Im 19 and have been reading the ICND1 book by Wendall Odem to prepare for the 640-822 exam. I understand the basic principles within the book but have heard that the exam itself requires you to setup and configure a newtork.
I have tried to find a simulator but as of yet have not found one that seems to be of any use. People have suggested buying routers of ebay and set up a home lab but I am very short on cash.
I know this question has been asked loads of times and I have looked at the replies but I am still a little confused. What is the best preperation to have for the CCENT exam with a limited budget and will the simulators give enough practice in order to be able to pass the exam? If so could anyone recommend a good simulator which I could use?
If I have to buy routers and equipment, which equipment would you recommend?
Thanks in advance
For what it's worth I studied for the single CCNA exam from about Aug 2006 and passed the exam in March/April 2007. I initially started with a Sybex book which came with a simulator on a CD. I found this software fairly basic but the book author also provided a link to a supposedly better simulator package which I also purchased.
This package was better but I still found
a. Bugs which prevented me from completing a lab
b. Commands which were not available, again preventing lab completion
c. Commands which gave incorrect output, not helpful when you are studying a new technology.
I searched around the web and in the end I ended up with about 5 different simulator packages, one of which was marketed towards CCNP, but all had some if not all of the issues I listed above. I had spent a fair amount of money by this time.
In the end someone mentioned setting up a home lab. I looked around Ebay and found that the equipment required for the labs in my study material was only marginally more expensive that what I had already spent on Simulator software. If I had only investigated this option sooner...
So IMHO you can probably do about 90% of what you need with any of the simulators available on the market, but I think your money would be better spent on whatever real equipment you can pick up. You can always add more as your budget allows and this would also serve you better as you progress with your Cisco studies.
Some other potions you might consider though are
a. Renting some Rack time from an online provider. There are a number of online providers which provide this service. The racks are usually set up for CCIE, but you can do your CCENT/CCNA/CCNP labs on these also. For a provider who rents out racks setup just for CCENT/CCNA/CCNP labs check out www.thebryantadvantage.com
b. Have you heard of or checked out dynamips/dynagen? This is Emulator software that you run on a PC/Laptop which allows you to build up a lab and run proper IOS on the routers in the lab. The only downside to this is that is does not emulate catalyst switches, but is does provide basic switching functionality. This software is freeware, though you will need to get your hands on some IOS versions. Also you will need a decent enough PC/Laptop to run a medium to large lab.
If you do decide to go the home lab route, be aware that you do not need the latest and greatest routers. I think that you could cover most if not all of what you need using 3or 4 25xx routers and 1 or 2 2950 switches.
Well I hope some of this information is of some use to you and provides you with some options to help you get the hands on experience you are looking for.
Good luck with the studies.
Best Regards & Best Wishes for 2008 and beyond,