Onward to CCNP: Data Center!!

SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
I can finally focus back on Data Center. So now its time for CCNA/CCNP: Data Center!

I've been keeping a lot of Data Center notes in Evernote, and I am in the process of migrating those to my Blogs, got the page started: CCIE: Data Center Study Links | CCIE or Null! but there is much more to come.

Since I am huge fan of design, (and having just designed and re-designed a few new Data Centers) I figured I am going to start with 642-996 Designing Cisco Data Center Unified Fabric , I am probably book this exam at Cisco Live, since it's a free exam I won't lose too much sleep if I fail. Once I get back from Cisco Live, I'll circle back around and knock out my CCNA: Data Center.

For a bit of background, I've been pretty vested in Data Center for 8 months or say, been through INE's CCIE Data Center bootcamp, and have been actively working with Nexus/UCS (VPC, OTV, VDCs, 7k, 5k, 2k, Storage, DCNM, and so forth).

I am probably try and keep this thread updated as study for this along with the page on blog (and probably some extra DC related blogs posts)

A few of the Books I've read so far:

NX-OS and Cisco Nexus Switching: Next-Generation Data Center Architectures, 2nd Edition - Good primer for NX-OS and some Data Center features, but in my opinion does not go very in-depth.

Storage Networking Protocol Fundamentals - I like this for the nitty gritty details of the FC, however it does spend some time talking about the operations of TCP/IP.

All the design guides list on my blog page: CCIE: Data Center Study Links | CCIE or Null!

Been through probably all of the INE CCIE: Data Center Videos. Got the access pass when I went to the CCIE: Data Center boot camp last year.

So here we go! (Again)
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Comments

  • IristheangelIristheangel ABL - Always Be Labbin' Pasadena, CAPosts: 4,114Mod Mod
    Good luck! I'm down the same track you're on.

    Right now I'm double-teaming Data Center Fundamentals (snore) and Data Center Virtualization Fundamentals (AWESOME). I'm about 1/4th of the way through both books. Since there isn't any CCNP DC specific books, I'm tackling the CCIE reading list. Any tips?
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
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  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    My Co-worker has that same Data Center Virtualization Fundamentals books and says it is amazing to. I'll probably try and borrow that from him before CLUS hopefully. If I remember right Data Center Fundamentals was quite a large book, I was thinking of picking that one up but maybe I'll skip that for the time being icon_smile.gif .

    As dry and boring as it sounds but the configuration guides & best practice guides are going to be most detailed material we will be able to get our hands on for learning data center.

    Many of the Cisco Live 365 videos are great, however sometimes they go a little too deep.

    Real equipment and/or lab access is definitely helpful, cause from experience I can say troubleshooting VPC or OTV in production is way different then reading the design guides or doing the initial configuration in a lab.

    Another great book is the new edition of the End-to-End QoS design book, it's got 5 chapters (around 180 pages) of Data Center QoS, covering 7000's, 5000's, 1000v's (including the different modules in 7000's)

    Thank you, & good luck to you as well!
    My Networking blog
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  • IristheangelIristheangel ABL - Always Be Labbin' Pasadena, CAPosts: 4,114Mod Mod
    Very nice. I'm going to pick up the End-to-End QoS book. I have the old Wendell Odom QoS book but I haven't read it yet. I signed up for the All Access Pass for INE. I'm hoping the CCIE DC videos will help me out.

    As far as real equipment, it's going to be a combination for me. I have about 2000 rack rental tokens I can use on INE for their DC rack but I'm also starting a new job on the 28th that will give me access to any and all equipment I would ever want to lab with so that's nice.
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
    Bonus TE Fun: Nerd Photos
  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Awesome, congrats on the new job! (Secretly I'm a little jealous with all that lab access! Sounds like fun icon_smile.gif )

    The INE Tokens are great but I think their rack schedule might still be a bit crowded, I'm not sure if they still are but scheduling DC equipment was really tough last year.

    The INE Data Center video are definitely worth it. Some of the videos can throw a lot at you at once, I had to go through some of those videos multiple times just catch everything.

    Wanted to throw in the link to new end-to-end qos book.
    End-to-End QoS Network Design: Quality of Service for Rich-Media & Cloud Networks, 2nd Edition

    The first edition was awesome, and definitely worth the read in my opinion. Only probably with the first edition is the fact it lacked information on the newer technologies (Such Nexus/Medianet/New IOS Converged Access WLAN) but the second edition fills in those gaps. I still have not been through the whole book yet. (only read the Data Center parts so far)

    I consider the end-to-end QoS books to QoS, what Routing TCP/IP Vol I & II are to routing protocols.
    My Networking blog
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  • IristheangelIristheangel ABL - Always Be Labbin' Pasadena, CAPosts: 4,114Mod Mod
    There is a secret to the INE DC rentals - There are a TON of last minute cancellations. If you schedule your rack hours on the day of, you'll find a lot more openings. Especially during the week.
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
    Bonus TE Fun: Nerd Photos
  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Hmm I will have to a shot, thank you for sharing that!
    My Networking blog
    Latest blog post: Let's review EIGRP Named Mode
    Currently Studying: CCNP: Wireless - IUWMS
  • IristheangelIristheangel ABL - Always Be Labbin' Pasadena, CAPosts: 4,114Mod Mod
    Case in point, I just checked to see if there are any open rentals right now and BAM:
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
    Bonus TE Fun: Nerd Photos
  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Very nice!!! I'd probably snatch that up, if only it wasn't 12:30am over here icon_smile.gif (East Coast)

    I will definitely be checking the rack rentals during the weekends & week nights now!!
    My Networking blog
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    Currently Studying: CCNP: Wireless - IUWMS
  • Danielh22185Danielh22185 Posts: 1,195Member
    I am interested in your progress. Keep us updated on how the studies go. I am looking for another track after NP.
    Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
    My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
    "Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi
  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Well, It's been a rough week, last 2 days I've gotten maybe 8 hours of sleep.. had to fly out to one our data centers for a day to do some troubleshooting. Just got back a few hours ago.

    Anyway back to the thread at hand icon_smile.gif

    I'm going to tackle the Objectives in a not so specific order. First off:

    9.0 - Design Network Management Considerations into a data center
    9.1 - Cisco Specific Data Center Network Management (DCNM) Tools
    9.2 - Design a network data collection strategy for a data center.

    So, I am going to try and spend time, deciphering 9.2 and post back later....

    In regards to 9.1, if this doesn't scream for the Cisco Prime: DCNM platform I do not what does. So here's a **** of some DCNM Stuff.

    Main DCNM Page: lots a fluff and few screen shots:
    Cisco Prime Data Center Network Manager - Products & Services - Cisco

    DCNM 6.2 Release Notes (latest as of today for DCNM LAN/SAN)
    Cisco Prime DCNM Release Notes, Release 6.2 - Cisco

    DCNM 7.0 Release Notes (Latest for DFA) - Doubt this will be covered but will run through it briefly.
    Cisco Prime DCNM Release Notes, Release 7.0(2) - Cisco

    DCNM Licensing: Nothing major here, typical licensing structure.

    SAN for managing Fabric
    LAN for managing interfaces/ethernet/VLAN/VPC/etc

    However if you have a Nexus 5k with a DCNM-SAN license to manage the fabric, you still need a LAN license to manage the ethernet interfaces in DCNM LAN and visa-versa.

    DCNM and FM License Models - Cisco

    Install Guides: The install is quite simple.
    Cisco Prime Data Center Network Manager - Install and Upgrade Guides - Cisco

    Config Guides: this is where the good stuff is It's not as bad once you get into the GUI trust me:
    Cisco Prime Data Center Network Manager - Configuration Guides - Cisco

    Now, this is where I admit I've had DCNM running at work so I've been messing around with for at least 2 months now.. I've even broken it twice now lol. For the sake of the exam I'm going to try and squeeze in some extra time with DCNM then move to the next objective by mid-next week hopefully... work schedule pending of course.
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  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Found a good Intro to DCNM SAN/LAN and discussion the DFA use-cases for DCNM v7

    BRKNMS-2695 Administration and monitoring of the Cisco DataCenter with Cisco Prime DCNM (2014 Milan)
    https://www.ciscolive.com/online/connect/sessionDetail.ww?SESSION_ID=76536&backBtn=true

    CiscoLive365 of course!
    My Networking blog
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  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Another rough week... I think I averaged about 4 hours sleep everyday.. Except last night... I completely past out last night got at least 12 hours of sleep.. (Much needed, at the cost of a Friday night though)


    I remembered about these quick start guides:

    vPC Quick Start Guide
    https://supportforums.cisco.com/document/9871061/quick-start-guide-virtual-port-channel-vpc

    OTV Quick Start Guide
    https://supportforums.cisco.com/document/9878116/quick-start-guide-overlay-transport-virtualization-otv

    I think their are a few more, however the new Cisco Support Forums are horrible in my opinion and I can not find them right now. When I stumble upon them again I'll post em.
    My Networking blog
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  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Next Objectives:

    8.0 Design Security Considerations into a Data Center
    8.1 Identify Cisco Technologies to mitigate security vulnerabilities
    8.2 Secure Data Center network connectivity
    8.3 Secure Data Center Infrastructure

    The one thing I hate about security is how much of a broad topic it can be. At least I wrapped up my CCNP: Security a month ago.

    To introduce a bit of the real world into my studies, I'll probably go back over some of the recent security work that was done and why it was done that way. My co-worker went over an interesting scenario we ran into Data Center security with OTV <- This really was a fun one...

    I am still not sure how technical vs design/theory this exam is going to be, so I'll be running through the Security part of the configuration guides for both the 7k and 5k. I imagine TrustSec being a big topic.

    N7k Security Config Guide v6
    N5k Security Config Guide v6

    It probably won't hurt go over the hardware specs of the 5585-X's either. Luckily I'm good with numbers.

    That should keep me busy for the next few days (can't study too long tonight, work at 3am tomorrow!), I'll probably swing by the Design Zone and go over some other CVD's or other design guides.
    My Networking blog
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  • chrisonechrisone Senior Member Posts: 1,792Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    I would just go straight to CCIE Data Center and drop the CCNP DC.
    2019 Goals:
    Courses: Real World Red Team Attacks- AppSec Cali 2019 (complete), SANS Security West SEC660 (May), SANS Network Security FOR508 (Sept),
    Certs: SLAE, GCIA (in progress), GCIH, GXPN, GCFA
  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Yea, I probably should. However I see my focus at work changing in 6-months when these data center projects. More then likely after this I'll be thrown into VoIP deployment.. (Which has technically has already begun pilot sites are already out there)

    Links to Cisco Validated Deisgns
    Cisco Validated Design Program - Cisco Validated Designs - Cisco

    Cisco Design Zone for Data Center Security
    Design Zone for Secure Data Center Portfolio - Cisco
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  • JeanMJeanM Posts: 1,117Member
    Keep us updated on your progress, after Voice track I want to get more into DC as well! :)
    2015 goals - ccna voice / vmware vcp.
  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Unfortunately by the end of the year I might be embarking on the voice track. (Voice is more of an unknown for me than what Data Center was a year ago) I've picking up some voice stuff over the last year so I am little hesitant to say the least.

    I spent the better part of the weekend going over Nexus/Data Center QoS chapters in the new end-to-end qos design book

    While it's not directly pointed out, I doubt this exam ignore QoS. (Especially being at the Professional level) That, and I needed to go over some of Branch/QoS design principles in this book. So this whole weekend was purely data center related.
    My Networking blog
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  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    For the next set objectives I think, I'll go back the CCDP Material, and the Cisco CVD's again. I foresee this being a re-cap of the CCDP Data Center chapters.

    4.0 Design the Core Layer of a Data Center
    4.1 Select the appropriate platforms and modules for use in the data center core layer
    4.2 Identify scalability, availability, performance and connectivity requirements in the data center core layer
    4.3 Design for traffic flows in the data center core layer
    4.4 Design for a collapsed data center core layer

    5.0 Design the Aggregation Layer of a Data Center
    5.1 Select appropriate platforms and modules in the data center aggregation layer
    5.2 Identify scalability, availability, and performance requirements in the Data Center aggregation layer
    5.3 Design for traffic flows in the data center aggregation layer
    5.4 Design virtualization into the data center aggregation layer

    6.0 Design the Access Layer of a Data Center
    6.1 Select appropriate platforms and modules in the data center access layer
    6.2 Identify scalability, availability, performance and connectivity requirements in the Data Center access layer
    6.3 Design for traffic flows in the Data Center access layer
    6.4 Design a cabling plan and topology for the Data Center access layer
    6.5 Design virtualization into the data center access layer
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  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Probably won't hurt to go back over some Nexus 2000 Specs (for the access layer, since that has the most options)

    Compare Models - Cisco

    Cisco Nexus 2000 Series Fabric Extenders Data Sheet - Cisco

    Nexus 7k Hardware
    Compare Models - Cisco

    5k's are pretty bland. Suppose the biggest caveat is the L3 module
    Compare Models - Cisco
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  • BroadcastStormBroadcastStorm Posts: 496Member
    Great info thanks guys.
  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Some storage videos:

    BRKDCT-1044 - FCoE for the IP Network Engineer
    https://www.ciscolive.com/online/connect/sessionDetail.ww?SESSION_ID=6467&backBtn=true

    BRKSAN-2047 - FCoE - Design, Implementation and Management Best Practices
    https://www.ciscolive.com/online/connect/sessionDetail.ww?SESSION_ID=6581&backBtn=true
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  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Hopefully I'm not getting ahead of myself but I booked my 642-996 exam for the first Monday @ Live.

    It's free so if I do fail, I won't be too upset.
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  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Survived another year at Cisco Live! Definitely another great experience!

    Passed the 642-996 and the 640-911 while at Live (Exams were half-off). Wanted to knock out the 640-916 and finish off the CCNA: DC while I was at Live but I ran out of time, but I ran out of time. Much to do in 4-days.

    Gonna take a few days off to relax and catch up on non-Cisco stuff. Then back to grind.

    Side Note:
    Apparently passing the 642-996 and having your CCDA earn you the 'Cisco Data Center Networking Infrastructure Design Specialist' no idea that cert even existed since I never heard of it until I got the email, but a cool plus I guess.
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  • IristheangelIristheangel ABL - Always Be Labbin' Pasadena, CAPosts: 4,114Mod Mod
    Good job. What did you think of 642-996? Have you started studying UCS at all? If so, what concepts do you find more difficult: The Nexus side of things or Unified Computing?
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
    Bonus TE Fun: Nerd Photos
  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Thanks Iris!

    The 642-996 was kind of underwhelming in my opinion, I did have some good design & management related questions but then there were a few questions I thought were just a joke. (Which I left a few comments on).

    Definitely not as easy as the 640-911 icon_smile.gif but not a relatively tough test, especially if you have been dealing Nexus and have an understanding of good design concepts (CCDP).

    I'm sure you will breeze through this one if you choose the Design exams!

    UCS, yea I've been through the INE's UCS videos and been davelling in UCS at work. Only got about 9-B's at this point (one of which in the lab). For me UCS was a bit tougher, primarily because for the last couple of years I've been 100% network focused. I haven't had to configured a VMWare/Microsoft cluster in like 3 years (since VMWare 4.1 I think) so I needed a good refresher from that side (Server/System) of the house. (What's a UUID again? lol)

    Once I wrapped my head around the fact a 'service profile' is the equivalent to an ESXi host and the actual hardware does not matter too much it was easier. The toughest concept of UCS for me was the disjointed layer 2 domain and how it handles the networking/storage aspect of it

    Storage was tough for me as well (not the concept but understanding it under the hood), since prior to this last year I've only done iSCSI so Fibre Channel is a whole different realm but Storage Networking Fundamentals and the IBM Redbook for SAN are great resources (Albeit a bit dry)
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  • IristheangelIristheangel ABL - Always Be Labbin' Pasadena, CAPosts: 4,114Mod Mod
    Storage is the hard one for me as well. I'm reading through the Storage Networking Fundamentals and the IBM Introduction to SAN books right now while balancing the INE CCIE Storage videos (Balancing several learning resources makes it easier for me to understand hard to grasp subjects)

    I'm glad you made it through the 642-996. How many tests does that leave you with?
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
    Bonus TE Fun: Nerd Photos
  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    Yea, I do the same. Reading or watching it all depends what kind of mood I'm in. It doesn't help that the IBM Intro to SAN redbook is a pretty dry read.

    Three more exams to go, 642-996 was my first Data Center exam. I'll probably continue on the Nexus side of things and start looking at the 642-997, and look at finishing off the 640-916 since I still don't have my CCNA: DC yet.
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  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    A few links for Fabric Path:

    http://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/products/collateral/switches/nexus-7000-series-switches/white_paper_c07-728188.pdf

    Cisco FabricPath Design Guide: Using FabricPath with an Aggregation and Access Topology - Cisco

    Not much studying this last week, been pretty busy. Gonna try and get back on the ball this week.

    Unfortunately though, I got a CUCM, Unity, & CUP servers and a bunch of IP Phones waiting to be configured (real soon). So I'll be tackling that next week as well... Might need to step away from Data Center for a few weeks till that pilot get stood up... We'll see.
    My Networking blog
    Latest blog post: Let's review EIGRP Named Mode
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  • SteveO86SteveO86 Posts: 1,423Member
    And, I'm back!!

    Had some busy weeks, still got that VoIP project looming over my head like a dark but it should be calming down (I hope, either that I'll be start a voice thread soon).

    I've kept my Study Link updated here and there: (got to throw a few more links in there)
    CCIE: Data Center Study Links | CCIE or Null!

    I'm gonna take another look the 642-997 Exam topics and pick up where I left off.
    My Networking blog
    Latest blog post: Let's review EIGRP Named Mode
    Currently Studying: CCNP: Wireless - IUWMS
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