Network Warrior Paperback – Jul 1 2007
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Everything you need to know that wasn't on the CCNA exam
About the Author
Gary A. Donahue is a working consultant who has been in the computer industry for 25 years. Gary has worked as a programmer, mainframe administrator, Technical Assistance Center engineer, network administrator, network designer, and consultant. Gary has worked as the Director of Network Infrastructure for a national consulting company and has been the president of his own New Jersey consulting company; GAD Technologies.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Why is Network Warrior so great? I think the key is the author's willingness to share personal recommendations. There are plenty of books about technology and syntax. I've read and reviewed many, most of which I liked for what they offered. However, it's rare to read a network book that says "here's how you should implement this," rather than just list options. I'm at the point in my career where I know what I might do; now I want to know what a real expert would do. Donahue provides that wisdom in many sections, but especially in Part VIII on network design.
A second reason I really enjoyed Network Warrior was its coverage of a variety of Cisco features. Sure, I had read of many of these elsewhere, but I thought Donahue made many of them clear, especially in comparison to each other. There are better references for ACLs, like Cisco Router Firewall Security by Richard Deal, but when ACLs are described next to route maps or VLAN maps, Ciscoland becomes a little easier to understand. Donahue's explanations of EtherChannel, switching algorithms, and autonegotiation are other good examples. I even admit that the author corrected my misunderstanding of QoS, as he says "QoS does not limit bandwidth, it guarantees it, which is not the same thing" (p 429). Elsewhere he says "When there is no congestion, any protocol can use any amount of available bandwidth it needs" (p 428) and "while scheduling of packets always takes places, the limits set are really only enforced during congestion" (p 427).
The third reason I like Network Warrior is the attention paid to understanding the fundamentals of certain technologies and products. The author ensures the reader gets a real grounding in telecom terms and technology, like T-1 lines. For products, I liked chapters on the 6500 series switch, content switches, and layer 3 switches.
Finally, the writing is exceptionally clear. The diagrams are excellent and make their point very well. The author's suggestions for being a better administrator apply to any technical operator. I liked Donahue's repeated suggestion to "never assume anything" and to start troubleshooting at layer 1.
Although I rated Network Warrior five stars, in a second edition I would like to see more on layer two fundamentals. I would also like to read about 802.1X and perhaps even Cisco NAC, since it seems to be becoming popular. Overall, however, you should buy and read Network Warrior right now. I loved it and will recommend it to anyone who wants to be a better network administrator.
To begin with, where does most networking start - layer 2, correct? Concerning NICs and layer 2, most people take auto-negotiation to be (dare I write) plug-n-play. This is the first book I've seen where it discusses `parallel detection'. Donahue is correct on page 20 as stating auto-negotiation is a protocol. He goes on to explain the `why was it built like this' of auto-negotiation. It actually makes sense now. I showed these 2 or 3 pages to a couple of other network engineers, and they both found this information to be both novel and enlightening. Right from the start, I knew I was going to be hooked on this book.
Another gem in this book, this is the first book where I see Dr. Radia Perlman's `Algorhyme' rhyme printed since Perlman's own book. Again, probably stupid, useless info to most, but Donahue gives the foundation for a lot of the topics discussed. The discussion starting on page 207 for the 6500 backplane, Chapter 18 dedicated to the 3750, the section starting on page 156 discussing GRE tunnels and the pits and perils of recursive routing, Content Switch Modules starting on chapter 28 - all topics that are both helpful and well documented in `Network Warrior'.
I could go and on about this book. Overall, this is a great book. I've gone back to it at least 5 times a week since I purchase it last month. I can't imagine a better resource.
I give this book 5 pings out of 5:
Among topics covered are VLANs, Trunking, Spanning Tree Protocol, routers, tunneling, switches, firewall theory, even chapters on designing networks, all topics that any networking security book should cover and the book's author covers all of these topics well. Also included are examples of screens that you will see while installing a network feature or troubleshooting a problem.
This book is not for the squeamish or the novice, but any network admin will be glad to have it.
What set this book apart from the thousands of pages (hey, I'm dedicated!) of material I'd already covered?
- CatOS commands; the new Cisco Press books barely mention that CatOS exists!
- anecdotes and real-world examples; even if you know how it *should* work, this book reveals how it *does* work
- objective viewpoint on Cisco technology; no "Cisco's way is the best way" dogma here
- meaningful discussion of high-end, core-strength equipment; everything in the Wendell Odom set focused exclusively on Catalyst 2960 switches and one model of router
- frank, direct, humorous, and engaging style; half the material I've covered previously was dreadfully dull
- illustrations for every concept; this makes my life so much easier when trying to explain things to fellow junior technicians
While the book may seem daunting at nearly 600 pages, I'm flying through it at about 80-100 pages per day. The text is very engaging, and the author's way of phrasing things is informative and structured yet very flowing and casual. I feel that every chapter contains some point, if not several points and concepts, that I wouldn't have known from the other books out there. What is possibly the best feature of this book is the real-world, realistic approach to every concept and issue. The Cisco Press books seem to assume that the reader will be using 2960 access layer switches running IOS 12.2 or better. Network Warrior does not make this assumption. The author makes the realistic assumption that the reader's network could have all kinds of gear networked together, and thus includes information about CatOS as well as a wide variety of Cisco hardware. Also included are some quick and dirty tricks to save time, money, and effort. For example, I didn't know that I could abbreviate almost any command in IOS ("sho" instead of "show", etc.) and still get the same result until I read this book. While I feel that the by-the-book approach of the Cisco Press material is necessary for building a clear foundation, I feel that this book's get-the-job-done take on networking is a necessary follow-up.
The book assumes some working knowledge of networking, but not too much. It doesn't explain the bare basics of networking, nor does it give a history lesson about the histories of each and every cabling standard and networking protocol. It's not a total replacement for a book about networking basics, nor a beginner's guide to the CCNA and/or Cisco equipment. What it does instead is reshape one's conception of what a network is and how to manage it. What it does as well, and does excellently, is fill in the gaps that sorely needed filling in the great mass of other Cisco material out there. If you are preparing for the CCNA, or if you have already passed and think you know all you'll need to know about managing Cisco networks, this book was written for you. I guarantee you will learn something new.
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