It's always nice to get vindication from fellow professionals that your own approach to solving a problem, or teaching a topic, is sound and feasible. In this case, I'm talking about an approach to exploring, learning, and interacting with networks that's shared between my college textbook "Guide to TCP/IP" (now in its fourth edition) and the Pearson Education title "Practical Guide to Advanced Networking" (currently in its third).
The "Practical Guide" is an excellent learning and teaching tool for networking topics and technologies.
The "Practical Guide" comes to us from authors Jeffrey Beasley, a professor of engineering technology at New Mexico State, and Piyaset Nilkaew, a practicing network engineer with extensive experience in designing and deploying complex networks that integrate voice, video, and data components. Their approach relies on teaching and explaining network fundamentals from the protocol level on up, with equal emphasis on networking standards and actual implementations. They also make use of the excellent Wireshark protocol analyzer (about which I've written repeatedly for InformIT.com, most recently in a story entitled "Working with Protocol Analyzers and Related Certifications") to illustrate how networks look and behave in real time, and as a foundation for an ongoing series of hands-on lab and exercises.
Whereas my book (written with co-authors, Jeff Carrell, a Wireshark expert and a full-time contract instuctor and course developer for HP, Laura Chappel of the Protocol Analysis Institute, and James Pyles, a seasoned network expert and developer) focuses more on basic TCP/IP protocols and services, this book delves deeply into advanced networking topics. These include routing, data flow, selection of network media and technologies, VLANs, security techniques, IPv6, and more.
The "Practical Guide" also includes some interesting capabilities such as:
This is an excellent book for anyone interested in understanding networks at a middling to deep technical level, and an excellent reference for anyone who already works with networks on a day-to-day basis.