Monthly Archives: November 2014

GNS3 – Cisco Simulator

Per my previous posts, it has been about 13 years since I completed, the now expired, CCNP, and back in the day, the router simulators were insufficient, at best, and in most cases were worthless.  With those experiences burned into my brain, I purchased a couple L3 switches and a couple routers, and I built a small Cisco lab the TV room.  I’m a firm believer of “hands on” experience, and this equipment provided a brush up on the physical portion of Cisco gear such as recovering passwords, uploading IOS images and getting the equipment wired up.   These activities were a good refresher; however, it became obvious that physically cabling up each hands on practice exercise, which would require the removal of old configs, would get old real quick, so I took the time to check out the GNS3 simulator.

A co-worker, who is studying for his CCIE, told me about GNS3, and I’m glad I listened.  GNS3 is free to download, and it is worth the time to read the “Getting Started” guide.  The generic download includes many items such as hosts and switching elements; however, all Layer 3 devices require you to download the IOS image from Cisco.  I have a CCO account (Cisco website login), so downloading the images is rather easy.  If you do not have a CCO account, I’m sure there are ways to download an image from the Internet or possibly a co-worker may have access.

GNS3 - OSPF Practice

Once the IOS image is downloaded, you create a new router, and point the software to the image, and magically, a router is added to the GNS3 software.  I created a basic 2621 router with (3) Fast Ethernet interfaces which supports my needs to the CCNA scenarios.  As I progress past the CCNA, other router types may be required.

To create a practice scenario, you just drag and drop the elements needed, and so far, all I needed have been routers and hosts.  GNS3 has a VPCS (Virtual PC System) included, and these elements allow you to assign an IP address and ping\traceroute to other elements.  This is useful to ensure connectivity across the networks configured in the scenario.

I will add more info about GNS3 as I become more familiar, and if possible, I will add different practice scenarios.

Cisco ICND 101 – Studying Half Way Point

Assuming you spent some time researching Cisco certs, you know that the CCNA is split into ICND 101 and ICND 201.  The information is split across these two courses, but you have the option of passing two tests, or taking one test that covers both courses.  Financially, there is basically no benefit for taking one test vs. two tests.  As I type this, each individual tests costs $150 while the one large test costs $295.

I decided that I will take the two test path towards the CCNA.  My opinion is that the two test path will allow me to focus and learn the information instead of memorizing information to pass the tests.

As of today, I feel that I’m half way through the information.  A lot of it has been a refresher, but the training videos and books have also taught me new items.  One thing about the technology field is that no matter how experienced you are, you can always learn new things.  If you want to be successful in the tech field, accepting the fact that you do not know everything, no matter how experienced you are, is key.

Anyway, at the half way point of ICND 101, I got a good refresher on the basics to include the OSI layers and basic IP communications – ARP, DHCP, subnetting tricks.  Fortunately, I am still familiar with subnetting, so most of the subnetting sections are a refresher; however, there are some new tricks and subnetting processes which I have learned which will make the test taking more efficient, and they will translate over to my day-to-day job.

I’m taking time off around the Thanksgiving Holiday, so between travel and house projects, I hope to knock out the 2nd half of the studying.  Once I’m done with the studying, I will plow through some practice tests, complete some focused studying and get the ICND 101 test passed.  I will provide updates and a test review when completed.

Cisco Home Lab Build

I have started to study for my CCNA which is required prior to moving on to the CCNP cert, and unlike many, I use this studying to learn the technology.  To support this, I like to have my own little Cisco lab to practice the configuration portion of the studying.

Back in 200\2001, I had five 2500 series routers, with V.35 connectors, to study for my CCNP, and each of these routers were in the $100 – $125 range, so I expected the same this time around for 2600 routers and 3550 L3 switches.  To my surprise, the prices of these Cisco models are on the inexpensive side.  I got four 3550 switches delivered to my house for $50 each, $200 total, a 2600 router delivered for $57 and a local 2600 router for $30.  I spent a total of $287 for a decent Cisco lab to study my CCNA and CCNP.

I strongly suggest that everyone takes the time to complete hands on configuration, and while there are simulators that you can configure, I feel there is no substitution for hands on.  Buying used equipment, you can learn how to upload newer IOS version, recover password and how the physical cabling is connected.  These are skills that come in handy on a day-to-day activities.

Why I’m Re-certifying on Cisco

This turned out to be a pretty easy decision for me; even though, it will require a fair amount of time to properly study the material for the tests and take the time to learn how to implement the information.

Back in the day, I completed my MCSE (1999), CCNA (2000) and CCNP (2001).  I used my CCNP during my day job as a Cisco Integration Engineer for a small company, and I enjoyed the work; however, the hours required was a turn-off.  There were a lot of 2am upgrades; then, 9am meetings with clients along with driving a few hours to and from client locations everyday.  After a little while, this wore me out, so I ended taking an opportunity at Nextel.

Once at Nextel, I didn’t have a need to keep up with my certs, so they all expired.  Fortunately, I was tied to some great projects within Nextel\Sprint, so there was never any need for me to pursue updated certs.  Reality set in this year as Sprint is going through a significant layoff exercise, and it became obvious that I need to get re-cert’ed to be a viable candidate for quality opportunities.

So here I am, studying for Cisco certs, and as it is easy to find, Cisco requires you to start with the CCNA; then, you can move onto the CCNP, or other certs.  I’m also looking to change jobs within Sprint to take a position with a focus on networking to include Cisco and Juniper.  Between these two activities, I hope to have good info for this site, and maybe, someone may stumble upon the information and use it in their journey.