Hudson Valley Community College maintains two system and network administration labs in the Bulmer Telecommunications Center (BTC) to support the CSA curriculum. Both networking laboratories simulate enterprise systems and are each valued at more than $500,000. The CCNA lab located in BTC 204 was constructed in 2004 to support both the CCNA and CCNP curriculums The CCNP lab in BTC 211 was constructed in conjunction with a United States Department of Education Title III grant to support the CCNP curriculum. Note that BTC 211 far exceeds the minimal support required for the CCNP, as it can also support VOIP and components of the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) curriculum. Moreover, there are always pending orders for additional routers, switches, application servers and IP phones. The following provides an introductory description of the labs’ configurations and functionality.
BTC 208 is set up as a conventional computer classroom where each student uses a state-of-the-art computer while facing forward. BTC 211 is set up with two concentric U-shaped seating areas, with an instructor console at the base of the U. The inside U contains large conference tables, conducive to supporting collaboration between instructor and students. The outer U is set up with 25 small-footprint workstations with 19-inch flat screen displays. The spacing of the workstations is sufficient to provide isolation for events such as on-line tests, but easily allows collaboration between students on shared projects or labs.
All of the student workstations are wired to two separate Ethernet ports using a Gigabit A-B switch. This allows the workstations to be connected either to the Hudson Valley Academic Computing Environment (ACE) or to a patch panel mounted in the equipment racks. This set-up also allows the equipment to be physically isolated from the Hudson Valley network providing a development sandbox. When connected to the internal patch panel, the workstation can easily be cross-connected to any of the 50 routers, servers or switches mounted in the racks. Among other things, this allows students to use third-party protocol analyzers, test multicasting applications, create and examine end-to-end TCP/UDP sockets, and investigate queuing and other QoS concepts. It should also be noted the lab’s resources remain publicly available from anywhere (e.g., offsite) for students with a Hudson Valley network account.
The instructor’s consoles are located at the rear of the classrooms and utilize sympodium tablet technology allowing the content to be marked up, overlaid and saved in standards-compliant RTF format. Both labs use dual overhead projectors that project onto a large whiteboard, allowing the students and instructor to mark up the content while in front of the class. The adaptable, independent, high-resolution, dual overhead projectors facilitate instructional multimedia presentation capabilities where information can be sourced from computers, DVDs, video cassettes or paper documents. Using two projectors allows the instructor to describe theory and demonstrate application at the same time. For example, one projector can display a network topology while the second projector displays the network convergence debugging output. This lets students witness, in real time, today’s networking technology.
The networking capabilities in both rooms are impressive. To illustrate, the network elements of BTC 211 are housed in three freestanding ladder racks, professionally wired with ample access to the front and back of equipment. There are currently 15 Cisco 1841 ISR routers, 5 2811 ISR routers, 10 Catalyst 3560 multi-layer switches, 12 Catalyst 2960 L2 switches, 3 Cisco 2511 access servers, and 3 Minuteman programmable power supplies. They are currently wired as multiple four-router enterprise network pods and four-switch LANS interconnected with backbone routers. The routers are running the latest IP Advanced Services images, supporting IPSec VPNs, all modern dynamic routing protocols, IPv6, and the Security Device Manager. The multi-layer switches support Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) on all ports, routing (e.g., RIPv2, EIGRP, OSPF, IS-IS, BGP, route redistribution, multicasting, and IPv6 with OSPFv3) and switching (e.g. ,VLANS, VLAN trunking, per-VLAN Spanning Tree, Rapid Spanning Tree (RSTP), Multiple Spanning Tree, (MST), EtherChannel, redundant gateway technologies (GLBP, HSRP), multilayer switching, wireless LAN configuration, congestion management, differentiated services, queuing, MPLS, multicast, and IPSec).