Usually, learners complete the CICD exam of the CCNA Collaboration certification first, which usually means they build a lab to help prepare. But arguably, there’s an even greater need for hands-on experience when it comes to CIVND.
The CCNA Collaboration, which blends CCNA Voice and CCNA Video, is an entry-level certification and often popular among new IT professionals. Unfortunately, for many newbies to IT, the opportunity to work hands-on with collaboration gear might not be possible in the workplace. So, what is a learner to do? 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 for the CIVND exam.
But don’t worry! Cisco home labs don’t have to break the bank; you just need to know what gear to buy and where you can be thrifty.
If you’ve already built an affordable CICD home lab, you’ve got some practice (check out our CCNA Collaboration Home Lab: CICD blog post if you’re looking to get started). But be forewarned: the CIVND home lab will cost you a bit more. Luckily, trainer Jeremy Cioara is an expert in building affordable home labs.
Here are his recommendations for setting up a Cisco CCNA Collaboration CIVND home lab as cost efficiently as possible!
Telepresence Cisco EX60 or Cisco EX90
These personal video systems are designed for the desktop and run the TC software, and conveniently are the smallest units available, making them ideal for a Collaboration home lab environment.
The telepresence component of your CCNA home lab will likely be the most expensive. We strongly recommend shopping around online to find the best deal possible, including such as ebay.com and amazon.com. The pricing for a new Cisco EX60 or Cisco EX90 varies, but you should expect to spend $800–$3,000 (USD). OUCH!
Here’s a tip: look for products that are slightly damaged or used to save a few bucks! If you’re a savvy online shopper, you might be able to find a slightly damaged or used EX60 or EX90 for $200–$300 (USD).
Video IP Phones Cisco Unified IP Phone 8941 and/or Cisco DX650
Buy two (2) video IP phones. To keep things as affordable as possible, you could stick to just two Cisco 8941 units, but to really get the best experience and fall in love with video IP phones, take the plunge and buy at least one Cisco DX650 unit.
The Cisco 8941 ranges in cost from $50–$175 (USD). The Cisco DX650 is more expensive, but arguably, worth the additional expense. The DX650 usually falls somewhere between $250–$850 (USD).
Switch Cisco Catalyst 3550 Switch or Cisco Catalyst 3750 Switch
If you previously built a CICD home lab, there’s a good chance you already have one of these switches on hand! You should be able to get one of these switches for as little as $10–$20 (USD). Again, to get the best deal on your gear, use online shopping resources to show off your thriftiness!
Software CUCM and VCS VMware Images
Absolutely critical to your home CCNA Collaboration lab will be CUCM VMware images. But wait! There’s more! Don’t order yet! You will also need VCS VMware images. You can run the video collaboration system with Cisco’s CUCM, but to get the fullest, most directly beneficial hands-on experience to prepare you for the CIVND exam, you need to get VCS as well. VCS was originally created by Tandberg (acquired by Cisco) as the core for their network. There is a lot of overlap between Cisco’s CUCM and VCS, but VCS provides much of the video-centric experience you’ll need.
You can find the CUCM VMware images you need online for around $45 (USD). Similarly, you can get the VCS VMware images for about $40–$45 (USD).
Other Considerations Your Computer
We’re hoping you’ve already been through the CICD and, consequently, we are guessing you have a robust computer from which to run your CIVND home lab. But just in case, keep in mind that you’ll need at least 16GB of RAM to run your lab effectively.
It probably goes without saying since we discussed VMware images above, but you’ll need a VMware player on your machine. Download the VMware Workstation Player for free to get started.
CICD Home Lab Phones: The Great Return
Assuming that you have already been through the CICD exam and built a lab for that experience, then it’s likely that you have a couple of Cisco Unified IP Phone 7960 or similar telecommunication device units lying around. This is a great time to bring them back and integrate them into your CIVND home lab! Part of the CCNA Collaboration certification is learning how to integrate voice and video, so this is great practice for you!
We put together the most cost-efficient CCNA Collaboration lab possible here. The CIVND portion of your Collaboration home lab setup is clearly the more costly of the two lab experiences. We tried to do things on a shoestring budget for you, but if you have the luxury of a few extra bucks burning a hole in your wallet, your lab can help you spend it! We would suggest spending a little extra on the Cisco EX90 as a first choice. If you still have more money to burn, consider adding another Cisco DX650 or two to your network.
In an effort to keep the cost low for your CCNA lab, we created something of a Frankenstein 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 $1,000–$2,500 (USD). It’s critical that you deeply investigate the specs and each component of any lab kit you consider purchasing in order to ensure that you are getting what you need.
Wrapping It Up
Most learners tackle the CICD exam first, and if that is true for you, you’re halfway to your CCNA Collaboration certification! If you happen to be diving into the CIVND exam first, good for you! But you may want to explore our CCNA Collaboration Home Lab: CICD blog post when for when the time comes. (Go ahead, bookmark it now! We’ll wait … )
Though the CIVND home lab is costlier than the CICD home lab, the practical experience you earn by working through your lab(s) is truly invaluable! And we tried to create a cost-effective guide to the gear you’ll need to build a lab that will ultimately prepare you well for your exam, and perhaps more importantly, for becoming a great Collaboration IT pro!
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 during which he discusses the certification, gear recommendations for building a home lab, and more.
Go get your hands a little dirty as you earn that hands-on experience that will help you crush the CCNA Collaboration!