Well, the days of using the Boson network simulator for your CCNA studies is over (thankfully!). I have used simulators quite often over the years and have had mixed feelings about them. I think the new CCENT network simulator will surprise a lot of people out there with mixed feelings about using simulators. You have to remember that simulators are scripted and pretty linear so don’t expect to be able to configure your own network scenarios and use any IOS command you can think of. The purpose of this simulator is to provide hands-on practice being able to master all the objectives on the CCNA exam. It simply runs from your PC once installed.
I think a lot of people are trying to figure out if they need to buy all kinds of hardware for the CCNA exam. Some people prefer to only use hardware, while others go the simulator/emulator route. Some are probably going to want to know how this compares to using something like dynamips. Dynamips is great, but it isn’t exactly intuitive or easy to use. Also, emulators don’t come with lab scenarios and tasks to complete! A lot of people don’t want to have to worry about spending time trying to configure an emulator to represent a given network. In the case of the CCENT network simulator, you don’t have to worry about that stuff. You have around 100 labs to go through, which will keep you focused on learning the CLI. The product is very intuitive, so there are no worries with trying to get labs setup right or anything like that. The labs start with building up your skills in all the different areas of the CLI. From there, you get into more detailed configuration tasks and troubleshooting.
See example screen shot below ::
As you can see, for each lab, you get a network diagram, which allows you to access any of the devices you see listed. For example, after you complete routing, you can access the host and test pings across the network.
I also like how you can save your configs if you can’t finish a given lab in one sitting. For each lab, you will get a PDF with the tasks for that lab. These are great to print out so you can fill in the blanks as you work through it. It’s not just asking you to perform tasks, it also has some fill in the blanks for answering certain questions for a given task. This is not a thrown together lab, expect to spend at least 45 minutes on each one if you take the time to complete all tasks.
To top things off, you can grade your labs when complete using automated grading.
If you are working on your CCNA and need some hands-on experience, look in this direction! You won’t be disappointed.
What didn’t work
I have no major gripes with this product. I do wish it would let me change/maximize the window size.
Presentation (8/10)– This GUI is light years better than the old boson network simulators. You wont have any problems trying to figure out what you need to do. I would have preferred the option to adjust the size of the window.
Content (10/10)– I am amazed as to how much work went into this product. When you start doing the labs and see all the tasks listed in the PDF document for that lab, you will know what I mean. Expect to be an IOS guru if you take the time to go through each lab in its entirety.
Practicality (10/10)– Wow, can you say hundreds of hours with hands-on experience. There is plenty of labs to keep you busy and challenged for a long time! When using this product, you will forget that you’re using a simulator!
Shelf Appeal (4/5)– I have a feeling people starting with their CCNA will keep this installed on their PC for a while. If you forget how to configure something like RIP, it’s only a few clicks away!
Value (5/5)– For what you would spend to buy one router on ebay, you could have bought this product. At around 75 dollars US, you can’t go wrong for the price. Oh, did I mention that they have a special where you get all the ICND 2 labs included for the same price! That’s probably a total of around 200+ labs!
Overall (Serious Ownage 9/10)– This is an amazing structured approach to doing CCNA labs. You have your network diagram, your lists of tasks for the lab, what else do you need? Sure you can build your own lab, but are you going to create your own labs to do? Somebody at the CCNA level should be using this simulator because it’s going to focus your time where it counts. You have hundreds of hours of labs to do with the product so set a few weeks aside.
CCIE No. 21785