Equipment Check

mastermind314mastermind314 Posts: 2Registered Users ■■□□□□□□□□
Starting back on the CCNA track before things flip over in February and I was curious if the equipment I have will be functional enough. I am currently in possession of three 2600 series, two 3600 series and one catalyst 3500 series XL. I also have a kvm, UPS and about a miles worth of cabling and power cords. Any recommendations on adding to this would be awesome. I know I need two more switches but am unsure which to pick up. Thanks everyone.


  • dontstopdontstop Posts: 578Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Don't waste time. Honestly Packet tracer and Boson labs were enough for me on ICND1/2. It will take a few weeks to get a physical lab setup right and each time you need to change something you're wasting time re-cabling or waiting for devices to reload. 
  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Posts: 1,773Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    When people say physical gear is a waste of time they are mostly referring to the skills you need to pass the test. Please keep in mind there is a lot of real value in using some actual gear.

    When you walk into an interview and they ask you to throw a quick config on a switch you don't want to ask them to call up packet tracer for you.

    Seriously I would not buy additional gear until you get into study. When you hit road blocks you can decide if you want to buy more gear.
  • dontstopdontstop Posts: 578Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited August 23
    Ok my first answer might have seemed a little "definite" that hardware is always a no-go that came across wrong. I totally agree hardware experience is key, but for CCNA at least the ICND1 the focus is more on the theoretical than the practical (practical being physical hands on the box itself). In all honesty too if you want the box and wire skill, after the CCNA look at getting the CCT which is changing no time soon. So I totally agree, hands on experience is golden. I work with people everyday that have no idea how to recover from rommon/loader or who have never seen a Nexus 7k in real life let alone pulled a linecard from it. So I'm a big proponent of getting your hands dirty but when it makes sense. My gripe with hardware at this stage is the following. 
    1. It's expensive (people are still selling CCNA labs for hundreds
    2. It's noisy
    3. It uses a lot of power 300-400 watts for a small lab with no servers
    4. It's slow to load and reload
    5. It's cumbersome to cable/re-cable and unless you have a great OOB solution you cannot use it when you're not near it (all things which take to setup, time you could be studying)
    6. There are a lot of different parts you need which take time to arrive
    7. There is lots of confusion and myth about what to use and what versions are on the exam
    8. People use it as a method to procrastinate from studying (I'm waiting on x, before I start)
    My point here is your time is best served studying and learning right now. Build up your lab over time, once you have more experience from the ICND1/2 you'll start to get a feeling for what equipment you need (and the software features you require) and you can in parallel bring up a lab (and a good OOB network for it too). But don't block on waiting to get the lab up before you start studying. For the CCNP the hardware is going to be much more helpful, but seriously after maybe 5-10 labs of using hardware you quickly get sick and tired of re-cabling, the noise, the loading times and move to a GNS3/EVE-NG anyway. I would say everyone needs to use the lab until they're sick of it, but there is only so many times you recable something and at that point it's just slowing you down. 

    Packet tracer is great because it really gives you an idea of what's happening at the packet level without being swamped by the output of Wireshark and also the cumbersome process of setting up 3-5 SPAN and the hardware required for those sessions to see the control packets. I definitely had a lab switch behind me when using PT, but that was mainly to verify and compare when PT wasn't behaving as expected or a feature was missing. 

    So yes, I agree with you on the point that hardware experience is critical, but for the ICND1 and especially for a new Engineer it usually becomes more of a hindrance than a help. Many times I wanted to validate a theory in my lab which would take 1-2min in PT, it would take 15-30min in the lab (boot times, cabling times).

    Get your head in the book first, start banging away on the keyboard. Learn the protocols and features and then make your way into building a lab. Don't let building the lab slow you down, but don't skip learning what a pain a physical lab is. I'd just recommend don't worry about the lab right now as I've seen the physical side deter a lot of people from the exam.
  • mastermind314mastermind314 Posts: 2Registered Users ■■□□□□□□□□
    Everything looks awesome, I appreciate the advice on focusing on studying and not getting distracted. Point 8 isn't an issue for me, I seem to tunnel vision when I'm working toward any cert and not much pulls me away :)
    I'm 3/4 of the way through the 100-105 book and reviewing all of that. I just recently came into some 2950 so updating my question, is the equipment I own good enough to tinker around with for the current CCNA and eventually the new versions? 
  • clarsonclarson Posts: 897Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Well, you just have some general information and generally that equipment is too old to be used.  yes, you can do a lot of things with that equipment but not enough to pass the exam.  The Cisco certifications don't test you on hardware.  They test you on how does the software work.  A better question to ask would have been "are these ios versions adequate".

    The cisco certs are written for version 15 of the ios.  But, version 12.4 is adequate for routers.  And, there are the feature sets.  The ipbase feature set used to be adequate.  But, Cisco is adding more security and IPv6 all the time.  For security features, you'd need the advsecurity feature set and for IPv6 the advipservices feature set is necessary. 

    Most 2600's ran 12.3.  The 2600xm models with enough memory are able to run 12.4.  You'll need a 3640 with enough memory to run 12.4 also.  For a ccna lab a 3500xl is junk.  And, 2950's are adequate depending on the ios version.
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