CCIE Home Dynamips Lab Part II

As promised, I will continue to break down my CCIE lab.

The Switches

Most CCIE lab topologies call for a very similar layout – 4 switches and 9-12 routers.

The 4 switches tend to be 2 3550’s and 2 3560’s.  The routers are usually a mix of different platforms, with the modular 3640 a popular choice.

In my case I obviously didn’t need to worry about the routers so I focused on acquiring the switches at an affordable price.

First, I’m very patient.  🙂  I spent around 8 weeks haunting eBay until I got the prices I wanted.  I averaged $178 (including shipping) for the 3 3550’s.  I know people are going to ask, and there’s no real secret.  Just be patient and watch eBay daily.

The price gap between the 3550 and 3560 is in the neighborhood of $1000 bucks.  I am waiting to see how much of the 3560 stuff can be done with only 1 switch (private vlans, some ipv6 stuff, etc).  I’ll update this blog as I run across them accordingly.  I do have a suspicion that I’ll be just fine with the 1 3560…but only time will tell.  If I *do* need that 2nd 3560, it will probably be cheaper to rent lab time anyways.  Again, I’ll worry about that when I get to it.

Also, be aware that 3550’s do *not* support auto-MDIX.  I crimped all my cables by hand because I wanted to make things neat, so be aware that you’ll need lots of crossover cables if you are going to 4 x 3550 route.


As you can tell from the picture in the last entry, I ordered my rack from Skeletek.  They actually stopped carrying my model last year, but the build quality of their products is exceptional.  I highly recommend going with them.

You will also need console cables and USB to serial adapters.  They are cheap and plentiful on eBay, but shipping is usually from Pacific Asia, so keep that in mind while you are planning out your lab.

I am also using a 24 port patch panel just to keep the cables a little cleaner and neater.  It is completely unnecessary but I had one laying around and figured I might as well put it to us.  Neatness counts!

Finally, we come to the IPpower 9258T  network remote power.  I love this thing!  I scoured the Internet for a cheap, feasible remote power strip and they were all ridiculously overpriced ($200+) or required one of those heavy duty power plugs (Nema L5-15P).  The IPpower is simple to use and although it does not support ssh/telnet, the web based interface is good enough.  In fact, I’m so lazy now I even use it when I’m sitting next to the rack.  😀


There are lots of practical uses, though.  For example, if you’re at work and you leave your rack powered off (noise & electricity), you can turn it on for a quick lab session.  Or, when I roll out of bed in the morning, I can turn the devices on with a few buttons on my iPhone, jump into the restroom, and by the time I’m ready and sitting at my desk everything is nice and powered on.

I think that about covers the hardware aspect.  In the next post or two I will go over usability in Linux and some other advice.


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