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CCNP Route Overwelmed

I am coming off of a pass for the 300-115 switch exam (took me about 5 months of study).

Started the CCNP route studies about 3 weeks ago and I'm finding it extremely difficult to keep up.

I have the INE video series, Cisco press book, Chris Bryant videos and study guides.

Normally I have no trouble keeping up with topics on the exams. Sure it may take 1 or 2 days for everything to fully sink in, but I usually catch on pretty quick.

I don't know what it is about routing tho. I don't really do any dynamic routing at work and it's been about 1.5yrs since passing the CCNA RS.

I'm currently watching the INE videos (EIGRP) and there are literally about 10 different ways to allow or deny routes each 1 achieving the same thing. Do I really need to go this deep?

CCNA was great, learn the technology, tweak a few things here and there, but this is a whole different animal.

Can anyone shed some light on how deep I need to go on these topics, how long it takes an "average" engineer to pass the route exam, and possibly any tips to keep motivated with the studies?


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level 1
8 points · 2 months ago

IMO the NP and the topics there aren't something you can just read and watch a video on and 'get'. (Well, maybe you can ... I shouldn't make broad generalizations I guess). W/out doing any sort of hands-on routing, etc. you're going to struggle. When I was taking mine I was working for a large enterprise, but never touched OSPF / BGP at the time. So what did I do? I made up my own labs. GNS3 was my life-blood for passing that test. I had crazy redistribution labs setup. Would throw routers on the map and build something from scratch. etc.

If you're not getting regular exposure to these higher-level / more difficult concepts in your day to day job, it's going to be tough and you're going to need to 'make' that exposure. These level tests and beyond IMO are supposed to be geared to someone that has been operating in networking at a certain level.

Edit: To answer some of your questions a little more directly - You should dig in until you're comfortable on the topic. No, I don't think I or anyone else can really reasonably give you a time-table for how long it will take you to learn the concepts. As far as motivation goes - I had fun building those labs. Looking back, I knew aspects of routing (and more details) right after that test WAY better than I do now. But that's because I would dig in, have some fun and then wasn't afraid to take a break for a bit (days, week, etc.) when I felt like I was burning out.

level 2
Original Poster2 points · 2 months ago

GNS3 is amazing tool!

I use that as well as physical equipment for labbing.

Any labbing topologies/resources you care to share?

level 3

Have you tried GNS3Vault? There's a website with all the different lacs you can do. The solutions/answers are on his website as well as YouTube.

level 3

I've seen this tossed around:

but apparently you have to bug the authors for the broken configs, so you may want to verify that before buying the book. and I guess it would go without saying, but you'd want the kindle version.

my itchy finger is on the trigger for NetSim 11. more expensive, but without the hassles of GNS. (yes, I know, simulator vs emulator).

level 4

my itchy finger is on the trigger for NetSim 11. more expensive, but without the hassles of GNS. (yes, I know, simulator vs emulator).

God why? The latest implementation of GNS3 makes everything a snap. Plus it's not nearly as much as a memory hog as Virl, and there's no device limit (which becomes important on the IE track when you have topologies with say 35 devices).

level 5

because I'm not that adept or smart about it. Actually with what I've been doing so far for CCNP, I'm feeling very overwhelmed and that's just with switch.

maybe I'm wrong, but my logic for not going with GNS is essentially the same as just not buying the hardware and that's all the manual configurations and preps. I just want to be able to click a button and have all the work done for me. if GNS can do that, then I have no reason not to get into it.

I also have a measly laptop and NetSim is barely pulling through on it.

level 6

I guess I don't know what "click a button means" in this context. Setting aside that you should know basic sysadmin tasks anyway, GNS3 basically involves a one time process of installing the VM on the machine you want it to work on (or not if you're doing it all on one PC), installing the client, and importing the images for the devices you want. It's pretty much a one time process that should be able to be done in 30 minutes.

Beyond that, if I want to make a lab topology of 10 routers, I just turn on GNS, drag the 10 devices into the topology, click them with the link tool to install "cables" between them, and press start. You double click on one and get a putty window. You can save different topologies, and you can even snapshot a topology, so if you build a lab exercise you can snapshot it, them go try it, then revert back to the snapshot, etc.

In my case I run it on a different machine with ESXi as the base os/hypervisor, which also has other things (F5 load balancers, windows stuff, multiple ESXi instances, NFS, ISE, etc) it cost me maybe $300 or so in hardware, I can run probably 50 routers and switches on it at once if I wanted, and with VPN I can access the lab from anywhere in the world.

I'd say it's totally worth it and you're going to get a lot more out of it than something like NetSim in the long run.

One thing I will say is that, to my knowledge, there are no pre-built labs in it, which NetSim does have I believe. You could get something like an INE workbook though and very quickly paste in configs as needed.

level 7

One thing I will say is that, to my knowledge, there are no pre-built labs in it, which NetSim does have I believe. You could get something like an INE workbook though and very quickly paste in configs as needed.

that's what I was getting at. at its heart, GSN is a network and hardware emulator. You could get labs for it (like the book I mentioned above), but you still need to spend time configuring the devices and networks for the labs. NetSim means just selecting the lab you want and all the dirty work is done for you.

I treat this as supplemental anyway. I have access to Cisco equipment as I am going through training materials, but it's all production so I can only play along so much.

NetSim is much more limited and costlier than other options, but on the flip side, I paid someone else to do all the grunt work for me (so yes, I did buy it, for better or for worse, as part of their CCNP bundle).

level 8

That was quick! :-)

level 9

I bought it last night. I've been playing with their ExSim and NetSim, a little bit for all 3 tests. which is mostly why I'm so intimidated by the CCNP now (though I've read several times over that Boson is harder than the actual tests). the TSHOOT ticket questions are fun tho.

level 1

I would watch the Chris Bryant videos first. He doesn't go too deep, but he has GREAT labs. Do all of his labs, then start going deeper into the topics with INE and the book.

Just one note about the book... Don't kill yourself with BGP. It's 1/3 of the book but it's barely on the exam. Also, check the exam topics because Frame Relay, PPP and some more topics like Netflow aren't even in the book, but are in the objectives. The exam is only 40% routing and 60% other topics.

level 2
Original Poster1 point · 2 months ago

Great advice, thanks!

level 1
Comment deleted2 months ago
level 2
Original Poster1 point · 2 months ago

Looks like a have a tough road ahead of me....

Thanks for the feedback

level 1

I'd tend to agree with /u/Fnerb that you're going to have to sit at a console lot to apply what you learn (or are starting to learn) in the videos in order to truly understand it.

I'm not sure what 10 different ways to allow or deny routes you're speaking of (you'd have to give an example or link to some info from INE on it), but in general you need to know the stuff pretty well.

level 2

I'm not sure what 10 different ways to allow or deny routes you're speaking of

Not the OP, but my thought is this is probably a bit of hyperbole, but looking at different sorts of route filtering like distribute-lists in different directions, using ACLs vs. prefix lists, route-maps, how route aggregation affects what gets advertised, how they're all implemented slightly differently between protocols (e.g. OSPF you only filter at ABRs and ASBRs, BGP you configure per-neighbor, and so forth), etc.

There's a lot of tools that do similar things, but understanding the differences between them and why you'd use different tools in different contexts is a major concept, and is one of those things the OP will need to likely do a lot of labbing with to start really internalizing.

level 3
Original Poster2 points · 2 months ago

Yes! Lions, Tigers, Bears OH MY!

So many different ways to accomplish the same thing and many of them not very different from the previous.

Coming from a place where we will most likely never use any of them (aside from acl's of course) it's hard to get my head around why use this 1 over the next etc...

Just like anything else I've learned thus far. Read/watch, lab, test, repeat.

thanks for the input

level 4

There are definite (and major) differences between the different things I listed in my post, just to be clear. They're just not necessarily obvious (particularly with ACLs and prefix lists) at first glance.

For example, route maps can match on things that prefix lists/ACLs cannot, such as route metrics, sources, tags, etc. Route maps can also be used to *set* attributes for routes, such as route tags, OSPF metric types, etc. Route maps are also used outside of route filtering, e.g. for policy-based routing. They give a lot more control than ACLs or prefix lists because of their if-then-else style logic, but are also more complex, so if all you're doing is simpler filtering, then they're probably the wrong tool for the job. Some things you can't do without them, though.

Prefix lists are useful when you want to match specific address ranges with specific prefix lengths, or ranges of prefix lengths. They're a lot easier to read and write than the corresponding ACLs, and much more clearly convey the meaning of what you're trying to do. They're specifically built for this sort of thing, whereas ACLs are designed to match packets and were once-upon-a-time shoehorned into the route filtering role until something better came along.

ACLs are the least likely thing you'll want to use when configuring route filtering, because they're clunky as hell, but they can be used. Luckily, there are plenty of other things that use ACLs. ACLs and prefix lists are also important because they're one of the things you can use to match routes/packets in a route-map.

That said, in your place of employment, you're not doing a lot of routing-related work, so you'll need to put in a lot more work with routing concepts because it's not something you use, and differences and use cases for different tools can be subtle, so make sure you're practicing with them in your lab at home.

level 3

Ultimately one has to set out to build test/example networks with these technologies and start exploring them to understand them. Realizing that there are fundamental differences between DV and LS protocols that impact people in the real world (e.g. the inability to change routing per-prefix in OSPF) is indeed eye opening. Fortunately, or unfortunately perhaps, the best way to really understand it is to build it and see what happens. And to build it and see what is more reasonable to use. For instance, I'll use a prefix-list over an extended ACL any day of the week if it fits my needs, and most of the time it does.

It's really just something people have to put time into in order for it to finally click.

level 1

always follow the exam objects, I'm nearing the end of my studies, I'm finding NP route to be easier overall than CCNA level but just more of it. Labbing everything helps.

level 2

Can you share what materials you are using? FLG, OCG or both? What videos? Thanks!

level 3

FLG book, itproTV videos and boson

level 1

Thank you

level 1

Sorry 1 more q. Re Boson- was that just the exam sim or courseware and netsim aswell? Thanks.

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