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An excellent tool to prepare you for the TSHOOT exam.
on February 22, 2010
The latest revision to the CCNP track has removed ONT and ISCW and replaced them with the TSHOOT, or troubleshooting exam. This exam is designed to test your ability to troubleshoot various problems that a CCNP-level engineer will see in their day to day jobs. The Official Certification Guide for the TSHOOT(642-832) exam goes a long way towards preparing you to take the exam. Written by Cisco training veteran Kevin Wallace, this guide hits all the high points of topics found in the TSHOOT exam.
For veterans of the CCNP program, the TSHOOT exam will bring back memories of the old Cisco Internetwork Troubleshooting or CIT (642-831) exam. For people new to the CCNP program, this exam should be a lot of fun and a decent way to test your understanding of the way the various technologies in the ROUTE and SWITCH exams work.
The book is divided into 14 chapters that are as follows:
1. Introduction to Network Maintenance
2. Introduction to Troubleshooting Processes
3. The Maintenance and Troubleshooting Toolbox
4. Basic Cisco Catalyst Switch Troubleshooting
5. Advanced Cisco Catalyst Switch Troubleshooting
6. Introduction to Troubleshooting Routing Protocols
7. OSPF and Router Redistribution Troubleshooting
8. Troubleshooting BGP and Router Performance Issues
9. Security Troubleshooting
10. IP Services Troubleshooting
11. IP Communications Troubleshooting
12. IPv6 Troubleshooting
13. Advanced Services Troubleshooting
14. Large Enterprise Network Troubleshooting
15. Final Preparation
Each chapter begins with a "Do I Know This Already? quiz that is fairly standard in Cisco Press exam books. This allows you to skip over chapters that cover topics you may already be well versed in.
The first 3 chapters cover the fundamentals behind how to perform maintenance and troubleshoot effectively. If you are experienced in these things, you probably won't see anything that you haven't seen before. If you don't have a lot of background with Cisco networking, you will want to pay close attention to these first 3 chapters. They lay the foundation that is required to understand the remaining chapters.
The rest of the chapters move from switching, to routing, to security, and on to a variety of other topics that you will deal with in a standard Cisco network. Each of these remaining chapters, except for the last one, will present you with a brief amount of material that is of a foundational nature. If you are expecting a full review of the topics like spanning tree or OSPF, you will be disappointed. The TSHOOT book is not designed for that. You will want to review the ROUTE and SWITCH CCNP exam books first. What you will see in terms of foundational information are quick blurbs about each technology. For example, in the BGP chapter you get a brief reminder of how BGP routes or prefixes wind up in the general IP routing table. You will also get a refresher on how BGP makes its path selection.
After the foundational information, you will immediately move into the various commands that are used to troubleshoot the particular technology in question. According to chapter 15 in the book, 90% of the exam will be centered around the use of various commands to troubleshoot. With that in mind, I would estimate between 30 and 40% of the book is CLI output. The author shows you the various "show" commands that are used along with a variety of "debug" commands you can use as well. The relevant parts of the output are hi-lighted and explained in the standard format you see in many other Cisco Press books. If the author were to include examples of every possible command that could be used for troubleshooting, the book would be 3 times the size it already is. What you will see for sure are the most common commands used to troubleshoot the particular technology each chapter covers.
This leads us into what I think is the most valuable part of the book. Each of these technology chapters end with one or more trouble tickets. A problem is presented along with CLI output from one or more devices. There is enough information given for you to make a guess as to what the root cause of the problem is and how to correct it. The solution is presented following the various CLI screens used to provide troubleshooting information. Each solution is explained fairly well and generally includes additional CLI output to further illustrate the validity of the solution. The chapter wraps up by mentioning key terms as well as providing a list of troubleshooting commands associated with each technology covered in that chapter.
A CD-ROM is included with the book that has 100 practice questions for the TSHOOT exam.
Overall, this was an enjoyable book to read. If you are already functioning at a CCNP level, I recommend you focus on the trouble ticket sections in each chapter. Those sections more than any other will help solidify your understanding of the various route/switch technologies covered in the TSHOOT exam. You will be able to move fairly quickly through this book. I work with just about everything mentioned in this book on a daily basis and was able to finish the book in about a week. I averaged about 2 chapters a day. At around 500 pages, it would seem this book would take longer to read than a week. However, a fair amount of pages consist of CLI screen shots and they take up a lot of real estate in the book. For those who are not well versed in this material but have a basic understanding of the concepts, you should be able to get through a chapter a day with relative ease.