How to get started


Beginnings can be scary so to make it less so for you, here’s how you can get started with learning about networks.

  1. You definitely need some reference material,  be it a udemy online course, a subscription, subscription, or any cisco press book. Pick a CCENT or CCNA-level course in routing&switching. My personal recommendation is CBTNuggets CCNA course or Chris Bryant’s CCNA course at Both very good value for money and you will have so much fun doing those courses.
  2. You need to lab up everything you learn in the online courses. You have a few options here, because you will either:
  • want to buy real gear
  • use a simulator – not recommended but hey if you’re low on space&cash, this might be a good option. Pick Boson or Cisco VIRL or GNS3.
  • use a remote rack rental service

What do I recommend?  I used to say that real gear is best but Cisco VIRL simulator is such a great tool and recent updates add even more cool stuff that I simply don’t know. If you have a garage or a cellar, get real gear, but don’t overinvest. At the basic CCNA level a whole set doesn’t set you back much, but once you get to the expert level it starts to be really expensive, and I mean REAAALLY expensive. Do your maths and think whether it will pay off for you. It did for me. As to remote rack rental: cool stuff (proctorlabs rules!!!) but in the long run you might want to invest in your own lab, rather than paying for someone else’s equipment.

To sum it up:

  • real gear is by far the coolest option but you need to know what to buy which at the beginning is not that easy.  You should be able to get a CCNA level set for less than $500
  • remote rack rental is good for start because you only pay by the hour. But you don’t see how it all works because you just connect remotely and there’s no cabling, no flickering lights. It’s all out there and this may negatively affect your understanding of how networks actually work. One session (usually 4 hours) is somewhere between 2-4$. You will need about 30-40 sessions to take the CCNA (basic Cisco exam)
  • Cisco VIRL simulator is the next BIG thing. But you need a powerful PC to run it on AND you need to know how to run it as a virtual machine so it’s not for beginners. Check the pricing on the Cisco website because it keeps changing.


What would I do if I were you? I would go to and enroll on a 6-day (3 weekends) course. Why? Because it will make you an independent learner. After my course you will know what equipment to buy, what books to read, what exams are worth taking and what to do next. And it’s just $300 which is waaaaaay below what you would pay for reference material+remoterack or live gear.

Have any questions? Email me at (better option) or call 601079955 between 5 and 8 pm (i’m a full time network admin during the day).




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