Network access topics account for a substantial portion of the 200-301 CCNA test. This page explains what network access includes and excludes, as well as what you need to know to be well-prepared for the exam.
What percentage of the exam is devoted to network access?
Your CCNA test has 20% network access questions, making it an important topic. Network access technologies are also relevant for entry-level networking and IT employment.
What subjects are covered in this section of the exam?
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Under the category of network access, the CCNA test covers the following topics:
1. Configure and test VLANs
2. Configure and test inter-switch connectivity
3. Configure and test the Cisco Discovery Protocol and LLDP
4. Configure and test EtherChannel (LACP)
5. Rapid PVST+ Spanning Tree Protocol
Cisco Wireless Architectures and AP Modes
7. WLAN components
8. AP and WLC management access links
Continue reading to find out what each of these topics covers, as well as the level of expertise and skills required in each area.
A high-level summary of network access topics
The CCNA certification covers both wired and wireless network access technologies. We'll look into the next.
How to Setup and Test VLANs
You can construct two (or more) broadcast domains with a single switch by creating two (or more) VLANs or virtual LANs. You allocate specific switch interfaces to the first VLAN and the remainder to the second VLAN. The switch understands which interfaces belong to which VLAN.
Learn how to configure and verify VLANs, as well as the many configuration choices. To construct a VLAN, use the VLAN VLAN-id command in global configuration mode. To attach an interface to a VLAN, use the switchport access VLAN VLAN-id command in interface configuration mode. The show VLAN short command can be used to validate your configuration.
How to Setup and Test Inter-Switch Connectivity
A VLAN covers multiple switches in multi-switch LANs. You construct inter-switch links that handle traffic from several VLANs. This is known as VLAN trunking, and it is facilitated by a procedure known as VLAN tagging.
You should be able to configure and test inter-switch trunks constructed with the IEEE 802.1Q or ISL (Inter-Switch Link) trunking protocols. The CCNA exam emphasizes 802.1Q over ISL. You can use just the switchport mode trunk command in the interface configuration mode to build a working trunk between two Cisco switches. In user EXEC mode, use the show interfaces trunk command to view information about all boxes on a button.
How to Configure and Test Cisco Discovery Protocol and LLDP
CDP (Cisco Discovery Protocol) is a Cisco-proprietary protocol used to learn information about directly connected devices. Consider LLDP (Link Layer Discovery Protocol) to be the vendor-agnostic counterpart to CDP.
You must understand how to enable and disable CDP/LLDP globally as well as on specific interfaces. You should be able to use the relevant show commands to verify settings and gather information about neighbors.
How to Configure and Test EtherChannel (LACP)
EtherChannels are used to group several links across switches to utilize available bandwidth better and limit the number of times STP must converge. EtherChannels can be Layer 2 or Layer 3 and can be set statically or dynamically using the LACP (Link Aggregation Control Protocol) or PAgP (Port Aggregation Protocol) protocols.
You must be familiar with the configuration and verification of Layer 2 and Layer 3 EtherChannels. You must also be aware of common EtherChannel configuration concerns.
Rapid PVST+ Spanning Tree Protocol
STP (Spanning Tree Protocol) enables you to reap the benefits of installing redundant inter-switch links while avoiding the related issues. STP developed into RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol). RSTP is the default protocol used by modern Cisco switches.
The STP/RSTP procedure is challenging, yet it does not necessitate a lot of setting. We recommend that you learn fundamental RSTP principles and work with RSTP configuration and verification to understand those concepts better.
Cisco wireless architectures and AP modes
Wireless access networks provide mobility and convenience by allowing users to stay connected to the network even as they move about. There are several ways or designs for connecting APs (access points) to construct WLANs (wireless LANs).
The wireless architectures studied include autonomous AP architecture, split-MAC topologies, and cloud-based AP architecture. The autonomous AP architecture consists of one or more fully functional, freestanding, separately managed APs. In split-MAC systems, the management function is removed from the AP and shifted to a central device called the WLC (Wireless LAN controller). The AP must still interact with wireless clients at the MAC (Media Access Control) layer. The cloud-based AP architecture is a subset of split-MAC topologies in which the central administration role is shifted to the internet cloud rather than a WLC.
You should be able to compare and contrast the three wireless architectures. It would help if you also grasped how data goes over the network, how APs are handled, and how each architecture's deployment and troubleshooting is carried out.
How to Setup WLAN Components
Beyond understanding wireless foundations and designs, you should be able to construct a functional wireless LAN using APs and a WLC.
Management access to APs and WLCs (Telnet, SSH, console, and so on)
There are several ways to configure and troubleshoot APs and WLCs.
You can configure a Cisco AP or WLC by connecting a serial console cable from your PC to the AP's console port. Once connected, you will be presented with a CLI (command-line interface) that can be used to do initial settings.
Once you've configured an IP address and gateway on the AP or WLC through the console, you can use Telnet to access its CLI over a wired network.
As a more secure alternative to Telnet, you can use SSH to connect to the AP or WLC CLI over a wired network.
A web browser can be used to view the management GUI (graphical user interface) of a standalone AP through HTTP or HTTPS. You can also use a web browser to view a WLC's management GUI and manage access points linked to the WLC from there.
Where should I spend my time studying?
Network access comprises both wired and wireless network access products and technologies. VLANs, trunking, STP/RSTP, CDP/LLDP, and EtherChannels are among the principles, configuration, and verification for wired network access. You should have a thorough understanding of these technologies and configure and troubleshoot them on Cisco devices.
The wireless network access is the most minor but most crucial component. You should have a solid grasp of wireless network topologies and access and configure APs and WLCs to establish working wireless LANs.
The 200-301 CCNA test requires network access. It comprises both wired and wireless network access technologies. The fundamentals of wired network access, configuration, and verification are discussed in detail. More in-depth expertise of wireless designs and traffic flows expected for the wireless network access section. You should be able to manage WLAN components using CLI and GUI.