Network technologies and trends

July 31, 2015  12:28 PM

Palo Alto Networks Certification tracks

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
Cisco, VMware

Palo Alto Networks offers few Certifications tracks  which are quite interesting and challenging to pass. Their advance certificate Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE) is very challenging certification exam to pass, especially for those who don’t have exposure to Palo Alto Next Generation firewalls.

Palo Alto is currently offering following certifications tracks

  • Accredited Configuration Engineer (ACE)
  • Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE)
  • Certified Network Security Engineer (CNSE 5.1)

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.15.42 PM

The Accredited Configuration Engineer (ACE) exam tests your knowledge of the core features and functions of Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewalls. The ACE exam is web-based and consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. The exam is not timed, and you can retake it as many times as necessary to earn a passing score.

A Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE) is capable of designing, deploying, configuring, maintaining and troubleshooting the vast majority of Palo Alto Networks-based network security implementations.  So does the Certified Network Security Engineer (CNSE 5.1), however CNSE focuses on PAOS version 5.1 where as Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE) tests you on the PAOS version 6 and 6.1

July 31, 2015  12:16 PM

Palo Alto Certification Tracks are yet to make an impact

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
Cisco, Networking, VMware

Palo Alto Networks is continuing to make their strong presence in the Security Domain especially into Next Generation Firewalls domain. Gartner in its Magic Quadrant rates them as leaders.

However Palo Alto certifications are not as popular as Cisco, Juniper or VMware Certifications. Still I believe Palo Alto needs a long time to make their impact on the certification domain. Palo Alto may need to adopt certain directions like their competitors have done, in order make their certifications more popular they may need to promote their certifications tracks, provide virtual resources and a dedicated Education community should be established along abundant learning resources. VMware does provide great Hands on Labs for the VMware community.

I hope soon Palo Alto Networks will come out with a better vision and strategy towards their certifications program.

July 31, 2015  11:40 AM

Cisco 2015 Midyear Security Report is released

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

Every year in the month of July Cisco releases their Midyear Security Report, which provides an overview of major threats observed in the first half of the year 2015. The report is quite intensive in nature as it addresses the current threats observed which includes exploit kits, Microsoft office exploits, malware research, java exploits and so on. Also there is section dedicated to future trends. The report is freely available download.

Some of the key things, which really drew my attention, are as follows

Exploits of Adobe Flash vulnerabilities are increasing.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 2.16.07 PM

This chart displays the most commonly observed attacks

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 2.20.22 PM

Its worth to read this report, I recommend to download this report

July 29, 2015  5:08 AM

CCIE Community Technical Webinars are great

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCIE, Cisco

Cisco conducts certain Technical Webinars only for CCIE community, which proves to be the great source of knowledge and information. I had the privilege to attend couple of Technical Webinars, both of them were quite good.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 7.59.17 AM(Source: Cisco)

The great thing about these technical webinars is they address the topics, which are quite trending; the webinar, which was on open stack really gave an over view of Open Stack, how Open Stack involved and the contribution of major technological players in Open Stack development.

On August 12,2015, Cisco is coming out with one more CCIE Community Technical Webinar, which will focus more about Fog Architecture. Those who are CCIE’s they should get an email from Learning@Cisco about this event, if not please do update your CCO profile and opt for updates from CCIE community.

July 23, 2015  4:41 AM

Cisco Cloud Fundamentals 101 – “On-demand self service”

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCNA, Cisco, cloud, Network, nist, Server, Software, Storage

When we look at the Blue Print of the Cisco Cloud Fundamentals (CLDFND) exam (210-451), it quite clear that Cisco is looking at NIST definition of cloud.

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.” (Source NIST)

Before the adoption of cloud if any consumer wants to provision any computing capabilities, such a Servers, Network devices, Storage or even software they have to go through the process of approvals, lots of human interaction and dependent on many third party vendors to delivered the required computing resources, this is often time consuming and most delayed the project deployments or testing certain features of the new releases etc.

With the advent of cloud, things have evolved. One could provision computing capabilities these days with the click of mouse with very less human interaction, provided they have a good cloud solution. This kind of provisioning is better known as “On-demand self service”.

“On-demand self service” is one of the common cloud characteristics and from Cisco Cloud Fundamentals (CLDFND) exam (210-451) perspective, its better we know what it does and why we need “On-demand self service”

July 19, 2015  3:14 PM

Is Python programing a necessity for Network Engineers?

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
API, Email, Network, Network Engineer, programing, Python, VMware

With the emergence of  Cisco ACI, VMware NSX, Open Stack and even Amazon Web Services most of Networking Engineers are asked to learn Python programming language. Python is considered to be one of the easiest languages to learn which can be used for Network Automation. Using Python one can SSH to Networking Devices, Can write scripts to do various day to day activities


In coming days things are going to be redefined and those who are ahead of game can certainly en cash their skills. When it comes Python there are many resources and most of them are freely available on the Internet. I would certainly recommend the following courses for those who don’t come from Programing background

  • Programing for Everybody (Python)

It’s a great course offered by Coursera, and taught by Charles Severance in most simple way. The course focuses on basic of Python and a great introductory course with some good exercises and assignments.

  • Learning Python: Email Course by Krik Byers

You can subscribe to Krik Byers ten-week email course on Python, this is a great course which touches some aspects of Networking automation as well. Krik is also offering a comprehensive paid course especially tailored for Network Engineer.

  • Python Programming for Network Engineers.

An INE course which focuses on Introduction to Python and teaches you how to write a Python by developing a complete command-line application that will regularly retrieve device configurations, check code in to a version control system, and receive configuration policy violation reports via email

To conclude Python is a necessity for Network Engineers, its worth to spend some time mastering Python

July 15, 2015  9:13 PM

Cisco releases Cisco Packet Tracer for an iPhone and iPad

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCNA, CCNA Security, Facebook, IOS, ipad, iPhone, Packet Tracer

When it comes to CCNA Routing & Switching or even CCNA Security Cisco Packet Tracer proves to be very handy. This tool is widely used by Cisco Networking Academy students. Packet Tracer provides simulation, visualization, authoring, assessment, and collaboration capabilities and facilitates the teaching and learning of complex technology concepts.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 12.07.27 AM

The good news is now Packet Tracers is available on iPhone and iPad running iOS version 8 with the following features

  • Simulation engine is based on Packet Tracer 6.2
  • Allows users to build “.pkt” configuration files from scratch
  • Supports both 32bit and 64bit devices
  • Reference topologies included
  • Tip of Day displayed when loading application

Features exclusive to users:

  • Open file from NetSpace class
  • Share files via Email
  • Share topology to Facebook

Cisco Packet Tracer can be downloaded from Apple store but use all its features one should have Cisco Networking Academy account. Without an account once can run a trial version with very limited functionality. A good initiative from Cisco, it’s going to help lot Networking professionals who are at their early stage of career and aiming for big in their life.

July 11, 2015  9:30 PM

Cisco is offering Gigabit Wi-Fi

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
AP, Cisco, gigabit, Wi-Fi, Wireless

With the introduction of Aironet 1850 Series access points Cisco is offering Gigabit Wi-Fi for small and medium networks. The Aironet 1850 Series access points works on the latest Wi-Fi technology (802.11ac Wave 2). This access point can be integrated with Cisco Wireless controllers and most importantly the access points comes with dual Giga Ethernet card which are capable of supporting Link Aggregation Group (LAG).

Cisco AP

The Aironet 1850 Series access points works on both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz range, but it worth to note for Network Architects and Network Designers that the Aironet 1850 Series access points offer Gig Speed only on 5 GHz range not on 2.4 GHz range.

Some of the specifications are as follows (Source Cisco)


Key Features Details
Wi-Fi Standard 802.11ac Wave 2
Radios Dual 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, up to 80 MHz maximum bandwidth
Maximum PHY data rate Total aggregate maximum PHY rate = 2021 Mbps

·       5 GHz: 1733 Mbps

·       2.4 GHz: 288 Mbps

MIMO radio design: spatial streams 2.4 GHz: 3×4:3SS SU-MIMO
5 GHz: 4×4:4SS SU-MIMO, 4×4:3SS MU-MIMO
Max. associated clients 200 per radio, 400 maximum per access point
Beamforming Transmit beamforming
Interfaces ·       Uplink: 1x 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet (RJ-45, PoE)

·       1x 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet (RJ-45) for Local or Uplink use (No PoE)

·       USB 2.0

·       Management console port (RJ-45)


It’s interesting to see how this AP is going to perform in real world Environment with RF interference. It’s a good move from Cisco and may add some value to mobile users.

July 7, 2015  9:24 PM

What is VCP-NV – Series 2?

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
Auditing, Automation, DHCP, DNS, Firewalls, Load balancers, logging, Monitoring, NAT, Routers, Troubleshooting, VMware, VMware certifications, VPNs

When it comes for the VCP-NV certification preparations, one can certainly rely on VMware, as they have plenty of great resources. In may case I extensively used the following

VMware NSX 6.0 Documentation Center

NSX-V 6.0 Administrator Guide

VMware NSX-V 6.0 Design Guide

VCP-NV Exam Blueprint

VMware NSX for vSphere Introduction and Installation by Jason Nash

VMware NSX for vSphere: Network Services by Jason Nash

HOL-SDC-1403 – VMware NSX Introduction

VMware hands on Labs are really great asset one can have for the VCP-NV preparations, I would really like commend VMware efforts and commitment to provide these Hands on Lab that too for free. VMware offer four hours slot for HOL-SDC-1403 – VMware NSX Introduction hands on lab. These labs are designed well and helps anyone to understand the concepts well and also gives an opportunity to deploy various NSX components , try then and test them.

One greater asset I certainly recommend is the courses offered by PLURALSIGHTS by Jason Nash, I enjoyed watching Jason Nash and he really made things simpler and his videos are easy to understand. Since he comes from Cisco background he narrates the concepts, which any Network Engineer can understand.

I believe by using above mentioned resources once can easily pass the VPN-NV exam of course with dedication and hard work.

July 6, 2015  11:42 PM

What is VCP-NV – Series 1?

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
Auditing, Automation, DHCP, DNS, Firewalls, Load balancers, logging, Monitoring, NAT, Routers, Troubleshooting, VMware, VMware certifications, VPNs

Recently I tested my skills and knowledge on VMware Certifications, VMware Certified Professional – Network Virtualization also known as VCP-NV, which focuses on NSX products. The VCP-NV certification validates ability to install, configure, and administer NSX virtual networking implementations, regardless of the underlying physical architecture

VMware wants the successful candidates to demonstrate core-networking skills such as


  • Layer 2 switching and both static and dynamic Layer 3 routing Integration with virtual standard and distributed switches
  • Management of networking policies for performance, scalability, and ease of administration
  • Creating and administering NSX logical switches, Layer 2 bridges, routers, load balancers, VPNs, firewalls
  • Creating and administering Edge services, such as DHCP, DNS, and NAT, configuring and managing High Availability
  • Operational tasks, such as user permissions and roles, automation, monitoring, logging, auditing and compliance, backup and recovery
  • Troubleshooting an Enterprise-class NSX networking implementation


The exam consists of 120 questions and its one of the challenging exam I took especially when I am coming from Networking background. Any network engineer can certainly relate himself/ herself to the topics covered in VPC-NV exam. I recommend reading exam blueprint for further details.

VMware does offer VCP-NV certification exam to any one who holds a valid CCNA Data Center or CCNA Routing & Switching or CCNP Data Center or CCNP Routing & Switching certification or CCIE Data Center or CCIE Routing & Switching.


In my next post I will discuss about the approach I took and the materials I referred for the preparation of the VCP-NV exam.

Forgot Password

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an e-mail containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: