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CCNA 200-301 Deep Dive: Controller-Based Networking, JSON, and REST

Prepare for the new CCNA 200-301 through lecture and hands-on labs

Topic: System Administration
Wendell Odom

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification creates a de facto standard defining the essential knowledge required for anyone working with computer networks. Cisco completely revamped its entire certification program for 2020, with CCNA taking an even more critical role. Cisco places CCNA as the one starting point for all other Cisco certifications. Anyone pursuing a career in networking should be prepared to work with Cisco, and that process begins with CCNA.

This course uses a series of short, targeted lectures followed by lab exercises that you do in class using the (free) Cisco Packet Tracer simulator. New to Cisco? Anyone can do the labs, with one lab exercise version created for those with little background knowledge, and another for those with appropriate prerequisite skills. The flow works through a series of paired lectures and labs and closes with a short topic of advice about how to learn more and complete your exam preparation for this course’s topics.

The network automation topics in the scope of the CCNA 200-301 exam topics require us to think about different ways to build and operate networks, with different ways to interact with the networking devices. This course discusses how we, as network engineers, can operate networks that use controllers. The course begins with a broad perspective on how to work with a controller-based network, including REST and JSON. The next two parts of the class move into more depth on REST and JSON, beginning with a primer on JSON concepts and syntax. The course closes by introducing the fundamentals of interacting with a network controller through its northbound REST API.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

  • The context and features surrounding the use of a network controller, with its programming (automation) interfaces, including how to fit common automation terms and concepts into the network design paradigms that exist when using a network controller
  • Why network automation activities need to use some data modeling language, and how JSON works for those purposes
  • The basic concepts of a REST-based API along with the primary actions: Create, Read, Update, and Delete (CRUD)
  • The benefits and basic features of using an API development tool like Postman.
  • Discover the power and purpose of controller APIs by reviewing API documentation – and then see the documentation turned into API calls
  • Learn the structure of URIs and how REST APIs make use of the URI to perform different CRUD actions

This training course is for you because...

  • You want to achieve Cisco CCNA certification
  • You want to learn networking basics, specifically network controllers, REST, and JSON, for your job and the exam
  • You want to pursue one of the Cisco CCNP certifications, and you need to know CCNA topics as a prerequisite
  • You prefer lab-centric learning


This course introduces topics somewhat different from most of the CCNA topics, so you do not need to have any specific prior knowledge or skills. However, you may learn more if you know the following before the course:

  • Have Cisco device CLI navigation skills. You can learn these skills in the course “CCNA 200-301 Deep Dive: Cisco CLI and Cisco Packet Tracer Basics”, available as another live course on O’Reilly Online. Alternately, read about the concepts and skills in Chapter 4 of the CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide, Volume 1 – also available on O’Reilly Online.
  • Have a basic understanding of TCP/IP networking, which can be learned by reading Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of the CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide, Volume 1 (available at O’Reilly Online Learning.)

Materials, downloads, or Supplemental Content needed in advance

  • You need to install the free version of Postman (www.getpostman.com), an API development tool. Any recent version should work, but if you install any recent updates to the software, you will be less likely to see any unexpected issues. Then test your ability to download and use a pre-supplied Postman file (called a Postman Collection) per the instructions at this page.

Recommended Follow-up

  • Complete your learning about the CCNA automation topics in Chapters 16 through 19 of the CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide, Volume 2 (available on O’Reilly Online)

About your instructor

  • Wendell Odom, CCIE No. 1624, creates many of the best-selling Cisco certification products of their types, particular in the routing and switching space. He has pioneered the authorized Cisco Certification Guide series at Cisco Press and has written every edition of the leading CCENT and CCNA Certification Guides. He has written over 30 editions of networking books, video, and software products, ranging in depth from introductory level to CCIE. Wendell has worked as an instructor, course developer, network engineer, and consultant. Find links to more study tools and resources (including his blogs) at www.certskills.com.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Section 1: Introduction (10 Minutes)

  • CCNA 200-301 Exam Overview and Exam Topics in this Course
  • Verify Postman Installation
  • Deep Dive Course Series

Section 2: Automation Toolset (100 Minutes)

  • Network Controller Basics
  • REST API Basics
  • Programming Language Variables
  • REST API Basics
  • JSON Data Model Basics
  • Lab 1: Use Postman to Make Supplied API Calls to Gather JSON Data


Section 3: JSON Data Modeling (60 Minutes)

  • JSON Concepts and Syntax
  • Lab 2: Experiencing JSON and Data Formats

Section 4: REST APIs (60 Minutes)

  • REST Concepts
  • CRUD Applied to REST
  • Lab 3: Analyze DNA-C REST Calls - API Docs Vs. Postman
  • Lab 4: Create Simple REST Requests with the CRUD Model

Section 5: Exam Advice and Final Q&A (10 Minutes)

  • What and Where to Learn More about Today’s Topics
  • Exam Advice about Today’s Topics