CCNP Certification / BCMSN Exam Tutorial: QoS Service Types
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CCNP Certification / BCMSN Exam Tutorial: QoS Service Types

To pass the CCNP exams, you’ve got to master Quality of Service, and the first step in doing so is knowing the differences between the different QoS types.

Now this being Cisco, we can’t just have one kind of QoS! We’ve got best-effort delivery, Integrated Services, and Differentiated Services. Let’s take a quick look at all three.

Best-effort is just what it sounds like – routers and switches making their “best effort” to deliver data. This is considered QoS, but it’s kind of a “default QoS”. Best effort is strictly “first in, first out” (FIFO).

An entire path from Point A to Point B will be defined in advance when Integrated Services are in effect. Integrated Services is much like the High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes found in many larger cities. If your car has three or more people in it, you’re considered a “priority vehicle” and you can drive in a special lane with much less congestion than regular lanes. Integrated Services will create this lane in advance for “priority traffic”, and when that traffic comes along, the path already exists. Integrated Services uses the Resource Reservation Protocol (RSVP) to create these paths. RSVP guarantees a quality rate of service, since this “priority path” is created in advance.

Integrated Services is defined in RFC 1613. Use your favorite search engine to locate a copy online and read more about this topic. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of reading RFCs!

Of course, if you’ve got a lot of different dedicated paths being created that may or not be used very often, that’s a lot of wasted bandwidth. That leads us to the third QoS model, the Differentiated Services model. Generally referred to as DiffServ, there are no advance path reservations and there’s no RSVP. The QoS policies are written on the routers and switches, and they take action dynamically as needed. Since each router and switch can have a different QoS policy, DiffServ takes effect on a per-hop basis rather than the per-flow basis of Integrated Services. A packet can be considered “high priority” by one router and “normal priority” by the next.

Believe me, this is just the beginning when it comes to Quality of Service. It’s a huge topic on your exams and in the real world’s production networks, and as with all other Cisco topics, just master the fundamentals and build from there – and you’re on your way to CCNP exam success!

CCNP Certification / BCMSN Exam Tutorial: Server Load Balancing (SLB)

When you’re working on your BCMSN exam on your way to CCNP certification, you’ll read at length about how Cisco routers and multilayer switches can work to provide router redundancy – but there’s another helpful service, Server Load Balancing, that does the same for servers. While HSRP, VRRP, and CLBP all represent multiple physical routers to hosts as a single virtual router, SLB represents multiple physical servers to hosts as a single virtual server.

In the following example, three physical servers have been placed into the SRB group ServFarm. They’re represented to the hosts as the virtual server

The hosts will seek to communicate with the server at, not knowing that they’re actually communicating with the routers in ServFarm. This allows quick cutover if one of the physical servers goes down, and also serves to hide the actual IP addresses of the servers in ServFarm.

The basic operations of SLB involves creating the server farm, followed by creating the virtual server. We’ll first add to the server farm:

MLS(config)# ip slb serverfarm ServFarm

MLS(config-slb-sfarm)# real

MLS(config-slb-real)# inservice

The first command creates the server farm, with the real command specifying the IP address of the real server. The inservice command is required by SLB to consider the server as ready to handle the server farm’s workload. The real and inservice commands should be repeated for each server in the server farm.

To create the virtual server:

MLS(config)# ip slb vserver VIRTUAL_SERVER

MLS(config-slb-vserver)# serverfarm ServFarm

MLS(config-slb-vserver)# virtual

MLS(config-slb-vserver)# inservice

From the top down, the vserver was named VIRTUAL_SERVER, which represents the server farm ServFarm. The virtual server is assigned the IP address, and connections are allowed once the inservice command is applied.

You may also want to control which of your network hosts can connect to the virtual server. If hosts or subnets are named with the client command, those will be the only clients that can connect to the virtual server. Note that this command uses wildcard masks. The following configuration would allow only the hosts on the subnet /24 to connect to the virtual server.

MLS(config-slb-vserver)# client

SLB is the server end’s answer to HSRP, VRRP, and GLBP – but you still need to know it to become a CCNP! Knowing redundancy strategies and protocols is vital in today’s networks, so make sure you’re comfortable with SLB before taking on the exam.

CCNP Certification / BSCI Exam Tutorial: EIGRP Stuck-In-Active Routes

Passing the BSCI exam and earning your CCNP is all about knowing the details, and when it comes to EIGRP SIA routes, there are plenty of details to know. A quick check in a search engine for “troubleshoot SIA” will bring up quite a few matches. Troubleshooting SIA routes is very challengin in that there’s no one reason they occur.

View the EIGRP topology table with the show ip eigrp topology command, and you’ll see a code next to every successor and feasible successor. A popular misconception is that we want these routes to have an “A” next to them – so they’re active. That’s what we want, right? Active routes sound good, right?

Well, they sound good, but they’re not. If a route shows as Active in the EIGRP topology table, that means that DUAL is currently calculating that route, and it’s currently unusable. When a route is Passive (“P), that means it’s not being recalculated and it’s a usable route.

Generally, a route shown as Active is going to be there for a very short period of time by the time you repeat the command, hopefully that Active route has gone Passive. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, though, and the route becomes SIA – Stuck In Active.

A route becomes SIA when a query goes unanswered for so long that the neighbor relationship is reset. From experience, I can tell you that troubleshooting SIA routes is more of an art form than a science, but there are four main reasons a route becomes SIA:

The link is unidirectional, so the query can’t possibly be answered.

The queried router’s resources are unavailable, generally due to high CPU utilization.

The queried router’s memory is corrupt or otherwise unable to allow the router to answer the query.

The link between the two routers is of low quality, allowing just enough packets through to keep the neighbor relationship intact, but not good enough to allow the replies through.

To sum it up, routes generally become SIA when a neighbor either doesn’t answer a query, or either the query or reply took a wrong turn somewhere. I told you it wasn’t the easiest thing to troubleshoot!

CCNP Certification / BSCI Exam Tutorial: The BGP Neighbor Process

Like TCP, BGP is connection-oriented. An underlying connection between two BGP speakers is established before any routing information is exchanged. This connection takes place on TCP port 179. As with EIGRP and OSPF, keepalive messages are sent out by the BGP speakers in order to keep this relationship alive.

Once the connection is established, the BGP speakers exchange routes and synchronize their tables. After this initial exchange, a BGP speaker will only send further updates upon a change in the network topology.

The IGP protocols that use Autonomous Systems, IGRP and EIGRP, require prospective neighbors to be in the same AS. This is not true with BGP. Routers can be in different Autonomous Systems and still exchange routes. The BGP neighbors do not have to be directly connected, and often are not, but do need to be able to reach the IP addresses they use in their neighbor statements.

A BGP peer that is in the same AS is referred to as an Internal BGP (iBGP) Peer, where a BGP peer in another AS is an External BGP (eBGP) Peer.

A sample iBGP configuration:

Router bgp 100

Neighbor remote-as 100

A sample eBGP configuration:

Router bgp 100

Neighbor remote-as 200

Cisco recommends that eBGP peers be directly connected, where iBGP peers generally will not be.

Before we get too much farther into BGP theory, let’s get a configuration started. You’ll use the router bgp command to configure a router as a BGP speaker. Right after that, the neighbor command will be used to identify this BGP speaker’s potential neighbors. (The terms “peer” and “neighbor” are interchangeable in BGP, but it’s the neighbor statement that is used to statically define neighbors. BGP is not capable of discovering neighbors dynamically.)

R1(config-router)#neighbor remote-as 200

While almost all of the neighbor options are just that — optional — you do have to specify the BGP AS of the remote router. BGP has no mechanism to dynamically discover neighbors. Remember, BGP speakers do not have to be in the same AS to become peers. To verify that the remote BGP speaker has become a peer, run show ip bgp neighbor.

R1#show ip bgp neighbor

BGP neighbor is, remote AS 200, external link

BGP version 4, remote router ID

BGP state = Active

Last read 00:01:39, hold time is 180, keepalive interval is 60 seconds

Received 0 messages, 0 notifications, 0 in queue

Sent 0 messages, 0 notifications, 0 in queue

Route refresh request: received 0, sent 0

Default minimum time between advertisement runs is 30 seconds

The output here can be a little misleading the first time you read it. The first highlighted line shows is a BGP neighbor, is located in AS 200, and is an external link, indicating that the neighbor is in another AS entirely. The second highlighted line shows the BGP state as Active. This sounds great, but it actually means that a BGP peer connection does not yet exist with the prospective neighbor.

So even though the show ip bgp neighbor output indicated that this is an Active neighbor relationship, that’s not as good as it sounds. Of course, the reason the peer relationship hasn’t been established is that we haven’t configured R3 yet!

R3(config)#router bgp 200
R3(config-router)#neighbor remote-as 100

Verify the peer establishment with show ip bgp neighbor:

R3#show ip bgp neighbor

BGP neighbor is, remote AS 100, external link

BGP version 4, remote router ID

BGP state = Established, up for 00:01:18

Last read 00:00:17, hold time is 180, keepalive interval is 60 seconds

Local host:, Local port: 179 (BGP uses TCP Port 179)

Foreign host:, Foreign port: 11007
The peer relationship between R1 and R3 has been established.

Now that you know how the neighbor relationship itself is built, you need to start learning the many options of the neighbor command. You’ll have to master these to become a CCNP and CCIE!

Certification Q&A: The Basics Of Certification

* What does certified mean?

There are four accepted meanings of the adjective “certified” but only two of which satisfy the needed meaning. To be certified means to be endorsed with authority by an institution or a person with higher position after one successfully meets certain requirements. Another meaning is that a person is qualified to do a certain job as supported by an appropriate document better known and regarded as a Certification.

* What certifications are there?

If you are pertaining to online certifications, there are lots to be traced. To help you find one best certification that fits your ability and interest, you may log on to reliable sites in the internet. For now, the following are the basic IT certifications:

• IT Auditing
• Document Imaging
• E-Commerce
• Internet/Intranet
• Linux
• Networking
• Printing
• Project Management
• IT Security
• Servers
• Service Technician
• Technical Trainer
• Webmaster

* Who benefits from certification?

Primarily the one given a certification benefits more. Being certified means one can properly function on a certain job. This means, companies will easily hire a person with certification especially when certifications come from a reliable learning institution.

In some ways, the company to which a certified person intends to apply for work will also benefit since the performance of the applying employee is being supported with a certification.

* Is certification better than experience?

The answer for that is a big “No.” Certification means training. It is impossible for a person to send himself training without experiencing what it is he intends to do. For this reason, we cannot equate certification from experience since they do not share the same purpose. However, if you already have work experience, a certification is a big help for promotion, recognition and pay raises.

On the other hand, companies are not solely after experience but after educational attainments and performances. In other words, having completed a course as proved by a certification is a chance to be hired.

* Which certification program is best for me?

The best certification program for you is the one that fits your interests and capabilities. Those two factors should be considered above all ese when finding the right and best certification program for you.

* How much will getting certified cost?

Almost all training packages from different training institutions are cost effective. The training cost will depend on the training you want to pursue and in which training institution you intend to enroll. Generally, a trainee should prepare to pay between $100 and $400 for each training program.

* How long will certification take?

There are training institutions that offer a 6-month online training program. The usual training timeframe is one year. This length of training may exceed to a maximum of 2 years depending on the program conducted.

* Do I need a college degree to be certified?

You do not need a college degree to be certified. Some certification programs require one to have at least finished high school upon enrolling in a certain course.

* Will certification really help my career?

A certification may help your career. Nowadays, competition in the jobs is getting tougher. For one to stay in his or her job or to be promoted to a higher position, one factor to consider is his or her educational achievements. That is one reason why mastering your field of work by means of studying and training can be a great boost for your career. That is where a certification program can make or break your career advancement.

* Will I have to go somewhere for my certification training?

While you can find local institutions where you can take classes and tests, most training is done online now. You do not need to go somewhere else for your training. You do not even need to attend classes personally for your lessons. Not only is training done mostly online now, but examinations for certification are also given online.