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CISCO home labs

post #1 of 14
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I really want to get a CCNA lab setup and for a while I thought I was the only one who wanted to do this. After reading on this topic where ever I can, I find that many people are buying CISCO equipment to either setup a home lab or to just get some hands on with the equipment. My question is,is this new or have a certain amount of people always gone this route to break into CISCO?(this is a tough brand to get in to) My experience is not to expect any help from anyone (unless it is a volunteer forum type thing) if you go out and buy CISCO products from a source like Amazon or a CISCO refurbisher.These places are in the business of selling, not helping you with setup. There are so many posts out the on the net from people asking for help setting up their CISCO product,and they are lucky if they find any, even if they pay.I am going to get another 2 semesters of training done before I make purchases, even for a home lab. It is very easy to buy the wrong stuff or stuff that will not help you enough in your CCNA studies to justify the cost.I will say that I sure am getting a large number of CISCO technical training books on the shelf.Next semester is the section in the CCNA training group that deals with switching and I sure am glad I can log on the Alumni section of the training site and "pre-study" what is comming in just another month, it would be terrible to go into this "cold".CBT "nuggets' is simply "awesome".
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post #2 of 14
Don't wait. start getting your switches and routers now. people have been building home labs forever. the parts are really cheap now too. all you need is something with the IOS on it. you can pick up routers between 20-60 dollars on ebay all day long. switches around the same prices. you can find stuff on craigslist too.

The IOS is so easy to use its sad at how many people are scared of cisco.

CBT nuggets are descent. I think the guy in the video is on lots of drugs youll understand when ya watch them.
    
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post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCCstudent View Post
My experience is not to expect any help from anyone (unless it is a volunteer forum type thing) if you go out and buy CISCO products from a source like Amazon or a CISCO refurbisher.These places are in the business of selling, not helping you with setup.
There are a multitude of reasons why they don't do the setup. The Networking field is not just one vendor or another, meaning Cisco, Juniper, Brocade and so forth. The main one being is every network is different. The CCNA is to teach you the basic principles about Networking and to give you the fundamentals about Cisco IOS and CatOS. Tho CatOS is starting to go to the wayside now. You really do not need a lab for the CCNA. The lab will be needed for the middle to high end Certs, CCNP and finally CCIE.
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post #4 of 14
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Originally Posted by bratas View Post
There are a multitude of reasons why they don't do the setup. The Networking field is not just one vendor or another, meaning Cisco, Juniper, Brocade and so forth. The main one being is every network is different. The CCNA is to teach you the basic principles about Networking and to give you the fundamentals about Cisco IOS and CatOS. Tho CatOS is starting to go to the wayside now. You really do not need a lab for the CCNA. The lab will be needed for the middle to high end Certs, CCNP and finally CCIE.

i would disagree. having a small lab can help you with ccna. its one thing to read about the usefulness of the debug command its another to telnet into your router and say debug your rip environment and actually see whats going on. its also another to be able to telnet from one router to the switch to another router. and see how it actually works. its also a great way to get used to learning the syntax of the commands which is very important.


now if you dont have the means to build a cisco lab you might want to consider something like Packet tracer. its not going to give you the real world experiance of working with the equipment but it does give you plent for dealing with ccna level setups. and its kind of addictive. at least it is to me.

I had to build a 3 cluster network one cluster being a Ripv2 another being Eirgp and the 3rd being ospf. each cluster has to talk to the others. each one has a min of 5 lans with between 50-300 host each. obviously i couldnt do that building a lab. so packet tracer has some usefulness to it.

there some things you cant do with it such as "copy tftp flash" and this is where having the real lab comes in handy. you also can not do a "break" during boot up on the equipment either in packet tracer which is good for getting into the rommon so ya chance by pass the passwords. again this is another good reason to have a small lab.


so YES having a small lab can be very helpful when gearing up for your CCNA
    
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post #5 of 14
If you have trouble acquiring routers and switches, you can use Dynamips/GNS3, where you take actual Cisco IOSes and they are run as a VM, its own separate instance. You can then build graphical network topologies. IMO its probably the best network sim out there since you're using actual IOS.
http://www.gns3.net/
It is not an out-of-the-box ready to use simulator like Packet Tracer is, but its night and day better. You can even simulate your own internet connection with it. Its basically running the real IOS, just not on a bunch of routers/switches.

I liked Packet Tracer for a short while until I got fed-up with its many bugs (especially with STP to RSTP convergence, EIGRP UEC Load balancing simulation, or the limits when writing ACLs and NAT statements.), and it's technical inaccuracies. And it just plain crashing.
Its a program not running any kind virtualization with the real thing, rather it uses methodical IOS.

However its more fun to use the real thing, and you start to build a cognitive understanding of how the hardware is supposed to respond, learn it's limits, and features you do not find from virualization.

MY current setup at home are:
2x 2621xm
1x 2620xm
1x 3620
2x 2950-24 catalysts
1x Catalyst 3550

Usually if you're going with hardware, the best and most recommended setup is to get three routers and 3 switches. This way you can learn the ins and outs of STP, (root concepts) And you can play with NAT statements and ACLs all day long and run debugs for just about every kind of protocol/process and not have a boss that wants to cut your heart out with a butcher knife. You can also learn what kind of overhead protocols have, which one uses less, which one uses more, and learn what effect they will have on the hardware. You can also mess with SSH/TFTP completely barebone your router, etc.

Resources I have found great for CCNA and up:
Jeremy Ciora's CBT Nuggets videos
Train Signal with Chris Bryant
Todd Lammle's Sybex CCNA Guides
The Basic Cisco Press ICND 1 and 2 books.
Testking
www.networking-forum.com - Where you will find all kinds of Cisco gurus that will basically smash your confidence in what you know about Cisco. - They also have a lot of great resources too. Professional blogs, as well as one of the greatest pages for practicing subnetting: http://networking-forum.com/practicesubnetting.php#
and a work in progress great test-practice. You will find gurus there that at the drop of the hat will be able to explain things Cisco as though it's their second nature.
www.freeccnaworkbook.com - great place for Cisco Labs, and free too.
www.packetlife.net - omg, the amount of knowledge, you'll need a second brain for this one.
www.techexams.net
http://hackingcisco.blogspot.com/ - soo much Cisco stuff here.
http://www.certforums.co.uk/
And finally, where all the purposes of the Cisco world is officially documented and explained, Cisco itself: www.Cisco.com


All in all, study it balls to the wall, and when you think you're ready for your CCNA, you are usually mistaken. It not only tests your theoretical knowledge, they will usually make the simplest things difficult. And a big portion of it is to know your IOS. The question mark in the IOS is very helpful, but only to a certain degree. There are no trick questions on the test, the question are straightforward, what makes them hard is detail. You need to think like a network engineer, and be able to think 10 steps ahead of cause and effect problems.
When going for Cisco certs, its not like a bunch of lower certifications where its just memorizing terms and standards and understanding a few concepts. You have to either know your stuff or you don't. There is no in between.

Its not your 10th Grade Algebra test, its a big metal shovel you put your brain on and if its not heavy enough, it will be tossed around and chewed up by a rabid pack of wild animals
Edited by Kaiga - 7/28/11 at 1:24pm
post #6 of 14
I personally used the Virtuals for a LONG time before I needed any physical equipment. I also used the virtuals to train a majority of my staff.
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post #7 of 14
great post. ive been using todds book in my cisco class. its pretty straight forward and very easy to understand. thanks for the links. ill have to check out the gns3
    
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post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trippen Out View Post
great post. ive been using todds book in my cisco class. its pretty straight forward and very easy to understand. thanks for the links. ill have to check out the gns3
Yeah, when I was in High school, I used Packet Tracer, but as you get into it more and more you'll find there are quite a few things that will downright tick you off about packet tracer.
lol, You want to be pissed off and throw a fit at a bad configuration, or malfunctioning hardware when you're trying to learn, not at a program's limits, bugs, or technical inaccuracies you're trying to learn on.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaiga View Post
Yeah, when I was in High school, I used Packet Tracer, but as you get into it more and more you'll find there are quite a few things that will downright tick you off about packet tracer.
You want to be pissed off and throw a fit at a bad configuration, or malfunctioning hardware when you're trying to learn, not at a program's limits, bugs, or technical inaccuracies you're trying to learn on.
yea the first thing you learn with packet tracer is to save often..
    
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post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trippen Out View Post
yea the first thing you learn with packet tracer is to save often..
>Build a nice big network, 10+ routers, 20+ switches with VLANs flawlessly working with an OSPF area working with an EIGRP AS via a framerelay circuit
>Have it crash on you because you forgot to save your work.
>Proceed to hate yourself, considering using a rusty fork to gouge your eyes out.
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