Cisco VIRL

Cisco VIRL has been officially release. Cisco VIRL is Ciso’s network topology platform that allows the study, testing, simulation and validation of enterprise and service provider topologies in a lab environment. Built on KVM using OpenStack, this platform enables network administrators to build powerful topologies that allow test, validation and architecture exploration of new technologies. It also allows old dogs like me to study against it for my CCIE certification.

As per the VIRL site,‘s words

  • Build highly accurate models of existing or planned networks.
  • Design, configure, and operate networks using authentic versions of Cisco’s network operating systems – IOSv, IOS-XRv, NX-OSv, and CSR1000v.
  • Integrate 3rd-party virtual machines, appliances, and servers.
  • Connect real and virtual networks into high-fidelity, high-scale development and test environments.
  • Design and test anywhere – VIRL is portable!

There are two ways to purchase VIRL. Both are annual subscriptions which in my opinion are a fair and reasonable price. One is 199.99 USD per annum. This is the non-commercial personal use. The other is academic pricing. Both have a gift-card format which allow parents or educators to share the love! Quite a simple shopping cart feature for such a powerful reward. Regarding price – I have two mindsets about this.

Firstly, 200 dollars per annum is great when you’re in full study mode. I’ve spent more on rack rentals in a year. It is great to be able to pay for something and it just works. I can think of the countless hours spent wasted troubleshooting scenarios only to find out it was a hung process in dynamips or GNS3 didn’t do something or I had the wrong revision of a code for my physical device.

Secondly, I think the price has the sticker shock element to it. This might be to an internal struggle to not allow it to ship for free and recouping costs to the fact they wanted a litmus test. The fact that VIRL was touted as free has made this per annum model harder to swallow. I see it in alignment with all other training and service styled solutions. INE’s All access pass, Cisco Learning Network subscription all have you pay a per annum fee and you get updates. I don’t see why you wouldn’t get updates with this.

NX-OS excites me as you can test and validate code. I’ve used VIRL in its many forms over the last few months and I’ve integrated into my physical network, VMware’s corporate WAN and my Singapore cloud for additional testing capability. It’s a flexible platform and I think I’ve logged more CCIE hours against this than GNS3. I know there has been less time wasted troubleshooting the GNS3 platform than my environment with VIRL – I always never knew if it was CPU exhaustion to GNS3 or PEBKAC when I built CCIE labs in GNS3. Having a new born child, an hour of study is really 55 minutes of study thats certification focused and not stuffing around with setting up GNS! – VIRL50 coupon will get you 50 dollars off at checkout on the annual personal edition!

If you need documentation or support you can find it all here –

Disclaimer I received a 100% discount coupon for my first years annual subscription for VIRL. This was through feedback from the BETA in which I was a participant. My standard disclaimer applies to this post, like all others. I have also paid for an Academic copy too.

2 thoughts on “SPARK: VIRL is launched!

  1. Note that VIRL Personal is not really limited to “non-commercial use.” The Personal and Academic editions are marketed to individuals, and Cisco does not provide TAC support for these products. But users can be corporate employees, independent contractors, students, etc. They can use VIRL in the course of their commercial activities or for personal study. I’ve seen some confusion on this point, and we’re trying to clarify the language on the product page.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *