I'd like to welcome you to the first in a two-part look at the role of an access server, Primarily in a Cisco home lab, Even if you're not putting together a home lab right. Now, Though, I strongly recommend you read this article and the second part in the series for preparing for your CCENT and CCNA exams, Because there will be some commands in here that are helpful for your exam prep as well. You also hear the term access server and it tends to suggest something that it really isn't and in our business as soon as you hear the word server.

What do you think about? Well, You really don't think about a Cisco router. You think about a typical Microsoft. Server or regardless of what the operating system is, You tend to think of just a typical computer server, But that's not really what an access server is, And while an access server is not a requirement for a Cisco home lab, It really does make your life a Lot easier and we're gonna look at why, In the first part of this two-part series, Now, Typically, When you're starting a Cisco home lab, You may buy a kit, You may get several routers at one time in several switches, But many of us, And particularly for me, That's how I got started with a home lab years back is that you really buy one piece at a time and of course, We've got a PC here. We'Ve got one switch, We've got one router and the cable that we use here. That's definitely something you want to know for your exams as well.

Is a rollover cable if we are directly connecting a PC to the console port of a Cisco, Router or switch well, When you have just one router in one switch, And it's certainly nothing wrong with that. You can get some good practice in with that. You don't mind moving to console cable around that much, But as your home lab grows and a will, Especially if you go after then your ccNP and, Of course, Your CCIE, All of a sudden one day, You know you get that bug and you start adding routers To it, You get the initial apprehension working with the real thing and you say: . I want to get another router and you know boy.

If I had two switches, Then I could really work with root bridges and spanning tree protocol so to use grow in that way that we use in networks. You want to grow your home lab right. You always want to add to it, And you will be doing that, Believing even if you start with one router or one switch well once you get a little bit tired of here, Though, Is moving that console cable around and I've been there. I'Ve done that.

You know you're trying to just rack up. Your equipment may be near your laptop or near your PC and you're continually moving the console cable around. It does get to be a little bit of an annoyance. So what you can get to alleviate that annoyance and make your entire lab accessible from the internet from a remote location is an access server and in this case an access server is simply going to be another Cisco router, It's a kind of specialized router.

You can't just use any router for an a house, Because you need some async ports on it and one thing that I want to mention before we well: let's go ahead and look at the visual of what we're going to do here and again. We'Ve got an access server and you can see it's it's another cisco, Router and we've got physical cables going from the access server to each particular router. Now the kind of async ports you have on your access server determine the cabling you're going to use, But typically, What you're going to use is an octal cable and the octal cable. As the name suggests, It's got eight cables in it and it's one connection to the access server, It's a wide connection and then, At the other end of the cable.

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You have eight separate rj45 connectors snap right into the console ports and you just connect those to your other routers and switches, And if you've readed any of my article bootcamp for the CCENT, CCNA or ccnp, Then you've seen me work on the real routers and switches During the labs and you'll notice that I'm not moving a cable around, But I'm continually going back - one device as I go around my home lap and that's an access server, That's what I'm, Using and in the demo part of this you'll, See exactly what I'm Talking about, But this is what we can do and also if you want to be able to reach your home lab from the net, You can get a static IP address. You can assign it to that access server. You know hook that up to your cable modem, Whatever your particular connection is at home and you can reach your access server from the net and then connect to all your other devices from there, So that octal cable is really the connection that you're going to use.

For this and again we'll look at the configuration in the second part of this series. There's one thing I want to mention: you do not need to spend a lot of money on your access server, One popular old one. It's it's an older router, But it's a 2509.

It makes a fantastic access server. Those can actually be a little difficult to find at times. Ie Bay is a great place to start looking. You may want to check at WWE Cisco Capcom, Which is where I get a lot of my equipment from, And certainly there are plenty of other reputable used equipment vendors out there on the web as well. You can ask around there, But the reason I mentioned you don't need to spend a bundle on the access server.

Is that occasionally, If you go out to eBay - and you just do a search on Cisco access server, You can see some very high end routers. That cost very high end money. You don't need one of those also, You can still use your access server in any unused ports. As part of your home lab, I tend to dedicate mine.

My access servers in my pods just act as the access server, But if you do have other interfaces on it, What you probably do you can't incorporate those in your home lab as well. So really this alleviates you having to move the cable around, Which does get to be a pain. Again, You have to get a special Cisco, Router or not. Every Cisco router can serve as an access server, But again not pitching eBay to are.

But if you go out there and just do a Cisco access servers search, You can find a lot of different access servers. So again we need an octal Abell for that and that's really all you need, And the great thing about getting the configuration in place is that once you do that, You can just leave it alone. It's not something you have to change continually, But there are a couple of little gotchas as there always are in the configuration of any Cisco device. So we're going to take a look at those in the second part of our access server tutorial.

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