Home Lab Ideas

Unanswered Question
Mar 10th, 2008


My company has recently switched to all Cisco gear for our LAN/WAN, firewall, VPN access, voice, pretty much everything. I've now got to support it, so I'm planning on doing my Cisco certifications. I do have outside resources available right now to help me support it, so it's not like I'm being completely dropped in the deep end, but this will certainly be a major part of my job in the future.

So, my plan is obviously to start with CCNA, and then do CCNP, CCSP, and potentially CCIE on the Security track. My company is paying for this, as well as setting me up a home lab for study purposes. That being said, this is what I was thinking to get me through CCNA, and put at least a pretty big dint into what I'd need for CCNP:

2 x 1841 Routers

1 x 2520 Router

2 x 3550 24 Port Switches with EMI

1 x 2950T Switch

Am I missing anything glaringly obvious?


I have this problem too.
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Hi There

Well I wouldn't mind if my company was willing to buy me a home lab :)

I would suggest that you get a least 1 extra 1841 router, change the 1 2950T to 2 x 2960 switches with the enhanced IOS image and consider picking up a 2511 to act as an access server.

The reasoning behind these suggestions is that with the extra router you can set up a Frame Relay topology with one hub and two spoke routers. The reason for the 2960 switches is that this is what seems to be used in the latest CCNA study guides. The 3350's are as I am sure you are aware L3 switches and I am not sure how different (if at all) the command set is. The 2511 Access Server is a nice to have. It means that you do not have to keep moving the console cable from machine to machine. With the 2511 you can connect up to 16 devices.

I would also advise that you get two serial (WAN) interface cards per router.

I have atatched a diagram of the kind of setup I would use with the equipment listed. This is pretty much what I used for my own CCNA, except the main routers were 26xx's and I had two more. R4 connected to R3 and R5 connected to R1. Both connections were direct serial connections.


Best Regards,


jdfriesen Tue, 03/11/2008 - 08:38

Thanks for the suggestions Michael. In your drawing, you only had 2 switches, so were you suggesting I drop the 3550's & the 2950T, and replace all 3 with 2 2960's?


Hi John

No, Not at all. The Drawing depics what you will need for you CCNA studies (IMHO). I suggest replacing the 2950T with 2 x 2960's with the enhanced IOS image.

If your company are footing the bill and if you work with Layer 3 switches, then add them into your lab as you see fit. But for study you will not require the L3 functionality of the 3550's until CCNP level.

Also I think that the 3550's are end of life. They are still a worthwhile addition to your lab (I have 2 myself) but you could also consider getting 3560's insteadto make your lab a little more "Future Proof".

Just some things to think about.

Best Regards,


jdfriesen Tue, 03/11/2008 - 10:07

Thanks for the clarification Michael. My company is footing the bill, but within reason. I know the 3550's are EOL, but I really can't ask them to bump those to 3560's. We do have several 3560's in our network here, so working with L3 switches is important.


greekgeek Tue, 03/11/2008 - 14:07

Does the 1841 support inter-VLAN trunking and SDM? He will need that for the new CCNA.


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