Monthly Archives: November 2010

CCIE Lab Build (Part 3)

For those out there who are on the fence whether or not to build your own rack…in my opinion, building your own rack is the absolute way to go! There are soooo many benefits to having your own rack… but the absolute single most important thing to me is:

24/7 access to my rack to practice anytime, anywhere (provided you have remote access to it), and for as long as you want.

If you are like me, your work schedule does not jive well with the schedules for most of the online rack rental companies. Most of the time, there are no available time slots for the days that works best for your schedule. I found myself having to settle for a time slot that wasnt really ideal. In most cases, you have to schedule the rack session days or weeks ahead. Lastly, if something comes up where miss your rack session, you lose the money you paid if you don’t cancel it within 24hrs prior to your rental session.

I’m not bashing the rack rentals because they can be a useful aid for practicing technology that your home rack might not be equipped for. Depending upon which CCIE track you are going for, buying gear can be VERY expensive. For the CCIE R&S Track, used gear is readily available for reasonable prices. With the handful of routers and switches I have now, I have built some of my own smaller labs and practiced specific technologies.

My rack is not fully completed yet. The remainder of my gear will be here TODAY. In th next few days, I will cable up everything and start the INE framework after the Thanksgiving Holiday.

I’ve also made my rack accessible remotely when I’m not home. If you have the capabilities to do so, I highly suggest it. It’s a  good thing to have when you take lunch breaks at work or if you are visiting the In-Laws (hopefully they have Internet access). Anytime you can fit it some practice is always a good thing.

Theses series of CCIE Lab Build Blogs are coming to and end. I will do one final blog  with details and pictures of my fully completed rack.

Be on the look out for more on my Journey to CCIE. DONT FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE (Click Sign Me Up)




CCIE Lab Build (Part 2)

Okay…so I started building my CCIE home lab and upon doing some IOS upgrades, I’m discovering that some of my older gear is not up to snuff. There are some issues with RAM/FLASH requirements and I’m loosing out on being able to practice certain features in the INE workbooks. So for the past week, I have been on Ebay, Cisco (checking IOS versions and features), INE Blogs and tons of other used Cisco gear resellers on the web gathering massive amounts of information and looking for good deals.

What I have found is that the deals are out there…but the shipping of these various parts add up quite a bit if you are purchasing them from different vendors and trying to piece things together. I basically went with two decent vendors and went all out and purchased almost everything I needed from them in one shot. My pockets started burning a bit but as I really thought about this more I figured…Musicians buy expensive guitars and other instruments at some point in their careers to master their crafts right? How about Graphic Designers? At some point, they might have to shovel out some cash to get a high-end computer and software to learn to create top-notch designs. Even a professional Pool player goes out and purchases a nice Pool Table and an expensive Que stick to master their talents. For me, I see this as a complete investment in my future career and business aspirations. So with that in mind, why not spend the extra money and build a decent network lab(not overly costly) that would give me the best shot at passing the exam and something that would help me in my career moving forward? Make sense to me.

In short, here is a complete list of all my router and switch hardware:

R1 – Cisco 2620XM 128D/32F
R2 – Cisco 2620XM 128D/32F
R3 – Cisco 2621XM 128D/32F
R4 – Cisco 2811
R5 – Cisco 1841
R6 – Cisco 1841
BB1/FR – Cisco 2620XM 128D/32F
BB2 – Cisco 2620XM 128D/32F
BB3 – Cisco 2620XM 128D/32F
TS – Cisco 2511RJ
SW1 – Cisco 3750
SW2 – Cisco 3750
SW3 – Cisco 3560
SW3 – still need to purchase

Here are some recent snapshots of what my rack is looking like thus far.

New 16U Rack

Assembled Rack

Rack with some Cisco gear

Rack with some Cisco gear

CCIE Lab Build

It looks like my home lab is coming together quite nicely. Over the past week, I have spent somewhere around 600$ for more used gear. Ebay has been my savior. Also,  shout out to my fellow Cisco Networkers out there who loaned me some stuff (it pays to have good connections).

I’m still one switch short….my plan is to secure a purchase of a 3550 or 3560.  I’m still 3 routers short. These shouldn’t be a problem for me to obtain.  I’m just waiting for the right price. Lastly, I have a hand full of WICs to purchase and all my cabling (Ethernet, Serial, Crossover, Rollover…sit..stay)

OH..almost forgot. I have also ordered a 18U rack on wheels that is on the way. I don’t want all this gear just sitting on the floor. I want things to look really neat. With the INE study material, once I build and cable the rack, I’ll never have to re-wire anything.

Enough said. Here are some pictures of what I have thus far.

Tower of Power!


Just got these today. 2511 RJ Access Server. 2620XM Routers.


All of my gear so far


USB to Serial adapter. Since MACs don't have serial ports.

Keeping this BLOG short. Stay Tuned for more!!

CCIE Lab Preparation Accelerated!

As I looked at the calendar last week, I realized that time just flew by since in passed the CCIE Written Exam. I’m getting a little nervous now and I think I have taken a long enough break from studying (I must admit that I have been reading lots of Cisco docs online  just to keep the basics fresh…but nothing really intense). The time is now for me to get back in gear and really start preparing for the monster CCIE lab exam.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, my intentions are NOT to do the online rack rentals. I have decided to purchase my own gear and move forward with this plan. I have also decided to use the INE framework for self-study preparation and CCIE home lab setup/configuration. With this framework, they have designed a full practice lab,workbooks and training materials. I will build my home lab to match their exact setup and purchase there workbooks and practice material. Having my own home lab that I can access and practice ANYTIME is ideal for the way I like to study.

Here is a list of the gear for this home lab and what I have purchased thus far (refer to for full details):

R1 – purchased Cisco 2620XM ($104.00)
R2 – purchased Cisco 2620XM ($104.00)
R3 – purchased Cisco 2620XM ($104.00)
R4 – not purchased yet
R5 – not purchased yet
R6 – not purchased yet
SW1 – Cisco 3560 borrowed from fellow Cisco pro
SW2 – Cisco 3560 borrowed from fellow Cisco pro
SW3 – Cisco 3550 purchased on Ebay ($109.00)
SW4 – Cisco 3550 purchased on Ebay ($120.00)
BB1 – not purchased yet
BB2 – 2610 my own I had for a while
BB3 – 2610 my own I had for a while
Access Server – Cisco 2511-RJ purchased Ebay ($158.00)

My running total so far is about $700.00.I have not included shipping costs. Keep in mind…I have not purchased any of the modules for the routers nor have I purchased any cabling yet. Over the years, I have stock piled various Ethernet, Crossover and Console cables. I’ll spare you the details of cost estimates that I have done… but I figure I may spend about $1800.00 total to build the complete lab. Lucky for me I had a few old routers that I could use for the BB2 and BB3. Plus knowing fellow Cisco professionals in the field might help if they have spare gear.

I want to start study immediately therefore, I have accelerated my search for gear to hopefully complete my home lab in the next 30 days. For those wondering…I have penciled in July 18th 2011 as my test date.

Stay tuned for complete setup details and pictures of my home lab.


Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dreams closer.