So you’re new (or almost new) to networking. How do you bootstrap from where you are to where you want to go? Understand how what you’re doing fits into the “big picture”? Make sense of why things are done the way they’re done?
It’s not easy to figure all that out on your own. (And who’s got the time to teach it to you?) But most networking books are, well, just too complicated. Then there are the ones that treat you like a child. Grrrr…
Try Cisco Networking Simplified. What makes this book special? Well, there are the full-color diagrams on every two-page spread. But this isn’t just a picture book. It offers real context. You don’t just learn the “what”: You learn why it matters, what the benefits of each technology are, what problems must be solved to deploy it, and how the elements of a complete solution fit together.
Each topic gets two well-crafted pages: just enough to brief you on the real issues, so you can drill down further on your own. Authors Paul L. Della Maggiora and Jim Doherty cover an extraordinary range of topics in just 200 pages -- and they’ve selected those topics wisely.
This is the stuff you really need to know about: mainstream stuff (like VPNs) and technologies that are rapidly becoming mainstream (like VoIP).
You’ll start with the underpinnings of the Internet, and several of the Internet-based applications you’ll typically need to implement. There’s email, of course, and DNS, and IP addressing with both NAT and Port Address Translation. But there are also some important applications you might not expect in a beginner’s book -- Web traffic load balancing, for instance.
There’s a full section on video and telephony applications on the Internet -- increasingly important in an era when global travel isn’t taken quite for granted. You’ll learn how multicasting, videoconferencing, and IP telephony work; even the basics of IP call center applications that are blazing the trail towards the long-promised “digital convergence.”
In under 20 pages, the authors demystify network security. They start with the high-level issues every network administrator will face: balancing trust vs. security, authenticating users, protecting perimeters, defining centralized policies, and so forth. (To focus your attention, they also list today’s 13 most serious and widespread network security vulnerabilities.)
Next, you’ll walk through the basics of firewalls and intrusion detection systems: how firewalls distinguish “good” packets from “bad,” and how to architect a network for maximum perimeter security. There’s also a quick introduction to encryption -- including a look at the pros and cons of application-level, data link level, and network-level encryption.
Cisco Networking Simplified covers the hardware (wireless LANs, Ethernet, routers, switches), the techniques (network management), and the strategies (high availability, QoS, disaster recovery). It covers WANs, campus networks, and LANs; data centers; new storage and content networking solutions; caching; directory services; yesterday’s SNA, tomorrow’s P2P, and more. In just minutes, you can look like you know what you’re talking about -- no matter what you’re talking about. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.