How I nearly failed (part of) the CCNA again

A Little Bit of History

CCNA for me has been a long journey. I first saw the cert 8 or 9 years ago, and I’ve always fancied giving it a go, but never had the opportunity until my current role. I’ve managed to fail the combined CCNA exam twice so far, at my employers expense, and took a break to get some of the Microsoft Windows Server 2012 certs under my belt to keep us in line with Partnership levels. Now I’m back to the CCNA in earnest. Continue reading “How I nearly failed (part of) the CCNA again”

CCNA – 4 – Applications


Continuing my series as I work through the CCNA syllabus. The introduction to the series can be found here.

I will be pretty much following the CCNA Composite Exam Blueprint point for point. One post per bullet point. I’m using Version 11 (640-802). Continue reading “CCNA – 4 – Applications”

So today I failed to achive a CCNA

What a depressing title for a blog. Why? That’s a good question. Why did I fail it? Why am I blogging about it? Showing the world what I can’t do? Even more to the point, why am I invading PlanetVM to blog about it? Well let’s start with the first question, and see if it takes us to an answer to them all.

Why did I fail it? Because I didn’t know the stuff. It’s that brutally simple.

I don’t think I’m that stupid. I’ve been “in the game” for a good 10 years. I’ve been responsible for networks for SMEs from 30 users and a single site, up to 400 users over 25 sites. I’ve done dial-up in the US, and HSRP in the core. I’ve done all that whilst having to troubleshoot Linux, and Windows and AWS instances, and …. It goes on. It’s not special. Thousands of people like me do this every day.

But I should have had a CCNA years ago. I wanted a CCNA years ago, and never got around to it. Recently I got the chance, and I jumped at it. I jumped too quickly. I picked the date. I perused some websites, and kidded myself I know what I was doing. Did you hear the thud this morning as I hit the ground?

Remember that guy in high school, who finished the exam in half the allotted time, and spent the rest doodling and writing out guitar tab? Then got an A? That was me. Not today it wasn’t. 5 questions left with 00:00:00 on the clock. You can’t argue with a computers time keeping, but jeepers, did someone turn the clocks back early? I’ve read plenty of times about Cisco exams and time management. Nothing brings that home like checking how long you have to do this question, and seeing 10 bright red seconds turn to 9…..

What about the questions, surely I could answer them? Right? Well, almost it seems. The blueprint doesn’t give any idea of the depth these questions go into. You really need to know this stuff backwards. That is the biggest, most important lesson I’ve learnt today. I thought I knew this stuff. I’ve barely scratched the surface.

So now we are back to why I’m blogging about it. Einstein famously said that if you can’t teach something to a 5 year old, you don’t really know it. I do have a 5 year old test subject. But he’d get pretty bored of sub-netting, pretty damned quick (don’t we all?). So I’m going for the next best thing. I intend to take the blueprint. I intend to take the topics one at a time and blog about them. If I can’t make a sensible post about the point. I don’t know it well enough. I intend to do the posts “blind”, off line, closed book. Then check them afterwords and see where I went wrong.

I’ve known Tom now for a good few years, and he’s very kindly offered to host these posts, mostly for his own nefarious reasons. I am happy to oblige by rounding out planet VM with some networking snippets of which this series is only the first!

Finally I’m going to ask you. My imaginary friends who I hope read this, and Tom’s loyal followers to do me a favour. Pick the posts apart. Show me the nuance I’m missing, tell me when I’m outright wrong and haven’t even noticed it, and hey, maybe we’ll all learn something.

The path to Data Centre Zen – Part 1

2 years ago Cisco announced it’s future Data Centre vision “Data Center 3.0”.  Since then we have seen a plethora of products emerge in the marketplace aimed towards the enablement of this vision; the most recent of which is the Cisco Unified Computing System or UCS.  The UCS in perhaps the most powerful and feature rich system released to date, but it is merely part of the bigger picture.

Data Center 3,0 is about far more than just Virtualisation.  It’s goal is to enable IT to become a service, not a cost-centre by making it agile, fast to deploy and easy to manage.  This will enhance end-user experience and enable the network as a platform for collaboration.  There is also a large saving to be made in the running costs of the “Data Center 3.0” model which will please both tree-huggers and bean-counters.

Cisco’s vision is great.  I do not disagree with the principles in the slightest.  The only issue I have is the premium that is paid by the customer and the vendor lock-in.

So my vision for the future is Data Centre Zen.  It is a vendor-neutral architecture with the same underlying principles.
The path to achieving Data Centre Zen is simple:

  • Consolidation
    Consolidation uses a Unified Fabric, which has been enabled through the development of FCoE and loss-less Ethernet (DCE), and CNA’s or Converged Network Adapters that have been developed to consolidate HBAs and NICs.
  • Virtualisation
    Well established solutions are already in place for Server and Desktop Virtualisation but Network Virtualisation is a key part of the overall picture.
  • Integration
    The network must become integrated with VM’s and Applications to be able to dynamically respond to their needs
  • Service Orchestration
    The final step to achieving Zen is enabled though automated provisioning, intelligent network management and integrated security.

Over the coming weeks I will be elaborating on each phase of the model and associated technologies with a view to helping all take one step closer to Data Centre Zen.