Guide To Building a Home Study Lab, Part III: Purchasing Equ

Pytania dt. certyfikacji CCIE oraz CCDE

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Guide To Building a Home Study Lab, Part III: Purchasing Equ


#1 Post autor: marcins »

Guide To Building a Home Study Lab, Part III: Purchasing Equipment
In this, the third of a multi-part series, Andrew covers the different ways of procuring the equipment you need to build your Cisco study lab.

by Andrew Mason

September 2004 — In the last article of this series (click here), we looked at the four types of equipment required to build most every Cisco study lab: routers, switches, security products and ancillary equipment to tie it all together. In this installment, we'll delve into how exactly to go about purchasing this equipment. And when it comes to such buys, there's one very obvious choice you'll need to make: new or used?

New Equipment
The easiest way to build your home study lab is to buy all of your networking equipment new. However, unless you are in a very privileged position, this probably isn't going to be a viable option: For example, a suitable lab for Routing and Switching Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) with six routers, two switches and all the ancillary equipment could cost you $20,000 or more. You may be able to afford buying just one (or perhaps two) pieces -- if so, this section will help you find such equipment at the best price possible.

As mentioned, there are four main equipment categories for every Cisco exam lab: routers, switches, security equipment and ancillary equipment (cables, etc.). Most of the equipment from the first three categories will be actual Cisco equipment, so let's start by looking at how you can go about buying new Cisco products.

Cisco operates via what is called a channel. This means that unless you are a very large corporate customer, you must purchase your Cisco equipment through a channel partner. There are four Cisco channel partners: resellers, premier partners, silver partners and gold partners.

Cisco has a handy online tool for locating your local Cisco partner at ... ocator.jsp.

This tool works worldwide, and results can be sorted into state and postal region order. Once you have found a Cisco channel partner, give them a call and prepare for the bad news. (Didn't think it would be that much, did you?)

Okay, on to plan #2: traditional network resellers -- you know, the ones that constantly send you network engineers all those catalogs. Sometimes, these shops are also Cisco resellers. Because of the large volume of equipment these resellers deal in, they usually buy at very aggressive rates and can be a great place to look for new equipment. So start reading those catalogs and scour through their Internet stores. As you can imagine, there are quite a few online stores that sell new Cisco equipment. To get you started in your hunt, below are a list of a handful of U.S. and U.K. online stores that offer a nice range of Cisco hardware:

U.S. Stores
· Avnet -
· CDW -
· Insight -

U.K. Stores
· Insight -
· Misco IT Solutions -
· Redspan Solutions -

Remember IOS Versions
When buying new equipment, make sure you keep IOS versions in mind. Ideally, you want the IOS with all the features enabled that you'll need for your study. For the Associate- and Professional-level Cisco exams, probably the basic IP IOS feature set will be sufficient. The exception to this will be the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP), where you will need a security feature set to access the required features that are tested in the exams. For the CCIE, you really want the enterprise feature set on all your routers and switches, and the latest security code on all of your security appliances. This enterprise feature set can be very expensive and will add significantly to the initial cost of the lab.

Note that more features in IOS generally means the IOS will have larger images, which can strain your Flash memory. If the standard supplied Flash memory is inadequate, you'll need to upgrade at extra cost. The larger images will also normally require more DRAM memory to run, so again, an upgrade to the devices DRAM memory will probably be required. All in all, purchasing a new device and getting it to run the latest and greatest IOS is an expensive endeavor -- one that is probably out of reach for most students.
Fortunately, there is an alternative!

Used Equipment
I created my CCIE lab mainly from used equipment, as I suspect most CCIE candidates do. Back when I passed my CCIE in early 2001 -- a relatively short time ago, really -- the situation for used equipment was far different than what it is today (at least in the U.K., where I'm based). Back in 2001, before the dotcom crash really had gained momentum, used Cisco equipment still cost a premium. Sure, there were bargains, but they were few and far between. Luckily, things are much different today, with fantastic bargains to be had on used Cisco hardware.

Building a lab for your certification studies relies upon features within IOS and interface types that match the requirements of the certification. For example, if you are studying for an Associate-level title such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), then most low-end routers running IOS will suffice. I actually studied and passed my CCNA using a single 801 router (although this was quite a few years ago). To test true routing capabilities, however, a minimum of three routers is required to provide triangulation (this will be covered in detail in the later articles in this series). Second-hand equipment is ideal for these situations, as prices are cheaper and because you won't need the latest and greatest IOS to test the functionality of features required for the CCNA and Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA). This is also approximately 90 percent true for the CCNP and other Professional-level Cisco titles. Once again, the one exception to this is the CCSP -- you need later IOS feature sets due to the security features available in the IOS code. As for you CCIE candidates out there, the lab exam is always a few major releases behind the current IOS version: For example, the current CCIE lab is using IOS version 12.2, even though 12.3 has been out for quite some time. So you should never really need the latest and greatest hardware to run the images for the CCIE lab.

Now, let's look at the best places to get your hands on some used equipment:

This is the first place I'd look! If you are lucky enough to be working for a company that uses Cisco equipment, then it's likely there will be access to some used equipment. Presuming that your employer is supporting you in your Cisco studies, you should be able to convince them to loan you the equipment at no charge to reach your certification goals. It is not uncommon in large organizations for employers to actually build study labs for their employees who are embarking upon Cisco certifications. At the end of the day, these certifications, as long as they are relevant to your job, are as much of a benefit to yourself as they are to your employer.

Note that while work is an ideal source for such equipment from a cash point of view, it may not be ideal as far as the actual devices are concerned. How outdated is the equipment? What condition are they in? Again, don't worry about the IOS version for most lower- to mid-level titles, but be sure to check carefully if you're studying for the CCSP or the CCIE.

Equipment Brokers
Since the dotcom crash, a number of companies that bought surplus are now trying to sell off extra hardware, as are bankrupt firms that are trying to recover their losses. These suppliers are ideal for building labs as you can normally source some great equipment, and the staff at these brokers will help you to find the individual parts needed to fully build your lab.

Below are a list of equipment brokers in the U.S. and the U.K.:

U.S. Sources
· BIZI -
· Digital Warehouse -
· Optimized Systems -
· Network Hardware Resale -

U.K. Sources
· ADM Premier -
· Computer Computer Ltd -

Another option is, of course, eBay. eBay can be a fantastic resource for obtaining used Cisco equipment and a simple search on eBay brings up literally hundreds of Cisco devices, with some great bargains to be had. As with anything on eBay, be very careful and make sure you check out the seller before placing a bid. There are fraudulent sellers. Be sure to ask questions about the devices first and get as much information as you can. Always get the exact model number of the device, the amount of Flash and DRAM, and also what IOS the equipment is running. It is not unreasonable to ask for the output of the "show version" and "show running-config" commands. Another good thing to ask about is the router boot sequence. This way you can see if there are any errors at boot time with the device.

Next Time: Lab Scenarios
With these last two articles, we've covered the equipment for your labs, so starting next month we're going to move on to scenarios for specific Cisco certifications. Stay tuned!

Andrew G. Mason, CCIE #7144, CCDP, CSS1, CCNP:Security, CCSP, is the technical director of Boxing Orange, a U.K.-based Cisco VPN/Security partner specialising in the design and implementation of Cisco security solutions. Andrew has 13 years experience in the networking industry and has provided services for many large organizations worldwide. Andrew is the author of four Cisco Press books. .

Posty: 1
Rejestracja: 22 sty 2019, 16:46

Re: Guide To Building a Home Study Lab, Part III: Purchasing Equ


#2 Post autor: SharrySteve1 »

Used Cisco products are easy to get your hands on at eBay, but I usually run my own three-step verification process :D to see how authentic the seller is, of course, to keep on the safe side (despite the fact that eBay is one of the most trusted online platforms on the Internet today)

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Rejestracja: 15 kwie 2009, 18:31

Re: Guide To Building a Home Study Lab, Part III: Purchasing Equ


#3 Post autor: double.decode »

Moje życie jest od dzisiaj kompletne.

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Re: Guide To Building a Home Study Lab, Part III: Purchasing Equ


#4 Post autor: konradrz »

- Hey, England, do you finally leave or remain?
- Yes.
- "Yes" what?
- Yes, sir.

(żeby było do kompletnego kompletu)