Lesson 2

Part 1 was focussing on what you need, here is the next installment.

2) What features do I need and how many of each bit of kit do I need?

Again, this kind of follows on from the modules part (so there will be a little duplication) and also the software version you run. Also, just how many pieces of equipment you need (which will also affect your rack choice (U size)).


This gets asked a lot, even more so than the actual equipment hardware itself. So will focus a little more one this.

Rather than regurgitate what cisco has on their site … here is the link


I’ve also attached the picture of how the feature sets work. Older features sets have alpha numeric codes (explained in that links) which tell you if it’s running crypto – example, on a 2950G with c2950-i6k2l2q4-mz.121-22.EA13 – the k2 bit means encrypted (SSH, https support etc).

I won’t bore you with the details.

The 2950 series switches had standard and enhanced versions (nothing to do with the software you had, basically, if you did a show version, you can see if it was running Enhanced or Standard – won’t make a huge difference, except when you are trying to create extended vlans in the 4096 range etc.

Later on, cisco clocked on that it was easier to have one hardware platform and you activate via feature sets.

For example, 3550 running ipbase will allow you to do basic ip routing (e.g rip) whereas the ipservices version (making it an enhanced image) allowed for eigrp/ospf routing. (I won’t go into detail on this, this guide is just here to give you a flavour of whats about).

If you look at the link (or the attached picture below) it shows the further up the feature set you climb, the more features you have (and thus more memory required, and the slower your router will run – because you are supporting more features).

AdvancedEntepriseServices is the daddy of all the IOS types, it supports pretty much everything. If you can get a router with this (even one, you can pretty much practice anything – and of course you can tftp the ios to other routers which don’t have it – but they have to be the same series – e.g 2610XM, 2651XM (2600 basically)

AdvancedSecurity allows for stuff like SSH, https (you can tell if it is running it when you get the cisco blurb about licenses and exporting and cryptography).

AdvancedIPServices – Says it all, all relating to routing protocols etc – Again, I am not going into any detail, these are things to bare in mind.

Most routers are expandable, you can add WIC cards and NM modules (if they are the 2XXX and 3XXX series) РSwitches tend to be fixed unless they have the GBIC expansion slots, where you can add a GBIC module in it Рoverkill for joe bloggs, but, you just never know Wink


This is the beauty of it all, you can start off small and expand.

Most people can get away with 2 routers and 2 switches (this allows you to practice routing protocols and STP election) – the IOS feature sets allow you to practice some advanced stuff (yes, I know, getting technical here *sarcasm*).

With 3 routers, you can practice frame relay, multi area OSPF etc etc

With 3 switches you can practice some advanced stp (root bridge etc) elections. But woah, slow down. If you are going down this path (SWITCH path, gediit??! AHAHAHAH) I strongly suggest you go for a higher end switch such a 3550 (otherwise you will end up with 3 2950s and another 2 3550’s) – so again, if you are going to go for CCNP, you need as a minimum one 3550. You can get away with 1 3550 and 1 2950 and as funds permit, add another 3550 … you can always ditch the 2950 after to make room for more kit (Again, depends on your rack accomodation)

If you are only ever going to go for CCNA and thats it then:-

2 routers and 2 switches. (2 x 26__XM’s and 2 x 2950’s) – Remember, H2N still has the racks for you to fill the gaps if budget doesn’t permit.

If you are wanting to do CCNA security, the same kit applies

If you are wanting to do some advanced stuff, or wanting to really go for CCNP then:-

4 routers and 2 (3 at a push) switches – (4 x 26__XM’s and 3 x 3550’s (or 2 x 3550’s and 1 x 2950, or 1 x 3550 and 2 x 2950))

If you are having that much kit to hand, you may want to invest in a 2509 or 2511 access server.

Remember I said don’t bother with a non xm 2600 router? Well … you can have one if you are going to use it as an access server with an NM-16A/NM-32A module (You will also need CAB-OCTAL cables, they are old school scsi cables split 8 ways into rollover leads to plug into the back of the console ports on each cisco bit of kit.

So then, assuming all your equipment is 1U in size, and you only plan on having 4/5 routers and 3/4 switches up to CCNP level and 1 access server, you can go for a 12U rack (i’m sure you can get them 2nd hand too) and have enough space if you do want do add another piece of kit. (Remember, a 2509 supports 8 pieces of equipment, so don’t blame me if you have another bit of kit to add and haven’t through about expansion¬†Razz)