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The Expert Recommends:
Essential Resources for Networking Beginners

By Thomas M. Thomas II - June 12, 2000

Essential Resources for Networking Beginners

Self-Study Materials

Instructor-Led Training

Online Resources


Self-Study Materials

The ability to learn on your own is a skill that everyone should possess and cultivate, and it is a vital skill for those who are involved in networking. Traditional, instructor-led training in this field is expensive and usually requires travel. It is therefore recommended that you first begin your learning on your own so that when you do attend a training course, you will be prepared to get everything you can out of it. The three books I recommend here will provide you with excellent technical material for all major areas of study within networking.

Advanced IP Routing with Cisco Routers
by Terry Slattery and Bill Burton. McGraw Hill, 1998.

Description: The ability to understand TCP/IP, the protocol that binds the Internet and many networks together, is crucial. Entire books have been written on this subject in an effort to explain these fundamental building blocks. Terry and Bill discuss the intricacies of the TCP/IP protocol suite and how it operates in a Cisco Networking environment.

Today, many people use TCP/IP with Cisco equipment and are not even aware of many of the features and reasons behind its operation. This book will answer those questions, and it does so in an easy-to-read manner. Understanding the many facets and functionalities of TCP/IP is essential; however, the areas that cause the most confusion are IP Addressing and Subnetting. This book addresses these areas in a clear and simple manner that is beneficial to everyone.

Audience: Networkers who are at the beginner- to intermediate-level would find this book helpful.

TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1: The Protocols
by W. Richard Stevens. Addison Wesley, 1994.

Description: Most networking experts consider this book to be of the cornerstone texts. Mr. Stevens provides an exhaustive coverage of TCP/IP and its operation. A better-regarded text on the subject does not exist. If you have serious aspirations to truly understand what is “going on” in a network, this is the best text for you. I could continue trumpeting its value, but you should go to your local bookstore and see for yourself; I know that it will grab your attention as soon as you begin flipping through it.

Audience: This book is appropriate for intermediate-level networkers, provided that they possess a basic understanding of networking.

Interconnections, Second Edition: Bridges, Routers, Switches,
and Internetworking Protocols

by Radia Perlman. Addison Wesley, 1999.

Description: This is a cornerstone text that covers the basics on switching, bridging, and the operation of the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP). Radia Perlman is one of the most enjoyable authors; she presents complicated topics with an eye to realism and history, and sprinkles humor throughout. Her vast experience in the industry allows her to accomplish this, and she is also the author of the Spanning Tree Protocol. Those of you who have switches or bridges in your network will find this book to be an invaluable educational tool.

Audience: This book is great for intermediate-level readers. More advanced students should also see the book CCIE Professional Development: Cisco LAN Switching by Kennedy Clark and Kevin Hamilton (Cisco Press, 1999).


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