Seeking advice on simulators/Learning Labs

KorovievKoroviev Member Posts: 44 ■■□□□□□□□□
I have done a bit of research, but most of the answers I found were in response to "Sim vs. Real" questions. I know real equipment is better, and I am not opposed to making that investment. However, at this point, I do not know enough to make an educated purchase. I am thinking a competent simulator (and correct me if I am wrong) would be helpful initially for getting familiar with common equipment and continue to be at least somewhat helpful in designing scenarios with many pieces of equipment.

Having structured labs would be nice, but I am not a fan of "Enter command X, then enter command Y". I would much prefer to be given a series of tasks and the freedom to get it wrong/solve the problem on my own. I work in a Microsoft environment and studying for those certifications (which I am), the "On the page Before You Begin, click Next, then click Next 4 more times" format of the "exercises" makes me want to throw the book (well, e-reader) out the window.

I have no interest in exam simulators. I am no rush to pass ICND1 (primary focus remains MCSA with a heavy dose of PowerShell to make it go down) and would rather fail due to insufficient study than pass by practicing test taking. My motivation for passing the exam is to validate networking knowledge and some degree of CLI skill. It won't net me a raise or otherwise reward me in my current work environment. I picked up the Wendell Odom book to study networking and was enthralled.

The Cisco Learning Labs are also of interest, but I have seen them mentioned very little outside of the initial release.

So, looking for thoughts on the following (given all the preceding words):

- Boson NetSim (Structured, but to what degree?)
- Pearson Network Simulator (It has Wendell Odom's name on it!)
- Cisco Learning Labs (You have to pay for hours, but are they worth it for real IOS?)


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