Hi Everyone,

I know you’ve been waiting for this for quite a long time – please take my sincere apologies for the delay. What we were trying to do is come up with an upgrade that allows for affordable home CCIE lab racks; hence the time spent seeing the if new scenarios will fit the upraded topology. Right now, our existing hardware list for a typical rack is:

R1 – 2610XM 32F/128D
R2 – 2610XM 32F/128D
R3 – 2611XM 32F/128D
R4 – 2611XM 32F/128D
R5 – 2611XM 32F/128D
R6 – 2611XM 32F/128D
SW1 – 3560
SW2 – 3560
SW3 – 3550
SW4 – 3550

BB1, BB2, BB3 – 2511s

And all the hardware is cabled as described on this page: How to build a CCIE rack (oh, ignore the old router models, just pay attention to the cabling). So what we’re doing for the new topology is a gradual upgrade:

1) Replacing R4, R5 and R6 with Cisco 1841 ISRs, having 64M flash and 128M RAM minimum.
2) Getting new routers to run 12.4T images with ADVANCED ENTERPRISE SERVICES feature set and therefore supporting MPLS. Other routers may still run older 12.4 images with the same feature set (ADV. ENT. SERVICES).
3) No interface cards need to be changed or replaced and no cables should be re-wired. You may re-use the same WIC cards with the 1841s, provided that they are v2 – AFAIR v1 cards are not supported in HWIC slots.
4) In place of 1841s you may actually use any ISR, such as 28xx or 38xx or even the older 3725 – anything that can run 12.4T ADV. ENTERPRISE SERVICES.

With the three ISRs being added you can play with any basic MPLS VPN scenario, using R4, R5 and R6 as MPLS P/PE routers and the remaining routers as CEs. Additionally, the three new routers allow for enough bandwidth to test all the features introduced in 12.4T train. As time passes we plan to gradually replace the remaining 2600XM models with the ISRs, but for the new blueprint becoming effective as of October 14th having three 1841s is enough to test the new features. Later this month and during September you will see our rack-rental partner Graded Labs Inc. upgrading its hardware, keeping a mix of the “old” and “new” racks for some time, to accomodate those preparing for the old blueprint.

Lastly, I know there is a lot of people using Dynamips emulator for their studies. We’re working on releasing our updated Dynagen .NET topology shortly. To summarize the changes, we replaced R1, R2 and R3 in the Dynamips topology with 2600XMs and made R4, R5 and R6 to be 3725s running the latest 12.4T code. This should mimic our real hardware topology pretty close, with maybe some exceptions to interface names.

Stay tuned for more updates!

About Petr Lapukhov, 4xCCIE/CCDE:

Petr Lapukhov's career in IT begain in 1988 with a focus on computer programming, and progressed into networking with his first exposure to Novell NetWare in 1991. Initially involved with Kazan State University's campus network support and UNIX system administration, he went through the path of becoming a networking consultant, taking part in many network deployment projects. Petr currently has over 12 years of experience working in the Cisco networking field, and is the only person in the world to have obtained four CCIEs in under two years, passing each on his first attempt. Petr is an exceptional case in that he has been working with all of the technologies covered in his four CCIE tracks (R&S, Security, SP, and Voice) on a daily basis for many years. When not actively teaching classes, developing self-paced products, studying for the CCDE Practical & the CCIE Storage Lab Exam, and completing his PhD in Applied Mathematics.

Find all posts by Petr Lapukhov, 4xCCIE/CCDE | Visit Website

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68 Responses to “INE’s New CCIE R&S v4.0 Topology”

  1. John Spaulding says:

    Thanks for the update!!

  2. Dragons & Faeries says:


    Many thanks for your due diligence in finding a very cost-effective topology!

    Other vendors might boast about having the latest 2800s this and 3800s that; well, that’s good for them!

    There are quite a few of us who have been self-funding for both the training material and equipment, and having a cost-effective topology to have the flexibility to practice whenever we want is very valuable because it’s very convenient and time efficient (with what little time we have left in our busy life with work and family).

    Keep up the excellent work!

  3. Which specific IOS will the new routers be running?

  4. Mar Apuhin says:

    Most 12.4T ADV requires at least 192MB RAM per requirement, but on my lab it can work very good on a 128MB RAM.

  5. Matt says:

    May I use 2800 routers for all 6 routers instead of only R4, R5 and R6?

  6. Rodney says:

    Can I use 2501′s for BB1,BB2 and BB3

  7. Muhammad Alam says:

    Cool Stuff…I was desperately waiting for this blog to appear. I’ve started to modify my .NET file but will also wait for the one released by INE shortly as promised :)

  8. Rizzo says:


    Thanks for posting details.

    Do we really need to replace R4, R5 and R6 with Cisco 1841 ISRs ? I have all routers with of 2621XM or 2651XM. If don’t replace it, what would we miss?


  9. d7uk says:

    Thanks for the update, I have been waiting to see what changes were made. I currently have 2 3640′s as R3 + R4 in my home lab. Did you test out the 3600 series to see if they had capacity for MPLS scenarios? I’m guessing they’re not up to the job?

  10. Marc says:


    I’ve been using some 3640s in my rack with Cisco IOS Software, 3600 Software (C3640-JK9O3S-M), Version 12.4(7a), RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc3)

    This appears to run MPLS? It takes the commands to implement MPLS? I know nothing about MPLS as of now, so I don’t really know if this is really working.

    Can I stick with the 3640 or will I need to upgrade to an ISR?


    • To Marc:

      3640 12.4 ENT SERVICES support MPLS features; however, there is another problem – there are no 12.4T images for 3640 AFAIR. You may use those to practice just MPLS features, which are the most important of them all, and possibly use rack rentals for 12.4T feature sets.

  11. manishjasyal says:

    will 2691s do the job.. cisco feature navigator says they are good enough.. but i want ur recommendation.. also it says minimum requirements – 256/64 but i ve got 128/32.. in the earlier comments i read that 2600xms work fine with lower ram/flash.. will this work too?

  12. Sajjad says:

    Hello INE,

    I am self preparing for CCIE (R&S ver-4.0) written and Lab exams both at same time. I will be using INE products to prepare for LAB exam. I am also in process of building my own home lab for this purpose as rack rental is not suitable options for me because I get an hour or so for study here and there.

    I am looking to get some guidance on what LAB equipment to get. I have read INE post “INE’s New CCIE R&S v4.0 Topology “ but still have some questions that I am looking answers for.

    I don’t see 3825 router in the Topology list. Can we do all FOUR INE Workbooks without it? What would we miss without it as actual LAB includes one?

    Can I use Cisco 2811 routers instead of 1841 and 2600XMs? I did use “Cisco Feature Navigator” it seems I will be OK but I need expert advice and I want to be able to do all FOUR INE workbooks without missing anything.

    Below is what is unique to 1841 (2811 and 1841 were compared both using 12.4(24) T1 with “Advanced Enterprise Services” feature set.

    Features Unique to First Image
    Bridge/Transparent support for Authentication Proxy
    Cisco Easy VPN Remote
    Consent feature for IOS Routers
    DECnet over ISL
    DES/3DES/AES VPN Encryption Module (AIM-VPN/BPII)
    Dynamic Multipoint VPN (DMVPN) Phase 1
    Easy VPN Remote Phase 4.1 Enhancements
    Embedded Resource Manager (ERM) – Packet Memory Reclamation
    FAT32 Support
    HSRP over ISL
    IEEE 802.1Q ISL VLAN Mapping
    IP SLAs Sub-millisecond Accuracy Improvements
    IPv6 – Config Logger
    IPv6 Access Services: DHCPv6 Prefix Delegation via AAA
    IPv6 Data Link: VLANs using Cisco Inter-Switch Link (ISL)
    IPX Routing over ISL Virtual LANs
    Login Password Retry Lockout
    OER Support for Cost-Based Optimization and Traceroute Reporting
    Role-Based Access Control CLI commands
    SSLVPN Port-Forward Enhancements
    User Based Firewall Support

    As above features are only available in 1841, will getting 2811s stop me from completing all FOUR INE workbooks?

    I currently have some 2620/21s and some 2500s from my previous CCNP studies. And I want to use these as ACCESS SERVER, FRAME RELAY Switch, and BACK BONE routers. I believe I should be OK what do you think?

    As per my current knowledge about equipment my Home lab will look like this,

    R1 – 2811
    R2 – 2811
    R3 – 2811
    R4 – 2811
    R5 – 2811
    R6 – 2811
    SW1 – 3560 PS-E
    SW2 – 3560 TS-E
    SW3 – 3560 PS-S
    SW4 – 3560 PS-S
    FRS-2620 with NM-8A/S
    ACCESS-SERVER – 2620 with NM-16A
    Two APC-AP9211 remote power switches.

    I would like to go for SP and Security track after, do you think above rack will let me complete all Labs by adding ASA/IPS etc for security track?

    Waiting for your expert advise.

    Thank you


  13. Stan says:

    Hello Petr,

    Are four 3550′s sufficient or do I really need at least two 3560 switches?


  14. Jorge says:

    Hi Petr,

    Do you have any insight on whether the new “2 hour troubleshooting section” will be based on a separate topology? I heard this rumor, but haven’t seen any on Cisco’s site confirming this.



  15. Jorge says:

    Hi Petr,

    Considering any possible IOS bugs, any particular 12.4T code that you are recommending? Which one have you guys considered? 12.4(15)T3…T9 or older within the Adv Ent Svcs image?



  16. Jorge says:

    Hi Petr,

    I guess I should clarify my question a bit. If we build our lab using the revised equipment list that you have provided us with, can we leverage that same physical lab with regards to cabling, devices, etc for the “troubleshooting section”, assuming all we do is re-apply “initial configs” for either the lab or troubleshooting section, that you all will provide?

    I guess what I am trying to confirm is that I do not need another separate set of routers to invest into for my troubleshooting lab exercises.

    I hope I am making sense here?

    From the link below, I get the impression that may be able to since they are suggesting that the reinitialize the lab one was on for your configuration portion. Am I right?

  17. Jorge says:

    I only brought it up because I heard that it was going to be based on a separate physical set of routers. I couldn’t understand why? So I am happy to hear that that is not the case so we can use the same physical topology and cabling to practice our lab troubleshooting skills.

    As always, thank your quick response Petr!

  18. Arifeen says:

    well i m including in those whom looking virtual staff.. i m interested but can’t dig in my pocket for these labs.. i was thinking y v should not spend this money to the institute.. so we will get the already exist lab… or may b institute platform not give u much time with playing the switches & routers..

  19. Martin Kiefer says:


    At Cisco Live in july Gorillo mentioned that the FR switch would be removed in the lab, and that any FR switching would be done on one of the lab routers, will your change reflect this as well?

    Or are you still using the same BBx configuration?

    • We do not plan changing any cabling right now. In our topology, R3 has 4 serial links to the other routers, and could be configured for FR switching if needed. This is actually what I have done when working on one of the QoS labs to illustrate FR policing.

  20. Martin Kiefer says:

    I think there is a minor typo in the RAM/flash requirements for the 1841 on the topology page.

    You say:
    1841 with 32/128 and advanced enterprise service.

    AES requeres 64/192, just mentioning it so nobody gets surprised when they try to load the image on to the routers.


  21. Sohaib says:

    I just wanted to ask if 2650XM would work replacing one of 2611XM.

    And for Access Router do you need 16/16 flash/Ram?

    Thank you for assistance.

  22. Kartik says:

    Hi IE Team,
    I plan to purchase the IE Workbooks to prepare for the new CCIE exam. As a part of the initial groundwork setting up the lab, I wanted to find out the following:
    (1) Can we use 3*3725′s instead of 3*1841′s?
    (2) For BB2 and BB3, can we use 2610XM instead of 2501′s
    (3) Finally what alternative do I have instead of using 2522 for BB1/Frame Relay Switch…Can some 2600 series router be used for the same..if so which one with how many interfaces?

    Appreciate your assistance on the same.

  23. Marino Castro says:

    Hello, Sr. Lapukhov, I need to know if you will work in the dynamips .net file, but I need to build a topology with real catalyst 3560 switches in the .net file, I have 2 quad nic for this purpose. Can you help me please.

  24. TM says:

    In response to the physical topology. That will not change when you finish the troubleshooting part and go to the configuration section. Cisco will reload the POD with new config which means that logical diagram may change but physical connection not. It does not make sense that after two hours some techinician comes in and starts changing the cables for next part of your lab. Neither cisco is going to build two racks for same exam.

  25. TM says:

    I used gns3 on linux running 12.4 AES for testing. If I remember correctly it did everything I wanted for MPLS before I tried at my work.

  26. opers13 says:

    Petr, instead of WIC-1T modules…is it ok to use actual T1 modules where applicable? Thanks!

  27. Glenn deWysockie says:

    “The other topology”
    I’m using 3x 1841 1x 1811 1x ASA 5505 (double duty as a router can route eigrp. ospf and rip)
    I connected a few PCs running dynamips simulating 7206s. Very cool, the real network thinks they are actual 7206s as far as routing, CDP, MPLS, ect.


  28. Dean says:

    Can I use 4 x 3560 switches instead of 2 x 3560 and 2 x 3550?



  29. vietcgi says:

    any reasons why you guys are using c3550-ipservicesk9-mz.122-25.sec2.bin for the 3550 switches? The lastest one is c3550-ipservicesk9-mz.122-44.SE6.bin I think


  30. manet says:

    I plan buying 6×1841 routers for R1,R2,R3,R4,R5,R6 roles.

    Can I order them with Advanced IP Services (or even Advanced Security) instead of AES and use in all labs for preparation?

    Or, in the case it is not possible, can I bye them with Advanced Security, download AES image on them and use for training. I know it is illegal, but all these equipment will be bought as a Not For Resale. And later on they will not be used in production environment.


  31. katsumoto says:

    Hi Petr/INE folks,

    Does this topology and hardware recommendations still applies to date?

    Thanks in advance

  32. katsumoto says:

    Thanks, Brian for taking time to respond. I am planning to review for written and lab in parallel.

    I am still in the “information gathering” stage in order for me to assess the right approach in terms or preparation and time/money resources (building home labs VS dynamips)… :) Wish me luck!!!


  33. Greg says:

    What are you using for the Frame Relay Switch?

  34. Greg says:

    Can I use the Catalyst 2960 in place of the 3550?

  35. Vincent says:

    Can I use Catalyst 4948 to replace the 3550 and 3560? Thanks

  36. Arvie says:

    Generally speaking, does anyone know what the total weight is for a CCIE R&S without the RACK (I’ll purchase a rack near my home). I need to figure out the shipping cost. Thx.

  37. Andrew says:

    Can you replace the 3560 with 4506 supervisor engine x2 switch modules? Thank you in advance.

  38. GBisht says:

    Do I need to buy 4*3560 switch or I can run complete CCIE LAB with 2*3560 & 2*3550. and another question is which one is better and recommended 3560 or 3750 ??

    • You can use 2 x 3560s and 2 x 3550s. 3750s could also be used in place of 3560s. The exam doesn’t test on StackWise, which is the other main feature that 3750 supports over the other fixed config catalyst switches.

  39. Zachary Harris says:

    Good Morning,

    I apologize if this been asked before but as far as the routers go, would the routers 2600XM listed be good to use along with the 1841 routers? Or do I need to get all 1841s and then for R3 get 2 wics for the 4 serial ports?

    Thanks! -Zach

  40. Dave says:

    You mention in item #4 above that in place of the 1841′s, one can use any ISR, the 3725, or any router which can run 12.4T Advanced Enterprise Services. That said, can one use a 2611XM with the ROM upgraded to version 12.2(8r) with 256mb of RAM and at least 32mb of Flash or higher, or is there some hardware limitation I’m not aware of which prevents one from accomplishing all the lab tasks even if the 2611XM is so upgraded, and running 12.4T? As it is, I can upgrade the 2611XM platform to accommodate 12.4T for about $150-200 less per unit than I can purchasing properly equipped 1841′s, and my lab budget could use all the relief possible.


  41. Jorge says:

    This piece doesn’t make sense to me “The 1841′s can replace the 2600XM’s with the exception of R3 of course.”

    What does R3 have anything to do with not being able to use a 2611XM with 32F/128D?

    I am using a 3640 with a newer IOS than 12.4(10)A and seems to be working just fine.

    My main question would be whether I could by with 2611XM for all routers R1-R6 running 12.4(15)T7. Don’t see the main difference between 12.4(24)T14 with regard to MPLS, ZBPF, etc.

    Can someone please confirm?

  42. debu says:

    i want to purchase all 4 WB for CCIE(R & S) & then after practicing i want to access lab virtually as i dont have router/switch/gns3

  43. ccielab says:

    Please help me:

    Can i use R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6 with Platform “CISCO2611XM 128 MB Dram / 32 MB Flash with 2x FastEthernet Portand Cisco NM-4A/S 4 Serial Port Module” ?

    Do I have to use R4,R5,R6 with Platform “Cisco 1841″ ?

    What is the different between Cisco 2611XM and Cisco 1841?


  44. John says:

    hi all,

    i’ve got some few questions with regards to CCIE RS lab setup:

    1. i’ve got a spare 2801s and will install WIC-2T. i would like to know what’s the correct IOS (or near to it) to use?

    2. i’ll be using a 2811 with NM-8A/S for FR switch, will this work?

    3. could someone provide the cable count/list?

    DB60-DB25/SS DCE/DTE??
    straight cables ??
    cross-cableS ??


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