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Author Topic: Troubleshooting Remote Access Networks  (Read 1376 times)
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« on: April 16, 2004, 05:55:17 PM »

I am reviewing Troubleshooting Remote Access Networks (ISBN 1587050765), part of the CCIE Professional Development Series from Cisco Press.  This book weighs in at 800 pages, but the font size and subject matter make it feel like well over 1000.  Normally, I try to average 50 pages of technical reading a day, but I had trouble getting anywhere close to that.  The book is divided into 5 sections.  Section 1 covers remote access fundamentals, while sections 2-5 cover Dial, ISDN, Frame Relay, and VPN technologies, respectively.  The book is authored by Plamen Nedeltchev, an engineer who worked for Cisco during the development of much of their remote access technology.  The problem with this is that its like discussing photographs with the guy that worked in R&D at Canon.  He knows his stuff, but youd better watch out, lest you be drowned with terminology.

The author does a decent job of explaining the technical concepts, but he has a tendency to get wordy.  Maybe Im having a bad month for cognitive focus, but I find myself ǣphasing out while reading this book.  If I really concentrate, I can follow the author for a chapter, but trying to hammer out day after day of concentration on this book is really hard.  Id recommend it as a troubleshooting guide or as a desk reference, but as straight ahead CCIE study material, its too cumbersome.  Read a chapter of this book, then go read a section of another CCIE book, then come back here for a few more chapters.  That might make this thing easier to take.  The book states that the reader should have at least CCNA level skills to read this book.  I have to disagree and say that the reader must have passed the BCRAN exam for the CCNP before reading this book.  The book is intended to teach troubleshooting, so youd better know the basics of the technologies and their implementation prior to reading this book.  Also, if youre not in the mood for TLA & FLAs (Three and Four Letter Acronyms), then youd better get in the mood before tackling this book.

All of this may make it sound like I dont like this book.  Thats not true.  When Im in the right mindset, which is to say that the room is right, and the noise level is right, and I have the right level of caffeine, then I can read a section of this book and learn a LOT about the material that hes trying to convey (he IS an expert, after all).  On that note, I have to say that I especially enjoyed the section on VPN technologies, as my personal experience and studies are quite light on the subject up to this point.  It really piqued my interest in the subject.  So much so that I think one of my next reads will be the Cisco Secure VPN Guide.

Im reading this book as part of my studies for the CCIE written exam.  Im not sure if I needed this much information prior to the written exam.  Im sure I probably could have gotten by with a re-scan of the BCRAN book, but Im also sure that I will be coming back to this book again and again during my preparations for the lab exam.

On my 5 ping rating scale, I give it a 3.
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