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Book Review: I'm the Boss of Me: A Guide to Owning Your Career by Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn

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I'm the Boss of Me:
A Guide to Owning Your Career
by Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn
iconI was asked if I'd like to review this book a few months ago.  At first I was hesitant.  It's not typically what I write about on VoiceCerts.com, but in the end I felt that it could have value to everyone here.  Written by a Cisco Systems Executive, I was curious how someone from my industry would approach career development.

So, I accepted a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.  (standard disclaimer)

You are probably thinking, "oh boy, another self-help book".  Well, don't run away.  In order to be successful, we need to develop a cycle of continuous learning.  Perhaps you enjoy studying for technical certifications and soaking up as much technospeak as you can - that's great!   How will you navigate your career, though?  Do you have the soft skills to be successful?  We've all had different bosses along the way and each guided us in some way.  Love them or hate them, they all impact us in ways that we cannot control.  The only constant is YOU - and YOU are the focus of this book.  Congratulations, I bet you didn't know you were famous, did you?

Just Released - CIPTV1, 3rd Edition - 300-070 CCNP Collaboration Exam Learning Guide

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By Akhil Behl, Berni Gardiner,
Joshua Samuel Finke
From CiscoPress.com:icon

Now fully updated for Cisco’s new CIPTV1 300-070 exam Implementing Cisco IP Telephony and Video, Part 1(CIPTV1) Foundation Learning Guide is your Cisco® authorized learning tool for CCNP® Collaboration preparation. Part of the Cisco Press Foundation Learning Series, it teaches essential knowledge and skills for building and maintaining a robust and scalable Cisco Collaboration solution.

The authors focus on deploying the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM), CUCM features, CUCM based call routing, Cisco IOS Voice Gateways, Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE), and Quality of Service (QoS).

They introduce each key challenge associated with configuring CUCM, implementing gateways and CUBE, and building dial plans to place on-net and off-net calls using traditional numbered dial plans and Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs). They show how to implement conferencing and other media resources, and prepare you to apply QoS features for voice and video.

Each chapter opens with a topic list that clearly identifies its focus, ends with a quick-study summary of key concepts, and presents review questions to assess and reinforce your understanding. The authors present Cisco best practices, and illustrate operations and problem solving via realistic examples.

This guide is ideal for all certification candidates who want to master all the topics covered on the CIPTV1 300-070 exam.

The official book for Cisco Networking Academy’s new CCNP CIPTV1 course includes all new Learning@ Cisco CIPTV1 e-Learning course content:
  • Covers CUCM architecture, deployment models, and tradeoffs
  • Walks through bringing CUCM online, deploying endpoints, and setting up users
  • Explains how to create a solid IP Phone foundation for advanced services
  • Covers dial plan elements, design, and implementation
  • Reviews key call routing elements
  • Explains digit manipulation
  • Shows how to control user access
  • Discusses audio/video resources and videoconferencing
  • Covers QoS tools and preferential call handling
  • Explains external connections via Cisco IOS Voice Gateways and CUBE
  • Streamlines review with clear summaries, assessment questions, and objectives

Book Review: CIPTV2 (300-075) Implementing Cisco IP Telephony and Video, Part 2 - CIsco Press Foundation Learning Guide

CIPTV2, 300-075 Guide
Alex Hannah, Akhil Behl
Cisco Press
iconRecently, I wrote a post entitled, "Easily Upgrade CCNP Voice to CCNP Collaboration".  When I drafted that title, I was thinking about the number of steps involved to migrate a CCNP Voice to a CCNP Collaboration certification.  In my mind, this was indeed "easy" - it's just one single exam (300-075)!  I immediately received feedback that this exam was not "easy" in any way - in fact, it was difficult to study for it due to the lack (at the time) of a Cisco Press authorized self-paced learning tool.  There is a tremendous amount of information available - but how to pull it all together to really prepare effectively?
4.5 out of 5
Recommended
Self-Study Resource

So, like many others, I was eager for the release of the the official self-study foundation learning guide "Implementing Cisco IP Telephony and Video, Part 2 (CIPTV2)" by Cisco Press on March 24, 2016.

I had already spent hours scouring the web to find resources that I thought would help me prepare for this exam (CIPTV2 300-075) based on the exam blueprint that had been released by Cisco.   However, even though I found tons of information on the topics listed, I still felt as though the blueprint was broad enough that it would be difficult to prepare fully for each topic listed.   Simply put, what will I be tested on?

Cisco Press states that "as an Authorized Self-Study Guide, this book fully reflects the content of Cisco's official CIPTV2 course."  As long as the 300-075 exam fully reflects the content of the official CIPTV2 course, I'll be in good shape.

Read on for my full review of "Implementing Cisco IP Telephony and Video, Part 2 (CIPTV2)" in specific preparation to take the exam that migrates my CCNP Voice to CCNP Collaboration, 300-075. Also, to be fully transparent, this product was received complimentary as part of the Cisco Press Reviewer Program

Book Contents: Implementing Cisco IP Telephony and Video, Part 2 (CIPTV2) 


Closely aligning with the stated blueprint of the 300-075 exam, the book dutifully covers the stated exam objectives with the following chapters:
  1. Cisco Collaboration Solution Multisite Deployment Considerations
  2. Understanding Multisite Deployment Solutions
  3. Overview of PSTN and Intersite Connectivity Options
  4. URI-Based Dial Plan for Multisite Deployments
  5. Remote Site Telephony and Branch Redundancy Options
  6. Cisco Collaboration Solution Bandwidth Management
  7. Call Admission Control (CAC) Implementation
  8. Implementing Cisco Device Mobility
  9. Cisco Extension Mobility
  10. Implementing Cisco Unified Mobility
  11. Cisco Video Communication Server & Expressway Deployment
  12. Deploying Users and Local Endpoints in Cisco VCS Control
  13. Interconnecting Cisco Unified Communications Manager and Cisco VCS
  14. Cisco Unified Communications Mobile and Remote Access
  15. Cisco Inter-Cluster Lookup Service (ILS) and Global Dial Plan Replication (GDPR)
  16. Cisco Service Advertisement Framework (SAF) & Call Control Discovery (CCD)
  17. Answers Appendix

Goals and Methods


To quote the publication, "The most important goal of this book is to provide you with knowledge and skills in Cisco Collaboration solution, with a focus on deploying the CUCM, Cisco TelePresence VCS, Cisco Expressway Series Solution and associated Cisco Collaboration solution features."

However, the obvious goal of the book is to prepare the reader to pass the CIPTV2 (300-075) exam as part of the CCNP Collaboration certification and it does so by teaching the reader to understand the topics so that the end result will be a more skill Cisco Collaboration professional.  I feel that this is a very important concept.  The true value of a certification is not the certification itself - but the knowledge obtained in the pursuit.   The book stays true to this tenet and as it steps through each chapter.

Chapter Test Question
Each chapter contains practice exercises on the topics and test questions at the end of each chapter. The test questions are an excellent way of determining if you've understood the information presented in the chapter.  Don't move on to the next chapter until you fully and completely understand the test questions!

Better yet, your learning is not confined by the information within the book either!  If you'd like to dig even deeper into a specific topic, there are online references listed at the end of each chapter for a truly deep dive.

Example Chapter References

Impressions


Much of the difficulty found within the 300-075 CIPTV2 exam can be explained by the large scope of material involved.  It's difficult and time consuming to gain depth in all topics.

Example Note Box
However, the book does an outstanding job of rendering the information down into dense nuggets of information that allows the reader to consume knowledge as efficiently as reasonably possible.  You won't find a lot of fluff, the information presented is done so for a reason.  To get maximum benefit from the book, I recommend that you've either previously learned the CIPTV1 material (or the similar in the CCNP Voice certification) from the CCNP Collaboration blueprint.

While this may seem subtle, the prolific use of the "Note" box is a personal favorite of mine and calls attention to and clarifies the most important concepts. Pay close attention to these boxes for important information that will likely be reflected in some manner on the official test.

You'll also find tons of the requisite technical illustrations and diagrams as well.  Logical flowcharts, examples of GUI screens and plenty of network diagrams are included throughout.

Example Illustration
From a purely selfish point of view, I needed to obtain the knowledge needed to pass the 300-075 exam for two reasons.  Firstly, I need to update my knowledge beyond what was presented on the CCNP Voice certification.  Secondly, I need to renew my certification and obtain the CCNP Collaboration certification.  I believe that the book succeeds in providing the necessary framework that I needed to meet both of my goals.

The material is logically presented, supported with visual aids where it makes sense and builds upon the CIPTV1 (and larger CCNP Voice) curriculum in a methodical manner.  The online references are a tremendous resource if you desire additional reinforcement.

Final Thoughts


I'm not a stranger to Cisco Press self-study books and have heavily used self-study in my learning approach for various tests and certifications over the years.  Alex Hannah and Akhil Behl do not disappoint and have successfully created the high quality resource that I expected.  This book is simply the best self-study material available to prepare for the CIPTV2 300-075 exam.

Utilize the written chapters, verify with the test questions and go deeper with the online references. This approach will guide you as you prepare to take the exam if you truly commit to learning the material, but more importantly, it will make you a better Cisco Collaboration professional.   Many tools are provided so that you can be successful in your pursuit.

My largest criticism of this product comes at the lack of a testing engine or any sample tests.  While the chapters contain sample test questions, I personally find great benefit from the iteration and validation available in previous Cisco Press products that have included a testing engine.

Finally, the big question.  Did the book succeed in helping me pass my exam?   Yes!  I passed the exam today on my 2nd attempt.  Make no bones about it - this is a tough exam.   (Perhaps the toughest Cisco exam I've ever taken)

Now that I've passed, I can give you some more details on the approach that I used.

  1. Read the CIPTV2 book from Cisco Press.  I'm not going to lie to you - It's not Stephen King or Dean Koontz.  There are times that I read a paragraph and then read it again.  And then again. Don't just gloss over the words without serious contemplation of what they mean.  If you say to me, "but Dave, I'm already solid on some of these chapters and time is short", then you need to focus hard on your weaknesses.  Read those chapters thoroughly - they build a great foundation to build upon.  
  2. Next, you need to get online and read the documents from which Cisco is likely to pull exam questions.  I suggest the following for each major technology on the exam.   This may seem a bit like spitting into the wind, but you can't expect all exam questions to come from the Cisco Press literature or the official CIPTV2 class.  
    • Implementation Guides
    • Configuration Guides
    • TechNotes
    • SRNDs
    • Administration Guides
    • Troubleshooting Guides
    • Don't overlook the online references provided in the book at the end of each chapter - these are gold!
  3. Finally, get your hands dirty in a lab, if you have that available.  If not, Cisco's dCloud could be an option.  If that is not an option, you can find videos in various places to help get more exposure to the technologies involved.  

Easily Upgrade CCNP Voice to CCNP Collaboration

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CIPTV2 by Alex Hannah
iconI've noticed that a lot of people with the CCNP Voice certification do not entirely understand how it relates to the CCNP Collaboration certification or how it can be used to easily obtain the CCNP Collaboration certification.

Cisco has thankfully provided a migration path that let's the effort used to get your CCNP Voice not go to waste.  It's straightforward and only 1 test!  So, don't wait and slap a new paint job on that slightly dull CCNP Voice and drive off the lot with a new CCNP Collaboration!

If you didn't complete the CCNP Voice certification previously, check out the CCNP Collaboration Migration Tool.  You may be surprised to see that it's not as hard as you thought!

Why get the CCNP Collaboration Certification if I have CCNP Voice?


The CCNP Voice certification is categorized as a "Retired Certification" by Cisco.  It does not encompass all of the current technologies that are included in the CCNP Collaboration certification and as a result does not hold the value that the CCNP Collaboration certification contains.

Call Classification: OnNet vs OffNet

Call Classification in Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) is the practice of labelling a call to be either "OnNet" or "OffNet".   This is also a topic that you should understand well if you are pursuing CCNA Collaboration or CCNP Collaboration certifications.  You could go into quite a bit of depth when researching the various features and interactions related to Call Classification, but my goal with this post is provide some useful reference material and get your studies off in the right direction.

Why is Call Classification important?   It has direct impact on the features listed below:

  • Directory Number Call Forward Settings:  Forwarding paths are configured differently for OnNet calls (Ex., Forward Busy Internal) and OffNet calls (Ex., Forward Busy External).  Internal calls can be forwarded to a manager or team member while OffNet calls are preferred to forward to voicemail when the party is unavailable.
  • Drop Conference When No OnNet Party Remains:  A toll fraud feature, this requires that an internal party be on a conference to ensure that the conference stays open.  
  • Toll Fraud Control (Block OffNet to OffNet Transfer):  Another toll fraud feature, this prevents you from forwarding your friend's calls to their family member in Costa Rica.  I'm sure that she's a nice lady, but your company shouldn't be paying for your friend's calls.

Cisco UC Call Recording with MediaSense

Cisco's MediaSense, introduced in 2011, is their solution for multimedia capture, streaming and recording.

This article provides a brief overview of the solution, describes the MediaSense deployment models and gives information on how to improve upon the free user interface that Cisco provides with MediaSense at no additional cost.  Cisco also provides extensive design, installation and upgrade, configuration, maintenance and troubleshooting resources online.  While this article is focusing specifically on call recording and the "Search and Play" interface, all characteristics and features of MediaSense can be explored in the design guide.

Let's start with some call recording history first…

History of Cisco UC Call Recording


Before 2011, the only way to record phone calls in the Cisco IP telephony environment was to use one of several 3rd party products. Most of these solutions used “SPAN-based” recording.  When SPAN (Switched Port Analyzer) is enabled on a switch port (or VLAN), the switch copies all network packets to another port where a recording solution detects the VoIP packets stores them as audio files.

Most Useful Cisco UC Resources (A Crowdsourcing Effort)

We all have our own bookmarks, favorites and "hidden Internet gems" that we have found indispensable in doing our jobs.  I'm calling out to all of the voice engineers to share what you find to be the most useful resources on the net!

Just share in a comment and I'll categorize below.  Thanks ahead of time for your contribution!

CCIE Collaboration Written Self-Evaluation Tool

Self-Evaluation Tool
As you study for the CCIE Collaboration Written exam, determining "what" to study can be daunting sometimes given the number of items listed in the blueprint.  I mean, where do you start?

I've always thought that you should target your weakest CCIE Collaboration topics first.  That way, you'll never be completely clueless about a given question (or task) on the lab.  But, how do you determine what your weak topics are?  And how do you know when your weakest topics aren't the weakest anymore?


Self-Evaluation - How Prepared Am I for the CCIE Collaboration Written?


I've created the spreadsheet below to help you grade your progress on each topic as you progress through your studies.  Feel free to copy it and use it for your own purposes.