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Closing the Cisco Cert Zone (for Now)

So Long
Submitted by wendell on Thu, 01/12/12 - 1:55pm.

Hi folks. This short post is a notice to let everyone know that I'll not be continuing to blog in the Cisco Cert Zone for the foreseeable future. For those of you who just saw this blog, the links below point out some of the more popular posts from years past that still have relevance today. For you (former) regular readers, I've a few comments for you as well, if you want to click past the intro paragraph. Regardless, thanks for participating with me in this space for the last 4-5 years!

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Choosing the New CCTRS Instead of CCENT? Really?

Comparing CCTRS to CCENT as a Cisco Cert Starting Point
Submitted by wendell on Thu, 09/01/11 - 11:26am.

Cisco announced their three CCT certs last week, all geared towards technicians. CCT has a clear and obvious good core purpose: to certify techs that Cisco dispatches to customer sites. The question that's not so obvious, and frankly will require some time to pass before any of us can see the real answer, is how useful, appealing, and popular CCT will become as a general Cisco career cert.

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Cisco Announces the Cisco Certified Technician

A New Cert - is it for You?
Submitted by wendell on Tue, 08/23/11 - 7:55am.

Practical. That's the one overriding word that keeps coming to mind when I think of Cisco's new Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) cert announced today. But then again, I've always been a fan of the Cisco TAC, and it's not surprising that a cert developed by the TAC, for a very specific purpose, would indeed be practical. All three of the new CCT certs focus specifically on hardware installation tasks, including hot swaps, verifications, and troubleshooting. This posts looks at the basics of these new certs.

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Answers on Cisco's Cert Announcements Here at Cisco Live

IPv6 Migration is Big; Attendance up
Submitted by wendell on Wed, 07/13/11 - 1:17pm.

In the last day or so here at Cisco Live, I've heard John Chambers talk in a couple of settings, and had several conversations with folks who work with Cisco certs. Today I'll toss out a few more thoughts from the show that I think might be of interest.

From the General Session with John Chambers

In no particular order, just some interesting factoids:

Top 5 priorities for Cisco:

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Miscellaneous Thoughts from the First Day at Cisco Live this Year

IPv6, Cert Announcements (null), and virtualized IOS
Submitted by wendell on Tue, 07/12/11 - 12:21pm.

As usual at Networkers, my schedule's a little tight to write something thorough about what's come up at the show this week. But even on the first full day of the show Monday, there were a couple of tidbits that came up that I think matter to the Cisco cert world - if not immediately, then sometime down the road. Today I'll give you a few quick hits from what I've heard so far.

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CCNA Lab Part 8: How Many Switches, and Which Ones?

The Last Post in this Year's CCNA Series
Submitted by wendell on Thu, 06/30/11 - 12:56pm.

It's time to wrap up (hoorah!) this spring's foray into the question of what to put in your CCNA lab. I hope that you've found the series useful. Today, I'll touch on a few final points with switches, looking at two questions. First, how many do you really need for CCNA study, and can you mix the switch models?

How Many Switches

The short answer is that you need 1, could really use 2, get some benefit from 3, and 4 or more is probably overkill. All that is my opinion, but it's worth some discussion.

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CCNA Lab Part 7: Choosing the Right Switch Models

Moving on From the Router Discussions
Submitted by wendell on Mon, 06/20/11 - 1:03pm.

After working through a longish discussion about Cisco routers for your CCNA lab, it will be nice to discuss switches. Thankfully, the choice of switches is a lot easier to figure out than the choice of routers.  Switches have less software clutter to sift through, and the used prices for the likely candidates converge down to two families: 2900XM and 2950. Today I'll give you a big picture look at these families, enough so that you can make sense of what you see when searching for these products on used gear auction sites.

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CCNA Lab Series Part 6: The Best Router for CCNA, 2011

Submitted by wendell on Wed, 06/08/11 - 2:47pm.

Today we'll wrap up the router portion of this lab series with the conclusion: what should you buy? Hopefully, the earlier posts in this series so far helps anyone make their own decision, especially those new to the Cisco cert space. But sometimes, you just want to be told what to buy, if for no other reason than to get some level of confidence. Today, I'll get to my recommendation, with a re-cap of the reasons, so you can make your own choices. And we'll talk prices!

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CCNA Lab Part V: Ruling Out (or In) 2500 and 2600

Are the Oldies of the Used Cisco Router Market Still Goodies?
Submitted by wendell on Wed, 06/01/11 - 3:00pm.

Cisco 2500 and 2600 series routers have long been some of the favorite router models for cost-conscious Cisco cert candidates looking to build a lab. They were cheap, they worked, and there was a seemingly endless supply in the used market. But they both only support IOS images through 12.2T/12.3. Today, I'll continue this series on building a CCNA lab, and look at the question of whether these two model series are still viable for CCNA study today.

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CCNA Lab IV: Choosing the IOS Version and Feature Set

Or Keep It Simple, and Get 12.4T!
Submitted by wendell on Tue, 05/24/11 - 8:31am.

It's back to the CCNA Lab series today to discuss how to choose the right IOS for routers. Cisco routers run software called IOS. Traditionally - that is, from the early days of Cisco until the last year or two - Cisco offered lots of different IOS images. When most people go to buy their CCNA prep hardware, they've never chosen an IOS image, never loaded an IOS image into a router, and don't know where to start. Today, I'll discuss how to start, and then go straight to what I think is the best answer today: get any 12.4T image that will run on your hardware.

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The Verdict: Either OpenFlow Matters a Lot, or Not at All

Will Network Virtualization be the Killer App for OpenFlow?
Submitted by wendell on Mon, 05/16/11 - 9:59am.

Unsurprisingly, the opinions on OpenFlow from the vendors at Interop were all over the map. However, since I did ask a bunch of people at the show about OpenFlow, I figure it's worth a post to summarize some of the more interesting responses. For those of you who hang out in the blog space to discuss Cisco certs, note that OpenFlow will not impact the Cisco cert paths for several years, if ever. But it never hurts to keep an eye on where we might be headed.

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A Couple of Interesting Uses of OpenFlow

What can OpenFlow do to make your Network better?
Submitted by wendell on Mon, 05/16/11 - 9:27am.

At the beginning of Interop, I wrote a post that introduced the basics of OpenFlow. I promised to ask around and find out what problems different vendors are trying to solve using OpenFlow. This post highlights two cases: one you can order today from NEC America, and the other a case that's been tested at Stanford.

NEC America's ProgrammableFlow Switch

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Best Tidbit from Interop: Amazon is Hiring!

Regardless, a Great Sign of an Improving Economy
Submitted by wendell on Thu, 05/12/11 - 4:52pm.

It's the last day of the Interop show, and I happened by the Amazon booth. They are hiring in IT groups all over Amazons business units. And when some of the folks working the booth flip their badges over, it says "we're hiring". And for what? Lots of things, but many look like good matches for anyone who's working towards their Cisco certs, at any level.

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Neat Net Stories from Vint Cerf and Dan Lynch at Interop

A Better Migration Plan to IPv6?
Submitted by wendell on Wed, 05/11/11 - 6:25am.

Interstellar networks. Padding Statements of Work in US DoD contracts to encourage the development of the Internet. Turning off the old protocols on the Internet, for a day, to encourage the adoption of the "new" TCP/IP protocols.  The plan to use OSI layer 3 protocols (well, kinda) instead of IPv6. All these topics, and more, were part of an interesting pair of discussions at Interop yesterday with Vint Cerf and Dan Lynch, two pioneers of the Internet and the networking industry. Today I'll pass along a few of the tidbits that I personally found interesting.

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Cisco Updates Data Center Specialization Certs

But Still No CCNP DC
Submitted by wendell on Tue, 05/10/11 - 8:48am.

Cisco has several (9) well-established Specialization certifications focused on Data Center technology. Today, Cisco announced changes to those certs. Today, I'll give a quick bit of background, a little on the changes, and defer more more detailed look for a little later down the road.

I'm on my way to Interop when writing this post, so my apologies for not getting more specific about changes. I will list several links at the bottom of the post, though. I figured it was better to let you know today, and give a few links, and defer a longer look until I get time to dig deeper.

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OpenFlow Buzz at Interop

Creating Solutions to Many Problems, or Still Looking for the Right Problems?
Submitted by wendell on Mon, 05/09/11 - 7:43am.

From time to time, I like to write about something a bit more futuristic, something that is not yet common enough to get into the Cisco cert track. And because I was headed to Interop this week, the folks at Network World suggested I take a closer look at a new initiative called OpenFlow. Today I've give a bit of background, and once I've been to the OpenFlow lab and the vendor booths, and understand it all better, I'll give you an update.

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CCNA Lab III: Sifting Through the Router Model Series

Going from Nothing to Getting in the Right Ballpark
Submitted by wendell on Tue, 05/03/11 - 2:27pm.

If you go to EBay, and search on "Cisco router", you get a lot of hits (over 7000 just a few minutes ago.) It can be quite daunting if you're early into your CCENT or CCNA study, three chapters into the ICND1 book, and trying to figure out what router to buy. You don't want to spend all your time learning the entire Cisco product line, but you don't want to waste your money.

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CCNA Lab II: How Topologies Drive Device Choices

A Discussion of Lab Topologies, Which Determines How Many Devices to Buy
Submitted by wendell on Tue, 04/26/11 - 2:31pm.

Buy one router, even an old klonky 2501, and you can get some benefit for hands-on practice for CCENT and CCNA. It's not very exciting, but you can at least try out the CLI, save configs, upgrade the IOS, and configure many features for CCNA - even if you can't test them. On the other hand, Or, you could just buy a dozen routers and a dozen switches, and you're covered for any topology that matters for CCNA.

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If Cisco Would Give Us Anything for Learning/Testing...

Getting Specific as to What We Really Really Want
Submitted by wendell on Tue, 04/12/11 - 8:21am.

Down deep inside, when I heard of Cisco's new Cisco Learning Labs service, part of my gut reaction was negative. Imagine a little devil on my left shoulder: "That's nice, but it's not what we want." "Cisco didn't approve IOS images for Dynamips" (this demon clearly read the Etherealmind.com petition.) "It... costs... money!!! (gasp)" Then the angel pops up on the right, a whispers a few alternatives: "It will be helpful and useful to some people".

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Update on the Question of Cisco-Approved IOS for Self-Study

The Equivalent of Dynamips, for All Cisco OSs, Please
Submitted by wendell on Tue, 04/12/11 - 8:07am.

The announcement of the new Cisco Learning Labs offering gives us all a great reason to discuss a movement that's been growing over the last several years: to ask Cisco to give us all access to approved IOS images, for use to testing and learning. The pre-release briefing for Cisco Learning Labs gave me a chance to ask the question of Cisco. This post gives some background for those of you who haven't heard about this request; and for those who know about it, give you an update of a recent request.

A Bit of History

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