This is the review for the guide that should help you to pass the 640-916 DCICT exam that is the one of the two exams needed to achieve the Cisco CCNA Data Center.

While the other exam is focused on testing the foundation of networking and you could easily pass it without any specific preparation especially if you already hold another CCNA certification, the 640-916 exam is really focused on the specifics of the Data Center track.

CCNA Training – Resources (Intense)

The book is no different than the other CiscoPress Cert Guides in terms of book sections. Each chapter has a quiz that is meant to test your knowledge about the topics that will be discussed in that chapter. Then the core of the chapter is the foundation topics sections that explain the concepts helped by drawings and CLI outputs. The chapter ends with sections about key topics reviewing, key terms definition and references.

The book has plenty of pictures showing hardware components (chassis, power supplies, linecards, modules) and this can be only useful as you have one place to search for this without wandering on the Cisco website.

Also there are plenty of diagrams to help understand design and operation principles.

Although this certification implies working with devices that don’t have CLI, but only web/GUI interface (like Cisco UCS Manager) and because this is an entry level certification, the CLI commands and outputs are used to demonstrate working principles and for verification.

The book consists of six parts that provide information required to pass the exam. There are two additional parts: one that is discussing about the final preparation before you take the exam and one that includes the appendixes.

Each of the six parts has a review section that tracks the progress of repeating multiple times the DIKTA quizzes (for all chapters in the part) or answering questions regarding concepts found throughout the part.

Let’s discuss all six parts:

  • Part I – Data Center Networking – This part has five chapters. The first chapter discusses different architectures that can be used in a data center, resiliency at port level (portchannel) or device level (virtual port channel) and FabricPath that is the Cisco method to build scalable L2 fabric. The second chapter covers the Nexus product family where you will see what hardware each product supports and features. The next chapter introduces Virtual Device Context (VDC), which is a method to partition a single physical device into multiple logical devices providing management isolation, address allocation isolation. Next, Data Center Interconnect (DCI), which is a method to extend the LAN across geographically dispersed data centers, is discussed with some of the current solutions (VPLS, EoMPLS). Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) is discussed in the same chapter as a solution for DCI. The last chapter is focused on the management and monitoring of the Nexus devices along with the tools that allow this: SNMP, RMON, EEM.
  • Part II – Data Center Storage-Area Network – This part has four chapters and as the title says discusses the storage part of a data center. Chapter 6 introduces the concept of Storage Area Network (SAN), SAN design an Fibre-Channel. Chapter 7 is focused on providing details about the MDS product family. Chapter 8 introduces the virtualized storage that allows combining multiple physical storage resources into one virtual pool of storage for easier management and provisioning. The last chapter of the part shows how to build an SAN from scratch on a MDS 9000 switch.
  • Part III – Data Center Unified Fabric – This part has 3 chapters. The first one discusses the challenges in today’s data center networks. The next chapter introduces Data Center Bridging Eschange (DCBX) and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). FCoE allows network and storage environments to be combined up to a certain point without the need to run an Ethernet network and a storage network in parallel.
  • Part IV – Cisco Unified Computing – This is an extensive part consisting of four chapters. In this part, the UCS product family is discussed, or how Unified Computing System Manager can be used to configure templates, policies and service profiles to deliver an UCS solution. Of course, the UCS monitoring, management and administration could not have been missed.
  • Part V – Data Center Server Virtualization – This part discusses virtual machines, hypervisors, virtual switching and paravirtualization. The part ends by introducing the Nexus 1000V, the software-based solution to provide network functionality to the virtual machine environment, and integration with VMware ESX or ESXi and VMware vCenter (although other hypervisors are supported as well). The features and the benefits of Nexus 1000V are described as well along with an example how to deploy it.
  • Part IV – Data Center Network Services – The first chapter of the part describes Cisco Application Control Engine (ACE) and Global Site Selector (GSS) products that allows (WHAT?) to provide a solution for the load-balancing requirements in a data center. The second chapter of the part is about Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) and how to provide traffic optimization and application acceleration.

I have no reason to think that one preparing by using this book would not pass the exam, therefore it is a must if you are pursuing the Data Center track.

This is a comprehensive book that without any doubt is suitable for engineers studying for the CCNA Data Center exam, but also for people who want to revise different topics and want to get up to speed with the latest information from Cisco Data Center world.