The CCNA Collaboration certification, like most IT certifications, demands hands-on experience if learners want to be successful not only on the exams, but perhaps more importantly, in the field as IT professionals.
The CCNA Collaboration, which is a blend of CCNA Voice and CCNA Video, is an entry-level certification and often popular among new IT professionals who may not have the opportunity to practice in the workplace with the equipment and gear included in Collaboration, so what can be done? Build a CCNA Collaboration home lab!
We explore some of the best, most cost-effective gear you’ll need to build a great CCNA Collaboration home lab setup to help you get the hands-on experience you need.
Cisco home labs don’t have to be expensive; you just need to know what to buy and where you can be thrifty. Luckily, our resident austerity authority Jeremy Cioara is an expert in building home labs affordably. Here are his recommendations for setting up a Cisco CCNA Collaboration CICD home lab for less than the cost of an iPhone.
Router Cisco 2621XM Multiservice Router
Be sure to get a model that includes an NM-HD-2VE module, VIC-FXS (Foreign Exchange Station), FXO (Foreign Exchange Office), and CME (Call Manager Express).
This all-in-one Cisco router allows you to connect to analog lines, set up IP phones, and run CME or CUCM for your CCNA home lab setup.
For the savvy shopper, you can get the Cisco 2621XM for about $45 (USD) through online shopping resources such as ebay.com or amazon.com, among others.
Switch Cisco Catalyst 3550 Switch
With this switch, be sure to purchase a model with inline power, rather than power over ethernet (PoE). You should be able to get this handy little switch for about $10-20 (USD). Again, to get the best deal on your gear, use online shopping resources to show off your thriftiness!
Telecommunication Devices Cisco Unified IP Phone 7960
Buy two (2) of the Cisco 7960 IP phones. Keep in mind that these phones are audio only devices. If you plan to dive deeply into the video side of CCNA Collaboration, you might consider upgrading to video-enabled phones. We explore Jeremy’s recommended gear for the CIVND lab in a separate blog post.
You can find these phones for about $10-20 (USD) each. To explore phone networking more deeply consider getting more than two phones.
Software CUCM VMware Images
Absolutely critical to your home CCNA Collaboration lab will be CUCM VMware images. You can find a huge variety of images online, for example on ebay.com, to complete your lab. Ideally, you should find CUCM VMware images that include Cisco Unity, Cisco Unified Presence, and CallManager images.
You can find the images you need online for around $40 (USD). Depending on what features you’re looking for, this price tag might go up a bit, but again, be as thrifty as you can!
Other Considerations Your Computer
We’re working on the assumption that you have a well-endowed computer from which to run your CCNA lab setup. You’ll need at least 16GB of RAM to spin up your lab and run it effectively.
In addition, you’ll need a VMware player on your machine. You can download VMware Workstation Player for free.
We put together the most cost-efficient CCNA Collaboration lab possible here. However, if you’re just dying to spend more money, you can certainly do that! There are many options you can consider when purchasing gear to increase the grand total.
In an effort to keep the cost low for your CCNA lab, we created this lab one piece at a time. However, if time is of the essence, and you don’t mind spending a little more on your lab, you can purchase an all-in-one lab kit. You can find complete kits online at amazon.com or ebay.com for about $200-500 (USD). If you choose to buy an all-in-one package, we strongly recommend that you get all the specs on every piece of technology included in the package to be sure everything will meet your needs.
Wrapping It Up
Building your CCNA Collaboration home lab doesn’t have to break the bank! We’ve outlined all the gear you’ll need to create a CICD lab setup that will prepare you well for success on your Collaboration certification CICD exam. Take just 5 minutes to watch CBT Nuggets trainer Jeremy Cioara walk through his gear recommendations.
Or take 30 minutes to review Jeremy’s Understanding CCNA Collaboration webinar where he discussed the certification, gear recommendations for building a home lab, and more.
Now go lab it up and get the experience you need to conquer CCNA Collaboration!