Im planning to get my CCNA certification but not sure how to get real time experience.

I have 10_ years of s/w development experience. Now with cloud and VM's I would like to understand in deep how networking works.

Is it possible to get the CCNA certified without much real time experience?

Can I just read the books and just understand the theory behind it?


Yeah, it is possible to do CCNA without any real time experience. I wouldn't go so far with a CCNP/CCIE but CCNA is made to give an introduction to the world of networking, routing, switching, ... .

However, you will not know it "in deep". This is not the intention of a CCNA course. You well have a good base and even a bit more... .

Examinations of CCNA requires that you know your theory, commands and Cisco proprietary stuff. The commands mentioned here, you should train them with something called 'packet tracer'. This is a software made by Cisco.

  • I have a MAC. Is there a alternative for packet tracer as I'm unable to install "packet tracer". – user1050619 Feb 1 '16 at 13:43
  • without the visual representation of packets going over the connected lines, you could use GNS3 but you'll need a valid cisco IOS for this. gns3.com – Bulki Feb 1 '16 at 17:09

Yes, that is doable. I would take your CCNA in two parts though. I would start with the first part and see if you are satisfied or need to go further. Also, the CCNA is much easier to acquire (in my opinion) through the two-exam method:

  1. The CCENT exam - This will focus on networking basics. For example: subnetting, OSI and TCP/IP models, switching, and basic routing.

  2. The CCNA exam - has more depth of switching, routing and WAN technology involved. For example: Spanning Tree, more detailed routing, load balancing, Frame Relay and other WAN technologies, basic security, and access lists.

The problem with someone wanting to know the "basics" is that the Cisco exams have heavy focus on Cisco devices. In other words, you will need to learn Cisco specific commands and be able to get around in a Cisco device for the simulations. If you are wanting the basics, and don't plan on becoming a "Networking Guy", you may be better off with just stopping at the CCENT.

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