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Cisco CCNA Lab Suggestions

Cisco CCNA Lab Suggestions

Many people ask us what would make a good CCENT or CCNA R&S 200-120 lab? In this article will cover how to build an effective CCNA lab. Please do not skip any of this information as it is all very important for you to understand so you get the most value for your money in purchasing your kit. It is well worth spending 15 minutes reading these articles not to make a $500 mistake! So let's start off with a basic concept I hope we can all agree on. Real Routers & Switches are required for your CCNA Routing & Switching Lab!

CCNA Lab

You need a physical router as the simulators just don't have the ability to give you the hands on you need to see what happens when you disconnect a cable, put a cable in the wrong location or just plain configure the interface incorrectly. Dependent on what you do by mistake, you may see either the interface or protocol go down and based upon that it should give you a clue of where to start troubleshooting(hint, what layer is the interface at and what layer is the protocol at?). Anyway, you will come to find quite quickly that mistakes you make on Router 1 are affecting Router 4 all because you did not screw in a cable properly. No simulator can simulate that, so real routers and switches are invaluable. We really suggest you read through this entire article from top to bottom to understand how to build a proper lab for your CCENT & CCNA studies.

What Are Some Things I Need To Consider For My Cisco CCNA Lab?

First is Cisco made the CCNA 200-120 exam quite a bit harder than the CCNA 640-802 exam. Cisco wants to make sure you really know your stuff on this exam. Basically they moved about 80% of the old CCNA 640-802 exam topics into the new ICND1 100-101 exam. Then they dropped a few concepts such as wireless and voice as they now have the CCNA Wireless and CCNA Voice specific exams and added a lot more troubleshooting to the CCNA Routing & Switching 200-120 exam. So what does that mean to you? The days of having a high level understanding of what is happening and passing the exam are gone. You need to practice on more complex setups and really understand what is happening. That is why when we revised our lab workbook we made it much more complex and explained the concepts in detail as you do each lab.

How Many Routers Do I Need for my Cisco CCNA Lab?

Two routers are the bare minimum to see if anything works. If you have a very limited budget, you can receive value from only purchasing a single router over working with a simulator. However, you will not be able to see the main thing we are trying to accomplish; the propagation of route tables and the routing of data! The only way you can see if your configurations really work is to have at least two routers. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you purchase at least a dual router kit. But if you want the best experience, you will want to go with a three router kit. So let's review this in a little more detail of what each scenario will provide to you.

One router will give you the ability to run the commands on it and will allow you to memorize the correct syntax and context in which to run the commands.
Two routers will allow you to be able to see route table information propagate, data propagation and path election. In addition, you will see basic device elections.
Three or more routers and you will get all of the above, more complex topologies and full device elections.

Ok, so we say we suggest three routers and you see what we wrote above, but it just is not clicking why you need three routers as maybe you heard somewhere else two routers is all you need. Well let's go into a little more depth and take a look at the slide below.

CCNA Lab

In this slide from our study guide, you see a topology with three routers. Let's say we need to ensure R2 is your DR (designated router). If we just have two routers, we can simply set the priority of R1 to zero which will make that router ineligible to be a DR. So then R2 would be the DR by default. But if we add a third router, then we don't know if the DR will be R2 or R3. More than likely most companies you will work at will have more than two routers, right? So now you can see that we are going to have to do multiple configurations to influence which router is the DR in the more complex topology. So in this scenario, we need to increase the priority of R2 and leave R3 at its default priority to accomplish our goal. So hopefully now you can start to see why three routers are critical to really hammering home some of the CCNA concepts. So let's review another scenario below of why you need three routers in your CCENT/CCNA lab.

CCNA Lab

You will see that the lab topology(this is from our lab workbook) on the top has two load balanced WAN links (the two lighting bolts), a subnet off of R1 and R3 where the computers are and from R2 we have multiple paths to get to any of the subnets at the top portion of the topology. Now compare that to the simple two router lab below it. No load balancing, no multiple paths, no ability to set different costs on the links and obviously not as complex route tables.

So a quick scenario. Let's say one of the WAN links was configured super fast and the other one was a super slow WAN link. You are at the computer off of R3 and you are communicating with a server off of R1. The super fast WAN link goes down. What will your path be to the server off R1? Will the data travel across two routers traversing a super slow WAN link or traverse 3 routers utilizing fast links? Good question, huh? Now which lab topology do you think will give you a better learning experience?

Do I Need A Switch & If So, How Many?

If you would have asked me this question 5 year ago I would have replied the exam is 80% routing and you can memorize the little bit of switching that is on the exam. But with the recent 200-120 changes, inter-vlan routing is hit very heavy on the exam in various scenario questions. So if you can afford it, yes, switches are required. With only a small margin of error between passing and failing, not fully understanding switching concepts such as VLANs, STP, and root elections could be the one question that stands between you passing and failing your exam. There will be some switch questions which are memorization based such as "What is a Layer 2 protocol used to maintain a loop-free network"? Thank goodness we memorized STP. That said, it would be nice for us to be able to actually see the switching concepts work.

So similar to our router review, this is what you will get with the corresponding number of switches.
One switch will give you the ability to run the commands on the switch and allow you to memorize the correct syntax and context in which to run the commands. It will also allow you to do some of the VLAN labs.
Two switches will allow you to see VTP Domain & VLAN information propagate. In addition, you will see basic device elections.
Three or more switches you will get all of the above and full device elections.

Again, you may have heard that you only need two switches in your CCNA lab. Yes, you can get by. But you want to know this information inside and out. So three switches will give you the best learning experience. Let me prove it again.

CCNA Lab

Wow, there is a lot of information on this slide. Spanning Tree Protocol is used to eliminate loops in our network as loops are bad. So how can we determine which switch will be the Root Bridge? In general, it is based on the MAC address of the devices but it can be influenced by changing the priority on one or all of the devices. When a Root Bridge is elected, it is as if everything in the world will revolve around the Root Bridge. That dictates then which ports on the other switches are root ports, designated ports and non-designated ports. If also then impacts the states of the ports. So if the Root Bridge changes from Switch C to Switch B, then each port will change to a different type of port and state. Now we will have to figure everything out again from scratch. You might not fully understand this now, but by practicing with three switches in a complex topology such as this CCNA lab, you definitely will have a much deeper understanding of the technology at hand. Hopefully this example has fully convinced you of the value of a CCNA lab with three switches.

Sill not convinced you should have three switches in your CCNA lab? Well then maybe my final point will sway you. The topology in the diagram below is similar to what appeared on a previous version of the CCNA exam. So if Cisco can use multiple switches in the lab questions on the exam, don't you want to practice on scenarios similar to what you might see on your CCNA exam?

CCNA Lab
Sample CCNA Exam Scenario

How Many Cisco Routers & Cisco Switches Do I Need To Complete Your CCNA R&S 200-120 Lab Workbook?

Our CCNA Lab Workbook has been recently updated for the new CCNA exam and was designed with the knowledge that most of our customers can't afford a large lab. We wrote our Lab Workbook v2.0 to the specification of three routers and three switches. In a perfect world you will have three 1841 routers, three WIC-2T modules, a 3560, 3550 and 2960 plus the associated cables. Does that mean that you can't complete the labs if you only have two routers or two switches in your lab? No, it just means for the most part those labs will not be as complex as they could be and you won't see any many routes propagate. But you still should fully understand the concept which is being presented.

Now you can review the above link for our Lab Workbook v2.0 R&S 200-120 to see all the topics covered. A physical copy of the Lab Workbook is included with our dual router or better kits. Note in the topology diagram below how complex we make our labs. These are not straight forward two link setups. We include redundancy, multiple subnets and explain it all in great detail. There is no other CCNA book out there anything close to what we have created! Accordingly we are the premier CCNA lab supplier with support second to none! Click on the topology picture to see a PDF of the sample lab. This is why we really suggest three of the 1841 routers in your lab as we use every single interface and hit heavy on advanced OSPF, advanced EIGRP, EtherChannels, Load Balancing, etc.

 

Cisco ccna 200-120 eigrp topology

Click here for sample CCNA 200-120 EIGRP Lab



How Do I Know What Routers & Switches I Need In My CCNA Lab?

What Three Routers Do I Need In My CCNA Lab?

The key here is to have the right mix of routers in your CCENT or CCNA lab. Simply bundling three routers together and calling it a kit is not the right approach. We want to make sure that we have routers that will cover some of the major features/concepts you are sure to see on the CCENT and CCNA exams. So at the bare minimum we want the following features in our CCNA lab:
  • One router with dual Ethernet interfaces to do your NAT/PAT labs. We suggest the 1841 or 2801 as these routers can do this and also get you exposure to IOS 15.1(4) as the same time saving you money.
  • One router with a FastEthernet interface for inter-VLAN routing.
  • One router with two serial ports for frame-relay labs.

    Notice how I mentioned these are the bare minimums. In a perfect world with no budget restrictions we would advise you to get three 1841 or 2801 256/64 routers and a 3560, 2960 and a 2950 EI switch. But that is not always realistic from a budget perspective. Also it is ok if one router does double duty. An example is you may have a 2801 that is your NAT/PAT router and also the FastEthernet device for your inter-VLAN routing labs. We know with all the options out there, this can be a bit confusing which is why we have pre-configured many of our CCNA Lab kits to already have these features balanced giving you the best bang for the buck. There is no reason for you to guess and make a couple hundred dollar mistake. But even if you do, you can user our Trade-Up Program to get 100% credit for your device. If you have questions, please use the Contact Us link in the upper right to send us an email as we welcome questions.

    How Do I Know What Interfaces & Options Are Available On A Router?

    Now choices, choices, choices. Which router do I pick? Well, we have many choices which I will list below with some pros and cons to each. I will also include a table at the end of this document to visually aid you in seeing the features of each router. I suggest no matter which router you get, you max out the DRAM and Flash so you can run the most full featured IOS available for that model. The 2500s max out at 16 MB DRAM and 16MB Flash, most of the 2600s max out at 64 MB DRAM and 16 MB Flash, the 2600XMs max out at 256MD DRAM and 48MB Flash(these can be run at 128/32 unless you are going to want to run CME for CCNA Voice and then you should max them out), the 1841 routers, although not maxed out are more than sufficient at 256MB DRAM and 64MB Flash as are the 2800 series routers.

    CCNA Lab
    CCNA Lab Routers

    Cisco 800 Series Routers These are not good lab routers as they do not have traditional serial ports to connect them to other routers in a lab environment.

    Cisco 1720/50 Series Routers These are now throw away routers due to changes in the CCNA and price drops on other models that give a lot more functionality for the buck.

    Cisco 1760 Series Routers This is a good low cost router that is a traditional rack mount router unlike the other 1700 series routers. This 100mb FastEthernet router will also run IOS 12.4 and has four WIC slots which is a bonus. This router packs lots of value for the price and is a staple of many of the kits

    Cisco 1841 256/64 Router ALERT! We suggest you have at least one of these or a 2801 in your new CCNA 200-120 exam lab. This is the cheapest and best choice for an 15.1(4) IOS ISR router for your CCNA Routing & Switching, CCNP & CCIE exams that supports MPLS(multi-protocol label switching). This is the router that best compliments our CCNA Routing & Switching lab workbook and covers the exam topics for the CCNA. Since the prices have come down on these tremendously, these are a great choice for CCNA labs and will serve you well all the way up to your CCIE certication. So really your only choice here is will you get the 128/32 version which only supports 12.4 or will you get the 256/64 version which supports 15.1(4)? I think the answer to that is simple.

    Cisco 2500 Series Router
    This is the cheapest router that works well in a CCNA lab and which can support a vast majority of the commands that you will need to learn for your CCNA test. All 2500 routers only support 12.3 so that is one limitation. But not all routers in your lab need to be 15.x for the new 200-120 exam. The 2500 series is also a 10mb router which will not support inter-vlan routing which is hit heavy on the exam. So you need to make sure you have a 100mb router in your lab. You will need to add a transceiver to this unit to convert the Ethernet AUI port to an RJ-45 style Ethernet port. The one nice thing about the 2500 series routers is that they come with two serial ports built-in which helps to keep the costs of your lab down versus some modular routers where you have to add serial modules at a cost. I will make some comments below on the different 2500 series models with the information above being applicable to all.

    Cisco 2501 Router This is the base 10mb Ethernet Router.

    Cisco 2502 Router This is a Token Ring router and at this point is a throw-away router.

    Cisco 2503 Router This is the same as a Cisco 2501 as 10mb Ethernet except it adds an ISDN BRI port(which can just be ignored). You will need to add a transceiver to convert the Ethernet AUI port to an RJ-45 style Ethernet port.

    Cisco 2507 Router The same as a Cisco 2501 10mb Etherent router except it has a built-in 16 port hub so you do not have to purchase a transceiver.

    Cisco 2509 Router This is your 8 port terminal server/access server. You can remote access 8 devices from this unit. You will need one octal cable.

    Cisco 2511 Router This is your 16 port terminal server/access server. You can remote access 16 devices from this unit. You will need two octal cables.

    Cisco 2514 Router This router is the same as a Cisco 2501 except instead of one 10mb Ethernet port you have two.

    Cisco 2520 or 2521 Router This is a good 4 port serial router that generally will act as a small frame relay switch in your lab. The 2520 is a 10mb Ethernet version and the 2521 is a Token Ring version.

    2600 Series Routers (non-XM)
    These routers only support up to IOS 12.3. They are modular routers which means you have to add WIC or NM modules to them to provide additional functionality. The 10mb versions of these routers are not as good a value as the 2500s. The 100mb versions are not as good a value as the XM version as the XM version supports 12.4.

    Cisco 2610 Router This is a 10mb Ethernet router.

    Cisco 2611 Router This router is dual 10mb Ethernet so you can use it as your cable/dsl router.

    Cisco 2620 Router This is better than the 2610 as it is a 100mb router. But for a few extra dollars I would get an 2600XM series router to support 12.4.

    Cisco 2621 Router This is a dual 100mb Ethernet router so you can use it as your cable/DSL router. I would pay the few extra dollars for a 2611XM over this router so you get at least 12.4 IOS support

    2600XM Series Routers
    The advantage to these routers over the plain 2600 series is they are all 100mb routers so they can support inter-vlan routing and they support 12.4 and thus Advanced IP IOS. We have noted the features of each model below.

    Cisco 2610XM & 2620XM Router This is a single FastEthernet router.

    Cisco 2611XM & 2621XM Router This is a dual FastEthernet router and being a dual FastEthernet rotuer, you can also use it for your NAT/PAT labs.

    Cisco 2801 256/64 Router ALERT! We suggest you have at least one of these or a 1841 in your new CCNA 200-120 exam lab. This is the cheapest and best choice for an 15.1(4) IOS ISR router for your CCNA Routing & Switching, CCNP & CCIE exams that supports MPLS(multi-protocol label switching). This router has a bonus over the 1841 router in that is has four interface slots versus the two of the 1841 and can support voice vwics and PVDMs incase you ever decide you want to go down the Voice path as the 1841 will not support Voice.

    Cisco 3620 Router This is now basically a throw away router.

    Summary of Router Interfaces


    Summary of Router Interfaces
      Ethernet Ports Serial Ports NM Slots WIC Slots
    Cisco 1841 2-100mb 0 0 2
    Cisco 2501 1-10mb 2 0 0
    Cisco 2503 1-10mb 2 0 0
    Cisco 2507/16 16 Port Hub 2 0 0
    Cisco 2514 2-10mb 2 0 0
    Cisco 2520 1-10mb 4 0 0
    Cisco 2610 1-10mb 0 1 2
    Cisco 2610XM/2620XM 1-100mb 0 1 2
    Cisco 2611 2-10mb 0 1 2
    Cisco 2611XM/2621XM 2-100mb 0 1 2
    Cisco 2801 2-100mb 0 0 4


    DRAM/Flash Memory & IOS Required for Feature Support

    Now everyone wants to run the latest version of IOS (remember, not every unit has to run 15.1(4) but it doesn't hurt), but are sometimes disappointed if they already purchased a router and they find out it can't support IOS 15 or some of the features they want to run like IPv6 or CCP.
    Model Max IOS Ver. IPv6 CCP
    Cisco 1841  15.1(4) requires 256/64 128/32 256/64
    Cisco 2500  12.3 16/16 Not Available
    Cisco 2600 Series  12.3 64/16 Not Available
    Cisco 2600XM Series  12.4 128/32 Not Available
    Cisco 2801  15.1(4) requires 256/64 128/32 256/64

    Ok, let's start off with the IOS version column. As you can see above, the Cisco 2500 and 2600 non-XM models only support 12.3 whereas the Cisco 2600XM units support 12.4 while the 1841 and 2800 series routers support 15.x. So if you want to have exposure the latest IOS that is running on routers in the real world, right now that is 15.x and the Cisco 1841 and 2801 routers are the most economical choice. But if your budget does not allow for it, you will still find value in the routers that are running the older 12.3 IOS and 12.4 IOS as 90% of the commands and functionality are there.

    Now let's review the IPv6 column. IPv6 is a big part of the CCENT 100-101 and CCNA 200-101 exam. So you really want routers that support IPv6 if you can afford them. You also will need all of the routers to support IPv6 if you want proper data communications. Note that if you get a 1841 or 2801 router, they only require 128/32 to run 12.4 and IPv6, but to run 15.1(4) and IPv6 they require 256/64.

    Finally, you will also notice I mentioned the requirements for CCP too. CCP is Cisco's Cisco Configuration Professional and is the GUI option to configure your routers. It is not supported on some of the older models. But the good news from a lab perspective is that you do not need it on every router to get a good grasp on how CCP works. The Cisco 1841 or 2801 Series is the cheapest way to get a router that supports 15.1(4) and CCP and covers concepts on the Cisco CCNA Security 640-554 exam. Now that said, as mentioned previously, Cisco does not yet have CCP on the CCNA R&S 200-120 blueprint. But it is on the CCNA Security 640-554 blueprint so you are going to probably need it sooner or later. All that said, I highly suggest that you have at least one 1841 or 2801 256/64 router in your lab.

    Why Do You Sell Routers With Memory That Can't Run IPv6?

    Not everyone has the budget to support every feature. So you will see that we still offer Cisco 2500 router kits with 8MB of DRAM and 8MB of Flash as being able to practice on routers that support 75% of the CCNA concepts which is better than nothing at all if you budget is tight. As shown above in our chart, the 2500 series can support IPv6 if they are maxed out with 16MB of DRAM and 16MB of Flash. The basic 2600 series(do not confuse this with the 2600XM series) needs 64MB of DRAM and 16MB of flash. If you do not have these routers maxed out with memory you will not be able to run IPv6. Also you really need all of your routers to be maxed out to see IPv6 run properly. It is not like some other features in which you can run it simply on one router.

    What Switch Should I Get?

    This is one that there is so much debate on these days. I will give you my thoughts on it and there are a hundred different ways you can build a lab. I will give you the information and let you decide how you want to build your lab.

    The Cisco 2960 switch has the exact IOS command set that you will see on the exam as per Cisco. But Cisco suggests this switch because they want to suggest a switch because it is fairly recent and one you will more than likely see in the real world. Although the 2950 EI version switch is about half the cost currently and will support the same commands that are on the CCNA exam as the 2960.

    Now I want to spend a little bit of time and explain some differences between some of the 2950 switch models and what it means to you and your CCNA studies. There is the standard 2950 which is going to cover 95% of the commands you can see on the exam. But some students are aware that there are a couple of commands such as Enhanced QoS, 802.1s MISTP(Multiple Instance Spanning Tree Protocol) and 802.1w RSTP(Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol) that are only supported on the Enhanced Image version of the 2950. So if you want to run those few commands, you will need to upgrade your 2950 to a 2950C(which is available as an inexpensive upgrade on our kits), 2950G or a 2950T unit. Just ask us about it and we can get you setup with them.

    As I did with the routers above, I have also included a brief description of each of the common switches and created a feature chart below to help you make your Cisco switch selection.

    CCNA Lab
    CCNA Lab Switches

    Cisco 1912 or 1924 Switch with Enterprise Software. These switches are no longer relevant to the exam.

    Cisco 2912, 2916 or 2924 Switch with Enterprise Software This switch will run 70% of the current commands needed for the exam and is not really a good choice given that 2950 switches are only about $10 more.  Spend the extra $10 on the switch as it is worth it for your $250 exam.

    Cisco 2950 Switch This is the switch that most people target to run all the CCNA 200-120 exam commands. The normal 2950 runs Standard Image and the 2905C, 2950T and 2950G units run the Enhanced Image. This gives you access to a couple more commands so you have access to all the switch commands on the exam and is available as an inexpensive upgrade on most of our kits.

    Cisco 2960 Switch This the switch that Cisco states covers the exam topics for the CCNA. Why? Well it was the current switch when the latest exam came out. They are not going to tell you to buy a switch that they are no longer selling right? Given the price decrease as of late on this model, it is a switch that can be considered an upgrade to play with some of the extra features it has that are not specifically targeted on the CCNA exam but are covered on the CCNP SWITCH exam. This switch also does static Layer 3 switching which the 2950 does not. It also supports a few more QoS features.

    Cisco 3550 Switch This switch is really cool and is used to a large degree in CCNP labs. It is a switch that does Layer 3 routing built into it. It may not make sense right now that a switch does routing, but it will before you know it! It is a bit more expensive than a 2950, but you will need it come CCNP time and it well worth it if you can get it in your lab.

    Cisco 3560 Switch This is a new one on the block that adds a few more features that the 3550 does not support such as enhanced QoS, PVLANs and more. This is a staple of the better CCNA, CCNP and CCIE labs.

    Summary of Switch Features


    Summary of Cisco Switch Features
      2950 2960 3550 3560
    Layer 3 Switch No No Yes Yes
    Auto-MDIX No Yes No Yes
    Private VLans No No No Yes
    VLan ACLs No No Yes Yes
    Routing Protocols No No Yes Yes
    DHCP Server No No Yes Yes
    DHCP v6 No No No Yes
    VLan Port Security No Yes No Yes
    UplinkFast Yes Yes Yes Yes
    SSHv2 Yes Yes Yes Yes
    SNMPv3 Yes Yes Yes Yes



    That brings us to a few caveats on the 3500 series switches. The 3512, 3524 and 3548 are not Layer 3 switches like the 3550, 3560 and 3750 series. They are Layer 2 and they do not follow all the command syntax that the 2950 and 2960 switches do. So we suggest you stay away from those models.

    Serial Modules, Cables and Accessories

    If you have a 2500 series router, make sure you have a transciever with it so you can covert the Ethernet AUI port to RJ-45 Ethernet.

    We have a couple of common serial modules. I will detail them below:

  • WIC-1T - A WIC card with a single DB60 serial port. This module can go into any of the modular routers.
  • NM-4A/S - A NM module that has 4 DB60 serial ports.
  • The DB60 serial port is also built into the 2500 series routers as you can see from our table above. You will generally see a combination of the above modules/routers used together with DB60 DTE/DCE back to back serial cable to simulate a WAN link between two offices.

  • WIC-2T - A card with two Smart Serial ports. Generally these are used with a smart serial to smart serial DTE/DCE back to back cable between these modules. This module can go into any of the modular routers.

  • DB60 to Smart Serial Cable - If you have a mix of DB60 and smart serial interfaces, you can use this cable. You just have to order the DCE side on the interface type you want to serve up clocking.

    We left this part to the end on purpose. We will cover here the use of WIC-1DSU-T1 serial modules. This is not a traditional module like the ones above but is used to keep the cost down in smaller labs. The drawback to them is that they do not scale easily to larger labs which can have 4 or 10 serial ports on a single device. When using these modules you will have a special WIC-1DSU-T1 crossover cable and the commands will not be 100% the same as in the lab workbooks as the other units. But our lab workbooks explain how and why.

  • Ethernet Crossover Cables - We put these in our labs to make them more complex by sometimes connecting like type devices. Make sure your kit comes with them!

    Can We Build A Cisco Lab That Will Cover Every Single CCNA Routing & Switching 200-120 Exam Concept?

    We get this question quite often. Yes we can. How you build that kit really depends on what you intend to do after you pass your CCNA exam so it can be a bit tricky. I will try to cover the three most common scenarios.
    1) You simply want the cheapest kit to pass the CCNA exam that covers all of the exam objectives and that is all you are worried about. Then I would suggest this CCNA Lab Kit and select one 1841 or 2801 to be upgraded to 256/64 so you can have one router run 15.1(4) IOS as not every router has to run 15.1(4). I would also select to upgrade one switch to a 2960. This way you can cover all the exam objectives. Again, not every switch has to run every command.
    2) You want to pass the CCNA exam and then you are going directly to CCNA Security. You can handle this one of two ways. The best way is to buy our CCNA Security 640-554 Lab Kit with at least one 2960 switch upgrade. The second is that you are about $350 short in budget of that kit and you want to get the CCNA portion now and the CCNA Security portion of it later. In that case, use the Contact Us form at the top right of the page and we will provide you the best way to approach this.
    3) The third scenario that is requested is again you want to cover all the CCNA objectives and then you are going directly to CCNP. In this case, we need to ask you a few more questions and encourage you to use the Contact Us form to make sure we get you the best solution tailored to you and your career objectives.

    What is different with your kits versus any other group of routers and switches called a kit?

    First our preconfigured kits are designed to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. We do this by making sure you have at least one router that covers pretty much every feature on the exam where possible. So simply giving you five 2500 routers and calling it a CCNP kit does not make it a CCNP kit. It is all about the proper selection of devices that match up to your lab topology. We make sure your kit matches up to our lab topology as we wrote the most complex CCNA v2 lab workbook out there so you will understand complex scenarios. Gone are the days of a simple daisy chained CCNA lab with only two subnets. Many of our labs have 6 or more subnets to simulate complex, real world scenarios you will see on the exam. By completely understanding our advanced setups (which requires more cables and modules), you are sure to pass your CCNA v2 exam. In addition, we include all of our study materials such as the aforementioned lab workbook, our "How To Subnet Workbook" with 100 pages of instruction and over 100 practice questions, our six page, fold out, laminated color CRAM sheet, TCP/IP poster, our CCNA test engine with flash cards, instructional videos and so much more!

    Do I Need an Access Server/Terminal Server?

    The name access server or terminal server is actually a little misleading. It is not a server in the traditional sense that you might expect like a Intel based Windows or Linux server. It is a router that has 8, 16 or 32 Async ports which are used to connect to other devices through the console ports. The advantage of an access server is that they are the only means to which you can remotely reboot a device and stay connected to it. An example of this is if you needed to upgrade a router in a remote office. This functionality is not really covered on the CCNA v2 exam so it is not an absolute requirement if your budget is tight. However it is a real world skill you will need and it comes in handy in your lab so you do not have to keep moving the console cable from router to router to router every time you want to run a command on another device especially when you have a larger CCNA, CCNP or CCIE lab.

    What Is the CertificaitonKits Trade-Up Program?


    CCNA Lab

    In a nutshell something no other vendor is willing to offer to you! For any routers or switches you purchase from us, we will allow you to trade it in for a higher priced router or switch in the future as your Cisco certification lab grows for 100% of our retail value of the unit! This way you do not lose money upgrading your equipment. We are here to see you all the way up to CCIE as your Cisco certification partner! Please see the Trade-Up Program link on the left for full program details.

    Anything Else You Can Suggest?

    Well, a few things. If you do not have a 9 pin serial adapter on your computer, please make sure you purchase a 9 pin serial to USB adapter! Why is that? Because the console kits that Cisco includes with all their routers and switches is for a 9 pin serial adapter. Why doesn't Cisco include a usb style adapter? I venture to say that they don't want to get into the business of supporting drivers for Windows, Macs, Linux, etc.

    The Cisco 2500s are serviceable routers for your CCNA 200-120 studies if you have a tight budget and as long as you have the proper IOS and maxed out memory with all the accessories you need. You might say, but they are only 10mb routers. True, but they still work. The major drawback besides the aforementioned lack of CCP and 15.x support is that with 10mb routers you can't do your inter-vlan routing labs with them(which is true of any of the 10mb routers). So just make sure you have at least one 100mb router in your lab so you can do inter-vlan routing and that takes care of that issue and helps to keep the cost of your lab down for those with a tight budget!

    You want to make sure your routers can support IPv6 as doing those labs will really help the IPv6 concepts sink in. Finally, CCP is now on the CCNA Security 640-554 exam so it does not hurt to have a router or two that will support it!

    Finally, we highly suggest you checkout our CCNA v2.0 Study Center section of our website. Here you will find access to over 350 CCNA articles explaining the most difficult concepts to master. That is not it, you will also have access to over 100 CCNA R&S, CCNA Security and CCNA Voice labs that are ok, but not up to the standards of our lab workbooks. Why are they only ok? They do not include the detailed commentary and troubleshooting notes that you will find in our labs in our workbook. Our newly revised lab workbook is 450+ pages and took about 1,000 hours to create so it is very in depth. But there is more in this section too! You also get access to over 60 videos and tons of games to make your CCNA R&S studies fun such as exam questions, flash cards, CCNA Hangman, Jeopardy, Million Dollar Question and much more!

    Also go LIKE our Facebook page now CertificationKits Facebook Page to get your daily CCENT and CCNA Test Question of the Day and CCNA articles delivered to your Facebook news feed!

    How to build your Cisco CCNP or Cisco CCIE Lab

    Feel free to review our Cisco CCNP and Cisco CCIE Certification lab suggestion articles below:

    CCNP Lab Suggestions

    CCIE Lab Suggestions





    Author: Bob Bello

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