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Network Warrior – 2nd Edition

Recently, O’Reilly published the long awaited Network Warrior 2nd Edition by Gary Donahue (aka GAD).  This was a much anticipated update since technology has changed since the original publication back in 2007.  I am glad to see the inclusion of the Cisco ASA, Cisco Nexus, and IPv6, and Voice – as well as a few others.  Most (if not all) of the examples in the book are shown in different Cisco languages – CatOS, IOS, and also NX-OS.  These examples are great for helping the ready to understand and see the differences ( as well as the evolution ) of the codes.  

The first few chapters of this book are a great for building block for the basics.  From What is a Network to the old history of hubs and then onto the discussion of switches – to the age old discussion of autonegotiation – and then to VLANs.  These are the bases of networks that each and every one out there have configured one shape or form.  He continues on to discuss many of the other Layer 2 technologies and topologies such as VTP and the hidden dangers; Link Aggregation via Etherchannel, Multi-chassis Etherchannel, and even Nexus vPC.

When it comes to the Spanning Tree section, it is a great read. It covers many of the features as well as some of the more common problems.  I was a bit surprised not to see the mention of Fabric Path, Trill, Open Flow, or 802.11aq (Shortest Path Bridging) as these are some of the up and coming replacements for Spanning Tree.  Granted, these technologies are more focused on Data Centers or Campus networks, but with the inclusion of the Cisco Nexus – these are topics that one might run into one day and should have an understanding of their differences to normal Spanning Tree.

The routing chapters are a wonderful coverage of the different routing tables and protocols – OSPF, BGP, EIGRP, RIP.  The only IGP that I noticed was missing is IS-IS, no biggie as this is not a standard Enterprise protocol but more of a Service Provider one.  He continues to discuss the banes of redistribution as well as how to filter via route tags and such.  These are great things to know for real-world environments.  He talks about and shows great examples of HSRP and GLBP, but has no mention of VRRP, though it is similar to HSRP for the most part anyways.

The Nexus chapters are wonderful to getting familiar with the 7000, 5000, 2000, and 1000 family of products and their nuances.  If you are curious on the Nexus, this is a great chapter to gain a better understanding of that product line!

The Telecom section of the book starts off with a nice glossary of many of the day to day terms one hears. It can make for a great quick reference guide when compared to using Newton’s Telecom Dictionary (which is almost a must have).  He continues onto discuss T1, DS3, and frame-relay in detail, but briefly mentions MPLS.  There are two things with this section I would have liked to see more of. The first one is more EU network technologies such as E1 and E3. Even though they are very similar to T1 and DS3, there are some subtle differences that one should be aware of as well as the audience for this book is not just US based.  The second thing is more information on MPLS and how it works.  He covers it from only a Customer Edge (CE) perspective, but more and more large enterprises are looking at a Private MPLS design for scalability and security.

The Cisco ASA chapter replaces the PIX chapter for the most part – and is a welcomed change.  It is covered in an easy to understand fashion from basic configs to a multi-context design that one may see.  One area that I think has changed recently is the firewall fail-over design piece.  At one time we used to used cross-over cables for the fail-over interfaces between firewalls – and that is what is discussed in this book.  Recent times I think that has changed to more of a VLAN design for fail-over as can be seen in Cisco SRND – Enterprise Internet Edge Design.  Regardless, both solutions are valid and will work – guess it all comes down to what is required for the task at and and which one you choose.

The wireless chapter is a bit light and only discusses autonomous access points, there is no mention of lightweight APs and their controllers.  Since these (lightweight) are some of the newer wireless technologies, I would expect to see more of this chapter in the 3rd edition 🙂  I think many places are still running the autonomous APs for the moment, so understanding them is good; and if, by chance, you run across a place with lightweight APs, you will still understand the technology – but have a nice single pane of glass management approach.

The final section I will briefly mention is Quality of Service.  You can tell this is one of GAD’s favorite subjects – and it shows.  You will not be disappointed in what this chapter has to offer!

Overall this is a good quality book that touches on a broad range of topics very well.  It is something that is good to have handy when you need to either understand a good overview of a technology or need to help others understand it.  This book is something that everyone should have!