In one my previous blog posts, we covered “Best resources for learning Networking”. In this post, I will attempt to cover some of the best resources I’ve used to keep up with the changes in the Networking world.
This is going to be a very subjective post. Depending on your area of expertise and mix of vendors being utilized at your organization, your resources for keeping up with networking may be very different.
I’ve mentioned Ivan Pepelnjak’s blog and webinar subscription in numerous past posts – and for good reason. Want to learn about ACI, NSX, OpenStack, Nuage, Arista, HP FlexFabric, and others? His blog is probably, by far, the best starting point to get a handle on any new relatively popular and sometimes less popular networking technologies. Ivan is a gifted blog writer, webinar leader and an amazing teacher. He does an amazing job of making sense of new technologies, and very often established old ones too, while keeping things REAL. He deliberately only talks about shipping products, so, you’ll never learn about something from him that can’t be materialized. He keeps his older webinar series lectures meticulously up-to-date and relevant. His webinar subscription ($299 USD per year) is worth it’s weight in gold.
Cisco’s CiscoLive on-demand Library an amazing resource for anyone even remotely interested in any networking or compute related technologies. The quality of the material is amazing, and the video library does a great job of inadvertently marketing Cisco products as well, without feeling like you’re being pressured by a sales person. Even if your organization is not a Cisco shop, but, you want to learn about fundamentals of technologies like BGP, MPLS, Multicast, IPsec, etc. you will find plenty of generic videos with accompanying lecture slides, very often lead by authors and co-authors of RFCs of these technologies! If your organization is a Cisco shop, and/or even has some Cisco gear, you’ll find great resources from the developers and engineers that have literally made the products you may be using. I haven’t seen anything comparable, that’s available for free, from any other vendor. If you know of others, please share in the comments! (A free registration is required to view the content)
Speaking of unique and FREE training options, VMware has gone a step above Cisco by offering VMware Hands On Labs that do an amazing job of getting you familiar with virtually their whole products portfolio. Whether you want to learn about ESXi, vCenter or NSX, or any other variety of VMware products, you will find many lab scenarios to work through, with detailed guides. The best part is, you are working on REAL software with real feedback and same features and limitations as if it was deployed in your own network. (They use nested ESXi hosts, but that doesn’t really affect the learning experience).
Cisco dCloud is similar to VMware Hands on Labs, but, at the time of writing, is more like a younger, less capable sibling. dCloud offers a large number of ‘demos’ that customers and partners can go through. Many demos are based on simulated hardware and software. Some demos are based on real software/hardware, however, the access tends to be very limited and scripted. I don’t blame Cisco though – it’s hard to give access to real devices to large number of users. With software, it’s much easier.
Regardless, dCloud is an AMAZING resource to get familiar with many of Cisco’s most popular and up-and-coming offerings. There’s also a difference between dCloud accessed by customers, which at the time of writing, offers 81 demos vs dCloud accessed by a Cisco partner’s account, offering 193 demos (same website – access varies by account). VMware clearly has the lead in the demo/free training area, as they are able to offer nearly all of their products demos to everyone for free, however, Cisco’s offering is still far above most other major networking vendors (HP, Brocade, Avaya, Arista, etc.) similar offerings. Again, if you know something I don’t, please share in the comments section 🙂
(To access dCloud, your company either needs to be Cisco customer or Cisco partner. Simply login with your CCO/Cisco.com account)
Of course, resources mentioned in the Best resources for learning Networking blog post are VERY MUCH legitimate sources for not only initially learning networking, but also keeping up with networking. Here is a summary:
See detailed description of the above resources here