Networking Simulation Tool for Students
Network simulators is a computer program that, as the name suggests, simulate a network topology with one or more network devices. This piece of networking software pretends to be a real network device allowing users to study the dynamic nature of communication networks. Cisco Packet Tracer is a visual simulation tool developed by Cisco that provides users with the opportunity to create network topologies and imitates modern computer networks. It allows you to simulate the configurations of Cisco routers and switches using the help of a simulated line interface. If you are a student needing a platform that lets you carry out simulation exercises without limit, this app is one of your best choices.
The Packet Tracer Benefit
Cisco Packet Tracer is a powerful network simulation program that allows students to experiment with network behavior. By letting them create a network with an almost unlimited number of devices, the app supplements physical equipment in the classroom and encourage the users to practice and discover new network ideas. It also is very helpful when it comes to honing their troubleshooting skills. The simulation-based learning environment that the app provides helps the user develop 21st-century skills, including decision making, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
Among the many benefits, a user will gain from Cisco Packet Tracer is its cross-platform compatibility. It runs on most operating systems, including all active Windows OS. The app has also a healthy variety of devices to use, so you don’t have to settle for the standard suite of routers, switches, and access points. More so, Cisco Packet Tracer provides plenty of options for connecting entry-level network devices. Whether it is straight-through or crossover copper cables or fiber-optic cables or crossover console cables, the app will provide you with the necessary practical experience with almost any connection types.
Cisco Packet Tracer is also one of the best when it comes to making a realistic lab or practicing your connectivity troubleshooting skills. It also has the Activity Wizard feature, which allows users to create custom exercises complete with formal instructions and grading system.
The Packet Tracer Drawbacks
Cisco Packet Tracer was originally designed as an educational aid for Cisco’s Networking Academy, better known as NetCad. However, it can also be an excellent simulator for anyone pursuing entry-level certification, such as CCENT or CCNA R&S. You can download the app for free if you have a NetCad account, which is also free to create.
Now, it may sound that the app can be considered one of the golden standards of virtual network simulators. And you will be right. However, there are still things that could be improved to make the user experience even better. Among these issues is custom experience distribution. When you create custom exercises with Cisco Packet Tracer, you need to save the activity as a file, and then distribute it to all interested parties. A small problem, perhaps, but the lack of centralized distribution can be a hassle in the long run. For example, if you happen to update the exercise, you will need to redistribute the updated version as a file.
If you are a new user of the app, the lack of built-in labs in the Cisco Packet Tracer may intimidate you. Basically, the app will present you with a blank network topology as a sandbox, which can be an invitation to experiment and learn on your own. It can be a big challenge, especially if you are still learning the process of network simulation.
Finally, as with all computer programs, Cisco Packet Tracer has bugs. But these issues are typically fixed by saving the simulation and reloading the app. The problem will lie if the bug issues often reoccur that you spend more time troubleshooting than doing your lab activities.
Still a Standard
Taking things into consideration, Cisco Packet Tracer is still one of the standards when it comes to virtual network simulation. The app offers a feature-rich sandbox environment that allows users to experiment with a large number of platforms, connections, and network device types. Some might be a bit skeptical because of the drawbacks mentioned. But it the benefits you get using the app outweigh the caveats that it can be easily overlooked.