Network systems are continually evolving – getting complex and innovative. To make students familiar with them, new educational tools and updated curriculum is emerging all the time.
Today, there are many simulation tools available that can be used to learn networking, and they have made the life of both teachers and students, very easy.
In this regard, the Cisco Network Academy helps students to understand the complexities of TCP/IP networks and Cisco technologies.
They have developed the Cisco Packet Tracer e-learning software to allow users to simulate modern computer networks and create network topologies.
Note that the Packet Tracer application is a “simulation” tool and not an “emulation” tool like GNS3 or VIRL for example.
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What is Cisco Packet Tracer?
Packet Tracer is a networking simulation tool (as stated above) used for practice, discovery, and troubleshooting designed by Cisco. Cisco’s official website describes Packet Tracer as:
“A powerful network simulation program that allows students to experiment with network behavior and ask ‘what if’ questions.”
As stated, it is a powerful network simulator to help networking students achieve the optimum learning experience while also gaining practical networking and technology skills to develop their expertise.
It teaches the student to create a network on an unlimited number of devices. They can experience troubleshooting without buying the real Cisco switches and routers. However, one can never use it to replace actual switches or routers.
This simulation-based learning atmosphere helps the student to strengthen their skills while also improving their critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. It offers an interactive and practical way to learn networking protocols.
Some Use Cases of Cisco Packet Tracer
- Cisco Certifications
Packet Tracer is an essential tool as it helps to prepare for network exams like Cisco Certified Network Associate or CCNA Routing and Switching. It requires the candidates to complete practice labs and virtual environments that simulate a Cisco network.
CCNA is one of the highly reputed entry-level networking certification exams. The CCNA Routing and Switching certification makes sure that students have a firm grasp of the foundational technologies of networking, and their knowledge is up to date with the demands of the modern-day industry.
This certification stays relevant with skill sets needed for the adoption of next-generation technologies. Students can apply their book-learning to a real environment.
They can design networks with topology elements such as routers, switches, cable connectivity etc. Having the expertise to create and maintain a small to medium network is crucial for passing the exam.
- Network Design
Network administrators use packet tracer to test “what if” scenario in networks that will help them in designing a network. They can create a topology guide with it. They prefer doing it because it allows editing of the features without erasing anything or beginning from scratch.
- Testing Modifications
The professional network administrators can use Cisco Packet Tracer to test network changes before applying them to the actual network.
Before modifying a network, the user can check out the new topology to decipher if everything is in order. Once it is final and there aren’t any flaws, they can apply the changes in a real network.
How to download Cisco Packet Tracer?
Cisco Packet Tracer is a free tool for the members of the Cisco Networking Academy. Those who aren’t members of this academy have to enroll in one of their Packet Tracer courses. Once done, you can download the Tracer using the following steps:
- Click the “Enroll to Download Packet Tracer” button
- Sign up in the introduction to Packet Tracer course
- Finish up your registration in the Network Academy
- Launch the “Introduction to Packet Tracer” course
- Install instructions available in the course
- Packet Tracer Modes
Cisco Packet Tracer offers two operating modes to envision the network behavior:
- Real-time Mode – Network behaves like real devices. It gives an immediate, real-time response to all network activities.
- Simulation Mode – The user can watch and control time intervals. They can view the inside operation of data transfer and delivery of data across the networks.
- Packet Tracer Workspaces
Cisco Packet Tracer has two workspaces:
- Logical – Users can create a logical network topology by connecting and clustering the virtual network devices.
- Physical – Provides an illustrious physical side of the logical network. It helps to fathom a sense of placement and scale of devices like a router in real-time.
- Activity Wizard
The Activity Wizard enables a user to design their learning activities. They can do so by creating scenarios using instructional text. And eventually, they can develop the first and final network topology as well as predesigned packets. This Wizard also offers feedback and grading skills.
- Multiuser Functionality
Cisco Packet Tracer is a network-capable application. It has a multiuser peer-to-peer mode to enable the collaborative construction of digital networks on the real systems. This multiuser feature facilitates incredible competitive interactions and collaborations. People can use it for social interactions, gaming, and learning.
Packet Tracer contains a handful of basic step-wise tutorials to teach users about the product features. They clarify how to engage in the simulations. For an in-depth study, there are advance tutorials available on the Academy connection.
The application itself has only a handful of features available inside the actual hardware that runs the Cisco IOS version. It is not suitable for modeling production networks. It has limited command sets, making it impossible to practice all IOS commands required.
It is only a learning aid, not a replacement for actual switches or routers, as explained earlier.
Packet Tracer can be hard to grasp as a beginner. Yet, the more time you spend on it, the more expert you become at troubleshooting and running network simulations.
It is essential to familiarize yourself with a tool like Cisco Packet Tracer. It is an intermediary step when preparing to monitor an enterprise-grade network. For many administrators of this network, Cisco Packet Tracer is a useful learning tool.
As you configure a router in the Packet Tracer, it puts you on the path of becoming a highly competent and resilient network administrator. When you aim for a level of expertise, it is better to start with a limited topology and gradually move on to broader networks.
If you have any queries or confusions, leave your comments below!
About Michelle Joe: Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs. You can find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook
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