Cisco how-to guides for firewalls, IPv6, contact centers and security exams

If you're ready for a technical deep dive in a book, the Cisco Networking Technology Series provides that in its collection of volumes on topics that include Cisco firewalls, Cisco Unity Connection voice-messaging platform, Cisco Contact Center, IPv6 and more. Here's a quick review of the books published in this series by Cisco Press this year.

Cisco Firewalls, by Alexandre M.S.P. Moraes. As a systems engineer for Cisco Brazil, Moraes is the guide to take the determined reader through a veritable jungle of firewall possibilities for the various Cisco ASA hardware appliances. This mammoth volume, which runs close to 900 pages, starts with a clear tutorial on security basics, ramping up to establishing VLAN groups, moving on to Virtual Routing and Forwarding and the role of the Nexus 1000v virtual switch used with VMware ESX. There's detail on access-control lists, various options for Network Address Translation, DNS, FTP and HTTP inspection, inspection of voice protocols, and IPv6 connectivity basics. The author has integrity in reporting perceived limitations in the ASA multi-functional appliances, such as not supporting multi-cast routing, while pointing to possible relief in future ASA versions.

Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise by Gary Ford, systems engineer and consultant with over a decade experience in telephony and contact center deployments. This book is about pulling together the various piece parts Cisco offers to design the Cisco Contact Center of your wildest dreams for your call-contact agents to interact with customers. But with so many possible components, you may feel at first like one of Santa's elves the night before Christmas, if the elves were system administrators.

But Ford is clear and convincing in laying out the UCCE possibilities for voice, e-mail and chat, the Cisco IP Phone Agent and Desktop, computer-telephony integration and "pre-integrated CRM desktops" to support CRM vendors such as and Siebel. There's also a nice chapter on so-called data-driven routing for preferential routing or intelligent menu options. When it comes to the aggravations you might find in UCCE, there's some advice about "potential failures," platform monitoring, and troubleshooting. Ford is ready with a critique of where UCCE could make anyone frustrated. "A key problem found by engineers when troubleshooting a distributed platform such as UCCE is that the engineer must frequently use many different tools to capture logging information from multiple systems to diagnose the fault. UCCE is also guilty of this," writes Ford, though he notes the release of Cisco Analysis Manager is helping somewhat.

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