The Network Hub

May 31 2012   4:28PM GMT

Learning@Cisco’s online network labs get more user friendly

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

Cisco Systems has enhanced its online lab environment, Cisco Learning Labs to make it more user-friendly. It has also enhanced the environment to allow networking pros to practice certain tasks that usually require access to physical hardware.

Learning@Cisco launched Cisco Learning Labs a year ago as an online environment geared toward helping networking pros practice lab exercises for Cisco certifications. The lab environment uses a version of IOS that runs on UNIX. It’s positioned as a cheap alternative to home labs or the physical labs that some certification boot camps that rent out. Cisco Learning Labs rents out 25-hour blocks of online lab time at a starting price of $25.

The new version of Cisco Learning Labs has been dressed up with an updated user interface to make it more intuitive for users, according to Marcello Hunter, product manager for Learning@Cisco.These updates have been added to the ICND1, ICND2, ROUTE, SWITCH and TSHOOT labs. These labs now feature helpful elements like “question bubbles,” that new users can click on to get hints on what to do.

“A lot of our customers working on these labs are newcomers to the networking world and newcomers to the complexities of working with networks,” Hunter said. ‘Just learning how to set them up and launch them and learning how to work with the user interface of IOS was new to them.”

The lab environment also has a series of new instructional videos that accompany the ICND1 and ICND2 labs.

Cisco has also introduced an expanded set of lab exercises based on switch functions that are typically implemented in hardware and are thus not available via an IOS software image. These functions include Layer 2 port security and port channel interfaces. The Layer 2 port security feature will expand the labs exercises available for all Cisco certifications. The port channel interface will expand labs for certifications CCNP and above.

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