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Enterprise Network Testing

Let me start off by saying that this is not the “normal” Cisco Press book where you learn technologies; no with this book you actually see how to use what you have learned and ways to approach the testing of those technologies.   This book covers the often neglected part of what we do, proper testing and planning.  It is refreshing to be able to read a book like this, it is heavy on the acronyms, but that is almost expected for a Cisco Press book anyways!
The book is divided into three main parts.  Part 1 – Introduction to Enterprise Network Testing, Part 2 – Case Studies, and Part 3 – Test plans.
Part 1 reviews the basics of business cases, network life-cycles, testing and lab strategies, test approach, and finally, executing a test plan.  The Network Life-cycle is something that we know about but never tend to look at.  Not that we intentionally ignore it or anything, but I think most shops run a bit slim in the Network Engineering group and tend to have to support the business as well as take care of current projects.   It is sometimes nice just to be able and sit back and follow the PPDIOO, but alas those times are few and far between.  Below is a diagram that can act as a friendly reminder that we should do that more often then we do today.  Perhaps the material in this book is something that can help each of us remind the senior management about this process and they might start to understand the benefits that this approach can bring.

When it comes to the case studies of this book, they are some amazing studies!  They are not the small networks that you would think, they are larger networks and show you the thought that is behind the design phase. It can help you to understand the bigger picture of a design as well as provide a sheltered approach to larger network designs.  It is not everyday that we need to design a large MPLS network for a company, but if we ever need to support one we might have a better understanding of what we are looking at. The case studies walk you though the process discussed above, so you can start to see the actual application of the concepts – and thus be able to gain a better understanding of them.
The last part, Part 3, is all test plans.  These are very nice reference materials that can be looked back upon when you are designing.  They can help you to formulate your own test plans, and by referencing back you can make sure you do not miss anything.  There are numerous plans for different technologies – from DMVPN/GetVPN to Nexus to Wide Area Application Services.  They cover the whole 10 yards of information – everything you need to think about is there!
There are a few other gems in this book that surprised me.  When you think of testing a network, typically you take a router and use it for a single function.  In the beginning of this book they show you how to make 1 router into 100 routers in a relatively simple fashion.  I have done small scales of this in the past, but the way that they covered this approach was easy to understand and comprehend.  Another gem was the mention of the little know service, chargen, and how to use it in your test scenarios.  We very nice to see that mentioned – need to remember to use that one from time to time as I forgot about it!
Overall this is a very good book – one that I am glad is now in my Cisco Press library!