ICND2 update

22 09 2011

Completed the ICND2 on Friday, as scheduled. I didn’t pass the exam, getting an 804, with the pass mark 825.

Slightly gutting, but a good experience, with some positive outcomes and learnings.

Firstly, time, or lack of it. In almost every forum or blog post about this exam, the lack of time is mentioned, and with really good reason. This cannot be emphasised enough.

My particular exam had 44 questions, with 75 minutes to complete it. However, some of the questions were testlets, in the same style as the Microsoft 70-646 that I completed recently.. these had 4 sub questions each, so there were technically more like 50 questions.

There were a few simulator questions, which I’m positive I smashed, along with a lot of the first half of the exam.

This is where the problem became apparent – I simply took too long to answer (including being very thorough with checking) the questions. On question 23, I had only about 30 minutes or so remaining. Throw in a few of the non standard multiple choice questions (drag and drop, testlets etc), and that time soon diminished, culminating in a complex VLSM question near the end, which I ended up half guessing – I did calculate the masks correctly based on the number of hosts needed, and answered accordingly, but didn’t check for overlapping networks etc – simply too little time.

I wanted to answer all of the questions, so I hurried the above, and got through the last few in a really short time.

Secondly, was to know the entire syllabus really well. I did work hard on this, but tended to neglect access lists and NAT somewhat, and this showed through with a really poor score in this section.

My strongest area was switching, which is also the area I enjoy most, and which I have exposure to at work. I was pleased when one of the SIMs was switching related, but I still took too long on the answer, double and triple checking my config – this comes back to point 1 – time. So to combine the two points: “Know the material, and be confident enough in your knowledge to move on from each question once you’ve answered”.

I have no exposure to dynamic routing protocols in my environment, or frame relay – my point to point link has an RJ45 hand-off which is plugged directly in to a layer 3 switch.

I identified Frame Relay as the weakest area around a week before the exam (which I had taken off work), so focused relatively heavily on that, and ended up answering quite confidently.

I also did quite well on the routing protocol elements – there was a lot of theory, rather than configuration, thank goodness, and theory was something that I learnt a fair bit of from my various learning sources – same as usual, CBTNuggets, TrainSignal CBT, and the official Cisco ICND2 Certification Guide.

Needless to say, I’ve booked a retake. My study between now and then will consist of heavy revision of calculating network ranges, subnetting etc, combined with as much time as possible working with my small Cisco home network (a 2811 router, a couple of 2600’s, a 2500, a 2950 switch and a 2900XL switch). I’ve ordered a new DCE-DTE cable (lost the previous one during a house move), so once I’ve got that I’ll be able to practise configuring point to point links and routing protocols to a higher level than I was able to without it.

I’m sure there was a third point, but can’t remember it šŸ˜‰ I’ll update the post if I do.


Rowter on a stick

7 01 2011

No I can spell, promise – the title of this post is a reference to the American way of pronouncing “router” – which I find myself using more and more as a result of listening to my Trainsignal and CBT Nuggets videos for ICND2 šŸ˜‰

Had a great experience experimenting with “router on a stick” using my home Cisco network – in this case, I used the 12 port Catalyst 2950 switch, and a 2811 router.

A few useful points to note for those studying for the CCNA / ICND2.

Originally I tried using a 2600 router with a standardĀ ethernet port – this won’t work with ROAS – you need at least Fast Ethernet (100MB).

Also need to ensure that the switch supports the encapsulation type that you specify on the router. This will be either ISL (Inter Switch Link, the Cisco proprietary protocol), or 802.1q (the industry standard), or both.

Finally, I did get stung by the Windows Firewall being turned on – RoaS was working fine but the firewall on one of the hosts was blocking pings – schoolboy error hehe.

“Network Warrior” book

2 09 2010

Just finished the 500+ page “Network Warrior” by Gary A. Donahue, published by O’ Reilly. This took almost exactly 1 week.. a lot quicker than my average read!

The book was a brief interlude from my current study for the ICND2, which I need to pass to complete my CCNA. The summary on the front cover reads “Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam”.. so it could be argued that I was perhaps being slightly premature, considering I haven’t actually taken the exam yet!

The main reason for buying this was the reviews on Amazon – so many people had written that it was a vital read for anyone in the networking field that I couldn’t ignore it.

I’d added it to my wishlist and forgotten about it, then saw it there when I added another book to my basket, the CCSA bookĀ I wrote about here.

I decided to buy the books together, and when they arrived, two days later (despite paying nearly Ā£10 for next day delivery I might add – cheers Amazon!), I had a quick flick through.

I wasn’t mightily impressed with initial impressions of the CCSA book, but this was a different kettle of fish.. almost straight away I stumbled across a way of filtering the output of the show-mac-address command, which happened to be exactly what I needed to help track down a duplicate IP address on my network flagged by the logging on my Syslog server.

This got me hooked, and the next day, a Saturday (I was pretty flu’d up..), I read for about 5 hours solid. I could barely put the book down! At work each day this week, I spent 40 minutes of my lunch break reading it, and then finished it tonight.

The things that make this a great book are:

  • The real-world experiences that the author writes about, which contain many words of wisdom from an industry veteran
  • The way that a topic is described in one chapter, and then the ways of implementing it are written about in the next.. this gives an understanding of the theory as well as the more practical side
  • The broad range of subjects it covers.. I felt compelled to investigate quite a few subjectsĀ in more detailĀ than the book goes in to
  • The style is a departure from the certificaton study guide style of book – it lacks that touch of paranoia about ensuring that all exam topics are covered in intricate detail that some books show (most notably Microsoft Press exam guides – snore!).

I did skip through some chapters, most notably the subnetting one – I have honed my subnetting using a combination of techniques that I’d learned from two CCENT training video series, and wanted to avoid confusing matters.

One thing that I think is vital to mention is the Cisco-centricity of the book. The theory chapters include information which is the main, vendor neutral, but allĀ config examples are Cisco (both IOS and CatOS), and all hardware mentioned is Cisco kit. This wasn’t an issue for me, as someone studying for the CCNA, but it may be for some.

Although this books isn’t specifically aimed at helping you to pass the CCNA (in fact it probably goes in to a lot more depth on certain topics that the CCNA requires), it is incredibly complementary to both this and obtaining more all-round knowledge of the topics covered. A very worthwhile read:

Hands-on: 3/5

Theory: 4/5

Keep my attention: 4/5

TOTAL: 3.5/5