Friday, April 16, 2010

CCNA Cisco Certified Network Associate : Study Guide Ebook

Some child psychologists will tell you that you should never talk down to your children. Rather than spoonfeeding 'em baby talk, you should speak to your kids using big words and long complex sentences--which is tougher on the kid at first, but ultimately makes them a lot smarter than they'd ever be from just hearing `goo goo ga ga`.

In much the same way, Sybex's CCNA Study Guide is a book that uncompromisingly presents complex material and expects you to live up to it. While the explanations are dense and often intimidating, once you get through this book, you'll be ready to face--and pass!--the treacherous CCNA exam.

Todd Lammle assumes that the reader has a passing familiarity with basic networking concepts, and he launches straight into an in-depth review of the OSI networking model without even mentioning what hubs, routers, and switches are. He then works his way into explaining TCP/IP and TCP/IP subnetting, a notoriously confusing concept for beginners, and in truth, mid-level techies may be temporarily confused here as well.

Unlike many other CCNA study guides, which touch briefly on subnetting and then provide a list of common subnet masks for rote memorization, Lammle really wants you to understand why certain masks and address ranges work. His objective is for his readers to be able to compute subnets on the fly--a task which many network professionals fake to this day--and as such, he takes you deep into the binary mysteries of TCP/IP. The explanations here are real migraine-inducers, but that's more the fault of TCP/IP's innate complexity than Lammle's explanations. Lammle himself admits that he expects his audience to have to reread the TCP/IP chapter at least once--but if you take the time to bear down, do the math, and really study, you'll never need to read another chapter on TCP/IP subnetting again.

The next sections of the book deal with Cisco routing commands, and it is here that the CCNA Study Guide truly shines. Cisco router commands are infamous for providing the user with floods of information, and the incoming tide of network statistics often sends fledgling CCNA trainees into info-shock. When you have three pages worth of data zipping by on your screen, how do you decide what the important bits are?

Lammle does an extremely good job of walking his students through the various Cisco commands. He explains what each command is meant to do, shows how it's done, and then shows you what you should be looking for after it's done. The chapters here are methodical, thorough, and dense, but they hang together excellently. The only problem is that Lammle assumes you'll be practicing these commands on an actual router--and many CCNA students don't have a practice lab to work with. However, if you purchase the CCNA Virtual Lab, a highly recommended piece of software that simulates Cisco routers in an connected environment, you'll have the next best thing to hands-on router experience. A preview edition of the Virtual Lab is included with the book.

The last section of the book is devoted to WAN protocols, and this part of the book is slightly disappointing. While the details presented in the WAN chapters are solid, they seem slightly out of proportion: while Wide Area Networks, and in particular, ISDN, are a reasonably large part of the CCNA exam, the ISDN section here is all of 20 pages. It's not that there's not enough to pass, but Lammle doesn't provide his usual wealth of details in the final chapter.

Like every good certification book, there are quizzes to test your skill, and you won't be lacking for choices here--seven `open answer` questions, 20 multiple-choice questions, and hands-on workshops grace the end of each chapter. The book ends with a 60-question final exam. The questions are moderately hard, and are a good test of your overall comprehension, but you can probably expect to find harder questions on the actual exam.

Rounding out this book is a voluminous hands-on walk-through of Catalyst 1900 Switch configuration, a comprehensive list of CCNA router commands, and a 70-page glossary. In short, this guide is like a stern teacher: it's not always easy to follow, and it's sometimes frustrating. But by the time you're finished, you'll understand the material better than you could have ever dreamed. --William Steinmetz

User review
Chapter 1 terrible
I haven't gotten past chapter one yet, but I hope the rest of the book is better than this. A lot better. The book seems to contradict itself regularly, and uses terms that it hasn't previously defined, so I have to keep a bookmark in the glossary section and flip back to it frequently
(and I'm not a novice either). The questions at the end of the chapter are completely worthless. Many of them are so vague as to be unanswerable, and for many of the rest I can find quotes in the chapter that contradict the answers given. I like review questions, so I've bought another book that has better ones. But if the quality of the text doesn't improve in the coming chapters, I'll have to give up on this book.

User review
Cisco ccna Review
I will be sending this book back because it is from 2002 and does not contain updates to ccna content and the readable CD that came with the book can only be opened in adobe V5, I cannot downgrade to V5.
Thank you
John Williams

User review
Not a bad primer, but,,,,
Lammle does an excellent job of explaining complex networking concepts (particularly subnetting) in terms simple enough for someone with no previous exposure to networking to understand.

Unfortunately, some subjects were oversimplified, to the point that I felt underprepared for the CCNA test. If you are an excellent student, or you retain 100% of what you read, this book will get you a passing score on the exam. For the rest of us, I recommend Wendell Odom's CCNA Self Study Certification Library (Cisco Press - ISBN 1-58720-095-3). There's more to read, but you'll enter the exam more confident and better prepared.

-sean henning

User review
Lamle does it right
The most challenging thing a certification test-prep book faces is the way it invariably will be misused. There is an old saw about using the right tool for the job, which in essence tells us to use the correct planning, strategy, and action to get the result we want. The majority of people purchasing a book like this are planning to take the CCNA exam and want some help preparing. This makes sense, and this is why I myself purchased Lamle's book. While it worked, and I passed with a 901, I couldn't help but wonder how much more difficult it would have been without hands-on experience with the devices, protocols and processes themselves at work. I have not yet met anyone who studied for, and passed, the CCNA test without any prior hands-on network experience.

It makes me very nervous to read someone's review suggesting, `This is the only preparation you need`. To pass the test, you will likely need some experience as well, and to avoid the Catch-22 of requiring experience to get the job, yet also the job to gain the experience, I would recommend seeking first a junior position in the field, where you can not only get the experience, but also the mentoring of senior networking staff.

However, once you pass the test and have the cert, we face another challenge: `Does the cert verify your ability to apply what you know?` Not really, but that's why you cannot stop learning and developing your skills set there. You will likely need the CCNA to get the interview for the Networking job you seek, but you will need interview skills to get the job, and you will need to be able to APPLY your technical knowledge to keep it. Lamle's book is one of the best prep books out there for the CCNA. But if you plan to have a long-term career in Networking, do not think for a moment that you can stop there. And I'm not just talking about the next level of Cisco Certification.

Buy this book and study it, but make sure you maintain a long-term professional skills development plan, and if you don't already have it, start building your experience in the field. You'll need it.

Good luck!

User review
A Must Buy!
This book definitely helped me pass my CCNA. The material in this book will definitely provide you with the tools you need in order to configure Cisco equipment and pass the CCNA the first time.

I passed the exam with a 901 the first try.

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