The release of 640-554 CCNA Security in early 2012 brought along new exam topics. One of the biggest additions is the knowledge of using Cisco Configuration Professional and the introduction of the Cisco ASA.
What equipment does a candidate need to successfully practice and pass the exam? Can you use GNS3?
There are a few ways you can tackle this:
I like using real routers, switches, and firewalls. It’s close enough to the real world. For the CCNA Security, 640-554, you may need to make an investment. Here’s what I used.
- Two Cisco 1841 routers – You may be able to get a good deal on Ebay between $150-200 each. You want to run at least IOS 12.4 with 64MB of Flash memory and 192MB of RAM. Different labs require specific images.
- Three Cisco switches – 3550 worked for me – Be sure to run IOS version 12.4. You’ll need to correct images to run certain labs, such as SSH.
- One Cisco ASA 5505 – I got my ASA for $250. Try using the “Best Offer” on Ebay. You’ll be surprised how low some sellers will go. Running version 8.4 will be needed for the exam.
You can get by with GNS3 but the only downside is not being able to emulate switches. You can emulate routers and an ASA and then purchase switches online.
It is possible to run CCP alongside GNS3 which I will table for a different blog post. The majority of my labs were ran on GNS3 unless I labbed with my ASA.
I purchased one Cisco 1841 (the other is a loaner), one Cisco 3550, two Cisco 2950s, and one Cisco ASA 5505 all on ebay. My cost is broken down to:
1841 – $130
ASA 5505 – $250
3550 – $125
Two 2950s – $90
The cost may appear high but I can squeeze this equipment into the CCNP R&S and possibly use the ASA 5505 for the CCNP Security.
Keep in mind, all of the hardware I purchased needed upgraded images. My routers also needed upgraded Flash cards, which is a trivial process.