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I'm a recent full-time system admin, I have B.S. in computer science but I've never taken a course dealing with physical implementations of networks. In a given week I: fix computers, do vulnerability remediation, write custom in-house software, and I've started to do a lot of networking. We have a few dozen Cisco switches, lots of SM and MM fiber, 5 subnets for about 400 computers. I know how to configure new switches, setup VLANs, trunks. Would it be worth it to take an intro to cisco night class? Would I find out information that could help at work? Or, are there other free resources that will teach me everything I need to know online?


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The answer to questions like yours depends on what you are trying to achieve, what the constraints are and what your learning style is. Do you learn well by doing vs reading? Do you have access to lab equipment? Do you have the money to spend?

Assuming money isn't an issue I would take the class if you learn best in structured environments and need somebody pushing you to stay on track. The class might also be appropriate if you have a specific objective that you know will be covered by that class. If you are disciplined and comfortable doing a lot of reading then there are numerous free/inexpensive resources that can assist you in learning. To supplement both self-study or classroom study you can rent networks. Just do a google search for "rack rental". There are also emulators like GSN3.

Over the course of my career I have done both self-study and taken classes. They each have their pro's and con's. Some good Cisco specific resources are the, any of the cisco press books and the cisco support documentation itself. Good luck!

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I think such a course would be most useful if you didn't have access to equipment you can actually experiment on, but it sounds like you do -- at least, if not all of those switches are in critical production use. I think I'd focus on figuring out networking generalities from online resources, and then when you have a particular issue, learn by problem-solving.

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