Here at INE, we're frequently asked this question: "Can I use _____ to recreate your INE CCNA / CCNP / CCIE Lab Workbook?"You could fill in the blank with tools such as GNS3, VIRL, EVE-NG, Packet Tracer, etc. So, let's address this question.
In most cases, the short answer is "Yes, you can, but you'll be making a lot of additional work for yourself." However, in a few cases (like INE's CCNP R&S TSHOOT Workbook) the answer is "No, for this workbook you must rent time on INE's CCNA / CCNP Rack".
Hand in Hand
All of INE's Lab Workbooks were originally written to be implemented using INE's Rack Rental System. For example, if you are working through INE's CCNP ROUTE, SWITCH, or TSHOOT Workbooks, we assume you're progressing through the tasks by using our Rack Rental Tokens to rent time on our INE CCNA / CCNP R&S Rack.
For the Lab Workbooks where one could, theoretically, recreate the topologies using another mechanism (such as GNS3 or EVE-NG), there remain a variety of reasons why it's still worth your while to use our equipment to progress through lab tasks, rather than trying to do them on your own system.
The Big Picture
When using INE's racks to progress through your workbook tasks, any command output in the workbook verification section should closely (or exactly) match the one you see in your own command (or GUI) output. Should you choose to recreate our topologies within your own system, it is highly likely that things like interface names/numbers will not match what our topologies and command output display.
For example, some verification output for a lab task might frequently display "interface FastEthernet 0/0". However, in your lab, your corresponding interface is "interface GigabitEthernet1/1". This will cause confusion as you're looking back-and-forth between your device's output and any screenshots provided in our Workbook. You may also run into problems with the hardware/software you selected lacking the capabilities to implement all of our Lab Tasks because it doesn't match up with the hardware/software we use in our own lab environments.
Many of our Workbook tasks ask you to activate a pre-configuration on your rack using our purpose-built Rack Rental Control Panel GUI. These save you time by pre-configuring things such as IP addressing, routing, and security policies onto your INE devices. Then you can concentrate on fulfilling the objectives of the lab task, rather than wasting valuable time configuring the pre-conditions of the lab. If you are recreating our labs on your own devices, you won't have access to these pre-configurations and (assuming you are able to determine what the pre-configuration did) you will have to configure all of that manually.
Even if you don't mind configuring the pre-conditions necessary for each task, not all Workbooks provide you with sufficient information to do so. For example, the CCNA/CCNP Lab Racks have devices called "Core/Backbone Routers". These routers already have existing configurations, such as Frame-Relay switching, BGP and OSPF Routing, and VRFs, among others. Therefore, they are pre-activated for a variety of Lab Tasks. Although they physically connect to your topology, these devices are off-limits from a learner's perspective. We don't provide all the ingredients for their configurations in our Lab Workbooks.
Is It Worth It?
Of course, these insights are only applicable to Workbooks that could, theoretically, be replicated within your own environment. Our CCNP R&S TSHOOT Lab Workbook MUST be done using our racks. This is due to its structure of utilizing dynamic pre-configurations containing flaws you need to troubleshoot and fix.
Now it's up to you to determine whether or not to rent time on our INE Racks as you go through your desired INE Lab Workbook. Don't hesitate to reach out with additional questions. We're glad to help you throughout your studying and certification process.
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