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Cisco CCNA / CCNP Certification Exam Review: Protocol Basics
By Chris Bryant
Article Date: 2006-08-04
To earn your Cisco CCNA certification and pass the BSCI CCNP exam, you have to know your protocol basics like the back of your hand!
To help you review these important concepts, here´s a quick look at the basics of RIPv1, RIPv2, IGRP, and EIGRP.
RIPv1: Broadcasts updates every 30 seconds to the address 255.255.255.255. RIPv1 is a classful protocol, and it does not recognize VLSM, nor does it carry subnet masking information in its routing updates.
Update contains entire RIP routing table. Uses Bellman-Ford algorithm. Allows equal-cost load-balancing by default. Max hop count is 15. Does not support clear-text or MD5 authentication of routing updates. Updates carry 25 routes maximum.
RIPv2: Multicasts updates every 30 seconds to the address 188.8.131.52. RIPv2 is a classless protocol, allowing the use of subnet masks.
Update contains entire RIP routing table. Uses Bellman-Ford algorithm. Allows equal-cost load-balancing by default. Max hop count is 15. Supports clear-text and MD5 authentication of routing updates. Updates carry 25 routes maximum.
IGRP: Broadcasts updates every 90 seconds to the address 255.255.255.255. IGRP is a Cisco-proprietary protocol, and is also a classful protocol and does not recognize subnet masking.
Update contains entire routing table. Uses Bellman-Ford algorithm. Equal-cost load-balancing on by default; unequal-cost load-sharing can be used with the variance command. Max hop count is 100.
EIGRP: Multicasts full routing table only when an adjacency is first formed. Multicasts updates only when there is a change in the network topology, and then only advertises the change.
Multicasts to 184.108.40.206 and allows the use of subnet masks. Uses DUAL routing algorithm. Unequal-cost load-sharing available with the variance command.
By mastering the basics of these protocols, you´re laying the foundation for success in the exam room and when working on production networks.
Pay attention to the details and the payoff is "CCNA" and "CCNP" behind your name!
Cisco CCNA / CCNP: Frame Relay BECNs And FECNs
By Chris Bryant
Article Date: 2006-07-21
BECNs and FECNs aren´t just important to know for your Cisco CCNA and CCNP certification exams - they´re an important part of detecting congestion on a Frame Relay network and allowing the network to dynamically adjust its transmission rate when congestion is encountered.
The Forward Explicit Congestion Notification (FECN, pronounced "feckon") bit is set to zero by default, and will be set to 1 if congestion was experienced by the frame in the direction in which the frame was traveling. A DCE (frame relay switch) will set this bit, and a DTE (router) will receive it, and see that congestion was encountered along the frame´s path.
If network congestion exists in the opposite direction in which the frame was traveling, the Backward Explicit Congestion Notification (BECN, pronounced "beckon") will be set to 1 by a DCE.
If this is your first time working with BECNs and FECNs, you might wonder why the BECN even exists - after all, why send a "backwards" notification? The BECN is actually the most important part of this entire process, since it´s the BECN bit that indicates to the sender that it needs to slow down!
For example, frames sent from Kansas City to Green Bay encounter congestion in the FR cloud. A Frame Switch sets the FECN bit to 1. In order to alert KC that it´s sending data too fast, GB will send return frames with the BECN bit set. When KC sees the BECN bit is set to 1, the KC router knows that the congestion occurred when frames were sent from KC to GB.
Frame Relay BECN Adaptive Shaping allows a router to dynamically throttle back on its transmission rate if it receives frames from the remote host with the BECN bit set. In this case, KC sees that the traffic it's sending to GB is encountering congestion, because the traffic coming back from GB has the BECN bit set. If BECN Adaptive Shaping is running on KC, that router will adjust to this congestion by slowing its transmission rate. When the BECNs stop coming in from GB, KC will begin to send at a faster rate.
BECN Adaptive Shaping is configured as follows:
KC(config-if)#frame-relay adaptive-shaping becn
To see how many frames are coming in and going out with the BECN and FECN bits set, run show frame pvc.
R3#show frame pvc
< some output removed for clarity >
input pkts 306 output pkts 609 in bytes 45566
out bytes 79364 dropped pkts 0 in FECN pkts 0
in BECN pkts 0 out FECN pkts 0 out BECN pkts 0
in DE pkts 0 out DE pkts 0
out bcast pkts 568 out bcast bytes 75128
pvc create time 01:26:27, last time pvc status changed 01:26:27
Just watch the "in"s and "out"s of BECN, FECN, and DE in both the exam room and your production networks!
Cisco CCNA Certification: Keep Your Most Important Appointment
By Chris Bryant
Article Date: 2006-06-09
Imagine this. You have an appointment with a client to work on a server or router install.
A few minutes before you´re scheduled to be there, you decide there´s something really good on TV you´d like to watch. Or you decide to go to the gym, or play a game, or do anything else except go see the client.
Even if you weren´t going to get fired for not showing up, it´s certainly unfair to the client. You´ve got a professional obligation, and you should be there on time.
Now, what´s this got to do with you becoming a CCNA or CCNP? Plenty. Because when it comes to your study time, you´re the client. You owe it to yourself to show up.
You would never blow off an appointment to meet a client to get some important work done.
First, though, you have to make that appointment with yourself! Schedule your CCNA / CCNP study time, and keep that appointment as you would with a client.
Turn off the TV, your cell, your iPod, and everything else electronic that you carry around. Believe it or not, the world can survive with being in contact with you for an hour or so! You might even like it!
Getting certified isn´t about how many hours, days, or weeks you spend studying. It´s about how much quality time you put in.
Be honest with yourself and realize that you´re better off with 45 minutes of uninterrupted study as you would be with three hours of constantly interrupted study.
Don´t blow off an appointment to yourself, either. Schedule the time, be there on time, get your study done, and you´re one step closer to your CCNA and CCNP!
About the Author:
Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933, is the owner of The Bryant Advantage (www.thebryantadvantage.com), home of FREE CCNA and CCNP tutorials and daily exam questions, as well as The Ultimate CCNA and CCNP Study Packages.
For a FREE copy of his latest e-books, "How To Pass The CCNA" or "How To Pass The CCNP", and for free daily exam question, visit the website and download your copies!
Cisco CCNA Certification: Port-Based Authentication
By Chris Bryant
Article Date: 2006-05-18
To pass your CCNA exam and earn this coveted certification, you must understand the details of port-based authentication.
This knowledge has a great deal of value in production networks as well, since this authentication scheme is regularly implemented. Let's take a look at this particular CCNA skill.
Consider a situation where you have a server that will be connected to your switch, and you want the port to shut down if a device with a different MAC address that that of the switch attempts to connect to that port. You could also have a situation where you have someone who has a connection to a switch port in his office, and he wants to make sure that only his laptop can use that port.
Both of these examples are real-world situations, and there are two solutions for each. First, we could create a static MAC entry for that particular switch port. I don't recommend this, mainly because both you and I have better things to do than manage static MAC entries. The better solution is to configure port-based authentication on the switch.
The Cisco switch uses MAC addresses to enforce port security. With port security, only devices with certain MAC addresses can connect to the port successfully. This is another reason source MACs are looked at before the destination MAC is examined. If the source MAC is non-secure and port-based authentication is in effect, the destination does not matter, as the frame will not be forwarded. In essence, the source MAC address serves as the password.
MAC addresses that are allowed to successfully communicate with the switch port are secure MAC addresses. The default number of secure MAC addresses is 1, but a maximum of 132 secure MACs can be configured.
When a non-secure MAC address attempts to communicate with the switch port, one of three actions will occur, depending on the port security mode. In Protect mode, frames with non-secure MAC addresses are dropped. There is no notification that a violation has occurred. The port will continue to switch frames for the secure MAC address.
In Restrict mode, the same action is taken, but a syslog message is logged via SNMP, which is a messaging protocol used by Cisco routers.
In Shutdown mode, the interface goes into error-disabled state, the port LED will go out, and a syslog message is logged. The port has to be manually reopened. Shutdown mode is the default port-security mode.
Port-based authentication is just one of the many switching skills you'll have to demonstrate to earn your CCNA certification. Make sure you know the basics shown here, including the action of each particular mode, and you're on your way to CCNA exam success!
Ten IP Routing Details You Must Know!
By Chris Bryant
Article Date: 2006-05-05
To pass the BSCI exam and earn your CCNP, you´ve got to keep a lot of details in mind. It´s easy to overlook the "simpler" protocols and services such as static routing and distance vector protocols.
With this in mind, here´s a quick review of some details you should know for success in the exam room and real-world networks!
When packets need to be routed, the routing table is parsed for the longest prefix match if multiple paths exist with the same prefix length, the route with the lowest AD is preferred. If there are still multiple valid paths, equal-cost load-sharing goes into effect.
The ip route command is used to create static routes the command ip route 0.0.0.0 0.0.0.0 < next-hop-IP or local exit interface> creates a default static route.
A static route with a next-hop IP address has an AD of one, while a static route with a local exit interface has an AD of zero.
A floating static route is a static route with an AD higher than that of the dynamic routing protocols running on the router, ensuring that the static route can only be used if the routing protocol goes down.
On-Demand Routing (ODR) is only appropriate in a hub-and-spoke network. The spokes effectively become stub routers. ODR uses Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) to send route information.
To propagate a default route with IP routing, use the ip default-network command. To do so with IP routing disabled, use ip default-gateway. You can also redistribute a static route into most protocols, but not IGRP. IGRP does not understand a static route to 0.0.0.0.
The ip helper-address command takes certain broadcasts and translates then into unicasts in order to allow the router to forward them. These default ports are:
TIME, port 37
TACACS, port 49
DNS, port 53
BOOTP/DHCP Server, port 67
BOOTP/DHCP Client, port 68
TFTP, port 69
NetBIOS name service, port 137
NetBIOS datagram services, port 138
To name other ports, use the ip forward-protocol command. To remove any of these ports from the default list, use the no ip forward-protocol command.
ICMP Router Discovery Protocol (IRDP) hosts hear multicast Hellos from routers, allowing host-router discovery. HSRP routers create a virtual router that hosts think is a real router. Both protocols help networks cut over to a functional router quickly when their primary router goes down.
Cisco CCNP / BCSI Exam Tutorial: Configuring EIGRP Packet Authentication
By Chris Bryant
Article Date: 2006-03-29
Configuring RIPv2 and EIGRP authentication with key chains can be tricky at first, and the syntax isn´t exactly easy to remember.
But for BSCI and CCNP exam success, we´ve got to be able to perform this task.
In a previous tutorial, we saw how to configure RIPv2 packet authentication, with both clear-text and MD5 authentication schemes. EIGRP authentication is much the same, and has the text and MD5 authentication options as well. But EIGRP being EIGRP, the command just has to be a little more detailed!
As with RIPv2, the authentication mode must be agreed upon by the EIGRP neighbors. If one router´s interface is configured for MD5 authentication and the remote router´s interface is configured for text authentication, the adjacency will fail even if the two interfaces in question are configured to use the same password.
We´ll now configure link authentication on the adjacency over an Ethernet segment. Below, you´ll see how to configure a key chain called EIGRP on both routers, use key number 1, and use the key-string BSCI. Run show key chain on a router to see all key chains.
R2(config)#key chain EIGRP
R2#show key chain
key 1 -- text "BSCI"
accept lifetime (always valid) - (always valid) [valid now]
send lifetime (always valid) - (always valid) [valid now]
R3(config)#key chain EIGRP
R3#show key chain
key 1 -- text "BSCI"
accept lifetime (always valid) - (always valid) [valid now]
send lifetime (always valid) - (always valid) [valid now]
The EIGRP command to apply the key chain is a bit of a pain to remember, because the protocol and AS number is identified in the middle of the command, not the beginning. Also note that two commands are needed - one to name the key chain, another to define the authentication mode in use.
R2(config-if)#ip authentication key-chain eigrp 100 EIGRP
R2(config-if)#ip authentication mode eigrp 100 md5
5d07h: %DUAL-5-NBRCHANGE: IP-EIGRP 100: Neighbor 220.127.116.11 (Ethernet0) is down: keychain changed
R3(config-if)#ip authentication key-chain eigrp 100 EIGRP
R3(config-if)#ip authentication mode eigrp 100 md5
5d07h: %DUAL-5-NBRCHANGE: IP-EIGRP 100: Neighbor 18.104.22.168 (Ethernet0) is up:
As with RIPv2, the existing adjacency was torn down when one side was configured with authentication. If the key chain is correctly defined and applied on both sides, the adjacency will come back up. Always run show ip eigrp neighbor to make sure the adjacency is present. Learn the details of EIGRP key chains by configuring them on your home lab equipment, and you´ll be more than ready for BSCI exam success!
CCNA Recertification Requirements
By Chris Bryant
Article Date: 2006-03-17
Passing the CCNA exam and earning this coveted Cisco certification is an important step in your career, but it´s not the end of your responsibilities as a CCNA!
When you work with computer networks, you´ve got to be continually learning and staying up on the latest technologies and changes in the field. Part of this responsibility is keeping your CCNA current by meeting Cisco´s recertification requirements.
Cisco requires CCNAs to recertify once every three years. While most CCNAs will move on to the CCNP in that time, if you choose not to you must meet certain requirements in order to keep your CCNA valid. Cisco does this to ensure that CCNAs keep their networking knowledge current, which in turn helps the CCNA certification valuable. And that´s exactly what you want, since you worked so hard to earn your certification in the first place!
As of March 2006, there are five different options for recertifying as a CCNA. You can take and pass any of the following exams to renew your CCNA - the CCNA exam itself, the ICND exam, any 642 series exam, any Cisco Qualiied Specialist exam (except the Sales Specialist exams - those don´t count!), or any CCIE Written Qualification exam.
With all these options, there´s an option that´s just right for you. Whether you just want to renew your CCNA or pursue a Specialist, CCNP, or CCIE certification, you can easily renew your CCNA along the way. Just don´t forget that keeping up with Cisco´s latest recertification requirements is your responsibility, and that´s easy to do - just visit Cisco´s "Learning And Events" section on their website. Cisco will tell you what you need to do to keep your certification, but it´s up to you to keep up with certification program changes! Once your certification expires, it's gone, so get in the habit of visiting Cisco's website to make sure you're up to date on important recertification requirements.
How To Choose The Right IT Certification Training
By Natalie Aranda
Article Date: 2006-03-07
IT training is an important part of your professional formation, offering a range of alternatives in software training, technical training and certification training, that sometimes make it hard to find out which one is the most convenient when it comes to deciding.
Although, any major IT giants have their own certification courses and programs, it is more likely people normally choose Microsoft Certification, the most renown and generalized computer certification, but in your particular case it may not satisfy your IT training needs.
Whichever certification you choose, you always will be totally dependant upon your planned career path or current position, because you cannot simply specialize on Microsoft Windows, Windows Server 2003, or any other products in the Microsoft Windows platform, if your development plans involve only Unix, Solarix or any other platforms.
Of course, it can be useful to have many different certifications, but it is also important to focus your primary attention to your immediate goals. Whether, certification training, software training or technical training, every path has elective exams that help you to pay attention on the skills that are really important to you, or accordingly to your job title.
IT training is the best way to earn certification in fields such as, Network Administrator, Software Engineer, Software Application Developer, Systems Analyst, Database Analyst, IT Business Analyst, Trainer, Technical Consultant, Administrator Web Application Developers Internet Developers, Office Manager, Executive Assistant or Technical Writer.
Sometimes your career path may require extensive knowledge of all technologies, making it very confusing to make a decision for your next career step, particularly when this decision involves 2 different certifications, for example, Microsoft certifications or Cisco certifications or 2 different areas.
There are currently more than 400 certifications available, making it even harder to choose the right IT training, and with more and more created every year, selecting one certification training can be discouraging.
However, if you evaluate your current skills and experience, identifying what it is exactly that you are trying to accomplish, technical training, software training, IT training, etc. the next steps will be easier.
Anne Martinez, author of "Get Certified and Get Ahead" cites; "certification training listed on your resume demonstrates your ability and your desire to stay current'. If your are still confused, take advantage of the Internet researching a little bit about the different certifications available.
Narrow your scope in order to prepare yourself for a new career, may also improve your opportunities to make the right decision, and once you feel comfortable with the acquired certification, you can always test your skills online or at the same locations where you are taking the IT training.
About the Author:
Natalie Aranda writes about computer and technology.
Microsoft Certification: The New MCTS Tracks And Exams
By Chris Bryant
Article Date: 2006-03-02
Microsoft is revamping its certification tracks, and will eventually retire the familiar MCSE certificatons.
The new certification setup is much like Cisco´s, where there are specialist certifications to go along with the more general CCNA, then mid-level certifications such as the CCNP, and then a more-advanced practical exam modeled somewhat after the coveted CCIE certification.
Microsoft´s new specialist exams are the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) exams. As of March 2006, there were five separate MCTS Tracks. Three of them deal with .NET Framework 2.0; these are the Web Application, Windows Applications, and Distributed Applications certifications. Each of these separate certifications requires the candidate to pass two exams. There is also a one-exam SQL Server 2005 certification, as well as a BizTalk Server 2006 single-exam certification.
The initial question is "Why is Microsoft doing this?" According to their website, MS feels that IT hiring managers today have a tough time deciding which computer certifications best identify job candidates who best meet their needs. I know it´s easy to take verbal shots at Microsoft (it´ll be an Olympic sport one day), but this new series of certs does have appeal for hiring managers, which can only help qualified candidates. Instead of the more-general MCSE, which does still suffer from the overcertification of NT 4.0 MCSEs back in the day, these more-specific certifications will make it easier for the job candidate to prove that they can do the job - and easier for the hiring manager to make an informed decision.
Microsoft hasn´t announced the track that will eventually replace the MCSE, but this track will be revealed with the next client-server Windows release. It´s up to you to stay informed of these changes, so I recommend you visit Microsoft´s certification website often. "I didn´t know" isn´t much help once a certification expires!
Passing Your MCSE Exams On The Road To Microsoft Certification
By James Croydon
Article Date: 2006-02-14
To earn the Microsoft certified systems engineer certification and to prove expertise in designing and implementation of the infrastructure for business solutions based on the Microsoft Windows 2003 platform and Microsoft Windows Server system, MCSE exam is the best medium.
MCSE exam is held to improve the expertise in designing and implementing Windows Server 2003 and other issues related to it. In order to take an MCSE exam one needs to go through a fourteen-day MCSE training boot camp that helps in successfully becoming an MCSE. They use custom developed curriculum that is designed to provide both exam preparation and practical technology skills, ensuring that the examinee shall be ready for the performance based testing Microsoft has introduced in their certification programs. Experience instructors have been arranged who posses many years of experience of working wit Microsoft operating system and technologies both in the field and in the classroom.
Computer labs are designed using genuine PC technology, which provides each student having the ability to access various Microsoft operating systems simultaneously on their desktop. Due to this facility provided for MCSE exam, students can access any time to practice for the exam throughout in order to maintain their progress and determine the areas that require further study of those Microsoft operating systems.
Different kinds of resources are provided to both students and instructors under this boot camp while preparing for MCSE exam. These resources are based on web and also distribute them after and before the classroom session so that both of them can share information. The online forum assists them to analyze different methods of programming. These centers are available for obtaining the certification goals. Pre-class preparation is essential to ensure complete success in an MCSE exam.
In the beginning materials and instructions are handed out which define as to how to prepare for the exam. In addition to this, as earlier mentioned one gets to access online resources, which provide detailed course information, and additional preparation resources. These resources related to the discussion forums and private questions posed to the instructors also help in preparing for the MCSE exam as they help in clearing doubts and difficulties.
The boot camp for MCSE exam is set up to ensure the success rate for the examinees as well to prepare them before beginning of the classes. One testing voucher per MCSE exam is included with the course material. It ensures that the examinee is not misled. The limitation for the MCSE exam is provided during the class. Cost of retaking is borne by the examinee in case if he is unable to appear on the scheduled date. Also, if one feels that he would not be ready to take one or more exam during the boot camp then vouchers are handed out to enable the examinee to take the exam at a later date. This course can be retaken at free of cost but the testing fee and the courseware fee is not included. The validity for retaking the exams stands for six months.
The candidates should have at least one year of experience in using Windows NT, Windows 2000 Server or Windows 2003 server in a networking environment to be eligible to attend the boot camp for the MCSE exam. Along with this there are several other pre-requisites for taking the exam. The candidate should have the knowledge of general networking concepts, IP addressing and sub-netting Active Directory Networking services. This gives the opportunity to brush up on technology skills and fill in any gaps in the knowledge base.
The Path To Follow After Earning Your CCNA
By Chris Bryant
Article Date: 2006-02-08
Once you earn your CCNA certification, you´ve got quite a few exciting choices ahead of you!
The majority of CCNAs go on to pursue another Cisco certification, and this is a wise decision. The more you know, the more valuable you are in today´s IT market.
A question I´m often asked by new CCNAs is "Which certification should I go after next?" Often, these new CCNAs have their eye on the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) certification. While adding a security certification to your resume is an excellent idea, I strongly recommend that new CCNAs acquire their Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification before pursuing their security certifications. The CCNP requires you to pass three or four exams (depending on the path you choose) that will demand a further mastery of some subjects you studies to earn your CCNA as well as several important topics that you haven't seen yet.
The CCNP builds on the foundation of networking knowledge you built when you earned your CCNA, and your CCNP study will add greatly to your skills and resume. There are some common technologies that you´ll see in many networks - BGP and route redistribution among them - that you don´t learn about in your CCNA studies. By pursuing your CCNP, you´ll also learn much more about OSPF, switching, and refine your troubleshooting skills. These are skills that will pay off in your current job as well as any future job hunting you do.
I know that security is the hot topic of the day, and with good reason. But to be a well-rounded networking engineer, you need to understand BGP, route redistribution, complex route summarization scenarios, and many other topics that earning the CCNP will help you understand. And besides, the security certifications will definitely be there when you´re done earning your CCNP!
Why Should I Train For A Microsoft Certification?
By James Croydon
Article Date: 2006-01-16
Microsoft certification is a vast combination of rich and varied jobs and responsibilities.
To successfully perform the critical IT function we should earn a specific credential providing objective validity of the ability. One of the most effective ways to reach a long-term career goal, which is even embraced by industry professionals worldwide, is Microsoft certification.
Advancing with long-term career goals Microsoft certification has helped countless IT professionals work more effectively. Individuals have started quoting their valuable experiences during the Microsoft certification course on the websites available. The professionals of Microsoft certification course are very different from the IT counterparts. They not only keep on fighting the challenges of IT field but also have keep themselves a step ahead from them by developing and improving their skills. These certification processes gives one a kind of knowledge to know how to get recognized in any field.
The professionals of Microsoft certification are called at the Microsoft certified professionals or MCP. For the this Microsoft certification they have to pass current Microsoft certification exam which will proved a reliable and valid measure of professional and technical expertise. The validity of a current exam is only considered and not which is retired. Microsoft certification exams reflect how Microsoft products are used in the organization.
Microsoft certification exams are developed from the inputs received from the IT industry professionals. The independent testing organizations administer these exams. There is one very big reason why IT professionals and developers become Microsoft certified professionals is that they all know that their clients, peers, employees and the IT industry shall acknowledge their expertise in working with the Microsoft products and technologies.
There are various steps towards obtaining Microsoft certification. Firstly, one should decide which Microsoft certification is correct for the person. As Microsoft offers a vast variety of professions within the IT industry one should understand which course would be the best for him. One should also get handy with the Microsoft products, which can be done only after working in the IT industry. Experience should be expanded with training by taking advantage of the training resources.
For obtaining Microsoft certification, it is also better to know what to expect in the exam. Previous question papers or taking consultation from those who have appeared or cleared the test is always a good choice. Taking helps from the help guides for Microsoft certification exams is also an added advantage. These help provide guidelines and suggestions to the person appearing for the exam. It is also suggested to take trial tests before appearing for the final exam. The test center should be selected from the worldwide locations. Also certain details like area of study, testing program and region etc should be mentioned.
Even after polishing our skills set Microsoft certification provides other specific advantages. They are like the recognition of our knowledge and proficiency in the industry. One can also be accessed as MCP member on the websites and can obtain various offers and discounts on products and services. One can also get career information and simultaneously get invitations to conferences, special events and training sessions.
A Microsoft certification shows technical leadership over other peers as well as ability to successfully implement Microsoft business solutions for any organizations or clients.
About the Author:
James Croydon, Microsoft Certified Professional and Boot Camp MCSE advisor - focusing on MCSE Training and MCSE Study