After having been gone for two weeks, it was good to be home. Should be getting all my Cisco course books towards the end of this week. I have already started getting ready to retake the ROUTE exam this coming friday. I had hoped to take it while in Las Vegas but with all 3 testing centers being fully booked that day, it just wasn’t in the cards. Assuming that I can get ready to take the exam this friday, I hope to be able to take the SWITCH exam about two weeks after that. Since I didnt score well on the SWITCH exam, I want to be really prepared before I spend the money for the exam.
I have been going over my notes from the past couple of weeks. Some of what I have to say, I would really like to talk to someone in Cisco Education because of some of the concerns I have. Unfortunately, I don’t know if that is going to happen. I spent over 5 years on Novell’s Certification Advisory Council many years ago and felt that during my time on the Council that I was able to help get changes implemented that benefited the others that were certified or were going through the program. Although not all the changes that were suggested by the Council were implemented, in several cases because of the tenure of some of those on the Council exceeded that length of service of some that we worked with in the Novell Education Group, we were able to help them avoid going down a road they had gone down before that didn’t work.
My first concern is the lack of IPv6 material in the CCNP R/S courseware. With the importance that Cisco has placed on IPv6, I was surprised at the lack of material on that subject in any of the courseware. All that we got was a CD/DVD which pretty much didnt work on a Mac which was interesting considering the number of individuals I know within and outside of Cisco that use Mac’s that this wouldn’t have been tested. I don’t get the impression that the CCNP manuals are printed very far in advance, so I think a revision to them to include IPv6 would well worth the time and effort required.
For those that have been reading my blog know the time I spent getting a IPv6 Tunnel Broker connection working so I could get more experience with that technology that I felt sure would be tested. What caught me off guard was that there is an automatic mode version of the IP6to4 gateway that I didn’t know existed from everything I read which I believe caused me to answer several questions wrong on the exam based on my experience with only dealing with the manually configured portion of the gateway. I know that in the past that Cisco, according to rumor, has had one group write the tests and another group that writes the courseware and other documentation. I would like to suggest that Cisco rethink that process as it is doing more of a disservice to the class participants and those doing self study that I see it doing any good.
Normally at the past Bootcamp I attended, I pretty much kept to myself after class because I was there to learn and get certified which left no time for eating out and seeing the sites. Fortunately this time, I managed to strike up a relationship with a couple of folks in class that ended up forming a sort of study group since we were staying at the same hotel. That really helped especially on the TSHOOT exam where I had to make significant changes to my normally troubleshooting methodology in order to pass the exam. I don’t know that I would have had the success I did on TSHOOT without the support and guidance from the two that were in the study group. That kind of dynamic or process doesn’t always happen but in this case, it would have appeared to help at least for the last exam I took.
Although more and more folks pursuing various Cisco certifications use GNS3 to help with the study/learning process, it lacks one major feature with not being able to run the IOS for a cisco switch so you can use it for more of the study process. I understand from what is on the GNS3 website why they cant emulate a Cisco switch. Cisco has a product called Packet Tracer that offers most of the functionality that you would benefit from being able to use it. Having seen a copy of Packet Tracer, I can see where it would be beneficial. Unfortunately, it is only available to those going through the Cisco Network Academy program. I would challenge Cisco to rethink that and either include it as a part of the Cisco Learning Partner program, make it directly purchasable from a website with support available through the Cisco Support forums only or just make it publicly available for download like they have done for the network topology drawings for the TSHOOT exams.
I would have preferred that there had been more lecture on the topics that we covered since some of that I hadn’t used before going to class and it might be something before I would be comfortable with using them in a production situation with having a better understanding. Some of those topics I plan on talking about here after I get both ROUTE and SWITCH passed and have more time to devote digging into some of these topics. Guess I got a little spoiled with the CCNP Security Bootcamp that I went through with Steve Means when he was at CCBootcamp. Each instructor has their own style.
I ran into one problem in the SWITCH exam where one switch would accept the trunk encapsulation command and another one in the same simulation would surprised me. From talking with others who have taken the exam and they ran into the same problem. This would appear to indicate a problem in the same and not a problem with a particular testing center’s computers. Fortunately, the sh etherchannel summary command verified that the command had worked but even with that I wasn’t sure that I would get credit for the exam. I understand that Cisco has deprecated the write mem command that a few of us have used over the years but ran into several situations where copy run start also didn’t work really concerned me since how would Cisco know that we had properly completed a question when the very command that we have been told to use during the test to get credit for a question and also use in every day life wasn’t working. I would have though from the amount of time that Cisco has been using this type of simulation engine that this would be a working function.
Thanks to everyone who has followed me through this series. Will provide a few more updates as I get past the ROUTE and SWITCH exams. If you are also going through the CCNP Certification process, please let me know if I can help you as you move along and I will be glad do what I can.