CCNP Route Comprehensive GNS3 Topology

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At this point in time, I feel like I have a good understanding of nearly all the topics covered on the CCNP Route exam. I understand the concepts very well, though I am weak in a few areas such as Layer 3 path control, IPv6 implementation and VPN/branch services. Part of this is due to lack of hands-on practice. I followed along with the CCNP Route official Cisco lab manual, but I think there is something to be said for creating labs on your own. It allows me to think of everything from start to finish, which includes implementation as well as design. Pre-made labs are all about implementation, whereas when you design your own labs, I believe you achieve a greater understanding of the concepts.

To that end, I went through the notes I had taken on CCNP Route and pulled out what I felt were the major topics and have attempted to convert the majority of them into an internetwork topology:

GNS3Route-1

The topology attempts to cover the majority of topics under EIGRP, OSPF, eBGP, iBGP, route redistribution, Layer 3 path control, IPv6, and VPN & branch office. In the preliminary phase, after deciding on the CCNP Route topics to cover, I drew the topology on a piece of paper starting from the ISP core extended outward. Then I set up the GNS3 topology displayed above, based on the paper drawing.

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O’Reilly BGP

I finished reading BGP, which was written in 2002 and published by O’Reilly. It offers a much more thorough understanding of the BGP protocol than what is required for the CCNP Route exam, which is what I was after. I think most people that get into computer networking are exposed to interior routing protocols early on, and are therefore more comfortable with them. Likewise for me, before studying for the CCNP, I was aware of BGP and the overall picture of it, but I hadn’t really had the exposure to it that I needed. This is one of those technologies that’s hard to get exposure to if its not part of your job (which, for me currently, it is not). I think the CCNA curriculum doesn’t even mention BGP, though it is covered lightly in the CCDA.

After reading the official cert guide for Route, I had a general overview of BGP, but I felt like I still wasn’t really getting all the concepts. I viewed the excellent CBTnuggets video series on BGP and it gave me a little bit deeper understanding of the fundamental concepts, but for some reason, I don’t retain information very well just from videos. Video training serves as a reinforcement of the information I learn from textbooks. Reading this book deepened my understanding of BGP and I know it will serve me well on the Route exam — I just need to get a little hands-on practice now in GNS3.

This book complements the last book I read, ISP Essentials, extremely well. Both were published in 2002 and contain some information that’s a little out of date now, but the fundamentals are still there. I highly recommend this book to anyone studying for the CCNP.

ISP Essentials: 2002

A couple days ago, I finished reading Cisco ISP Essentials and took some notes on it. This book was published in 2002, and a lot of the information in the book is now out of date, though several fundamentals are still relevant, which was my motivation for reading it.

Although the book makes some mention of things typically done in larger ISP environments, I think the book catered mostly to small and medium-size ISPs. This book is written from the perspective of the tail-end of the dial-up period, where cable and DSL were just starting to take hold. Everything is a lot more complicated today, and a lot more traffic engineering occurs even at smaller ISPs.

However, at this point in time, this book serves mostly as a “know your roots” kind of text. The fundamentals explained in it are wonderful and serve as a good foundation for moving forward with my network engineering studies.

On to CCNP 642-902 ROUTE…

…or rather, continuing, since I had started studying for it earlier this year, and then paused to take the CCDA. I’ve already posted notes┬áthat I had written by going through the Official Cert Guide earlier.

I think I am going to try something for this exam that may have helped me out on the CCDA. For the CCDA, there are no formal requirements, but they recommend you be familiar with CCNA and CCNP-SWITCH level materials. Essentially, though all the information you truly need is in the CCDA Offical Cert Guide, but having the extra information is helpful and makes the understanding of the material easier.
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CCDA 640-864 Attempt #2, Passed

I did pass the CCDA this morning, and though I am proud of myself and ready to move forward with the CCNP, I wouldn’t say I “mastered” the test by any means.This test, I feel, is more difficult than the CCNA by quite a bit because with the CCNA, you are dealing with strictly correct or incorrect answers. The majority of the questions on the CCDA are more subjective; it’s all about context and “The Cisco Way” of doing things. I would guess that only about 15% of the questions are straight factual right or wrong answers (such as the proper way to abbreviate an IPv6 address — there are rules in place that determine exactly what the correct answer is with no ambiguity). The rest of the questions are essentially testing “correct” and “less correct” though not necessarily wrong.

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