When I first heard of you doing this I was wondering if it would be similar to or based on NETLAB. Your concern about flash erasure made me wonder even more. I would have thought your contact with Cisco would have at least mentioned NDG:
as they sell equipment to Cisco academies to do what it sounds like you are doing.
Rather than spending a lot of time reinventing the wheel I was hoping to find out you were making it much better. It sounds like you have excellent plans for this lab. One of the disadvantages of NETLAB is it has no hosts (computers) connected to it and is limited to four topologies two basic and two advanced. The basic topologies work for most CCNA labs and some CCNP labs. The advanced work for a large number of CCNP 2 & 3 labs.
Academies that have NETLABs typically restrict use to students that are enrolled in their courses. Publicly available switch and router labs would really open a lot of opportunities for those people working toward their certifications but are not enrolled in an Academy.
Just to expand on the comment about flash erasure the NETLAB server maintains a copy of the IOS and in the event of flash erasure it automatically reinstalls the IOS. Password recovery is also an option with the Cisco routers on a NETLAB. As you know this involves changing the config-reg. With students and typos this means that the baud rate of line con 0 sometimes becomes unknown. Recovery can be tricky. I’m sure you have considered these and other possible pitfalls. This is quite a task you have taken on.
Anyway, I wish you the best of luck with this project and I will be interested in trying it out when it is ready.
Thanks for the tips Mew,
We'll definetely look into the things you've brought up.
You're absolutely right its a major task we've taken on, and its got Chris and George running round in tight little circles right now trying to anticipate the possible problems. Either way, we're hoping to rely on our large community base to help us beta test things and ensure that all the kinks get worked out.