Overview: Cisco Packet Tracer

  • Desktop software (downloadable)
  • Primary Purpose: To enable learning
  • CLI: a Simulator that acts like Cisco IOS CLI
  • Scope: Primarily IOS routers and switches
  • Lab exercises: None included, but Packet Tracer Activity (.PKA) files allow easy sharing of lab exercise + topology
  • IOS Licensing: Does not use Cisco IOS
  • Usable by: Any Cisco Academy student

Analysis of Cisco Packet Tracer

Produced By...

From Cisco Systems’ Cisco Networking Academy organization; Meant for use in Cisco Networking Academy courses.

Includes Labs?

None with the base product, but allows for easy addition of labs for other sources.

Labs on the Internet?

Many – formally from Academy web sites and Cisco Press books, and informally as well.

Uses Real Cisco IOS?

No. It’s a simulator, which is software that acts like the IOS user interface.

Initial $$$

Free to anyone in a Cisco Networking Academy course.

Annual $$$

$0.00. Requires no additional software, and runs on most PCs without need of an upgrade.

Time: Choose til Use

Appx. 15 minutes. It’s a desktop app: just buy, download, install, and start learning.

Ethical Choices

Technically, it is meant only for Cisco Academy students, but Cisco makes it easy to download for all.

Analysis: Lab Exercises and Packet Tracer

Are Lab Exercises Included?

No, but...
None Included, but app is designed for easy use of packaged lab exercises (.pka files)

Are Labs Easily Available on the Net?

Just open a file.
The mechanism is easy: download the file and open it in Packet Tracer. Trusted and community authors.

Trusted authors of CCENT/CCNA labs?

Several trusted sources, including Cisco Press and Cisco Academy curriculum/instructors.

Overall Usefulness for Lab Learning

Great for Academy students, popular with others.

Analysis: Time and Dollar Costs

Time Overhead: Low

How much time does it take to learn the software, choose/buy/install the hardware, to be ready to learn CCENT and CCNA topics? Lower number, speedier start! Will need to search, find, and get lab exercises.

Time (Overhead)

Initial Cost: Zero – Low

Packet Tracer is free. It requires no additional software, and as a desktop app it typically runs without need for more/better desktop hardware. You may want to purchase Cisco Press lab guides to get some lab exercises.

Initial Cost

Annual Cost: Zero

Free to begin, and no annual charges.

Annual Cost

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