At-home lab for CCNP Switch and beyond

Sy KosysSy Kosys Member Posts: 105 ■■□□□□□□□□
Hi gurus, looking for some advice on how to proceed with this.

I'm looking to ebay an at-home AIO lab with 3x2821 (IOS 15.1) routers, 2x3750 and 1x2950 (all IOS 12.2) switches. I've got a myriad of questions and I'm hoping to get some concrete answers before making any purchases. The first step is attaining Switch, then add a component or two and move onto Route, finishing up with Tshoot.

1. From what I've been reading about the exam topics straight from Cisco, the new 300-115 exam is based upon IOS 15.2....I presume 15.1 on the routers would be sufficient, but what about the switches? I'm inclined to think no, but wanted a more expert opinion.

2. Other fora mention that in order to install IOS 15.x on a switch, you need to have minimum 24Mb flash. Can either of these model switches support such an upgrade? Is it external/modular or a crack-the-case-open kind of upgrade?

***** Addendum to #2, 3750 is NOT upgradeable, as per this thread

3. Will the older 3750/2950 switches running IOS 12.2 be sufficient for the "new" 300-115 exam and/or the remaining CCNP paths?

4. If no on #3, what other cost-effective solution for physical hardware is there? I've just scoped out some 2801's with 384/256 already running 15.1 for about $75 each, so that's halfway there I suppose. That still leaves capable switches to obtain for (fingers-crossed) similar $$.

PS> GNS3 gives me rectal cancer trying to use it, and PT is still a bit clumsy although better than before.

I've got just south of 4 months to do this and want to get started ASAP.

Many thanks for your input.
"The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
― Ellen Johnson Sirleaf


  • clarsonclarson Member Posts: 903 ■■■■□□□□□□
    1) you need at least 2 switches that are running version 15 of the ios, preferably 4. you could use 3560/3750 switches that don't run version 15. But, it isn't all that much more to get ones that do.
    2) neither is the 2950
    3) no more than 2 of the older 3750 are probably ok. but the 3560 "ts" or the 3560 V2 or 3750 V2 aren't that much more.
    4) you have 1841, 2811, 2821, 2851 routers.
  • Sy KosysSy Kosys Member Posts: 105 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Cool beans, thx clarson.

    I've bought 2x 2960's and 2x3560's, all with 32mb flash and already loaded with 15.x, and a 2811 with a pair of wic1-dsu cards for starters. I reckon this should complete the Switch aspects and prime me for Route if/when I'm ready :)

    I think that's it....thanks again for the feedback.
    "The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
    ― Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Yeah, for Switch you can get away with ios 15.0/15.1. Some (most, I think) of the 3560s will support this. You will want the Advanced IP Services so that you can use SLAs. I'm 99% that you don't need ipv6 on SWITCH, but you absolutely do for ROUTE.

    For route it is really preferable to have IOS 15.2 or better 15.4.

    For ROUTE this usually means you want v2 ISRs (1921, 1941, 2901 etc). The IPBase feature set on the ISRv2's is fine for ROUTE. You can get ISRv1 1841 or 28x1 or 38xx router running ios 15.1 with feature set of advanced IP service (to enable ipv6), and they are good for 85-95%. I think there's some OSPFv3 things that appear in ios 15.2. Apparently, there is an IOS nx or something in a later version (15.3) that can run on the ISRv1s which gives you necessary functionality, but I haven't explored this route.

    For the ISRv1, you will need 128MB Flash. RAM is usually ok. They take 'standard' RAM, so it is very cheap to upgrade.

    Given the costs of ISRv2s, virtual environments such as GNS3, VIRL, IOL/IOU have become very popular for learning ROUTE.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • Sy KosysSy Kosys Member Posts: 105 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Thanks, OD, good stuff to know.

    The 3560's are running 15.0(2)SE8. The 2960's have 15.0(2)SE9.
    The 2811 has 768D/256F so that should handle the memory needs. It does come with 15.1(3)T, but unfortunately it appears to not be on "the list" for 15.2 or 15.4 as per Cisco. It seems that the new Switch/Route/TShoot is based upon 15.2, which coincidentally won't run on the less-expensive equipment in the marketplace.

    I get why, still is kind of a bummer but that's what GNS is going to have to be for. Either that or get some 1921/1941's which aren't exactly cheap, but is about the cost of enrolling in classes.

    Rambling on, sorry....

    Thanks again!
    "The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
    ― Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Cisco Network Academies are usually a lot cheaper than Cisco Training Providers - if you can find one that offers classes near you that suit your schedule.

    If you hang around eBay long enough, you might find some cheaper 1921/1941 etc eventually. The other place to try is the Cisco forums. I've heard that people often offload lab equipment for a good price to someone they know is going to take advantage.

    Still, you can get a long way with the 15.1 ISRs.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • walidbgwalidbg Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I am looking forward to something like this
  • Node ManNode Man Member Posts: 668 ■■■□□□□□□□
    +1 Great thread. Inadequate IOS's have been the bane of my education and lab. I have 4x2950, 2x3550 and 1x3560. The 3560 is the only one that carries its weight. It probably needs a new IOS too. The other switches were only really helpful for CCENT/CCNA.
  • Sy KosysSy Kosys Member Posts: 105 ■■□□□□□□□□
    So it's been a few weeks, and I've got all the hardware (finally) sorted after a couple of issues with bad components. Thought I'd update the thread with the final results, so here's the long and short of it:

    2x 2960-24-TT running 15.0(2)SE6 Lanbase as the Access Layer switches
    1x 3560-48PS running 12.2(25)SEE3 as a third Access Layer switch (this was an accidental purchase, oops)
    2x 3560-48TS running 15.0(2)SE8 IPServices as the Distribution Layer switches
    2x 3560-48TS running 15.0(2)SE8 IPServices as the Core Layer switches
    1x 2811 running 15.1(3)T4 AdvEnterprise as the singular router so far
    2x 1-foot 5-pack Blue Cat6 patch cables
    2x 2-foot 5-pack White Cat6 patch cables
    1x 12U mini rack to rule them all

    Pics or it didn't happen.....

    As for the total cost of all this, the breakdown and location is a bit math-tricky due to a 2960 with a bad PSU, and a 3560 that failed the ASIC POST, so let me see if I can keep this all straight.

    Full refund on one of the 2960's ($50 w/ shipping) and he said keep it...coolio.
    Replacement 3560-48TS sent for the bad ASIC one, he also said meh to shipping back a fubar switch. Out goes the PSU and into the 2960.... :)

    So all in all:
    1x 3560 PoE oopsie, ebay, $55 shipped
    1x 2960 with bad PSU (now fixed), ebay, $0 net
    1x 2960, ebay, $43 shipped
    2x 3560, ebay, $104 shipped (shoulda found this deal first and saved $106)
    2x 3560, ebay, $210 shipped (ouch! One with bad ASIC that was replaced for free. PSU swapped to the 2960 above)
    1x 2811, ebay, $90 shipped (768D/512F so thats a deal in my book)
    2x WIC-1DSU-T1/V2 cards, ebay, $16 shipped
    4x bags-o-cables, amazon, $20 shipped
    1x rack, amazon, $45 shipped

    All in all, $583 for the whole enchilada, and 3 more switches than I really needed for 300-115, but eff it...Realistically, if I had found the deal on the cheap pair of 3560s first and having just a 4-switch lab, that brings the total costs down to under $400 (which is sorta what I told my CFO I was shooting for....yeah....)

    I've got my eyes on some SFP's and fiber cabling for later on, but for now I'm quite pleased with the volume of hardware and getting my hands on actual equipment whenever the mood suits.

    Hope this thread helps to serve others, and my thanks to clarson and OD for the help at the beginning of this endeavor.

    "The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
    ― Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Sign In or Register to comment.