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Post Requirements: Your posts must use at least two (2) sources of information (properly cited using the American Psychological Association (APA) citation guidelines) in addition to the “hypermedia” already provided to you as part of the course. Your post must consist of a minimum of 250 words and a maximum of 500 words. Technical accuracy, proper in-text citations, and depth of coverage all play a critical role in your overall score.

Remember that for your responses to other learners, while there is no length requirement, I am looking for responses that show a technically reflective response that considers ideas and concepts that might have been overlooked by the original poster. In other words, your response to other learners should address areas where improvement in the original poster’s work could be achieved. For example, are there technical inaccuracies, were crucial technical aspects of the response lacking, or were certain aspects that should have been included in the response missing altogether? Your responses should also be properly cited using the American Psychological Association (APA) citation guidelines.

  • One of the more complex aspects of Cisco switching technologies are the similarities and differences between Content Addressable Memory (CAM) and Ternary Content Addressable Memory (TCAM) and their roles and responsibilities as part of the Cisco switching architecture. Both of these technologies are critical to the performance and operation of the Cisco Catalyst switching line of products. In your post for this topic you are to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the CAM and TCAM in addition to the roles that each of them play in Cisco switching operations. Leverage not only the “hypermedia” from our Week #1 readings, but also venture on to the Internet to find additional sources of information to support your assertions and conclusion.
  • Welcome to your first opportunity to “Convince Me Otherwise”! For this discussion post I will present you with a statement that is technically incorrect/inaccurate/misleading and your goal for the post will be to convince me why your view on the issue is the correct view. For example, if I was to make the statement, “The sky is red. Convince me otherwise.”, you would leverage all available information to convince me of the truth which is that the sky is actually blue.
  • There are significant differences between Cisco switches that are only capable of performing Layer 2 functions and Cisco multilayer switches (MLS) that are capable of performing functions at Layer 3. Your task for this post is to compare and contrast the technical differences between Layer 2-only switches and multilayer switches.
  • Compare and contrast the advantages and use cases for when you would use end-to-end VLANs versus local VLANs.
  • A concept that can cause a certain amount of confusion is that of the Native VLAN. By default, Cisco uses VLAN 1 as the Native VLAN. Your goal in this post is to describe why Cisco needs a native VLAN, what are the uses of the native VLAN on Cisco switches, and why Cisco actually recommends that you disable/shut down the native VLAN, VLAN 1.
  • In Chapter #3 you learned about the Cisco proprietary VLAN Trunking Protocol (VTP). In this post you will have your 2nd opportunity to “Convince Me Otherwise!” Here is the statement you will tackle for this post: It makes no difference which version of VTP you use because there are no advantages of using one version over the other – they all function the same. Cisco only created three (3) versions to force you to upgrade your IOS software. Convince me otherwise!
  • The Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), commonly referred to as 802.1D or ‘legacy’ Spanning Tree, has seen a substantial amount of change since its creation by Radia Perlman (who worked at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)). It wasn’t long after Spanning Tree made its debut that work on an improved version of Spanning Tree was started. The result was the creation of the Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP) 802.1w, where the emphasis was clearly on “Rapid” when compared to the original version of Spanning Tree. However, in both the case of the original 802.1D and then again with 802.1w, Cisco decided that it would not implement the “standard” version of either protocol. Cisco choose to implement PVST/PVST+ instead of the standard STP and Cisco then implemented RPVST/RPVST+ instead of the “standard” RSTP. In this post you should compare and contrast the features and benefits of both the standard versions of Spanning Tree with a special focus on the improvements between releases. Your post should also detail why you believe Cisco decided not to follow the IEEE standard versions, in addition to what might have led Cisco to take the standard versions, add their secret sauce, and implemented PVST/PVST+ and RPVST/RPVST+ instead. As a brief side note, Cisco did approach the IEEE with their implementations of Spanning Tree hoping that they would be ratified as the standard, but the IEEE decided not to go down that path and instead opted for 802.1D and 802.1w.
  • In Enterprise and Campus networks (and even in some Data Center environments) Spanning Tree plays a critical role in the prevention of loops at Layer 2 – the Data Link layer. While similar to loops that you might see at Layer 3 (with IP packets), loops at Layer 2 (where the MAC address is used to forward frames around the network) can be far more dangerous and cause much more severe issues for networking professionals. With that in mind, it should be no surprise that securing your Layer 2 environment is also a critical task. It is for this reason, among a few others, that Cisco developed the Spanning Tree Toolkit (reference the “Reading Assignment” PDF from this week for an overview) which is a series of Spanning Tree related configuration options that can be used to enhance and better protect your environment from unwanted Layer 2 threats/challenges. In this post you will be taking what you have learned about Spanning Tree and the Spanning Tree Toolkit to answer the following questions: What are some possible use cases for PortFast, BPDUGuard, and RootGuard and how would you apply these features/settings in an enterprise environment. You should also focus on why the two (2) Spanning Tree Toolkit features, namely UplinkFast and BackboneFast, are no longer needed when using Cisco’s Rapid Per-VLAN Spanning Tree (RPVST/RPVST+) and/or Multiple Spanning Tree (MST). Finally, while PortFast is not recommended for use on trunk ports, can you provide a use case for when you would want to have a trunk port with PortFast enabled.
  • During your reading of Chapter 4 in the Foundation Learning Guide (FLG) you learned about Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) and Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP) port states. For example, when you plug a server into a Cisco switch port that port will transition through the different port states on its way to the “forwarding” state. Your task for this post is to compare and contrast the different port states for STP and RSTP in addition to addressing how the use of Cisco’s port fast modifies the order of operations for the port states.
  • We discussed Cisco Express Forwarding (CEF) earlier on in the course and now we are going to go a little deeper with respect to CEF. Cisco switches and routers have seen several performance-related improvements with respect to the forwarding of IP packets over their lifespan. It is important to remember that the forwarding of packets using an IP address is a Layer 3 activity while the forwarding of frames using MAC addresses is a Layer 2 activity. However, the forwarding of packets and frames are activities that are inextricably linked when it comes to successful network functionality. The IP packet at Layer 3 depends on the MAC address information at Layer 2 in order to get information from hop to hop. Cisco Express Forwarding (CEF) is the current paradigm that Cisco routers and switches use to accomplish the forwarding of packets and to ensure that this forwarding takes place as fast as possible. CEF is based on two main data structures: The Forwarding Information Base (FIB) (the next-hop Layer 3 information) and the adjacency table (the next-hop Layer 2 information). For your post on this topic you should detail the operation of CEF in the context of MLS, the previous methods Cisco used for the forwarding of packets (Process Switching and Fast Switching), and detail why those methods were replaced by CEF.
  • The use of Type 5 (MD5) password hashes has been an approach used by Cisco for decades and at one point were considered the most secure approach available. This was a true statement for quite some time, but has changed significantly over the last few years with the emergence of Type 8 and Type 9 password hashes. There is another discussion opportunity in this module where you can investigate MD5 password hashes when used with the creation of Cisco user passwords, but as the “Reading Assignment” for this unit demonstrates (“Next Generation Encryption”), Type 5 passwords are considered to be legacy and should be avoided whenever possible in favor of SHA-256. For this post, compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses between the Type 8 / Type 9 password hashes and the legacy Type 5 password hashes. Your post should pay special attention to the details of each implementation and which one you would implement in your environment and why.
  • The Cisco proprietary Hot Standby Router Protocol (HSRP) is considered a First Hop Redundancy Protocol (FHRP) that can provide first-hop (read: default gateway) redundancy in your networking environment. When we say, ‘First Hop’, we are referring to the default gateway address being used by end hosts, servers, and other network devices. HSRP achieves this redundancy by advertising a Virtual IP address (VIP) and even shares the Layer 2 MAC address between HSRP nodes. This means that if one (1) of the routers/MLS running HSRP fails, the other HSRP router/MLS will simply take over the duties of forwarding traffic and become the ‘active’ HSRP router/MLS. HSRP comes in two (2) flavors: HSRPv1 and HSRPv2 and supports both IPv4 and IPv6. In this post your task will be to compare and contrast HSRPv1 and HSRPv2 while providing a detailed description of how HSRP functions from an operational perspective. Your post should address default values, HSRP runtime states, version interoperability, HSRP authentication, the reasons for a new version of HSRP (HSRPv2), and how the virtual MAC address value is calculated.
  • The Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP) is an industry standard (defined in RFC 3768) alternative to the Cisco proprietary HSRP and GLBP. VRRP is supported by any serious networking vendor to include Cisco. VRRP, as defined in RFC 3768, does not support millisecond timers however, Cisco’s implementation has been created to support millisecond timers. VRRP shares many common attributes with HSRP, but also has many differences. In this post your task will be to compare and contrast HSRP and VRRP while providing a detailed description of how VRRP functions from an operational perspective. Your post should address VRRP default values, VRRP runtime states, vendor interoperability, how VRRP is secured, and how the VRRP virtual MAC address value is calculated.
  • Welcome to another opportunity to “Convince Me Otherwise”! We learned that there are a number of different First Hop Redundancy Protocols (FHRP) available on the Cisco platform. Your task in this post will be to change my mind regarding Cisco’s proprietary Hot Standby Router Protocol (HSRP). Here is the statement you will tackle for this post: In an enterprise network environment, network engineers should always choose Cisco’s HSRP as the FHRP because it has more features, works better, and is easier to use in load balancing scenarios than VRRP and GLBP. Convince me otherwise!
  • In Chapter #7 of the Cisco Press Foundation Learning Guide (FLG) you learned about AAA and 802.1X. Your task for this post is to argue in favor of using one or the other, but not both. Which one would you choose? What are its advantages? Does one do the job of the other? Remember, your task is to make the case for only one: either AAA or 802.1X. You should not conclude your post by stating that you would use both.
  • The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) has gone through a number of revisions over the years. As we learned in Chapter #7 SNMPv3 is considered to be the most secure of all the versions of SNMP. Your task in this post is to compare and contrast the different versions of SNMP while explaining how it is that SNMPv3 is the optimal choice when it comes to security.
  • In Chapter #8 of the Cisco Press Foundation Learning Guide (FLG) you learned about Switch Database Management (SDM) templates and how they can be used to better allocated the hardware resources inside of a Cisco switch. In this post you will have another opportunity to “Convince Me Otherwise!” Here is the statement you will tackle for this post: There is never a need (and I don’t know of any use cases that exist) to change the SDM template from the default because the resources allocated as part of the default template will never become exhausted…Cisco switches are just that good!
  • One of the most important aspects of networking is security. Cisco switches provide a feature known as port security where you can ensure that the intended host(s), and only the intended host(s), is connected to the switch port in question. Cisco port security allows the network administrator to mandate a number of parameters to include what action to take when there is a violation. In this post you should describe the pros and cons of enabling port security and provide an in-depth description of the different options that are available to the network administrator.
  • In Chapter #9 you learned about Cisco’s StackWise technology as well as Cisco’ Virtual Switching System (VSS) technology. Both approaches can provide your network with high availability (HA) in the event of a failure. For this post your task is to compare and contrast StackWise and VSS with a focus on the different use cases that each technology best serves. Answer questions as to whether StackWise and VSS basically do the same thing? If not, how are they different? When would you recommend one technology over the other? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks?
  • Now that you have taken this class, what do you think? Did you get what you wanted out of this class? Did we meet your learning objectives for the course? Do you have any comments or suggestions regarding the course? Please let us know if we were “on point” or not.
  • Learner feedback is a critical component used to evaluate whether or not a course is meeting the goal of providing you with a valuable learning experience. For this discussion post you should complete at least one (1) of the following statements (and you are free to complete more if you so choose):
  • If I was teaching this class I would have included topics like.
  • This class would have been more valuable to me if.
  • I wish we would have covered topics like..
  • If I could change one thing about this class it would be.
  • My favorite activities from this course were..
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