Intro to Cisco Equipment


This guide is created to document how to use some of Cisco's equipment. The focus is on equipment types that are typically marketed to businesses. Examples include the Cisco 1841 Integrated Services Router (“ISR”) or a 48-port rack-mounted Cisco 2960 Switch. A lot of details on this page are specific to this “class” of equipment, and is not applicable to equipment that is typically marketed towards individual consumers, or for typical home use. For instance, a lot of the material on this page would not apply to the Cisco Linksys WRT54GL.

(The rest of this section tries to provide an overview of what to expect from this guide. Most notably, that IPv6-related topics are not sufficiently covered at the time of this writing.)

This guide provides some details that could be considered to be the level of detail covered by training for the Cisco Certified Network Associate (“CCNA”) Routing and Switching certification. This guide does not try to be a sufficient guide to get somebody entirely ready to be a CCNA. There are details in the CCNA training that have not been placed in this guide. That is anticipated to remain true, because trying to include all of the material that might possibly show up in the CCNA runs the risk of effectively copying Cisco's training materials. Rather, this guide is meant to be independent of Cisco's training, and Cisco's test. The current version of this guide is meant to help people to be able to effectively use Cisco devices, enabling people to perform some common tasks. This guide is not officially aiming to be training that covers everything needed for the CCNA.

That being said, this guide covers quite a bit of details about interacting with Cisco's IFS (filesystem). There may even be subtantially more details, and/or focus, about IFS in this guide than what is in Cisco's CCNA training. That is simply because understanding where data is stored, and knowing how to access it, seem like details that the author of this text has deemed as being valuable. Other than that one topic (of IFS), most of the content in this guide will discuss the types of topics that might show up on a CCNA exam. So, becoming familiar with the content described by most of this guide is probably a good thing to do before taking the CCNA Routing and Switching exam. For those who have completed some specific training focused on the CCNA Routing and Switching certification exam, reviewing this guide may be a way to help make sure that many important topics are recognized and thoroughly understood.

That does not mean that this guide will necessarily cover every single command. What it does mean is that the information on this guide may be part of what is CCNA-level material.

This was based on knowledge accumulated based on experience and training related to some older training material. Cisco has updated the CCNA program to contain new material. At the time of this writing, IPv6 and related topics (like OSPFv3) are not sufficiently covered by this guide. So, absolutely, consider this guide to be incomplete as far as suitable study material. However, it is likely to be useful for the material that it does cover.

There may currently be some assumptions/guesses as to which of these commands require privileged EXEC (privilege level 15) by default. Eventually this is something that may be checked, and the prompts may be adjusted appropriately. For now, this document was started in enough of a hurry that checking this detail was not done.

This guide is designed to discuss details specific to Cisco. Other basic networking concepts, like the format of an IP address, may be covered by networking basics. Perhaps one of the biggest topics that is not sufficiently covered are subnets. Details may be found at: subnets, subnets (but, at the time of this writing, is not extensively covered). Having a solid understanding of IPv4 subnets may be knowledge expected to get a CCNA certification, or even the CCENT (which is a certification that Cisco created after the CCNA certification, and is not it.)

Seeing the system's output

This traditionally involved connecting a flat, light blue cable to the physical Cisco device's “Console” port (which used an “RJ-45”-style connector), and the other end of the cable to a computer's DE-9 port. Other options may exist: see: Seeing the output from Cisco hardware which briefly discusses options like using an Aux port, SSH, or web-based solutions.

If you are using emulated devices, then some software solution will likely emulate a connection to a console port.

Starting up Cisco hardware

Once the output of a device can be seen, the bootup process may be witnessed. Although this may not be the most exciting or productive topic, this is a topic that makes sense to cover early on. See: “Starting Up Cisco Hardware” section on Cisco Hardware Startup Process section. (In contrast, this is similar in topic to system startup process.)

Using the Cisco IOS

Cisco hardware is often designed with the intend that people will be using an operating system called IOS. Some details (providing an overview) about this operating system may be described by Cisco IOS section.

Becoming familiar with this operating system will be essential for obtaining the professional Cisco Certified Network Associate (“CCNA”) Routing and Switching certification. Check out, in detail, the Cisco IOS usage guide. Learn about using the command line interface, and how to set IP addresses.

Want to more about using Cisco equipment? The Cisco Certified Network Associate (“CCNA”) Routing and Switching certification details may also have some more details.