Home Lab

Building a home lab.
Preparing for the Lab exam requires a lot of hands on practice to build technique and muscle memory. There are many ways to get this practice such as:
1. All virtual such as Cisco360. This has its place but can get a bit expensive over time. Biggest issue I found is that I cant save a lab and continue where I left off at a later date.
2. All physical according to the blueprint but this can be very expensive as G2 kit is not cheap.
3. L2VPN racks where you have all phone kit locally and vpn to a rack service for the CUCM servers, HQ, Site-1, Site-2 routers and switches. This is great if you have good bandwidth but can get expensive over time plus there is always the issue of trying to get available slots.

I will be adopting a hybrid approach where I use full 9971 and 7965 phones with a 3750 switch and router for L2VPN rack time but I will combine that with offline cucm practice using my 28xx routers for HQ, BR1 and BR2.

As I already have by routers and phones we will start by building the server(s) as per the blueprint.

  1. Download the ISO images

Once you have a Cisco account with some partner access, getting the ISO files for the lab is quite easy.

Links for downloading the ISO files on the blueprint.
CUCM 9.1
CUC 9.1

2. Make the ISO bootable

NB. As i am using a MAC I had to get cdr tools via this link http://macappstore.org/cdrtools/
so that I can create the bootable ISO files from my command line

Step 1 – install the tools

  1. Press Command+Space and type Terminal and press enter/return key.
  2. Run in Terminal app:
    ruby -e “$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)” < /dev/null 2> /dev/null
    and press enter/return key. Wait for the command to finish.
  3. Run:
    brew install cdrtools
  1. If this fails you might have Xcode missing. Install from appstore and try again


Step 2- extract the DVD

  1. Mount and extract DVD

Create directory where non-bootable CUCM ISO image will be mounted.

$ mkdir -p ~/temp/extract

  1. Create directory where the content of mounted non-bootable ISO image will be copied

$ mkdir -p ~/temp2/

  1. Mount non-bootable DVD ISO image

$ sudo mount -t iso9660 ~/Downloads/UCSInstall_UCOS_9.1.2.10000-28.sgn.iso ~/temp/extract

4. Copy the content of mounted ISO image to directory ~/temp2

$ cp -rv ~/temp/extract/ ~/temp2

Step 3 – Make a bootable ISO   

1.  Create bootable ISO image

        $ cd ~/temp2/extract

        $ mkisofs -o ../UCSInstall_UCOS_9.1.2.10000-28.sgn-bootable.iso -R -no-emul-boot -boot-load-size 32 -boot-info-table -b isolinux/isolinux.bin .

All Done for now!!


Rewind 12 months

Just to put some perspective on exactly where we are in the journey I will go through what has been done so far.

December 2015 – Official journey begins

  • Signed up with IP Expert for their Written course and they threw in a bonus bootcamp with the price to help fast track my lab attempt.
  • Purchased a basic lab consisting of:
    • 3750 POE
    • 7 phones (3×9971 and 4×7965 for HQ, BR1, BR2 and PSTN)
    • 1801 router for l2vpn to proctor labs
  • Spent the next three months doing labs at proctor Labs and going through the on-demand videos from Andy Vassar

April 2016 – IPExpert closes down

  • Switched gears and started focussing on just the Written exam and put the labs on pause

July 2016 -Written Passed

  • Took the exam special at CiscoLive and passed the Written just days before the syllabus was due to change.

September 2016 – Signed up with Cisco learning networks

  • Bought premium membership for the Cisco 360 and went through all the CCIE material available

November 2016

  • Bought the CCIE collaboration bundle to get lab time as only collabcert.com offered rack rentals and they did it in 7day blocks not 4 hour tranches as I prefer.
  • virtual labs are painful as there are no real phones for you to see and touch. you have to remote to the pod assigned by 360 and through vpn you access all three sites plus pstn. The workbooks however are very helpful as their answer key is very clear allowing you to understand what is being done and why.

December 2016

  • Bought the Kevin Wallace Walkthrough series as I got a 50% off one day special. The videos are interesting in that he has a different approach from what I saw at IPExpert and Cisco 360.
  • Signed up with NC-Expert for their 2 part bootcamp series as the date for the lab will expire soon and need to focus.
  • Expanded my lab to include more kit:
    • 3560 POE as the 3750 died
    • 3×2811 routers for HQ, BR1 and BR2
    • 1×2801 router for PSTN and WAN
    • serial 2WIC cards for frame relay WAN
    • 2port VWIC cards for pstn
    • PVDM for transcoding and T1/E1 channels
    • 4 port Switch modules for BR1 and BR2
    • currently trying to find a reasonable vmware server for my vms so currently using vmware fusion on my mac as a stop gap

I will be posting my topology and configurations in the days to come in addition to how I got my vms finally working on my mac.


Journey to CCIE Collaboration

Journey to CCIE Collaboration

Hello all and welcome. I will be attempting my CCIE Collaboration Lab in 2017 and need to log my progress in a location that is easily accessible for both myself and fellow colleagues. I have been on this journey already 9 months and have tried using Sharepoint, Google+, Onenote and onedrive, all with varying successes as I find none of the options gave everyone inside and outside my organization, full access to my content. Hopefully this is the  one that works and I can focus on the task at hand.