Certification Advice and Tools that Develop Real Cisco® Skills
Friday, July 21, 2017

Sim vs Em vs Real

Almost everyone who works towards Cisco certification considers how to get hands-on skills, and when it makes the most sense to use each option. This page summarizes the timing and the key points of comparison between each competing option.

 

Option Comparison

  

Simulator Vs. Emulator Simulator Vs. Real Gear Real Gear Vs. Emulator

  

The Timing: When to Use Each Option?

Many people use all the hands-on options at some point in time. Once you're experienced, it's easier to compare the options. However, if you’re sitting at the starting point, ready to begin study for the ICND1 exam, it is hard to know where to start. Do you spend $100-$150 on a couple of used routers and related cables and accessories? Buy the Sim for around $100, save some time, get some lab guidance, and get busy learning? Do you start to learn about Dynamips, and see if you can somehow get your hands on an IOS image to start using routers for free?

 

Depending on where you are in the study process, different tools can be of more or less help. This figure spells out my personal opinion; the blog posts linked on this page give some discussion about this same topic.
 

 

(Pearson) Simulator Vs. (Dynamips) Emulator


 

Feature
Simulator
Emulator
Core function
Acts like CLI
Acts like router hardware
IOS must be supplied by…
N/A – none required
User
CLI output generated by…
Simulator
Cisco IOS
Who defines the commands supported?
Simulator developers
Cisco IOS
Fee/free
Fee
Free
Cisco router support
Yes
Yes
Cisco switch support
Yes
No
Comes with lab exercises?
Yes
No
Performance tuning typically required
No
Yes
Portability
Yes
Yes
Remote Access
Yes (remote desktop)
Yes (telnet/SSH) and remote desktop

 

(Pearson) Simulator Vs. Real Gear

Feature
Simulator
Real Gear
Core function
Acts like CLI
As real as it gets
IOS must be supplied by…
N/A – none required
Product seller or user
CLI output generated by…
Simulator
Cisco IOS
Who defines the commands supported?
Simulator developers
Cisco IOS
Fee/free
Fee
Fee
Cisco router support
Yes
Yes
Cisco switch support
Yes
Yes
Comes with lab exercises?
Yes
No
Performance tuning typically required
No
No
Portability
Yes
No
Remote Access
Yes (remote desktop)
Yes (telnet/SSH)
 

Real Gear Vs (Dynamips) Emulator

Feature
Real Gear
Emulator
Core function
As real as it gets
Acts like router hardware
IOS must be supplied by…
Product seller or user
User
CLI output generated by…
Cisco IOS
Cisco IOS
Who defines the commands supported?
Cisco IOS
Cisco IOS
Fee/free
Fee
Free
Cisco router support
Yes
Yes
Cisco switch support
Yes
No
Comes with lab exercises?
No
No
Performance tuning typically required
No
Yes
Portability (ie, on laptop)
No
Yes
Remotely accessible?
Yes (telnet/SSH)
Yes (telnet/SSH) and remote desktop

 

 Blogs and Articles