Tag Archives: professional

How Cisco certification changes alter CCNP and CCIE tracks

For the Cisco Certified Network Professional and Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert — CCNP and CCIE, respectively — the Cisco certification changes mean less time flaunting advanced networking tricks and more time learning material relevant to the current job market.

Cisco announced these certification changes at Cisco Live 2019, where the significant cuts to the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) track garnered much attention. However, the Cisco certification changes also affected the CCNP and CCIE tracks, such as shrinking the former eight-track CCNP options to five tracks. Authors Brad Edgeworth and Jason Gooley said they believe these changes will greatly benefit CCNP and CCIE hopefuls, as the changes reflect shifts in the networking industry and network engineer job roles.

The effects of the Cisco certification changes are reflected in the new book from authors Ramiro Garza Rios, David Hucaby, Edgeworth and Gooley — CCNP and CCIE ENCOR 350-401 Official Cert Guide which is available now. The book explores the new CCNP and CCIE Enterprise tracks that include relevant information for enterprise network engineers.

Editor’s note: The following interview was edited for length and clarity.

How have the Cisco certification changes affected CCNP and CCIE? What remains the same?

Brad EdgeworthBrad Edgeworth

Brad Edgeworth: [Cisco] is adding more width to the knowledge required. It’s adding more programmability and automation, because that’s becoming more integrated into teams. Also, it’s trying to take advantage of more virtualized platforms.

Jason Gooley: The certifications are becoming more streamlined. They’re modular, so you can pick the technology core, then focus on a specialty and become certified in that direction. In addition, newer technologies such as software-defined access [SD-Access] or software-defined WAN [SD-WAN] are part of these exams.

Not a lot was removed. The level of knowledge you had to know before has grown, because we include what was there before and add a bunch of new technologies.

Edgeworth: Cisco is going back to what is relevant to jobs. Some technologies that are not as common, like frame relay, were removed. The core fundamentals of networking still reside within the certification exams, and Cisco built on top of them.

Jason GooleyJason Gooley

Gooley: You have to know what was asked [in the exams] before in addition to these new technologies. That fits with what customers see in work environments now. You’re certified in what you see in the industry versus an exam with some technology you might not use. It’s structured around current job roles.

When I took the CCNP, there were four exams. Now, you can take two — technology core and concentration — and become CCNP certified. The structure completely changed, which I think is for the better. As far as technology, things like SD-WAN, SD-Access and programmability become more robust because that’s what customers and the industry are leading to.

Edgeworth: The CCNP Routing and Switching exam before was great but never took wireless into account, which is what most enterprise customers use. Now, that’s integrated into it.

With CCIE, it used to be: What router ninja tricks can you do? CCIEs would maybe not have fundamentals for network design, so network design was integrated as a component of the CCIE practical exam. Design concepts have become a core specialization with CCNP, as well.

Where do you see Cisco certifications and the industry heading in the next 20 years?

Edgeworth: In the industry, there will be more automation and businesses becoming more digital. Another big thing is security. How do you integrate security throughout the service? The industry lagged with that. There’s going to be more automation and security integration for dotting i’s and crossing t’s to make sure data is correct and maintains its privacy.

Gooley: As job roles change and customers adopt different technologies, the certifications will follow. As the certifications evolve over time, they’ll follow what’s in the industry and what customers go through. That’s why we didn’t remove a lot from the certifications, because it’s still out there.

For Cisco to redo the entire certification program, as well as introduce a new line that focuses specifically on automation, software and programmability skills — that’s in response to the industry, and that’s critical. When you evolve your skill set and move toward newer technologies and automation, you still need to know how it works before you automate it. You can automate failure as fast as you automate success.

Edgeworth: You have to have fundamentals because of what you automate. Learn the trade, not tips of the trade, because tips of the trade come from learning the trade.

Going after a certification is nice. Obtaining the certification is nicer. But failure is part of the process. Learning on the journey is critical. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t failed. [The first time] I tried for CCIE, I failed. But the knowledge I gained during the process allowed me to enter other opportunities to grow my career. While succeeding is nice, it’s about the knowledge you gain on the way.

Gooley: I went for the CCDE [Cisco Certified Design Expert] three times, and I still haven’t passed. You learn the technology and best practices in going for it. Even if you don’t pass, you’ve still enhanced your skill set, and it’s valuable. Everybody eventually has to get up and dust themselves off.

What’s nice about social media and the community is when you fail, you’re held accountable when you say it. Then other people come out of the woodwork saying you’re not alone. That helps everybody learn together. Embrace the journey. The journey is where you learn everything and have the fun.

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Prepare for CCNP, CCIE ENCOR 350-401 with this guide preview

Although the Cisco Certified Network Professional track no longer has prerequisite exams, most CCNP exams still require an understanding of the networking topics found in the reworked Cisco Certified Network Associate, or CCNA, exam.

For the CCNP and Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) ENCOR 350-401 exam, a significant portion of the material includes information from the new CCNA exam. Authors Ramiro Garza Rios, David Hucaby, Brad Edgeworth and Jason Gooley cover both the old and new material in their guidebook CCNP and CCIE ENCOR 350-401 Official Cert Guide, which is available now.

The ENCOR 350-401 exam — which stands for Enterprise Core — particularly emphasizes Cisco’s move from uncommon, advanced capabilities to the networking requirements for current job roles.

Below is an excerpt from the guide: Chapter 6, “IP Routing Essentials.” This chapter covers fundamental routing protocols — many of which have remained from when the authors themselves began to study for Cisco certification exams.

When Edgeworth first studied for the Cisco certification exams, he said understanding how routers think and operate was the most challenging part. As an author, he has tried to write chapters in a way that provides in-depth perspective, yet also shows how technologies and protocols work within configurations. Edgeworth suggested CCNP and CCIE ENCOR 350-401 hopefuls participate in labs to put the concepts they learn from books into practice.

Gooley, on the other hand, found unstructured, solo studying the most challenging, saying he felt alone when he first started studying for his Cisco certifications. He suggested that hopefuls should lean on the community, whether that’s in person or through social media. People can hold each other accountable for studying and readers can reach out to the authors themselves if they have questions.

In addition to potentially challenging new topics in the CCNP and CCIE ENCOR 350-401 exam — such as programmability and software-defined WAN — Edgeworth and Gooley said they are pleased with how relevant the ENCOR 350-401 exam is to current job roles. CCNP and CCIE hopefuls can expect to learn and solidify skills they use daily at their jobs, including the IP routing fundamentals.

Edgeworth said this chapter covers many routing essentials, such as Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) and Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) — topics the new CCNA exam also includes. The chapter delves into fundamental knowledge network engineers need for jobs and explores routing essentials in a vendor-agnostic way, as OSPF is OSPF and BGP is BGP regardless of which vendor platform an engineer uses, according to Edgeworth.

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For Sale – HP Z1 Professional All-In-One Workstation

HP Z1 G1 professional workstation. I’ve owned this since new – it was purchased in 2013 and is only up for sale due to recent upgrade to 2 monitor setup.

All-in-one design with 27″ IPS panel. Absolutely mint condition with all original packaging, HP system recovery disks plus un-used and boxed keyboard and mouse.

I upgraded the RAM at the time of purchase to 32gb ECC memory – that memory type will now set you back in excess of £300 alone. It came pre-installed with Windows 7 Pro x64 but was entitled to a Windows 10 upgrade. I’ve stuck a brand new 120gb SSD in it and installed a clean copy of Win 10 Pro that is fully activated by Microsoft.

Fantastic modular design – the case opens on gas struts for easy tool free access to main components.

Motherboard was replaced by HP under warranty early last year as the sound card had failed.

This is a beast of a workstation for professional use – it flies with an Intel server spec processor and the onboard RAM. Full specs are: –

Xeon E3-1280 3.5 GHz quad core processor.
32gb ECC RAM
Dedicated Graphics Card – NVidia Quadro 1000M
27″ IPS display (non-touch screen)
Optical Drive – DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM
120gb SSD plus space in modular caddy for additional 2.5″ HDD
Intel gigabit NIC with RJ-45 connector
Wireless network adaptor on board
Bluetooth
HP integrated web cam
Quality onboard speakers built into the base of the chassis.
4 x USB 2 ports on rear
2 x USB 3 ports on side
IEEE-1394a FireWire connector
Media – xD/MMC/MS/SD card reader
Optical S/PDIF audio output
DisplayPort connector for additional external monitor
Full set of audio in/outputs including subwoofer.

It is a fantastic piece of kit looking for a new home.

I am based in West Sussex and I’m happy to meet up for delivery within a 30 mile radius of Horsham. If you want to arrange for your own courier collection from my home address, then that’s fine too so long as insurance is included but bear in mind it is a large and very heavy package.

HPZ1-1.jpgHPZ1-2.jpgHPZ1-3.jpgHPZ1-4.jpgHPZ1-5.jpgHPZ1-6.jpg

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Using the Sysinternals Sysmon tool to check DNS queries

If you’re an IT professional with experience troubleshooting the Windows OS, then you may have used a tool from the Sysinternals suite.

The Sysinternals utilities have been around since 1996 and have been one of the most popular tools to handle various tasks in Windows, from remote execution (PSExec) to looking at software that starts automatically (Autoruns). Of the many tools in the Sysinternals suite, Sysmon is one of the best at providing great insight into what is happening in several areas on Windows. With the addition of the DNS query logging feature, I consider Sysmon an essential tool for administrators to monitor process creations and network connections.

Deploying Sysmon to clients

Chocolatey is the de facto package manager on Windows, due to its immense repository of Windows software and its integration with PowerShell and configuration management applications. Chocolatey has Sysmon and the rest of the Sysinternals suite on its public repository.

Chocolatey doesn’t install Sysmon on a machine; it just unzips the files needed to install the Sysmon service. With some modification to the Chocolatey installation script, we can change that.

C:Chocotemp> cat .chocolateyInstall.ps1

$packageName = ‘sysmon’

$url = “$(Split-Path -parent $MyInvocation.MyCommand.Definition)filesSysmon.zip”

$checksum = ‘ed271b81eee546f492f25b10cdf99ffcff5670fa502fdf21151c18157b826f39’

$checksumType = ‘sha256’

$url64 = “$url”

$checksum64 = “$checksum”

$checksumType64 = “checksumType”

$toolsDir = “$(Split-Path -parent $MyInvocation.MyCommand.Definition)”

 

Install-ChocolateyZipPackage -PackageName “$packageName” `

                             -Url “$url” `

                             -UnzipLocation “$toolsDir” `

                             -Url64bit “$url64” `

                             -Checksum “$checksum” `

                             -ChecksumType “$checksumType” `

                             -Checksum64 “$checksum64” `

                             -ChecksumType64 “$checksumType64”

 

& ($toolsDir + ‘Sysmon64.exe’) /accepteula /i /h * /n

The last line of the script calls for the execution of sysmon64.exe with the arguments /accepteula /i /h * /n, which accepts the end-user license agreement, installs the Sysmon service on the local system, uses all hash algorithms and sets up logging of network connections.

When I run the command choco install sysmon –y, it installs the Sysmon service when I install the package.

Sysmon setup
Set up Chocolatey to fetch Sysmon and install the service.

Use configuration files to get what you want

With the addition of the DNS query logging feature, I consider Sysmon an essential tool for administrators to monitor process creations and network connections.

Once you get familiar with using Sysmon, you will want to use it with configuration files, which help filter events that Sysmon logs to weed out unnecessary information.

The IT professional who uses the handle @SwiftOnSecurity on Twitter maintains one of the more popular customized Sysmon configuration files at this repository on GitHub. It contains a lot of valuable inclusions and exclusions for those times when you need a cleaner Sysmon log. For instance, there is a section for monitoring file creation processes that includes important file extensions, such as .ps1, .bat and .vbs.

Displaying the Sysmon event log

[embedded content]
Working with the Sysinternals suite

One of the great features of Sysmon is that it puts logs in a familiar location: Windows Event Viewer. The exact location is under Applications and Services > Microsoft > Windows > Sysmon. Here, we can search and filter just like any other Windows event log. For instance, to search for a specific IP address for a network connection, users can right-click on the Sysmon log, and choose Find. This opens a dialog to search keywords — in this case, an IP address.

Logging DNS queries in Sysmon

A recent release of Sysmon added a new feature: logging DNS queries. To test it, after browsing to Google in Chrome, I see it is logged in Sysmon as the following:

Dns query:
RuleName:
UtcTime: 2019-06-13 19:38:50.327
ProcessGuid: {17847a67-4157-5d02-0000-001048c02000}
ProcessId: 11328
QueryName: www.google.com
QueryStatus: 0
QueryResults: 172.217.10.68;
Image: C:Program Files (x86)GoogleChromeApplicationchrome.exe

This brings in the ability to track if a system attempts to contact malicious sites, which can be helpful when detecting malware.

Search the Sysmon event log with PowerShell

The Get-WinEvent cmdlet is one of the most useful troubleshooting cmdlets in PowerShell for its ability to run a search in the Windows event log. Because Sysmon gets logged to the Windows event log, we can search it with PowerShell.

In the command below, we run Get-WinEvent on a remote computer (WIN10-CBB) and use -FilterHashTable to look in the Sysmon log for DNS queries only. I then pipe that output to Select-Object so that I only retrieve the message in the event. (The Event ID 22 occurs when a process runs a DNS query.)

Get-WinEvent -ComputerName win10-cbb -FilterHashTable @{logname="Microsoft-Windows-Sysmon/Operational";ProviderName="Microsoft=Windows-Sysmon";ID=22"} | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Message
Search the Sysmon event log
Use the Get-WinEvent cmdlet to search the Sysmon event log with PowerShell.

The result is that I print all of the DNS queries for this machine.

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News roundup: TriNet software targets professional services

The theme of this news roundup is specialization: professional services HR, an effort to pull together a comprehensive benefits plan and a payroll offering aimed at the gig economy.

The debut of TriNet software for professional services HR is an effort to provide a platform for small and medium-sized businesses that caters to specific HR needs. TriNet Professional Services “is a bundle more relevant to what a small consulting company owner or an ad agency owner or any type of business depending on people to deliver a service would need,” explained Jimmy Franzone, senior vice president of strategy at TriNet, based in San Leandro, Calif. The new product joins other vertical TriNet software aimed at technology, nonprofits, life sciences and financial services.

In thinking about what the issues are around professional services HR, Franzone said the company bundled in a lot of applications that are ancillary in some other products, but should be important to this demographic. Expense management, performance management, application tracking and a variety of payroll-related tasks are at the core of the professional services package, Franzone said, because they are areas busy consultants, certified public accountants or lawyers would want to easily access.

TriNet’s heavy investment in its mobile application should also work nicely for those looking for professional services HR, Franzone said. “Mobile is a huge driver from the client side, especially in professional services,” he said. “We’re finding, in some ways, the professional services HR [market] is more mobile-enabled than tech or financial services firm employees who are always at a desk. Consulting firms and ad agencies are working outside of their desks. The need to be able to access data is critical to what they do.”

The new TriNet software is supported by a client services team that specializes in professional services HR, Franzone said. “They understand how those businesses work, what questions to ask, and what the trials and tribulations are.”

BenefitsPlace: All employee options on one platform

BenefitsPlace, a new platform from Benefitfocus, has a lofty goal: “We want to unify the entire benefits industry on one platform,” said Tom Dugan, vice president of product management at Benefitfocus, based in Charleston, S.C.

“We want the platform to show carriers’ insurance, life products and critical illness plans, as well as the emergent benefits that are focused on noninsurance products, like ID theft protection and concierge healthcare,” he continued. “We want to onboard all types of sellers’ products to make it easy for brokers to evaluate those sellers’ products and for employers to evaluate and make choices.”

BenefitsPlace won’t just offer the choices, Dugan stressed, but it will also present information around the offerings, so employers and consumers can make informed decisions about their benefits.

The average Benefitfocus customer offers 15 different benefits, and 20% of its clients offer 20 or more, Dugan said. So, the choices can be overwhelming to both employers and employees.

“We want to remove friction from the process,” he said. “We want to help people really understand what’s available, and it’s only getting more difficult when new products come in. We want to help consumers navigate those choices.”

An easier small-business payday process?

In the gig economy, small businesses can struggle with the prospect of payday happening potentially daily. Intuit’s QuickBooks just announced new payroll software options to help small businesses more easily deal with short-term employees who expect to be paid the day they work.

Contractor Direct Deposit brings “drop in the bank account” payment options to small businesses and syncs up with QuickBooks, so everything is streamlined at tax time. Same Day Direct Deposit is a new option in QuickBooks Full Service Payroll, and it’s an alternate way to pay contractors or freelancers more quickly and stay on top of expenses.

Wanted – Desktop PC or laptop (£100 – £250)

I have a HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Business PC which comes with Windows 7 Professional. Computer still has warranty with HP till 27th March 2019 so you’ve got peace of mind. I’m looking for £300 but will take £275 including fully tracked next day delivery. Payment via BT and I can try to post the item today for delivery tomorrow otherwise it will be posted tomorrow or Saturday at the very latest due to my hours at work.

Spec is :
* Intel i5 4590 – 3.0Ghz CPU
* 10GB DDR3 RAM
* 2x 500GB HDD’s
* Onboard Graphics
* Headphone / Mic Port
* 2x Display Ports
* 10 USB Ports in total (2x USB2.0 and 2x USB 3.0 on the front)
* Normal Ps2 ports for keyboard and mouse
* Can be stood upright or laid flat

———————————————

Have the same model as above but spec is below and warranty I believe has only recently expired. Again it comes with Windows 7 installed. I can do this one for £210 including next day fully tracked delivery.

Spec is :
* Intel i5 4570 – 3.2Ghz CPU
* 8GB DDR3 RAM
* 500GB HDD
* Onboard Graphics
* Headphone / Mic Port
* 2x Display Ports
* 10 USB Ports in total (2x USB2.0 and 2x USB 3.0 on the front)
* Normal Ps2 ports for keyboard and mouse
* Can be stood upright or laid flat

Wanted – Surface pro 4 / Surface pro 2017 i5 or /macbook 12/pro ect.

Hi mate,

I have a HP EliteDesk 800 G1 SFF Business PC which comes with Windows 7 Professional. Computer still has warranty with HP till 27th March 2019 so you’ve got peace of mind. I’m looking for £300 but will take £275 including fully tracked next day delivery. Payment via BT and I can try to post the item tomorrow for delivery Saturday.

Spec is :
* Intel i5 4590 – 3.0Ghz CPU
* 10GB DDR3 RAM
* 2x 500GB HDD’s
* Onboard Graphics
* Headphone / Mic Port
* 2x Display Ports
* 10 USB Ports in total (2x USB2.0 and 2x USB 3.0 on the front)
* Normal Ps2 ports for keyboard and mouse
* Can be stood upright or laid flat

Wanted – Desktop PC or laptop (£100 – £250)

I have a HP EliteDesk 800 G1 Business PC which comes with Windows 7 Professional. Computer still has warranty with HP till 27th March 2019 so you’ve got peace of mind. I’m looking for £300 but will take £275 including fully tracked next day delivery. Payment via BT and I can try to post the item today for delivery tomorrow otherwise it will be posted tomorrow or Saturday at the very latest due to my hours at work.

Spec is :
* Intel i5 4590 – 3.0Ghz CPU
* 10GB DDR3 RAM
* 2x 500GB HDD’s
* Onboard Graphics
* Headphone / Mic Port
* 2x Display Ports
* 10 USB Ports in total (2x USB2.0 and 2x USB 3.0 on the front)
* Normal Ps2 ports for keyboard and mouse
* Can be stood upright or laid flat

———————————————

Have the same model as above but spec is below and warranty I believe has only recently expired. Again it comes with Windows 7 installed. I can do this one for £210 including next day fully tracked delivery.

Spec is :
* Intel i5 4570 – 3.2Ghz CPU
* 8GB DDR3 RAM
* 500GB HDD
* Onboard Graphics
* Headphone / Mic Port
* 2x Display Ports
* 10 USB Ports in total (2x USB2.0 and 2x USB 3.0 on the front)
* Normal Ps2 ports for keyboard and mouse
* Can be stood upright or laid flat

Wanted – Surface pro 4 / Surface pro 2017 i5 or /macbook 12/pro ect.

Hi mate,

I have a HP EliteDesk 800 G1 SFF Business PC which comes with Windows 7 Professional. Computer still has warranty with HP till 27th March 2019 so you’ve got peace of mind. I’m looking for £300 but will take £275 including fully tracked next day delivery. Payment via BT and I can try to post the item tomorrow for delivery Saturday.

Spec is :
* Intel i5 4590 – 3.0Ghz CPU
* 10GB DDR3 RAM
* 2x 500GB HDD’s
* Onboard Graphics
* Headphone / Mic Port
* 2x Display Ports
* 10 USB Ports in total (2x USB2.0 and 2x USB 3.0 on the front)
* Normal Ps2 ports for keyboard and mouse
* Can be stood upright or laid flat