This is the textbook for the Cisco Networking Academy Connecting Networks course.

You can get the book from Cisco Press website: Routing and Switching Essentials Companion Guide.

CCNA Training – Resources (Intense)

You will find in this book the same information as in the Cisco curriculum that you can access online. This only if you have an account and you are registered for a Cisco Academy class.

The book has nine chapters, an appendix and the glossary.

Here are the chapters:

  • Chapter 1. Hierarchical Network Designs—In this chapter, you will read about the three layers of the hierarchical network, access, distribution, and core; about the functions provided at each network layer; about the principles of network designing; about the Cisco enterprise model; and about the three network architectures, Cisco Borderless Network Architecture, Collaboration Architecture, and Data Center/Virtualization Architecture, that Cisco would like to use to meet the today customer needs.
  • Chapter 2. Connecting the WAN—This chapter introduces WAN concepts and talks about private and public WAN infrastructures.
  • Chapter 3. Point-to-Point Connections—The chapter discusses HDLC and PPP encapsulations and focuses a lot on PPP operation, configuration, and troubleshooting. Pretty much about everything there is on PPP.
  • Chapter 4. Frame Relay—Obviously this is about frame relay. You will find information about frame relay encapsulation, address mapping, flow control, and congestion management. Also, the configuration and troubleshooting part is very consistent with a lot of useful information.
  • Chapter 5. Network Address Translation for IPv4—As the name suggests, this covers all flavors of NAT: static NAT, dynamic NAT, port address translation, port forwarding. Configuration examples for all of these are provided along with a section of troubleshooting.
  • Chapter 6. Broadband Solutions—The most interesting section of this chapter is PPPoE. This includes discussion of the concepts, along with the PPPoE configuration. Other than this, the chapter talks about the broadband connectivity methods: DSL, cable and satellite.
  • Chapter 7. Securing Site-to-Site Connectivity—Very useful information about what options you have available to connect to a remote site in a secure way. First you are being introduced to what VPN means, then GRE tunnels are discussed (operation and configuration). IPsec is covered at the operation level. The last part of the chapter discusses remote-access VPN solutions which based on either IPsec or SSL. Of course, information about the tools/utilities/IOS features based on these two is provided.
  • Chapter 8. Monitoring the Network—Plain and simple, this chapter discusses syslog, SNMP, and NetFlow: What are they, how they work, and how you can configure them.
  • Chapter 9. Troubleshooting the Network—This chapter is very useful, as it introduces a theoretical ground for a systematic troubleshooting. It’s not only about how to troubleshoot but also what to do to make your life easier when you will have to troubleshoot a networking problem (create network documentation, network diagrams, establish a network baseline). Also, you have a very good example on how to do an IP connectivity troubleshooting.

Each chapter is split into several sections:

  • Objectives—Covers the topics that are discussed in the chapter. The objectives are hidden under a few questions form. If you know the answers, then you will figure out what the objectives of the chapter are.
  • Key Terms—A reference to some of the most important terms in the chapter.
  • Summary—An overview of what has been discussed in the chapter.
  • Check Your Understanding Questions—10 to 20 questions at the end of the chapter to test your understanding of the notions presented in the chapter. You have the answers in the appendix section.

Different sections of the chapter are clearly marked so that the reader knows that important information is delivered in that section, hence a second review of the section might be useful.

You will find quite often a “How To” note in the book. The “How To” note is an interesting approach by the author. The note means that you should follow the exact steps described there. This might be handy when you need to remember how to configure a feature. Follow the exact steps and you will not have a problem achieving your goal.

There are also sections referencing Packet Tracer activities. Of course, you are not able to do this unless you have access to the curriculum or you have Lab Manual, which is separate from this book.

Colored diagrams helps focusing on specific things that are being discussed and are related to the diagram in discussion.

Answer the questions at the end of the chapter correctly and you can be sure that you understood what you have read throughout the chapter. The questions cover all the topics discussed.

I recommend this book because it pretty well covers PPP (operation, configuration and verification), frame relay, network address translation, GRE tunnels, and IPsec and all the features that you need to monitor a network (SNMP, NetFlow and syslog).