Top 10 Cisco Books for Cisco Engineers – By Paul Browning
A career as a network engineer means dedicating yourself to continuing personal development. Even when you pass your Cisco CCNA you will discover that there are a large number of gaps in your knowledge. Sure, you know how to write an access list, do some basic routing and switching, you know a little about wireless and network security but not enough to carry out any major tasks.
Whether or not you decide to take more exams such as voice, wireless, security, design and so on you are still going to move outside your comfort zone and area of knowledge as your network grows and you encounter various scenarios. For this reason, I have put together a list of ten books I recommend to every Cisco engineer. These books will give you a broad knowledge of internetworking technologies and increase your confidence and ability to install, configure and troubleshoot a Cisco network.
I could have written a list of over 50 books which is about the number you need to read to pass your Cisco CCIE however we can perhaps be a little more conservative. The below list consists of the books I would expect to see on the shelf of most serious Cisco engineers. Don’t think you have to read each one from cover to cover, it is often enough to dip into them as and when you need to learn a specific topic, otherwise you may find you read and then quickly forget what you learned.
1.Cisco CCNA Simplified – By Paul Browning
Yes, you knew it was coming. I wrote CCNA Simplifed after reading every CCNA book on the market and still feeling confused. The book is based upon all my experience working at Cisco TAC and running my own IT company.
You will learn everything you need to pass your CCNA as well as apply what you learn to the real world of IT.
Cisco CCNA Simplified covers:
- Internetworking fundamentals such as OSI, cables and topologies
- Understand IP addressing and the easy way to subnet
- Switching using VLANS, RSTP+ and switch security
- NAT, RIPv2, OSPF and EIGRP
- Access lists tips, tricks and rules you won’t find anywhere else
- WAN configuration and troubleshooting
- Network troubleshooting for real life and the exam
- Security Device Manager and wireless networking
You can buy Cisco CCNA Simplifed at www.howtonetwork.net
2. Routing TCP/IP Vol I 2nd Edition – By Jeff Doyle
This book is an absolute must for every serious Cisco engineer. Jeff has a great talent for explaining complex subjects in an easy to understand way.
Although the book is on the reading list for the CCIE written exam Jeff covers all the foundations of internetworking such as IP addressing, VLSM, routing principles and a lot more.
Jeff Doyle uses simple case studies and diagrams to explain subjects such as:
- IP addressing and VLSM
- Routing protocols
- Configuration and troubleshooting exercises
I highly recommend Routing TCP/IP if you want to better understand internetworking.
3. CCIE Practical Studies – By Karl Solie
‘Wait a minute’ I hear you say, I don’t want to jump into CCIE level books yet. I felt the same way but what if I told you that this book will actually explain things to you far better than any CCNP book you can buy?
I trawled through all the CCNP books for years until I started my CCIE preparation. When I read Karl Solie’s book everything seemed to fall in to place for me.
In this book Karl covers all the below theory but he applies it all to example networks with hands on labs and solutions. I can’t recommend this book highly enough for its clear explanations and great labs.
- Ethernet switching
- HDLC and PPP
- RIP,EIGRP, OSPF
- Access lists
This is a must have book for every Cisco engineer.
4. CCIE Practical Studies Vol II – By Karl Solie and Leah Lynch
Karl uses the same style that worked so well in Volume I. This time he covers advanced Ethernet swtiching, route maps, policy based routing, QoS and BGP.
This is more CCNP/CCIE level stuff if you were going to use it at work but remember that networks are becoming increasingly complex and you may well be expected to configure your network to prioritize traffic for voice, video or multicasting.
This book covers:
- Advanced Ethernet Switching
- Configuring route maps and policy based routing
- Multicast routing
- BGP theory and configs
This book would be very useful to you if you worked at an ISP or for any company who uses BGP on their networks or needs to adopt QOS or policy based rules for their network traffic.
5. IP Routing Fundamentals by Mark A. Sportack
This book is a nice introduction to routing concepts and IP protocols. With plenty of explanations and diagrams to assist your learning and understanding. Mark covers internetworking basics, IP addressing, LAN segmentation.
Consider this book as a foundational read if you are not quite ready to chew into the heavier books listed in this article.
- IP addressing and subnetting
- IP Protocol versions
- Routing basics
- RIPv1 and v2
- EIGRP and OSPF
- Growing the network
This book is a nice introduction to IP routing and I would recommend it to CCNA level engineers before progressing onto the more advanced CCIE level books.
6. Cisco Field Manual: Router Configuration – By David Hucaby and Steve McQuerry.
If you could carry only one book with you out in the field then this is the one. It features a huge amount of configuration commands for IOS routers and switches.
If you find yourself stuck as to which commands you need to enter or trying to figure out rarely used commands then this is the book you would dip into.
Probably not the sort of book you would read cover to cover but certainly one you would want close to hand. The authors presume nothing of the reader and so present all of the commands and the various combinations you can use them.
The book covers VLANs, QoS, access lists, security, routing protocols and performance tweaks.
7. Cisco Certification – Bridges, Routers and Switches for CCIEs – By Andrew Bruce Caslow and Valeriy Pavlichenko.
This was the must have CCIE study book before Karl Solie wrote his. It is no longer being printed but you may be able to get an old copy from eBay or Amazon marketplace. This book is crammed full of easy to follow hands on labs. When it was released it was essential reading but now it is a bit out of date. I would rate it as a good CCNP level book now but the best thing about it is the explanations followed by the hands on labs written in easy to follow steps.
I really wish these guys would release an updated version. The best part is that they build your knowledge up in six levels until you are eventually doing BGP and QoS.
- Frame relay
- RIP, EIGRP,OSPF
- Access lists
- Route maps
I highly recommend this book to you.
8. Cisco LAN Switching – By Kennedy Clark and Kevin Hamilton.
Another CCIE level book but this covers everything you need to know about switched network design, operation and configuration.
- High-speed LAN technologies, LAN segmentation, bridging, the Catalyst command-line environment, and VLANs
- Cisco Catalyst design, configuration, and troubleshooting techniques
- STP and troubleshooting common STP problems
- Trunking concepts and applications, including ISL, 802.1Q, LANE
- How to utilize Layer 3 switching techniques for maximum effect
This book is far more than any CCNA would need but you only need to dip into the parts relevant to you and your particular needs. I recommend this book if you want to improve your confidence around switching and Ethernet design and configurations.
9. Enhanced IP Services for Cisco Networks – By Donald C Lee
Lee offers a practical guide to implementing IPsec, the IOS Firewall, and IOS Intrusion Detection System. Also included are advanced routing principles and quality of service features that focus on improving the capability of your network.
A good briefing on cryptography fully explains the science that makes VPNs possible.
Rather than being another routing book, this is a guide to improving your network’s capabilities by understanding and using the sophisticated features available to you in Cisco’s IOS software.
- Understand VPN security concepts
- Deploy quality of service technologies
- Find out how IPsec technology works and how to configure it
- Learn how to set up a router as a firewall and IDS
- Gain efficient use of your IP address space with NAT, VLSM,
- Solve real-world routing problems with redistribution, route filtering, summarization, policy routing
- Enable authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) security services wih RADIUS and TACACS+ servers
10. Troubleshooting IP Routing Protocols – By Zaheer Aziz, Johnson Liu, Abe Martey, Faraz Shamim
At some point you are going to have to troubleshoot your network and this book will make your job a lot easier.
With a troubleshooting plan and an understanding of common networking problems along with how to resolve them you will be a highly sought after engineer.
- Understand and overcome common routing problems associated with BGP, IGRP, EIGRP, OSPF, IS-IS, multicasting, and RIP, such as route installation, route advertisement, route redistribution, route summarization, route flap, and neighbor relationships
- Solve complex IP routing problems through methodical, easy-to-follow flowcharts and step-by-step scenario instructions for troubleshooting
- Obtain essential troubleshooting skills from detailed case studies by experienced Cisco TAC team members
- Examine numerous protocol-specific debugging tricks that speed up problem resolution
Paul Browning passed his CCNA and then made a career change from the police into IT. He worked at Cisco TAC for two years before starting his own IT company.
Paul runs Cisco CCNA training courses in the UK through his company Networks Inc. Ltd and also runs a dedicated online Cisco CCNA training site featuring streaming videos, exams, discussion boards and a live rack of Cisco routers and switches.