In a move that is sure to re-arrange the dynamics of the Cisco training market, especially for on-line access to emulators, simulators, and live online labs offered by third parties, Cisco introduced a series of Learning Labs for some of its lower-level certification exams today. All of the labs currently available focus on Cisco IOS, and will make full-fledged virtualized router and switch interfaces available to exam candidates online at extremely reasonable prices (see Table 1 below), and include lab guides, detailed lab exercises, and instructions to help guide candidates through their paces as they prepare for their exams.
Table 1: Cisco Learning Labs Currently Available
Signing up (and paying for) any lab endows the buyer with an account and logon to the Cisco Learning Lab environment, and gives them access to that lab for a total of 25 hours. Additional 5-hour extensions may be purchased for $30 each thereafter, except for ICND2 for which a 5-hour extension costs $20.
The Cisco IOS Software on Unix that drives the Cisco Learning Labs offers a complete set of equipment responses to configurations and settings they enter. Cisco does not restrict user access while they are in the lab, either: students can choose to wander off topic, and experiment with working IOS switch and router environments as they see fit. It’s as close to real equipment as a remote link can deliver.
At $2-3 an hour for lab time, and $4-6 an hour for lab time extensions, this is a veritable killer deal for candidates for the exams covered to get the hands-on experience they need to excel in the test center. It is also quite a bit cheaper than building one’s own lab, or renting time on some labs from third parties.
For more information, please visit the Cisco Learning Labs home page]. Enjoy!