70.0 Cisco Learning: CCNA
CCNA is an entry level of Cisco professional exam, with objective of verifying someone with basic understanding of computer networking and security based on OSI Layers 1-7. When someone is CCNA certified, such someone should be at least be able to identify issue pertaining each of the OSI layer, to troubleshoot any networking or security issue layer by layer, to have at least basic understanding of good network and security design, to be able to suggest which network or security solution fit to specific requirement, and to be able to put basic configuration of such network or security solution.
Although CCNA exam carries Cisco name, the knowledge you learn toward successful CCNA exam pass is applicable not only to Cisco network and security solution, but also any network and security solution in general. Someone with CCNA certification (or any Cisco certification) may need to be getting used and getting familiar with specific non-Cisco command or implementation, however these technologies are based on the same OSI standard hence are applicable to any vendors and their solutions.
Note that the CCNA certification is designed to verify someone someone with basic understanding of computer networking and security based on OSI Layers 1-7, which may not necessary involve complement technology such as Voice over IP and carrier or service provider network infrastructure. This is why there are more specific CCNA certification for Voice, Service Provider, even for Security and Wireless technology, which any of those can be taken when someone already has valid CCNA certification.
What You Need To Pass CCNA Exams and Beyond
There are many ways of passing CCNA Exams. One of the way is to study-cram any or all CCNA exam preparation questions and answers. The idea is to get someone to be used to any or all typical CCNA exam questions to know which answers would be the best answers. You may notice that such learning would be beneficial for someone that is novice to OSI-Layer-based network and security understanding or is experienced to OSI-Layer-based network and security understanding but without recent knowledge of recent CCNA exam question style. You may also notice that such study-cram learning style fits only of those multiple-choice questions which are typical CCNA exam style.
When you are novice to OSI-Layer-based network and security understanding and just study-cram any or all CCNA exam preparation questions and answers with the intention to just pass the exam and move on with your life, you may be successful. However such choice does not warrant an actual hands-on understanding of the OSI-Layer-based network and security. You may pass the exam, however when your employer or your client expects you to be the savior or even expert on OSI-Layer-based network and security questions, issues, or concerns, you may not be able to live up with the expectation.
Of any situations, nothing beats first-hand knowledge and experience including network and security technology understanding and appreciation. Therefore you should have hands-on experience of such network and security technology in order to be able to live up with the expectation of your employer or client should the situation occur.
In order to have hands-on experience, you need actual network and security equipment. For the CCNA learning, you then need router, switch, firewall, AP (Access Point) or router equipped with AP antennas, and some network or security scenarios for you to practice on. Basically you need to be break-and-fix person involving all of those equipments from CLI configuration, running and plugging proper cables, code upgrade (i.e. IOS upgrade), revive "dead" equipment, understanding the use of network tool commands such as telnet on specific TCP ports, ICMP ping and traceroute, syslog reading; to cable and circuit testing. During the learning process, you are not only relying heavily on online Cisco documentations for support and references, you will also relying on Internet search for specific issues and on discussions with collages with more experience or understanding of such issues whether in person or online.
Glimpse of Networking In Real World
Following FAQ shows some common issue around real-world networking, especially in small-business and SOHO environment.
»Cisco Forum FAQ »Improving Small Business network performance
Too often that proper network design is overlooked and is under-appreciated. Keep adding services and applications such as mail, database, storage on top of poorly-designed network is like having a time bomb that can explode at unexpected moment causing any network connectivity to be melting down and stop working. Tips as listed on the FAQ above is a good start moving towards scalable and reliable network connectivity.
Once proper network design is in place, then it is about maintenance. Having a standard of maintaining network is a good start to avoid fat finger and human mistakes. Maintain good relationship with vendors are essential to keep up with new technologies, purchasing deals, and network performance measurement tools. All of these are then incorporated into company policy that navigates into prolonging scalable and reliable network connectivity.
For those who are applying to first networking job and still new in networking world, your starting point varies depending on your liking. Some people like to build their technical skill as top priority by having a chance of being involved in lots of break-fix hands-on situations, which can be found in small to medium network environment. Larger and giant network environment tend to be segregated where every technician has a specific job function much like conveyor-belt factory environment and most likely not to be exposed in lots of break-fix hands-on situations. Each network environment has advantages and disadvantages from networking-skill-learning-and-building perspectives. In any case, you should start with what you know and go from there to find which work environment is most suitable for you.
When you live in an area where there are less of business centers and more of small to medium business, you may not find much of network talent demands, and more on jack-of-all-trade ones. For entry level jobs, jack-of-all-trade opportunities such as desktop support and IT support might be a good place to start understanding and appreciating IT job in general. For those who are already committed into entry-level networking job, opportunities in data center building, cable splicing, wire testing, and circuit deployment might be more suitable. In areas where there are lots of established data centers, entry-level networking jobs such as Operations (NOC) and Deployments in larger and giant corporations can be a good start as well.
Preparing for Real-World Networking Demands and Jobs
As mentioned earlier, having real-hands-on experiences with actual networking gears and tools is a first step. Building and testing your own lab with actual gears will help you get the experiences. For those with limited funding, you could only simulate up to certain environments. For additional information and next point of learning, online research through Internet search engine such as Google search will help assuming you have the right keywords to search against.
Troubleshooting and deployment are most likely the best way to start learning and appreciating IT work including networking. With that in mind, using the following keywords on Google search should get you to the next step.
* Circuit troubleshooting/deployment
* Network troubleshooting/deployment
* Data center build/maintenance
* Dark fiber, unprotected wave, DWDM
* Network benchmarking
* Network design and architectures
* Network best practices
Lots of network vendors such as Cisco and Juniper provide free and wealthy network information and online documentations covering various types of network technologies that are applicable to lots of network situations and requirements. In addition, technical forum FAQ such as this Cisco forum FAQ provide tremendous network tips and information. Going through most if not all of those documentations will be part of job requirement and life of network technicians, novices and experts.
Actively joining open discussions in technical forums or in persons with experts will serve multiple purposes in regards of building your technical skills; help networking terms to sink in, enforce your current knowledge, learn new skills, appreciate different perspectives, and help making sense of all theories you have been learning. You even can learn a lot from job interviews by noting questions you don't understand completely or catch you unprepared and implement further research on the topics. All of these should be incorporated into a long-term study guide for those who are serious in advancing their networking technical skills.
»Real CCNA Interview Questions
»Real Cisco Interview Questions Part II
»First job with networking
»[CCNA] Kickstarter project - CCNA Real World Labs + Game
»Cisco CCNA certification
»[CCNA] common errors in CCNA level
»what is the purpose of a frame relay switch in a lab?
»Using GNS3 simulator
The Cisco-centric Open Source Community
Free Online Cisco Lab
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Special thanks to lanswitcher in providing such access.
For more info of rules in usage and network topology, check out the following link.
Free access to Cisco Catalyst switches to learn networking, Cisco IOS, and prepare for certification exams
Cisco Exam Preparation
(Or Anybody Who Likes To Know More Professionally of Cisco and/or IP Networking)
In addition of Exam Preparation, the links also provide good reading for those who like to have deeper understanding of various IP protocols and networking technologies.
Links courtesy of lanswitcher , PA23 , and rogunit .
CiscoPress publishes the definitive resources for learning about Cisco technology and products as well as study materials for their various certifications.
The cheapest place I have found to get CiscoPress books is at www.bookpool.com. They average around a 35% discount off the cover price of all the books and they carry all the latest and greatest and even hard to find texts.
Check out to the CiscoPress section at bookpool.com and you can browse the inventory or search for a specific title.
If you know any other good links for purchasing CiscoPress books, please submit them by clicking on the feedback icon at the bottom right hand-side of the page or contact one of the FAQ editors. They may be found at the top of the Cisco FAQ home-page. Thank you.
Courtesy of rolande .
The Cisco website has a lot of online documentation within it, ranging from troubleshooting tips to configuring and installation notes. There is also another side to the website, the Cisco University, which can be accessed via clicking the Technical Documentation link in the Useful Links menu on the right hand side on the main page.
It can also be accessed here.
A very useful link within the Cisco University for CCNA candidates and Cisco newbies is this. It contains an overview of all the internetworking technologies and protocols.
This FAQ is brought to you courtesy of Rhodium_UK and Mem .
Cisco Equipment for CCNA Learning
Basically you need router, switch, firewall, AP (Access Point) or router equipped with AP antennas to practice on. These equipments need not to be the latest or greatest. Even EOL (End Of Life) equipments such as 2500 router series, 2600 router series, Catalyst 2950 switches, PIX 501, AP 1230, and 851 router with wireless antennas are still sufficient to practice on. The advantage of using EOL equipment is that their prices are significantly low compared to non-EOL equipment yet you still learn the actual hands-on knowledge.
For most SOHO or Cisco beginners that are in process of learning networking and preparing CCNA, the 2514 should be more than enough. You may need a router with a Fast Ethernet Layer-3 interface to practise inter-VLAN routing. FYI, you may also use 2610, 2611, and 2612 that only has integrated Ethernet Layer-3 interface but capable of doing inter-VLAN routing.
When you feel you need more advanced scenario, you may consider getting your self Layer-3 switches such as Catalyst 3550 switch, newer firewall model such as ASA 5505, 3700 series router to get your hands on further of circuits such as DS-3 and ATM, traffic generator, and circuit simulators such as ISDN, T1, DS-3, and ATM simulator.
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Keep in mind that Ethernet ports (Ethernet interfaces) of any 2500 series router are the AUI ports, NOT the RJ-45 ports. The RJ-45 ports are for CONSOLE and AUX (Auxilary) access which are for totally different situation. This is where the AUI/Ethernet transcievers come in handy.
You may also need the latest IOS and the maximum size of DRAM and flash memory (16/16 MB). It is suggested to always max out the DRAM and flash memory size before installing latest IOS. This way there should be no encounter problem of insufficient memory space.
»ssh configuration help
»Cisco Forum FAQ »Good Cisco equipment for CCNA Learning
For CCNA, using 2500 series routers, a router that support ISL, and Catalyst 1900 series switch with VLAN and trunking capabilities, and ISDN switch or ISDN simulator should be a starting point. However you might want to consider to use 2600 series router instead for all the routers and Catalyst 2950 for the switch instead since they are newer and longer lasting. Check out the following link for more info.
As for books, Lamme's and Ciscopress should be sufficient. FYI, there is a nice Ciscopress book that cover all commands necessary for the current CCNA exam preparations. Check out the following link for more info.
Ciscopress book discount coupon
»Anybody have discount coupons for Cisco Press?
»CCNA Cisco Academy books
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»Using GNS3 simulator
»Using GNS3 to study for CCNA
»HELP>> Separate home network and Cisco home lab
Cisco Current Exams and Exam Outlines
What is the difference between the 2 exam and 1 exam CCNA paths?
Since the inception of the CCNA in 1998, the exam has always been a "one" path test but in 2003, Cisco announced another path for the coveted Cisco qualification, and that is the "two" path method.
Hence as of 01/2004 the exams are:
INTRO exam: 640-821
ICND exam: 640-811
CCNA exam: 640-801
The INTRO exam contains a subset of the CCNA topics and should be taken before the ICND exam. Conversely, the ICND should be taken after the INTRO exam and it also covers a subset of CCNA topics.
The CCNA exam can be taken instead of the INTRO and ICND exams. It covers the same content as the other two exams combined.
Cisco's INTRO exam covers a broad range of topics and is a general overview of the technologies involved whilst the ICND exam covers fewer topics but delves into them in more detail.
The CCNA exam covers everything within the INTRO and ICND topics but due to time constraints, it cannot ask you everything. Hence, it will ask you about more advanced topics but using the basic knowledge gleaned from the INTRO topics, e.g. instead of asking you to list out the network numbers for Class A, B and C networks, it will give you a configuration and ask you to troubleshoot the lack of connectivity between two routers where a classful routing protocol has been used and VLSM has been implemented in the networks.
Information correct as of 02/01/2004
Preparing for the exam
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Building your own lab
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»[HELP] Advice setting up Cisco Home Lab
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Configuring IP Access Lists
»Cisco Forum FAQ »How can I insert a line into an existing ACL or modify existing ACL in general?
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