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Network Warrior

samzenpus posted about 7 years ago | from the fight-the-good-fight dept.

Book Reviews 228

Fatty writes "Entry level certifications such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) have become the source of many jokes to people in the industry, largely because of the seemingly inept people that proudly display their certifications. This is made worse by the volume of books geared only to get people through the exam. Network Warrior bills itself as the exact opposite — if the subtitle is to be believed it contains "Everything You Need to Know That Wasn't on the CCNA Exam". With everything from the architecture of the 6500 to layers 8 and 9 of the OSI model (politics and money), it does a pretty good job." Read below for the rest of Sean's views on this book.

The CCNA exam is supposed to test a candidate's understanding of networking fundamentals. Over the years it has expanded to include more advanced material, and now covers networking theory, switching (including spanning tree and VLANs), and some of the intermediate routing protocols such as EIGRP and OSPF. Despite the breadth of content the exam doesn't (and can't) cover things that many network folk take for granted, even things like what the "demarc" is (short for demarcation point, the the place where the carrier's responsibility ends and yours begins). While the exam's topic list is broad, the level of detail is shallow in most places. Someone may study spanning tree enough for the exam, but have no clue where to place their root bridge when they get into the real world.

It is for this reason that I found Network Warrior to be helpful. It's goal is to point out both the technical areas in which the CCNA falls short, and to teach the reader the non-Cisco aspects of running a network.

Technically I found this book quite sound. There were a few things one might disagree with but nothing that detracted from the rest of the book. In several spots the author was keen to point out behaviors that deviated from the documents, such as in Quality of Service (QoS) and in upgrading certain modules in the 6500 chassis. He also illustrated where the theoretical concepts on network design fall short in the real world.

Routing and switching takes up the first third of the book. The switching section is largely a review of the CCNA material with some notable exceptions. First and foremost is a chapter exclusively on autonegotiation. The CCNA exam may only discuss how to set a port to a fixed speed, but anyone who has worked with a network for more than a few weeks will have run into a speed or duplex mismatch. This chapter explains some of the history behind Ethernet and its relevance to autonegotiation, explains how it works, how it fails, and how to recognize the problem, and finally offers advice on when and where to use autonegotiation.

The second major deviation from the CCNA switching syllabus is in depth coverage of Etherchannel and spanning tree (STP) Both of these protocols are integral parts of network design and operation, but the exam barely touches Etherchannel and doesn't get into the complexities of spanning tree (though this changes with each iteration of the exam.) Network Warrior provides techniques and a demonstration of finding a layer 2 loop. Surprisingly though, there is only mention of standard 802.1d legacy spanning tree and some Cisco extensions such as Per VLAN STP and backbone fast, and no mention of the newer standardized enhancements of 802.1s/w (rapid spanning tree and multiple spanning tree) which have been in common use and have been put on the latest version of the exam (released after this book went to press)

The third deviation is the inclusion of CatOS commands instead of just IOS like the exam. As the author repeatedly points out, CatOS is in use on many 6500 chassis and is still in active development, so there is no reason not to know it. This theme continues throughout the book whenever the 6500 is used as an example, which is often.

The routing chapters are full of new material. The sections on the routing protocols themselves are short and don't add much beyond what the CCNA certification teaches. Redistribution and route-maps, however, are well explained. These two technologies which can be used separately or together can be found on almost any network and are very complex. I thought these sections were well done, as they gave enough details to be practical without getting down into all the different scenarios. Tunnels make an appearance in these chapters, which themselves aren't very complex, but aren't a part of the CCNA blueprint.

At this point, roughly page 180 of 550, the rest of the material isn't found in the CCNA blueprint.

Part 3 of the book is all about multilayer switching, specifically the 3750 and 6500 platforms. In particular the description of the 6500 architecture is much more succinct that can be found by searching on Cisco.com. There is an in depth explanation of how the various backplanes on the chassis works, which leads to an explanation of how to determine which cards are slowing down your switch.

I think the hidden gem of the book is part 4, though, which is all about telecom. In these chapters are an explanation of how carriers operate and how to speak the lingo of telecom techs. Even though networks are moving to Ethernet based services, traditional DS1, DS3, ATM, and frame-relay networks are still commonplace. The book has a solid explanation of how TDM based circuits actually work, the various options available to you, and how to properly order and troubleshoot them. I think back to when I was getting started in this field, and dealing with carriers was difficult.

Quality of Service, the features that let you guarantee and limit bandwidth to different types of traffic, have a section in this book too. The book largely focuses on the simple weighted-fair queuing (WFQ) and the current class-based WFQ with low latency queuing for voice. Configuration instructions can be found on Cisco's site easily enough, but Network Warrior delves into some of the behavioral aspects the documents shy away from such as when the queuing mechanisms actually get used. There is also a solid look at how to make sure the QoS is working as intended.

In the middle of all of this are chapters on the firewall and load balancing modules for the 6500, the PIX firewall, and IOS based load balancing. For someone with an ecommerce slant these might prove helpful, but given that these topics are books in themselves, it's hard to do them justice in a few chapters.

The last part of the book is on network design, which encompasses not only the steps needed to build a network, but also planning IP address allocations and how to pitch your ideas to management. Again, the book is not trying to be the definitive text on the subject, but it manages to impart a few words of wisdom, especially the so-called "GAD's Maxims", and "How not to be a computer jerk".

Well thought out examples were plentiful, along with anecdotes from the author, usually showing the consequences of doing things wrong. The illustrations did a great job of conveying the point at hand. Even though I've been doing this stuff for a while I learned several time saving techniques that I've already been able to put to use.

This is a great book for people just getting into the industry, with their CCNA or without. It offers practical advice rather than dry textbook like explanations which is a welcome change. Even those with a few years of experience under their belt will be happy reading through Network Warrior.

Sean Walberg is a network engineer and author living in Winnipeg, Canada.


You can purchase Network Warrior from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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It is a privilage to fight! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20320971)

-Dwight Shrute

What's with the militant terminology? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20320985)

Can't geeks do anything network related without pretending to be gladiators? Wardriving, network warrior, DMZ, ...

Re:What's with the militant terminology? (1)

yourmomisfasterthana (1097719) | about 7 years ago | (#20321009)

I guess you'd have to be there in order to understand it.

Re:What's with the militant terminology? (2, Informative)

Tuoqui (1091447) | about 7 years ago | (#20322081)

Considering the internet as we know it today was built off a US Military ARPANET... Designed to survive multiple nuclear strikes... Yeah you can see why people might empathize with the military terminology and such.

Re:What's with the militant terminology? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20322185)

Just wait until Network Culture Warrior, a collaboration between Tim O'Reilly and Bill O'Reilly, comes out. It'll teach you how to carry out DoS attacks against evil "secular-progressives" and thwart their plot to destroy Christmas!

Re:What's with the militant terminology? (2, Funny)

kryliss (72493) | about 7 years ago | (#20322537)

Don't forget code-fu!

What value DO the entry level certs have? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321001)

Anyone have useful opinion on this - please spare me the "they are all paper-certs that used braindumps"

They must serve a good purpose somewhere...

Re:What value DO the entry level certs have? (1)

KiWiKiD (859892) | about 7 years ago | (#20321063)

All they get you is an interview. Of course then again you actually have to sound somewhat intelligent about the subject area you have a cert in. That alone weeds 95% of the candidates that I interview. It's a sad, sad world for most who just get the brain dumps and get the paper cert instead of actually learning the material.

Separating fact and fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321465)

All they get you is an interview.

If that. Me, I always ask practical and experienced type questions you will not find on the exam. Which is how to separate the people who know what they are doing from those who just read the book. Not hard to do, in 5 minutes I know their level. As you say, weeds 95% out ASAP and doesn't waste my time.

Re:What value DO the entry level certs have? (1)

tholomyes (610627) | about 7 years ago | (#20321089)

If your company's a Cisco partner and you have enough certs companywide, you can get better margins on gear you resell. So that's something.

Re:What value DO the entry level certs have? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321091)

They show dedication and an ability to do menial work to reach a goal, both important traits of a good employee. Businesses seldom need wizards (or "warriors"), they need workers.

Re:What value DO the entry level certs have? (2, Informative)

ircmaxell (1117387) | about 7 years ago | (#20321127)

I remember a good article about hiring programmers (I wish I still had it). The gist was, if you had a "cert", he wouldn't hire you. His rational was that there was a lot of self-taught talent, and a cert was nothing more than a piece of paper. The article went in-depth into the philosophy of "Certs" and how flawed the mentality behind that is.

On the other side of the coin, is that a cert does provide "proof" that a certain level of knowledge was acquired (I say was, because it only proves you had it when you took the test). Now, a lot of larger companies won't hire someone unless they have either a bunch of verifiable experience (5+ years at a reputable company), or a cert.

So is a cert good for something, yes. Is it deserving of all the importance that people give it? Well, that one I leave for you to decide...

Re:What value DO the entry level certs have? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321445)

I firmly believe that a certification proves nothing. I have had disdain for them ever since the company I was working for hired a SCSA (Sun Certified Systems Administrator) who didn't have a clue about anything that wasn't in SMC (or in SMC for that matter). But the big boss said, "He must know what he's doing, he's certified." So, I got my first certification out of spite (SCSA).

Since then I have gotten several certifications, not because they mean anything to me (other than I can study for and take a test), but because HR type personnel will rule you out as a potential candidate based solely on your certification status.

Re:What value DO the entry level certs have? (2, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | about 7 years ago | (#20322357)

Clearly a certification is less evidence of competency than 5 years of experience (assuming you can actually verify that the experience is relevant), but often when choosing between candidates with limited experience the only difference you can determine is that one passed a test and the other never took one. All things being equal, I'd choose the one who has objectively demonstrated some level of knowledge.

Re:What value DO the entry level certs have? (1)

faloi (738831) | about 7 years ago | (#20321591)

Some companies use certification, any certification as one of the requirements to show that employees are bettering themselves. They're also used as an arbitrary way to show you can perform at the level you're already performing (similar to the way some places use degrees), although I suppose that's not a good purpose.

In general, beyond getting your foot in the door or serving as some sort of continuing education sort of credit with your current boss, there's not much to them. Unless you have to have them to maintain some sort of business relationship with a vendor.

Re:What value DO the entry level certs have? (4, Funny)

Spokehedz (599285) | about 7 years ago | (#20321861)

They also get you a job on Geek Squad.

Being a pervert is optional.

Re:What value DO the entry level certs have? (4, Funny)

rootofevil (188401) | about 7 years ago | (#20322715)

Being a pervert is optional.
im interested in this certification, how do i obtain it?

Re:What value DO the entry level certs have? (1)

Kpau (621891) | about 7 years ago | (#20322487)

It makes the fat lazy asses in HR even fatter and lazier. They won't even look at someone without those papers anymore. I counted up the number of certs and costs to maintain them .... and it was one of my decision factors to move to "career #3"...

Re:What value DO the entry level certs have? (1)

pacman on prozac (448607) | about 7 years ago | (#20322935)

You need them to get the higher level Cisco certs.

If you study for the CCNA (rather than braindump it) then you do learn quite a lot of useful basic networking stuff e.g. subnetting, vlans, trunking, etc.

but (0, Troll)

eneville (745111) | about 7 years ago | (#20321005)

... seriosuly, how does it compare to the W R Stevens books?

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321707)

I don't know, but you're not a REAL security warrior unless you have your own katana [xkcd.com] , like RMS does.

I'm CCNA! (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 7 years ago | (#20321029)

BTW--what is this 6500? And what is this .... 'OSI model'? Is that a new router or something?

Re:I'm CCNA! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321259)

I actually worked with a CCNP guy who couldn't do basic switch port configs. He sent me a link to Amazon for a router that he thought looked really weird... because it was a WOOD router.

Funniest thing I have ever seen from a "Certified Tech"

Re:I'm CCNA! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 7 years ago | (#20321961)

I actually worked with a CCNP guy who couldn't do basic switch port configs. He sent me a link to Amazon for a router that he thought looked really weird... because it was a WOOD router.
Yeah, those WOOD routers I hear are really, really efficient, but unfortunately, they use a proprietary interface, unlike the open Cisco standard.

Re:I'm CCNA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20322133)

I'd never heard of WOOD routers, so I googled some images - I think this [microkinetics.com] one is the best, because it has explanations too. You can see that the router has a couple of T-slots, has various speed settings to throttle bandwidth and has a '1" clearance' apparently to take in thicker tubes than the usual ones.

Re:I'm CCNA! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 7 years ago | (#20322245)

Ooh! Did you wait for the labels to appear? They're made by HP, some model like 1/2.

Re:I'm CCNA! (1)

modecx (130548) | about 7 years ago | (#20322789)

That's great and all, but how the hell is that going to fit into a 19" rack? Must be a kind of African router...

Re:I'm CCNA! (3, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | about 7 years ago | (#20322699)

Don't you need wood routers if you are doing spanning tree??

Re: OSI? Do you mean TCP/IP? ;-) (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321405)

"to layers 8 and 9 of the OSI model"

WTF? The OSI model is what my grandpa studied in college. Who talks about OSI any more?

OK, I also studied the OSI model way way back in college, but the model has been replaced by the TCP/IP model. Hello!

Re: OSI? Do you mean TCP/IP? ;-) (1)

oh_the_humanity (883420) | about 7 years ago | (#20322467)

I hope this is sarcasm , the OSI is very relevant in networking today.

Re:I'm CCNA! (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 7 years ago | (#20321477)

> BTW--what is this 6500? And what is this .... 'OSI model'? Is that a new router or something?

OSI is the Office of Special Investigations. Whenever there's an illegal operation, they're the ones who come and investigate. Their arch-rival agency is the DRM, Digital Rights Mafia. Constant turf battles. Oh, and they're getting their own show on ABC this fall.

Re:I'm CCNA! (1)

BigPaulie (1111189) | about 7 years ago | (#20321499)

OSI...DRM...teeheehee, now that's funny.

Re:I'm CCNA! (1)

david.given (6740) | about 7 years ago | (#20322643)

BTW--what is this 6500? And what is this .... 'OSI model'? Is that a new router or something?

The 6500 is a popular processor architecture made by MOS.

Interview Questions (5, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | about 7 years ago | (#20321067)

After moving to a different state, the first interview I went on was with a larger company. After being a Windows/Mac admin (this is in the mid-90s) for a couple years, I was vaguely surprised that I knew the answer to almost none of their very obscure questions. I had been one of three administrators of a medium-sized WAN at my old job, and nothing they asked seemed relevant at all to real-world circumstances. Disappointed at my lack of knowledge (not to mention the fact I didn't get the job), I decided to study for the MCSE, as there was clearly stuff I didn't know.

To my surprise, every single one of their obscure, imaginary-world answers were straight from sample MCSE tests. And after 10 more years working in a mixed environment, those questions still don't apply.

they don't apply to you. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321195)

I'm in the small to medium business sector and 95% of the MCSE stuff just does not apply. Single domain, single server enviornments can be a mess and still function.

When I have dealt with Enterprise level domains and networks, that knowledge does come into play, but rarely even then.

It's like using a DSL connection for VOIP. Sure, it works and well on the small scale but when you've got 400 users and deciding to use a T-1 (or multiple), is the bandwidth enough? Suddently questions of latency, packet size, backbone provider and QoS become relevant.

The difference between SMB and Enterprise is that when something breaks on the SMB side, I fix it. If I was in the Enterprise, I'd assign it to a specific group to fix it.

Re:Interview Questions (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 7 years ago | (#20321243)

what Questions did they ask?

Then count yourself lucky.. (2, Insightful)

msimm (580077) | about 7 years ago | (#20321265)

That's exactly the kind of shop you don't want to work for. If they don't understand which questions to ask then they don't understand what it is they need you to do (or say, that you're doing it right). Terrible situation to be stuck trying to work in.

Re:Then count yourself lucky.. (2, Insightful)

porkThreeWays (895269) | about 7 years ago | (#20321935)

I think a lot of people miss the point that a job interview is a two way process. A place may look great in the ad, but when you actually get to the interview you may discover you potential boss is a complete tool. If I were reeeeeally desperate for a job I might take the job regardless, otherwise it's just not working somewhere you know you'll be miserable from the get-go.

That is a very good point... (2, Insightful)

msimm (580077) | about 7 years ago | (#20322431)

And I think you're dead-on. It's taken me years to learn that. That and the fact that not only am I replaceable, but so is my employer. It's definitely a two-way street and change isn't alway bad (it's usually opportunity actually, whatever you might chose to make of it).

Re:That is a very good point... (1)

deimtee (762122) | about 7 years ago | (#20322909)

You are also far more likely to get a job offer from an interview that way than by demonstating a slavering "please hire me" attitude.
Employers know that competent staff aren't desperate for the job and that they have to win the interview as best company/job offer at least as much as the candidate has to win as best possible employee.

Re:Interview Questions (4, Insightful)

paganizer (566360) | about 7 years ago | (#20321311)

That was me in the late 90's. I had been a computer geek in the Navy, a Solaris/NIX admin for bellsouth, a router tech for Nortel, ran my own shop for a while. even got some Novell experience in somewhere.
I just got lucky on the obscure questions they asked, they actually picked something that it was possible to come across in the real world (like, what command do you use to change a NT server to NT workstation?)
However I could swear I lost ability when i got my MCSE; so much of the stuff they test for is Microsoft "truthiness" that it causes confusion when you come across similar circumstances in the real world; if you are working with or for people who are Microsoft trained, you have to find some way to spin the real solutions so that it doesn't violate MS canon law.
Never did get my CNE; that was my next step until I decided to retire instead (I couldn't get a job doing anything fun, due to age barrier, my lack of desire to be management & everyone thinking I wouldn't be happy taking a pay & power cut from my previous job).

Re:Interview Questions (3, Insightful)

charleste (537078) | about 7 years ago | (#20322093)

Yeah... when you take the MCSE test, you don't answer with how it's really done in real life, you answer with the answer MS wants you to answer with. For me, it seemed that the "correct" answers were either downright wrong (from real life) or an obtuse method so frequently, it has made me so much LESS likely to hire someone who boasts about their MS credentials. We'd spend too much time "unlearning" them...

Re:Interview Questions (1, Troll)

arivanov (12034) | about 7 years ago | (#20322775)

Yep. And Cisco is not any different. Neither is Sun, RedHat or any other.

The reality is that certification and exam materials are viewed by companies predominantly from the perspective of product revenue assurance. This is considered even more important than actually having revenue stream from certification fees and revenue from the courses themselves. As a result courses and exams are designed to indoctrinate, brainwash and secure future custom. They have nothing to do with qualification, knowledge or ability.

I never ever got the point of Cisco certs (1)

sjwest (948274) | about 7 years ago | (#20321331)

Networking can do any thing within reason (but that reason might be dumb), I refuse to buy the logic that Cisco or a Cisco certified moron is the only way to 'tube'.

Cisco is just a brand. To prove this visit a large bookseller and look at the rows (or web pages) of Cisco education books that do the seven osi layers.

Cisco will lose it one day - and a new company will take over, those who know will laugh at all the cisco fools for once upon a time 'nobody got fired for buying ibm' too.

Re:I never ever got the point of Cisco certs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321557)

Pro tip dude, most of the stuff done on Cisco gear is based on standard RFCs. Therefore the skills you get setting up OSPF on a Cisco router will translate to other vendors gear (CLI differences aside).

Re:I never ever got the point of Cisco certs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321699)

Cisco is only a brand name for the clueless.


Re:I never ever got the point of Cisco certs (2, Insightful)

Leiterfluid (876193) | about 7 years ago | (#20322403)

Cisco Certifications are no different than Microsoft or any other vendor-specific certifications. And quite frankly, you're an ass for suggesting anyone with a Cisco cert is a moron. Vendor-specific certifications can offer value to both employers and employees by recognizing a certain level of knowledge about a particular product or technology. There are certain nuances to the Cisco IOS that might demonstrate that even though a candidate may not know everything there is to know about OSPF or EIGRP, that they are at least comfortable with the IOS, and can figure out how to do something without having their hand held. The certification industry helps drives product sales. If I have a number of Cisco certified staff working for me, am I really going to invest in 3Com or Juniper when I know there may be (an albeit slight) learning curve for them? I hold many certifications, myself. Most of them are vendor specific (primarily Microsoft, because I worked as a Microsoft Certified Trainer; and I certified in everything I taught); but not all of them. I don't think it's fair to dismiss the CCNA; but I think the Network+ certification might be more valuable to an employer who is looking for general network skills without vendor-specific implementation. But, there's always going to be the elitist asses who dismiss all certification programs outright. I guess when you fail the test two or three times, you might become embittered.

Re:Interview Questions (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 7 years ago | (#20321441)

After moving to a different state, the first interview I went on was with a larger company. After being a Windows/Mac admin (this is in the mid-90s) for a couple years, I was vaguely surprised that I knew the answer to almost none of their very obscure questions. I had been one of three administrators of a medium-sized WAN at my old job, and nothing they asked seemed relevant at all to real-world circumstances. Disappointed at my lack of knowledge (not to mention the fact I didn't get the job), I decided to study for the MCSE, as there was clearly stuff I didn't know.
That's the same boat I'm in. I'm a 100% self-taught geek, not the best there's ever been but good enough to get the job done. There's a ton of stuff I don't know but what I do know is enough to get the job done. Since the company was willing to pay for it, I went for the certs training.

I've seen the point argued back and forth on Slashdot. The anti-cert people say that there's little value in a cert that can be crammed for, a cert that doesn't really certify that the holder knows what he's doing. There are plenty of people with fancy certs on the wall who don't know what they're doing, just like there's plenty of people with no certs who are shit hot at what they do. The pro-cert people say that the certs serve as a measuring stick for non-techs who are looking to hire techs, a way of making sure that a candidate has a minimum level of experience before putting them through a serious evaluation. There's also the arrogance of geeks who think they don't need to bone up on theory and there's nothing more dangerous than the problems caused by what they don't know they don't know. The pro-certs people argue that the process forces you into a structured method of learning the topic.

I'm hip-deep in the process right now and I'd say it's a mixed bag. I think that the classroom instruction is good since it gives you a conversational environment to work through problems instead of just hitting the books on your own. The instructor, if he has real world experience, can also give you pointers you'll not find in the book. The bad part of all this is the testing. You can read the entire book, do the sample questions, and still be blindsided by the real test. The questions themselves are more designed to trip you up on stuff you know than really test you to see what you know. The technicalities and bullshittery of these questions is as bad as the worst tests endured in college.

From the cynical side, I've been told that the real scoop behind the certs is that companies like Microsoft want to make them seem like they have value so they want a high fail rate. If someone gets one, they should feel like they sweat blood. Now you can either make an exam tough with fair and exacting questions or you can use cheap tricks to fuck people up. Microsoft seems to prefer cheap tricks. And what's the worst thing that happens when someone fails? They pay to take the test again.

To my surprise, every single one of their obscure, imaginary-world answers were straight from sample MCSE tests. And after 10 more years working in a mixed environment, those questions still don't apply.
That's what I'm seeing. I'm going to finish taking the tests since the classes are paid for but it seems like a gigantically wasteful process of hoop-jumping. If I were coming into the IT industry as a fresh-faced novice, I would not feel that these classes would have prepared me for a real world environment. I'm just glad I'll have the work experience to put down on the resume in addition to the certs.

Re:Interview Questions (0, Troll)

nuzak (959558) | about 7 years ago | (#20321649)

> Microsoft seems to prefer cheap tricks. And what's the worst thing that happens when someone fails? They pay to take the test again.

That's the same for pretty much every professional certification, including Cisco's, and the states bars just to name a couple. Are you suggesting that someone failing should be permanently blacklisted, or was this just a cheap-ass dig at microsoft?

CCNA is an entry level cert, as is MCSE. If the industry actually wants better qualifications, they'll demand a tougher exam.

Re:Interview Questions (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 7 years ago | (#20322035)

Microsoft seems to prefer cheap tricks. And what's the worst thing that happens when someone fails? They pay to take the test again.
That's the same for pretty much every professional certification, including Cisco's, and the states bars just to name a couple. Are you suggesting that someone failing should be permanently blacklisted, or was this just a cheap-ass dig at microsoft?

CCNA is an entry level cert, as is MCSE. If the industry actually wants better qualifications, they'll demand a tougher exam. Blacklisting? Gods, no! And it isn't a cheap-ass dig, it's a statement of fact. I would much more prefer a fair test than the tricksy stuff being put out these days. But it's not like my opinion matters for much, I was just curious as to what the dot consensus was here.

Re:Interview Questions (1)

Leiterfluid (876193) | about 7 years ago | (#20322421)

Since when is an certification that requires seven exams considered "entry-level."

Re:Interview Questions (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 7 years ago | (#20322613)

Since when is an certification that requires seven exams considered "entry-level."
Since when is four years of college supposed to be entry-level? (Ok, six and a half years but I was working full-time.) I guess the moral is that "entry-level" means whatever the people doing the hiring want it to mean, the same with "over-qualified" and "rightsizing."

Re:Interview Questions (1)

quanticle (843097) | about 7 years ago | (#20322617)

Neither the CCNA or MCSE require seven exams. You might be thinking of CCIE, which requires a lot of exams, and a lab session.

Re:Interview Questions (3, Informative)

UncleTogie (1004853) | about 7 years ago | (#20322075)

The pro-cert people say that the certs serve as a measuring stick for non-techs who are looking to hire techs, a way of making sure that a candidate has a minimum level of experience before putting them through a serious evaluation.

I'd almost buy that, but for a local vocational school that is notorious for "You pay, you pass" assembly-line certs. A guy that we tried out was a card-carrying CompTIA A+-certified tech. To help test him {having had experience with this school's graduates before..} I took him to an open PC on the bench and asked him to point at the motherboard.

He pointed at the case.

I told him, no, not the case, the *motherboard*.

He blinked twice, and pointed at the case again. He didn't last the day.

IMHO, those little pieces of paper don't guarantee jack anymore. -sigh-

Re:Interview Questions (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 7 years ago | (#20322461)

I'd almost buy that, but for a local vocational school that is notorious for "You pay, you pass" assembly-line certs. A guy that we tried out was a card-carrying CompTIA A+-certified tech. To help test him {having had experience with this school's graduates before..} I took him to an open PC on the bench and asked him to point at the motherboard.

He pointed at the case.

I told him, no, not the case, the *motherboard*.

He blinked twice, and pointed at the case again. He didn't last the day.
Wow. That's just....wow. I went through the A+ portion since the company paid for it and it's one more checkbox for the resume. I assumed that there would be some stuff in there that I didn't know. Turns out that I knew everything practical they were covering. The practice tests for A+ were awful because they were so much more difficult than the real test. The real test had some questions with grammatical errors, multiple correct answers where only one was required (which troubleshooting step should be taken first, with two of the steps being equally valid as the first step), etc. The class stuff was better since they sat us down with real computers and had us tearing them apart, putting things back together, etc. The instructor would then have us leave the room, he'd break a bunch of stuff, and we'd have to figure out how to get things working again. Take the computer apart until everything is spread across the table like a field-stripped rifle, put it back together, known bad parts thrown into the mix so that he could see if you could identify them. If I encountered all of this when I first got into computers, it would have been one hell of a valuable introduction. After all that, the test is just incidental and superfluous. The quality of the instructor, of course, is very important.

One thing I thought was stupid was how much attention the different practice exams put on memorizing stuff that just wasn't important. When was processor x released? Which sockets did pentium iii's fit in? How about celeron this and AMD that? How many pins are in this connector? How many pins are associated with a socket 7 mount? What are the data rates for usb vs. firewire? But none of that stuff was present on the real test, or at least not to the depth that the practice material indicated.

But about that guy you were talking about....wow.

Re:Interview Questions (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 7 years ago | (#20322279)

Ah yes. Certain contracts at a previous employer REQUIRED certain MS test certifications to work on the contract. So my employer paid for them. I took two before I told him to quit wasting his money. The first test "Windows NT 4.0 administration" had ZILCH about really administering an NT 4 machine/network, but COMPLETEY about Novell migration. Test 2, "Visual Basic Development", didn't ask ONE SINGLE QUESTION about Visual Basic. It was completely about some Packaging and Deployment Wizard that you only got if you ever used Visual Basic Enterprise Edition ANYWAY.

One thing I did take away from all of those tests, like you had commented, is that it is all about nailing you on technicalities and bullshittery. There were several questions where three of the four multiple choice answers were correct, but you HAD to KNOW the "Microsoft Official Way (TM)" of doing it.

Re:Interview Questions (1)

holiggan (522846) | about 7 years ago | (#20322737)

Well, the way I see it, classroom training can be good, even for a senior geek. It gives you the chance to see the theory in context, seeing that A relates to B in this and that way. It's the "ohhh thats how it works!" moment, it feels nice :)

Of course that nothing compares to an encounter with the real, chaotic, overwhelming world. But in my opinion, its a bit nicer to know that the heart must keep beating (and why), without having to open up a couple of patients to find out on my own.

On the other hand, there are obscure bits of theory and information that you might never come across in the real world. But remember that not every implementation is the same, and that today you might find that some configuration or protocol or option is unecessary, but tomorrow your new employer might use it a lot, and its nice to at least have a passing knowledge of it. "One man's trash is another's gold".

Re:Interview Questions (1)

TimothyDavis (1124707) | about 7 years ago | (#20321585)

I had the same issue when I went for a pre-interview with a contracting agency. They had computer terminals setup with tests for areas of expertise - mine being SQL.

The one thing that really bothered me about these tests (including the CCNA test), is that they often to word tricks to try to trip you up.

My favorite was from the CCNA exam, where the question was something like "which statement is the most accurate", and option 'D' was a sentence with two statements separated by an 'or' - the first half of the statement was blatantly wrong, and the second half was the most true of anything listed above.

Re:Interview Questions (1)

COMON$ (806135) | about 7 years ago | (#20321623)

I am a Computer Science BS graduate and while my degree has compelled me to avoid certs I am getting to the point that I fear the hysteria that comes with companies looking for MCSE kiddies. So I look at the "real world" questions they have and having worked in this field for 8 years, 5 of which were in a 1000 node network spanning 500 miles, I can honestly say that I cannot figure out when in the past or future, I will come across any of the situations in the MCSE program. Good thing they are killing the program with the server 2008 certs. The CCNA has been a little better but the test exams are cake and outside the questions regarding "which cisco router would you use in this situation?" the test can be passed by any CS student having just taken a networking class. You wouldnt even break a sweat.

Re:Interview Questions (1)

SailorSpork (1080153) | about 7 years ago | (#20322951)

The real problem with interviews at larger companies is that typically, interviewers are not sysadmins themselves, but HR people with a list of questions and, if you're lucky, some sort of technical manager that can tell a "his answer is close to what the MCSE book said" from "his answer is not close to what the MCSE book says."

Smaller companies will tend to have more pointed interviews, and the interviewers will be the actual people hiring who know what kind of people they need.

Nooo (1)

Joseph1337 (1146047) | about 7 years ago | (#20321111)

This book is the bible of the new era - a era without hackers, but knightly (ofc cerficated) admins

Not accurate (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321157)

I find the discussion of this to not be accurate. The CCNA is intended to be an entry level certification for someone with little experience in networking. It is this fact that should not be overlooked when said person has a CCNA and does not know everything there is to know about configuring a router/switch. Also, topics such as multilayer switches and QoS are NOT entry level subjects. These topics are covered in great detail for the CCNP certification, which requires 4 exams to get (on top of a CCNA). Certifications show a certain level of understanding, and for the CCNA, the level of understanding should not be read as anything more than entry-level.

The same goes for anything else. Would you expect someone with a B.S. in computer science to understand advanced research topics in computing that masters and/or phd students work on?

OSI Model (3, Funny)

hodet (620484) | about 7 years ago | (#20321187)

layers 8 and 9 of the OSI model (politics and money)

Good one, I wish I could have added that to various exam answers over the years. :-)

Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza Away P? M?

Re:OSI Model (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | about 7 years ago | (#20321453)

> Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza Away P? M?

Prematurely?

Re:OSI Model (0, Flamebait)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 7 years ago | (#20322803)

Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza At Pretty Missys (or MILFs, Manatees, Marmots, Mormons, etc)?

Please Do Not Tell Stupid People About Project Meetings?

Pretty Dames Need Terribly Sexy Programmers After Plenty Margaritas?

Puppy Damn Near Tired-out So Apologize (for) Poor Mnemonics =P

Re:OSI Model (2, Funny)

faloi (738831) | about 7 years ago | (#20321509)

Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza Away Prior to Mastication?

Re:OSI Model (2, Funny)

Cytlid (95255) | about 7 years ago | (#20321549)

Please Mom?

Re:OSI Model (updated!) (4, Funny)

turrican (55223) | about 7 years ago | (#20321927)

Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza Away, Per Management

Re:OSI Model (1)

Maelwryth (982896) | about 7 years ago | (#20321963)

"Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza Away P? M?"

Please Mummy?

Re:OSI Model (1)

scottp (129048) | about 7 years ago | (#20321989)

Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza At Purple Monkeys

Re:OSI Model (1)

T-Ranger (10520) | about 7 years ago | (#20322055)

Please do not throw sausage packaging away prior to masturbation.

I win, biatches.

Re:OSI Model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20322311)

I use this one:
Pamella's Dildo Nicely Tickles Sarah's Private Area

Re:OSI Model (1)

lukesky321 (1092369) | about 7 years ago | (#20322477)

I was taught to use

All
People
Seem
To
Need
Data
Processing

hrrmmmm (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | about 7 years ago | (#20321213)

Sounds like this book has the CCNP/CCDP level folks in mind.

book smarts vs real world smarts (1)

p51d007 (656414) | about 7 years ago | (#20321225)

I've been in the office machine business for almost 26 years. I've seen techs come & go, and, for the most part, the ones with all their degrees etc, usually can't find their way out of a box. When I teach a class on a new machine, I MAKE them take a written AND practical test. I purposely screw up machines with 4 problems and give them an hour to find the problems. Not off the wall screwy problem you would never see, but, practical problems I've seen in the field. I put "customer screw up" type problems in the machine, along with what I've seen over the years break. Not only do they have to find and fix the bugs, I make them write out the step(s) they took to fix it. They have to write down what the problem is, what steps they took (including the service manuals) to test, and what part(s) they thought were messed up. This is the only way I know they learned what I taught them during the week. I've seen a lot of people who can pass a test easily, but can't fix anything.

Re:book smarts vs real world smarts (1)

jcgf (688310) | about 7 years ago | (#20321417)

MSCE/CNA/A+ certificate != degree

seriously folks, how hard is this? are we not nerds here?

Re:book smarts vs real world smarts (2, Insightful)

Luthe_Faydwire (700369) | about 7 years ago | (#20321813)

but degree != critical thinking so what is your point? I am tired of my HR team sending candidates with a degree but no real experience because "they have an Engineering degree".

Re:book smarts vs real world smarts (0, Flamebait)

jcgf (688310) | about 7 years ago | (#20322213)

So let me guess, you flunked out and now you're bitter against those who could cut it? Seen lots of you on slashdot.

Re:book smarts vs real world smarts (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | about 7 years ago | (#20322475)

I have an engineering degree and have always worked as a developer for companies that make technology products. It always amuses me how my engineering colleagues would complain about how stupid the IT staff was because there didn't have the same level of education as we did. They always assumed that they could do a better job.

The fact is that the two job areas are very different and the typical developer wouldn't last a week working in IT. The same could be said for IT types working as developers, but they'd probably last longer since you can fake it longer as a developer.

Re:book smarts vs real world smarts (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | about 7 years ago | (#20322497)

On the other hand, I'm not that amused when I type "there" instead of "they".

Re:book smarts vs real world smarts (1)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | about 7 years ago | (#20322649)

MSCE/CNA/A+ certificate != degree Not really, an IT certificate "usually" pertains to a technology at a certain point in time. A degree usually teaches to think intuitively and and enhance problem solving. Often why IT has issue's with paper certs.

Layer 8 (5, Funny)

laurent420 (711504) | about 7 years ago | (#20321247)

Layers 8 and 9 can't be politics and money. As layer 7 is described as the layer closest to the user, I've long asserted that layer 8 _is_ the user. With users learning what id10ts and pebkacs are, "layer 8 error" makes for a subtle and safe alternative ;)

Re:Layer 8 (1)

mikael (484) | about 7 years ago | (#20321501)

So, according to the Dilbert Systems Interconnection model [dilbert.com] the layers would be:

Layer 15: Phil, The Prince of Insufficient Light
Layer 14: Mordac, the Director of Information Services
Layer 13: Catbert, Human Resources director
Layer 12: The Pointed Hair Boss
Layer 11: Carol the secretary
Layer 10: Dilbert
Layer 9: Asok, the intern
Layer 8: User

CCNA isn't that bad (1)

doublefrost (1042496) | about 7 years ago | (#20321351)

I dunno, the CCNA wasn't easy, and cisco doesn't really recycle thier questions like microsoft does. A CCNA will at least know a thing or 2, while there's no telling what an MSCE knows. At the very least, entry certs is a measure of how serious someone is about getting the job, simply because they go thru the cost and trouble of getting them, rather than a measure of actual knowlegde/skill. Similar to the SATs to get into college.

Re:CCNA isn't that bad (1)

pyite (140350) | about 7 years ago | (#20321955)

I dunno, the CCNA wasn't easy

Meh. The CCNA exam has a way of testing you on everything you don't need to know while ignoring the important things you should know.

Re:CCNA isn't that bad (1)

ldspartan (14035) | about 7 years ago | (#20322359)

Having recently tried to train a replacement to do very simple network tasks (adding ports to vlans, for instance) the CCNA allows you to ensure you and your trainee have compatible vocabulary, and that they'll know how to use the CLI. This isn't to say there aren't a lot of useless CCNA's (and A+, and MCSE)'s out there, but not having to go over enable mode when you really want to be talking about which subnets do what is nice.

Grammar flames are legit for published articles (-1, Flamebait)

jihadist (1088389) | about 7 years ago | (#20321551)

It's goal is to point out both the technical areas in which the CCNA falls short, and to teach the reader the non-Cisco aspects of running a network.

It's = It is
Its = possessive, belonging to It

Re:Grammar flames are legit for published articles (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321867)

Thanks, professor jihadist. Get a life.

Re:Grammar flames are legit for published articles (3, Interesting)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 7 years ago | (#20322335)

Grammar flames are for those who have nothing actually useful to say, but certainly try too hard to make it seem the opposite. Not only is this all about TYPED WORDS (spell/grammar check doesn't always do you well), but I'd gather most slashdotters best language isn't English. Mine is C++.

CCNA, MCSE (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321577)

CCNA's and MCSE's are good certifications, it essentially tells me that people know at least how to reboot routers, pull cable, reboot microsoft machines, and apply basic patches. I use these qualifications to find entry level helpdesk people, and provide better training if they cut the mustard after a few months.

Certs do not teach critical thinking... (2)

stanleypane (729903) | about 7 years ago | (#20321617)

Sorry, not on topic, but...

I get tired of hearing this crap about certification X being a joke. Any kind of memorized knowledge is a joke if you can't apply it to real world situations. There are too many people out there getting certifications without the requisite knowledge and experience necessary to actually get something done.

If a company can't interview a candidate properly and gets stuck with someone who has no ability to think for themselves, then it is there own damn fault. Too many companies just want the hiring process to be as easy as reading a list of certifications an applicant has.

Re:Certs do not teach critical thinking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20321777)

If you aren't born as critical thinker you die as none. :)

CCNA is a joke (1)

alen (225700) | about 7 years ago | (#20321947)

passed it years ago without ever touching a router. next job i did some minor stuff on routers and switches and the commands our WAN people taught me weren't in the CCNA books i had. And neither was our networking gear as the CCNA books had the cheapo routers Cisco sells and not the higher level stuff

Re:CCNA is a joke (1)

liquidf (1146307) | about 7 years ago | (#20322539)

...but from what i hear the old ccna was little more than learning how to navigate the command line. i took the ccna last year through the cisco netacadamy and one of my final projects was simulating a wan using isdn, frame, ppp, and some vlans w/ vtp and some basic stp, not to mention setting up nat and dhcp routers. i had a really good instructor.

Re:CCNA is a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20322687)

The OLD CCNA *WAS* as joke.
However, in recent years (last 3 or 4 maybe) it has gotten a LOT more complex.

6 years ago, the CCNA could be passed w/o even simple knowledge of subnetting, etc. If one were to sit for the test now without that knowledge, the test will kill them.

Read the book and Cisco IOS Cookbook, my two cents (3, Informative)

braz (68726) | about 7 years ago | (#20322267)

This is a really nicely put together book. It fills a nice niche at Intro to Middle level of the Cisco areas somewhere just after the CCNA and probably touching on some of the CCDA topics. Its not meant as a real cookbook - that's why there is the excellent Cisco IOS cookbook also from O'Reilly which deals with the particular obsure, nutty but damn valuable gems that are out there, from Net engineers who've had the long hours and coffee to hand us great tricks.

How to place this book is like this, so you've finished or are close to your CCNA and would like some sound practical advice to round out the course or maybe to help you revise it, well this is the book for you. If you know more and are in deeper Cisco terrority well you might like this but you'd probably prefer the Cisco IOS cookbook.

Off topic - I also got a copy of Limoncelli et al's revised version of The Practise of System and Network Administration in the same batch, given the first edition was most excellent there is little to say except the second is even better. Common sense and practical knowledge without getting lost in OS or application issues.

I read it, I'd give it 3 1/2 stars (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | about 7 years ago | (#20322283)

I picked this up a couple days ago on a whim of geekyness and read it, I was intrigued by the fact that a network book existed that wasn't A. a basic what is a network B. a product specific advertisement or C. exam cram for some lame cert. It has some good points, it also fails in a few. The VLAN stuff gets glossed over like a Christmas ham, and seriously important areas to real life missing. Overall it is written well, and in a decent conversational tone. I'd say it is an OK add to a network library but it isn't going to be a book you run to for any specific answer or tidbit.

Also, i picked up Zen and the art of security as well and it too would get a 3 1/2 star rating from me. Nothing too great, nothing real bad... except the author seems a little stuck on himself and a bit of a dickwad.

The first chapter (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 7 years ago | (#20322419)

Was probably interesting, but;

"... and finally offers advice on when and where to use autonegotiation..."

would undoubtedly be the shortest paragraph in the chapter. A single word would do.

I disagree... (4, Informative)

LilGuy (150110) | about 7 years ago | (#20322665)

I went into networking with NO prior experience other than setting up a simple linksys router for home-use. I learned everything I know about networking ON the job. It took me a good 3 months just to get the lingo and basics down, but afterwards I had to start plowing through vlans and the different routing protocols like BGP and OSPF.

My point is had I actually studied for a CCNA before I was hired, I would've hit the ground running most likely would've advanced to my NOC position in 3 - 4 months less time. The CCNA is not a joke. It may not teach you ALL the terminology and EVERYTHING you need to know about EVERYTHING, but it's a hell of a good start.
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