Home > Articles > Certification > Cisco Certification

Is Troubleshooting Important?

  • Print
  • + Share This
In this article we first define various levels of troubleshooting, then we look into how the troubleshooting skills are covered in the Cisco Career Certification processes. We finish this article by giving a few hints on how you can gain these valuable skills.
Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

Ask any seasoned networking engineer and she will probably agree with you that troubleshooting skills are similar to an insurance policy – everyone agrees that it’s a good idea, but nobody wants to pay for it, and when you need it, you need it badly. It’s also the skill that could make or break your career – there's nothing worse than a lack of troubleshooting skills in a mission-critical network down situation. Having said all that, you would expect that people put great emphasis on gaining troubleshooting skills. Unfortunately, like with insurance policies, troubleshooting aspects of networking education are largely ignored ... at least until something really bad happens.

In this article, we first define various levels of troubleshooting, then we look into how the troubleshooting skills are covered in the Cisco® Career Certification processes. We finish this article by giving a few hints on how you can gain these valuable skills.

What Is Troubleshooting?

You could define network troubleshooting in a variety of ways. We will limit ourselves to a simple definition based on what you’re trying to troubleshoot:

  • The simplest variety of troubleshooting is configuration troubleshooting – making sure your configuration works. It’s the simplest because you usually know the environment, you know what you did in the past, and you know what you want to achieve.

  • The break-fix troubleshooting is more complex – you are faced with a broken (sometimes unknown) network, you work under time pressure, and you don’t have all the information you might need.

  • The hardest part of troubleshooting is debugging someone else’s software – for example, trying to figure out if a certain router’s behavior is a result of your misconfiguration or a bug in the underlying software. This part of troubleshooting is best left to engineers with in-depth knowledge of the software in question – for example, engineers in the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC).

Troubleshooting and Cisco Career Certifications

Various Career Certifications from Cisco Systems include different levels of troubleshooting education and testing. The one most concentrated on troubleshooting is the CCNP certification – which includes the Cisco Internetworking Troubleshooting (CIT) course, available from authorized Cisco Learning Partners – as well as a targeted troubleshooting exam.

Recent changes to the CCIE certification have resulted in a different focus on troubleshooting. The CCIE certification process once included a two-day lab test that contained tough configuration exercises (including, obviously, configuration troubleshooting), and a half-day break-fix troubleshooting session. With the shortening of the CCIE lab exam to one day, the break-fix troubleshooting session has disappeared. The end result is that today’s CCIEs are not tested on their break-fix troubleshooting skills as they once were. The candidate’s ability to troubleshoot networks is actually being tested throughout today’s lab exam. The new CCIE lab format will not have a separate troubleshooting section, but will place a premium on time, which means that strong troubleshooting skills will be an essential element of success.

Currently, the CCIP certification includes minimal troubleshooting education or skills testing. Some of the CCIP courses (for example, the MPLS course) include detailed troubleshooting information. Others, such as the BSCI course, do not cover troubleshooting beyond a description of monitoring and debugging commands. This limited troubleshooting focus keeps with the current CCIP exam certification track because there is no troubleshooting-focused exam.

Gaining Troubleshooting Skills

With the current level of troubleshooting information in the certification training and exams, the question you need to ask is, "How will I gain these crucial skills?" All troubleshooting, regardless of its complexity, is best performed if you understand the technology you’re trying to troubleshoot. Therefore, you must focus on gaining as much insight into the technology as possible. This means, among other things:

  • Attending advanced courses, even if they are not part of the recommended curriculum. For example, if the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) or Integrated Intermediate System-to-Intermediate System (Integrated IS-IS) protocols are important to you, you need to consider attending the Configuring BGP on Cisco Routers (CBCR) and Configuring IS-IS on Cisco Routers (CISIS) courses because these topics are covered in far greater detail in these advanced courses than within the BSCI course. To learn about advanced instructor-led and e-learning courses available from authorized Cisco Learning Partners, visit http://www.cisco.com/en/US/learning/.

  • Reading Cisco Press books that cover the technologies you need in your job. These books usually contain more technology information than the corresponding training. Cisco Press recently released Troubleshooting IP Routing Protocols, which falls within the CCIE Professional Development series. It's the first in a series of troubleshooting-focused books. Visit www.ciscopress.com for a complete catalog of products and for updates on new releases available from Cisco Press.

  • To gain configuration-troubleshooting skills, you must perform as much configuration work as possible on tough assignments. Try to do the following:

    • Optimize your investment in the classes you attend. Forget the recipes that sometimes come with the configuration exercises and try to think about what needs to be done and how you will do it.

    • Find configuration lab exercises that slightly exceed your abilities. Several CCIE preparation Cisco Press books are a good source of these exercises if you own enough equipment to perform them or can get access to equipment through a remote lab. Many titles from the CCIE Professional Development Series, such as Cisco LAN Switching and Routing TCP/IP, Volume II, offer troubleshooting coverage. Another Cisco Press title, CCIE Practical Studies, Volume I, is made up entirely of labs that provide hands-on experience in a variety of CCIE topics. You should also consider doing remote lab exercises. The vendors that specialize in them are Skyline Computer Corporation (www.skylinecomputer.com) for the enterprise market and NIL Data Communications (www.ccip.com/ls/rlab) for the service provider market. For a list of Cisco Learning Partners who provide remote lab access and exercises, visit http://www.cisco.com/en/US/learning/.

There is only one way you’ll gain real break-fix troubleshooting skills: You need to perform that task. Playing with a real network is usually not an option and it’s hard to find a colleague who will break your router configurations in a challenging way. The only options left to you are attending courses that include troubleshooting exercises (some learning partners in Europe include a troubleshooting lab as part of their BGP, OSPF, EIGRP or IS-IS courses; check with them before registering for the course, and visit http://www.cisco.com/en/US/learning/ for a list of Cisco Learning Partners) or performing remote lab exercises focused on troubleshooting. These are exceedingly rare; the only ones I’m aware of are the BGP troubleshooting exercises from NIL Data Communications.

Summary

Troubleshooting is a crucial skill that can make or break your career. Unfortunately, it’s often neglected, and it is difficult to get the necessary hands-on experience. The few things that can help you in this respect are the following:

  • Attending advanced training classes to gain in-depth insight into the relevant technologies.

  • Reading advanced Cisco Press books.

  • Improving your hands-on skills by completing challenging lab exercises and dedicated troubleshooting exercises.

Last, but definitely not least, gaining real-life experience in operating a real network is the best training there is.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020