Becoming good at Cisco without a lab?

newffnewff Posts: 16Member ■□□□□□□□□□
I'm completely new to IT, but a fast learner with technology. I was under the impression I could study hard and get the certificates but then I see the lab threads, looked up the prices of some of the stuff and well..I won't be able to afford that type of stuff.

Is a lab like that a must for someone who later wants to work with Cisco products? Or are there other ways to get familiar with it or study and still be competent when hired?

Comments

  • alan2308alan2308 CISSP, MCSA 2008, MCSA 2012, CCNA R&S, CCNA Security Ann Arbor, MIPosts: 1,854Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    If you have little or no experience with real gear, there's a lot of benefit to getting a couple items for home, even if it's just a couple 1600 routers and 2900XL switches that you can find for $5 on eBay. But there's other alternatives like Packet Tracer and GNS3 as well to learn on.
  • MickQMickQ Posts: 628Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    There are software simulators out there.
    An emulator like GNS3 will need a genuine IOS from a real router. Switches can't really be emulated (ASICs).
    You might be a quick learner, but you'll still need at least one router and switch for playing with and seeing what commands there are and how the devices act in the real world. Keep an eye out for local/ebay/etc. deals. You might also find some kit from skip/dumpster diving.
  • chrisonechrisone CISSP, CRTP, eCPPT, LFCS, CEH, Azure Fundamentals, Retired Cisco NPs Posts: 1,872Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    Yes you can be pretty good in cisco without actual hardware, because you can practice labs in a virtual environment.

    However you are asking if you can be good at something without practicing it? Remember you can imagine what you want to draw but it might not come out right if you are not practicing drawing what you imagined.

    Mastering anything involves making all the errors you possibly can before you perfect it :)

    I love Thomas Edison's quote; "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

    2019 Goals:
    Courses: Real World Red Team Attacks- AppSec Cali 2019 (complete), Active Directory Attacks for Red and Blue Teams Advanced Edition - BlackHat (completed),
    Certs: Certified Red Team Professional - Pentester Academy (passed!), Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 (passed!), Azure Security Engineer Associate AZ-500 (in-progress)
  • RoguetadhgRoguetadhg Posts: 2,472Member
    See my signature.

    Just keep in mind: There really isn't a subsitute for the real deal. There's labbing in a simulator, and then there's dealing with actual hardware. Actual hardware will give you some information (Just to name a few)
    - How to console into hardware
    - Layer 1 issues. Cabling, Wiring pinouts, just bad hardware, not enough hardware (Need more RAM/FLASH?)
    - Layer 2 issues (GNS3, mostly)
    - Upgrading hardware
    - Dealing with modules
    - Using the cisco website. Lets be honest: until you've actually used this website, it's a confusing mess of documentation, white pages, commands and directories.
    - Looking on ebay, stores.

    It's expensive. I know. But being able to say "I have bought my own hardware", fling out pictures (Watch out for paper cuts, you won't get a job), and being able to go indepth about the hardware, what you did, what it does, what you do with it... "I maintain a frame-relay network lab, using 4 hosts, using network traffic generators on backtrack that allow me to test my ASA 5505's capabilities. Allows me to test vpn across the cloud while an attack is in-progress on the ISP's router."

    Sounds more impressive than "I used NetSim 8 to pass my test and I haven't used it since."
    In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.
    Pictures:
    Office / Lab
    TE Threads: How to study for the CCENT/CCNA, Introduction to Cisco Exams

  • ciscoman2012ciscoman2012 Posts: 313Member
    I agree with all the posts above me thus far. A lab isn't mandatory in order to pass Cisco exams...but hands on live experience is. You'll need to be familiar with the CLI to pass any Cisco exams. For the CCENT/CCNA you could get away with just reading the books and doing labs in Packet Tracer or GNS3. Personally, the networking bug bit me and I enjoyed it so much I didn't mind shelling out $300-400 on a lab. Especially if it meant making labs a bit more fun and not as dry as doing it all in Packet Tracer.

    I would buy 2 2950 switches from eBay and start there. You can do the rest in Packet Tracer unless you feel like building out a big lab. The reason I suggest 2950's is because they're fairly cheap and you can usually get both in a "lot" for about $60-70 on eBay.

    Most of the stuff you're learning in CCENT/CCNA can be done on the 2950 (other than routing of course).
  • dontstopdontstop Posts: 578Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I think this question really boils down to learning style and what makes you happy. Personally I like having the kit infront of me, but i have a make who is very happy to just do it all on sims. Once i get a bit more confident i may switch to just using sims, but there is something sexy about having a bit of kit infront of me :)

    If it makes you happy, buy the kit. There is no point studying this stuff if it's not going to make you happy, there are both pro's & con's to both.

    Cons: Cost, Space, Heat, Power, Slow old hardware, Topologies are limited to your CPU/Ram and/or Imagination
    Pros: Research, Historic Knowledge, Upgrades, Weird problems that dying hardware can present, You can take cool Lab Photos, Only can build small Topologies, Hands on experience that one only can get from caressing the fine metal form of Network Routing Hardware icon_cheers.gif

    Law of Average Predicates that the cons & pros will eventually even themselves out, all that's left really is gut feeling and what makes you happy :)
  • RoguetadhgRoguetadhg Posts: 2,472Member
    I like the blinking lights.

    For me the physical aspect makes the theories i've been reading about real. It being "Real" is more important and I can keep a hold of them.
    In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.
    Pictures:
    Office / Lab
    TE Threads: How to study for the CCENT/CCNA, Introduction to Cisco Exams

  • NOC-NinjaNOC-Ninja Posts: 1,403Member
    Imagine driving. You want to be good at driving. You want to be great and become a pro at driving. You have a simulator. You understand and practice driving from a simulator like Gran Turismo game.

    Ask yourself. Do you think that's enough to become a pro at driving? Would you consider that as a driving experience or would you consider a guy that have a car and drives it everyday a pro?

    This is the same reason that experience is king. Hands on will teach you things that are not in the book. Its the same reason why we guys work because we need real world experience in our resume.

    A manager and engineer will hire someone with hands on experience vs simulator experience.

    A switch and a router will cost you $50 at ebay for CCNA. Dont make $50 as an excuse not to buy it. You need to sacrifice things like going out and buying video games for that. You can even get that for free if you have friends that work in IT field.
  • JeanMJeanM Posts: 1,117Member
    What has already been said above! 2950s go soo cheap I've seen a bundle of 3 for $60...and remember you can always use these not just in your lab. A couple 26xx series routers also won't break a bank, skip on fast food a couple of times and you are set :)
    2015 goals - ccna voice / vmware vcp.
  • newffnewff Posts: 16Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks guys. I am totally new to this and not sure what I need but I was thinking I'd need a lot of hardware like in the pics thread..some of those things when I priced them was thousands of dollars. I'll check ebay for some stuff mentioned. Any kits you guys like mention too please. Appreciate the help.
  • chrisonechrisone CISSP, CRTP, eCPPT, LFCS, CEH, Azure Fundamentals, Retired Cisco NPs Posts: 1,872Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    honestly part of learning cisco and networking involves researching and putting together your own lab. You will learn so much just by putting together your lab. Its a little experience towards the design track ;)
    2019 Goals:
    Courses: Real World Red Team Attacks- AppSec Cali 2019 (complete), Active Directory Attacks for Red and Blue Teams Advanced Edition - BlackHat (completed),
    Certs: Certified Red Team Professional - Pentester Academy (passed!), Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 (passed!), Azure Security Engineer Associate AZ-500 (in-progress)
  • dontstopdontstop Posts: 578Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    "I like the blinking lights."

    +1
  • MickQMickQ Posts: 628Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    newff wrote: »
    Thanks guys. I am totally new to this and not sure what I need but I was thinking I'd need a lot of hardware like in the pics thread..some of those things when I priced them was thousands of dollars. I'll check ebay for some stuff mentioned. Any kits you guys like mention too please. Appreciate the help.

    At least one switch. It's the absolute cheapest option, but you're also crippling your learning.
    I spent about €300 between kit and delivery for three 2950s and two 3550s. The bulk of the costs were in delivery and the 3550s because they're Layer 3 switches - basically a router and switch combined.
    These did me up to the CCNP where I added a router for the IOS image for use in GNS3.

    Save up, take your time on ebay/craigslist/donedeal/local secondhand sales website, get yourself good bargains. Remember to balance the cost of kit and learning with it compared to having to repeat the exams a number of times because you aren't familiar enough with the IOS.
    Read up on the CCNA thread for advice on kit.
  • NotHackingYouNotHackingYou Posts: 1,460Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    I spent around $250 on an eBay kit with 2 switches, 2 routers ready to go. It was all the gear I needed.
    When you go the extra mile, there's no traffic.
  • mikesprangermikespranger Posts: 54Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    i just bought two 2950c's off ebay - my first purchase towards my lab.

    they only came with the power cable and rackmounts (which do me no good w/o a rack)

    3 questions-

    1)what cables do i need to buy to set these guys up?
    2)what kind of labs can i do with just two switches?
    3)should i connect these to my current computer, dust off an older computer and attach them to that, or incorporate both computers (i could add the laptop too if that would help me, but the wife would rather i didnt hog all the computers in the house)
  • JeanMJeanM Posts: 1,117Member
    i just bought two 2950c's off ebay - my first purchase towards my lab.

    they only came with the power cable and rackmounts (which do me no good w/o a rack)

    3 questions-

    1)what cables do i need to buy to set these guys up?
    2)what kind of labs can i do with just two switches?
    3)should i connect these to my current computer, dust off an older computer and attach them to that, or incorporate both computers (i could add the laptop too if that would help me, but the wife would rather i didnt hog all the computers in the house)

    Crossover cable for connecting switches together, straight through cables for connecting them to routers and/or pc's.
    Console cable for initial config, to set up the ios config etc.

    You can do port channels, set up banners, do ios config/tftp backup, set up telnet/ssh access, set up vlans. Get another switch and play with STP.
    2015 goals - ccna voice / vmware vcp.
  • mikesprangermikespranger Posts: 54Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    thx for the info
  • BlackoutBlackout CCENT, CCNA-Security, ITILv3, CompTIA S+, CompTIA A+ Raleigh, NCPosts: 512Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I use both! I work on my physical lab at home, and on Packet Tracer at work :)
    Current Certification Path: CCNA, CCNP Security, CCDA, CCIE Security

    "Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect"

    Vincent Thomas "Vince" Lombardi
  • 2URGSE2URGSE Posts: 220Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    It's like becoming good flying an F-15 without flying the F-15.

    Trust me, it will be the best $$$ you ever spent towards your personal development.
    A+
    Network+
    CCENT (formally CCNA certified)
    ICE (Imprivata Certified Engineer)
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