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CCNA Certification Library 182

Michael Bennett Cohn writes "Cisco Press' CCNA Self-Study Certification Library by Wendell Odom consists of two books: the ICND guide and the INTRO guide, corresponding to tests 640-811 and 641-821, respectively. Passing each of those tests will make you a CCNA; so will passing combined exam 640-801. I passed exam 640-801 in one try, with no real networking experience and having taken no classes. The ICND and INTRO books comprised my primary training materials." To sort out a bit of that alphabet soup, CCNA stands for "Cisco Certified Network Associate" and ICND for "Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices," though if you're in the market for this book you probably already knew that. Read on for the rest of Michael Bennett Cohn's review.
Self-Study Certification Library
author Wendell Odom
pages 1232 (combined)
publisher Cisco Press
rating 6
reviewer Michael Bennett Cohn
ISBN 1587200953
summary Useful but annoying; Decent study materials for Cisco tests 640-811 and 641-821.

Although it is possible to enroll in official ICND and INTRO courses created by Cisco, the books that make up this "library," apparently, are not the books used in those courses. Within the ICND book, Odom refers to "the ICND course, on which the exam is partly based," suggesting that what you have in your hands is a reverse-engineered study guide: a study guide for an exam that is based on a course that does not use said book. Odom occasionally presents tables that he claims come from the ICND course. Clearly, some parts of the course are not fair game for the study guide.

In other words, don't think that just because you are reading the official Cisco press CCNA study guides, you are dealing with a set of information that is as close as possible to the set of information from which the test was drawn.

Studying these books will prepare you for the CCNA in the same way that reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z will prepare you to identify the capital of Nairobi. It goes without saying that a CCNA candidate should not be studying just to pass a test, she should be studying to qualify herself for a job. But in this case, the difference between the material presented and the material actually making up the test is excessive.

Odom goes to a lot of effort to make the reader feel like he is being spoken to by a friend. "Fun, isn't it?" he writes, after presenting an illustration of function groups and access points that I had to re-draw for myself several times in order to understand. Later, he describes Inverse ARP as "another case of learning by listening, a great lesson for real life!" Gee, thanks. The subtle condescension in the non-humorous asides, the gleeful overuse of exclamation points, and the fable in which Pebbles Flintstone invents networking is compounded by the persistent contextual encapsulation of every single topic in the book. Odom tells you what he's going to tell you, then he tells you, then he tells you what he's told you, much more than necessary.

A better way to put the flustered reader at ease might have been to proofread the books. The ICND guide, especially, is so full of typos that it is often embarrassing to read. In some cases, these are nothing more than obvious misspellings that can be passed over without much more than a little annoyance (e.g. ICND p. 472, "status enquiry messages"). In other cases, the meaning of the sentence is muddled. Worse, the configuration examples have obviously not been proofread either, resulting in, for example, the prompt "R1(config)#" when the appropriate prompt is "R1(config-if)." The difference may seem trivial, but understanding its significance is the kind of stuff the CCNA is all about.

Each book comes with a CD containing a practice test engine and a router simulator (both from Boson). The mistakes in the ICND book pale in comparison to those in the CD test engines. In fact, an argument could be made that studying with those practice tests will hinder more than help the CCNA candidate who has not read the books thoroughly enough to recognize the mistakes. Many multiple-choice questions count correct answers wrong and vice versa (and some of these are taken directly from the books, which usually give the correct answer). A configuration entered into the CLI on a simulator question will be graded as wrong, and the user will then be presented with an identical configuration as an example of the correct way to solve the problem.

None of these problems change the fact that these books will, if used correctly, absolutely help you pass the CCNA. But do it this way: Read the INTRO book. Take the exam right away. If you don't pass, flip through the ICND book and find the areas that you actually need to work on. You'll save months of study time that could be better spent working on your CCNP.

I give the library as a whole 3 out of 5 stars.

You can purchase the CCNA Certification Library from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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CCNA Certification Library

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why don't they call it, the "how to get your job outsourced to india library." FP!
  • Updated, unabridged. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There's an article here [blat.info] that mentions the unabridged version. It's a must for serious CCNA folk.

    Then again, why are they reading Slashdot?
  • by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:47PM (#8045754) Homepage Journal
    I passed exam 640-801 in one try, with no real networking experience and having taken no classes.

    I mean, come on now. If this networking novice can pass a test for a networking cert then the value of that cert is substantially reduced. The CCNA is almost as worthless as the MCSE and A+. Any schmuck can get their MCSE.

    • So you're saying he should have failed a few times? That's BS. Maybe he has a firm grasp of the concepts. You can hardly make such an assumption on one person's results.
      • by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:55PM (#8045887) Homepage Journal
        I know more than one person that I would consider networking incompotent that got their CCNA on their first try. They don't know jack about networking. The extent of their networking experience is plugging their cable modem into the Ethernet jack on the back of their Gateway-built computer. That's all they've ever done (or will ever do). This is the same thing that happens with most testing in secondary grades. The students memorize just enough of the material to pass the test. They really don't know jack about what they were just tested over and they'll forget it all within hours of taking the test. They kept it in memory just long enough to get a piece of paper that says they know (knew) the data. If any old schmuck off the street can pick up a study guide for the CCNA and be prepared to take the actual test after spending a few hours reading that book then the cert is basically worthless. My mother could take the MCSE and pass it with flying colors, and she's a Mac user!
        • Re:Brain Dumping (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Wingchild ( 212447 ) <brian.kern@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:25PM (#8046283)
          This is the same thing that happens with most testing in secondary grades. The students memorize just enough of the material to pass the test.

          Bingo - that's it, the problem, the head of the nail that we're hitting (as it were).

          The reason that certifications have lost so much ground in the last five to ten and the reason that nobody respects MCSEs any longer is because of the nature of the testing. When certification exams are a matter of cramming your mind full of administrivia and memorizing cheat-sheets that teach the quick powers-of-two needed to compute a subnet mask, it's no wonder that the average level of the passing applicant falls. Facts and Figures can be memorized with some ease.

          MCSE exams fell prey to an entire cottage industry that exists to help people pass them. Think of every radio ad you've ever heard promising that wealth, riches, and beautiful women can all be yours if you just step into the magical and happy world of Information Technology! The industry's job is to ram you through a bootcamp training session and then have you dump that information back out on a certification exam, automagically, while your brain is still raw and bleeding. How much you retain isn't important to them at all; they try to drill into you the erroneous concept that Certification == Job ... and then get you to the certification, leaving you to figure out the last part on your own.

          The brain dump sites online, the exam cram book writers, and the people promising instant results can actually deliver: it is totally possible to ace a certification by studying old tests, reading old questions, and overloading for the purpose of passing your exam.

          And, just like back in college, you will not remember most of this information after the fact. :) Cram studying does not lead to long term information retention. How much Calculus do you recall, after years of not actually using it?

          The only way to really prove yourself is to start small, to learn what you can, and to etch it into your mind through repetition and hands-on experience.

          Do what you have to to get your certification. Do not expect to land an 80k/yr job off of it alone -- it won't work. (God help you if it does, you'll learn what being fired feels like very shortly thereafter.) Expect to land a starter job, and use that to make an impression on your bosses; learn fast, learn often, be a good employee.

          The recommendations of people you've worked for and with will serve you better in the long run than your certification will. It's time to rely on your qualities, rather than the qualities the paper says you have.
          • Re:Brain Dumping (Score:4, Interesting)

            by JudgeFurious ( 455868 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @04:35PM (#8047367)
            Yeah, that about covers it.

            In my case I started this at home. Got the "addiction" and started buying and tinkering with computers as fast as my budget would allow. I used to be the guy who bought new games and secretly hoped something wouldn't work right out of the box so I could figure out why. One day I looked up and I knew enough that someone would actually pay me to fix PCs for a living.

            Eventually that led me to better technician jobs and finally the desire to work on bigger problems. I got an entry level position here where I still work and started learning networks from my boss (And he started his "addiction" in the early 70's). At one point about four years ago management decided that we all needed to be MCSE certified and laid out a bunch of money to a training company for classes and vouchers. We were running Novell then and since we had been given the "We're switching to NT now" speech (again from management) they felt like we needed some training.

            We were all like "Ok, whatever." I went to the first class and tried to get into it but I wasn't learning anything. Sure I was learning how much Microsoft thought of their product but everything relevant was stuff I learned on the job. I ended up passing on the rest of the classes and just picking up some "Dummies" books and finishing it on my own.

            The vouchers my company paid for were of some use (because I wouldn't have bothered to pay for those tests on my own) and we ended up using the class time for another employee who needed some SQL training but the content was worthless. It amounted to me spending time learning enough "Administrivia" as you so nicely put it just to pass a stupid test I didn't really need and didn't want in the first place.

            On the other hand my brother jumped into this field because you could make bank in it. He went to college, I didn't. He has a CIS (or one of those, I don't really know or care much) degree and as soon as he got out he went through the Certification feeding frenzy and jumped into a job from the get go that paid more than I was making. I tried to talk him into spending some time to learn a foundation but he wanted the money and he got it. The thing is though he's lost and in way over his head. I think it's only a matter of time before he's looking for work because he doesn't love this stuff and he doesn't know it well enough. His paper means not much in the long run.

            It might sound like I'm looking forward to him hitting the wall but I'm not. I really just wish he'd listened to me (and had gone after something he enjoyed instead of what he thought was going to get him in a BMW faster). I've seen enough of the paper admins to know that no good comes of it.
          • I don't know about no one having respect for MCSE's anymore. I still see lots of job postings that require an MCSE,CCNA, etc. Keep in mind that tech people don't usually hire tech people, HR people hire them. HR people are not able to determine an individuals competence, so they rely on things like certifications. If they hire someone and they turn out to be a raving ninny, they can at least point to a piece of paper and say "How was I supposed to know they were an idiot, they were certified!"
          • Good comment. Give this guy a mod point or two. :)
        • I know more than one person that I would consider networking incompotent that got their CCNA on their first try. They don't know jack about networking. The extent of their networking experience is plugging their cable modem into the Ethernet jack on the back of their Gateway-built computer. That's all they've ever done (or will ever do).

          I have to wonder: what was the point of this person even taking the exam if they didn't know much about networking to begin with? I can't see the motivation for even tak

        • I am greatly offended by your comments. I am currently taking a class to prepare me to get an A+ certification, and people say that we shouldn't be allowed to take the exam, because we are 'just memorizing the answers' and are too young to really know what we're talking about. But that's what it's about. I you don't memorize the information, how can you pass the test, or, more important, be a good repair person/troubleshooter/etc. Are we supposed to just make this up as we go along? Am I supposed to work wi
    • by Wingchild ( 212447 ) <brian.kern@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:52PM (#8045832)
      One of the more amusing job hunting experiences I ever had revolved around this concept.

      I had already passed their resume' screening and phone interview process and was now down to the face-to-face (also known as the `Eyes, Fingers and Toes` check) and an on-site technical interview. After a brief discussion of my qualifications and experiences, one of their lead engineers was called over.

      Him: Okay, let's begin. Define `TCP/IP`.
      Me: ... are you serious?
      Him: It's just a standard question.
      Me: ... did you see that I have an MCSE and have been a network engineer for four years now?
      Him: The MCSE is why I'm asking.

      I kid you not. At the time I was sincerely insulted, but having spent a career surrounded by engineers who didn't know their asses from their elbows, I can see why he held that belief. The threat of the Paper MCSE is quite real -- and now, unfortunately, Cisco's certifications are being proven to have the same flaws.

      Certifications in the tech world are just like degrees, people -- they're paper. They're that foot in the door. They're a proof that you can read a book and pass a standardized test. They don't guarantee employment. They may get you the interview, just don't expect more from them.
      • by barryfandango ( 627554 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:11PM (#8046114)
        I work in the IT department of an aerospace engineering company, and the Professional Engineers (aeronautical and mechanical) here got very territorial and downright pissed the first time our network administrator sent out an email with the sig "Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer."

        How is it that Microsoft gets away with using this phrase when the certification is not recognized by the association of professional engineers?
        • How is it that Microsoft gets away with using this phrase when the certification is not recognized by the association of professional engineers?

          I have had the same problem at my work. I got very annoyed with every trumped up MCSE or CCNA declaring themselves either an "engineer" or an "architect". So I now have a rotating set of sigs to poke fun at their made up qualifications. For example,

          Master of Space and Time

          Doctor of Nematodalogy

          Professor of Smartification

          Our Gracious Lord High Mucky Muck

          • I agree, I am not an engineer. I have to put that on my job title, because that is what the contract says I am for billing reasons only. I have been doing this work for 10 years and love what I do. But because all I have is OJT and not a college degree I feel bad about it(not enough to leave my job). But If asked, I am honest about it. BUT I have seen some engineers who can equally make you think twice about what schools are teaching and how they even got those degrees.
            • BUT I have seen some engineers who can equally make you think twice about what schools are teaching and how they even got those degrees.

              I agree that the title means nothing. I also know of engineers who aren't worth the paper their degrees are printed upon. Similarly I know several high-school dropouts who have incredible skill and intelligence. IMO a degree is next to worthless; it simply proves you could afford to waste several years in academia.

              But that said, I still have an issue who claim to ha

        • And how have train-engine-operators been able to be called engineers?

          Quite frankly, "engineer" without qualifiers such as "P.E." means very little. It's a generic term with no licensed or legally binding meanings.

          For another example, I do have a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Iowa State University, but I elected not to take the P.E. exam. (for reference Computer Engineering is an offshoot of Electrical Engineering, specializing in a mixture of digital hardware design and software)

          Does this make me an
          • And how have train-engine-operators been able to be called engineers?

            They had it first, so we EE's cut them slack. If it helps you, think of it this way: they are "Engine-ers (injun-ers)", as in, "one who controls an engine". Not "Engineers (injun-eers)". BTW, you could be that too, if you could drive a train.

            Computer Engineering is an offshoot of Electrical Engineering

            I think you misspelled undershoot. Or perhaps failure.

            Does this make me an engineer or not?


            I've certainly taken
      • It's a common trap to take offense to an interviewer's question -- the solution is to just answer the question (for readers who didn't get it from the OP). Never mind that you've been programming in C for 10 years, just explain what a pointer is.
      • Hehe, I can sympathize. I think if person wants to keep up with the every degrading value of a cert, they need to stay on the cutting of the cert path. For example CCIE's are still worth while. My understanding of the hands on part of the test is that it's difficult and most fail it the first time out. You also have to actually know something to pass the paper test. Eventually the CCIE won't be worth much at all and Cisco will have to create new certs to replace the dated and worthless ones. The best
        • are you smoking crack? you must be. the CCIE _IS_ _THE_ IT certification. 15 years as a netadmin!? pfft, not bloody likely going to pass the CCIE. more than 70% of all people fail, and less than 1% pass on the first try. the CCIE is for people who eat sleep live shit and breathe cisco. Cisco usually offers people who get a CCIE a job with them doing consulting.

          I used to work for the largest web hosting provider in the world (no lie, I'm just not saying they're name here as they will probably see it) and th
          • You are right that a CCIE is hard, I have failed it once. I know people that have failed it 5 times. But the test is only $1,250 + travel (the test is only given in a few places worldwide).
          • Hell the CCNP is pretty damn valuable. There are only 4K of them in North America! Cisco's entry level cert is in fact pretty darn easy to get because it is a paper test. But it's not really meant to signify anything except that you are familiar with Cisco equipment and the basics of networking. Now the CCNP and CCIE are real world tests which ARE designed to test actual skill.
      • I couldn't agree more. Instead of how many degrees do you have perhaps their questions should be how many books did you read and understand or something.

        I personally like job experience, what projects did you work on, etc. And I believe that each and every one of us are capable of being a Sr. Tech in any field if we're put in the right environment with a patient group of people who want to teach and learn.

        Some people just take a little more encouragement and incentive to become interested in this techno
    • No, it's worthless because all of those jobs are being exported anyway.

      You need at least a CCIE to get a networking job in the us now.

      • You need at least a CCIE to get a networking job in the us now.

        Bullshit. I talked to the guys from the company who set up our school district's Cisco VoIP phone system, and they told me the minimum requirement to get hired there is a CCNA. I teach IT classes at our high school, and a lot of my kids get CompTIA certs (A+, Network+, etc.). I completely agree with everyone who has said that a paper certification like A+ or MCSE is just that - a piece of paper. However, the knowledge gained while prepari

        • (I used to teach chemistry and physics before teaching IT, so I'm not defending because I'm afraid of losing my job - there are benefits and weaknesses to any certification, and a good HR person should be able to recognize the abilities a job candidate has as opposed to what's listed in their resume.)

          I'm not trying to bust your nuts or anything, but you're out of touch... (I don't know if you've always been a teacher, or if it's just been a long time since you worked in the private sector.)

          First and fo

      • considering there only 9500 CCIE's world wide... with a current certification... that would create somewhat of a shortage of network engineers in the US :)
        • Well, I said to GET a job... there are a lot of network engineers with no CCNA that HAVE a job...

          The real question is, would the people with no certification that are currently employeed as network engineers get hired in today's job market for their current position if they had to interview for it?

    • by epiphani ( 254981 ) <[epiphani] [at] [dal.net]> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:53PM (#8045853)
      This cert shouldnt be taken so lightly. I've got my MCSE and A+, and I didnt study or even really pay attention for either.

      I've done *nix systems administration and programming for upwards of 6 years now, and I failed the CCNA cert the first time because I underestimated it. It required me to study, which is more than I can say for any other cert.

      Its *not* on the same level as an MCSE (which I agree with you on).
      • My experience was also much like yours.

        I passed the CCNA exam in 2000, after narrowly failing it on my first try. At the time, I was a *nix admin and also lead network engineer at medium-sized regional ISP. Certainly, I knew how to configure Cisco routers, switches, and RASes, since I was doing that work every day. This included configuring authenticated OSPF and maintaining a whole bunch of access lists.

        However, I had, with the help of others, taught myself my craft over several years and had never ta
    • by runlvl0 ( 198575 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:55PM (#8045880) Homepage Journal
      The CCNA is almost as worthless as the MCSE and A+. Any schmuck can get their MCSE.

      And you have yours, right? On Windows 2000? Or, is your only experience with Windows an old desktop running Windows 98? I have to say, the Windows 2000 MCSE is difficult enough that "any schmuck" would have problems getting one.

      P.S. - Yes, I have mine, in NT4, Windows 2000, and a Red Hat Linux RHCE (and about six years working in both Microsoft server and Linux OSs). Repeat after me: The Proper Tool for the Job...
      • There are LOTS of "boot camps" out there that will guarantee you'll be certified, for a price.

        Check google for
        "boot camp" MCSE 2000
        and you'll probably find one in your area.

        Not "any schmuck" will be able to get certified
        "any schmuck" with the cash will be able to get certified.
      • P.S. - Yes, I have mine, in NT4, Windows 2000, and a Red Hat Linux RHCE (and about six years working in both Microsoft server and Linux OSs). Repeat after me: The Proper Tool for the Job...

        Repeat after me: Better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

        If using the tool involves giving up my freedom then I'll manage to do without.

        • Repeat after me: The Proper Tool for the Job...

          Repeat after me: Better to die on your feet than live on your knees. If using the tool involves giving up my freedom then I'll manage to do without.

          A good enough point, and I support and use free (as in speech) software wherever possible, but I don't make purchasing decisions for all of my clients. I think that it'd be kind of unprofessional of me to say "D00d, you're running Windows? You're screwed. I refuse to work on that." I don't know if that's what
          • Besides, I stand by my original assertion - "the proper tool for the job" - is free software always the proper tool for the job,

            In my experience, not yet. Is there any technical reason why free software couldn't always be the best tool for the job? Nope. The reasons why non-free tools are sometimes better are economical, political and historical. Given enough time, I think those reasons will cease to be relevant.

            or is this a case where, to the man with just a hammer, every problem looks like a na

    • I don't think the CCNA is worthless as long as you understand where it falls in the grand scheme of things.

      Getting your CCNA is about the equivalent fo getting your MCP, they're both entry level, one or two test, certs. You don't expect someone with a CCNA to be able to configure BGP anymore than you would expect an MCP to set-up your Active Directory. The next step up is a whole other issue, the CCNP/CCDP is significantly harder to obtain than an MCSE, and there's really no MS equivalent of a CCIE.

      It s
      • Sitting in a CCNA class at this very minute I take issue with this, since BGP's are very much part of the syllabus thank you very much...

        And it's configure *a* BGP...
        • What the hell are you talking about?

          Being able to configure BGP (Border Gateway Protocol version 4) is NOT part of the CCNA cirriculum.

          And because BGP stands for "Border Gateway Protocol," you wouldn't "configure *a* BGP". You would configure BGP.

          Pay more attention during your class. I suspect you've confused "a BGP" with "an IGP," where IGP means "Interior Gateway Protocol."

          Would you like me to list them?

          • This is all very eye opening to me.

            I've never taken a standardized test for IT related stuff, but I thought a lot of the CCNA's running around out there.

            I've been using BIND for a while, BGP seems relatively easy when compared to a lot of other things. (Perl and IPSEC are just a couple that come to mind.) I would have expected a CCNA to thoroughly understand BGP.

            Sure, I've thought about getting a cert or two, but I like doing my own learning for the most part. This discussion tells me I sho
            • I've always viewed certs with a watchful eye. I've seen people with no certs who know their stuff inside and out, people with certs who make you worry if they touch your stuff, and people with certs who can make their machines sing.

              "This discussion tells me I should care less about getting certs as long as I can still get a comfortable job in the industry. "

              I very much agree with this statement, I got a bunch of certs in my first couple of years in IT. When your boss says "I'll give anyone who get's th
            • A basic BGP setup is not terribly difficult to implement, but there are a lot of subtle knobs, bells, and whistles that can be configured to influence the way routes are selected.

              As for certifications, my own personal experience:

              I had no technical certifications until 2 years ago, and at that point, I'd been doing high-end Cisco consulting for over 7 years.

              My experience carried me a long way, and I always made signifigantly higher salaries than the industry norms.

              Then, the company I had been working

        • stop blowing smoke up our ass. BGP is not even on the test. you would be in that bootcamp for 6 months if you were learning BGP, maybe more. people don't go from "ok this is a network, this is a router, here's how you configure RipII and bridging" to "ok here's our north american IGP mesh. we need to begin deploying our routers in confederations to help consolidate this mess".

          I'm sorry an education of BGP is honestly an education of the internet it self. anyone who has studied or taken the CCNP can easily
    • I am amazed at how much value is being put on some of these certifications today. Any book smart individual (which most geeks reading slashdot are) can sit down with a book for X amount of time and pass most of the Microsoft, Cisco or Comptia exams. Its just like anyone who goes to college for a bachelor degree will succeed so long as they attend class. I would have to say that the majority of individuals who have finished a bachelor degree of any sort have the ability to cram for any of these exams. The
    • I have both my CCNA and Net+ (Net+ seemed like a good practice for the CCNA, and hey, it says that I can be a good cable monkey). If this person read the entirety of the ICND and CCNA exam prep course, it is entirely possible that he could have done very well on the exam. I had two years of the Network Academy, and a very good instructor, which in my mind separates me from the masses who cram the week before the test and then get phenomonal scores.

      CCNA is like a degree. It's paper. You can have it and
    • I agree with you that the CCNA exam is quite easy to pass. I did CCNA 4 years ago.

      In my experience, customers do appreciate the fact that you are certified. For some reason, that makes you God. "He is certified, so he knows". Funny, but true.

      People who are in the networking business know that CCNA is worth nothing. They also know that someones knowledge does not depend on certifications, but ones ability to use google and understand the answers.
    • by Pii ( 1955 ) <`jedi' `at' `lightsaber.org'> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:46PM (#8046651) Journal
      I would hazard a guess that the reviewer wasn't completely clueless about networking before picking up these two books...

      He is on Slashdot, after all.

      Still, your point about the value of the CCNA certification is valid... I know a lot of people that have gotten their CCNA having never logged into a Cisco router or switch.

      It is, at it's crux, an entry level certification. The material that is presented at this level is theoretical, not practicle.

      I'm teaching an informal CCNA class internally here at work this week. We're covering the core topics:

      • The OSI Model
      • Media Types
      • Layer-2 Framing
      • IP Subnetting
      • Classless v. Classfull Routing
      • Distance-Vector v. Link-state Routing Protocols
      • Serial Encapsulation standards
      • Frame-Relay
      • Hubs v. Switches
      • The difference between a Broadcast Domain and a Collision Domain
      • Other sundry theoretical topics on the CCNA blueprint

      This is all foundational knowledge... The CCNA isn't about learning to configure Cisco routers, switches, or firewalls.

      It's more about building a vocabulary, and a basic understanding of networking topics.

      Once you've got that, then you can start learning the real stuff.

      • I would hazard a guess that the reviewer wasn't completely clueless about networking before picking up these two books...

        He is on Slashdot, after all.

        Lookee there! It's apparently a Slashdot-Certified Networking Guy!

      • I dont'know about other certs, but for the CCNA cisco offers a service know as cisco networking academy.

        In 2002 I engaged in the networking academy and I must say I was impressed. We had 6 months of classes with plenty of hands on activities and laboratories. We learned a lot with the practical classes. I got in touch with different routers and switches and in the labs we built full networks passing through carefully thought design to mounting the cables and configuring the routers, switches and PCs. To
    • ya CCNA is not a very hard test. CCNP now there's one for ya! without atleast 4-5 years experience with cisco gear and BGP/OSPF you don't have much chance in hell of passing it. Well unless you happen to be one of those people that retain EVERYTHING they read.
    • I mean, come on now. If this networking novice can pass a test for a networking cert then the value of that cert is substantially reduced. The CCNA is almost as worthless as the MCSE and A+. Any schmuck can get their MCSE. This is the exact reason why I, personally, elected to NOT get certified. When I started taking some MSCE and CNE classes, I was running into people in the latter part of these classes that had passed three certification tests, but were still trying to use a mouse on the command
      • Don't be surprised when those losers can get a job interview, and you can't.

        Certifications are not going to impress your IT contemporaries, or your manager, or your buddies here on Slashdot.

        They're going to impress those pinheads in Human Resources that act as the gatekeepers for the people that conduct the actual IT interviews, and make the hiring decisions.

        Once you get the interview, knowledge and experience are king.

        Prior to that, you need to get past a drone with some acronyms scrawled on a note

  • by kurosawdust ( 654754 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:50PM (#8045810)
    Does anyone know how much of an option a CCNA track would be for someone who has gotten outsourced? That is, is there a consistent demand for more CCNAs, or is it just a nice but basically economically worthless distinction like the MCSE?
    • by Wingchild ( 212447 ) <brian.kern@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:57PM (#8045914)
      I have a previous comment up above that basically labels certifications as a foot in the door, not as a means to an end (i.e., they don't guarantee employment) and I stand by that assertation.

      That said, if you want your resume to actually be looked at for a networking position, having the CCNA is not a mark against you. That foot in the door can be a huge, huge benefit - it's your primary means of self-marketing until you either..

      1) Learn to write a really effective resume, or
      2) Have sufficient experience to get hired on that basis instead.

      The CCNA is the key that opens the door to certain kinds of networking interviews. If you're thinking about going for it, consider what kinds of jobs it'll open you up for: Networking Jobs. An awful lot of kids I went to school with years back swore up and down they wanted to be network engineers when what they really wanted to be were sysadmins; the fields are different, the credentials and criteria are different, and the certs you need to support them are different.

      The CCNA is what you'll want if you enjoy swimming in Cisco equipment, love configuring VPNs, enjoy troubleshooting RADIUS logging on your AAA box, and suchlike. If those aren't your hobbies, re-evaluate what it is you're really going for. :)
      • what if you already have a job? I've been a network engineer for 4 years now. would it benfit to get a ccna or ccnp when moving from job to job? or do employers now just look at your experince?
      • Actually the MCSE and CCNA are NOT mutually exclusive. In fact I see them requested in the same job postings quite often. The reason for this is that there are a LOT of small to medium sized businesses that need a jack of all trades to do all their IT stuff. Over 50% of people in the US work for a company with fewer than 50 employees, unless they are an IT firm companies that size will have at most one IT guy. The baseline certs for these types of positions are MCSE, CCNA, A+ and possibly CNA/CNE. Besides i
    • Not much real demand at all for CCNA's. People that are going to use cisco usually have larger networks. They dont want entry level people working on a large network. Its definately a catch 22, you need real experience from a job but you cant get real experience with out the job.

      The best thing to do is cross train, get a related job like systems administration and then try to help out or move into a position.

      A lot of HR people will put CCNA on a job posting just to fluff the requirements. When people
  • What good timing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LilGuy ( 150110 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:51PM (#8045817)
    Amazingly enough this article post coincided with my yearning to improve my understanding of networking and computers in general. In the past 24 hours I've hit about 15 sites with tutorials and information on passing the A+ cert exam. I completely forgot about the CCNA.

    Hopefully I can find those books somewhere on the internet, because I am even more broke than a blonde joke.

    What other certs would anyone recommend? I just want to add some credibility to my resume.

    Thanks in advance.
    • Get some Novell [novell.com]certs. They're making a rebound. Heck, the new Certified Linux Engineer cert they just created requires a totally hands-on test. Either that, or just go for your MCSE and get made fun of. I haven't heard of any CNE jokes, but I do know plenty of MSCE jokes.
  • Worthless? (Score:4, Funny)

    by H8X55 ( 650339 ) <jason@r@thomas.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:58PM (#8045926) Homepage Journal
    I passed exam 640-801 in one try, with no real networking experience and having taken no classes.

    And we're worried about tech jobs being sent to India...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I do have reservations about proprietry/product specific examinations. Most of the guys working at our place are CS grads, or Maths/Engineering grads. People I have interviewed before with Microsoft certification or Cisco certification are great with deep but narrow skills, usually with a good measure of vocational experience at actually doing it practically too. However unless you are picking a candidate for a very specific (and usually short contract) job I would treat such qualifications with a pinch of
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I even let my CCNP/CCDA lapse recently. When CCIE's even have a hard time finding jobs the value of these cert's is dubious at best. They might get you in the door over someone else to get the interview but real work experience is far more valuable than the paper. I passed the CCNP tests without having worked on a router in 3 years at the point I did them. That should say something.
  • CCNA (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    For the CCNA tests just use what's freely available on the Internet. They're more than enough materials/information out there to get the basics and pass. That's what I did, although I did get the CCNP library books. Much more in depth coverage and knowledge needed in order to get to the next level. Definitely not a paper certification (CCNP).

    But practice, experience puts the knowledge to test...either you can or can not.

    Example: I've never taken a car engine apart...but I could buy a book and read how to
  • For all you who are bemoaning the CCNA as a "paper cert," I'm going to point out what is apparently an oft-overlooked fact: CCNA stands for Cisco Certified Network /Associate./ It's not the CCNP (Professional) or CCIE (Internetwork Expert.) Yes, the exam is easy; of course, it's easy to pass on the first try with a little bit of studying. However, you still have to know a few basic things going into the exam to pass it: you have to have a basic understanding of how IP internetworks function, a rough concept of how a few routing protocols work, and the appropriate commands to use on a Cisco router to configure common types of network interfaces. That's all they're trying to assess your ability to do. You don't look for a CCNA if you need a network architect; you hire a CCNA to help configure a
    network that someone else has designed. Some companies will undoubtedly misunderstand this, hire a CCNA, and feel misled when they get someone who knows how to type "interface ethernet0/0, ip address, no shut," but the failure is on their end -- they did not look into what the certification covers. It's all there on Cisco's webpage.
  • Studying these books will prepare you for the CCNA in the same way that reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z will prepare you to identify the capital of Nairobi.

    Ahem. Nairobi is the capital of Kenya. Perhaps the poster should read his Encyclopedia Britannica.

    Or at least give the World Factbook [cia.gov] or WikiPedia [wikipedia.org] a quick look.

    • From the article:

      ...will prepare you to identify the capital of Nairobi.

      Ahem. Nairobi is the capital of Kenya. Perhaps the poster should read his Encyclopedia Britannica.

      You should read your dictionary. From the definition of of [reference.com]:

      11. Specified as; named or called:

      a depth of ten feet; the Garden of Eden.

  • Lammle all the way. (Score:3, Informative)

    by b0r0din ( 304712 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:21PM (#8046236)
    If you want to get a CCNA, just read the book by Todd Lammle. When I went to study for it last year, everyone in my group recommended Lammle, and guess what? It's good. Very good.
    • I have to agree with that. The Sybex books are far superior to the Cisco Press books almost across the board.

      I took a CCNA boot camp (I had never even seen a cisco device before) about 2 years ago and passed on the first try. I took it from Lammle's company Global Net Training. It was expensive but the class was very small and I gained a lot of confidence on a topic I had previously had almost no experience with.

      I am starting a CCNP course thats based on the Cisco Academy courses next week. I am guessin
  • This cert is a foot in the door. As another poster pointed out it is about certifying that you can perform BASIC networking tasks without assistance. The CCNP and CCIE certs are about being able to design and debug medium to _very_ large networks. None of these certs will get you a job by themselves howver if I have two people competing for a job with equal experience and only one has a cisco cert all other factors being equal I am going to give the nod to the person with the cert. One reason for tha
  • Almost every semi-reasonable cert out there (MC*, CCNA...) has guaranteed-pass training courses and a myriad of books to choose from in order to practially guarantee that, when used properly (as any high school grad should be able to do), you will pass the test.

    All certs need a hands-on test like the CCIE. Or a person to person interview where the obvious numbnuts can be weeded out. Without this the cert is just another test of one's ability to memorize the answers that they received through some test trai
  • CCNA Study Guides (Score:2, Informative)

    by homerskid ( 725428 )
    For those who are interested, I run a free
    website (simple registration required) that has
    tons of CCNA, CCDA, CCDP, CCNP and CCIE goodies.
    The url is http://www.gdd.net [gdd.net]

  • I'm currently studying for the CCNA. I'm taking it in 1 night per week evening classes. The whole course (4 semesters) takes just about a year.

    I found that the 'old' chapter test exams were just multiple choice questions, and I beleive the final CCNA exam was also a multiple choice exam. Everyone knows just how easy multiple choice exams are, and I was happily getting 90-100% throughout the semester.

    This semester we've been put onto version 3.0 of the CCNA. It's now a multiple choice multiple answer sty
  • Unlike the typical Slashdot reviewer, Michael skipped the usual lame regurgitation of the contents and simply told us what was good and bad about the book. Other reviewers take note!

    It's depressing that Michael's description of the book is basically negative, but still touts it as a complete preparation for the CCNA exam. Which suggests that the exam is basically pretty lame. I guess the comparison with the Capital of Nairobi (about $2 billion dollars, I think) is all too apt! In both cases, you're memori

  • CCNA v3.0 now includes a lab simulation as well; it hasnt been a multiple-choice-questions-only test for at least a year. They've changed it to make it more difficult and get rid of all the "paper CCNAs" who've never touched a switch before.
    • I'll admit it. I'm a certification junkie. My employer will pay for any tests that I choose to take, and I'm learning while studying anyway, so why not? I average 5-6 tests per year. The newest round of the CCNA testing does contain lab simulation. The simulation involves configuring routers and switches through a virtual telnet session, giving you tasks to accomplish. The simulation is exact enough that you can use most of the basic IOS commands to check your work afterward. I don't know how this is
  • I passed the CCNA near the end of 1998. Its main value as far as I can tell is that it is placed within easy reach of the staff of small resellers. You sign a form and you're an authorized reseller, but if you have two CCNAs you're a Cisco Premier partner and you get access to some products that the authorized guys don't get to touch.

    Once you've completed the CCNA and the companion Cisco Certified Design Associate you're ready to start on the Network and Design Professional (CCNP/CCDP) certifications.
  • As an alumni of the cisco netacad program, I found myself looking for resource material that I might find useful as a refresher before recertifying and pressing on towards getting my CCNP. While browsing through the local book stores, I noticed this book on the rack, and decided to page through it. Utterly worthless. Especially with the test format for the CCNA getting ready to change to increase the difficulty (Cisco at least is trying to stop the CCNA from becoming too much like the A+ in that any schmoe
  • I purchased this set from Amazon and am using them (passed Intro exam, studying for ICND). I couldn't believe the sheer number of errors and agree with the reviewer about the CD. There is an 8MB patch on the cisco press site for the CD and that still does not fix all the problems. The errata for the book is large (I have the first printing) and most of the errors I have noticed are not on them.

    If I hadn't been studying at the time I would have documented them and sent them to Cisco. Come on Cisco, con

  • After reading everyone's CCNA/cert stories, I guess I should add mine. Almost three years ago I worked for a systems integration company as a Sr. Network Technician (with the help of an A+ cert.) The real fun and excitement was in the engineering department, and I was told the sure way in was to get my CCNA. Well I got my Sybex book, and with the help of our small lab (two Cisco routers and a catalyst switch) I received my CCNA with a 93?.

    Thrilled as I was, the engineering department was taking some hits,
  • I am currently a high school student at a technical high school. I am studying CCNA and the such, and I have found the CCNA cert to be worthless. The book has no effect on myself of the rest of my peers. We basically threw out the idea of reading the book and started a new focus on hands-on.

    It seems hands-on learning beats the book any day. I have a friend who graduated from the same class last year and was hired right out of high school into a job in the tech department of a massive company with a sta

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351