NETLAB+ enables Cisco Networking Academies to host real Cisco lab equipment. Lab devices can be scheduled, automated, and accessed remotely, allowing Academies to maximize their investment in equipment and software. NETLAB+ provides students with a high fidelity training experience through remote interaction with real routers, switches, firewalls, PCs and servers - all running real operating systems and software.

For installation details specific to NETLAB+ VE, please refer to the NETLAB+ VE Real Equipment Pod Installation Guide


NETLAB+ integrates with VMware vSphere to provide remote PC support.

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Control Devices

Control devices provide internal connectivity, console access, and managed power to support content using real lab devices.

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Lab Devices

Real lab devices are used for course work that requires access to routers, switches and firewalls.

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Core Components

The following table describes the core rack components that are required for any NETLAB+ system. The numbers in the first column refer to the red circled numbers on the diagram above.

# Component Description Learn More
1 NETLAB+ Server NETLAB+® is a server appliance with all software pre-installed. NETLAB+ Overview
2 VMware vCenter VMware vCenter enables you to manage the resources of multiple ESXi hosts and allows you to monitor and manage your physical and virtual infrastructure. NETLAB+ integrates with VMware vCenter to assist the administrator with installing, replicating and configuring virtual machine pods. vCenter Requirements
3 VMware ESXi Physical VMware ESXi servers host the virtual machines in your pods. Virtualization using ESXi is performed on separate physical servers, not included with NETLAB+. You can interface with multiple ESXi servers if necessary. Recommended Hardware for ESXi

Hardware Components for Cisco Networking Academy Support

The follow table describes the hardware components required to support Cisco Networking Academy pods.

# Component Description Learn More
4 Access Servers Access servers provide console connections to lab equipment. Using this approach, users can access lab gear even when no configurations have been loaded in the lab devices. NETLAB+ proxies all console connections through the access server. Supported Access Server Models
5 Control Switches NETLAB+ uses control switches to provide connectivity between the NETLAB+ server, access servers, remote PCs, and switched outlet devices. Control switches are not accessed by lab users. Supported Control Switch Models
6 Switched Outlets Switched outlets provide managed electrical power, allowing NETLAB+ and users to turn lab equipment on and off. Suppported Switched Outlet Devices
7 Lab Routers Lab routers are required for course work that requires access to real equipment. The number of routers and router types required is based on pod type and course work. Supported Lab Routers
8 Lab Switches Lab switches are required for course work that requires access to real equipment. The number of switches and switch types required is based on pod type and course work. Supported Lab Switches
9 Lab Security Devices Lab security devices are required for certain course work that requires firewall configuration. The number of lab security devices required is based on pod type and course work. Supported Lab Security Devices

Lab Equipment Selection

Lab devices used for actual course work include routers, switches, and firewalls. Please review the NETLAB+ supported topologies and supported lab devices.

  1. Select curriclum. Determine the supported Cisco Networking Academy curriculum your organization plans to offer.
  2. Select labs. Determine the labs you wish to offer for each curriculum and the topologies can be used with each lab. The detail pages for each course include a Supported Lab List, which lists the topology types required for each lab.

    The Multi-purpose Academy Pod (MAP) may be used for all CCNA Security Labs The CCNA Security lab page also indicates that several other topologies may be used to support many of the labs, if router memory is upgraded. NDG provides compatibility to use older equipment topologies whenever possible.
  3. Review topology hardware requirements. See the equipment requirements for each selected topology. Details on required equipment for each topology are in inluded on each topology page.

Control Device Selection

Once you have determined what lab devices are needed, you can calculate the number of control devices required to connect the lab devices to NETLAB+ and virtual machine infrastructure.

Access Servers
  • You will need one access server line (port) for each lab device.
  • An HWIC-16A module provides 16 lines. Two HWIC-16A modules are common for most installations and will support up to 32 lab devices.
  • Be sure to order the correct octal cables for the access server modules you are using. Each octal cable provides 8 RJ-45 connections.
Switched Outlet Devices
  • You will need one switched outlet for each lab device.
  • An APC 7900 or 7920 provides 8 outlets.
  • Several APC units may be required to support multiple pods.
Control Switches
  • Each Cisco Networking Academy pod connects to a control switch.
  • The number of ports required for each pod varies based on pod type. For example, a Multi-purpose Academy pod requires 8 control switch ports.
  • The topology page for each pod type shows the control switch layout and the number of ports required
  • Control switch ports for a pod must be consecutive and reside on the same switch. A pod cannot be split across multiple control switches.
  • Not all control switch ports will be available for pods. When you calculate the number of control switches required, keep in mind that some ports will be reserved to connect VMware servers and other control devices.
  • Be sure to have plenty of Category 5 (or 6) Ethernet cables of the appropriate length to make the connections. If planned carefully, different cable lengths can greatly reduce cable clutter.

Remote PC Support

Most NETLAB+ lab topologies for the Cisco Networking Academy now support remotely accessible PCs, which are an integral part of the lab exercises. Remote PCs are implemented by integrating with 3rd party virtualization products. The NETLAB+ documentation library includes several guides with extensive detail on the implementation of virtualization with your NETLAB+ system. Please refer to the pod-specific pages, videos, and documentation guides to determine the remote PC options supported by each topology.

Learn more about Remote PC Support >

Administrator Knowledge

  • Cisco Networking Academy Instructor
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (recommended)
  • Installing and connecting Cisco devices
  • Downloading and installing Cisco IOS software images
  • Cisco IOS command line interface and basic configuration tasks