What do I need for a CCNP?

At least when I took it all you really needed was GNS3 and some books.

There are some great videos out there too.  I don’t often plug pay sites (they’ve given me nothing…promise), but cbtnuggets.com has a guy named Jemery Cioara that is becoming something of a legend in the networking community.  I don’t think I’ve spoken to somebody in the network world who hasn’t seen his CCNA/CCNP series done for cbtnuggets.  I did, they helped a lot with some concept stuff.  Don’t think that only watching the videos will give you everything you need.  There’s still that pesky memorization stuff that they throw on the exams that you can only really get out of a book, but they’re a great start.
As for GNS3 all you really need to use is a 3725 router and add different switch modules (right click on the router when it’s in the topology and Configure > Slots…add serial or switch modules from there).  If you get the correct image for the 3725 you can run all the protocols covered on the exams (even IS-IS and IPv6).

I liked to come up with scenarios that were a bit more real-world based. I mean, when was the last time anybody got onto a new job to find that everything was standardized and perfectly efficient?  So when putting together some of the networks for redistribution exercises or switching networks for STP practice think to yourself “How would a network look if 3 different engineers had different budgets and priorities?”  Then build that.

Pretend there are some old models kicking around that don’t support newer protocols (or just haven’t been upgraded in years).

Pretend that a project was started to migrate to a different IGP, but was never completed because somebody left.

I know I had a mental block when looking at some scenarios.  I would think to myself “Why in the world would this ever happen?”  It happens.  More often than you’d like.  Most of the people I talk to lately are working on projects to fix what has happened in the past…so there will be some migration plans that look dirty, but are needed because you can’t get to the whole network in one maintenance window.  So, the “why” doesn’t matter anymore, just that it “has.”