Reviewer: John Korakis
If “Routing TCP/IP Vol 1 & 2” by Jeff Doyle and Jennifer Carroll is considered the bible of Routing, this book should definitely be considered the bible of LAN Switching.
The authors cover a wide spectrum of technologies in great detail, combining technical with easy to read writing. Theory, explanation and examples are smoothly integrated into the text, making complex technical issues fun to read and easy to understand. The fair amount of humor used aims in that direction too.
The only disadvantage of this book is its age. Published in 1999, it naturally lacks information regarding technologies created and adopted in more recent years such as the newer versions of Spanning Tree, while it covers outdated subjects such as Token Ring and Cat OS CLI. However, things have not changed that much in the LAN Switching field since then and learning some history never harmed anyone.
The book is organized in six parts which contain a total of eighteen chapters.
Part I (chapters 1 to 5) is called “Foundational Issues”. This part describes the technologies upon which the rest of the subjects described in the book are based.
Chapter 1, “Desktop Technologies” covers Ethernet (Legacy, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet) and Token Ring.
Chapter 2 covers some ways of “Segmenting LANs”.
Chapter 3 is about “Bridging Technologies”, in particular Transparent Bridging, Token Ring Bridging and Token Ring Switching.
Chapter 4, “Configuring the Catalyst” explores general Catalyst configuration issues using detailed command examples. This chapter’s configuration examples, as well as the vast majority of them throughout this book, are based on the so called Cat OS CLI, which is seldom used nowadays. It is worth noting, however, that anyone who has used the native IOS CLI used on the more recent Catalysts should be able to recognize the similarities with the good old Cat OS.
Chapter 5, finally, covers “VLANs”.
Part II (chapters 6 and 7) is dedicated to “Spanning Tree”. These two are among the best (if not the best of all) chapters ever written in a networking book. They simply contain everything about Spanning Tree.
Chapter 6, “Understanding Spanning Tree”.
Chapter 7, “Advanced Spanning Tree”.
Part III (chapters 8 to 10) covers “Trunking”.
Chapter 8, “Trunking Technologies and Applications” describes Ethernet Trunks, FDDI Trunks and ATM Trunks, as well as some Trunking Options.
Chapter 9, “Trunking with LAN Emulation” begins with a brief ATM tutorial and continues with explaining ATM LAN Emulation (LANE). The LANE part begins with the amusing skit “Let’s go to the LANE Bar”, attempting to describe this complex technology in an original and fun way.
Chapter 10, “Trunking with Multiprotocol over ATM” explains MPOA. No skit this time!
Part IV (chapters 11 to 13) introduce some “Advanced Features”.
Chapter 11, “Layer 3 Switching” covers Router-on-a-Stick, RSM, MLS, HSRP and Integration between Routing and Bridging.
Chapter 12, “VLAN Trunking Protocol”, covers Cisco’s VTP theory and configuration.
Chapter 13, “Multicast and Broadcast services” is about CGMP, IGMP, IGMP Snooping and Broadcast Suppression.
Part V (chapters 14 to 18), “Real-World Campus Design and Implementation”.
Chapter 14, “Campus Design Models” contains some theory regarding Campus Design.
Chapter 15, “Campus Design Implementation” contains advice and best practices on implementing all the previously described technologies in the book.
Chapter 16, “Troubleshooting” introduces a couple of troubleshooting philosophies and tools.
Chapter 17, “Case Studies: Implementing Switches” covers two real-world design examples with sample configurations.
Chapter 18, “Catalyst 6000 Technology” describes the Catalyst 6000/6500 switches technology and introduces the Native IOS Mode Configuration, found in today’s Catalysts.
Cisco LAN Switching is mainly focused on Network Engineers looking for a quality reference book on LAN Switching or preparing for the CCIE certification. However, it could be extremely useful to anyone looking for expert level knowledge on Layer 2 LAN technologies.
Although the book is Cisco oriented, many of the subjects covered are open industry standards, making it a great choice for literally everybody.