The Ins and Outs of Pearson's Cisco Network Simulator
Sean Wilkins takes an in-depth look at the topics that have been added to the newer simulator as well as a review of some of the commands that are being added.
My previous article, "Using Pearson's Cisco Network Simulator," focused on the high-level interface changes between the older 640-822, 640-816, and 640-802-based simulator and the newer 100-101, 200-101 and 200-120 based simulator. It also covered briefly the number of commands and labs that have been added to the new simulator.
This article takes a more in-depth look at the topics that have been added to the newer simulator as well as a review of some of the commands that are being added.
What Feature Support Has Been Added?
There have been a number of new features added to the new simulator to reflect the differences in the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) blueprint.
Some features that have been added include the following:
- Extended IPv6 Support
- Network Time Protocol (NTP)
- Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
- Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)
- Hot Standby Router Protocol (HSRP)
- Gateway Load Balancing Protocol (GLBP)
- Cisco IOS Licensing
- Password Recovery
- Router-on-a-Stick (ROAS)
Extended IPv6 Support
The new CCNA objectives include considerably more support for IPv6 than what was previously covered. To compensate, the simulator has added a number of labs.
Some of the major topics include these:
- IPv6 subnet calculation drills
- IPv6 route selection drills
- IPv6 EUI-64 calculation drills
- Extended Cisco IOS IPv6 address configurations
- EIGRP for IPv6 configuration and operation
- OSPFv3 Configuration and operation
Network Time Protocol (NTP)
The synchronization of networks has long been an important topic in network design and operation. With this iteration of the CCNA, the basics of NTP have been added as part of the blueprint.
The simulator adds support for a number of the Cisco IOS NTP configuration and show commands, and includes a number of labs to learn and verify the operation of NTP.
Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
A topic that is familiar to most network engineers, from entry to expert levels, is dynamic addressing. With IPv4 this is implemented with the configuration of a DHCP server. A DHCP is responsible for managing pools of IP addresses including the assignment, tracking, and expiration of IP address leases to clients.
The CCNA blueprint now includes the configuration and verification of the Cisco IOS DHCP server. The simulator includes support for the Cisco IOS DHCP server commands and adds a number of labs that cover both the configuration and verification of these features.
Syslog logging has been used since the early days of computing systems, and syslog specifically has been used since the early 1980s. On the Cisco IOS platform, the use of syslog (locally) is enabled by default and allows engineers to get an idea of the events that occur on a device. The specific events that are logged, how many there are, and where they are stored are all vital parts of a good syslog implementation.
The simulator adds support for the most used syslog configuration commands (logging), and supports the common syslog show commands. A number of labs have also been added to cover the syslog topics.
Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)
SNMP has been around for some time and is used on almost all networks in production today in some capacity. Basic SNMP has been added in the CCNA blueprint so the basic commands have been added to the simulator along with some basic labs that cover simple configuration.
Hot Standby Router Protocol (HSRP) and Gateway Load Balancing Protocol (GLBP)
The CCNA blueprint now includes the ability to “recognize” First Hop Redundancy Protocols (FHRP). Of the three that are supported by Cisco, HSRP and GLBP will most likely be covered in greater detail.
Because of this, support for both HSRP and GLBP has been added to the simulator, along with a number of labs that cover their configuration and verification.
Cisco IOS Licensing
The new x900 series of Cisco devices includes a completely new distribution organization than previous platforms. This new organization allows IOS to be split into only four main feature groups. This is a considerable improvement from the previous platforms, which had more than 10 different versions of IOS that all supported different features and required separate builds from Cisco. The support for a more enforceable licensing system has also been added.
In previous IOS images, an image can simply be removed from any device and placed on another device of the same platform without any problems, but this sometimes allowed a number of devices to have software that was not purchased from Cisco (or its partners).
The software on these new platforms license software to a specific device, thus eliminating any potential software pirating (It should be noted however, that Cisco allows most current versions of IOS to enable these features as demos for an unlimited amount of time).
The simulator deals with this new licensing scheme by supporting the commands that are required to install and remove a licensing from a device as well as a number of accompanying labs that cover the topics in more detail.
Password recovery has long been a topic that has been taught to entry-level engineers as part of basic training, but often this training was an overview of the process and was not covered in enough detail to have an entry-level engineer remember the steps required to perform it.
The simulator now supports some of the basic commands that are required to recover a lost or unknown password from a Cisco IOS device as well as a lab that covers the process that is followed.
In the world of switched networks, there are two main ways that Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs) are connected: by using an external router or using a layer 3 switch. The CCNA blueprints cover only the external router solution, which is commonly referred to as Router-on-a-Stick (ROAS). While basic support for ROAS was included in the previous simulator version it was not specifically covered in the labs, and a few commands were not refined to support it well.
The new simulator provides additional support for ROAS commands and adds a number of labs that cover the specific configuration and verification steps that can be used to work with ROAS configurations.
There are certainly a number of different additions that have come with the new CCNA blueprints. Including support for these additions will and has been a big undertaking for anybody covering the CCNA material.
The new simulator, along with its considerable interface enhancements, includes support for the majority of these new topics and attempts to give the student a good base to enable a successful pathway to becoming a CCNA.