Home lab for CCIE exam training

Before I started with my preparation I was in front of a dilemma. I knew that I will need a rack to practice for CCIE training and I had two options: remote rack rental or home rack.

I put together side by side all pluses and minuses about the two options, but somehow I couldn’t decide which solution to choose. Both options have good and bad parts. You’ll have to figure it out which solution you can afford and works best in your case. My words below are just to be used as guidelines.

In first phase I bought some time on online racks. The prices were acceptable but I had big issues to find a time window that suits for me. As you probably know, the “good” windows are already booked in advanced. Next, most of the racks are out of Europe (where I’m located), so there is a time difference. Then I had problems with latency. It was acceptable but I could feel that the connection cannot keep up with my typing speed. All this together made me think to find a new solution.

Phase two: Dynamips. I believe that everybody who’s preparing for an Cisco exam heard of this software and used and least once. I put together a strong machine to support Dynamips and then I look around for a training provider that would offer their labs in this format. Back then, INE was my choice and it went pretty well. Almost perfect, just that the routers were stopping to respond from time to time, lack of connectivity in the emulated topology and of course I couldn’t test everything on switches.

I had some months of practice -> Brussels -> exam … and failed. Yes, failure is part of the game. Judging after my exam results (the percent part) I realized that I’m not totally out of topics, but I need to polish my knowledge a bit more to pass.

After this episode I had to stop for a while my preparation due to lack of time. A while ago, I decided to give another exam try, but before I need  to start polishing my knowledge.

Phase three: mixed home rack. I have now a mixed rack with Dynamips for routers and switches in hardware. I opted for this solution because of multiple problems like lack of space for a full rack, costs, power consumption, noise and so on.

To put the things together for this mixed topology, I had to buy some things on eBay. Here is the list:

3 x Quad Ethernet cards

2 x Cisco 3560

2 x Cisco 3550

3 x Cisco 2600 (for BB routers)

There is another solution, that don’t require quad cards, but an extra switch that support QinQ. You can read more about that solution here.

The there quad cards will give me 12 ethernet ports enough for 6 routers (R1..R6) in common topologies. The serial connections will be emulated in Dynamips and the Ethernet will be something like:

R1 F0/0 -> Eth1 (Linux box) -> 3560 Fa0/1

and so on…

The three BB routers are not really necessary if you use the topology from INE , as one of the BB has a Serial connection to topology routers, and I cannot have that connection from virtual to physical environment.

If you use MicronicsTrainig, well-know as Narbik topology, then you will need the physical routers or an additional quad card. In this topology the BB routers have Ethernet connection to the switches and I don’t have enough ports with my three quad cards. Anyway the price was not a problem for the 2600.

With IPexpert training books, it’s a bit different. I didn’t check too much into their topology, because I understand that you need more resources as it include more routers (about nine). I will have a look in future, as I would like to see if my home rack can be used with any provider.

Here are some pictures of my home lab:

In my next post I will describe how I build a “rack” from an IKEA table, cable connection, console configuration and so more technical details for those who would like to follow this solution.



New blog section – Certification

I don’t know how many of my blog visitors had the curiosity to visit the About section to read something about me. If some of you did read that section, then you already know that I have several certifications from Cisco and other vendors and I’m on my way to CCIE. A long road with a slow progress due to my busy professional life.

These being said, I want to announce a new section of my blog called “Certification”. In this section I will discuss only about certifications and related topics like training providers, exam scenarios and tasks, recommended approach and so on. I will try to help engineers on the same path as me and, why not, ask for help when I have a blocking point.

I have some years of network engineering field experience, I attended some exams and for a while I’m preparing for the CCIE R&S exam, so I think I can do a good job in this section. Compared to other sections the technical parts discussed here will be more oriented to exams, and not real networking challenges.

I hope my experience together with your contribution with comments and suggestions to make this section interesting.

Last words. If you hope to find here braindumps or materials that violate the NDA (no matter if is Cisco or other vendor), then you are in the wrong place.

Cisco IP Routing overview – Part I

I have found this great video material from RouteHub Group regarding IP routing overview. It contains basic about IP routing, why it is needed, how to implement and so on. This material will be really apreciated by the beginners in this area as the explanation is straight forward without using fancy explanation where is not needed. For today you have part 1 from this 4 episodes series.

All this material is produced by RouteHub Group consultants, so all the copyrights and greetings have to be directed to them. If was free shared on the Internet so, I hope that I’m not breaking any copyright rules here. All that i want is to make this material more visible on the Internet. This is true also for the more to come materials from them.

If you are curious who is RouteHub Group, I have found this simple explanation on their site: RouteHub Group is a Premium Cisco Consulting provider of Cisco Products, Solutions, Training, and Professional Services for small, medium, and large-sized businesses.

[flv w=640 h=505]https://ipnet.xyz/vid/routehub/Cisco-IP-Routing-part1.flv[/flv]

Please find below:

2nd part

3rd part

4th part

of this presentation

Ivan Pepelnjak, CCIE#1354, proposed some reduced budget training

Ivan Pepelnjak, proposed on his blog, some reduced budget training. For now, the prices on his blog shows:

€30 ($45)/hour/participant (two attendees @ 2-hour presentation = € 120);

€200 ($300)/hour for a private on-line workshop (up to 10 participants).

According to his statement this training will be WebEx-delivered workshops or, depending from case to case training, can also arrange on-site events.
For more information please visit his blog, or get in contact with him.

Juniper Training … Get a Free First Look

Today in the morning, I received a notification in my Inbox about a new person following  me on Twitter. As I took a look on Jonah Manning’s (that’s the name of the person following me) twitters, one subject caught my attention immediately: Training … Get a Free First Look”.

I followed the link and this lead me to an document (http://forums.juniper.net/t5/Networking-Now/Training-Get-a-Free-First-Look/ba-p/23149) which explains that Juniper is renewing it’s learning classes and they need beta testers for this. In the following lines I will use some lines from the link posted above, so please don’t sue me for copyright infringement, rather let me know if there is a problem and I’ll remove them.

So, what’s going on Juniper:
“When we write new training classes (or even significantly revise existing ones), we conduct various kinds of reviews to ensure that the training teaches the correct audience the correct skills in the correct way.  Sometimes, we get input from members of the “target audience” prior to writing the training (or even while writing the training), to find out what they really want to know, or to find out if a particular example is going to work well.  However, one of the biggest tests of a new class is the beta class.”

What is a beta class?
“A beta class is the first real-life test of a new class”

Where will them take place?
“It is conducted in our (n.a. Juniper’s) Sunnyvale offices using student guides and labs that are candidates for final release, and it is taught on a schedule that imitates the final class.  This is where we find out whether the four-day class really is four days, whether that slide on the second day really does explain four-byte AS numbers well enough, and whether that lab really does explain the topic accurately.  This is our opportunity to double-check that the class includes the correct material for the target audience, that it teaches that material well, and that there are no missing “building blocks” of knowledge.”

What they will teach you?
“… we have many kinds of classes (introductory, intermediate, and advanced) on many different topics (routing, VPNs, MPLS, security, management, etc.)”

How much does it cost?
“Participants in the beta classes are allowed to attend the class for free (however, all incidental expenses, including travel, are the participants’ responsibility)”

As you can see this beta classes are free, but unfortunately  for some of us, network engineers, will cost some money (at least for me since I’m in Europe) to attend, due to travel expenses and accommodation. Anyway the lucky ones, which are interested in seeing what’s the deal with Juniper and have some know-how about networking can attend this classes for free. To take advantage of this offer, you have to register. Please find out how to do that at:  http://forums.juniper.net/t5/Networking-Now/Training-Get-a-Free-First-Look/ba-p/23149, the paragraph before last one.

OK, if you cannot participate in this program, but you still want to get familiar with Juniper, there is a good news, as you can find online some classes. And the best part, some of them are completely free, you just need an Internet connection and you’re good to go. You can find this online classes here: http://www.juniper.net/us/en/training/technical_education/