private sector focused on the real business opportunities ahead for IPv6, and the real (and obvious to us network engineers) infrastructure upgrades that will be needed.

If you haven't been reading up on IPv6, now is certainly a good time.

Source: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/092810-ipv6-obama-plan.html

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

MPLS Exam Complete, CCIP Acquired!

Some more good news today, I passed the MPLS exam which completes the requirements for the CCIP certification.

I had actually taken the exam last week, but failed 780/1000 (passing score of 790 needed). I was actually quite shocked that I had failed since I considered the exam fairly easy by the time I had finished. Basically I spent a bit too much time on some questions that didn't matter, and ended up having to skip a simulation that they had stuck at question 48/50 since I was out of time (and it was related to a TDP configuration !?!?!).

I left the test center last week feeling quite cheated since I knew/know the material quite well and even skipping the TDP sim shouldn't have been an issue. Maybe I had a couple dyslexic moments, and of course there were the standard antiquated and/or grammar oriented questions that don't test your knowledge. I signed up immediately for the soonest available time which was today.

I had pretty much the exact same test, but this time I passed with a 100% with 30min to spare! Felt quite good to end the CCIP on that note.

Now that that chapter is finished, I figure I'll take the CVOICE exam (CCNA Voice) in the next two weeks (attended Global Knowledge class back in May), which shouldn't be any trouble. Then off to the CCIE races!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Passed the Cisco QoS Exam

Another one down! This one was fairly easy, a few 'Cisco centric' type questions which I know I didn't get right (why I scored below my goal of 900+ points), but overall was a decent exam. Simulations in this guy were very straightforward, no surprises there.

Onto the MPLS exam now (the last one remaining in my CCIP quest). Already scheduled it for 2 weeks out (August 25th), and don't expect many surprises there either (was in the MPLS Global Knowledge course last January, and even that class was mainly review for me). Main things to brush up on are MPLS-TE tunnels, VPNv4 configs, and more advanced Route Target/Imports in VRFs (ISP managed services, etc).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Passed the Cisco BGP Exam

Well I just got back from taking the 'Configuring BGP on Cisco Routers' exam, and I passed! I attended the Global Knowledge class for this exam, and I used that material mainly for studying. The class and instructor (Al Friebe) were pretty good, however it was really just a basic review for my current knowledge level (filled in a few cracks here and there).

Overall the exam was decent, it wasn't too badly written, but not that great either. Several misspellings, and questions with answers that they try to trick you with grammar.

Most questions were ok, but one of the simulations was off-the-wall horrible. It was a scenario where you 'fix the broken config and verify', however the explanation of what was wrong itself was completely wrong. It was as if there was nothing to fix, as the 'verify by checking this' was true without any changes by myself!

Then of course they specified to clear the BGP session w/o resetting the session (after making an inbound routing config change), however none of the clear commands worked except the hard clear (soft inbound or route refresh). Very frustrating, and I ended up wasting too much time on it (lesson learned I guess). Because of the time spent on that simulation, I ran out of time right as I finished the last question, pheeewww!

Next up: the QoS exam. Already have it scheduled for August 11th. I figure it won't be too bad, likely very similar in difficultly to the BGP exam.

Friday, June 18, 2010

"1 slash 8"

Pretty good read about the research that has been done by Merit and U of Michigan on the effects of advertising the network into the public Internet. And of course there's lots of misconfigured systems and other garbage data to that network, which is amounting to 130-150Mbit/s of traffic!

APNIC, who has been allocated this range by IANA, is going to have fun dishing this one out, hah!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Back from CVOICE Class

Last week I attended a Global Knowledge course CVOICE (passing the exam gets you a CCNA Voice, and it's also apart of the CCVP curriculum). Overall it was a pretty good class, and I had a great teacher (Patrick Le).

The class went over a lot of the basics, giving a broad overview of POTS telephony and VoIP. We started out going over the basics of POTS, and configuring T1 CAS and ISDN PRIs. We then moved onto analog phones (FXS ports) being transferred over an IP WAN using VoIP with H.323 and SIP signaling. Unfortunately we never moved onto VoIP phones in lab, but we were given lecture on how it works. The class then went quite a bit into translations and advanced dial-peers, which Patrick taught quite well. Towards the end of the class we went into COR Lists, and the basics of CUBE (unfortunately ran out of time to lab up CUBE).

My main dislikes about the class were lack of VoIP phone configurations, and the complete lack of Call Manager (a separate course[s], but still would have liked to have some minor hands on with it). Minus those missing components the class was a great overview of Cisco Telephony, I suppose it makes sense since this is the class for CCNA Voice. Definitely helped me out immensely since I have very little real world experience with VoIP and analog phone configurations on Cisco devices. I plan on taking the exam in the next week or so, my lab partner already took it and passed, so I feel pretty good about it since we were on a similar level.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

CCIE R&S and Voice OEQs

Some news about Cisco's OEQ section of the CCIE R&S and Voice Lab exams has just started circulating the blogs this morning. It appears that Cisco is removing them from the lab altogether. Comes as a relief to many because of their ambiguity and weight on the exam.

Not exactly surprising as not too long ago there was a bit of an uproar over Cisco's announcement that their 360 training program for CCIEs would give exam candidates a free pass to skip over that section. A bit of a scam I must say on Cisco's part, but at least their getting the point now. Questionable how well that section actually thwarted cheaters anyways.

Source: INE

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Latest News

So my blog posts have been a bit scarce lately, but that will be changing soon. Part of the reason is I've been spending an enormous amount of time researching the latest and greatest computer parts for a new build I'm working on. The good news is that I'm finally finishing up the top-end computer build (it'll be able to handle loads of GNS3/Dynamips processing). Build details:

- Intel Core i7 930 - 2.8Ghz -- I plan on over-clocking it to ~3.8Ghz (air cooled)
- Crucial C300 SSD (boot drive) 256GB, SATA 3.0 -- Currently the fastest SSD drive on the market
- 2x Hitachi 2TB hard drives in RAID 1 configuration -- Data mirroring for long-term storage
- G.Skill Ripjaw 12GB DDR3 memory - Reliable memory, also good for over-clocking
- Asus P6X58D motherboard - First mobo with USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0; also has dual NICs
- Antec TP-750 750watt PSU
- Pioneer 12x BluRay burner
- Sapphire ATI 5850 video card - Good for the occasional gaming
- Silverstone FT-01 case - This case is amazing, highly recommend it for many reasons
- Windows 7 Ultimate - Will be doing some VMWare virtualization for my *NIX needs

Still awaiting delivery:
- Dell U2711 monitor - 27" LCD, 2560x1440 resolution (!); brand new hot item causing delivery times to 2-3 weeks out. Will be worth the wait though (same LG panel is used here that's in the iMac 27")

Besides spending much of my spare time on that project, I'm still studying for the Cisco QoS exam (going for the CCIP now), albeit slowly. My current employer recently sent me off to some Global Knowledge courses, QoS and MPLS to be exact. Both classes were pretty good, although I was expecting more in-depth detail. Supposedly the exams are based off of this 'official' class material, we shall see though.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Time Management - The Rich and the Poor

I just came across this amazing blog post from Scott Berkun (www.scottberkun.com) titled "The Cult of Busy" (http://www.scottberkun.com/blog/2010/the-cult-of-busy/).

It's the perfect description of some of my own thoughts about how people manage their time; who's good at it and who isn't; and why the 'busy' people aren't necessarily who you want/should associate with.

It's unfortunate that most businesses, managers, and co-workers just don't get the meat of Scott's blog post, or what I like to call "working smart".

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ciscos Big Announcement and VRRPv3

Just a couple quick news updates... Cisco's 'big announcement' yesterday was about the CRS-3 (3x the speed as the CRS-1): http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/2010/prod_030910.html.

A lot of people were surprised and let down by the news of this, as it doesn't apply to anyone except for the large IXCs. Considering that the carriers who could afford this beast already knew about it months ago (and AT&T is even trialing it currently), it seems pretty strange that Cisco would go to the lengths they did to hype it up. When you really get down to the gist of their marketing strategy though, it comes down to using their power/visibility to advertise to the masses 'use more bandwidth'.

In the RFC world, the VRRP version 3 RFC was just released today. I haven't read it in detail, but out of a quick skimming I saw it was officially supporting IPv4 and IPv6 addresses; sub-second operation was also one of the features that is of interest to some people.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Internet Draft: Multicast in MPLS/BGP IP VPNs

Another very interesting Internet Draft was posted today:


In todays MPLS VPN networks, multicast isn't natively supported, but there are some duct-tape workarounds to get it to work (MDT with GRE). Finally a more permanent solution is coming, albeit at the cost of some pretty complex functionality (luckily only in the SP network).

A bit of a long read, but there is some interesting info contained within if you can keep up with the theory.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another Nice Looking Internet Draft (Hopefully this makes it through fast!)

Extending ICMP for Interface and Next-hop Identification

This is quite the interesting draft that was just posted. Starting out my career from an Operations standpoint, I can definitely tell the authors of this draft are also quite familiar with the struggles of Operations.

Seems as though there are so many folks in the IT/Networking field that just don't understand the hurdles there in Operations, and often makes me cringe at the (terrible) ideas they come up with. Sorry for the rant :)

The key (exciting) point from the abstract:

"The ICMP extension defined herein can be used to identify any combination of the following: the IP interface upon which a datagram arrived, the sub-IP component of an IP interface upon which a datagram arrived, the IP interface through which the datagram would have been forwarded had it been forwardable, the IP next hop to which the datagram would have been forwarded.

Devices can use this ICMP extension to identify interfaces and their components by any combination of the following: ifIndex, IPv4 address, IPv6 address, name and MTU. ICMP-aware devices can use these extensions to identify both numbered and unnumbered interfaces."