Getting Much-Needed Exam Practice With a CCIE Lab Kit

The CCIE Lab Exam is a test of the skills of a network professional. It's a series of troubleshooting operations in which you diagnose and resolve some real-world network problems. Because it's both difficult and hands-on, practice is essential if you want to pass; one great way to practice is to get your own CCIE home lab.

What's included in a CCIE practice lab kit?

There is some degree of variation in the CCIE lab kits that are available, but there is always hardware and software important to the functioning of any network found in these kits. It's recommended that you try to find a practice lab that is built to INE or Inter-Network Expert standards. Generally, the lab kits include things like what is listed here:

  • Server: A server running some kind of virtual machine software, like VMware ESXi 6.0 U2.
  • Virtual Internet Routing Lab (VIRL) and Graphical Network Simulator (GNS): VM like GNS3 (The VIRL license may not be included.)
  • Virtual machine: A separate virtual machine running some kind of server operating system, like Windows Server
  • Security Virtual Appliances: Security Virtual Appliances, like Cisco's Access Control Server (ASC), Identity Services Engine (ISC), Email Security Appliance (ESA), Firepower Threat Defense (FTD), Next Generation IPS (NGIPS), etc.
  • Routers: A set of 20 routers all running router software like the Cisco CSR-1000v Virtual Router Software XE 3.16.06.S
  • RAID Controller: A RAID Controller, like the Dell H700
  • Rack: A rack on which to conveniently organize and store the server and routers in close proximity to one another
What can you do with a CCIE lab kit?

A CCIE lab kit is a useful utility with which to practice for the lab portion of your certification exam. Beyond this, there are some other very definite advantages to buying as opposed to renting a CCIE lab. When you take account of the fact that most people spend approximately 2,000 hours practicing for the CCIE lab exam, there can be a price advantage to buying instead of renting a kit. A number of CCIE labs both new and used can be found on eBay.

Should you buy anything else along with the lab kit?

The answer to this question will vary depending on what happens to be included with the particular lab kit that you happen to purchase, so be sure to always know exactly what is part of your CCIE lab kit before buying. With that said, it's generally a good idea to buy some additional Ethernet and USB cables in order to be certain that you'll be able to connect all relevant devices in your lab together properly.

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