Prepping for Your CCNA Cert
Can’t afford a Cisco router home study lab? With RouterSim 2.0, set up a simulated router network at a fraction of the cost.
In today’s job market, many MCPs realize that their Microsoft certifications
aren’t enough. With Cisco owning an estimated 85 percent of the router
market, the company’s entry-level CCNA certification is becoming increasingly
popular among MCPs. But getting the hardware to study for this certification
Building a home lab can cost thousands of dollars, so how does one train
on Cisco technology without incurring this kind of cost? Enter RouterSim
2.0, a comprehensive Cisco router simulator. In fact, it’s much more than
that. The previous version, 1.25, allowed for three Cisco 2500 routers
to be configured in a network. Unfortunately, that configuration didn’t
allow for a full understanding of router configuration for the CCNA exam
after Cisco changed it. RouterSim 2.0 includes not only the three 2501
Cisco routers, but two full-featured Catalyst 1900 switches with enterprise
capability and configuration, a 2621 Cisco router with two 10/100 fast
Ethernet ports, five hosts you can double-click on and verify router and
switch configurations by pinging from a DOS prompt, and two 804 Cisco
routers for ISDN connections.
RouterSim runs on Win9x/NT 4.0. The product’s console, as shown in the
screenshot, is an easy-to-use application that enables a surprising amount
of control over the virtual network. Switching to the desired router is
as simple as clicking on it. You can view the network configuration while
working in a selected router’s command console. Once the network is configured,
you can use either the Ping or Telnet command to ensure the network is
functioning properly. Should an error occur, you simply click on the Net
Detective button and the application lists possible problems and solutions
If RouterSim is to be summed up in a single word, it’s “WOW!”
While, for the software’s cost,one might be able to purchase a used router,
RouterSim’s multiple router, switch and host-configuration features, plus
29 labs, are invaluable and worth the purchase price.
At the same time, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some negatives. First,
while extremely powerful, RouterSim doesn’t fully simulate Cisco routers.
You’ll find some of the more advanced commands unavailable. This may not
be a real issue for the CCNA exam, but is limiting for the more advanced
CCNP exams. [The Company states that two new products to be released
in late 2000, SwitchSim and CCNPSim, will cover all four exams in the
|The RouterSim console allows a high level of control
over a virtual Cisco network. (Click image to see larger version.)
Another drawback is the cumbersome way licensing is handled. When you
purchase RouterSim, a CD-ROM contains the program and a floppy disk the
licensing. When you install RouterSim, you click the Install Authorization
button and the computer copies and then removes the license from the floppy.
If you install RouterSim on another computer, you must move the license
to the floppy disk from the old computer and install it on the new. Should
the old computer fail or the floppy become corrupted, the license is lost
and a new one must be ordered from RouterSim, though this is done at no
charge with proof-of-purchase.
Still, overall, if you’re preparing for the CCNA exam, RouterSim is a
tool you must have in your study arsenal. It’s worth its weight in gold.
Barry Shilmover, MCSE+I, MCT, owns Shilmover Consulting Services, a Microsoft
Solution Provider specializing in Windows NT/2000 and Exchange 5.5/2000 solutions.
He has co-authored books that include Windows 2000 System Administrator’s
Black Book and Exchange 5.5 Exam Cram, both from Coriolis Press.