Finally, a book that commits you to learn all IOS XR-based foundation knowledge from ROMMON mode recovery to advanced technologies like MPLS and multicast routing in a way that you expect from a book teaching any new technology. I know IOS XR is a very new experience for many network engineers; that’s why today I am going to review this book. Here we will examine the question, “Is this book really useful for learning IOS XR fundamentals and does it provide the best technical information about the Cisco IOS XR network operating system?” I was searching for a long time for a book that makes IOS fundamentals so easy from a learning point of view and my search ends with the title Cisco IOS XR Fundamentals, written by Mobeen Tahir, Mark Ghattas, Dawit Birhanu, and Syed Natif Nawaz. All four authors are Cisco Certified Internetwork Experts and have excellent industrial experience in the field of MPLS, QoS, and other advanced Internet services. This book is designed in a very straightforward manner to provide all required IOS XR concepts with the best configuration representations.

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Before starting the review of Cisco IOS XP Fundamentals. let me make one thing clear: This book assumes that a reader should have a good understating of traditional Cisco IOS and operational fundamentals of routing protocols, including RIP, EIGRP, OSPF, IS-IS, and BGP. The author organized this book with 12 essential chapters; although topics are covered in a brick-by-brick examination of IOS XR features and functionalities.

Chapter 1 covers the evolution of network operating systems and discusses how network has evolved from limited use, for example, e-mail, print, and file servers; CPU usage and memory utilization were also very limited to process these services, but nowadays networking is not only limited to emails, web browsing, or file transfer; technologies like instant messaging, online banking, online shopping, and video conferencing are a part of today’s life and the author examines how IOS XR fulfils the requirements of service providers’ networks.

Chapter 2 examines IOS XR architecture and infrastructural detail; this chapter provides conceptual knowledge of the micro-kernel mechanism of IOS XR and explains how it works as a distributive operating system and how it restarts a failed process without disturbing others. This chapter also explains process management and high availability features. Chapter 3 starts with the introduction of Cisco IOS XR packages; table 3.1 of this chapter provides a very handy description of its filename components. You will also learn how to install, up-grade, back up, and restore IOS XR. This chapter is a must read for beginners and discusses command level IOS recovery mechanism.

Chapter 4, “Configuration Management,” helps you to understand distributed configuration management. This chapter is also loaded with “commit” command operations; basically the “commit” command is used to save changes to the running configuration but you will learn lots of configuration features of this command, such as the rollback feature, which helps to undo a previous configuration of commit operation. Chapter 5 involves the examination of embedded tools, such as Event Manager and Syslog, and SNMP monitoring is also discussed with configuration examples. You will also come across the effective use of various “show” commands. After covering the first five chapters, you will come to know some hands-on configuration examples of securing an IOS XR-based router. Chapter 6 explores AAA features and security aspects of managing the IOS XR operating system; this chapter is little different from other chapters of this book in terms of theoretical and technical representation.

Your wait will be over with Chapter 7, “Routing IGP”; I personally was very impressed with the content writing of this chapter. Each technology is explained in such a manner that anyone can learn with the very first reading. This chapter examines most popular IGP protocols (RIP, EIGRP, OSPF, and ISIS) on the IOS XR platform with ease of configuration examples. The next chapter, named “Implementing BGP in Cisco IOS XR,” explores the lifeline of the modern Internet, i.e., BGP.

This chapter starts with the overview of BGP architecture followed by BGP routing policies, black hole, and convergence. This chapter provides more than enough to learn BGP over IOS XR for any beginner.

We know very well that MPLS is like the universe, which means you can’t expect to learn all of MPLS from a single book, but chapter “Cisco IOS XR MPLS Architecture” is enough to bring a comfort level to your understanding of the MPLS command line configuration on the IOS XR platform, especially for l2vpn and l3vpn. If you have a proficient level of knowledge of IOS-based MPLS, then it would be very easy for you to understand MPLS operations here. Chapter 10 discusses the IOS XR-based multicast routing fundamentals. You must have some basic or proficient level knowledge of IOS-based multicast routing to understand this chapter easily. This chapter introduces MRIB (multicast routing information base) components and multicast control and forwarding plane architecture with very interactive illustrated examples.

The Cisco CRS-1 router is considered as a system, although CRS-1 routers are capable of functioning as a collection of one or more routers that share the same hardware infrastructure. The chapter titled “Secure Domain Router” provides a description in a very straightforward way to teach how SDR can be used to minimize the operational cost of creating new routers within the current CRS-1 system. This chapter provides detailed technical specifications of SDRs with configuration examples and the distributed route process is also discussed here; but the main disappointment is that SDR functionality on Cisco IOS XR 12000 series router is not discussed here and this gap is filled with the discussion of high availability and stable performance using special set of Cisco IOS XR features. At last, Chapter 12, “Understanding CRS-1 Multishelf,” discusses multi-shelf techniques. Actually, this technology is used by most service providers to provide multiple services over the same infrastructure that require more bandwidth and port density, and are increasingly becoming more complex to manage in a feasible manner. Here you will examine the use of line card, fabric card, and switch card fabric with multi-shelf configuration overview. For your information, a multi-shelf system provides bandwidth capabilities and non-disruptive scalability from 1.2 to 92 terabits per second (Tbps).

This book also includes three appendixes: Appendix A provides references to ROMMON and Configuration Register settings, with the description of useful commands. Here you can learn the ROMMON mode recovery of IOS XR with very handy commands. Appendix B is designed to provide the overview of cable mapping of multi-shelf 2+1 system and Appendix C explores the description of common switch fabric down flags.

I would highly recommend this book if you have a solid interest in learning CISCO IOS XR technologies or if you want to learn advanced multi-carrier IOS XR-based deployments. This book is a must have for networking professionals who want to start IOS XR-based learning from very basic level of understanding, and this book is really worth it for developing an IOS XR foundation!

I was really expecting some review questions and configuration-troubleshooting exercises from this book. I agree that this is not the best book to learn core IOS XR-based deployment although it really deserves 4 pings out of 5 for teaching much prescribed knowledge from a single resource.

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