Back studying, back writing.

I can’t say I have been in a melancholic funk or anything when it comes to studying, or writing, I just decided to take some time out to have a break and enjoy my free time more. I did that. And I feel better for it. I have been playing guitar more, and spending more time with the family. These are good things.

Fender and Hagstrom
Fender Hendrix Stratocaster and Hagstrom Swede!

But here we are now, and here I am ready to learn and do battle once more. So, why the change of mind? Well, we are prepping up to refresh all the hardware in our data centers next year and it’s down to me to make sure it all goes well. Given the absolute shit show that NetApp Professional Services were this year, I am loathed to spend money on something we can do in-house. Even if that does mean two trips to the States to do it myself.

Bad experiences drive (self) improvement

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my (then unnamed) issues with NetApp Professional Services can read it here – but just to bring you up to speed, we got new NetApps in the US, and asked them to get them set up for us (costing us over $50k) – the guy they sent for the first had only been on the job a few months, and didn’t even turn up on time on the second day (of a two day engagement), he then had to leave to catch his flight at midday.

The second guy was mildly better, but got all the configuration wrong, because the first guy filled out the workbook for him, and thought that the weeks of work I spent putting the basic information (such as what ports need to go where and how they should be configured) was wrong. So, if it was left to them, we would have had no HA whatsoever.

I spent weeks learning OnTap cluster-mode and fixing everything. This is why I want to make sure I do it myself this time.

Rant over.

So, anyway, we are replacing pretty much everything. I think the door and environment monitors are staying. The rest, from top-down, is getting shiny new equipment, and it’s going to be fun. Whilst I love my job, it’s become more varied recently. A few years ago, it was very Cisco-focussed, now I spend a lot of time with Palo Alto’s and NetApps (as well as Cisco stuff), but this meant that my goal of CCIE Security was not very applicable to my role, so I stagnated somewhat. Now I feel re-energized and ready to do battle once more.

Roll up them sleeves and get studying

I will be pursuing the CCNP Data Center in 2020, maybe going for the CCIE in 2021. The new CCNP Data Center just needs two exams; the core (350-601 – Implementing and Operating Cisco Data Center Core Technologies v1.0) and a concentration exam, which can be one of the following:

300-610 – Designing Cisco Data Center Infrastructure (DCID)
300-615 – Troubleshooting Cisco Data Center Infrastructure (DCIT)
300-620 – Implementing Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (DCACI)
300-625 – Configuring Cisco MDS 9000 Series Switches (DCMDS)
300-635 – Introducing Automation for Cisco Solutions (CSAU)
Implementing Automation for Cisco Data Center Solutions (DCAUI)

I will go for the Designing and Troubleshooting tracks (along with the core, obviously), and here is the plan.

1: Start with studying the designing topics.
2: Once done the designing topics, move on to the Implementing (core) topics.
3: Then do the troubleshooting.

Once the topics for the three exams are laid out side by side, there is definitely more overlap between the implementing and the troubleshooting than there is with the designing (which is to be expected), but learning the design is, in my mind the better place to start.

You can see what I mean in the attached excel sheet:

So that’s the studying plan. The second part of this is that I have resumed writing the IGPs book, and it’s starting to flow again. I aim to be finished mid-2020, the books usually take about six months to write.

It’s good to be back studying and writing.