#CCNA Lab Switch Models

By certskills November 14, 2013 09:05

The history of #CCNA, compared to the history of Cisco LAN switch series, results in some pretty good options for choosing what Cisco LAN switches work best for a CCNA home lab. In today’s post, I’ll walk through some of the history, specifically for those of you who haven’t had any experience yet in choosing Cisco switch hardware in a job. We’ll look at 2950 and 2960 models.

Earlier posts in this series:

A Historical Look at CCNA and the then-current Cisco Access Switches

Cisco announced a new Cisco CCNA exam in 2003, then in 2007, and then in 2013. At those points in time, Cisco of course offered certain models of switches as strong wiring closet (access layer) switches, some as distribution switches, some as core switches, and so on. This list notes some the most common access layer switch family for new Cisco switches at that time:

  • 2003: Catalyst 2950
  • 2007: Catalyst 2960
  • 2013: Catalyst 2960

Cisco always tries to make the routing and switching exams so that they do not require knowledge of specific router or switch models. So, you do not need to rush out and research these switch models. However, if you are going to study with real gear, there is some advantage to using the same switch model that was the most common access layer switch when the exam was announced, for instance, the 2960 for today’s exam.

For instance, in one very small way, having a 2960 helps you visualize the LEDs on the front of the switch. Those of you who have used my books over the years will remember a few figures that show these models of switches, with the LEDs on the front, with an explanation of how the LEDs work. Those LEDs are located in different places on different switches, sometimes with different conventions of what each LED light means, so it’s a small advantage to have a 2960. (When I wrote the books to go along with these exams, I used the switch models in the above list to gather the output, by the way.)

2950 Vs. 2960

As it turns out, the 2950 and 2960 happen to be close cousins. They have a similar look, serve a similar purpose, and a similar price-point.

More importantly, the command syntax between the IOS for 2950 vs 2960 are very similar. Over the history of Cisco Catalyst switches, the switches in different model families would all run IOS, but the command syntax might differ quite a bit. So, someone studying with an older Catalyst switch than what was used to develop the more-recent exam might be at a slight disadvantage, with different command syntax and different command output. (For instance, 2900XL switches have been popular in the past for CCNA study; they run IOS; but the command syntax and output differs enough with 2950 and 2960 to notice.) The 2950 and 2960 are practically identical – which is good for us with used switches.

The 2007 and 2013 CCNA Revisions Both Used 2960

When Cisco revised CCNA back in 2007 (Exam 640-802), the 2960 family was pretty new. When Cisco revised CCNA in 2013 (Exam 200-120), the 2960 family was still around (with many newer models introduced over the years). But it’s the same model family, with the same IOS, across those models.

Good News for CCNA Labs: Cheap & Useful Used Switches!

This story has a great ending for all of us: cheap and useful used switches are available for a CCNA home lab. First, 2950s have been considered old, so that Cisco channel partners would not try to sell them as new products, since around 2006. As a result, enough time has passed so 2950s are relatively cheap in the used market. And their command syntax and output looks almost just like the newer 2960s, which is plenty good for CCNA study.

For 2960s, their age in the market means that many companies have gone through technology upgrades and replaced some of their older original 2960s. That means the used market prices for 2960s has lowered enough to make these models reasonably priced for CCNA home labs.

Next Post: IOS on 2950 and 2960, and Prices!

By the next post, I’ll have the prices for these switches updated on my pricing page at Certskills.com. I’ll also give you a few notes about IOS options on both the 2950 and 2960 – actually a pretty small deal, but still useful.

#CCNA Lab Router Models: More than Just 1721
Pricing for #CCNA Lab Switches
By certskills November 14, 2013 09:05
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  1. Sam April 22, 19:09

    I read quite a few of your books.
    You are one of the best.

    Reply to this comment
  2. CCENTSkills April 24, 09:51

    Thanks Sam!

    Reply to this comment
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