Cisco Champions 2015

Wow! Im very excited to anounce that I have been selected to be a Cisco Champion for 2015. There is a lot of smart and talented folks in Cisco Champions and I am greatly honored to be involved.

What is Cisco Champions?

Straight from the Cisco Champions FAQ

"The purpose of the Cisco Champions Program is to create and nurture a network of people who are passionate about Cisco and enjoy sharing their knowledge, expertise, and thoughts across the social web and with Cisco.

The Cisco Champions program encompasses different areas of interest and geographical areas within the company, providing a variety of opportunities for Champions to participate in the program."

 So what am I going to do with this great power I have now be granted?

Right now Im not completely sure and my CCIE studies are consuming the majority of my free time. But I do know I will be involved and will stay active in the group.

The Cisco Champions also hold a weekly podcast called Cisco Champions Radio where they discuss various aspects of the networking world. You can join the live broadcast here or check out the archives here. I plan to attend and get involved as much as possible.

I highly recommend following the conversation on twitter using the hash-tag #ciscochampion, Check out the Cisco Champions community and most importantly follow the blogs and rants of my fellow Cisco Champions on their personal sites. Like I said these guys and gals are freakin smart and know what they are talking about!

Does that mean I am now a Cisco Spam bot for Marketing?

Nope. Even though Cisco wants us to spread the "good word" we are not obligated to do so, We are encouraged to speak freely about topics and that is what I plan to do.


CCIE Bootcamp - Second week

The second week of my INE 10 Day bootcamp went a lot quicker than expected. Week two though was just as intense as the first week.

Dave did a great job on Monday of breaking down MPLS VPNs and really solidified my understanding of the control and data plane within MPLS VPNs.

The first half of the week was focused on MPLS, Multcast, and IPv6. We spent a fair amount of time covering thee topics in-depth. Just like week one Dave didnt really cover the basics as that knowledge was assumed. This allowed us to focus on each topic at a deeper level. The situations we were lead into by the topology really help solidify my foundation knowledge of each topic and showed me what to watch for in the lab and what gotchas it could lead me into.

The second half of the week was covering Switching, QoS, IPSec, DMVPN and services. None of these subject were covered in as much depth as the core technologies but I feel we could have spent another two week covering them fully. These topics dont hold much weight in the blueprint anymore so Im happy we didnt spend much time on them. Time was better spent on the core topics.

Overall this camp was worth every dollar spent. I came away with a ton of new knowledge and have a good understanding of my weak areas. Now time to get my head down and get my digits.


CCIE Bootcamp - First week

Man week one went fast but there was a tons of great information we reviewed.

Wednesday was primarily OSPF and some EIGRP towards the end. Dave did a great job with breaking down the LSDB and we ran though a great situation that help solidify the changing of the Forwarding Address and the issues that can be presented.  He also built out the complete network just from LSAs. If interested Pete Lumbus also wrote a blog post that covers this in detail here. He does a great job of breaking it town and it helps a ton with understanding LSAs.


CCIE Bootcamp - First Two Days

First two days of my CCIE bootcamp have been pretty good. David Smith, with INE, is great and he is very passionate about the topics. Dave's teaching style makes it super simple to stay focused and engaged. He has some great soap-box style rants and loves to points out screw-ups in IOS. I love it!

Day one (Monday) was focused on lab strategy and the blueprint. Its a nice light day with just a couple "soft ball" examples to get the brain going.

Day two was DMVPN, PPP and OSPF. DMVPN didn't get too deep, just the basics of getting single hub DMVPN up and going and some of the gotchas within the technology. The rest of DMVPN along with IPSec will be covered in more depth later in the camp.

PPP was, welll...PPP. I hate PPP and its one of those topics I have to suck it up and get comfortable with.

OSPF was primarily focused on single area but we did cover some multi-area and some crazy corner cases with virtual-links. This topic did start to get intense quickly!

I now know unnumbered interfaces can screw your day up pretty quick, if you dont watch out. This was proven multiple times with OSPF, PPP and even jacking up a single point of redistribution lab between OSPF and EIGRP.

Dave, your unnumbered link in the lab is the Devil!

Another topic that hit me from the side today was OSPF transit capability. Since this is an INE bootcamp here is a link to their blog which covers this topic.

Understanding OSPF Transit Capability

The general gist is OSPF ABRs have the option to choose a shorter non-backbone area route to a destination over a backbone area route (area 0). I was always under the impression it would use the backbone route every time due to intra-area routes always being preferred over inter-area routes.

For the most part I feel pretty good and am not getting overwhelmed. I am picking up some great knowledge and we will see how I do once this bootcamp progresses in more advanced topics.


CCIE 10-Day Bootcamp

I leave tomorrow morning for my INE 10-Day CCIE bootcamp in Seattle. Im both very excited and nervous for what's in store over the next 14 days. From what I gather both weeks consist of 10-14 hour days of pure geeky R&S goodness. I can easily see my brain being turned into mush on a daily basis. But that is what  I love about this field! What makes me nervous is going in and exposing more weak areas than I think I have. I really hope Im in the position to take my first attempt in January. I plan to book my test after I get back and have a better feel for where I sit.

Either way this is going to be a fun trip!

I would love to get a couple blog post written about some of the technologies, but Im not sure what time I will have during this trip. Also my wife is due with mini-me # 3 pretty much right when I get back so who knows whats going to happen after the trip.

I will post periodic updates through out the two weeks on how things are going and also some general notes on areas I need to focus on afterwards. Not daily but maybe a couple time each week.

Tools I will be using:

Laptop (of course) - Im taking both my work and personal Laptop just in cast one craps out.
Evernote - General notes and documentation on key topics, discussions and examples.
WipeBook 2.0 - Used for sketching and quick diagrams. I will then take pictures and upload to Evernote with Skitch
Clipper - Used to document DocCD pages, RFCs and online resources discussed or I need to review.
Caffeine - A metric shit-ton of the stuff in various absorb-able methods...


Big Switch and Big Cloud Fabric - NFD8

I’ve been hearing buzz about Big Switch Networks for a bit leading up to NFD8. With their announcement of Big Cloud Fabric (BCF), Big Switch seemed to have a solid product offering. Going into NFD8 I was given a hands-on demo of BCF. The demo was excellent and very well put together, but getting to actually work with and see BCF in action was what did it for me. It just made sense and clearly highlighted what Big Switch means by simple.

Big Switch has a very smart solution with BCF. Its easy to wrap your head around, yet flexible by integrating with third party switches. They also providing an API, CLI and web interface to meet everyone’s management style. BCF appears to be a strong competitor in the SDN space. Like many leading vendors BCF utilizes policies and distributed routing to control traffic once it hits the fabric.

I will not go into the details of Big Switch and their offerings because several others have done a great job with their own blog post in covering these topics. I'm going to highly encourage you to check out these posts to get an idea of what Big Switch is all about. Do it, read them now, NOW!


Nuage Networks - NFD8

Going into NFD8 I knew little about Nuage Networks but I was excited to see their product offerings. I was very impressed with their presentation and what they bring to the table.

Im the type of person who likes simple. Dont add complexity unless its absolutely needed. Nuages' user interface (UI) is clean and simple. Their product line appears to be straight forward and for a traditional networking guy, Nuages solution makes a lot of sense.

I will definitely be keeping my eye on Nuage Networks and what develops for them in the coming years!

Here is an overview of what came out of NFD8 and my thoughts on their solutions.


Abstracting the Network - NFD8

Going into Networking Field Day 8 (NFD8) I really didn’t have a solid view or opinion about SDN, Network Virtualization (NV) and all the talk about controllers, VxLAN, etc... I had mixed feeling on how as a network engineer my day-to-day job would change.  Leaving NFD, I have to say, I'm pretty excited to see where networking is going.

What impressed me was how these solutions actually simplified the network instead of driving complexity.  Even though each vendor has their own spin on SDN there was one common theme I heard from each company, network abstraction.

NOTE: I will keep this as simple as possible to give everyone my view of the technology. Future post will go into more detail of the vendors products. As always I value feedback and discussion as this is a subject Im just starting to get familiar with.


Networking Field Day 8

WOW! It blows my mind to think I was even in consideration to be a Networking Field Day (NFD) delegate, but to be chosen is a huge honor.

Over the past months I have been focusing in on my CCIE studies and just last week I reorganized my schedule in preparation for my INE bootcamp in November.

When I was first extended the offer I was hesitant to accept for multiple reasons. First my wife is pregnant with number three which is due in December and second because Im starting to dig my heals in with my studies and need to get focused for my bootcamp. But I quickly realized I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to attend NFD. My wife was also very insistent that I don't pass up this opportunity.

So I excitedly accepted the invitation and now Im off!!

Check out the NFD8 event page for the full list of sponsoring vendors and delegates.


Broke 20,000 views & CCIE Update

Just wanted to give a quick thank you to everyone. Today I broke 20,000 views on this blog! Te blog is a little more than one year old and I am very excited to see it gets this much attention. By far the most popular content is my Nexus series closely followed by the OSPF Network Types series.

Thank you everyone for reading my content!

CCIE R&S Update:

Its going. Staying coarse during the transition to version 5 has been difficult but I have maintained a steady schedule. I have a 10-day R&S boot-camp scheduled for November with INE and hopefully will make my first attempt around the new year.

My schedule will start getting pretty crazy in the next month or so as my wife and I are expecting our third mini-me, or would it be that1baby_3?? Due date is about 2 weeks after I get back from boot-camp so yeah its going to get crazy!!

Luckily I have a VERY supportive wife and family and we are pulling together in big ways to make all this happen. To them, Thanks Its very much appreciated!!


OSPF Areas (Part 2) - Backbone and Normal Areas


RFC 2328 – OSPF Version 2
RFC 2740 – OSPF for IPv6

Backbone area (Area 0)

Let’s start with the Backbone area. The backbone area is just as the name implies the backbone of the OSPF domain. Think of the backbone area as the hub for OSPF. The backbones main responsibility is to distribute routing information (LSAs) between non-backbone areas.

Breakdown of Backbone Area:

  • Backbone = area  0 (or area
  • Must be contiguous and not split up
  • All area ABRs must connect  to the backbone 
  • Virtual links are used when areas are not physically connected
  • Cannot be configured as stub or NSSA area type
  • Redistribution allowed into the backbone area
  • All LSA types are allowed and propagated

OSPF Areas - Index

OSPF Areas (Part 1)
OSPF Areas (Part 2) - Backbone and Normal Areas
OSPF Areas (Part 3) - Stub
OSPF Areas (Part 4) - Totally Stubby
OSPF Areas (Part 5 ) - NSSA
OSPF Areas (Part 6 ) - Totally NSSA


OSPF Areas (Part 6) - Totally NSSA

RFC 2328 – OSPF Version 2
RFC 3101 - The OSPF Not-So-Stubby Area (NSSA) Option
RFC 2740 – OSPF for IPv6
Cisco - OSPF Not-So-Stubby Area (NSSA) 

Breakdown of the Totally NSSA Area:

  • Redistribution allowed by ASBRs
  • NSSA ASBRs generate Type-7 LSAs for external routes
    • Appear as N1 or N2 external
    • ABRs convert Type-7 LSAs to Type-5
  • Blocks Type-5 External, Type-4 ASBR and Type-3 Summary LSAs
  • Only ABRs are configured for totally NSSA 
    • Internal routers configured as NSSA to form an adjacency
    • N-Bit is set to 0 in Hello packet
  • Cannot be backbone area (area 0)
  • Virtual links are not allowed to transit
At this point you should already have a good idea of what a Totally NSSA area is. Basically a totally NSSA area is the combination of, wait for it... wait...


OSPF Areas (Part 5) - NSSA

RFC 3101 - The OSPF Not-So-Stubby Area (NSSA) Option
RFC 1587 - The OSPF NSSA Option (Obsoleted by 3101)
RFC 2740 – OSPF for IPv6
Cisco - OSPF Not-So-Stubby Area (NSSA)

Breakdown of the NSSA (Not-So-Stubby-Area) Area:
  • Redistribution allowed by ASBRs in NSSA areas
  • NSSA ASBRs generate Type-7 LSAs for all external routes
    • Appears in the routing table as N1 or N2 external.
  • NSSA ABRs convert Type-7 LSAs to Type-5 LSAs before advertising
  • Blocks Type-5 External LSAs and Type-4 ASBR LSAs into the NSSA area
    • Just like Stub, Inter-Area Type-3 LSAs allowed into the area
  • ABRs will not generate a default route ( for the area (by default)
  • All routers in NSSA area must be configured as NSSA to form an adjacency
    • N-Bit is set to 0 in Hello packet
  • Cannot be backbone area (area 0)
  • Virtual links are not allowed to transit NSSA areas


OSPF Areas (Part 4) - Totally Stubby

RFC 2328 – OSPF Version 2
RFC 2740 – OSPF for IPv6 - What are OSPF Areas and Virtual Links

 Breakdown of the Stub Area:
  • Blocks Type-5 External, Type-4 ASBR and Type-3 Summary LSAs.
  • ABRs generate a default route ( for the area (Type-3 Summary)
  • Only ABRs for an area are configured for totally stubby areas. 
  • Cannot be backbone area (area 0)
  • Cannot redistribute into totally stubby areas (no ASBRs)
  • Virtual links are not allowed to transit totally stubby areas
  • E-Flag is set to 0 in Hello packet (same as stub)

Solarwinds Thwack - Guest Ambassador - Index

Here is an index of the four SolarWinds Thwack blog post I created. It was a fun experience and hopefully others found it as useful as I did.

Growing Network Complexity and KISS
Automate All the Things!
Improving the Skills and Knowledge of Your Team
Everyone Loves an Awesome Network Diagram


OSPF Areas (Part 3) - Stub

RFC 2328 – OSPF Version 2
RFC 2740 – OSPF for IPv6

Breakdown of the Stub Area:
  • Cannot be backbone area (area 0)
  • Cannot redistribute into stub areas (no ASBRs)
  • Virtual links are not allowed to transit stub areas
  • ABRs generate a default route ( for the area
  • Blocks Type-5 External LSAs and Type-4 ASBR LSAs
  • All routers in stub area must be configured as stub to form an adjacency
  • E-Flag is set to 0 in Hello packet


OSPF Areas (Part 1)

Im starting a series of OSPF post to both follow up on my OSPF network types series (which can be found here) and to also dig deeper into the different areas available within OSPF and how each controls what LSAs and routes enter and exit an area.

Throughout these post Im going to run both IPv4 and IPv6 side-by-side in order to demonstrate both OSPFv2 and OSPFv3 and their minor differences.

Solarwinds Thwack - Guest Ambassador Post Two

This post hits on the hot topic of network automation. Im excited for this post and hope some good discussion comes out of it.

Automate All the Things!


Solarwinds Thwack - Guest Ambassador

If anyone is interested I am doing a short guest series over at SolarWinds Thwack. My focus for this series is the growing complexity of networks and how to still build in simplicity. Far from my CCIE studies right now but its nice to have something else to focus on and rest my mind from the grind.

I will push one post a week during the month of March. These post are intentionally open-ended to hopefully stir up some good discussion. I encourage anyone who is interested to jump into the conversation.

I will also link to each article from here.

Here is number one
Growing Network Complexity and KISS


CCIE Written (350-001) Passed. Now the fun stuff!

I finally got around to retaking my CCIE written and came out this time with a pass. I'm a little upset that it took me three times to pass but it at least shows I am moving forward. My first attempt I just did not know the theory like I should and the second attempt I over thought and over complicated too many questions.

Now what is my plan for the version 5 CCIE lab?


2014 Goals and 2013 Look back

First off I want to thank everyone who has checked out my blog and hopefully it has been useful. My intention last year for my blog was purely selfish. I wanted an outlet other than taking notes to aid in my CCIE R&S studies, but quickly branched out and utilized my blog as a means to dig deeper and document my research into the Cisco Nexus line.

My Cisco Nexus series is by far the most popular posts on my blog.


Last year was a crazy year for me, but I also experienced a ton of knowledge gain and growth. I changed jobs mid-year and jumped into a network that needed and still needs a ton of attention. The exposure has been awesome and I had the pleasure to meet and work with some amazing network engineers.

The downside to all this is my CCIE studies had to be set aside. None the less I am very pleased with the outcome of 2013!

Now what the hell do I do this year?

I'm a firm believer in writing down and organizing your goals from year to year. So here it goes.


With my current job I am finally being exposed to technologies that have been in the enterprise and DC for years. While I am now heavily exposed to both voice and wireless my primary focus will be to gain a solid knowledge-base of both VMware virtualization and the Cisco UCS. While R&S is my passion I am seeing myself getting very excited about the DC and what is to come over the next 5 years in this space. This is where I want to be.

I'm sure as I progress some UCS and Nexus post will bleed into the blog.


This one is obvious. 2014 needs to be the year I buckle down, and bang out my CCIE. If there was any takeaway from my stalled attempts last year I now have a firm grasp of what my weekly schedule needs to be and the level of effort I need to expect for the coming year.  This is where the majority of my blog post will come from.

As I have mentioned before I'm not making a go at the v4 lab but I will knock out the v4 written before it goes EOL. My lab study schedule is going to be pretty open-ended at first as no one has seen what INE, IPExpert or even Cisco plans to do with their v5 refresh outside of the official blueprint.

Ultimately it comes down to one thing.

Keep moving forward! Whatever it takes don’t stop progressing.


Yeah… not much of that going on this year. My wife and two daughters are a very big part of my life and without a doubt their time will not be missed. It’s going to be exciting to see my daughters grow over the next year. My oldest is just getting out of the terrible threes and my youngest is just entering the terrible twos. God help us!

I wish everyone a prosperous and healthy 2014 and hopefully we can all come out the other side better than we started!