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Buying And Building An Access Server

Chris BryantBy Chris Bryant

A Cisco access server is generally the last item a CCNA or CCNP candidate has on their mind when they're putting together a home lab.

The thinking tends to be that since this router isn't really doing anything in the production part of your practice lab, it's not really important.

Once you have more than two devices in your home lab, though, you'll realize that constantly moving the console cable around from one router to another gets very tiresome. That's what an access server does for a home lab - it allows you to connect your PC to a single device when working in your home lab, with no need to constantly disconnect and reconnect the console cable.

The console cable will be connected directly to the access server, and the access server is connected to all the other devices in your home lab. Once you start working with one, you'll wonder how you got along without it!

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The term "access server" is a little misleading. This is not a server in the traditional sense, it's a Cisco router with asynchronous serial ports. It is these ports that you'll use to connect to the other devices in your home lab. Two affordable models of access servers are Cisco 2509s and Cisco 2511s. They can be found on ebay as well as other vendors on the Net.

You will also need an octal cable. On one end, the cable has a large connector that will connect to the access server. The other end is actually eight separate cables, each with RJ-45 connectors. These connectors are numbered 1 - 8 and will be connected to the console port on each router and switch. It is important to note the number on each connector you're connecting to the other lab devices.

Now that you've got the physical equipment, let's take a look at a typical configuration of an access server:

no service password-encryption
no service udp-small-servers
no service tcp-small-servers
no ip domain-lookup
ip host r1 2001
ip host r2 2002
ip host r3 2003
ip host sw1 2004
ip host sw2 2005
ip host FrameSwitch 2006
interface Loopback555
ip address
line con 0
exec-timeout 0 0
logging synchronous
line 1 16
no exec
transport input all

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About the Author:
Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933, is the owner of The Bryant Advantage. The Bryant Advantage offers dozens of FREE CCNA and CCNP tutorials and articles. The Bryant Advantage sells the world's most comprehensive CCNA Study Guide, and my exclusive Binary Math and Subnetting Mastery book. My $299 CCNA Online Fast Track is the world's fastest-growing CCNA course. Visit today!

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