Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Written Study Materials

Well I have been threatening to type up a post on what I used to prepare for my written for a while so here goes.

I consider my written study to have begun when I started working on my CCNP at the beginning of 2007. I think the CCNP course is a great building block for moving onto the CCIE and I would recommend following the certification pyramid to anyone who was new to the industry. I would also caution you not to rush through the exams no matter how tempting it may be to achieve your CCNP. Anyhow I digress, the material in the BSCI and BCMSN courses is especially relevant to the CCIE written and the CCIE lab in my opinion.

So the books I used for it where
Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks (BSCI): Authorized Self-study Guide (CCNP Self-study) This is my opinion is a great book and a really enjoyable read. I see a lot of people using the Certification Guide instead of this book because the Cert Guide is much thinner and so they will finish quicker :-) However if you are new to the topics I would recommend this book rather than the Certification Guide. I read this book cover to cover and tried out all the labs inside as well.

Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks (BCMSN) (Authorized Self-study Guide) I found this book really hard going it was not easy to read and did not seem to flow to me. This book was a real struggle to get through and it took me ages to finish. I was not keen on this book at the time but as time has passed my feelings towards it have mellowed. It has some really good information in it that applies to real life as well as certification exams. Also it is listed in the additional reading sections of the CCIE Written Certification Guide. I read the book cover to cover but did not manage to try out all the labs due to equipment restraints.

CCNP BCMSN Official Exam Certification Guide (CCNP Self-Study) I read this book cover to cover as well to try and make sense of some of the stuff in the Self -Study guide. This book was a lot easier to follow, however for the BCMSN exam it is a bit light in certain areas.

I also read the other CCNP Certification Guides and although they had some useful stuff for the CCIE Written like QoS and a few security topics the information presented in them can easily be found in other places. For their relevant CCNP exams they are still must read books. For the BSCI and BCMSN I also used the self study products from thebryantadvantage not the Trainsignal stuff just the study packages. I found the package for BSCI to be really good and it helped me a lot with BSCI. The package for BCMSN was not as good in my opinion but then the exam is also a bit random so I am sure it is pretty hard to come up with a training package for it.

I got a bit of a taste for QoS from the ONT exam and wanted to know more so I moved on to reading the Cisco QOS: Exam Certification Guide cover to cover. There are appendixes on the CD for people moving on to the CCIE that detail Frame Relay traffic shaping amongst other things. I absolutely loved this book and in my opinion this is required reading for the CCIE. The QoS exam was also very enjoyable by the way, it was second only to my recent CCNA exam in terms of being a good exam not full of stupid questions.

Then I decided to get a vendor neutral view on things and I read Interconnections: Bridges and Routers. I read the whole thing apart from one chapter, you can look on the Internetwork Expert website and find which chapter(s) they recommend you can skip. I did find this book really hard going in parts but I do feel that I gained a lot of of the book. I understand a lot more of the history of the protocols and have a much better grasp on how they really function. I even found out about the differences in the different bridging technologies which I did not know about before.

Next I moved on to TCP/IP Illustrated: Protocols v. 1 but I did not get too many chapters into it before I abandoned it for Internetworking with TCP/IP: v. 1. Internetworking is another great book in my opinion, and it reinforced a lot of things I already knew with a lot more understanding of how things work. I found this book a really easy read and loved every page.

Then it was on to Network Warrior which is a great little book. I read the whole thing except for some chapters on telephony that I plan to revisit soon. Unless you are a seriously experienced consultant then I would recommend this is a great book to pick up for everyone else. This is a real on the job book and it is a great read.

You would think I would be all booked out by now however the next one in the list was Routing TCP/IP Volume 1 Second Edition. This is on most people's must read list for the CCIE and I understand why. It was a great read and I read the whole thing except for the IS-IS chapter. I would say this is a must read book.

Internet Routing Architectures Second Edition was next on the bedtime stories list. The book is divided into two sections with the theory stuff covered in the first half and the configuration in the last half. I think I made a mistake in reading it straight through instead of reading the theory and then reading the corresponding configuration section. Still a really good book on BGP which helped me a lot.

Finally it was on to CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide which I loved. I read everything except the two chapters on QoS. This book is an obvious must for the written exam and is great for reinforcing all the knowledge that you will have picked up from the other books.
So that was my reading list there were other books in there that deserve honorable mentions such as Routing TCP/IP Volume 2, Troubleshoot IP Routing Protocols, the two CCIE Practical Study Books and various other vendor neutral and Cisco Press books. I read a couple of RFC's as well (ouch) and various documents on the Cisco website.

As well as books I viewed a lot of CBT's (I would highly recommend CBT Nuggets for Professional Level Material, I did not have all of them for the CCNP as some were released after I had done the exams but the stuff I did have was excellent) and completed the whole of the first week of Internetork Expert's excellent Advanced Technologies class. I also completed all their Volume 1 labs on the various routing protocols.

For final exam prep on all my previous IT Exams I used Self Test Software which I have always found to be excellent. They are basically Transcender exams with a few less questions and for less money. I would highly recommended Self Test however they did not have a product for the CCIE.

So I turned to NetMasterClass and their excellent CCIE Written Practice Exam. I must say that this is an excellent product and is a must have for anyone wishing to pass the CCIE Written Exam. I would not have passed the written if it was not for this product.

So that is it all the products that I pretty much used to prepare for the written (Apologies if this looks like a marketing post I assure you I used the lot and bought them all out of my own money). Of two new products (IPExpert CoD and CCIE Command Memorizer) I have used since passing the written, I would say the CCIE Command Memorizer would be a great help to preparing for the written.

Monday, 22 September 2008

CCIE Shorts 22/09/08

So I did manage to get my mothers ADSL working and it was relatively painless which was a bit of a surprise. I thought this being Africa things would not go smoothly but apart from the tree (which I need to cut back) that keeps knocking the phone line about the ADSL setup was nice and quick. The MWeb support staff I spoke to were excellent and setup was relatively quick. From my experience it looks like they lock down the wireless on the ADSL routers with WAP out of the box in South Africa which is a good thing. So I think they are one step ahead of the UK on that score. I seem to remember reading on the BBC that most of the ISP's in the UK ship their wireless routers out with WEP if any wireless security at all.

Anyhow I have been busy doing other things around the house sorting out her phone lines and fixing lights and all that stuff so I have been a busy boy.

While I have been busy Barooq passed his CCIE lab, this is pretty old news but if you are one of the few who has not seen this yet then why not head over to CCIE Candidate to congratulate him or better yet head over to his own blog Chronicles of a CCIE journey and congratulate him there as well. He has written a post on his lab experience that I found very interesting and he has promised to write another post on his advice for preparation that I am really looking forward to.

Also on the CCIE front thanks to Cisco Network Engineer for pointing out to me that the September edition of the CCIE Flyer had been released. There are some good articles in there and it is well worth the read so click here to check it out.

As for my studies well I am watching my way through the IPExpert BLS videos at the moment. Been learning a lot of new tips and tricks and reinforcing a lot of things I knew. However they are not short videos and with the note taking and lack of concentration they are taking quite a while to get through. Also I need to enjoy some African sunshine before I leave.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Study Update 19/09/08

I have not been getting much study in since I passed my written last Friday as work has been a bit hectic and I am off to Africa for a few days so I needed to spend a bit of time with the family before I left.

I need to formulate a new approach in my study plans as I found studying for the written quite simple because there is a defined path in that you can just follow the information that is in the study guide with additional reading around topics. The lab is a different beast altogether as you just have the blueprint to follow. Although the temptation is to jump straight into the multi-protocol labs as soon as possible I am trying to avoid that path for the moment and focus on completing my mastery of the technologies individually. I did a lot of reading and basic labs for my CCIE written (which reminds me I will post on my written study materials soon) so I think the theory is pretty much there. It is just being able to recall all the commands and what exactly they do in a timely manner. So that is where despite me being an initial sceptic the CCIE Command Memorizer comes in. The little bit of study I have done has involved the CCIE Command Memorizer and hammering away at the BGP sections. I was uncertain where it would fit into my study plans especially as it does not emulate an IOS like Dyanmips, it is just an e-book where you type in commands. However I have found that when I have 10 minutes of free time I can just fire it up much quicker than Dynamips and just do a couple of sections and keep the commands in my mind. If you ever hear the Brians or Scott on any of the VoD (Video on Demand) or audio CD's they stress the importance of understanding the technology which is the most import thing in my opinion, but they also stress the value of repetition and that is where my study aide of the moment is helping quite nicely.

Anyhow I better get packing as flight is early this evening and I have to get down to the big smoke. Depending on the reliability of Telkom and whether they have setup my mothers ADSL line properly I might not be doing much posting for a week or so.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

CCIE Command Memorizer

Following my post about whether anyone had ever used the CCIE Command Memorizer, David Bomball CCIE 11023 and the owner of as well as the Command Memorizer contacted me.

After a brief chain of emails he offered me the chance to review his product and blog on my experiences with it and where it helped/fitted in to my CCIE study. I accepted his kind offer as I have wanted to try the Command Memorizer since Richard first mentioned it on his blog. So no money has changed hands and we have agreed that I can say whatever I want about the product provided I give David the opportunity to respond before I post anything. I think this is fair enough as it gives a bit of balance to the review and will allow me to give the other side of the story as well.

Anyhow I have installed it on a virtual machine at home and my work laptop (you get two licences) and have ripped through the first BGP section already. So far I am impressed and I can already see a clear niche for it in my CCIE study plans. I will post a bit more on it once I have used it for a bit longer.

IP Expert Special Offer September

I have been meaning to blog this for a while but I received the IPExpert newsletter the other day. (If you do not subscribe get yourself over to IPExpert and subscribe and then get yourself over to Internetwork Expert and subscribe to their newsletter oh and then and subscribe to their newsletter as well. Hell there are loads of good newsletters out there so if you have anymore ideas add them in the comments section.) So where was I oh yes the IPExpert special offer apparently the Blended Learning Solution (BLS) is only staying at $999 till the end of September and then it goes up a massive amount. So if you are thinking of getting it I guess now is the time. Stick it on an interest free credit card like me and only worry about paying for it when the interest free period ends, except the interest free period ends a lot sooner than you would think and then ouch so maybe that was not such a good suggestion :-). The other special offer that they still have going on is the double rack time which I also intend going for (you have to have bought a BLS I think but may be able to negotiate). I will go for 10 sessions get them doubled to 20 and then hopefully Internetwork Expert will have a special so I can pick up some of their sessions as well. Anyhow enough of the marketing speak (just to let you know by the way I do not get paid or get free products from any of these companies) and back to some studying.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Official Written Pass!!! Well I think so at least

Well it looks like I have been given the all clear and have passed the CCIE Written exam. Well I think so at least, as I have not really had any confirmation from anyone.

This morning I logged into the Peason Vue website they instruct you to log in to on your score report and it showed my results and showed pass, where as the night before it had said no results were available. It did not say "valid" which was what I was expecting it to say from reading the score report. However re-reading the report it does not specify the actual term used it just says that you exam results will be displayed. Anyhow a few hours later I recieved an email from Pearson Vue to thank me for testing with them, but no confirmation email that I had passed my exam like I am used to. So I was still a bit unsure if it was official. Then I logged into Cisco's website to see if I could schedule a lab and it said it could not find my details. Hmm so still not official and my mind was beginning to play tricks on me when would the confirmation come.

No confirmation email (if they even send one, I think they should by the way) ever came but I logged in to Cisco and now I can schedule my lab exam. I guess that is all the confirmation I need.

Hmm now when to book it for? This 90 day schedule thing while a good thing in terms of freeing up exam seats certainly makes you think before you commit :-). I notice that there are quite a few lab days open all the way until the end of the year in the test centre I will be using. So I guess it is working in freeing up slots. For me anything before next year will be throwing my money away. I was hoping to have my first shot at the lab I became really old :-) early next year, but I think I will have to wait. Christmas is nearly always a write-off and with a second child due early next year study time could be in short supply at the beginning of next year. So at the moment I am leaning towards a date at the end of April. I need firm dates to work to, but I will have to have a bit of a think over the next few days as well as a chat with the misses.

Friday, 12 September 2008

The Waiting Game

I went to my local test centre and took my written exam today and I have a preliminary pass (yippee). However it is not an official pass as Cisco have implemented these new security measures that I mentioned in an earlier post. So when you are given your score sheet there are some instructions on it that tell you to logon to a Pearson Vue site, so that you can check your results. It can take up to 72 hours after you have taken the exam for your result to be confirmed. So it looks like I will be waiting for a while. I will post my experiences of the exam when I am confirmed as having passed. Quickly I will say that I thought it was a good test the questions were not as out there as some I encountered on the CCNP track and the English was okay. I only complained about the wording on one question and used the comment button to send my feedback on it to Cisco.

On the subject of exam security though I have always been in favour of the new measures Cisco is introducing but today I had pause to think. When I was talking to the examiners after the exam about the new security features Cisco has implemented. I realised that I had not had my photo taken and added to my score report. I asked them why this had not been done and they explained that it was only a requirement for test centres to take photos by the end of October.

However to implement the photo requirement they explained they would need to have a seperate room, buy an expensive camera and probably hire an extra member of staff to process the signing in of candidates. So since they were not getting any financial support from Pearson or Cisco then they had decided this was an expense they could not afford and they would be shutting down as a test centre. Which is very bad news for me as it means it would be very expensive to go do any certification exam as the nearest test centre would be over 26 miles away (one direction not far for you Yanks I know but the traffic here is murder and the price for fuel well do not get me started on that). I remember when my city used to have five or six test centres ah the good old days when I was but a wee lad :-) Over the last couple of years as I did my 2003 MCSE, renewed my CCNA and then did my CCNP I have seen them all close down. Now it looks like the final one which is already quite a trek for me to get to is closing down as well.

From most of the exam centre staff I have spoken to I understand that they do not make a great deal of money from being a test centre. Apparently most of the money goes either to Pearson or Cisco (Prometric and Microsoft or so on) . I am not sure of how exactly makes the money if someone can enlighten me that would be great. I mean someone must be making some money out of this stuff because the exams are not cheap. So it would be good if the big boys Cisco or Pearson (whoever makes the money from these exams) had a program for helping the small test centres fund the equipment they require to stay an exam centre. That way they could retain local test centres and allow more people access to their exams as well as allowing the additional benefit of a certain Ferret to take more exams :-)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

That Might be Interesting - Route Processor and Switch Processor

Okay the posts have been a bit slow due to work commitments and the last minute cramming for the written. Yes you did read that right I am a leave it till the last minute person (mental note to self really need to work on changing this habit) and am cramming for my written. I will let you know if it is a successful technique once I try the exam. At the moment chances of this approach succeeding are rated as very slim.

Anyhow I learnt something today that I thought was pretty interesting hey everyone else probably knew it anyway but I did n't and if there is one other poor soul out there like me that did not know this then this post might be worth while.

I have worked with plenty of Cat 6000, 6500 and even some old 5000 series switches where you can easily tell the difference between the switching part and the routing part of the switch. The routing part would be running IOS and the switching part CatOS. However on our new Cat 6500 with the sup720 installed it is not so easy, it looks like the whole switch is running IOS. So I was wondering if there still was separate switching and routing functions. Turns out there is see below:

When you connect you are in the routing part of the switch. How can you tell well the prompt looks like the one I have included in the capture below and when you run a show process cpu, you will notice the processor is not working that hard. Also a lot of the processes as you can see from the ones I have shown in the screen capture are running things you would expect to see at Layer3.

FERRETSW01#show process cpu
CPU utilization for five seconds: 1%/0%; one minute: 2%; five minutes: 3%
PID Runtime(ms) Invoked uSecs 5Sec 1Min 5Min TTY Process
1 0 254 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 Chunk Manager
2 12 99006 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 Load Meter
180 5636 16094 350 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 IP RIB Update
181 0 1 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 CHKPT DevTest
182 0 1 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 IP Traceroute
183 0 1 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 Socket Timers
184 4984 30913376 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 HSRP (Standby)
185 4 3 1333 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 FR HA
186 900 1857583 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 TCP Timer
187 16 113 141 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 TCP Protocols
312 0 8253 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 SPA ENTITY Proce
313 6024 999692 6 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 OSPF-5 Router
319 0 2 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 EEM ED CLI
320 0 2 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 EEM ED Counter
321 0 2 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 EM ED GOLD
322 0 2 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 EEM ED Interface
323 0 2 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 EEM ED IOSWD
324 0 2 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 EEM ED None
332 0 2 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 Call Home proces
333 0 1 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 IP SLA Monitor M
341 0 1 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 CWAN OIR IPC Rea
342 0 99 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 IP SNMP
343 0 5 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 PDU DISPATCHER
344 12 5 2400 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 SNMP ENGINE
345 0 1 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 SNMP ConfCopyPro
346 860 654 1314 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 SNMP Traps
347 0 2 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 T+ Admin
348 13504 583439 23 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 NTP
349 0 1 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 Connection Mgr
350 23380 302763 77 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 BGP Router
351 238396 33207 7179 0.00% 0.03% 0.00% 0 BGP Scanner
352 18076 208907 86 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 OSPF-2 Hello
353 16928 213565 79 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 OSPF-5 Hello
361 364 1412 257 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 AAA Accounting
362 4 1803 2 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 TACACS+

Okay so now we know there is a Route Processor which we probably knew before, how do you get to the Switch Processor? Well you enter the command below which is the cool bit (I think it is cool most of you normal people who are reading this probably do not).

FERRETSW01#remote login switch
Trying Switch ...
Entering CONSOLE for Switch
Type "^C^C^C" to end this session

Now as you will see below the command prompt changes to have a -sp on the end to tell you, you are on the switch processor. Also notice the switch processor is doing a lot more work and take a look at some of the switch processes.

FERRETSW01-sp#show process cpu
CPU utilization for five seconds: 33%/5%; one minute: 28%; five minutes: 28%
PID Runtime(ms) Invoked uSecs 5Sec 1Min 5Min TTY Process
140 0 1 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 ADJ MGR
141 6968 90 77422 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 ADJ_MGR
142 8108 635096 12 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 L2 Control Task
143 456400 2177979 209 0.00% 0.03% 0.01% 0 L2 Throttle Task
144 7340 198375 37 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 L2 Aging Task
145 8309208 240162 34598 1.59% 1.58% 1.65% 0 Vlan Statistics
146 32208 1155105 27 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 L2 PI_E consiste
147 2564 277202 9 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 EARL7 monitor ta
148 3678252 17609 208884 0.00% 0.77% 0.73% 0 TYFIB Table Mana
149 40 9059 4 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 CFIB-BGP Task
150 1680 6684 251 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 CFIB LC QUEUE BO
151 7924 546055 14 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 CFIB LC TIMER Ta
152 220 49457 4 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 CFIB LC STATS Ta
153 0 2 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 Gemini SP proces
177 576348 3213872 179 0.07% 0.07% 0.07% 0 Spanning Tree
178 293044 1487315 197 0.07% 0.06% 0.06% 0 UDLD
179 4 2 2000 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 capture process
180 0 17 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 Const Rate Limit
181 0 1 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 SP DHCP Snooping
182 0 97 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 802.1x switch
183 3228 38830 83 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 DTP Protocol
185 0 2 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 Ethernet OAM Pro
186 26784 31724 844 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 L2 MAC oob sync
187 14052 420973 33 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 mls-hal Process
188 336 27742 12 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 mfib-const-lc Pr
189 28576 5462414 5 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 Mcast Hw Agent6
190 0 3 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 mls-msc-ha proce
191 64 390 164 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 mls-msc Process
192 0 1 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 mls-msc-cc Proce
193 0 13 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 PIM Snooping Pro
205 4 2 2000 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 CEF LC IPC Backg
206 35120 681339 51 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 CEF LC Stats
359 0 12 0 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 ADJ background
363 100884 4226254 23 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 SCP async: LCP#5
364 530692 5393471 98 0.00% 0.07% 0.06% 0 DiagCard9/-1
365 48 83 578 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 SpanTree Helper
366 20 86 232 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 1 Virtual Exec
367 436 637 684 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 SpanTree Flush
368 44068 918131 47 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0 SCP async: LCP#9
369 45920 722416 63 0.00% 0.01% 0.00% 0 LACP Protocol

Okay while that was pretty interesting to me at least, what other things is this useful for? Well it turns out that if you have an ACE module installed in your switch when you do a show vlan. You will see the vlan that is connected to the ACE but you will not see any ports assigned to it. You have to go under the switch processor and do a show vlan there and then you will see the ports assigned to the vlan.

However those exciting screenshots will have to wait till the next installment of that might be interesting as I have a couple more minutes before bedtime and I am sure I have forgotten some of the IPv6 addresses ranges I crammed earlier :-)

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Reality Bites

I have been doing a lot of overtime at work for that last few weeks and so my CCIE written preparation has dropped off and so has my progress through the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 labs. I am not too worried about the Internetwork Expert Labs as I thought I could concentrate more on them when I pass my written. That is if I pass my written, as I do not feel like I will pass at the moment. I think I have seriously been underestimating the written exam as I thought ah no worries the CCIE written consists of the material from the entire CCNP rolled into one exam, should be no problem. However I have been doing some NetMaster Class written practice exams today and having my arse kicked. Some of it has been down to stupid mistakes but I cannot believe how much stuff that I have forgotten that I learnt for my CCNP. I mean a lot of it is probably useless facts but that is what Cisco tends to ask you in these exams. Anyhow I have till about Wednesday to see how I feel, and if things are still not going well then I will have to postpone the written again. It is highly annoying having to continually postpone, but hey I cannot afford to waste the exam fee.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


As I sit here typing this after another long day at work (it is past midnight here) I am wondering about all the pulls on time people face in trying to achieve their goals and particularly the ones I am facing.

The are my usual ones work, family, Xbox/Wii (I have cut these out now) and all that stuff but then there are also other pulls or distractions (which I term as unwanted pulls on time, family = mostly wanted pull, Xbox = distraction).

I always want to learn new things and so I start to filter with different things, this distracts me from my original goals. There are so many other Cisco tracks Security and Voice to name a few that interest me and will pull me (or distract me) in another direction. In fact doing a lower level Cisco track in another subject like Security might actually help my career more than doing a CCIE in R&S at least at my current job. No wonder so few people who start out on the CCIE path actually finish it, it is probably not because they can't do it so much so as other things come along in the meantime (jeepers I should have been a rocket scientist for figuring this out on my own :-) ).

The reason I am thinking about this is because I may have the opportunity to take on some of the firewall stuff at work. I might be able to specialise in firewalls and make that become my thing, become the go to guy for firewalls and then use that as my opportunity to launch myself further up the corporate ladder. Or firewalls might be my distraction something that pulls me off in a different direction and leaves me in a no man's land half way between my original goal and some new place.

Thinking about this I should probably stick to the R&S track for now and distract myself as little as possible with the firewall side. I have spent enough money on R&S training materials and need to show some return on investment to my misses.

I will still have to look after Checkpoint and PIX firewalls at work. I can probably get by on the Checkpoint side with what I know already but I have no idea on PIX. I have been given two PIX firewalls and will need to be able to support them. So does anyone have any recommendations on good books about PIX that will be able to get me up and running pretty quickly without sucking up to much of my R&S study time? Also so I can better judge how far I should let this distract me, I understand PIX is end of life so would I be able to apply what I learn for PIX to the ASA stuff?