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Cisco—A Brief History
A lot of readers may already be familiar with Cisco and what they do. But those of you new to the field, or maybe even those of you with 10 or more years in the field wishing to brush up on the new technology, may appreciate a little background on Cisco.
In the early 1980s, a married couple who worked in different computer departments at Stanford University started up cisco Systems (notice the small c). Their names are Len and Sandy Bosack. They were having trouble getting their individual systems to communicate (like many married people), so in their living room they created a gateway server to make it easier for their disparate computers in two different departments to communicate using the IP protocol.
In 1984, cisco Systems was founded with a small commercial gateway server product that changed networking forever. Some people think the name was intended to be San Francisco Systems, but the paper got ripped on the way to the incorporation lawyers—who knows—but in 1992, the company name was changed to Cisco Systems, Inc.
The first product they marketed was called the Advanced Gateway Server (AGS). Then came the Mid-Range Gateway Server (MGS), the Compact Gateway Server (CGS), the Integrated Gateway Server (IGS), and the AGS+. Cisco calls these “the old alphabet soup products.”
Then, in 1993, Cisco came out with the amazing 4000 router, and then the even more amazing 7000, 2000, and 3000 series routers. These are still around and evolving (almost daily it seems!).
Cisco Systems has since become an unrivaled worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Its networking solutions can easily connect users working from diverse devices on disparate networks. Cisco products make it simple for people to access and transfer information without regard to differences in time, place, or platform.
The Cisco Systems big picture is that it provides end-to-end networking solutions that customers can use to build an efficient, unified information infrastructure of their own or to connect to someone else’s—an important piece in the Internet/networking-industry puzzle, because a common architecture that delivers consistent network services to all users is now a functional imperative. And because Cisco Systems offers such a broad range of networking and Internet services and capabilities, users needing regular access to their local network or to the Internet can do so unhindered, making Cisco’s wares indispensable.
Cisco answers this need with a wide range of hardware products used to form information networks using the Cisco Internetworking Operating System (IOS) software. This software provides network services, paving the way for networked technical support and professional services for maintaining and optimizing all network operations.
Along with the Cisco IOS, one of the services Cisco has created to help support the vast amount of hardware they have engineered is the Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) program, designed specifically to equip people to effectively manage the vast quantity of installed Cisco networks. Their business plan is simple: If you want to sell more Cisco equipment and have more Cisco networks installed, make sure the networks you’ve installed run properly. But having a fabulous product line isn’t all it takes to guarantee the huge success that Cisco enjoys—lots of companies with great products are now defunct. If you have complicated products designed to solve complicated problems, you need knowledgeable people who are fully capable of installing, managing, and troubleshooting them. That part isn’t easy, so Cisco began the CCIE program to equip people in supporting these complicated networks. This program, known colloquially as the Doctorate of Networking, has also been very successful, primarily due to its extreme difficulty. And Cisco continuously monitors the program, changing it as they see fit to make sure it remains pertinent and accurately reflects the demands of today’s internetworking business environments.
Building upon the highly successful CCIE program, Cisco career certifications permit you to become certified at various levels of technical proficiency, spanning the disciplines of network design and support. So whether you’re beginning a career, changing careers, securing your present position, or seeking to refine and promote it, this is the book for you!
Cisco’s Network Support Certifications
Cisco has created certifications that will help you get the coveted CCIE as well as aid prospective employers in measuring skill levels. Before these certifications, you took only one test and were then faced with the lab—making it difficult to succeed. With these certifications adding a better approach to preparing for that almighty lab, Cisco has opened doors few were allowed through before. So what are these certifications, and how do they help you get your CCIE?
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
The CCNA certification is the first certification in the line of Cisco certifications, and a precursor to all current Cisco certifications. With the certification programs, Cisco has created a type of stepping-stone approach to CCIE certification. Now you can become a Cisco Certified Network Associate by paying only $125 for the test. And you don’t have to stop there—you can choose to continue with your studies and achieve a higher certification called the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). Someone with a CCNP has all the skills and knowledge they need to attempt the CCIE lab. However, since no textbook can take the place of practical experience, we’ll discuss what else you need to be ready for the CCIE lab shortly.
Why Become a CCNA?
Cisco has created a certification process, not unlike Microsoft’s and Novell’s, that gives employers a way to measure the skills of prospective employees. Becoming a CCNA can be the initial step of a successful journey toward a new, highly rewarding, and sustainable career.
The CCNA program was not only created to provide a solid introduction to the Cisco Internetworking Operating System (IOS) and to Cisco hardware but to internetworking in general, making it helpful to you in areas not exclusively Cisco’s. At this point in the certification process, it’s not unrealistic to imagine that future network managers—even those without Cisco equipment—could easily require Cisco certifications of their job applicants.
If you make it through the CCNA still interested in Cisco and internetworking, you’re headed down a path to certain success.
To meet the CCNA certification skill level, you must be able to understand or do the following:
Install, configure, and operate simple-routed LAN, routed WAN, and switched LAN and LANE networks
Understand and be able to configure IP, IGRP, IPX, serial, AppleTalk, Frame Relay, IP RIP, VLANs, IPX RIP, Ethernet, and access lists
Install and/or configure a network
Optimize WAN through Internet access solutions that reduce bandwidth and reduce WAN costs using features such as filtering with access lists, bandwidth on demand (BOD), and dial-on-demand routing (DDR)
Provide remote access by integrating dial-up connectivity with traditional, remote LAN-to-LAN access as well as supporting the higher levels of performance required for new applications such as Internet commerce, multimedia, etc.
Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
These Cisco certifications have opened up many opportunities for the individual wishing to become Cisco certified but lacking the training, expertise, or bucks to pass the notorious and often failed one-day Cisco torture lab. The Cisco certifications will truly provide exciting new opportunities for the CNE and MCSE who just didn’t know how to advance to a higher level.
So you’re thinking, “Great, what do I do after I pass the CCNA exam?” Well, if you want to become a CCIE in Routing and Switching (the most popular certification), understand that there’s more than one path to that much-coveted CCIE certification. The first way is to continue studying and become a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). That means four more tests after the CCNA certification.
The CCNP program will prepare you to understand and comprehensively tackle the internetworking issues of today and beyond—not limited to things Cisco. You will undergo an immense metamorphosis, vastly increasing your knowledge and skills through the process of obtaining these certifications!
Remember, you don’t need to be a CCNP or even a CCNA to take the CCIE lab—but to accomplish that, it’s extremely helpful if you already have these certifications.
What Are the CCNP Certification Skills?
Cisco demands a certain level of proficiency for their CCNP certification. In addition to those required for the CCNA, these skills include the following:
Installing, configuring, operating, and troubleshooting complex routed LAN, routed WAN, and switched LAN networks, and dial access services
Understanding complex networks, such as IP, IGRP, IPX, async routing, AppleTalk, extended access lists, IP RIP, route redistribution, IPX RIP, route summarization, OSPF, VLSM, BGP, IS-IS, serial, IGRP, Frame Relay, ISDN, ISL, X.25, DDR, PSTN, PPP, VLANs, Ethernet, ATM LAN emulation, access lists, 802.10, FDDI, and transparent and translational bridging
To meet the Cisco Certified Network Professional requirements, you must be able to perform the following:
Install and/or configure a network to increase bandwidth, quicken network response times, and improve reliability and quality of service
Maximize performance through campus LANs, routed WANs, and remote access
Improve network security
Create a global intranet
Provide access security to campus switches and routers
Provide increased switching and routing bandwidth and end-to-end resiliency services
Provide custom queuing and routed priority services
How Do You Become a CCNP?
After becoming a CCNA, the four exams you must take to get your CCNP are as follows:
Exam 643-801: Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks (BSCI) The BSCI exam builds on the fundamentals learned in the ICRC course. It focuses on large multiprotocol internetworks and how to manage them with access lists, queuing, tunneling, route distribution, route summarization, and dial-on-demand.
Exam 643-811: Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks (BCSN) The BCSN exam tests your understanding of configuring, monitoring, and troubleshooting Cisco switching products.
Exam 643-821: Building Cisco Remote Access Networks (BCRAN) The BCRAN exam tests your knowledge of installing, configuring, monitoring, and troubleshooting Cisco ISDN and dial-up access products.
Exam 643-831: Cisco Internetwork Troubleshooting Support (CIT) The CIT exam tests you on the troubleshooting information you learned in the other Cisco courses.
Note If you hate tests, you can take fewer of them by signing up for the CCNA exam, the CIT exam, and then just one more long exam called the Foundations exam (640-841). Doing this will also give you your CCNP—but beware, it’s a really long test that fuses all the material listed above into one exam. Good luck! However, by taking this exam, you get three tests for the price of two, which saves you $125 (if you pass). Some people think it’s easier to take the Foundations exam because you can leverage the areas in which you would score higher against the areas in which you wouldn't.
Note At the time of this printing, Cisco is revising their four CCNP exams, and the exam numbers listed here are subject to change. Please see www.cisco.com/ en/US/learning/ for the latest on all of Cisco’s certifications.
Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE)
Cool! You’ve become a CCNP, and now your sights are fixed on getting your Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE). What do you do next? Cisco recommends a minimum of two years on-the-job experience before taking the CCIE lab. After jumping those hurdles, you then have to pass the written CCIE Qualification Exam before taking the actual lab.
There are actually four CCIE certifications, and you must pass a written exam for each one of them before attempting the hands-on lab:
CCIE Communications and Services
The CCIE Communications and Services written exams cover IP and IP routing, optical, DSL, dial, cable, wireless, WAN switching, content networking, and voice.
CCIE Routing and Switching The CCIE Routing and Switching exam covers IP and IP routing, non-IP desktop protocols such as IPX, and bridge- and switch-related technologies.
CCIE Security The CCIE Security exam covers IP and IP routing as well as specific security components.
CCIE Voice The CCIE Voice exam covers those technologies and applications that comprise a Cisco enterprise VoIP solution.
How Do You Become a CCIE?
To become a CCIE, Cisco recommends you do the following:
Attend the GlobalNet Training CCIE hands-on lab program described at www.globalnettraining.com.
Pass the Drake/Prometric exam. (This costs $300 per exam, so hopefully you’ll pass it the first time.)
Pass the one-day, hands-on lab at Cisco. This costs $1,250 (yikes!) per lab, and many people fail it two or more times. Some people never make it through—it’s very difficult. Cisco has both added and deleted sites lately for the CCIE lab, so it’s best to check the Cisco website for the most current information. Take into consideration that you might just need to add travel costs to that $1,250.
Cisco’s Network Design Certifications
In addition to the Network Support certifications, Cisco has created another certification track for network designers. The two certifications within this track are the Cisco Certified Design Associate and Cisco Certified Design Professional certifications. If you’re reaching for the CCIE stars, we highly recommend the CCDA and CCDP certifications before attempting the lab (or attempting to advance your career).
These certifications will give you the knowledge to design routed LAN, routed WAN, and switched LAN and VoIP networks.
Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA)
To become a CCDA, you must pass the DESGN exam 640-861. Cisco used to require candidates for CCDA certification to complete CCNA certification first. They have dropped this requirement, and you can now take the DESGN exam and achieve CCDA certification without first completing CCNA status. However, just because you no longer are required to complete the CCNA before attempting the CCDA does not mean that it would not be a great idea to do so. If you do not have technical knowledge at the level of at least a CCNA, you will have a difficult time with the CCDA. Remember the CCIE? Cisco does not require the CCNP to gain CCIE status, but you had better know the material before the exam! The same concept applies here—you will want to have the technical skills of the CCNA (whether you have the certification or not) before attempting the CCDA.
For a comprehensive list of the skills required to achieve CCDA status, look at the table of contents of this book! Topics include the following:
Designing simple routed LAN, routed WAN, and switched LAN and ATM LANE networks
Specifying routing protocols
Filtering with access lists, and other IOS features
Topology design issues such as security and hierarchical design
Network management strategies
Non-technical steps, such as analysis of the customer’s existing network and responding to an RFP
VoIP design solutions and SAFE architecture design
Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP)
If you’re already a CCNP and want to get your CCDP, you can simply take the CID 640-025 test. But if you’re not yet a CCNP, you must take the BSCI, BCMSN, BCRAN, and CIT exams. You will also need to complete your CCNA before you can become a CCDP.
CCDP certification skills include
Designing complex routed LAN, routed WAN, and switched LAN and ATM LANE networks, building upon the base level of the CCDA technical knowledge
CCDPs must also demonstrate proficiency in
Network-layer addressing in a hierarchical environment
Traffic management with access lists
Hierarchical network design
VLAN use and propagation
Performance considerations: required hardware and software; switching engine; and memory, cost, and minimization
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