Just starting out... any input VERY much appreciated!

I've been a CCNP for many years and I've recently decided to take the plunge towards a CCIE.  (*gulp*) I'm trying to map this out and it's a bit daunting to say the least.  

Obviously one significant expense is the practice lab (whether physical, rack rental, or some combination thereof).  My work place has quite a bit of gear lying around after several hardware refreshes, enough to potentially cobble together most of the lab for the INE prep path based on what I've read at their site.  (**I've made a very general list of the equipment below**).

My questions are:

 

  • for those of you that have tried to use an on-site physical *work* lab, was this a successful arrangement for you?  Or did you find it limiting because it was not as convenient as a physical home lab?  
  • for those of you that cobbled together the pieces for your a physical lab, was the process pretty straightforward? )or did you find it frustrating having to track down different pieces and parts?)
  • for those of you that have used the dynamips + physical 3550s/3560s combination, have you found that to be adequate?  Or did you find this limiting at any point?

Many, many thanks in advance for any input any of you might provide.  I'm sure this will start to feel a bit better as I make progress, but right now this all feels kind of overwhelming...





David






**list of work equipment available for on-site work lab below**



(2) 2511s

(12) 3600 series routers (mostly 3640s)

(3) 3700 series routers

(5) 2600 series routers

(3) 2500 series routers

(1) 3750 switch

(2) 3550 switches

(1) PIX 515


 

Comments

  • Hi David,

     

    You basically already have 90% of the equipment you need for you lab.  The big issue is availability to the lab.  Is it possible for you to get remote access to the lab when you’re not at your office?  This could be via telnet, ssh, vpn, etc., it just depends on your corporate network policy.  If you can get access then really the only thing you need is another switch, a remote power controller or two, and the various cables/modules.  I think the key deciding factor is if you can get remote access to the lab to start.  If you can then I can recommend further how you can actually piece the stuff together.  Feel free to email me directly too.

     

    Good luck in your studies!

     

    Brian McGahan, CCIE #8593 (R&S/SP/Security)
    [email protected]
     
    Internetwork Expert, Inc.
    http://www.INE.com
    Online Community: http://www.IEOC.com
    CCIE Blog: http://blog.INE.com

     

    From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]] On Behalf Of lillloyd
    Sent: Friday, January 27, 2012 9:49 PM
    To: Brian McGahan
    Subject: [hardware] Just starting out... any input VERY much appreciated!

     

    I've been a CCNP for many years and I've recently decided to take the plunge towards a CCIE.  (*gulp*) I'm trying to map this out and it's a bit daunting to say the least.  

    Obviously one significant expense is the practice lab (whether physical, rack rental, or some combination thereof).  My work place has quite a bit of gear lying around after several hardware refreshes, enough to potentially cobble together most of the lab for the INE prep path based on what I've read at their site.  (**I've made a very general list of the equipment below**).

    My questions are:

    • for those of you that have tried to use an on-site physical *work* lab, was this a successful arrangement for you?  Or did you find it limiting because it was not as convenient as a physical home lab?  
    • for those of you that cobbled together the pieces for your a physical lab, was the process pretty straightforward? )or did you find it frustrating having to track down different pieces and parts?)
    • for those of you that have used the dynamips + physical 3550s/3560s combination, have you found that to be adequate?  Or did you find this limiting at any point?

    Many, many thanks in advance for any input any of you might provide.  I'm sure this will start to feel a bit better as I make progress, but right now this all feels kind of overwhelming...

    David

    **list of work equipment available for on-site work lab below**

    (2) 2511s

    (12) 3600 series routers (mostly 3640s)

    (3) 3700 series routers

    (5) 2600 series routers

    (3) 2500 series routers

    (1) 3750 switch

    (2) 3550 switches

    (1) PIX 515




    INE - The Industry Leader in CCIE Preparation
    http://www.INE.com


  • (2) 2511s

    (12) 3600 series routers (mostly 3640s)

    (3) 3700 series routers

    (5) 2600 series routers

    (3) 2500 series routers

    (1) 3750 switch

    (2) 3550 switches

    (1) PIX 515

    As Brian already set, thats a good start. Do you have Serial interfaces in the routers? Which Modules do you have? Another Switch is definitely needed here.

    for those of you that have used the dynamips + physical 3550s/3560s combination, have you found that to be adequate?  Or did you find this limiting at any point?

    Yes it is adequate and a good cost efficient solution but with some drawbacks. Multicast for example does not work properly and some rare other technologies (EOMPLS for example, but this is part of the CCIE SP).

     

    Regards!

     

  • Thanks for the response Brian. 

    I'll have to check our security policy on what's allowed.  I have my doubts (our firm recently went through a security audit and we now have a much more stringent security policy).  That said I think we have a couple of lines in that are strictly for testing; I might be able to work something out here if I can demonstrate that the lab is completely physically isolated from the production network.

    That's a really good point though.  I was thinking that I'd just stay late, come in early, and/or come in on weekends...but I'm guessing that might get tiresome after a few months.

  • Curiously (suspiciously?  lol) the majority of the router equipment seems to have had their card bays stripped.  (I wonder if our previous CCIE didn't help himself to a few cards during his studies?)  There is a smattering (4?) of WIC T1 cards, that's about it.  So I already know that I'll have to budget for a lot of cards and cables if I go this route.

    I won't bother you guys too much with the details until I figure out whether remote access is a legitimate option, as Brian suggests. 

    But I am curious to know whether folks consider a full-blown physical home lab (or phyiscal work lab, for that matter) to be categorically superior to a hybrid dynamips approach (switches + dynamips).  I'm sure the ideal scenario is to have full-blown, physical labs BOTH at home and at work, but I'm guessing most people don't have the scratch for that, which means they're picking one or the other...and that means either working out a remote access solution (which may not be possible) or simply living with the fact that they won't have easy, 24/7 access to the lab equipment. 

    The dynamips approach, whatever warts it may have, seems extremely portable at the very least, which could translate to many more potential hours of study in a given time frame.  So I'm curious about how people have weighted that portability/convenience against the more technically accurate (but maybe less accessible) 100% physical solution.

  • LOL it probably bodes extremely poorly for my CCIE chances that I wasn't able to properly work the "QUOTE" function into my replies...but my first response was to Brian, the second to zool85.

    Thanks again for the responses.

  • But I am curious to know whether folks consider a full-blown physical home lab (or phyiscal work lab, for that matter) to be categorically superior to a hybrid dynamips approach (switches + dynamips).  I'm sure the ideal scenario is to have full-blown, physical labs BOTH at home and at work, but I'm guessing most people don't have the scratch for that, which means they're picking one or the other...and that means either working out a remote access solution (which may not be possible) or simply living with the fact that they won't have easy, 24/7 access to the lab equipment. 

    The dynamips approach, whatever warts it may have, seems extremely portable at the very least, which could translate to many more potential hours of study in a given time frame.  So I'm curious about how people have weighted that portability/convenience against the more technically accurate (but maybe less accessible) 100% physical solution

    Hi!

    I entered my personal positives and negatives for RealGear vs. GNS3 in my blog. Here it is:

    (Well actually this is HomeLab vs. RemoteLab but a little bit below there is my opinion regarding GNS3)

    +++ positives for a home lab+++
    So here are the good things about an own LAB:
    - independence (time and slot reservations)
     - gaining hands-on experience with cables etc.
    - learn about gns3/dynamips
    - topology can be changed to whatever you want
    - scalable
    - the possibility to build in real pcs/voip phones etc.
    - the strange look in your friends faces saying “what the hell is this? are you sure this is legal?”

    — negatives against a home lab —
    Here are the drawbacks of a LAB:
    - it costs more or less money (depending on how big you want to set it up), but it costs money
    - takes time to install
    - requires some space in your room
    - can usually not be deployed in your living room as it is noisy and heating up the room
    - for comfort you would need a 19″ rack
    - depending on how often you use it you thin that the electricity bill has been sent to the wrong receiver
    - you got to keep the lab intact when using it

     

    Positives of GNS3:

    - scalable, many routers. You can add and remove the topology as you like
    - when it configured, it runs good
    - comparing to real gear its a lot cheaper
    - the software is free
    - you just need to pay attention to the server and the software, with real gear, lets say 12 devices you have to take care of 12 power supplies, 12 machines and so on.  
    - an access server like the 2511 is quit eexpensive, with GNS you dont need it

     

    Negatives of GNS3:

    - multicast doesnt work
    - eompls doesnt work correctly
    - so spend much time to cinfigure it until it runs smoothly
    - some IOS dont work
    - you dont get hands on experience, you have nothing to touch, no cables, no cards
    - remote support is abolutely recommended

     

     

    I won't bother you guys too much with the details until I figure out whether remote access is a legitimate option, as Brian suggests. 

    I dont think you bother us with that, Everyone in this forum is free to answer or not!

     

    Regards!


  •  

    You basically already have 90% of the equipment you need for you lab.  The big issue is availability to the lab.  Is it possible for you to get remote access to the lab when you’re not at your office?  This could be via telnet, ssh, vpn, etc., it just depends on your corporate network policy.  If you can get access then really the only thing you need is another switch, a remote power controller or two, and the various cables/modules.  I think the key deciding factor is if you can get remote access to the lab to start.  If you can then I can recommend further how you can actually piece the stuff together.  Feel free to email me directly too.

     

    Good luck in your studies!

     

    Brian McGahan, CCIE #8593 (R&S/SP/Security)
    [email protected]
     
    Internetwork Expert, Inc.
    http://www.INE.com
    Online Community: http://www.IEOC.com
    CCIE Blog: http://blog.INE.com

    I am slowly but surely getting this lab together.  I do have a means of getting remote access, so I'm good there.

    I've attached the revised equipment list below.  My main questions currently are:

     

    • Are R5 and R6 in my configuration (3725s with 128MB DRAM/64MB Flash) sufficient in lieu of 1841s?
    • What is my best bet for R3?  I could do one of the following:
      • upgrade a 3640 to 128/32
      • use the R6  3725 in the R3 "slot", and sub in a 2620XM for R6
      • try to shoehorn a 2620XM into the R3 role (not sure if I can even do this with the FE card installed to make it 2 FEs...i.e. can I have *two* WIC-2Ts supported in the 2620XM instead of the NM-4A/S?
    • Can I use older (64 DRAM / 16 Flash) 3640s in the BB1 - BB3 roles?  Do I need to order a NM-8A/S for the BB1 role (FR switch)?
    Thanks again for any advice you can provide.  (BTW I ended up taking the Ultimate Bundle plunge, so I am "all in" :)


    R1: 2620XM (128 MB DRAM / 32 MB Flash / 48KB NVRAM) | 1 FE / 1 WIC-2T | 12.4(25d) Advanced Enterprise Services

    R2: 2620XM (128 MB DRAM / 32 MB Flash / 48KB NVRAM) | 1 FE / 1 WIC-2T | 12.4(25d) Advanced Enterprise Services

    R3: ????

    R4: 3725 (256 MB DRAM / 64MB Flash / 55KB NVRAM) | 2 FE / 1 WIC-2T | 12.4(25d) Advanced Enterprise Services

    R5: 3725 (128 MB DRAM / 64MB Flash / 55KB NVRAM) | 2 FE / 1 WIC-2T | 12.4(25d) Advanced Enterprise Services

    R6: 3725 (128 MB DRAM / 64MB Flash / 55KB NVRAM) | 2 FE / 1 WIC-2T | 12.4(25d) Advanced Enterprise Services

    SW1: 3750 (standard config | 12.2(55)SE5)

    SW2: 3750 (standard config | 12.2(55)SE5)

    SW3: 3550 (64MB DRAM | 16MB Flash | 384KB NVRAM) 12.2(44)SE6

    SW4: 3550 (64MB DRAM | 24MB Flash | 384KB NVRAM) 12.2(44)SE6

    (2 2509 Access Routers)


    Extra equipment (candidates for the R3 role and/or BB1, BB2, BB3):


    (2) 2620XM (128 MB DRAM / 32 MB Flash / 48KB NVRAM) | 1 FE / 1 WIC-2T | 12.4(25d) Advanced Enterprise Services

    (3) 3660 (128MB DRAM / 32MB Flash / 32KB NVRAM) | 2 FE (would need to order serial card)

    (10) 3640 (64MB DRAM / 16MB Flash / 32KB NVRAM) | 2 FE (would need to order serial card)

     

  • Hi lillloyd,

    all in all, your lab setup will enable you to practice most CCIE topics. Therefore some of the following comments are only relevant if you aim for 100% coverage.

    Are R5 and R6 in my configuration (3725s with 128MB DRAM/64MB Flash) sufficient in lieu of 1841s?

    With 128 MB RAM, requirements for running 12.4T Advanced Enterprise Services won't be met.

    Yes, this is supported by the device.

    IOS 12.2(15)T17 IP Plus (and above) requires 96 MB RAM on the 3640 platform.

    If your work place doesn't provide obvious alternatives like two NM-4T, NM-4A/S or four NM populated with enough WIC-1T (provided that amount of WICs is supported by the 3640), I would order the NM-8A/S.

    Regards,

    Ford

     

  • Hi lillloyd,

    all in all, your lab setup will enable you to practice most CCIE topics. Therefore some of the following comments are only relevant if you aim for 100% coverage.

    Are R5 and R6 in my configuration (3725s with 128MB DRAM/64MB Flash) sufficient in lieu of 1841s?

    With 128 MB RAM, requirements for running 12.4T Advanced Enterprise Services won't be met.

    Yes, this is supported by the device.

    IOS 12.2(15)T17 IP Plus (and above) requires 96 MB RAM on the 3640 platform.

    If your work place doesn't provide obvious alternatives like two NM-4T, NM-4A/S or four NM populated with enough WIC-1T (provided that amount of WICs is supported by the 3640), I would order the NM-8A/S.

    Regards,

    Ford

     

     

    Thanks much for the reply, this is really very helpful.

     

    A couple of follow-up questions:

     


    • the Cisco site lists their Advanced Enterprise Services code (c3725-adventerprisek9-mz.124-25d.bin) as needing 128MB DRAM/64MB Flash.  Is this one of those deals where it will technically load, but performance will be terrible, without the 256MB DRAM?
    • A noob question re/ IOSs -- are we typically safe to use later versions of the code than are listed in INE's specs?  I'm asking because I can't find the 12.2(15)T17 IP Plus IOS listed for the BB routers anywhere (even in the deferred releases sections).  As long as a load some variant of IP Plus (a more recent variant), am I okay here?
    Thanks again everyone for helping a rookie out ;)

     

  • Hi

    the Cisco site lists their Advanced Enterprise Services code (c3725-adventerprisek9-mz.124-25d.bin) as needing 128MB DRAM/64MB Flash.  Is this one of those deals where it will technically load, but performance will be terrible, without the 256MB DRAM?
    !

    My experience: On big machines like C6500 or 7600 you cannot start IOS thats needs 1024MB RAM with 512MB RAM. On the smaller machines you can, depending on what you run. A machine that serves lots of routes, BGP, MPLS, OSPF, VPN, CBAC etc. needs more RAM than a machine that only uses OSPF or EIGRP. At home I am running a 1841 with 128MB of ram and use it only for SSL VPN. For that you need the adv.ip.services image that "needs" 256MB RAM. It works fine as I only use SSL vpn. I am sure that when you get into more technologies though, the machine will crash.

     

    A noob question re/ IOSs -- are we typically safe to use later versions of the code than are listed in INE's specs?  I'm asking because I can't find the 12.2(15)T17 IP Plus IOS listed for the BB routers anywhere (even in the deferred releases sections).  As long as a load some variant of IP Plus (a more recent variant), am I okay here?

    Usually the follow up IOS with the same feature set contains the same possibilities in configuration as the version before. Maybe you can find the IOS under deferred releases or so. As long as you hit the same train and feature set you should be okay. To get a better view of how the IOS are organized (even cisco tac engineers get into trouble with that) you can check this: http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/le21/le34/downloads/689/academy/2005/BRK-101.pdf

     

    HTH

    Regards!

    Markus

    • the Cisco site lists their Advanced Enterprise Services code (c3725-adventerprisek9-mz.124-25d.bin) as needing 128MB DRAM/64MB Flash.  Is this one of those deals where it will technically load, but performance will be terrible, without the 256MB DRAM?

    128 MB will work for you without performance issues. CCIE lab practice won't push your device to its memory limits. In fact. as Cisco dimensions the memory requirements for production deployment, it could be the other way round, e.g. Cisco says 256 MB is required, but the device boots and works with 192 MB (wouldn't recommend this for production, but for a lab it's fine),

    • A noob question re/ IOSs -- are we typically safe to use later versions of the code than are listed in INE's specs?  I'm asking because I can't find the 12.2(15)T17 IP Plus IOS listed for the BB routers anywhere (even in the deferred releases sections).  As long as a load some variant of IP Plus (a more recent variant), am I okay here?
    Regarding BB1-BB3 any IOS release which supports the respective INE configs is OK.



    Regards,



    Ford


     

  • OK, so I think I'm extremely close now...thanks for the responses.

    I am going to be using WIC-2Ts on most routers in the INE R/S configuration, except for R3 (where I will use the NM-4A/S) and BB1/FR (where I will use the NM-8A/S).

    Is the following correct regarding what serial cables I should order?

     

     

    • (3) WIC 1T <-> WIC 1T connections for: (2) BB1<->R3 connections and (1) BB1<->BB3 connection.
    • (1) WIC 2T<-> WIC2T (smart serial to smart serial) connection for R4<.R5 connection.
    • (7) WIC 1T <-> WIC2T (DB60 to smart serial) connections for all other BB1 connections.  

    For the WIC 2T <-> 2T connection I would use: 

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/3FT-SMART-SERIAL-CABLE-FOR-CISCO-WIC-2T-back-to-back-/310379218841?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item48440b0799#ht_2506wt_1163

    For WIC 1T (NM-4A/S or NM-8A/S) <-> WIC 2T connections I would use:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/3FT-CISCO-WIC-2T-CABLE-DB60-DCE-SMART-SERIAL-DTE-/310377685749?_trksid=p4340.m185&_trkparms=algo%3DSIC.NPJS%26its%3DI%252BC%26itu%3DUA%26otn%3D5%26pmod%3D310300175817%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D6687784640536221504#ht_2606wt_1163

    or

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/3FT-CISCO-WIC-2T-DB60-DTE-SMART-SERIAL-DCE-CABLE-/310382689655?_trksid=p4340.m185&_trkparms=algo%3DSIC.NPJS%26its%3DI%252BC%26itu%3DUA%26otn%3D5%26pmod%3D310300175817%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D6687784640536221506#ht_2522wt_1163

     

    Based on what I've seen in the threads here, am I correct to say that it doesn't really matter which end you put the DCE (clocking) on, for the NM-4A/S<->WIC2T or NM-8A/S<->WIC2T connections?

     

     

    • (3) WIC 1T <-> WIC 1T connections for: (2) BB1<->R3 connections and (1) BB1<->BB3 connection.

    I understand BB1--BB3, but the other two cables should be between R1--R3 and R2--R3 according to http://www.ine.com/topology.htm. If you populate R1 and R2 with WIC-2T, (2) SS/DB60 cables are needed instead.

    At least for the NM-8A/S connections I would use DCE at the DB60-end to allow clocking on the FR switch.

    I assume you also took ethernet cables into account. For my home lab, I used crossover cables for the inter-switch links as AUTO-MDIX only works with speed/duplex auto on my switches.

    Regards,

    Ford

  • Hmm. OK, here's what I ordered (hopefully this is right LOL): (3) db60/db60 cables; (1) SS/SS cable; (7) db60-DCE/SS-DTE cables.

    See below; does this look okay?

     


    3 total db60/db60 (1T to 1T) connections required:

     

    --BB1 S9 (NM-8A/S) WIC1T to BB3's S0 WIC1T (NM-8A/S)

    --BB1 S2 (NM-8A/S) to R3 s1/0 (NM-4A/S)

    --BB1 S3 (NM-8A/S) to R3 s1/1 (NM-4A/S)

     

    1 total SS/SS (2T to 2T) connections required:

     

    --R4 s0/1/0 (WIC-2T) to R5 S0/1/0 (WIC-2T)

     

    7 Total db60/DCE-to-SS/DTE (1T to 2T) connections required (DCE always on db/60 side):

     

    --R3 S1/2 DCE (NM-4A/S) to R1 S0/1 (WIC-2T)

    --R3 S1/3 DCE (NM-4A/S) to R2 S0/1 (WIC-2T)

    --BB1 S0 DCE (NM-8A/S) to R1 (WIC-2T)

    --BB1 S1 DCE (NM-8A/S) to R2 (WIC-2T)

    --BB1 S4 DCE (NM-8A/S) to R4 (WIC-2T)

    --BB1 S5 DCE (NM-8A/S) to R5 (WIC-2T)

    --BB1 S6 DCE (NM-8A/S) to R6 (WIC-2T) 
  • Looks good; my comment above is obsolete. This threw me off:

    (7) WIC 1T <-> WIC2T (DB60 to smart serial) connections for all other BB1 connections
    In fact, only 5 cables are for BB1 connections, 2 are for R3. But you summed it up correctly. ;)
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