Router Simulators: Router simulators are basically ways for users to create, test and practice with new network arrangements without risking or paying for the required equipment that goes along with said creation and testing. The vast majority of the people using the simulators are people who are studying for a specific certification or accreditation, and they need to pass a simulation in order to proceed with their studies. The simulators are a safer and more convenient way to work with routers. There are a variety of router simulators, including GNS3, Boson, and SemSim.
GNS3: GNS3 is open source software that allows users the ability to practice working with networks. The simulation GNS3 provides is rather complex, and is as close to the actual thing as possible so that users can get adequate practice without having the network hardware. The software is compatible with most PC hardware and is able to be used on a variety of operating systems. In an effort to retain its realness, the software utilizes a variety of emulators that mimic the programs and operating systems used in real networks. The program can also be used to experiment with features or check configurations.
Cisco Router Packet Tracer: Another router simulation program, this particular one provides users with a number of experimentation features, including the ability to ask what if questions to gain a better understanding. The simulation program was designed to accompany physical equipment in a learning environment so that students have a more in-depth and hands-on experience with their studies. According to Cisco, the program allows the student to, “…develop 21st century skills such as decision making, creative and critical thinking, and problem solving.” The program is free for all students, Networking Academy instructors, alumni and administrators (as long as the aforementioned are registered NetSpace users.
Boson Router Simulator: This simulator, specifically called NetSim by the Boson website, uses Boson’s proprietary Network Simulator, Router Simulator and EROUTER software. The software enables users to create individual packets which are then routed and switched to the simulated network to allow them to practice. Since Boson also offers a variety of certifications, their simulators best prepare users for the offered certifications. Boson claims their program gives the most versatility and support than any other simulation software on the market, and their software comes with a handbook that has lessons and practice labs for routing protocols, Cisco devices, switching, and topological design, among other things.
Dynamips: This is a software emulator that mimics Cisco’s operating system for use on a traditional computer. Dynamips was created by Christophe Fillot back in 2005, and GNS3.net reports that Dynamips is no longer maintained by a specific company or organization, so the only current versions available are unofficial.
SemSim Router Simulator: This simulator is specifically designed for the CISCO CCNA certification exam, and simulates the information and applications needed to pass the exam. The software gives an understanding of the necessary networking concepts, but it also has virtual labs and practice tests to help users better prepare.