Getting lab experience with T1, SONET, ATM....?

Unanswered Question
May 9th, 2008

I severely suspect that it's not possible to set up, in one's home study lab, a T1 or a SONET link - and I'm a bit unclear on the layer 1 requirements for ATM; but I figured there'd be no harm in asking around here for any ideas on getting experience with those technologies. My 9-router, two-Catalyst-switch study lab has served me well in my certification studies, but the CCNA-level jobs advertised out there all want candidates who know those Layer 1 and 2 technologies; and in study lab all I can manage is FR, PPP, and HDLC.

Any ideas on how I might wet my feet with the WAN technologies that hirers really want?

I have this problem too.
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svermill Fri, 05/09/2008 - 15:26

T-1 can be done back-to-back in a lab, as can basic SONET (although the interfaces will cost you more). As for ATM, well, I leave that for others to comment on. You could consider a CCIE vendor's Service Provider rack rental offerings, which should include all three of those technologies. There are many such vendors with offerings on the Internet.

But in truth, real experience with these technologies comes from actually working with them in the wild. No matter what you might poke around with in a lab environment, the true issues with such circuits can only be experienced in the real world. Dealing with service providers, their trouble ticket and troubleshooting processes, their "Smart Jacks" as so forth...that's the sort of thing you really need to have done battle with to claim worthwhile experience. So it's the classic chicken and egg scenario we so often face in this business.

But none of it's rocket science! You should be able to demonstrate an aptitude during the interview process and be fine.

Best luck,


CriscoSystems Fri, 05/09/2008 - 16:04

Which, is what I said basically.

Thank you Scott for the b2b tips - can the T1 possibly be configured over the DB60 serial interfaces on my 2500's? I've got a stack of those, plus a 2522, 2521, and - I think most promisingly - a 2610 with no serial modules installed. You got maybe module recommendations (and/or whole new router recommendations, if needed)?

Lurking on the WAN switching forum here I pick up what I can; it was actually news to me today that SF and ESF framing and AMI linecoding aren't peculiar to ISDN. The CCNA course material suggests that they are.

svermill Fri, 05/09/2008 - 17:22

Hey Seth,

No, you can't use your DB-60 stuff for T-1, which is a 4-wire transmit and receive pair interface type (no discrete clocks or control leads).

I don't want to give you any recommendations because I haven't touched any 2500s in years, so I'm not sure what they support and what they don't. With a 2610, I would think you could run a WIC-1DSU-T1, but the WICs are likely more expensive on the used market than other options.

Frankly, as far as recommending a whole new router, I certainly wouldn't want to do that. Again, true T-1/E-1/T-3/E-3 (etc - T-carrier, basically) experience cannot be garnered from simple back-to-back router environments. You can place routers b-t-b with a T-1 circuit but you can't really gain enough meaningful experience to justify the cost, IMHO. You could probably do everything that can possibly be done with a b-t-b T-1 in a matter of hours, so again I would go back to my recommendation to rent a rack for a day or half day. Not terribly expensive but be sure to research your vendor a little. Lowest price is not the sole criteria by which to judge those guys. My CCIE rack was a stack of 3560s for the switches and Dynamips for the routers, so I can' make any good recommendations for T-1 practice. Having said that, I'm working on my Service Provider CCIE and so I may be looking for a rack rental or two to cover stuff my lab can't do in that realm...



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