Customer Reviews: Troubleshooting Campus Networks: Practical Analysis of Cisco and LAN Protocols
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on April 3, 2003
I'm sad I waited so long to read this excellent book. "Troubleshooting Campus Networks" (TCN) was published in Jul 2002, and it belongs on every network administrator's shelf -- now! This is the best networking book since Scott Haugdahl's "Network Analysis and Troubleshooting" and Eric Hall's "Internet Core Protocols." TCN will truly test your networking knowledge; you'll quickly validate the truth and discard the fiction.

So many books discuss networks, but somehow distort subtle points. Authors Oppenheimer and Bardwell know their material inside-out and explain key points in clear, concise prose. Ever hear of the "37% utilization rule for Ethernet?" It's false. Think that TCP sequence numbers count packets? Wrong -- they count bytes of data. And why are sequence numbers seemingly "off by one?" Look at the difference between ordinal and cardinal numbers, described in ch. 9.

TCN displays an uncanny ability to include just the information that is needed. "Reversible half-ASCII," which accounts for odd-looking NetBIOS traces, appears in ch. 12. The sections on Windows networking are first-rate, with helpful comparisons of NetBIOS with IPX, TCP, and NetBEUI. Even theoretical but damaging attack methods, like corrupting Hot Standby Router Protocol messages (ch. 8), are illuminated.
I have two complaints. I would have liked more attention paid to the mechanics of analyzing traffic, including the use of taps. Also, the Windows chapter seemed to end abruptly, just when the dynamics of Windows 2000 networking and port 445 should have appeared.

TCN is designed to educate protocol analysts. People with this skill set can administer LANs, analyzer network-based IDS traffic, and deploy network infrastructure. I thank the authors for their efforts and look forward to their next endeavor.
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on August 22, 2002
I've been eagerly reading bits and pieces of my copy of this book ever since it arrived. The amount of highly accurate detail is incredible. I believe 90% of all network books are so sloppily written they're not worth buying. This book is clearly in the top 1% of well-written and informative books.
The book's style is also very clear and understandable. It passes my ultimate test: I can read it at 10-11 PM at night without falling asleep! Almost all of the formulas and binary are made accessible to those with high-school math skills. The book stays focused and contains references to other sources for details that aren't need-to-know or interesting.
Furthermore, the discussion contains valuable protocol and troubleshooting information, info that could be a big help to the
reader in solving real problems in their network. (Of course, a hierarchically designed network built per Oppenheimer's Cisco Press Top-Down Network Design book might not have such problems!)
The protocol analysis aspect also opens the reader's eyes to understanding common protocols and to possible protocol issues. If you don't have protocol analysis software, I hear good things about Ethereal, a free protocol analyzer package for Windows.
Finally, although the title doesn't mention Cisco, there is sample show command output from Cisco devices, also discussion of Cisco-specific information where necessary and appropriate. (The subtitle does include "Cisco" with "LAN protocols" after all.) The book clearly resists the temptation to, for example, pursue routing protocols too deeply, and stays focussed on the campus, providing a well-balanced coverage of troubleshooting for that setting.
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on October 30, 2002
Many books have I read where authors speak of Ethernet or TCP/IP or other subjects. This book fills in the gaps without being too vendor biased. Cisco and WildPackets are excellent companies, but the book really focuses on enhancing your network to it's fullest. I learned that just because my network "works", there may be many things ready to break that had not been troubleshot before. Now I really feel able to properly "fix" my troubles and not just make my network magically work when there is trouble behind the scenes waiting for a Friday night to break.
The two authors have been in the industry since it's inception and bring a passion for networking to the table with a focus on teaching those of us who do not have 20+ years in the trenches.
This book is not only a reference book, but a well written, easy to read explanation of networking and troubleshooting. With real-life scenarios from the authors and practical situations played out. I felt as though I had a mentor walking me through the logical steps of analysis.
Buy reference books and keep them on your selves for when you need them. Buy this book, read it and keep it close because you will need it!
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on March 13, 2003
I have had this book for about 10 days. It is excellent, destined to become a bestseller in its category. But this will not be surprising because Oppenheimer's previous book has received a stamp of approval in its category (Top Down Network Design, Cisco Press, ISBN: 1578700698). For those privileged to have Top Down Network Design, we know what I am talking about: a self-contained book that delivers beyond a Cisco Certification test.
It is in this very light that I rate Troubleshooting Campus Networks: it is a an extremely valuable reference book for network administrators, but it will also help you pass the Cisco CCNP Support exam.
Briefly going through the contents, Chapter 1 describes the book itself and its audience. Chapter 2 details formal network troubleshooting methods, including the Cisco Troubleshooting Method, protocol analysis, network traffic types and the various troubleshooting tools. Above all, it emphasizes the importance of proactive network management.
Chapter 3 provides in-depth knowledge on troubleshooting and Analyzing Ethernet Networks. And Chapter 4 will be even more appreciated: about 55 pages dedicated to troubleshooting and analyzing IEEE 802.11 Wireless Networks. This chapter alone will be of great assistance to those preparing for Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) from Planet3 Wireless, Inc. It provides an excellent introduction for those who want to know what Wireless LANs are all about.
Chapters 5 and 6 provide indepth knowledge on troubleshooting and analyzing the Spanning Tree Protocol and Virtual LANs respectively. Chapters 7 and 8 do the same for Campus IP Networks and Campus IP Routing Protocols.
What I have found to be of equally great value is Chapter 9, detailing TCP, UDP, and Upper Layer protocols' troubleshooting and analysis. Here, one would find the answers to the questions he may have had about HTTP, FTP, SMPT protocol analysis and the like.
Chapters 10, 11, 12 and 13, respectively provide the skills needed for troubleshooting and analyzing Campus IPX Networks, AppleTalk Networks, Windows Networking and Wide Area Networks.
In all, this is a powerful tool from which you will not only find the answers to day-to-day networking issues, but will also empower you to become a better network administrator.
If you are in network administration, a networking professional generally or preparing for Cisco CCNP Support exam, this is the book!
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on October 17, 2002
I didn't think Priscilla could write another book as good as her Top Down Network Design book. I was wrong!! If all you want is to pass the CCNP CIT exam then just buy the Cisco Press book. If you REALLY want to learn how to troubleshoot your network, then this book is a must have! Of course, if you want to keep your troubleshooting tasks to a minimum, then get her design book as well.
The topics are presented in a logical, easy-to-read order. There is a wealth of valuable material that will keep you reading from beginning to end. The table of contents and index have sufficient depth of scope (two of my prime evaluation items) to make this a good reference book as well.
I intend to make it required reading for my CCNP CIT students at our Cisco Networking Academ
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on August 12, 2002
to read a well written technical book. When I was starting out in this field I was often discouraged when reading various study materials. Now that I have achieved some degree of expertise, I realize my frustration was not due to personal inadequacy, but often the result of poorly written books.
Well, Priscilla Oppenheimer and partner Joe Bardwell are outstanding writers. Nowhere did I find myself scratching my head and wondering what I was missing. This is clearly an excellent book. It contains the kind of detail one needs in study and in life with real networks. Good information and good advice abound.
Troubleshooting Campus Networks is a keeper, a book that will occupy a place of honor on my bookshelf - right next to Cil's other book Top Down Network Design!!!!!
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on October 25, 2002
Good book for anyone who is having problems with their networks. Author makes things easily understandable and the book is a great reference.
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on June 17, 2003
My overall impression was that this is a great book. I felt that the first chapter was unnecessary detail, and sort of seemed like chest thumping to me. I find this book to be an excellent reference about just about all aspects of LAN communications. I was not impressed with the WAN protocols however. I sort of expected more of that, as you might find in a Campus network. I keep this book handy, and often find myself using it as a reference when I am unsure of a conclusion I have drawn. I recommend this book to anyone looking for reference material.
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on October 6, 2002
In the acknowledgements, Priscilla references the Group Study mailing list and several of its more prominent members. I came to appreciate her devotion to the subjects of protocol analysis and troubleshooting -- as well as sound network design -- through that very list. She didn't just sit down to crank out a book on any old topic with good sales potential. This is a passion as well as a profession for folks like Priscilla.
As a "WAN guy" with limited campus/enterprise exposure, I chose to read this book in very deliberate fashion. I wanted to learn all that I could. My advice would be this for anyone who is serious about LAN protocol analysis and troubleshooting: get yourself a protocol analyzer and play along. Don't just read the capture files in the book - go out and get your own.
In terms of campus technologies and protocols, I learned far more from this book than I did from any of my studies for Cisco's professional-level certifications. I have to imagine that anyone serious about the vaunted CCIE program would need to master all of the skills that Priscilla and coauthor Joseph Bardwell so skillfully coach throughout this entire book. And perhaps of far greater importance would be the real-world applicability of the skills that can be had by practicing the bottom-up troubleshooting approach espoused by these experienced authors.
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on August 22, 2002
I bought this book a couple weeks ago. I was going to skim it and I am still sort of just skimming it, but I get caught up in the details and do more than skimming in lots of places. The Ethernet and Wireless chapters are very interesting and helpful. So is the IP chapter. The details are explained very well and will help me pass the Cisco Support test. This books has helped me for understanding a problem on my Windows NT network too. Get this book. It's good.
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