Book Review: CCNP SWITCH 300-115 Official Cert Guide

Book Review: CCNP SWITCH 300-115There are only a handful of books to select from when studying for the CCNP SWITCH 300-115 exam. It’s tough to make the right decision on a resource for an exam that costs $250 to sit in. My go-to book resource is Cisco Press. In short, I passed the CCNP SWITCH (300-115) exam on January 20th, 2015 with the assistance of CCNP SWITCH 300-115 Official Cert Guide.

When I started studying for this exam on October 31st, 2014, there wasn’t a book available covering the new objectives. I printed the exam objectives and started reading configuration guides. As soon as the books were available, I put an order in with Cisco Press and I was off.

The author, David Hucaby, did a great job with his explanations. The book itself isn’t as big as ROUTE. What I like about this book is it is easy to follow along with Cisco’s objectives. After passing the exam, I can say that it covers it very well. David helped me to understand topics where I was weak. It helped reinforce the fundamentals of Spanning Tree and redundancy such as GLBP.

Within the book are good diagrams and configuration examples. The little details are in there as well such as timers, intervals, etc. You’ll need to remember those for the exam.

In preparation for the exam, each chapter is preluded with a chapter quiz. I used those pre-chapter quizzes after I have read through the entire book. The questions are very good compared to the exam. I dig deeper into other topics where I score lower than 80%. Each chapter has anywhere from 10-15 questions so it’s not something to rely on.Continue Reading…


Windows Server NLB VIP Multicast Mode Through Cisco Switch

If you are unable to connect to a Windows Server Network Load Balancing (NLB) Virtual IP address configured for Multicast Mode it is because of the way your Cisco switch interacts with Microsoft NLB.

Symptoms

  • Cannot connect to Windows Server NLB Virtual IP address
  • Cannot ping Windows Server NLB Virtual IP address
  • Microsoft NLB Multicast Mode not working

I won’t go into the details of how NLB works but in short, client requests are distributed across different servers. To configure NLB, you can use three modes:

  • Unicast
  • Multicast
  • IGMP

Using Multicast Mode

When using Multicast mode, the cluster members will respond to ARPs using their virtual IP address and a multicast MAC address. Without the proper configuration on the switch you will not be able to connect to the Virtual IP address.

This will not work because within the ARP request packet is a unicast IP address and a multicast MAC address. Troubleshooting it can be frustrating but a Cisco switch will ignore this. Below is the configuration to be done on the switch.

Cisco Switch Configuration

To resolve the problem, create a static ARP entry for the Virtual IP Address to the NLB MAC address. Then create a static MAC address entry to the VLAN and interfaces used by the cluster.

In my case, my virtual IP address is 192.168.10.10 with MAC address of 03bf.0a65.05fa. That IP address is on VLAN 10 and the servers’ interfaces are part of a port-channel, both Port-Channel1 and Port-Channel2.

The following configuration is as follows:

arp 192.168.10.10 03bf.0a65.05fa
mac address-table static 03bf.0a65.05fa vlan 10 interface Port-Channel1 Port-Channel2

Some configuration items to note.. not all Cisco switches will support a static entry of a MAC address to multiple interfaces. In my case I am using a Cisco Catalyst 4500-X in VSS mode. The servers had two network interfaces configured into an EtherChannel.

Studying For the CCNA? Which Books To Read.

Books to read for the CCNA certificationAre you planning on studying for the CCNA this year? As we begin the new year, 2015, many will have a goal of studying and acquiring their Cisco CCNA certification. A challenging yet tough goal.

There are many resources available for the future network engineer but there are two books I always recommend to anyone wanting to tackle the CCNA. Both are from Cisco Press and authored by Wendell Odom who does a fantastic job in getting you all the information you need to pass the CCNA.

Depending on how you are going to take the exam you have two options, composite or separate exams.

If you’re studying for the CCNA Routing and Switching composite, 200-120 exam then all you need is CCNA Routing and Switching 200-120 Official Certification Guide.

If you’re going to split the exams in two, which is what I did, then you need the following books:

All three books are updated for the latest redesigned CCNA exam.

Why Cisco Press books? They follow the exam objectives. It’s easy to go through while following the blueprint. The CCNA books come with pre-chapter quizzes to test your knowledge of each topic. I recommend taking the pre-chapter quizzes after reading through the material to find out where your weak areas are.

At the end of each chapter there are exercises to reinforce what you just read. Additionally, you are given memory tables of which you should memorize for the exam.

The extra material is aimed at helping you master the topics needed to pass the CCNA exam. The books are very helpful and should be the core part of your study plan.

Do you have any questions? Leave me a comment below.