Category Archives: Cisco Certs

CCNA Complete – Months Ago

Hello.  I just realized that it has been many, many months since my last update, and I guess I need to keep this a little more up to date.

Anyway, I finished the CCNA in May, and I will be working on my CCNP (my original CCNP expired in 2004).  I hope to complete the CCNP Route test in the next month.  Currently, I’m using the INE videos and Cisco Press book to study.  I think the INE videos are very good, but I will provide more input once I take the test.

The goal is to complete the CCNP cert by the end of March, and look to start the CCNA-Security test.

Besides work stuff, I got a bunch of non-work items going on, so I will start to post about my hobbies on this site also.

CCENT Passed

As mentioned in my previous post, the exam was scheduled, and I passed the test.  The test was kinda what I expected, and there were not surprises except for the test facility…

I had the exam was scheduled at 9am, so I arrived 15 minutes early, got checked in and waited…. waited… waited.  The test facility could not connect to the server, so they could not download the tests.  I stuck around for 1 hour; then, I decided to leave and come back later.  I returned at 1pm, and their system was up and running, so I was able to take the test.

I understand that it has been 14 years since I took my last CCNP test, but I hope other test centers are not the same.  First off, they did not provide paper and pencils, but instead, they provide a laminated sheet and a marker.  Unfortunately, the marker was well used, and I couldn’t write a clear number.  Not that you need to write numbers while subnetting.  As I sat down, I noticed that the test station was small, and I could not put the laminated paper down without moving the keyboard back against the small blurry screen.  As I started the test, the mouse was the next challenge.  The mouse cable was short, so I had challenges using the mouse, and the mouse ball was dirty which caused it to roll unevenly.

While all of these items are “first world issues”, it was disappointing for a test center, and I will try a different place next time.

Completed CBTNuggets ICND 101 Videos

Earlier this week, I finished the CBTNuggets ICND 101 video series.  I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the videos, and I did learn a lot of information from the videos.  These videos provided plenty of theory along with hands on examples.  As noted in previous posts, I used the GNS3 simulator to complete the hands on practice, and the combination of videos and hands on valuable.

No that I’m done with the videos, I’ll look to take a couple practice tests and continue studying, and hopefully, this will set me up for a successful test.  I have to figure out how to schedule a test, so I will provide an update at that time.

GNS3 – Using a Router Image as a “PC”

I started to use GNS3 to assist in studying for my CCNA, and once completed with the CCNA, I will move onto the CCNP cert which will have new courses\tests starting in Feb 2015.  GNS3 does have provisions for a “Virtual PC System’ in the software; however, I feel that I wanted\needed a platform that has more capability to ensure proper configurations of the scenarios.

To solve this issue, I use a router image as the end point (PC function) in the practice scenarios, and it is rather easy to config a router for this function.  The advantage of using a router is that it has a lot more functionality than the VPCS provided, and you should be very familiar with the commands for the Cisco IOS.

To create a PC from the router IOS, there are a few simple steps to follow.

1. Drag and drop a router image into the scenario

gns3 router

2. Right click on the router, select change icon and select the PC icon

GNS3 Change Symbol           GNS3 Change Symbol2

3. Right click on the new PC icon (previously the router icon) select configure and rename it from Rx to PCx.  The element has to be in the “stopped” state.

GNS3 Config    GNS3 Config Screen

4. Now the end-point looks like a host, so I make a couple config changes.  In global config execute the “no ip routing” command and “ip route <default GW IP>


Cisco ICND 101 – Studying Half Way Point

Assuming you spent some time researching Cisco certs, you know that the CCNA is split into ICND 101 and ICND 201.  The information is split across these two courses, but you have the option of passing two tests, or taking one test that covers both courses.  Financially, there is basically no benefit for taking one test vs. two tests.  As I type this, each individual tests costs $150 while the one large test costs $295.

I decided that I will take the two test path towards the CCNA.  My opinion is that the two test path will allow me to focus and learn the information instead of memorizing information to pass the tests.

As of today, I feel that I’m half way through the information.  A lot of it has been a refresher, but the training videos and books have also taught me new items.  One thing about the technology field is that no matter how experienced you are, you can always learn new things.  If you want to be successful in the tech field, accepting the fact that you do not know everything, no matter how experienced you are, is key.

Anyway, at the half way point of ICND 101, I got a good refresher on the basics to include the OSI layers and basic IP communications – ARP, DHCP, subnetting tricks.  Fortunately, I am still familiar with subnetting, so most of the subnetting sections are a refresher; however, there are some new tricks and subnetting processes which I have learned which will make the test taking more efficient, and they will translate over to my day-to-day job.

I’m taking time off around the Thanksgiving Holiday, so between travel and house projects, I hope to knock out the 2nd half of the studying.  Once I’m done with the studying, I will plow through some practice tests, complete some focused studying and get the ICND 101 test passed.  I will provide updates and a test review when completed.

Cisco Home Lab Build

I have started to study for my CCNA which is required prior to moving on to the CCNP cert, and unlike many, I use this studying to learn the technology.  To support this, I like to have my own little Cisco lab to practice the configuration portion of the studying.

Back in 200\2001, I had five 2500 series routers, with V.35 connectors, to study for my CCNP, and each of these routers were in the $100 – $125 range, so I expected the same this time around for 2600 routers and 3550 L3 switches.  To my surprise, the prices of these Cisco models are on the inexpensive side.  I got four 3550 switches delivered to my house for $50 each, $200 total, a 2600 router delivered for $57 and a local 2600 router for $30.  I spent a total of $287 for a decent Cisco lab to study my CCNA and CCNP.

I strongly suggest that everyone takes the time to complete hands on configuration, and while there are simulators that you can configure, I feel there is no substitution for hands on.  Buying used equipment, you can learn how to upload newer IOS version, recover password and how the physical cabling is connected.  These are skills that come in handy on a day-to-day activities.

Why I’m Re-certifying on Cisco

This turned out to be a pretty easy decision for me; even though, it will require a fair amount of time to properly study the material for the tests and take the time to learn how to implement the information.

Back in the day, I completed my MCSE (1999), CCNA (2000) and CCNP (2001).  I used my CCNP during my day job as a Cisco Integration Engineer for a small company, and I enjoyed the work; however, the hours required was a turn-off.  There were a lot of 2am upgrades; then, 9am meetings with clients along with driving a few hours to and from client locations everyday.  After a little while, this wore me out, so I ended taking an opportunity at Nextel.

Once at Nextel, I didn’t have a need to keep up with my certs, so they all expired.  Fortunately, I was tied to some great projects within Nextel\Sprint, so there was never any need for me to pursue updated certs.  Reality set in this year as Sprint is going through a significant layoff exercise, and it became obvious that I need to get re-cert’ed to be a viable candidate for quality opportunities.

So here I am, studying for Cisco certs, and as it is easy to find, Cisco requires you to start with the CCNA; then, you can move onto the CCNP, or other certs.  I’m also looking to change jobs within Sprint to take a position with a focus on networking to include Cisco and Juniper.  Between these two activities, I hope to have good info for this site, and maybe, someone may stumble upon the information and use it in their journey.