Where next?

3 11 2011

Been in a bit of a no mans’ land since passing the ICND2, in terms of what to study for next.

I’ve so far purchased:

* CCNA Voice CBT

This is mostly a “need” – the member of my team that administers our Call Manager phone system is leaving, so thought I’d swot up on it. Unfortunately, I’m finding it pretty hard going in terms of keeping my interest – too much “historic voice” stuff which I’m not too interested in. In addition, the 2008 syllabus focusses on Communications Manager Express and the UCM 500, whereas I have the full blown Communications Manager, with an Express in our satelite office for failover purposes.

I’ve now swapped this video series out for the 2011 series, which apparently has less of the historic voice stuff, and also includes the full blown Comms Manager.

* A CCNA Security Book

This was purely out of interest – security training’s never going to be a waste of time, after all. This is keeping me much more engaged than the above, even though it’s a book, and the above is CBT (my favourite training method).

* A Linux Professional Institute book

This exam was one of my learning objectives for the year – going broad on learning rather than deep (which I think I’d prefer – that’ll be the objective for 2012) – wow, much harder going than even the CCNA Voice – certainly for the first chapter. Just a million file manipulation commands to memorise to start with – snore! Seems to get a little more interesting within a few chapters though. I highly doubt that I’ll be getting myself up to exam standard for this (apart from the fact there’s only about 6 weeks til Christmas) – I just find the Cisco stuff much more engaging.

* Practical Packet Analysis with Wireshark

I was obviously aware of Wireshark, but hadn’t really used it for any more than interface familiarisation purposes. But during the process of troubleshooting some firewall issues with my firewall consultants, I began to see the true potential of it. Wireshark is amazing – used it to help troubleshoot and fix various issues now, when before I wouldn’t have even thought of it. This book was great in helping to understand the various functions, and focusses on really useful real world scenarios.

I also have the CCNP SWITCH and TSHOOT videos from CBTNuggets – the SWITCH syllabus is great, as you have to go to that level to learn about L3 switching and all the cool redundancy / load balancing features. TSHOOT is great too, an amazingly valid way of testing knowledge.

I think I’ll be hitting these guys next year.

So quite a mish-mash of different subject areas. I think I’m going to continue to watch the 2011 syllabus CCNA Voice videos, whilst reading the CCNA Security book – before deciding which exam to do and really get down to studying for it. I’ve already read through the Wireshark book several times – and I envisage there being quite a few more as a refresher.

Passed ICND2

5 10 2011

Took the ICND2 again at the same test centre yesterday, and passed! Score was 860. As preparation, I carried out hours and hours of subnetting, binary conversion and VLSM practise, and was glad I did.

Knowing that time would be my greatest enemy, I had already decided that I would be confident in my answers and move on from each question as quickly as possible, rather than reviewing which I’d normally do. I got a similar VLSM question to one I got last time, quite early on in the test, which I was glad of, and then smashed through the questions as fast as possible.

The switch simulation was very near the end, which was great, because I had lots of time to spare by this point and as it was similar to the last one which I was pretty sure I got right, I was quite confident about the answer.

As NAT / access lists was my weakest area last time, I paid special attention to these in my studies, and was glad I did, achieving 100% on this section compared to 33% last time.

Finally finished with 10 minutes to spare. Had a hairy moment when I clicked “End Exam” in order to get my score without messing around with surveys etc, and the screen skipped straight to the login screen, bypassing the score page!

Practically ran out to reception, worried that I’d ended the process early and lost my score, but fortunately, my score sheet was already being printed. I jumped up and down screaming “yes!” when I saw the pass mark.

So, I strongly advise candidates for this one to know the material very well before taking, and to practise binary conversion, subnetting and VLSM til you’re blue in the face – it’s so important to be able to calculate these quickly during the exam.



15 09 2011

Decided to delay this exam from the original chosen date (had to delay once already, due to the pretty much emergency implementation of a project at work) of Tuesday, as I didn’t feel ready.

Managed to get an appointment at the same test centre but for tomorrow, Friday. Had a few extra days to study, and have finally got the Cisco switches and routers out again.

The bits I’m most concerned about are OSPF / EIGRP and Frame Relay, because I don’t and have never used them before, which makes it much harder to ‘get’ the concepts.

I’ve also lost my DCE/DTE cable, and didn’t give myself enough time to order a new one, so am winging it a little with no practise on PPP/HDLC too!

Will update here when I can, hopefully as a CCNA!