So, what do you think about simulation ...

Ok, this is not a scientific study, the audience participation is likely to be from a self selecting group etc. So lets call this a poll amongst friends, followers and like minded.

A question that is structural to my research is ...
Do you think simulation can replace real hardware, when teaching networking?
To remain fair, I am not going to share my opinion as it is biased and please don't try and answer this to please me (as I really don't know who will be answering and if you know me, you will know that it won't).

Please take a look at the top left of this blog and based on your personal opinion, answer either yes or no.

You do not have to be an expert, or an academic or even a teccie, everyone's opinion in this context counts.

The opinions below are valid view points, but must not contribute to your own independent decision, please complete the question before reading these.



  1. new technologies and the use of 3D applications for simulators could be a great contribution to this change.

  2. In my opinion it can save you of investing in a whole load of equipment; you can have a few physical routers just for the students to get used to the feeling of the real equipment, however you can set up entire virtual Cisco labs with dynamips.

    Rui Ribeiro

  3. I don't think that simulation can replace real hardware. Even when simulation tools are useful for us, students, it can replace the experience with real. Imagine this situation:
    A student has learned how to configure and connect device in a simulator and when he/she goes to configure in the job environment doesn't know where connect the cable cause in simulators you just drag items.

  4. In my opinion, the designer of the simulation( either 2D or 3D) decides whether to add all the features in the hardware or not. If all are available in simulation, it can get to all making learning apparatus available to every learner.

  5. Hi, i think simulation is very important while learning but it is better when you practice with real devices i woul prefer real hardware, but sometimes is imposible having them, so somulation is very important.
    Regards from mexico

  6. I do not think it is actually viable to approach this topic academically with the intention of forgoing all exposure to real hardware. Is it entirely necessary to have that experience? That really depends on where one plans on going in this field, but having hands on access to equipment does teach lessons in its own right. In a simulation tool like Packet Tracer or GNS3, you don't really get to understand certain things first hand, like boot times of devices, layer 1 failures (bad cables and how to identify that problem), the procedure to go into things like ROMMON, uploading an IOS image over xmodem (you should have to suffer through that at least once in your life if you intend on working in the industry), et cetera.

    I think in terms of education, physical exposure is necessary to some degree for beginners. Once they've advanced in the material, software simulation can probably serve most purposes... so long as the simulation software actually contains all of the functionality of the IOS version it claims to be emulating.

  7. Here is another problem, things like Wireshark, etc. don't work in simulations right now, like packet tracer.

  8. Have a few devices to show students while they learn. During practice simulators are good. I practiced my CCIE lab using dynamips. Only during the last 3 months I used real equipment and I am CCIE certified in RS.

    While students study, it is also important to have traffic generators , you should have simulators or use pagent.

    One thing that simulators can't help is troubleshooting Layer 2 protocols like spanning tree or things like unicast flooding , QoS etc.

    Make good use of simulators for most of your studies but make sure you get your hands dirty with real equipments as well ;-)

    Cisco TAC Engineer. CCIE RS

  9. We can show the devices to the students,we can't allow the students to work on device until they become expert to handle we talk about simulation i think these are good,and it will give more result if we will make them like 3D motion,adding some more routers from different vendor so student can work on heterogeneous network system.... \
    Regards Sukhdeep Malhotra

  10. I do feel that the stimulations are helpful, but they cannot replace physical hardware. This will not be done till all the programmers incorporate all the aspects of physical devices. Cabling is one of the biggest issues with stimulations. In stimulation, you do not have no deal with cable issues. For instance, cables not properly terminated, broken cable, and even making sure its plugged in all the way.

  11. Salam Aleykum.
    Simulators also useful. but never replace real hardware environment. Because, I think to get the real experience, working with real hardware important.
    I have no possibility working with real hardwares yet, but I use PacketTracer and GNS3 simulators for preparing exams.

    Best Regards,
    Samir Aliyev, from Azerbaijan

  12. i do think that simulators are cost cutting measure but can not replace true hardware experience plus they sometimes have errors related bugs in coding. i have used GNS3 and packet tracer to prepare for exam. the hardest equipment to simulate was the switch

    Good luck
    Robert ochieng

  13. I dont know what exactly should I say, but talking practically, I can say bringing 3d technology and real graphics, with all the required hardware, considering the smallest to the biggest can actually give students the complete idea of what the real situation can be, so by the time have something like this, we should continue using real hardware for demos.

  14. Hi well simulators are definately helpful as we cant experience all the industry routers and switches in labs but handsone real equipment is mentadory in order to acheive certifications ie ccie.

  15. Hi Everyone,

    Well I am a very big fan of simulators in terms of practising configuration/design. You wont get all the devices in real life(to setup own lab going to cost you alot). Honestly u can try so many things without interrupting the actual network & network devices. Also simulators has many many limitations like not all the devices are available in the simulator (for ex. WLC, WCS or LMS to name a few.. please do correct me if I'm wrong) and you cant really try all the high level commands. Nothing is better than a real life hands-on experience. Atleast students should get to know the real devices and how to connect them.. how to operate them through service ports.. how to reset the device or how they can go to setup mode.. they should know about the LED lights purpose and behaviours for each mode.. i mean to prepare yourself as a network engineer you have to get your hands dirty with the real devices.

    In short: To teach networking simulators are very good option and it certainly can replace the hardwares but to be fair with the students they should get familiar with real hardwares as well.



  16. To teach networking, you have to have real hands on with real equipment. Simulators cannot teach you how to install and cable equipment. They cannot teach you to track down a cable that is not plugged in all the way or a module that is misfunctioning. Simulators and emulators also tend to favor a very homogeneous network which doesn't always exist in the real world. We don't all have different vendors equipment in our labs, but we at least have a few different models and IOS versions which helps in that regard.

    More experienced guys already know these things, but we're not teaching them networking so I don't think that your question applies to them.


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