Microsoft Windows/Security/Networking Fundamentals vs real life

Discussion in 'Business & Enterprise Computing' started by ruffdayz, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    This is more a question for those dealing in IT in a business/corporate sense.

    I'm working my way through these MTA exams at the moment, and I've found that most of the course material feels quite out of date. I've already completed Exams 98-366 (Networking Fundamentals) / 367 (Security Fundamentals) both with 96/98% respective pass marks. I've also passed Server Admin Fundamentals with 94% pass.

    Windows Fundamentals - Has at least updated the exam to cover Windows 10.
    Security Fundamentals - Some is relevant, some (like WEP, etc) is no longer relevant.
    Networking Fundamentals - This has some (what I feel would be) really out of date stuff in it. E.g Hubs, 10 Base T connections, Frame Relay/X25 connections.

    I've spent a lot of time on the Networking side of things, and am unsure if I'm wasting time on things no longer relevant.

    E.G
    I've aced understanding of IPv4, IPv4 classes, DNS/DHCP/Routing/etc.
    I've aced the OSI models (7 layers and 5 layer models) and understanding of them.
    I've just got my head around hex/binary/decimal conversions and subnetting (as well as CIDR/Subnet masks).
    Currently brushing up on IPv6.

    My questions are:
    a) How much of subnetting (classful/classless), as well as OSI model knowledge, and IPv4 is really used these days in the real world though? Is there really much binary/hex to decimal and vice versa done in everyday business IT, or is that really only if one aspires to be a network engineer? Is there something network related I should be really focussing on in todays era?

    b) Is there a good site where I can put all this knowledge to the test (or is passing the MS Fundamentals exams pretty much it)? I've already done the GMetrix Practice Exams (did them before completing MTA exams). Have also been using www.subnettingpractice.com

    Just trying to prioritise my time in regards to what I should be spending time on, and what truly is important to study indepth on.

    Thank you for your time and replies.
     
  2. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    I know a bunch of the 410,411,412 exams have some IPv6 stuff in it. But if you're solid around other stuff, you'll be fine.

    Ipv4 is mostly considered assumed knowledge at this point.
     
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  3. OP
    OP
    ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    Thanks.. I'm pretty comfortable around that side of things (now). Subnetting was the trickiest thing to get my head around.

    It's probably a rather open ended question, but would one be more likely to see most businesses/enterprises still reliant on IPv4 technology, or most should have migrated to IPv6, or is it really tough to say?

    I'm guessing a solid understanding of networking makes working with things like HyperV/Azure/Firewalls/etc far easier (which must be why they see it as a Fundamentals exam)?
     
  4. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    IPv6 doesn't exist in Corp. Or might as well not.

    Some people have managed it - but for bugger all benefit, and *extreme* cost. IPv4 + NAT effectively runs the world - because the second you start tugging on that IPv6 thread, you find that its going to get really expensive, really quickly.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    Oh wow ... So really it's an all or nothing approach, and for most companies/businesses offers bugger all reason to change then?

    Quite funny that Networking Fundamentals still covers some really old stuff though.
     
  6. PabloEscobar

    PabloEscobar Member

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    What do you want to be/do?

    I can count the number of times I've needed to calculate subnets in my head, on No hands.
    The OSI Models are great for overviews on how things fit together, and are an oft-overlooked step in basic troubleshooting.

    Fundamentals are just that though, they provide the grounding in they subject that you might need to make informed decisions moving forward, both careerwise, and towards further education.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    Given the world of IT has 1001 descriptions for the exact same role (or differing roles), makes it hard to answer that one.

    I've done Lev 1 and Lev2 Wintel Support for a while now (without focussing on a career goal), so looking for something less end user/customer facing, and more of an analytical nature. I work best being able to completely engross myself in something until I get the exact/precise result with 100% confidence.

    I'd much prefer to be an expert in one area, than jack of all trades and master of none.

    So aiming towards (eventually) Systems Analyst / Information Security Analyst / Technical Writer / Technical Product Manager ... something like that
     
  8. recoN

    recoN Member

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    Microsoft = infrastructure
    Cisco/etc = networking

    go do your ccent.
     
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  9. Frozen_Hell

    Frozen_Hell Member

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    But don't be one of these people that understands their specific technology silo and nothing else beyond it. It is actually good to have wide ranging IT knowledge across many areas/domains because that helps you to understand what your technology is being used for, but then you can specialise in one or more - the term for this is "T-shaped" skill sets.

    The challenge these days is that if you're playing catch-up in building your skills, don't target what everyone is doing right now, target the emerging areas as by the time you catch-up to what everyone knows now - it'll be effectively commodity knowledge, which won't pay well and will be fairly shit kicking type stuff.

    From a compute/services point of view, stuff such as Azure or AWS are good things to learn, or more generically things such as containers (think Docker, Kubernetes, Openstack) and other types of virtualisation will increase in adoption. For networking, this area is heading down the virtualisation path now finally instead of rolling out vendor proprietary boxes, so stuff like network function virtualisation (NFV) and virtual network functions (VNFs) are where stuff is headed and will be powered by fairly generic standards based hardware (running Openstack).
     
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  10. OP
    OP
    ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    Update: Been working my way through the incredibly comprehensive document "TCP/IP Fundamentals for MS Windows" (http://www.microsoft.com/en-au/download/details.aspx?id=8781), however one thing it does not indicate is real world relevance.

    I've stumbled over a few of the chapters as it's indepth, but figure if my knowledge in that area is solid, it should make things like VLANs/switches/routers/firewalling, Cloud servers, and HyperV networking easier to understand, as well as network troubleshooting (in other words having a solid networking understanding will help me in many other areas). Is that fair logic?

    Another thing I've struggled with is the real world relevance of what I'm reading.

    For example: Is Variable Length Subnetting only relevant if one was working for a ISP, or at carrier level? Is subnetting address prefixes in binary/decimal really useful (when there are various online calculators)?

    Thank you for your time and replies.
     
  11. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    Understanding VLAN's, switching, routing and layer 4/7 firewalls is a massive help - and potentially even more important with regards to Virtualisation and Cloud IaaS.

    Often you will only have 1-2 uplinks - but you have to segregate multiple networks (e.g Servers, Desktops, Printing, DMZ, Storage, Voice, etc). Adding VLAN's to a Trunk port at the physical switch, then presenting networks on your Virtual Switch either via port-groups (vmware) or VMNetadapterVLAN (hyper-v) allows you to use less physical nics than actual networks.

    Routing is somewhat important too - as this lets you "escape" a subnet (e.g Desktops -> Servers and viceversa). You then can apply granular control access with firewalling (layer 4 = ports - e.g port 80, layer 7 = traffic type - e.g HTTP traffic).

    The bigger the network - or when you have important devices you need to segregate from others (e.g your internal network from your DMZ) - the more you will see this. Design is incredibly important - but difficult to do without experience. My suggestion would be to learn how to read and be comfortable with troubleshooting traffic passing between networks. Being able to design them will come with time - but my overarching suggestion would be to "keep it simple unless you have good reason not to" or "just because you can, doesn't mean you should".

    Understanding subnetting is important because IP's are finite. However it can be overwhelming at first. I suggest bookmarking this page - www.davidc.net/sites/default/subnets/subnets.html - (provided by Doc-of-FC i think?) - its awesome and helps outline what you're actually getting inside your subnet. I'll let one of the more seasoned network guys explain in better detail why we restrict networks beyond /24's
     
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  12. Doc-of-FC

    Doc-of-FC Member

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    Trust your gut, build your own lab on the latest stuff server 2019 is in tech preview iirc.

    Tech is ageist, how old are you and are you rural / metro. With no location its difficult to comment on what regional employment options there are.

    I do subnet calculations on a quite mature network every 6 or so months when we need to grow some capabilities, some of this work is to future proof later expansion options, for example i will provision a /24 scope in an existing /16 and chop it down to 16x /28's for what may be webservers, essentially creating PVLANs for virtualised webservers.

    OSI knowledge comes back to basic troubleshooting, if you're sending me a ticket you better have thought it through and the OSI model should be used by first and second level support.

    I let network stacks do all my ascii / hex / binary conversions unless i need to do some weird wildcard masks although most of this is within a NOC IP range.

    what are you happy doing? if its laying bricks don't be a tech person, if you're willing to do what you need to do for $$$ then tech will reward as will being a sparkie.

    Across our network we probably have over 100 subnets and a mixed use of equivalent VLANs being used.
     
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  13. waltermitty

    waltermitty Member

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    Do the Hurricane Electric IPv6 course, lots of practical stuff and you get to setup a dual stack.

    https://www.ipprimer.com is really good for a basic overview of TCP/IP-land
     
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  14. OP
    OP
    ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    Thanks everyone for your great helpful posts, it's much appreciated.

    By this do you mean be comfortable with things like Wireshark and reading traffic/headers, etc?

    You don't say. I get bits because I did programming many moons ago, so understand bits and bytes (IP binary bits I picked up straight away). But subnetting has taken me about 1-2 weeks to get my head around.

    I've been using this site for subnet calculations and it seems to be quite good: http://www.calculator.net/ip-subnet-calculator.html

    Crikey, I'm still yet to even look at Server 2016.

    38 this year, so times-a-ticking. North West Sydney.

    I want to be in IT, but preferably not in a customer facing / tech (MSP) role, and something that allows a good life balance as on call (and a foul work environment) burnt me out not that long ago. Ideally leaning towards Cyber Security (Pen Testing/Network Monitoring), Systems Architect, maybe Dev Ops (as I probably don't mind coding), or Systems Analyst.

    I've done tech for quite a while now (break/fix and in house), but I work best when my minds actively engaged on something, or digging for the most specific answer/resolution (and I generally don't stop til I get an answer).

    I have however never taken time to learn things properly, rather picking up bits as I go and self teaching. So now I'm reentering the job market I figure it's best to do it "right", and view this as a career, not just "a job", and start learning things properly.

    Thanks for the link, that should help as the GMetrix stuff is good, albeit potentially a little basic.
     
  15. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    Not even. Just simple stuff like being able to configure a firewall and prove that you can send the desired traffic backwards and forwards. In Layer 4, for the most part, they all work the same. Its just working out how to recognise a ruleset, write one, then test/prove it.

    Right now - in the MSP game (which is king to learn a lot of new things, really quickly - but not become super great at any of them) - I care about a broad but relatively shallow knowledge to hire people. Knowing that 2019 is a thing is advantageous. Knowing how to setup 2016 is probably more so. Knowing how to move data/roles/services from 2008r2 to 2016/cloud is incredibly so.

    A lot of people walk into this forum, and pose questions the wrong way or ask us to do their homework for them - or genuinely are looking for validation of their ideas which are often wrong - then take offence or find some way to self-justify.

    Let me just say this is one of the few threads where someone genuinely wants to learn - i want to make time for. I dunno if its you as a person, or simply age has matured you somewhat - but keep doing it.

    You need to be customer facing at some point. But you can absolutely skip being on-call.

    This is also a problem. Its important to know when to let go. Sometimes the answer is to just nuke it all from orbit and rebuild it. Whether that goes for a desktop that is/should be disposable or a server that is just refusing to play ball. Sometimes the answer isn't to fix it - its to restore service.

    I used to tell our desktop juniors a rule. If you haven't got an idea what it is in 15 minutes, re-image it. If you have an idea, and aren't really progressing on it in 30, re-image it. There is this kind of idea for pretty much all aspects in IT - just the time sink before you move on changes.

    I'll be honest. Starting at 38 in this gig is going to be tough. But I think you have the right attitude - invest *heavily* in your cover letter, outlining why your potential employers shouldn't discard you for your age/lack of experience. Get an interview and nail it.
     
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  16. evilasdeath

    evilasdeath Member

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    Networking is massively important more so now in the cloud/virtualization space. And not to the simplification that microsoft does.

    With regards to subnetting, In in most enterprises where the person that manages the server and manages the network is the same person, subnetting is a non-issues, make it easy on yourself and do /24s all round, you don't run out of address space in the private space, and once you get big enough that you might run out of address space and need to conserve space then you have a dedicated network engineer that knows how to.

    The biggest problem is see is the conceptualization and understanding of physical vs virtual on things like virtual switches/routers and vlans and interconnecting them with real devices, and which device becomes the router and the performance impacts of doing so. And the goose that thinks just adding more ports is smart, without a lacp trunk and creates a loop. People not understanding mac-addresses and the difference between moving and copying VMs and the hardware address.

    One statement i have from our guys sometimes, is that a mac-move/relearn is a loop, it's not, it's a symptom of a loop but it's not always a loop when the mac exists in 2 locations.

    Something i would add to your list is an understanding on TCP and UDP, very important for firewalls.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    I have no Cisco experience at all. Is that likely to be a major problem?

    Thanks for your great posts, and apologies for the lack of reply.

    I'm still working through things (have to get back into it this week). Unfortunately we had a family member (grandfather) fall terminally ill mid May, so I made the decision to drop everything to spend as much time with him as I could (and be there for the family).

    Sadly he lost his battle 2 weeks ago tomorrow, and we said goodbye last week. The only consolation was that we had time to mourn and grieve beforehand. He was a battler and a tough and strong man, and it's given me newfound determination to achieve where I want to be.
     
  18. evilasdeath

    evilasdeath Member

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    cisco ccna isnt too bad its a fairly good grounding in many topics as long as you can get past the cisco spin.

    I call myself vendor agnostic, give me a device and i can configure vlans or routing or mpls. A little time to understand the config layout, but once you understand the relationship between your layer 1/2/3 you know what's needed to make it work. Then you just layer on the vendor specific nuances
     
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  19. pH@tTm@N

    pH@tTm@N Member

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    some good advice here.

    Are you really good with how a PC works from your tech knowledge? CPU > RAM > busses > chipsets etc? Once you have leveled up your basics above you may be able to pick up server virtualisation pretty quick. vmware is the big one used currently, but ANY flavour gets you in the game and helps 'cloud' knowledge too. Then this helps you set up your own labs for testing, and from here your learning can really accelerate as it is easy to try networking this, server that etc.

    above all keep the passion!
     
  20. OP
    OP
    ruffdayz

    ruffdayz Member

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    Thanks Phatman. Computer hardware wise very comfortable. Worked in a computer shop early in my working days, and then in an SMB building up whiteboxes and servers.

    I do have a lab (2 computers), but currently they are built only (NO OS). Getting the networking side of things sorted first, then learning Windows 10/Server/Virtualisation side of things. At least if I get the Windows10 side nailed down I can try and get back in the job, whilst learning other side of things.

    Sounds like I'm on the right learning path (Networking > Server Virt > Cloud) and then grow that server skillset from there.
     

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