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Cisco Routers for the Desperate: Router Management, the Easy Way

ASP.NET developers working for a large organization rarely, if ever, need to concern themselves with the considerable task of learning and managing network routers. However, for many ASP.NET programmers who work for small to mid-size businesses and/or those who have no choice but to take on the multiple personalities of Webmaster, network administrator, help desk manager, and developer, Cisco Routers for the Desperate was written for you. In fact, this book isn t a reference it s a survival guide, a break glass in case of emergency safety harness that helps dissolve the mystery behind the Cisco label and the row of blinking lights.

 

This is a short book that can be read in a single sitting. However, like most hands-on technology books, it s best to read it in front of a computer accessing the resource being discussed. In this case, a Telnet session with a Cisco router is the fastest way to learn and retain the survival lessons taught. Author Michael Lucas has obviously read many of those thick Cisco router management books, and has effectively distilled the most important morsels of information into this brief handbook. By Chapter 4 (there are nine chapters in all, plus a useful Appendix on IP addresses and netmasks), the book had worked its magic on me. The black rectangular Cisco box sitting in the server rack was no longer the mysterious 2001-like monolith that hummed along and somehow had something to do with delivering my executing Web code to the world. Rather, it was just another computer that could be told what to do. More importantly, it was now a system that I could understand and even troubleshoot when the time came.

 

The book quickly teaches readers about working with the Cisco command line, which is the entry path into router configuration, management, WAN connections, and even upgrading Cisco s Internetwork Operating System (IOS). Chapter 5 on troubleshooting routers is the book s most important section, and is the real reason behind buying the book in the first place. Focusing on the two primary problem areas for routers (crashes and/or network failure or slowness), the suggestions offered should ideally be incorporated into a disaster recovery procedure for router recovery. At 25 pages, Chapter 7 on redundancy with BGP and HSRP is the book s lengthiest and most complex chapter, requiring a re-read to grok all the router concepts and blocks of capital letters (ARIN, ASN, BGP, HSRP, MRTG, and RADB). Nevertheless, once these initially cryptic concepts are understood, they not only make sense, they also bring an even deeper appreciation for the complexity that Cisco routers are capable of managing.

 

What I found remarkable about this book was how it was obviously written for people like me those of us who have little interest in router management but whose jobs depend on the consistent, trusted functioning of such infrastructure. In fact, by lifting the veil on how Cisco routers can be controlled, the book has removed the last big concern in the delivery of my ASP.NET applications; namely, what happens if the router fails? Before this book came along, I probably would have had to call an authorized Cisco consultant and stew in frustration until that person was available to solve the problem. With Cisco Routers for the Desperate standing by, I ll be better prepared, and possibly even be capable of quickly resolving the problem without ever having to resort to an expensive consultation.

 

Mike Riley

 

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Title: Cisco Routers for the Desperate: Router Management, the Easy Way

Author: Michael W. Lucas

Publisher: No Starch Press

ISBN: 1-59327-049-6

Book Web Site: http://www.nostarch.com/cisco.htm

Price: US$19.95

Page Count: 132 pages