Latest Packet Lab Videos

No videos found

Ads by Google

Archive for April, 2011

Cisco Learning Labs – Virtual Cisco IOS Labs for Routing and Switching

I received the following email last week:

Cisco Announces a Networking Education Breakthrough with Cisco Learning Labs

Cisco announces a networking education breakthrough with Cisco Learning Labs. For the first time, IT learners can now access real Cisco labs with both routing and Layer 2 core switching features.

Cisco Learning Labs are powered by Cisco IOS® Software on UNIX and enable critical, hands-on lab experience for future networking engineers interested in attaining Cisco certifications.

Elevate your study program with Cisco Learning Labs today and enjoy the variety of lab bundles for Cisco CCNA®, Cisco CCNP®, and Cisco CCIP® certification preparation.

Cisco Learning Labs are available exclusively on the Cisco Learning Network Store.

Review all lab bundles and pricing information now.

This is something that I (and many others) have been looking forward to for some time.  Cisco is providing virtual network labs to help train for Cisco exams.

This is the first time (as far as I know) that Cisco has allowed (legal) access to its IOU (IOS on UNIX) platform to users outside of Cisco and large Cisco partners.  Basically, IOU is an advanced emulator that allows you to run and interconnect virtualized Cisco devices.  It has been used inside Cisco for years now as a way to quickly mock up networks for design and testing.  Some of you may be saying “So what? Dynamips does the same thing.”  The difference between IOU and Dynamips is that IOU can run instances of higher end routers not available in Dynamips.  It can also scale much larger than Dynamips by using substantially less resources.  Finally – and probably most importantly – it can emulate layer 2 devices, which Dynamips cannot (other than some basic layer 2 functionality via a router switch card).  While I would prefer to see IOU released as an application for creating my own virtualized networks, its at least a good first step to see Cisco using IOU in this fashion.

You should definitely check out the Cisco Store page, but I’ll make it easy for you as there is not a lot of detailed information on that page at this time:

There is nothing like the real thing, especially when it comes to preparing for some of the most important exams of your career.

Cisco Learning Labs for routing and switching are real bundles of practice labs, powered by Cisco IOS Software on UNIX.

For the first time, Cisco IT learners can virtually access and implement routing and Layer 2 core switching lab configurations from the convenience of a PC.

Whereas many networking learners might struggle with gaining access to physical lab gear or with the costs and time that are involved with setting up a home lab, Cisco Learning Labs are the hassle-free solution for gaining economical and authentic lab experience.

Prices start at US$50 for 25 hours of lab time. So for just US$2 an hour, you can take the most critical step in preparing for a Cisco certification exam-while saving time and money.

Advance your learning and study regimen today with Cisco IOS Software and take your Cisco certification exam with the added assurance of knowing that you have prepared with real lab scenarios for Cisco CCNA®, Cisco CCIP®, and Cisco CCNP® certifications.

Enjoy these exclusive Cisco Learning Labs features:

* Configure labs in the ROUTE and core SWITCH environment
* No downtime for equipment resets
* Multiple labs available in all bundles (starting at 11 and up to 15 labs)
* Accessible anytime for 90 days (up to 25 hours)
* Supplemental lab time options available (5 hours per bundle)

System requirements:

Cisco Learning Labs require Microsoft Windows-based computers (XP, Vista, or 7) running Windows Internet Explorer (versions 7, 8, or 9).

Here’s what’s available at the time of this posting:

Cisco Learning Labs: CCIP MPLS Virtualized Lab Bundle 25-hours
Price: $75.00

Cisco Learning Labs: CCIP MPLS Virtualized Lab Bundle 5-hour Extension
Price: $30.00

Cisco Learning Labs: CCNA ICND2 Virtualized Lab Bundle 25-hours
Price: $50.00

Cisco Learning Labs: CCNA ICND2 Virtualized Lab Bundle 5-hour Extension
Price: $20.00

Cisco Learning Labs: CCNP ROUTE Virtualized Lab Bundle 25-hours
Price: $75.00

Cisco Learning Labs: CCNP ROUTE Virtualized Lab Bundle 5-hour Extension
Price: $30.00

Cisco Learning Labs: CCNP SWITCH Virtualized Lab Bundle 25-hours
Price: $75.00

Cisco Learning Labs: CCNP SWITCH Virtualized Lab Bundle 5-hour Extension
Price: $30.00

Cisco Learning Labs: CCNP TSHOOT Virtualized Lab Bundle 25-hours
Price: $75.00

Cisco Learning Labs: CCNP TSHOOT Virtualized Lab Bundle 5-hour Extension
Price: $30.00

There’s only one lab available for $50 and it’s the ICND2 lab.  The rest cost $75.  That means that most of the options cost $3 per hour ($2 per hour for ICND2).  Additional time can be purchased in 5 hour blocks at $6 per hour ($4 per hour for ICND2).  At $3 per hour (again, for all but the ICDN2 lab), this is in line with pricing for many rack rental companies (using real equipment).  At $6 per hour, this is more expensive than many rack rental companies.   Of course, depending on how scheduling of your lab hours works, the cost may be worthwhile.  With most – if not all – rack rental companies, you need to schedule your rack time in blocks of hours.  These blocks are usually in the 4 to 8 hour range.  If you could schedule smaller blocks of time, say one hour blocks, then there may be more value in the Cisco lab bookings.  Also, I imagine that the number of concurrent lab users is limited only by bandwidth (which should be pretty trivial) and processing power to run the virtual instances rather.  This differs from vendors booking real equipment and may mean that you could get instance access to the Cisco virtual labs, thereby bypassing the advanced scheduling required with most rack rental companies.  In other words, you might be able to log in whenever you have some spare time instead of booking a block of time in advance.  You also might be able to avoid not being able to book a lab due to all of the lab equipment already being reserved.  This is only speculation as I could not find any details on the Cisco page.  One of the few details present is that you need to use your lab time within 90 days of purchase.  That’s not too bad of a restriction and should not be a problem…depending on the availability to schedule labs.

So, the cost is not exactly an outstanding bargain.  What about the labs themselves.  Whereas most rack rental companies are selling time on their equipment, this (generally) does not include the cost of the lab scenarios themselves.  Cisco is selling anywhere from 11 to 15 lab scenarios with each block of 25 hours.  Depending on the quality of the lab scenarios, that could make this a great bargain.  Unfortunately, at this time there are no details on the content of the lab scenarios nor sample scenarios.

What can be culled from the web page is that you will interact with the lab environment via a browser.  That’s about it.  This page (and their sales) would greatly benefit from some more details about these labs.  There are some details about the lab scenarios (just the titles) on the pages for the individual lab products.  For instance, here are the lab scenarios for the MPLS labs:

Cisco Learning Labs: CCIP MPLS Virtualized Lab Bundle includes the following labs:

  • Lab 2-1 Establishing the Service Provider IGP Routing Environment
  • Lab 3-1 Establishing the Core MPLSEnvironment
  • Lab 5-1 Initial MPLS VPN Setup
  • Lab 5-2 Running EIGRP Between PE and CE Routers
  • Lab 5-3 Running OSPF Between PE and CE Routers
  • Lab 5-4 Running BGP Between PE and CE Routers
  • Lab 6-1 Overlapping VPNs
  • Lab 6-2 Merging Service Providers
  • Lab 6-3 Common Services VPN
  • Lab 7-1 Establishing Central Site Internet Connectivity with and MPLS VPN
  • Lab 8-1 Implementing Basic MPLS TE

Those look like pretty good scenarios (especially the VPN scenarios), but Cisco needs to provide more details about the lab scenarios.  I would like to see more details about the individual scenarios as well as a sample scenario so I could judge the quality as well as whether the topology could be easily and more cheaply (free!) created with Dynamips.  I’d like to know if the labs are down-loadable or if they are only available via browser when using your lab time.  I’d really love to know more details about scheduling labs as well.  This page is screaming for a video covering some of the details of this product.

Update: There is a video on YouTube that introduces the Cisco Learning Labs.  It too is a little light on details:

Cisco Learning Labs

Cisco Learning Labs

I’m definitely interested in the CCIP MPLS labs, but would like more information before dropping $75.  Especially since the vast majority of MPLS scenarios only require routers and can be done on Dynamips.  The switching labs would probably provide the most benefit for Cisco students at this point as advanced switching tasks are not available in Dynamips.

For now, I’m going to hold off on purchasing any of the labs.  If I do decide to jump into Cisco’s brand new training pool, I’ll post a review here.  I do think that this is a great idea, but would need more information before I would purchase.

Currently Reading
CCNA Security Official Exam Certification Guide  (Exam 640-553)
274 / 672 Pages
CCNA Security Official Exam Certification Guide (Exam 640-553)
Ads By Google