Network technologies and trends

April 3, 2015  7:58 AM

According to Opus One research, Cisco Email Security ranks as Industry leader in Anti Spam Efficiency.

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
Cisco, Email, Email security, Gartner, Iron Port, Network, Networking, Spam

Recently Opus One, an independent research firm released report for most popular anti-spam solution for the year 2014, where Cisco Email Security ranked as industry leader for the second year in a row. T

Optus one tested all the anti-spam solutions in Gartner’s July 2014 “Leaders,” “Visionaries,” and “Challengers” for a period of one year and declared Cisco Email Security as no 1.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 10.46.52 AM

Based on my experience with various players in the Email Security area, I discovered Cisco Email Security solutions lead from the front. Had many opportunities to migrate from some of the Non Cisco Email security solutions to Cisco Email Security solutions and did saw the huge improvement especially in the area of anti-spam emails. Cisco Email Security out stands among its competitors, however this doesn’t remains the same in Web Security area.

Opus one tested all those solution providers based on the following criteria to declare Cisco a leader in Anti Spam efficiency

  • Approximately 10,000 messages were selected at random for testing each month, with a total of 130,227 messages in the final evaluation set
  • Messages were drawn from actual corporate production mail streams
  • Messages were received live and tested with less than a one-second delay
  • Tested products were acquired directly from the vendor or through normal distribution channels and were under active support contracts. Cloud-based solutions were only used when an appliance-based solution was not available. Tested products were “up to date” with current released software and signature updates and all settings were reviewed by each vendor’s own technical support team
  • Messages were hand classified as “spam” and “not spam” to ensure data validity
  • Each of the tested products included the vendor-recommended or integrated reputation service in the results

Further details of this report can be accessed from this link.

March 30, 2015  5:46 AM

CCDE lab dates for year 2016 are announced

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCIE, Certifications, Cisco

After CCIE if any other Cisco Certification do have a value and hard to achieve is Cisco Certified Design Expert, Cisco does offer CCDE exam only once is three months and one can take maximum of four attempts per year. There are really very few CCDEs in world. Like any Cisco expert exam CCDE does cost 1600 USD. Its worth considering CCDE especially when, it is one of the reputed and hardest Industry certificate.

The schedule for year 2015 and 2016 is as follows

Exam Date Date Registration Closes* Pearson Professional CenterLocation

   May 19, 2015
 Monday,May 18, 2015 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest to you

August 19, 2015
 Tuesday,August 18, 2015 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

November 19, 2015
 Wednesday,November 18, 2015 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

   February 25, 2016
 Wednesday,February 24, 2016 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

   May 17, 2016
 Monday,May 16, 2016 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

   August 31, 2016
 Tuesday,August 30, 2016 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

   November 17, 2016
 Wednesday,November 16, 2016 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

You can find more detail at Cisco Learning Network website. As far training is concerned there are few trainers who are providing CCDE training or boot camp. INE is one of the leading training providers in CCDE, however Orhan Ergun is offering online CCDE training for CCDE exam. Worth contacting INE or Orhan for the training they are offering.

March 29, 2015  4:45 PM

Is CCIE is an addiction?

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCIE, CCIE consultancy, Cisco, Network

Generally it’s observed that most of CCIE’s always attempt for their second CCIE Certification in another track and they are successful in obtaining the second CCIE certification. What does this mean? Its been well said by boss “ CCIE is an addiction” He himself is a CCIE but not dual like me.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 7.40.35 PM

I feel most us are carried out by the success of first CCIE and the thought of having second CCIE, never goes of the mind. So most of them attempt for their second CCIE in different track and so on.

What makes one to attempt the second /third /forth /fifth on so on CCIE certification attempts?

The question has many answers I left this to dual, triple or penta CCIE to answer.

Well there are many certifications which are as valued as CCIE, yet most of the CCIE’s fail to embrace them. The question is when is one does get satisfied? What value does a dual CCIE adds to one?

As far as the feedback from the dual CCIE they didn’t experienced a drastic change in their pay. Nor they got the special recognition? Yet they peruse.

When I think of seriously about second CCIE certainly I will ask myself the same questions which asked when I started the journey of CCIE,

  1. Why do I want to be a CCIE ?
  2. What is stopping me from becoming a CCIE ?
  3. What extra mile I can go to over come my obstacles to achieve my CCIE?
  4. What resources I should choose to pass the CCIE?
  5. Who else in my professional group are interested in CCIE ?
  6. What impact will have on me after CCIE ?
  7. What is the time line I am looking for to complete CCIE ?

If its worth certainly I will peruse but not for the sake of fame or addiction.

March 29, 2015  3:29 AM

Cisco’s Hackathon is here

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
Cisco, firewall, IPS

Cisco is currently conducting couple of challenges in the month of April -2015; one of the challenge Cisco is conducting is called Security Challenge. Cisco is teaming with HackeRank to conduct this contest from April 9 -2015 to April 11-2015.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 6.27.41 AM

Basically Cisco is challenging everyone to break their new ASA firewall or IPS, which are powered by Firepower. With introduction of Firepower into their ASA’s, Cisco is aiming to provide the features of Next Generation Firewall like visibility, continuous control, and advanced threat protection.

This happens to be a litmus test for both Cisco and the contenders. Cisco is rewarding the successful contenders with MacBook pro and much more gifts. More details can be found from Cisco Security Challenge home page. Best of luck to those who really want to prove themselves.

March 26, 2015  9:40 AM

A review for “Troubleshooting and Maintaining Cisco IP Networks (TSHOOT) Foundation Learning Guide: (CCNP TSHOOT 300-135)”

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCNP, Certifications, Cisco, Cisco Press

First and foremost I would like to thank my Professional friend Jamie Shoup for providing me the copy of this book. When it comes to preparations for Cisco certifications Cisco Press books are awesome. Cisco Press titles are written based on the blue print and topics covered for the exam.  The Cisco Press title “Troubleshooting and Maintaining Cisco IP Networks (TSHOOT) Foundation Learning Guide: (CCNP TSHOOT 300-135)” is crafted for the CCNP TSHOOT exam 300-135.

CCNP Tshoot

This title consists of 10 chapters covering following topics

  • Chapter 1 Troubleshooting Methods
  • Chapter 2 Structured Troubleshooting
  • Chapter 3 Network Maintenance Tasks and Best Practices
  • Chapter 4 Basic Switching and Routing Process and Effective IOS Troubleshooting Commands
  • Chapter 5 Using Specialized Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools
  • Chapter 6 Troubleshooting Case Study: SECHNIK Networking
  • Chapter 7 Troubleshooting Case Study: TINC Garbage Disposal
  • Chapter 8 Troubleshooting Case Study: PILE Forensic Accounting
  • Chapter 9 Troubleshooting Case Study: Bank of POLONA
  • Chapter 10 Troubleshooting Case Study: RADULKO Transport

The author is quite smart in discussing the troubleshooting approaches in chapter 1, this really gives a good understanding of troubleshooting approach one could adopt in any given situation. Personally I liked the chapter that deals with the Network Maintenance best practices as the author discusses every aspect of troubleshooting including the most neglected part like documentation and policy.

The case study chapters are quite interesting and prepares a CCNP aspirer to think out of the box at times to troubleshoot the problems reported in day to day network operations and also now you have the liberty of downloading the typologies and diagrams from the Cisco press website for your own reference.

To conclude a good title, quite easy to understand what the author is trying to express, the only suggestion Cisco might consider is offering Virtual labs for the cases mentioned in this book or at least share the VIRL typologies so that one can have good hand on before appearing for the CCNP TSHOOT exam 300-135

March 23, 2015  5:09 AM

Being CCIE is an ultimate thing in life?

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCIE, Certifications, Cisco certifications, Networking

Recently I received a message in LinkedIn, asking about CCIE, the question put forward to me was as follows

 ‪”I’m just curious about network technologies. There is a lot of hype about CCIE; it is said once you pass CCIE lab there are plethora of opportunities waiting for you. Some even speculate starting salary of 25k SAR in KSA. Is CCIE a global certification which is accepted worldwide even in North America?

‪Do you agree with aforementioned assertions? Please share some insights.”


Many of the Networking or non-networking professionals have certain beliefs related to CCIE, some of them are

  • CCIE is an ultimate certificate.
  • Once one passed the  CCIE lab, he conquered the world.
  • Companies around the World will approach to him with amazing 3 digit offers.
  • A new horizon will open for him; he will be welcomed everywhere

Well all these things are wrong beliefs. Certainly it does adds value to one’s career, but at the same time he /she should justify the CCIE certificate he/she posses.

Recently trends are changing even college graduates with no networking experience started to prepare for CCIE labs and they are successful in passing the lab. Does this justify that; they have the same caliber of the experienced Network Engineer, certainly not. At one end this is a good sign, this shows how CCIE is valued in the professional world. But at the same time CCIE is losing its value due to huge increase in the number of CCIE s.

I believe experience and knowledge is what matters, not the certifications. Many people have a wrong perception towards CCIE; they think by passing the CCIE lab they can conquer the world. Well this is obsoletely wrong.

Wisdom and experience cannot be replaced by certifications, certifications does add value to those, who  already posses good experience in the field. Yes CCIE is one of most prestigious certification and accepted world wide, yes CCIE does offer a good remuneration provided that you are experienced and can justify your CCIE.

March 20, 2015  2:30 PM

Virtual resources for Palo Alto Accredited Configuration Engineer (ACE) Exam preparations

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

When it comes to Palo Alto Accredited Configuration Engineer (ACE) Exam preparations, options are quite minimal in terms of virtual resources. As discussed in my previous post one can either relies on Palo Alto PA -200 firewall or their Palo Alto VM 100 firewall, you may need to contact your local Palo Alto team to get the trial access with license.

If you got hold of Palo Alto VM 100 firewall then preparing the lab scenario using Unified Networking Lab is quite easier.

You can find out more details about Unified Networking Lab by visiting their web site and I recommend you to download the unetllab from their website. Still it’s in beta version yet it is more powerful. You can simulate scenarios using many vendors’ virtual products.

Once you downloaded and installed the Unified Networking Lab do follow the instructions mentioned in this blog by Andrea the creator of Unified Networking Lab. This blog shows you how to copy the Palo Alto VM 100 firewall into Unified Networking Lab

In the next post I will show how to create the topology recommended by Palo Alto for   the Palo Alto Accredited Configuration Engineer (ACE) Exam.

March 17, 2015  4:45 AM

Palo Alto should consider offering virtual labs for Palo Alto certification preparations

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
Cisco, F5

When it comes to preparations for any Certification exams, it is key to have an access to the appliance either in Physical or Virtual form. When it comes to Palo Alto certification preparations its quite challenging to find the virtual resources. Palo Alto recommends to practice their Firewall Installation, Configuration, and Management: Essentials I -Lab Manual on PA – 200 firewall which is a hardware appliance not a virtual appliance.

Palo Alto recommends the below shown topology for preparations of Palo Alto Accredited Configuration Engineer (ACE) Exam – PAN-OS 6.0

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 7.26.13 AM

Source: Palo Alto Firewall Installation, Configuration, and Management: Essentials I -Lab Manual

Well I believe the same topology can be created on the virtual environment especially when Palo Alto is marketing their virtual firewalls. Like F5 they can offer a trial license of 30 days purely for study purpose or certification purposes or like Cisco’s VIRL which can be bought at very nominal price. When it comes to preparations of much advance Palo Alto certifications like Palo Alto Networks Certified Network Security Engineer (PCNSE), one has to purely rely on either on Official Palo Alto training or hands on experience

It would be worth Palo Alto give a serious thought on coming out with a solution for their certification preparations especially when they are growing and trying to dominate the Next Generation Firewall world.

March 15, 2015  4:55 AM

What is Palo Alto Fuel?

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
Network, Security

Palo Alto launched a Fuel community in 2014 is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The organization is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and is managed by a headquarters staff

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 7.51.13 AM

Basically Fuel is created for those professionals who are responsible for securing information and critical infrastructure, Fuel gives an opportunity to create a professional community and its members are empowered to influence and shape the future of security through meaningful online and in-person engagement with peers and industry experts.

Any one can be part of Fuel community and can be part of any local Fuel Chapter; Fuel also gives an opportunity for Security professionals to enhance their leadership qualities by heading a local chapter in their area. If you don’t find a Chapter in your Area you can approach Fuel team to create a Local Chapter in your area and you are fully supported by the Fuel Team.

Some of the benefits you can availed being part of Fuel Local Chapter are

Discussion Forums >>

Connect on member forums that are specific to a topic, industry, region or interest area. Learn best practices, ask questions and discuss challenges and solutions with other members.

Resource Center >>

Fuel’s file library contains all recent and past webcasts, presentations, technical papers and articles regarding cybersecurity. Fuel’s year-round training resources allow members to keep current within their role and industry.

Exclusive and early access to Palo Alto Networks News

Be in the know. Fuel members receive exclusive Palo Alto Networks product information and news first.

I strongly recommend you to access Fuel Website to see more details.

Good news for Saudi Palo Alto lovers is,a local chapter has been created and named as Saudi Arabia User Group. So be part of Saudi Arabia User Group to avail all the benefits of Fuel and do spread the word among your peers.

March 12, 2015  5:53 AM

Two books one should consider while preparing for CCIE

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCIE, Cisco, Network, Networking

When it comes it comes to CCIE lab preparations most of us talk about the technical resources one should refer, hardly I see some one talks about the non-technical part of preparation. Well I am not trying to reinvent the wheel, yet would like to suggest two titles that will keep you motivated and help you to build a complete CCIE journey strategy.

There was great initiative by two gentlemen Dean Bahizad and Vivek Tiwari both of them are CCIE’s, they  understood the pain and come out with an amazing title called “Your CCIE Lab Success Strategy: The Non-Technical Guidebook


An amazing title, which serves as a personnel coach to some one who is preparing for the CCIE lab, they have crafted their journey in an interesting fashion and does offer lots of tips and strategies one could imagine of. So I certainly recommend to have this in your book self. This book offers a lot and its quite simple and a small book, which can be read in a week’s time.

Its been observed we give up the things even before starting the CCIE journey, we are afraid of failure, incompetency, no self confidence, no motivation to move forward, negativity, laziness and much more, in order to over come all these trials once could refer to Tony Robbins “ Awaken the giant with in “

Both these titles are quite helpful and will be your best friends for the journey of CCIE.

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