Cisco VIRL allows administrators and network engineers to build network topologies rapidly and validate a variety of use cases on a virtual platform. Superb for change and even better when considering traditionally this used to require physical equipment or ‘guestimation’.
Many networks these days have a variety of Cisco’s portfolio within them. They vary between firewalls, campus switching, edge routing and data centre switching. Whilst this doesn’t change the underlying concepts of networking in does introduce different operating systems. There is NX-OS, IOS, IOS-XR and ASA that are currently the core flavours. Unlike JUNOS which has one (and a fork for SRX) unified OS, Cisco has a few. Whilst the merits of this can be argued another day this poses and issue for validation.
Cisco VIRL allows the running of these operating systems in software! Now it is possible to test NX-OS against ASA with a backbone network built from IOSv and IOS-XR.
When you first login to Cisco VIRL you will notice that there is only IOSv. You need to synchronise your VMmaestro client with the VIRL server.
Notice that there is NX-OSv listed but there is a ? within the icon and interfaces aren’t defined. Well, if you were to drag this icon to your canvas you would notice there is not an image defined either to boot from. Whilst Cisco VIRL allows you to define a particular image per OS type the server holds a raft of default configurations.
Simply click Fetch from Server. Confirm that you want to download configuration from the server. Look at the list. Populated with more devices than you’ve traditionally been able to use. What is even better is that you don’t have to install and deploy each one individually on the canvas. You just click, connect, start and lab!
Ah. That is better. The palette is populated with additional devices.
There you go. NX-OS. Simply connect this to the other devices in the topology and you will have multi-platform test bed.
I have labbed a lot more recently since getting my hands on Cisco VIRL. This is due to having my platform hosted and always on, not worrying about recabling, addressing and all the things that eat into technology lab time. After living in the land of VMware for a little bit I lost some of my hands on skills. It’s all coming back. It must be the muscle memory!