I'm attending the two CCNA cources, arranged with a week between them for preps, plus I will spend probably 2-3 weeks preparing for exams. As I don't have a access to real Cisco HW, I'm considering a virtual environment (heard of such). Any recommendations?
I bought a Que Publishing self study guide up front for preparations, which states this HW setup for self study:
. at least on 2514 or higher router . one additional oruter, like the 2501, with one ethernet and two serial ports, to test wan's. . at least one switch, ideally a 2900XL or 2950. A 1900 with Enterprise IOS (needed for having a CLI) will do . a DB-60 DTE to DB-60 DCE cross-over serial cable . at least one roll-over console cable . multiple straight and x-over ethernet cables
It's mentioned that Catalyst 1912's and 1924's can be used, though they differ from current production models WRT syntax..
Apart from using it for maintaining CCNA knowledge, will above HW suffice for the CCNP routing or QOS exams, which I may persue later?
Likewise, any simulators useful for prepping for the CCNP?
The course I attended supplied us with a copy of Cisco Packet Tracer, which whilst being buggy and slow, gives you a reasonable idea of how stuff fits together and works. We also had access to a Netlab environment for more demanding scenarios.
Well, I am decently skilled in IT and networking (15+ yrs), just don't have enough Cisco under the belt, except for some 1900, 2500 and 35/4000 (don't remember which) hands-ons.
But maybe I mislead a Bit.. Of cause we have the needed real Cisco gear on those cources; it's after passing, I won't have access to the gear. It's for this reason I'm looking into both shopping the gear and obtaining an emulator for the in-between period untill I get the HW. Plus wanting the right gear for possibly moving on with SSNP routing.
Thanks for the Dynamips recommendation. Anything you can say WRT needed HW for my CCNP scenario?
Your comments falls nicely in place with the cource coach' comments. He also commented that HW for doing the CCNA router cert, I'd three 2800 series plus of cause switches et al.., which seems a pretty expensive solution, at least frm some initial evilbay price checks, seemingly at roughly some US$1200 - 1450, or ?850 - 1050.
Am I right about price levels?
I believe it was mentioned in here before that some businesses sell refurbished Cisco gear at decent price levels, but which ones?
Yes. But that is cheap for cisco gear :) You are talking about the lowest end entry level stuff.
BUT, you have to realize that configuring the lowest end cisco box is the *exact* same as configuring the mid to higher level boxes, and even for the other stuff that doesn't run IOS, that whatever OS is close to IOS anyway. Just learning the interface and feature sets specific to that platform is what matters, where the emulator works very well for that.
And two, that the emulators, since they run the actual IOS code, are just about the same as running real boxes. The only diff maybe in the ROMMON and the fact that you don't patch cables into the router box. One thing the dynamips emulators don't do right now is switches (just virtualizing that function), so you probably want to get real hardware for learning that bit.
Starting out learning, I'd probably pick up one router and one basic switch, and use the emulator for the other routers needed. Later on, once you get to layer-3 switching, pickup a 3550 switch to handle that.
Even though they test you on the 2800's, to save costs, I'd probably get an 1841 router. Its cheaper, and the main difference between it and the 2800s is that it has less slots. It still has plenty of umph, especially compared to older EOL'd boxes that would be cheaper. Just looks different. Study the installation manual for the 2800s to see the differences. I'd start out with a 2950-12 switch. On the switch end, you pay by the port. You won't need more ports for the labs.
A factory refurb 1841 is $732, or new is $881. These are webstore prices (ie.
A factory refurb 2950-12 is $333 if you can find one (I don't see any in the channel right now). $535 new.
People on eBay selling current gear are just stores that are probably selling out their normal stock, usually at a bit higher price point than reputable webstores. I wouldn't bother with eBay for current gear at all. There is alot of counterfeit gear up there too. :(
The thing is, the longer the box has been EOL'd, the cheaper it will be. Its not a function of store, but of hardware age.
The old EOL'd entry-level routers have been replaced by the current models for ~3.5 years now, so they are getting pretty long out. If you know what you are looking for, you can find some that will run the latest code, but the generation before that can't. No point in getting boxes that can't even run the code that you may be testing on.
You can get some really old, really cheap routers. Like the 2501 should be like $20 on eBay. But it won't serve you very well. Its extremely slow, and can handle maybe 2Mbps of data passing through it.
The 2600XM's are the previous gen before the 1841/2800. The 2600 (non XM) are the generation before them that won't run current code. They'll work for you, and they'll be cheaper than new 1841's, but you may need to upgrade the memory and IOS in them to be useful to you. Ie. I see a 2611XM going for $250-$400. But even then, the 1841 will be equivilent and already have the crypto chip already in it for when you study IPsec VPN.
On the switch end, there'll be tons of 2924xl switches out there, the predecessor to the 2950-12. Looks like they are getting cheap. But they again run the previous gen IOS than the current crop of hardware. So, it may or may not work for your studies..
So, you can get a bit cheaper hardware, but now-a-days you have to know what you are looking for (which probably isn't such a bad thing, as if you become a cisco consultant, you'll see a ton of this stuff out in the field). But again having the current crop of gear, learning the current IOS is a big plus too.
After having one real router and one real switch, as I said above, I'd use the emulator for the rest. It'll talk fine to real hardware as well. Traditionally, you'll end up with 3 hardware routers to do everything with at this level, but I think you can do it with one.
Another good router is the 1721. I currently run for my home(and semi production) network, a 1721 128/32 and a 2924. The 1721 trunked to the 2924 lets me do inter vlan routing(router on a stick). The 1721 does great for the internet connection, and only seems get get booged down under heavy p2p usage, or heavy file transfgers between vlans, or heavy vpn usage. However, I found it more then adaquate for my use and it is great to study on, since it runs 12.4 code