CCIE R&S v4 Home Lab


Update: New home lab for CCIE R&S v5.

If you read my About page, then you know that I am studying for the CCIE written and lab exam. To help with my CCIE studies, I have decided to build my own CCIE home lab. Sure, you can rent CCIE racks and there are tons of them out there. However, you don’t get the convenience of being able to turn it on and off at your own time. Another alternative of having a rack is building a GNS3 or Dynamips server to run Cisco IOS. It is a very inexpensive way to study for CCIE and it works great for other people. While Cisco uses IOU (IOS on Unix) on their troubleshooting section, they’re not running any emulators for the configuration section. That said, configuring routers and switches on a real gear will mimic the same results. Other CCIE aspirants will disagree on this logic; however, I’ve met and read forum member’s posts who has the same reasoning as I do. Besides, I started building my home lab back in 2005 when I first entered the Cisco Network Academy Program (CNAP). I added more routers and switches to my home lab when I studied for my CCNP exams, so few more routers and switches here and there wouldn’t be such a big deal. Though, it did cost me a lot of money.

Internetwork Expert (INE) was my first choice in CCIE lab preparation. At the time I decided that I am going to pursue CCIE, it was the most talked about CCIE training vendor and all of them were positive. It probably still is, but I haven’t had a chance to visit and read forums lately. That said, I decided to build my lab as close as possible with what they use for their CCIE workbooks since they have a specific topology for their CCIE workbooks. Fortunately, the hardware specifications and topology for the CCIE workbooks are open for public and can be found here. As mentioned earlier, I started building my home lab back in my CCNA days. That said, the gears are quite different compared to INE’s specs. Having different equipment turned out to be a challenge because the interfaces are different. I find myself trying to figure out which interface is which when I am doing labs. That said, I created my own topology with the right interfaces so I can at least save some time when I am labbing.

CCIE Home Lab

I think I should stop talking now and give you an idea of how my CCIE home lab looks like. Here’s the list of my CCIE home lab equipment:

DevicePlatformDRAMFlashWIC(s)/Module(s)Software
Backbone 1 (BB1)2620XM128MB48MB1 x NM-8A/SAdvanced Enterprise Services 12.4(18)A
Backbone 2 (BB2)252016MB16MBN/A12.2(15)T17
Backbone 3 (BB3)252016MB16MBN/A12.2(15)T17
Router 1 (R1)2620XM128MB48MB1 x WIC-2TAdvanced Enterprise Services 12.4(18)A
Router 2 (R2)2620XM128MB48MB1 x WIC-2TAdvanced Enterprise Services 12.4(18)A
Router 3 (R3)2620XM128MB48MB2 x WIC-2TAdvanced Enterprise Services 12.4(18)A
Router 4 (R4)2801256MB64MB1 x WIC-2TAdvanced Enterprise Services 12.4(24)T4
Router 5 (R5)2801256MB64MB1 x WIC-2TAdvanced Enterprise Services 12.4(24)T4
Router 6 (R6)2801384MB128MB1 x WIC-2TAdvanced Enterprise Services 12.4(24)T4
Switch 1 (SW1)3560-24TS128MB32MBN/AEnhanced Multilayer Image (EMI) 12.2(44)SE
Switch 2 (SW2)3560-48TS128MB32MBN/AEnhanced Multilayer Image (EMI) 12.2(44)SE
Switch 3 (SW3)3550-48TS64MB16MBN/AEnhanced Multilayer Image (EMI) 12.2(25)SEC2
Switch 4 (SW4)3550-48TS64MB16MBN/AEnhanced Multilayer Image (EMI) 12.2(25)SEC2
Terminal Server251116MB16MBN/A12.2(15)T17

The image below is the picture of my home lab without the cables.

The image below is the Frame Relay topology.



The image below is the Ethernet connectivity topology.

I hope I can inspire more network engineers¬†to pursue Cisco’s highly coveted and prestigious CCIE Routing & Switching certification. It will take a lot of your time and money, but it will be all worth it once you get your own five-digit number! Heck, by just studying for the exam will make you a better network engineer.

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  • madusanka

    wow great job, go-ahead , good luck!

  • Tony

    I love the site, bro! Great job.

  • jp

    nice setup bro.

  • brian

    that is a work of art…

  • Reggle

    Woah! Impressive setup. Must have cost quite a lot, but if you pass CCIE, it’s worth the price no matter what. Good luck in your studies!