I decided to get my own Cisco equipment to practice with after receiving a switch (thanks to Jon Nistor at TorIX). It would help in making me become more proficient in what I love to do, that is networking. So far, for my own Cisco lab, I have three devices to work with – 3524 switch, 2501 router, and a 2503 router. I’m still looking to get more equipment, better if it has the IOS 12.4 which has the SDM (Security Device Manager) as well, though not really necessary.
Also, I found out a couple days ago that there’s this really good resource website which actually provides free access to Cisco equipment for training purposes. The site is PacketLife.net. Lab equipment and other costs are provided or sponsored by the site’s owner, commercial sponsors, and voluntary contributions by the community members. I know of a few sites that allow you to use their equipment but for a fee, so hearing about this site was fantastic. Members can schedule to use 1 of 3 blocks of equipment that they have one session at a time.
I’ll be using that site as well from time to time when I need to work with more equipment than what I have.