The CCIE journey requires a lot of reading. But it’s often not very enjoyable. You are reading configuration guides, or command references, or study notes consisting of hundreds of bullets. Dry material, at a level of detail that you know usually need not be memorized for real-world practice of the art of networking. Trying to memorize minutia and configuration bits.
It’s been a long time since I could pick up some reading material and not feel like I was slacking off if it wasn’t on the recommended CCIE reading lists. Now that I’m over the exam, I’m looking forward to digging into a number of titles that I’ve been hanging on to for some timeHere, in no particular order (because if I made too strict an order I’d feel like it was another required reading list…) are a subset of titles I’m looking forward to reading over the coming months.
(Please note that this list includes links to Amazon for each book. These are not affiliate or advertising links, Amazon was simply the easiest place to link to for readers to find the titles in a variety of purchase options, along with longer descriptions and other reader reviews.)
Computer Networks, Andrew S. Tanenbaum, David J. Wetherall
Prentice Hall; 5 edition (October 7, 2010)
Why: One of the quintessential networking texts. It’s a big, thick, dense, university-style text book, so this might be more of a light-skim rather than an in-depth read. It is the source of one of my favorite quotes related to networking: Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway.
Network Warrior, Gary A. Donahue
O’Reilly Media; Second Edition edition (June 2, 2011)
Why: Some consider this a “beginner’s” book, but it is almost universally regarded as an enjoyable read, and there’s nothing wrong with reacquainting oneself with some of the basics. This is what’s currently loaded up in my Kindle, and so far I’m enjoying the light read with plenty of real-world anecdotes included to provide some color. I’m breezing over some of the *true* basics like broadcast domains, but there is plenty of good stuff here. A very broad range of subject matter, and freshly updated to include Nexus info and NX-OS config examples.
IPv6 for Enterprise Networks, Shannon McFarland, Muninder Sambi, Nikhil Sharma and Sanjay Hooda
Cisco Press; 1 edition (April 11, 2011)
Why: It’s coming. Soon. IPv6 is something we all need to be familiar with and after seeing author Shannon McFarland (@eyepv6) present on this very topic at Cisco Live 2012 I knew I’d want to read the long version. As a consultant, part of my job is to be ready when customers casually ask “So, you seeing anything about IPv6 yet?” This is part of my prep for that conversation. Also, I picked it up for $9.99 on the Cisco Press eBook Deal of the Week.
Enterprise Network Testing, Andy Sholomon and Tom Kunath
Cisco Press; 1 edition (April 24, 2011)
Why: An area I often feel like I fall short in my day job is making sure that I’m thoroughly testing the networks I build. Yes, I verify that spanning tree failover works and my LACP bundles came up right. But true stress testing or proper system acceptance testing usually doesn’t happen. Frankly, my customers don’t typically ask for anything that involved, but I would still like to learn more about the process and feel like I can put better structure around a testing plan and procedure than saying “Yeah, I checked out the basic function and everything seemed OK.” Another eBook Deal of the Week find.
Tubes, Andrew Blum
Ecco; First Edition edition (May 29, 2012)
Why: This sort of book is pure pleasure reading to me. Nothing so much to retain, but I get to enjoy the discovery of something new. I know networking. Enterprise networking. But I’ve never worked for an ISP. I’ve never been inside a NAP or an IX or been to a NANOG meeting. This book is an outsider’s research into how the Internet works, and as such I think it’ll be a new view into this world I’m already so familiar with on some levels, and so unfamiliar with on others.
How: Hardback, courtesy of my awesome wife as a Christmas present.
Where Wizards Stay Up Late, Katie Hafner
Simon & Schuster (January 21, 1998)
Why: OK, I cheated with this one. I read it on summer vacation last year. This is a fascinating book, if you like tech history. The true history of the ARPAnet and its evolution into the Internet that we know today. I’ve got notes that I planned to write up into a full-post book review (and may still), but one of the things I find particularly fascinating about the book is that it was written in 1996, and even then the author notes that by that time the Internet was a “household term.” Think about how much more connected we have become in the 15 years since this book was written to recount the history of the Internet. If “The Internet” was a household term in 1996, it is literally one of the most important components of our social fabric and economic system today. This is really worth a read if you like knowing something about how we got to where we are.
How: iBooks on iPad
This probably isn’t an exhaustive list, and I’ve already started making lists of other study topics that I’d like to put some attention to, such as VMWare networking and other network virtualization, but the above list should keep be busy for a while — probably just long enough that I’ll need to start prepping to recert the CCIE. If you have any other recommendations, I’d love to hear about them in a comment!