Preparing for the CCNP 350-401 ENCOR Exam

January 31, 2020 update: No, you're not crazy. Cisco changed the exam number from 300-401 to 350-401. The blueprint for the ENCOR exam is mostly the same as the CCNP Routing & Switching track. In fact, the fundamentals are almost 100% identical. That means that you can prepare for the CCNP ENCOR exam by using existing R&S training materials. For your convenience, I’ve put together the following list of my Pluralsight courses that cover both the new CCNP ENCOR exam and the retired CCNP ROUTE, SWITCH, and TSHOOT exams.

Why I Don’t Teach The OSI Model

I recently got an email from a viewer of my Practical Networking course who asked how the TCP/IP networking terms I used mapped to the Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) model. First, a bit of background. The OSI model is a generic networking model that is supposed to describe conceptually how networks carry data. Within the last four decades or so, 99.9% of all computer networking curricula for beginners has started by rehashing the OSI model.

Video: How to Subnet in Your Head

youtube Z7IwF1oSA5M Learn to subnet in your head in just seconds! This clip is from my Pluralsight course Basic Networking for CCNP Routing and Switching 300-101 ROUTE.

Yes, You Need IT Certifications

Certifications are often lambasted as “worthless pieces of paper” and “experience is more important.” But for some people, certifications are more important than experience. A substitute for experience Newcomers to the IT world face the classic problem: how do you get experience without a job? Sure, you can tinker around on your own time, but how do you prove that experience? That’s where certifications come in. Certifications show a prospective employer that you care enough and have the initiative to spend your own time and money to become a better IT professional.

It’s Time to Stop Using the Term Network Function Virtualization (NFV)

I think it’s time to stop using the term “network function virtualization”. Why? Because it doesn’t exist, at least not in the way the term suggests. The term is a category error, and when people try to make sense of the term, confusion and frustration ensue. Think of it like this: what’s the difference between a “virtual network function” and a “non-virtual network function”? For example, how is “virtual IP forwarding” different than “non-virtual IP forwarding?

You failed your CCNP exam. Now what?

You took one of the Cisco CCNP Routing and Switching certification exams. You went to the exam center, sat down, and started the exam. About 2 hours later, you saw the dreaded news appear on the screen: You didn’t pass. I’ve failed certification exams in the past, so I can relate to the facepalm-worthy feeling you get when you realize you dropped a couple of Benjamins on an exam that you just failed.

New book! Learn Cisco Network Administration in a Month of Lunches

The pre-release of my new book, Learn Cisco Network Administration in a Month of Lunches, is available from Manning Publications’ early access program. The book is a tutorial designed for beginners who want to learn how to administer Cisco switches and routers. Set aside a portion of your lunch hour every day for a month, and you’ll start learning practical Cisco Network administration skills faster than you ever thought possible.