Once students pass their Cisco CCNA R&S exam, generally the next question is what is the next Cisco certification that you will tackle?  Do I want to proceed to obtain my Cisco CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CCNA Wireless or CCNP certification?  For each person the answer may be a little bit different.  Ultimately you should venture to specialize in something that you have a passion for.  Today we will cover a little bit about how to build a lab for the Cisco CCNA Voice 640-461 exam.

CCNA Voice 640-461 Lab
CCNA Voice 640-461 Lab

Now in a perfect world, you may be able to build your Cisco CCNA exam lab with an eye toward the future if you know you are going to head toward the Cisco CCNA Voice path.  If that is the case, you want to move up to some routers that will support CME 8.6 and marry up to the Cisco Press CCNA Voice Lab manual.

The recommended routers for this CCNA Voice lab is a pair of Cisco 2811 routers with 384MB of DRAM and 128MB of flash running Advanced Enterprise Services 12.4-24.T2 or later.  For that matter, you can pretty much use any ISR router such as something in the 2800, 3800, 2900, or 3900 series.  You can use a 800, 1700, 2600XM, or 3700 series router for the most part that will run an older version of CME and not support all of the current commands in the desired syntax.  So if while building your CCNA 200-120 lab you know you want to go down the Voice route in the future, make sure your lab has two 2811 384/128 routers in it so you don’t have to upgrade or purchase these lab routers later.

You will also want to populate the lab routers each with at a VWIC2-1MFT-T1/E1 module and preferably a PVDM2—32 32 Channel Packet Voice/Fax DSP Module.  To further enhance your CCNA Voice training lab experience you will want a VIC2-2FXS module for some of your analog labs and a VIC2-2FXO for some of your PBX based labs.  You will also want to make sure you have access to an old style analog phone for some of the labs.  Speaking of phones, you will also want a minimum of two IP Phones. The 7960 series of IP Phones are an excellent choice for your CCNA 640-461 lab.

That brings us to switches.  You will want two switches that are capable of supporting Voice VLANs and it would be really nice if they supported Power Over Ethernet(POE) so your IP Phones could get power from the Ethernet cable this way you do not have to use the IP phone power bricks.  Probably the most cost effective switch to deliver those features would be a Cisco 3550 POE switch.  However, if you can’t afford the 3550 POE model(roughly $80), you can opt for a cheaper Cisco 2950 switch(about $35) that does not support POE and you can simply use the power brick that came with the IP Phone.

In an effort to keep costs down, you will be able to virtualize some of the CCNA Voice lab.  You can run VMWare workstation and on it deploy Cisco Unified Call Manager (CUCM) version 8.6.2 along with Cisco Unified Presence (CUPS) and Cisco Unity Connection (CUC).  Otherwise you would probably end up paying somewhere around $2,000+ just for those items.  So virtualization of them sounds pretty good.  Finally you will play a bit with Cisco’s IP Communicator or CIPC in your CCNA Voice lab.  It basically is a softphone that runs on any Windows based computer.

Hopefully this will give you a little bit of insight on how to build a CCNA Voice lab.  To some it may seems strange you need less Cisco routers and less Cisco switches in your Voice lab than you need in your Routing and Switching lab, but that has to do primarily you are not trying to create complicated topologies in your Voice lab.  You are trying to setup simple across the WAN call solutions that ride over the TCP/IP protocol suite.  I hope you enjoyed our review today on how to build your own CCNA Voice lab.