Looking for advice on a lab.

Mike RMike R Member Posts: 148 ■■■□□□□□□□
Hi all,

I'm looking into building a lab hopefully by early/mid May (moving half way across the country). I'm looking for something that I can learn everything I need to know on from the CCENT to CCNP level. There has been a ton of threads about this same subject I know but I would like to have all the hardware and add it as I need to. I've looked at Certification Kits and could go with them but for those with more knowledge do they offer the best bang for your buck ? I'm willing to spend a decent amount on a good lab setup (Might add a ASA for CCNA:S later) but I'd like to keep it under 2K.

Thanks in advance for your help.


  • PristonPriston Member Posts: 999 ■■■■□□□□□□
    ebay and Craig's list would be the cheapest place to buy gear.

    I'd recommend 4 routers and 4 switches

    For routers
    Most people get 1st gen ISRs (1841, 2811, etc) since they don't cost much at all.
    2nd gen ISRs (1941, 2901, 2911) are still a little pricey.

    For switches
    2x 3560-24ts and 2x 2960
    4x 3560-24ts

    TS come with 32mb so you can install IOS 15. PS only come with 16mb flash so you can't install IOS 15 on them.
    A.A.S. in Networking Technologies
    A+, Network+, CCNA
  • Mike RMike R Member Posts: 148 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I noticed the 3560-24ts switch has some newer versions. TS-S, TS-S V02, TS-E. I'm assuming some are better than others ? Is it more worthwhile to try and buy it with IOS 15 already installed ? I have no idea how easy or hard it is to flash it to version 15.

    Thanks !
  • clarsonclarson Member Posts: 903 ■■■■□□□□□□
    some better than others? No, they are all the same thing to you. The V02 is the version number of that switch model. And, your never going to know what the difference between two versions is. You don't care and the version number makes no difference in the price. Now, there is a V2 version of 3560 that is newer and will cost more. and a 3560G model that is even newer and cost even more.
    ts-s is for the standard image of the ios. ts-e is for the enhanced image of the ios. of course you'd prefer the enhanced image of the ios. But, if you put an enhanced image of the ios on a ts-s switch, it will do everything a ts-e will. You won't be able to get cisco support on that, but were you really planning on doing that.
    you want to get the ipservices version of the ios not ipbase.
    It all depends on whether you can get a version 15 of the switch ios. if you cant get it somewhere, looks like buying it with a switch might be your only option. But, most resellers aren't going to have version 15 on the switches. Cisco doesn't officially have a version 15 of the ios that runs on a plain old 3560. But, they do for the 3560 V2 and 3560G. And, the version 15 of ios that works on those switch models will work on a plain old 3560. So, most resellers aren't going to mess around with guaranteeing an unsupported ios. But, you only need to buy one switch with the version 15 of the ios and copy it to your other switches.
    Not hard at all. About 30 seconds of typing and 15 minutes waiting for the switch to boot, download the software, and reboot.
  • james43026james43026 Member Posts: 303
    Great suggestions here. I thought I would throw a bit of advice in, Don't go with a 3550 MLS, it may be a bit cheaper, but it doesn't do PVLANS. Which you would need for CCNP studying, if you decide to go that far. I know that no one mentioned this model of switch, but I've seen people make the mistake to save a bit of money.
  • Mike RMike R Member Posts: 148 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I looked on ebay and found a few 3560G ts-e. I haven't looked into many of the complete kits sold on ebay yet, I'm just trying to learn the hardware and make the correct decision when I go to buy it. I have a terrible habit of buying the "newest" thing out there, I don't know if that's good or bad when building a lab.

    Is there any benefit to adding more than 4 switches or routers ? Thanks for the input guys, any and all suggestions or "never buy or do this" types things are always welcome.
  • clarsonclarson Member Posts: 903 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I have a terrible habit of buying the "newest" thing out there, I don't know if that's good or bad when building a lab.

    Well, if you ask me it is a bad idea. electronics are a depreciating asset. they are always getting cheaper, even when you are not using them. So, I recommend buying what you need for the certs you are studying and buy more as necessary. Such as, you could buy 3 routers and 3 switches for your ccna. And, then buy other equipment as you need it for other certs. The ccna takes 120-150 hours of studying. which might take a few months to complete. So, what you don't buy now will be cheaper at a later date.

    not sure why you want to purchase 3560G ts-e instead of 3560 ts-? A 3560G is going to cost like $200 and a 3560 is going to cost like $50. So, that is an additional $600. A good ccnp lab with 3560's will cost like 800-1000. So your adding over 50% to the cost of your lab just to have gigabit switch ports. Your not going to learning anything extra by having them. So, unless you have a need for gigabit switches your just wasting your money.

    you will need 4 routers and 4 switches for your ccnp. But, it is always nice to have more to play around with, but not necessary. So, save your money and spend it on something that you need. maybe it will be a router or switch or terminal server or rack or etc. But, spend it on something that you will use.
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    I've recently bought some gear for the current CCNP R+S. The official v7 Lab Manuals use ios 15.2 and 15.4. Gear that supports those is not cheap. For 15.2/15.4 you need to get the ISR2s (1941, 2911 etc) and the 3560-X or 2960-S (both support 15.2). I use the Cisco Software Download site to see what versions are available. For CCENT and CCNA Route and Switch, you are looking for Branch Routers and Campus LAN Switches - Access

    For CCENT/CCNA, you don't need gear, but it is very useful to have at least some hands on. It also exposes you to a few skills that aren't on the exam, but which are really good to have - like factory reset, password recovery, updating ios, setting up tftp service, getting a console connection running.

    Mostly the CCENT/CCNA can be done with 3 routers and 3 switches. There's no layer 3 switching, so the 2960s are good enough. For the routers, get some cheap serial WIC-2T cards and smart serial back to back cables. If you are lucky, you might find some routers with these already.

    For CCNP Route and Switch, you need at least 4 switches, 2 of which need to be layer 3 - the 3560s are the best option. You also need 4 routers, the 1941 with the IPBASE feature set is good enough. Again, a 2 port serial WIC for each router and at least 4 smart serial cables.

    The problem comes when you go outside of the Route and Switch track. For instance, the Data Center track uses Nexus family and Catalyst 6500 series, Collaboration needs quite a few add ons to the routers and some software, Wireless needs wireless controllers and APs, Service Provider adds on ios xe and ios xr. The two issues you run into is upgrading your existing gear with all the right cards, and upgrading the IOS feature set.

    ISR2 routers need to have their feature set specifically licensed for each router - the license is tied to the router itself, and can also be time limited. This is a big problem if you require more than the IPBASE feature set, since you might end up spending more on the licence than you did on the router itself. BUT this isn't an issue for CCENT/CCNA/CCNP Route + Switch, only for the other tracks.

    Having said all that, I ended up getting ISR1 routers which support 'only' IOS 15, and some older 3560s which only support IOS 15. The ISR1s were about 1/3 the price of the cheapest ISR2s.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • Mike RMike R Member Posts: 148 ■■■□□□□□□□
    So you found a copy of IOS 15 and just flashed the routers and switches to IOS 15 ? I just glanced through ebay and I noticed quite a few ISR2 Integrated services routers but they are a touch pricey.
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Yeah, if you can find a copy of a compatible version of ios 15 for the ISR1s, it will 'just work' without special per router licensing. You will also see sometimes ISR1s and 3560's on eBay etc with IOS 15. I have no idea what the legalities are.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • Mike RMike R Member Posts: 148 ■■■□□□□□□□
    So I was looking at Certification Kits at the CCNA & Premium CCNP Kit - CertificationKits. They say it's for the CCNP but it's running IOS 15.1 on the routers and 15 on the switches. It also comes with WIC-2A/S cards. I don't want to annoy you guys with questions so if I'm missing a site where I can find answers to these questions feel free to tell me.

    From what I can tell IP Services looks fine and compared to IP Base, and Lanbase looks fine on the 2960 switches. I'm looking at 6 year old post though.
  • clarsonclarson Member Posts: 903 ■■■■□□□□□□
    certification kits does have lots of good information on their site. and they are on the expensive side.
    You could get 4 3560s on ebay for $200 and for $200 more you could get the 4 2811s. and that is with shipping included. I guess you need to decide how much those study materials are worth. But, you definitely can build a lab for half their price if you put a little effort into it.

    get 3560 "ts" models as they can run version 15 of the ios. You just need a copy of the version 15 ios or one switch that comes with version 15 installed. Then copy that ios to the other switches.

    on the routers, you will need enough memory to run version 15 of the ios. 256mb ram and 128mb cf. More is better. You will need 512mb if you want to use them for voice. Maybe you can get serial wics with them. Or ask and they might include them for a few bucks. and, that goes for rack mount brackets too. And, the same goes for the ios, all you need is one copy and then copy it to the rest.
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