Thursday, November 5, 2015

Digging into IP Packets

For the next 6 to 12 months I'm going to take a departure from focusing solely on certifications. I want to gain a better understanding of the underlying protocols that encompass my career daily. This will mean deep diving into the TCP/IP protocol suite. Not only do I want to understand what a general IPv4/IPv6 looks like, I want to learn how to correlate trends based on the IP packets that traverse my network.

Alcantel-lucent Ocean Fiber Cable Run

This will help immensely in troubleshooting security and general network connectivity issues. Not only that, but it can be used to stop certain teams from automatically blaming particular incidents on the network. Through the use of packet capture tools that show exactly what's happening between two hosts. There can be no if, and, or buts about whose fault it is for a particular problem using concrete logs.

Not that a packet capture will be used for every incident but it's good to have "big guns" that you can pull out of your arsenal every now and again. With that said, pulling out a "big gun" is no use if you have no clue on how to operate the weapon. Hence why I've been culling over multiple WireShark and huge TCP/IP books to help get me started. Having a strong foundation is important for just about any goal in life. We all know fundamental learning can become boring and repetitive quickly because typically it's not the cool bleeding edge stuff but it's VERY important. Mastery comes from making tasks second nature which requires constant repetition.

Just like a race car driver has to learn how to drive a fast car slow first, the same can be said with networking. We must learn how to configure and design small elements of a particular portion of a network first before moving on to deploying networks that can properly scale along with become resilient.

My Packet Capture read list:

Practical Packet Analysis

Wireshark Network Analysis (Second Edition)

Routing TCP/IP, Volume 1 (2nd Edition)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cisco CCDA Passed!

I just left the test center with a passing score for the Cisco CCDA exam. Overall the exam was a lot more fair than what was described on the many internet forums I attend. There were a handful of questions that def. wasn't mentioned in the FLG\OCG.

I think part of the reason is that the FLG\OCG books are a little long in the tooth. For example Cisco NAC is mentioned all over the CCDA books, but nothing is mentioned about Cisco ISE. The same thing for the Cisco SONA framework, good stuff to know; at least at a high-level.

I'm taking a break from certs for a while. I want to do some independent research on the TCP/IP stack and deep dive into packet inspection. After that I'll most likely read through some CCIE material for a refresher on all of those routing protocols.

CCDA 200-310 Official Cert Guide

Thursday, September 10, 2015

CCDA Test Scheduled

After a deep dive review of all CCDAtopics, I finally scheduled the test for next week. As part of the review I completely read through the Campus Network for High Availability design guide along with skimming through the Cisco SAFE reference guide. Looking up a few Cisco SONA white papers didn't hurt either.

By far my weakest topic is security, it always has been for me. But I feel a lot more confident about my network security knowledge at a high level than ever before. Going in to this exam I didn't expect to gain as much design knowledge as I did considering that this is supposed to be an Associate level cert. I was surprised by how I view my own networking projects with my employer compared to this time next year.

Once I get through this cert, I plan on taking a break from Cisco centric certification for at least a few months. I'm plan to deep dive into WireShark along with reading a book or two on specifically the TCP protocol. My goal is to be well rounded with the fundamentals before deep diving into a specific area of networking. This will allow me to be more versatile and more open to what possibilities are out their with network implementation, design and configuration.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Almost Ready for the CCDA Test....I think

The CCDA OCG book was polished off a few weeks ago. I haven't been able to schedule the exam yet due to projects and work travel. I hear that this test is a beast so I went well beyond just the Cisco press books. The design certs isn't about just knowing the technical aspects within the CLI. In fact I only recall a few sections that even mentions or references a CLI command. It's meant to show you how to gather business requirements, plan, implement, and operate within the business constraints given. At least on a very high level; the knowledge I've learned over the last 8 months has already helped me with many of the projects I'm a part of.

Monday, May 18, 2015


Typical world of IT to make everything an acronym. So many that there are multiple acronyms that are the same but mean something different depending on what you're referring to (i.e. RFC).

Anyways, I'm slowly making my way through the OCG book, finishing the small section on Data Center. If I recall the FLG book never really hit this topic at all so I learned quite a few cool new things. Especially on the virtualization front which lightly touched on Virtual Device Contexts and access layer switching within the virtual environment.

I'm hitting every practice quiz, study reference, and additional study topics that the book is offering me. This will give me the right amount of repetition I need to be ready for the exam itself. Honestly I felt like I should of studied for the CCNP R/S this way. At my current gig, we didn't touch routing too much besides DMVPN. So a lot of the intricate routing theory I'm starting to loose.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Cisco DESGN Foundations Learning Guide Completed

Last week I've finished the CCDA FLG book for the DESGN exam. The last chapter discussed wireless design and architecture at a very high level. There were tons of things I picked up from this chapter that helped me understand my employers wireless environment immediately. Mainly the Mobility and RF Group sections. We have a wireless refresh project coming up shortly (with the help of a vendor) and this will help me immensely.

Now I'm hitting the DESGN Official Certification Guide book along with taking copious amount of notes, making flash cards, and hitting the multiple choice questions hard. I'm not exactly sure when I'll take this exam this year but it should be before the end of summer. As mentioned before, I'm not exactly in a rush right now coming off fresh from the CCNP about four months ago.

After the CCDA, next up is CCDP, and then maybe...just maybe a CCIE level certification. Experience trumps all though so after the CCDP I may wait until my knowledge is and skill set is at a point where a CCIE certification makes sense. SDN and programmable networks are very intriguing to me but my gut keeps telling me that I need a really strong foundation before diving in to that.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cisco SAFE

Security is my biggest weak point period. I'm currently reading through the CCDA security chapters in the FLG book. I'm also downloading and book marking all of the references and white papers from these chapters I can get my hands on!

I probably have 100 of pages of reading to do on the Cisco SAFE (SCF) security framework a head of me. But I need to have a better holistic view of network security. I get asked network security questions quite often in my job role. Even today my employers CIO had a security question that I foolishly couldn't answer because I'm not well versed with the firewall policies in our environment. I will be changing this,

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Enterprise Internet Edge Design

As I finish chapter 5 (Designing Remote Connectivity) in the Cisco CCDA FLG book, it provided a list of great references to gain additional understanding. I read through Cisco's Ethernet MAN and WAN design guide. Now I'm going through Cisco's guide on enterprise internet edge design.

For the most part the guide focuses on securing the edge within the 5 different modules shown above. This may be overkill for the CCDA but my intent is to take in the material slowly and thoroughly.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CCDA Studies

I've been digging into network design specifically for the last two months now. I've started and completed the Top-Down Network Design book which was a a great primer to the certification material.

I'm now working through the CCDA FLG book which is really helping nail down the topics for the DEGN exam. I'm taking my time for this exam since I'm still fresh off of the CCNP R&S certification. Which is a nice change of pace since I wanted to knock out the CCNP cert before the new tracks started this year.

After the FLG book I'll finally hit the OCG book and then maybe finally prep for the exam itself. I'm on the fence on getting the CCDP Arch books and/or CCNA Security books for exam prep but we shall see. Along the way I'm going to constantly be hitting up the Cisco SRND documentations to so that I fully understand the topics I'm learning.

Design is very interesting to me and something I've wanted to do but was always scared of. Hopefully over the next few months I can flesh out my blog more with the topics I've been learning. It's been years since I've really talked about my progress due to the countless other blogs out there.