I hear from CCNA and CCNP candidates every day, and the most common question is "What routers and switches should I buy for my home lab?" There is no one right answer to this question, since every test candidate has a different budget. There are also CCNA candidates who want to go on to the CCNP and want to know what routers and switches are best for future study. Again, there's no one right answer, but there are routers that fit every budget and every study plan - and the Cisco 2520 router is the king of home study labs.
The 2520 has four serial ports, one ethernet port, and a BRI port. You can use a 2520 as a frame relay switch, and still have ports to spare to practice routing protocols and directly connected serial interfaces. I know ISDN home simulators are still expensive if bought new, but you can get a used one on eBay and go from there. Even if you choose not to buy an ISDN simulator now, the 2520 gives you that opportunity for future home lab growth - and "planning for future growth" is important when it comes to your home lab as well as production networks!
2520s are also remarkably affordable. Check your favorite online auction site for prices. You may also want to search on the phrase "frame relay switch".
I know that getting started on your Cisco home lab can be a little scary, but it's a vital part of being totally prepared to pass the CCNA and CCNP exams. Hands-on work is imperative in learning any skill - after all, great chefs don't learn to cook on kitchen simulators! Visit online auction sites and used Cisco equipment resellers and see what's out there - and if you're wondering where to start, the 2520 is a great way to start building your own Cisco home lab!
About the Author:
Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933, is the owner of The Bryant Advantage , home of free CCNA and CCNP tutorials! Pass the CCNA exam with Chris Bryant!