Advice on what networks to learn


I am currently studying CCNA which i will be finished in may. I want to setup my own network for test purposes. I have 4 client pcs, a server, a switch and a cisco 2600 router. I have a few questions:
What would be the best network scenarios to learn e.g. Windows 2003 server with active directory or novell or what?
Job-wise/Industry-wise what are the best things to know/learn?
I am also thinking of doing some MCSA's and/or other certifications - which certifcations do you recomend?

I am willing to learn anything and am a quick learner of anything technological but am not sure the direction to go

Thanks in advance,
Who is Participating?

[Webinar] Streamline your web hosting managementRegister Today

zerofieldConnect With a Mentor Commented:
southeast here.. skills in demand highly are heavily oriented around security.  Due to my security background, I've had no trouble at all getting a job for the last few years.

CCNA's are beginning to flood the market, and Ive noticed this years test was dramatically different, but still reasonably easy.  CCNP's however, thats different, that really seperates the men from the boys.  I've personally not known anybody (in real life) to pass the CCIE written after their latest revision.  At networkers 2003, there was an 85% failure rate across the board on cisco certs!

MCSE is laughed at in some places, demanded in others.  I think if you're not that far along in your career, it certainly wont hurt.  Citrix (CNA) certs are reasonably popular with larger clients, even OEM certs (which, in my opinion, were the hardest ones due to their obscure questions and knowledge) will help you get in the door at a lot of places.

You also have to bear in mind that unless a friend or contact hand delivers your resume, it's going to hit the HR yuppies first.  Those guys usually just see a bunch of acronyms and think it sounds important.  Sometimes quantity over quality applies here unfortunately.

As far as your home network, I'd install windows 2000 to a set of the partition, and 2003 in the same partition (putting them both in the boot.ini).  you could use the rest to boot linux (dont flame me for not recommending bsd or anything else, the avg populace knows of linux, its the more relevant one to know right now) and learn how to appropriately inter-work the two platforms.  Over the last 4 years, knowing how to use opensource solutions to compliment proprietary networks has gotten me pretty far.

Just my 2 cents.  Buy what you want with it.
Yan_westConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I would recommand you setting up a windows 2003 Domain with AD, with DNS, Wins, Dhcp..  also install your clients on xp or 2000..

You could also set one of your PC running VMWare with multiple OS running on one BOX..  It will give you the possibility to test multiple OS running at the same time.. You could also run them on multiple partitions..
ThaaronConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Choosing between the Windows and Novell certification can depend greatly upon where you are at.  I have my MCSE and my CNE.  I live in Washington State (the home of Microsoft) so I have found very little demand for my Novell skills.  You might be best served by looking through the want ads to see what people are looking for in your area.

In general I would say the MCSE would be more usefull.  Micrsoft is simply much bigger than Novell.  Even businesses that run Novell often also run Microsoft servers as well.

If you have a knack for the networking and routers I would forget about an MCSE or CNE and just go for the CCNP.  It much easier to make a lot of money with one of those.
The new generation of project management tools

With’s project management tool, you can see what everyone on your team is working in a single glance. Its intuitive dashboards are customizable, so you can create systems that work for you.

Btw.. you could  continue over with your CCNP :) study your cisco litterature, make test on your router... know your stuff, and continue over with CCNP.... If you wanna be recognized as a good microsoft technical person, I guess MCSE would be something to have..
PsiCopConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Sure, you can go the M$-only route. And your resume will be one of a pile of resumes of people with M$-only skills. As a hiring manage, I see that as a sign of a narrow-field of vision. You'll be broadcasting that you only know one way to do things, you may have depth, but no breadth.

As an MCSE, you'll also face the same problem CNEs faced 10 years ago - everyone was a CNE, so the cert was devalued.

I suggest that you go grab a copy of Linux and start sharpening your skills in that arena, with particular attention to mutli-platform tools, such as a multi-platform Directory Service (eDirectory). That way you are not tying yourself to one company, one platform, one narrow-minded way of doing things. Give me an employee with Skill Level 2 in 3 operating environments rather than some guy with Skill Level 6 in one environment. Despite all the FUD from Redmond, the entire world is not all-M$ and will never be. If anything, companies are starting to find out just how badly they were suckered (ask Ernie Ball, Inc) and are starting to move AWAY from the abusive monopoly of M$.
Oh, and cert cities top 10 certs of 2002.  I havent seen an updated list yet, but relativley speaking, not a lot has changed in the market in the last 2 years in this respect:
whiting002Connect With a Mentor Commented:
I just got out of college myself and was doing the job search thing down in the D.C. area.  The main thing I saw most companies looking for is security based certifications.  Also it seemed like the companies around here that were looking for network admins and engineers with Novel experience were offering a little more money.  This is probably because there are more people out there experienced in Microsoft rather than Novel but honestly the money difference wasn't very substantial.  I personally got picked up as a Network Engineer with a firm running Microsoft; so I'm looking at getting my MCSE with Security+ and then going from there.  If you want the money right now though get something on your resume that shows you know security.
noelmulAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone for your great advice. At least I have a fair idea of what to strive for now. Splitting the points seemed like the fairest thing to do. Thanks again.
All Courses

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.