CCIE Pursuit Blog

February 24, 2008

CCOnlineLabs: Price Reductions

CCOnlineLabs has just reduced their pricing.  I really like their service and they have really good equipment (the racks I have rented all had 2800s running 12.4 code).  They used to be a little spendy if you were just doing a session here and there (as I do), but this recent price reduction makes them a great choice if you need some rack time:

Hello all,
 
You wanted lower prices?  Now you have them.
 
5.5 hour session @ $15.00/session
11.5 hour session @ $25.00/session

 
We have done away with the discount structure.  You will now get the same extremely low rate if you are purchasing 1 session or 20.
 
We will still offer our ‘cram session’ special.  If you are willing to commit that much time to us, then we are willing to give you an even better deal.
 
We want to continue to have you as repeat customers.  If there is anything else that we can do to make that happen, let us know.
 
Cheers,
 
Tony Schaffran
Network Analyst
CCIE #11071
CCNP, CCNA, CCDA,
NNCDS, NNCSS, CNE, MCSE
 
www.cconlinelabs.com

Your #1 choice for online Cisco rack rentals.

December 11, 2007

Internetwork Expert: New Lab Rental Process

I logged into my IE account today and noticed something new.  There is now a “Schedule Your Own Rack Sessions” section.  It looks like they are changing the way that they rent rack time. 

They have put up a Class-On-Demand detailing how to rent rack time (and book mock labs). 

Basically you buy tokens at a dollar apiece.  Then you can use those tokens to book rack time.

You can book rack time pretty much instantaneously.  You can also reschedule or cancel a session (72 hour advance notice) and the tokens go back into your account.  There are also some other cool features coming in a few months:

GUI Remote Power Control – Powercycle devices with a single mouse click!
On-Demand Hardware Diagnostics – Eliminate the guesswork of suspected hardware problems!*
Configuration capturing, archiving, and loading – Automatically save your configs and resume later!*
Initial configuration loading – Automatically load initial configs for any Internetwork Expert product!*
* – coming Jan 2008

Depending on how much the discount is, this could be a very cool feature [as I type this, session 3 is currently available for 7 tokens so it looks like this is going work pretty well]:

Additionally this system allows you to book rack sessions that are currently in progress for a discounted rate.

The only downside that I see is with the token system.  Anyone who has been to a fair and ended up with 3 tickets leftover when the minimum number of tickets to ride is 5 understands the downfall to the token system.  Also, it looks like you can only buy tokens in groups of 15.  Most of the (R&S) sessions are multiples of 10 or 15 (15, 20, 30) so this might not be too big of a deal.  But if you’re doing a 99 token mock lab or nabbing some session in progress for 7 tokens, you can see how you could end up with a total of tokens that are not a multiple of 10 or 15.

Once they implement the automatic loading of IE initial configs and the ability to save your configs for reloading later (two huge timesavers), this will be a very nice choice for completing IE labs.  That coupled with the ability to schedule immediately and to nab some discount sessions will likely overshadow any leftover tokens issues.

November 8, 2007

LFU 7: RTFM

Last night (actually early this morning due to my inability to translate time zones) I rented some time on Internetwork Expert’s racks.  I was assigned to rack 6.  I logged on and after doing some of the technology labs, I decided to do as much of Lab 1 from the Volume III workbook as time allowed.  I had already done the layer 2 part of this lab on my rack and figured that it was good practice to do it again and see how far I could get through the IGP configuration before I fell asleep.

One of the great things about renting a vendor’s rack is that they are set up precisely for their workbooks, right down to the interface.  On my rack I need to constantly tweak vendor provided initial configurations to match my actual interfaces.  It’s not a huge deal, but it does burn up some time when setting up for a lab.  On IE’s rack I was able to quickly load the initial configurations and start on the lab.

I tore through the layer 2 stuff.  A lot of that had to do with this being the second time that I’ve done this lab, but also because the tasks are pretty basic and unambiguous. 

I was zipping along until I hit task 3.2  In this task you’re asked to create a point-to-point Frame Relay connection from r6 to bb1 (backbone router).  Pop on an IP address and configure Frame Relay.  Piece of cake.   That’s when the fun began:

I could not ping bb1 from r6.  I configured it correctly and I was getting a good frame map:

r6#p 54.1.2.254

Type escape sequence to abort.
Sending 5, 100-byte ICMP Echos to 54.1.2.254, timeout is 2 seconds:
…..
Success rate is 0 percent (0/5) 

r6#sh run | sec Serial0/0
interface Serial0/0
 no ip address
 encapsulation frame-relay
interface Serial0/0.1 point-to-point
 ip address 54.1.2.6 255.255.255.0
 frame-relay interface-dlci 100

r6#sh frame map
Serial0/0.1 (up): point-to-point dlci, dlci 100(0x64,0x1840), broadcast
          status defined, active

Weird.  I did a shut/no shut on the physical interface and was still unable to ping the bb1.  I jumped on the access server and tried to reverse telnet to bb1 but was not allowed to access it.  At this point I grabbed the answer key to verify my configuration.  I felt stupid doing this because the task was so simple and I had successfully completed it before on my own rack.  My configuration matched the answer key.  So what the hell was going on?

I verified that Frame Relay was working.  LMI, Frame Maps, Frame PVCs, interfaces were up and up…everything looked good.  Routing protocols had not been configured at this point, so it HAD to be something with the layer 2 configuration.  But what?

I had a couple of troubleshooting routes that I could take a this point.  I was leaning towards something being configured wrong on the bb1, so I decided to default r6’s s0/0 interface and then use Frame Relay Inverse-ARP on the physical interface to create a dynamic mapping.  If successful, that should allow me to verify the DLCI and IP address of bb1:

This is after I defaulted and rebuilt the s0/0 interface:
r6#sh run int s0/0
Building configuration…

Current configuration : 89 bytes
!
interface Serial0/0
 ip address 54.1.2.6 255.255.255.0
 encapsulation frame-relay
end

r6#sh ip int br | i Serial0/0
Serial0/0                  54.1.2.6        YES manual up                    up

Serial0/0.1                unassigned      YES manual deleted               down

r6#sh frame map
Serial0/0 (up): ip 54.6.1.254 dlci 101(0x65,0x1850), dynamic,
              broadcast,, status defined, active
Serial0/0 (up): ip 54.6.2.254 dlci 100(0x64,0x1840), dynamic,
              broadcast,, status defined, active
Serial0/0 (up): ip 54.6.3.254 dlci 51(0x33,0xC30), dynamic,
              broadcast,, status defined, active

Fuck me running!  The IP address on bb1 was wrong.  The second octet is 6 and should be 1:

Serial0/0 (up): ip 54.6.2.254 dlci 100(0x64,0x1840), dynamic,
              broadcast,, status defined, active

r6#sh ip int br | i Serial0/0
Serial0/0                  54.1.2.6        YES manual up                    up

My configuration matched the topology and the answer key.  I opened the initial configuration for the bb1 from Internetwork Expert’s own documentation (remember that I could not access the bb1):

interface Serial0.100 point-to-point
 description PVC 100 to Rack8
 ip address 54.1.2.254 255.255.255.0 
 ipv6 address 2001:54:1:2::254/64
 ipv6 address FE80::254 link-local
 frame-relay interface-dlci 100

Why hath thou forsaken me Internetwork Expert?  I was crushed.  I was up way past my bedtime and looking at only a couple hours of sleep before the roar of my alarm woke me to face a day at work with minimal sleep.  I would spend my few hours of sleep plotting the slow and painful demise of the Brians.  🙂

I went ahead and altered R6’s s0/0 interface IP and everything worked just fine.

I have learned a couple of things about myself over the years:

  1. I am often wrong.
  2. If I wait a bit and keep my big mouth shut, I’ll usually see the error of my ways.

Unfortunately, I usually skip step two and end up with my foot in my mouth.  In this case I thankfully saw the error of my ways before emailing IE complaining about the incorrect configuration of the bb1.

If you’ve used IE’s labs before, you’ll know that the IP address on the topology are written in the form of “10.x.1.0/24” where x = your rack number.  I have always used x = 1.  This has never been a problem because I use my own rack most of the time.  When I have rented racks before, it’s never been an issue either because I’ve never used the bb routers before. 

In this case I was on rack 6 and had pasted in the initial configurations which used x=1 (this negates my “initial configs need no editing” statement from earlier).  This meant that IE had the bbs configured correctly (x = 6) but that ALL of my interfaces were configured incorrectly (x = 1).

ARRGHH!!!!!!!

I went ahead and changed the octet only on the connections to the bb routers.  I was getting pretty tired and it was obvious that I was not going to complete the entire lab before passing out, so I did not worry about any issues caused by the bb-injected routes using x=6.

In the end I was disappointed that I spent so much time troubleshooting this issue, but I am happy that I was able to troubleshoot the issue and eventually find the underlying problem (my idiocy).

The lesson: Read the instructions and don’t get so comfortable with a topology or routine that you don’t think/question why you’re doing something a certain way.  If this had happened to me on the actual lab, it would have sunk me.

November 7, 2007

I Is Dumb….Dumb As Dirt

I booked a rack rental from Internetwork Expert for tonight.  I was pretty stoked because I nabbed a session from 9 pm – 2:30 am for $15.  That’s 9 pm to 2:30 PST.  Since my time zone is CST, that means that the session would run from 7 pm – 12:30 am because of the two hour differential.

7 pm rolled around and I tried logging in….about 10 times.  Readers with more than a sixth grade education will have already spotted my error, but it took me a trip to the InterWebs to find out that my sweet 7 pm slot would actually begin at 11 pm local time.

Oh well.  It looks like I’ll only be using a couple of hours of that rack rental.  Oh, and just to pour salt in my wound…the slot before this one runs from 5 pm – 10:30 CDT and costs….$15.   🙂

October 9, 2007

cconlinelabs Adds Two New Racks, Increase Rates

Due to increased demand, cconlinelabs has added two new rental racks.  They have also increased their rack rental prices from $20 to $25 for a 5.5 hour session and $35 to $40 for a 11.5 hour session (prices are lower with purchase of multiple sessions).  I’ve used their racks before and they use 2800 series routers with 12.4 code (plus 3 2560s and 1 3550 switches) on all of their racks.  I expect that the new racks will have the same top notch hardware.

Greetings all,
 
Due to the increased demand for our services, most of you may have noticed that our schedule is quite full and it has become difficult to find available time in our schedule.
 
To help with this situation, we are bringing up two additional racks asap.  These racks will be configured for Internetwork Expert Labs as that seems to be the workbook of choice for most users.
 
We will need to slightly increase our rates to help offset some of the cost of the new equipment.  The new rate schedule can be found on our Rates web page.  We hope that this small increase in our rates will not prove to be too much of an inconvenience as we continue to provide you the best service with the best equipment.
  
Cheers,
 
Tony Schaffran
Network Analyst

CCIE #11071
CCNP, CCNA, CCDA,
NNCDS, NNCSS, CNE, MCSE

www.cconlinelabs.com
Your #1 choice for online Cisco rack rentals.

October 2, 2007

CCBootcamp Increase Rack Rental Sessions To 8 Hours

CCBootcamp recently increased their rack rental sessions from 6 hours to 8 hours.  Their price per session has remained at $30.  This will increase the sesson time to match that of the lab as well as drive down the price per hour from $5/hr to a more competitive $3.75/hour.

April 12, 2007

CCIE Rack Rental Costs

Filed under: CCIE Rack Rental — cciepursuit @ 8:27 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

***Updated 02 October, 2007 *** 

Here is a (non-comprehensive) quick rundown on the prices of various CCIE rack rental companies.  Most companies will offer discounts for multiple sessions.  The prices listed do not represent those discounts, but should give you an idea of the cost of renting a single block of rack time.

You can find links to these rack rental providers in the “CCIE Rack Rental” sidebar.

Vendor Rental Block (in hours) Cost

Cost Per Hour

CCIE 2 B 4 $25.00

$3.75

CCIERack 6 $17.50

$2.91

CCIE4U 4 $12.00

$3.00

CCOnline Labs 5.5 $20.00

$3.64

CCOnline Labs 11.5 $35.00

$3.04

GigaVelocity 3 $15.00

$5.00

GigaVelocity 6 $25.00

$4.17

GigaVelocity 12 $50.00

$4.17

Mind Tech 10 $49.00

$4.90

Rack Time Rentals 11.5 $45.00

$3.91

Proctor Labs (IPExpert) 5.75 $40.00

$6.96

Internetwork Expert 11.5 $45.00

$3.91

Internetwork Expert (nights) 11.5 $35.00

$3.04

Internetwork Expert (weekend) 11.5 $50.00

$4.35

CCBootcamp 8 $30.00

$3.75

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