Monthly Archives: July 2010

Learn My Technique…Ninja Style (Move 2 of 3)

Here are a list of the books and resources that used during my studies for the CCNP and CCIE written.

GNS3 Network Simulation Software
It’s a FREE tool that you can download. Works on Mac, Windows and Linux. I use it on my MacBook…it seems to run more stable on Mac and Linux. However, Windows works pretty good…just make sure you have a system with beefy RAM and a decent processor. I mentioned this application before in a previous blog. I will probably not do any blogs on how this works at this time. You will need to use real Cisco IOS images. I used this application for purely Layer 3 practice. You will find some people using it for Layer 2 but it is pretty limited so instead, I use real hardware for Layer 2 practice. Here are a few Blogs that I tend to check out on tips about using GNS3 and some free labs to practice. Be resourceful…you can find lots of good information on the web and on http://www.cisco.com

http://www.gns3.net – Free download of GNS3 Software.
http://www.gns3-labs.com – this site has some pretty good information and some practice labs that you can build using GNS3 to play around with.

Reading List
Here are list of books that I used for CCNP and to help as a refresher for CCIE written exam. These books have a pretty good bank of practice questions. Since the CCNP track is changed, some of these books might be valid for learning theory but they may not cover all of the new topics for the updated CCNP exam track.

CCNP BSCI Official Exam Certification Guide Fourth Edition
CCNP BCMSN Official Exam Certification Guide Fourth Edition
CCNP ONT Official Exam Certification Guide
CCNP ISCW Official Exam Certification Guide

These are more of the books I used for the CCIE written exam.
Cisco LAN Switching (CCIE Professional Development series) – Very good book. Covers everything Layer 2. Used this one in conjunction with CCNP BCMSN.
Routing TCP/IP Volume I (CCIE Professional Development) – dry reading. I used this book to solidify theory
Routing TCP/IP, Volume II (CCIE Professional Development) – dry reading. I used this book to solidify theory
CCIE Routing and Switching Certification Guide 4th Edition – EXCELLENT book. It covers all the v4.0 exam topics

Be on the look out for Move 3 in this three part blog. This is where I will bring all of this together and sum up my actual study plan that I followed using all the tools and literature. Thanks for reading!

Courage first; power second; technique third. ~ unknown


Learn My Technique…Ninja Style (Move 1 of 3)

Ever solve a Rubik’s Cube? How long would it take you? Professional cubers can solve the famous cube in under 20 seconds. Imagine being one of those people who spend hours upon hours…days upon days learning the massive number of techniques and algorithms…twisting and turning the cube just to accomplish the goal of seeing all six sides of the cube solved. Forget those cheap Rubik’s Cubes you can by from WalMart or a toy store. Trash em! These cubers go as far as purchasing custom cubes shipped all they way from China. When you open it, the cube is totally disassembled. You have to put the entire cube together piece by piece…about 70 pieces…apply lubrication to the cube so that the cube will turn effortlessly…adjust the springs and tension screws to your perfection. Then lastly, apply the stickers to each side of the cube. Don’t mess up at this part! The beauty and perfection of the cube lies within how perfect each sticker is centered on face of each individual cube. When you’re done, in your hands, you now have the exact cube that the professionals use and you too can solve it in under 20 seconds.

What in the world does a Rubik’s cube have to do with anything you ask. Not much…However, having the best professional custom cube in the world doesn’t automatically make you a greater cuber. To be a great cuber, you have to master the basic techniques first, then you have to constantly practice and gradually learning the more difficult techniques. I believe these same principles apply when going for any certification…especially Cisco certification.

CCNP level of experience is where you should start. If you are not there yet, GET THERE fast. You must know all of this stuff. Not to list everything but here are a few of the topics that I saw on my exam more than others. (I’m being very cautious to follow the Cisco Confidentially Policy and not give any exact questions therefore I have to be general with this information)

GNS3 has been my savor for years. If you don’t know what this is, send a comment. (if you are prepping for any Cisco certification…especially CCIE and reading this, I would hope you know about it already…I feel weird even mentioning it)

– I had a total of 77 questions to answer. once you answer, you cant go back to review. You got one shot at each question.
– Lots of QoS. I suggest that you know QoS thoroughly! (LLQ, CBWFQ, WFQ, WRED,etc)
– OSPF Theory and configuration (LSA, stub, NSSA, etc)
– BGP (clearly you need to know this)
– EIGRP (know your theory and configuration)
– STP (layer 2 port states, loop guard, root guard, UDLD, etc)
– MPLS (review your theory)
– Multicasting (Be very well rounding with your theory and configuration (RP, MLD, SM, DM, shared trees, source trees, IGMP, etc.)
– IPV6 basics (know how to configure for EIGRP and OSPF)

My exam had an even mix of other things like WCCP, IOS Firewall and DHCP throughout the exam. I believe the key here is to know more of the theory as you can and be able to look at a running configuration and know what the router is supposed to be doing. The simple things will kill you. Practice.

In Moves 2 and 3 of this BLOG series, I will provide a book list that I studied and the study schedule I used to prepare for the CCNP series of exams all the way up the the CCIE written.

By the way…I purchased a few of those custom cubes from China. Lubed them up and the whole nine yards. I can solve the cube in under 1 minute now but i had to practice…practice…practice…practice.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle


A Ninja was born

“Wow…that’s an expensive hub!”

That’s what I remember saying when I met my first Cisco Catalyst switch back in 1996. You know the box that I’m talking about right?…the box with the ultra cool Cisco Logo on the side. You remember that logo with the guy in a white shirt, sleeves rolled up, and red tie…gripping two huge network cables. This guy symbolized all the power and technology that will be unleashed on your network instantly upon connecting it. How unfortunate was I not to be the one to crack open that box to expose such a glorious piece of network goodness. How unfortunate was I not to be the one to lift it out of the box and carefully peal off the plastic bag protecting the green colored shell. Instead I opened up my mouth and uttered the words…Wow, that’s an expensive hub. Lucky the Network Engineer for the company I was working for at the time was a nice guy and didn’t make me feel like a total idiot.

It wasn’t a hub. It was a Cisco Switch. A Catalyst 1600 series 24port 10Mb switch. Far stretch from the boring 3Com hubs that I was used to seeing everywhere. Everybody had a 3com hub. All you had to do was turn that thing on and connect some network cables and there you have a network. I was a rookie and never knew much more about networks. I knew they existed but I was hypnotized by the cool Microsoft GUI. I was troubleshooting Windows 95 and 98 desktops…working with Exchange and SMS. Glorious Microsoft. Over the years after obtaining my MCSE on NT4, learning about core networking technology became very attractive to me. Not only did I want to support and build Windows servers and such, I also wanted to configure routers and switches.

Fast forward a few years…in 2002 I obtained my CCNA certification on a second attempt. It was in 2004 that I decided to start the CCNP. I passed the BCMSN exam that year and stalled out for a few years after that. I was still working in the I.T. field…building and supporting networks. Things were going well. I had solid Microsoft skills and I had some pretty solid networking skills. I got comfortable and felt that I didn’t need to continue on with my education. The industry started to get really competitive and when I was turned away from some employment opportunities, reality set in. I was behind the curve. I ultimately decided to get back into the game. I completed my CCNP certification in 2008 and in 2010 began my journey into CCIE world. I had to reinvent myself to stay competitive and to maintain a high level of experience.

I’m sure 3com wish they would have reinvented themselves back then and stopped making those ugly hubs. Maybe if they started making shiny new switches things might be a little different. Are you a hub…or are you a switch 🙂 Think about it.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”  – Bruce Lee


I Passed!

I’m just happy about passing the CCIE written. After about 4 solid months of study, I passed with the score of 956/1000. Almost near perfect score. Here is my score breakdown:

Evaluate proposed changes to a network – 100%
Implement Layer 2 Technologies – 100%
Implement Layer 3 Technologies – 71%
Implement IP Multicast – 100%
Implement Advanced Services – 100%
Troubleshoot a Network – 100%
Optimize the Network – 83%

Afterward, I was in shock for a full day because I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I passed the written portion of the exam…I was thinking about the dreaded 8 hour LAB exam that I have to take and pass to get the full accreditation (aka. my CCIE #number).  The next day after friends and family started to learn that I passed the exam, it all began to sink in. I cherished the moment that I had accomplished something really good and that I was half way to reaching my goal. That lasted for a few hours. Now the really hard work begins…preparing for the monster LAB.

In a separate blog I will outline the books and study practices I followed which helped me prepare and pass the CCIE written exam.

“..wax on wax off ” – Mr. Miyagi


History In The Making

If blogging was a sport, I’d be the Michael Jordan of baseball. Yeah he won several championships playing for the Chicago Bulls. Yeah he will go down as one of the greatest athletes in all of sports. Yeah he’s a Hall of Fame Athlete. All of those facts made a hill of beans when he decided to step in front of the plate to swing a baseball bat with/against guys who have been playing the game for as long as he’s been dunking and shooting fade away jump shots. However, Jordan did hit a home run once in his short career as a minor league rookie.

With all of the odds stacked against him, he made an attempt at a sport that he loved but was never his calling. I’m no blogger. I like technology and I have based my professional career around learning about it and begin good at it. This blog will contain some fun computer tips and tricks for the average computer users…my thoughts about technology…what I see out there in the field…my opinions about technology…and to stimulate others to think more about technology and how it may impact your life and others around you. For the hardcore Network Engineers out there, I will also use this blog as a way to reach out to current and future experts. I will document my personal journey towards CCIE certification in hopes to help others reach their goals in this challenging but rewarding profession.

I may not ever hit a home run (just one would be nice) but this is my attempt at it. Follow my journey.

“..you must think first before you move..” -some guy from a Kung Fu flick