Building a Home Lab

Memorizing facts may get your foot in the door; however, you must also learn to work with actual equipment. While preparing you for real world situations, building a home lab can also help you learn the intricacies of working on physical devices.

Purchasing a Cisco router or switch can help you learn some of the basics; however, acquiring several devices will produce more advanced configurations. You could also download a free network simulator. GNS3 (http://www.gns3.net/) lets you practice router configuration without purchasing actual equipment.

For labs with eight or more devices I recommend a MasterSwitch Power Distribution Unit (PDU) and a Terminal Access Server. These pieces of equipment allow you to easily control the devices in your lab. The PDU turns equipment on/off remotely, and the Access Server connects to all of the devices so you can configure them with ease.

You can usually find a decent router or switch for under $100 on eBay. My home lab consists of ten devices (see below). This setup allows me to create many different topologies, and practice the skills necessary to pass numerous certification exams. I can reliably study for tests relating to Cisco Routing & Switching, Security, and Voice.

What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section, and remember to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TechnoTalk85.

Check back soon to learn even more about the exciting world of Information Technology.

See you next time.


My Home Lab:

APC AP9211 MasterSwitch Power Distribution Unit w/ AP9606 Web/SNMP Management Card; Cisco 2509 8 Port Terminal Access Server w/ Octal Cable and AUI 10BASE-T Transceiver; Cisco 2950 24-port L2 Switch (x2); Cisco 3550 24-port L3 Switch w/ inline power; Cisco 3550 48-port L3 Switch; Cisco 2801 Integrated Service Router w/ VWIC-1MFT-T1, VIC-4FXS/DID, VIC2-2FXO, PVDM2-8 (x2), and WIC-2T; Cisco 2620XM Integrated Service Router w/ NM-1FE-TX and WIC-2T (x2); Cisco 2620 Integrated Service Router w/ NM-1E2W, WIC-1T, and WIC-2T; Cisco 2620 Integrated Service Router w/ NM-4E and WIC-1T (x2); Cisco 7940 IP Phone (x2);  Cisco 7960 IP Phone (x2)

APC AP9211 MasterSwitch Power Distribution Unit w/ AP9606 Web/SNMP Management Card;
Cisco 2509 8 Port Terminal Access Server w/ Octal Cable and AUI 10BASE-T Transceiver;
Cisco 2950 24-port L2 Switch (x2);
Cisco 3550 24-port L3 Switch w/ inline power;
Cisco 3550 48-port L3 Switch;
Cisco 2801 Integrated Service Router w/ VWIC-1MFT-T1, VIC-4FXS/DID, VIC2-2FXO, PVDM2-8 (x2), and WIC-2T;
Cisco 2620XM Integrated Service Router w/ NM-1FE-TX and WIC-2T (x2);
Cisco 2620 Integrated Service Router w/ NM-1E2W, WIC-1T, and WIC-2T;
Cisco 2620 Integrated Service Router w/ NM-4E and WIC-1T (x2);
Cisco 7940 IP Phone (x2); Cisco 7960 IP Phone (x2)