Voice Track Questions

CrocrodelCrocrodel Member Posts: 18 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello everyone!

I have some questions regarding the voice track, but until I get to that, allow me to write a bit about myself.

I'm currently a Level 1 tech working in the NOC of a VoIP provider. This is my first networking job (5 months in) and I'm really happy to have managed to find this gig, not to mention that I'm finding the whole voice world to be much more interesting than I initially thought. Well, that and the fact that I saw that slowly and surely I began forgetting the CCNA R&S knowledge that I got since studying last year because I have to focus on the voice knowledge needed to get my job done.

Now, time for the questions:
- Would pursuing the CCNA Voice worth it considering the fact that we are not using any UC? Well, I'll try answering for that one myself as I don't plan on sticking here longer than a year, a year and a half at most, so I'll say yes, it WILL be worth it. I plan on moving on a job where I can apply what I'll learn either after I finish my CCNA Voice or after a tackle 1-2 exams for the NP.
- Would renting a rack from INE be considered a practical solution for CCNA & CCNP Voice studies? I currently cannot afford to spend a lot of money building a lab save for a couple of phones if need be.
- I've read on the forums about NetworkSims.com ProfSIMS CCNA Voice Simulator, but I didn't understand whether it was any good. Should I spend the money for it?
- How much Linux knowledge is needed for Voice? We currently use Linux on our servers so I know bits and pieces to get my job done. Would LPIC-1 be enough if I should go for a cert? My end goal would be to get out of the SP area and into enterprise.
- How much R&S knowledge is needed for Voice? I plan on getting CCNP (eventually), but I want to focus on voice for now. Would CCNA be enough for me? I mean, whatever R&S knowledge I would need in the future, I could always look it up in a book and learn as I go. Moreover, I don't want to repeat the scenario I experienced with my CCNA R&S. Still, is this a good mindset? I know it's up to personal preference and depends on the job itself, but I want at least to have a plan of what to invest my time and money in.

That's about it at the moment.

I want to thank you in advance for taking the time to read my post.



  • azaghulazaghul Member Posts: 569 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Welcome to the Voice Club.

    Would pursuing the CCNA Voice worth it?
    Its always good to have a gaol and broaden you knowledge. I have absolutely no interest in security, however I still plan on doing CCNA:Sec just to fill in some blank spots.

    Renting a rack from INE?
    Have not been down that track, as there is more flexibility in a home setup. I believe you still need phones at home and a VPN tunnel configured.

    ProfSIMS CCNA Voice Simulator?
    I've had a play with the demo version and found it fairly limited. Where possible go with the real thing. Although no where near top of the line, even an old 1760 with DSPs and voice cards would get you further. But you can try out the demo to get a feel.

    How much Linux knowledge is needed for Voice?
    None that I've found. The Linux install is really just Next-Next-Finish, filling in the blanks on the way. There is no access to the underlying Linux OS.

    How much R&S knowledge is needed for Voice?
    I'd say full CCNA R&S, and as you say there is always more to learn no matter what you know.

    For CCNA:Voice you can really get by with a 2801, FXO/FXS cards, E1/T1 card, PVDM2-16, phones, a switch and an ESX server with CUCM and CUCx (i5 with 8GB RAM would do). Not sure where you are, but that kit (less the ESX server) would probably come in under $500. It might not cover all study situations, but it is a good starting point which can be built on.
  • CrocrodelCrocrodel Member Posts: 18 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you azaghul for the reply and for the welcome.

    Regarding the INE rack, I wouldn't mind purchasing a couple of IP phones, it's just that at the moment I have certain financial obligations that I must fulfill and this is the reason why I am considering alternatives. Sure, next year I plan on saving up for a lab that can take to the CCNP (I live in Eastern Europe and the transportation costs are killing me ~$120 for a router), but until then...

    I will take the ProfSIMS demo for a spin in the near future as to see whether it is worth it. Still, more opinions from people who used it wouldn't hurt :)
  • wintermute000wintermute000 Banned Posts: 172
    How much R&S knowledge is needed for Voice?

    If you think of a VOIP network as a giant PBX, then the R&S is your backplane. SUre you can rely on someone else and especially in larger orgs the jobs are separated, but if you don't understand R&S you will be in a world of hurt when issues come up. You will also not be able to handle an implementation by yourself.

    How much Linux knowledge is needed for Voice?
    For Cisco voip, zilch. For everyone and everything else (Asterisk and any number of asterisk based variants, ACME/Sonus SBCs, all the associated infrastructure like RADIUS / LDAP servers.....) very, very, very useful.

    No networker (regardless of Voice, Wireless, Security specialisation) should be without a decent R&S base, and IMO all networkers should know at least a smattering of linux.

    I'd also add that whilst Cisco VOIP is very prevalent in Enterprise, nobody in provider space uses it. (Having been on both sides of the fence I might add: for very good reasons)
  • CrocrodelCrocrodel Member Posts: 18 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you wintermute000 for the reply.

    wintermute000, having seen both sides, what do you think about SP and Enterprise when it comes to voice? Which one do you like most?

    Honestly, I have yet to decide what I'll stick with in the long run, but at the moment I want to learn as much as I can and also transition to Enterprise to see how Cisco runs things, hopefully in 1-1.5 years time, after I've taken a couple exams for CCNP Voice.

    Regarding the R&S aspect, I was wondering whether I should first pursue CCNP, but after what I experienced with the CCNA, not applying the knowledge first hand on the job, I don't want to repeat the same mistake. For now, I will focus on the voice track and, if needed, will learn as I go, later pursuing the CCNP. Yes, I also want to have a decent foundation in R&S, but I'd also want to actually use the knowledge and not forget it.
  • wintermute000wintermute000 Banned Posts: 172
    Not sure why you'd want to actively transition to enterprise, I presume you work for a provider, its all networking to me :)

    When it comes to voice there's definitely more going on in Enterprise space in terms of employment opportunities but its split between Cisco and MS (TBH Cisco is going to get killed in the long run IMO but I digress).

    In the smaller SIP resellers for example its all asterisk and a hodge podge of whatever works / open source if possible, carrier land is a diverse spectrum of very vendor specific and specialised hardware/roles - there's the aging TDM backend underlying the PSTN network (traditional voice switching), ongoing migration to IP based systems, carrier grade SIP switches like broadsoft, SBCs like ACME and Sonus.... when I say more employment opportunities, I mean that theres a lot more open spots for someone who knows CUCM or MS Lync compared to someone who knows a specific carrier grade product, so your options are more varied/flexible. Say you end up working for a few years in a carrier with Nortel SESM, it isn't going to help a heap with say Broadsoft or CUCM (of course it helps, but only in a general knowledge / used to voice sense). So its easier to take your enterprise class voice (basically Cisco or MS and lesser extent Avaya) and find work elsewhere.

    Just my opinion and truth be told voice drives me absolutely nuts. Give me routers and switches and firewalls any day of the week. Unfortunately (or fortunately) my resume has CUCM all over it which has ended up helping me immensely with finding jobs but also has the side effect of being given all the CUCM work wherever I go (and it just keeps snowballing). Hence why I'm finally getting off my behind to knock over my CCNP Voice so I can at least put some digits behind the experience.
  • CrocrodelCrocrodel Member Posts: 18 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Yes, I do work for a provider but I would also want to see how things are going on the Enterprise side after I get more experience and voice certs. If I am to leave the SP world, I will do it in 1-1.5 years, at least after getting a CCNA Voice and knocking a couple exams for CCNP Voice.

    So, for Enterprise I would have to choose between Cisco and M$. With Cisco I know what I have to do, but with Microsoft I guess I need to take the MCSE (after MCSA). This being the case, I'd rather go with Cisco first as I'm more familiar with it.

    Until then, I plan to milk the current workplace dry of any knowledge (considering learning Asterisk) but honestly I would like to work with just a couple technologies rather than have a lot of clients with different systems complaining that their phones etc are not working. Sure, it's interesting, I come in contact with many things (Broadsoft & ACME for example) but also have customers with different needs. Some use Asterisk, some 3CX, some FreePBX etc, which is driving me crazy sometimes. Not to mention the internet and fax issues, as we also supply those.

    Honestly, the pace can get pretty hectic pretty fast in the SP area. At least at my current job people come and go as they cannot stand the pace. Sometimes I can't either but I'm trying my best to hold on until I get more xp under my belt and learn as much as I can. I'm also trying to setup my own methodology of handling the different issues that come up so that troubleshooting would go smoother.

    The hectic pace is one reason why I am considering a transition to Enterprise, at least over there would be less variables to take into account (I hope!). Sure, I also plan on having a backup (R&S) and not rely purely on voice, but I've got to admit that voice IS pretty interesting.

    So, for now:
    1) considering learning Asterisk, though I'm not sure how much it would help in the future, but we do have quite a lot of such clients so why not, I'm willing to give it a shot
    2) CCNA Voice this year, probably around September
    3) CCNP Voice study after that, hopefully having it at the end of next year

    Sometime between 2 and 3 -> search for a job involving CUCM to have some hands-on experience then I'll see from there.

  • wintermute000wintermute000 Banned Posts: 172
    I know where you're at. Small SIP provider, customers like the wild west, and you don't get to truly go deep into any particular system/aspect, and you don't get to actually build anything, spend all your time putting out fires / teaching your clients how to run their own systems lol

    We're actually ripping out our CUCM/CUBE enterprise setup and going Broadsoft/sonus. We have service provider type requirements and CUCM/CUBE just does not give you that (and is hopeless with internet facing).
  • CrocrodelCrocrodel Member Posts: 18 ■□□□□□□□□□
    wintermute000, word! You're exactly right. I'm not saying that the SP space is bad (heck, my next gig could very well be with another SP), but at least where I'm working I have to keep tabs of a ton of stuff and don't have any time to dwelve deep enough on a particular aspect of the job, as something else that's urgent needs to be fixed. I hope I can manage to finish my notes in my spare time so that I can have a methodology to go by, at least that would smoother things out.

    Still, I'm considering going Enterprise next year as honestly I don't see that many job openings at SP's, at least not in this period.
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