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Microsoft Certification The New Mcts Tracks And Exams

(category: Computer-Certification, Word count: 309)
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Microsoft is revamping its certification tracks, and will eventually retire the familiar MCSE certificatons. The new certification setup is much like Cisco's, where there are specialist certifications to go along with the more general CCNA, then mid-level certifications such as the CCNP, and then a more-advanced practical exam modeled somewhat after the coveted CCIE certification.

Microsoft's new specialist exams are the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) exams. As of March 2006, there were five separate MCTS Tracks. Three of them deal with .NET Framework 2.0; these are the Web Application, Windows Applications, and Distributed Applications certifications. Each of these separate certifications requires the candidate to pass two exams. There is also a one-exam SQL Server 2005 certification, as well as a BizTalk Server 2006 single-exam certification.

The initial question is "Why is Microsoft doing this?" According to their website, MS feels that IT hiring managers today have a tough time deciding which computer certifications best identify job candidates who best meet their needs. I know it's easy to take verbal shots at Microsoft (it'll be an Olympic sport one day), but this new series of certs does have appeal for hiring managers, which can only help qualified candidates. Instead of the more-general MCSE, which does still suffer from the overcertification of NT 4.0 MCSEs back in the day, these more-specific certifications will make it easier for the job candidate to prove that they can do the job - and easier for the hiring manager to make an informed decision.

Microsoft hasn't announced the track that will eventually replace the MCSE, but this track will be revealed with the next client-server Windows release. It's up to you to stay informed of these changes, so I recommend you visit Microsoft's certification website often. "I didn't know" isn't much help once a certification expires!

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Cisco Ccnp Certification Bcmsn Exam Tutorial Writing Qos Policy

(category: Computer-Certification, Word count: 394)
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QoS - Quality of Service - is a huge topic on both the BCMSN exam and real-world networks. QoS is so big today that Cisco's created separate specialist certifications that cover nothing but QoS! It can be an overwhelming topic at first, but master the fundamentals and you're on your way to exam and job success.

If you work with QoS at any level - and sooner or later, you will - you've got to know how to write and apply QoS policies.

Creating and applying such a policy is a three-step process.

1.Create a QoS class to identify the traffic that will be affected by the policy.

2.Create a QoS policy containing the actions to be taken by traffic identified by the class.

3.Apply the policy to the appropriate interfaces.

If the phrase "identify the traffic" sounds like it's time to write an access-list, you're right! Writing an ACL is one of two ways to classify traffic, and is the more common of the two. Before we get to the less-common method, let's take a look at how to use an ACL to classify traffic.

You can use either a standard or extended ACL with QoS policies. The ACL will be written separately, and then called from the class map.

SW1(config)#access-list 105 permit tcp any any eq 80

SW1(config)#class-map WEBTRAFFIC

SW1(config-cmap)#match access-group 105

Now that we've identified the traffic to be affected by the policy, we better get around to writing the policy! QoS policies are configured with the policy-map command, and each clause of the policy will contain an action to be taken to traffic matching that clause.


SW1(config-pmap)#class WEBTRAFFIC

SW1(config-pmap-c)#police 5000000 exceed-action drop


This is a simple policy, but it illustrates the logic of QoS policies. The policy map LIMIT_WEBTRAFFIC_BANDWIDTH calls the map-class WEBTRAFFIC. We already know that all WWW traffic will match that map class, so any WWW traffic that exceeds the stated bandwidth limitation will be dropped.

Finally, apply the policy to the appropriate interface.

SW1(config-if)#service-policy LIMIT_WEBTRAFFIC_BANDWIDTH in

Getting your CCNP is a great way to boost your career, and learning QoS is a tremendous addition to your skill set. Like I said, learn the fundamentals, don't get overwhelmed by looking at QoS as a whole, and you're on your way to success!

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Cisco Ccnp Bcmsn Exam Tutorial Bpdu Skew Detection

(category: Computer-Certification, Word count: 325)
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You may look at that feature's name and think, "What is a BPDU Skew, and why do I want to detect it?" What we're actually attempting to detect are BPDUs that aren't being relayed as quickly as they should be.

After the root bridge election, the root bridge transmits BPDUs, and the non-root switches relay that BPDU down the STP tree. This should happen quickly all around, since the root bridge will be sending a BPDU every two seconds by default ("hello time"), and the switches should relay the BDPUs fast enough so every switch is seeing a BPDU every two seconds.

That's in a perfect world, though, and there are plenty of imperfect networks out there! You may have a busy switch that can't spare the CPU to relay the BDPU quickly, or a BPDU may just simply be lost in transmission. That two-second hello time value doesn't give the switches much leeway, but we don't want the STP topology recalculated unnecessarily either.

BDPU Skew Detection is strictly a notification feature. Skew Detection will not take action to prevent STP recalculation when BDPUs are not being relayed quickly enough by the switches, but it will send a syslog message informing the network administrator of the problem. The amount of time between when the BDPU should have arrived and when it did arrive is referred to as "skew time" or "BPDU latency".

A busy CPU could quickly find itself overwhelmed if it had to send a syslog message for every BPDU delivery that's skewed. The syslog messages will be limited to one every 60 seconds, unless the "skew time" is at a critical level. In that case, the syslog message will be sent immediately with no one-per-minute limit.

And what is "critical", according to BDPU Skew Detection? Any value greater than 1/2 of the MaxAge value, making the critical skew time level 10 seconds or greater.

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Cisco Ccna Certification Error Detection Vs Error Recovery

(category: Computer-Certification, Word count: 279)
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Passing the CCNA, Intro, and ICND exam is all about knowing and noticing the details. (Which makes perfect sense, since becoming a master networking administrator or engineer is also about noticing the details!) One such detail knows the difference between error detection and error recovery. While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.

Error detection is just that - error detection only. Two common error detection methods are found at the Data Link layer of the OSI model, the FCS (Frame Check Sequence) and CRC (Cyclical Redundancy Check). A mathematical equation is run against the data in the frame, and the result is sent along with the data. The receiver runs the equation again, but this time. If the result is the same, the frame is considered valid; if the result is different, the frame is considered corrupt and is discarded.

Note that the FCS and CRC do nothing in regards to retransmission. They are strictly error detection schemes.

For an example of error recovery, we look to the Transport layer, where TCP runs. TCP performs reliable delivery, and the reason we call it "reliable" is that TCP uses sequence numbers to detect missing segments. If the sender determines from the sequence numbers that the remote host did not receive transmitted segments, the sender will retransmit the missing segments.

The key to keeping the terms straight in your head is to remember that while both error detection and error recovery both detect problems, only error recovery does anything about it. It's also worth reading an exam question twice when you see either term!

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Computer Training School Tutorial Know Your Instructor

(category: Computer-Certification, Word count: 345)
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Making the decision to attend a computer tech school can be one of the best decisions of your life. Another great decision is to tap a hidden wealth of knowledge that is right before every student at schools such as ECPI and ITT, but very few students take advantage of it.

When you're attending a computer training school, you must avoid the mentality that some other students will have - "I gotta go to school, I gotta be here, I can't wait to leave and go home". When you're preparing for a career working with computers, you've got to take advantage of every learning experience you can get, and that includes getting to know the most valuable resource at your school - your teachers!

Your teachers have busy schedules, but it was my experience that every single time I asked for help or had questions outside of class, my teachers went the extra mile to help me. I'm sure yours will do the same for you, but you have to let them know you want that help!

At your tech school, you must develop the skills and work ethic that you will use to succeed in the IT field. By staying after class, working overtime in the computer labs, and getting to know your instructors, you'll be astonished at the additional knowledge you can pick up. Almost any good teacher is going to have real-world experience, and you need to draw on that knowledge. Having lunch with an instructor is another great idea, as it allows you to get to know them away from the classroom.

Part of success in any field is making contacts for the future. You may not be in the IT field yet, but you should already be getting to know people with IT experience - and who better than your teachers? Besides, they hear about job openings all the time from friends, and the more you stand out from the crowd, the more likely you are to be remembered for such opportunities!

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Cisco Ccnp Bsci Exam Tutorial The Bgp Attribute Med

(category: Computer-Certification, Word count: 416)
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Your BSCI exam and CCNP certification success depend on mastering BGP, and a big part of that is knowing how and when to use the many BGP attributes. And for those of you with an eye on the CCIE, believe me - you've got to know BGP attributes like the back of your hand. One such BGP attribute is the Multi-Exit Discriminator, or MED.

The MED attribute is sent from a router or routers in one AS to another AS to indicate what path the remote AS should use to send data to the local AS.

That sounds a little confusing on paper, so let's walk through an example. R1 is in AS 1, and R2, R3, and R4 are in AS 234. R4 is advertising a loopback into BGP, and R1 has two possible next-hops to get to that loopback - R2 ( and R3 ( Let's see which of the two paths R1 is using.

R1#show ip bgp

BGP routing table entry for, version 8

Paths: (2 available, best #2, table Default-IP-Routing-Table)

Flag: 0x208

Advertised to non peer-group peers:

234 from (

Origin IGP, localpref 100, valid, external

234 from (

Origin IGP, localpref 100, valid, external, best

R1 is using as the next-hop to enter AS 234. If all values are left at their default, we could have 100 routes being advertised from AS 234 to AS 1 and the next-hop would remain the same.

We can configure R2 and R3 to send different MED values to R1, and the router sending the lowest MED would be the preferred next-hop. (The MED is a metric, and the lowest metric is always preferred.) We'll configure the MED attribute on both R2 and R3, sending a MED of 200 from R2 and 100 from R3.

R2(config)#route-map SET_MED_200 permit 10

R2(config-route-map)#set metric 200

R2(config-route-map)#router bgp 234

R2(config-router)#neighbor route-map SET_MED_200 out

R3(config)#route-map SET_MED_100 permit 10

R3(config-route-map)#set metric 100

R3(config-route-map)#router bgp 234

R3(config-router)#neighbor route-map SET_MED_100 out

After clearing the BGP table on R1, R1 will still see both next-hop addresses and will still consider both to be valid, but the path through R3 will be selected due to its lower metric.

Just keep in mind that the MED is actually a metric, and lower metrics are more desirable in path selection. That will put you one step closer to passing the BSCI and earning your CCNP Certification!

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What Certification Should You Pursue After The Ccna

(category: Computer-Certification, Word count: 329)
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Once you've got your CCNA, you're ready to move on to the next level, the Professional certifications. For years, Cisco had one Professional certification, the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification. Over time, Cisco has expanded this level of certifications to include the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) and Cisco Certified Voice Professional (CCVP).

With security and voice being the two most rapidly expanding areas of today's networks, some new CCNAs consider going after the CCSP or CCVP without first adding the CCNP to their resume.

While it's temping to hurry up and get a Cisco security or voice certification, the best thing you can do for your networking career is achieve your CCNP certification first, then decide on the CCVP or CCSP.

Why? Because the CCNA is just the tip of a very large iceberg when it comes to routing and switching. It's a very important accomplishment, and the CCNA is indeed the foundation of your networking career, but you need to add on to that level of understanding routing and switching before moving on to more specialized areas.

Two examples are OSPF and BGP. You learn about the theory of OSPF and some basic and intermediate configurations of that protocol in your CCNA studies, but the knowledge you acquire of OSPF in your CCNP studies is invaluable. As for BGP, there is no BGP in the CCNA curriculum, but it is a great idea to have some BGP knowledge in today's networks. It's also good for your career.

I know it is a huge temptation to go after the security and voice certifications while not paying attention to the CCNP. Do yourself a huge favor and add the tremendous amount of routing and switching knowledge needed for the CCNP to your knowledgebase, and you can then move on to the CCSP or CCVP. Even better, you'll be better prepared to climb the biggest certification mountain around - the CCIE!

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Cisco Ccna Ccnp Home Labs Developing Troubleshooting Skills

(category: Computer-Certification, Word count: 401)
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CCNA / CCNP candidates are going to be drilled by Cisco when it comes to troubleshooting questions. You're going to have to be able to analyze configurations to see what the problem is (and if there is a problem in the first place), determine the meaning of different debug outputs, and show the ability not just to configure a router or switch, but troubleshoot one.

That's just as it should be, because CCNAs and CCNPs will find themselves doing a lot of troubleshooting in their careers. Troubleshooting isn't something that can just be learned from a book; you've got to have some experience working with routers and switches. The only real way to learn how to troubleshoot is to develop that ability while working on live equipment.

Of course, your company or client is going to take a very dim view of you developing this skill on their live network. So what can you do?

Assemble a Cisco home lab. When you start working with real Cisco equipment, you're doing yourself a lot of favors. First, you're going to be amazed at how well you retain information that will become second nature to you before exam day. But more importantly, both for the exam room and your career, you're developing invaluable troubleshooting skills.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying knowing the theory of how routers and switches work is unimportant. Quite the opposite - if you don't know networking theory, you're not going to become a CCNA or CCNP. But the ability to apply that knowledge is vital - and the only way you can get that is to work on real Cisco routers and switches. As for these "router simulators" on the market today, ask yourself this simple question: "When I walk into a server room, how many router simulators do I see?"

I often tell students that they'll do their best learning when they screw something up. I've had many a student tell me later that I was right - when they misconfigured frame relay, ISDN, or another CCNA / CCNP technology and then had to fix it themselves, it not only gave them the opportunity to apply their knowledge, but it gave them the confidence to know they could do it.

And you can't put a price on confidence - in the exam room or in the network center!

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Cisco Ccnp Bsci Certification Bgp Route Reflector Tutorial

(category: Computer-Certification, Word count: 284)
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When you're studying for your BSCI exam and CCNP certification, you quickly realize that BGP is a whole new world from anything you've previously studies. One topic that sometimes confuses CCNP candidates is when a BGP route reflector needs to be configured.

In the following example, the routers R1, R2, and R3 are all in BGP AS 100. This is not a full mesh, however. There are peer relationships between R1-R2 and R1-R3, but not between R2 and R3. R3 is advertising network via BGP, and the route is seen on R1. R1's iBGP neighbor, R2 does not see the route.

A basic rule of BGP is that a BGP speaker cannot advertise a route to an iBGP neighbor if that route was learned from another iBGP neighbor. Configuring R1 as a route reflector will allow us to circumvent this rule. The entire route reflector process is transparent to the clients, and no configuration is necessary on those clients. We'll configure R1 as a route reflector for both R2 and R3.

R1(config)#router bgp 100

R1(config-router)#neighbor route-reflector-client

3d18h: %BGP-5-ADJCHANGE: neighbor Down RR client config change

R1(config-router)#neighbor route-reflector-client

3d18h: %BGP-5-ADJCHANGE: neighbor Down RR client config change

The BGP adjacencies do come down when this configuration is added, so this isn't something you want to do during a peak traffic time.

Once the adjacencies come back up, R2 will have the route to

There are other possible solutions to this iBGP limitation, such as configuring BGP confederations. Those solutions are generally used on larger BGP deployments and with other concerns in mind, though, and configuring route reflectors serves this purpose just as well.

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