Cisco released VIRL almost a year ago and it’s not at the 1.0 version yet but it’s getting close as they have done some good work towards the product since it first lunched. Cisco VIRL is like GNS3 which is simulation platform that runs Cisco’s current operating systems so instead of buying used Cisco hardware you can run this program on your computer. This software is geared towards proof-of-concept designs, for personal and training on Cisco Certifications. Let’s talk about it!
Here are the links:
http://virl.cisco.com/ – Main Website
http://community.dev-innovate.com/c/virl – Community Form
http://virl-dev-innovate.cisco.com/ – Documentation
So in my opinion Cisco has done a good job if you decided purchase this product at documentation, product upgrades, and new features. You need to look at the requirements before you buy as this is not your grandma’s packet tracer program. This can be a little overwhelming when you first get it but you’ll get used it when you use it more and as a bonus you get familiar with Ubuntu and Linux commands if you don’t have that under your hat already. 🙂
How Does it work?
The VIRL system can run on a hypervisor like VMware Workstation/Fusion/Player or bare-metal if you have it available. You would download a OVA template if you are using VMware product line, if you go bare-metal you’ll use an ISO format. The system is Ubuntu 14.04 LTS as of right now and uses some open source products like KVM/QEMU which is another hypervisor under Ubuntu. This hypervisor is able run IOS XRv, NX-OSv, CSR100v, IOSv, ASAv and even 3rd party VMs like Windows, Ubuntu, Tinycore! VIRL is also using Openstack and AutoNetKit. Openstack helps to create, link and delete compute and network resources with APIs and AutoNetKit is used to help build initial configurations on devices so you don’t have to do it manually. In the end there is some very cool open source projects in this VIRL system and it’s kind of weird because I’m actually getting more familiar with these open source projects because of this VIRL software and might have to look at them separately.
This product is a subscription based product and cost $200 a year and can handle 20 Cisco nodes at once. (Used to be 15 nodes but they bumped that up to 20) Cisco also offers some other pricing models if you want 30 nodes or if you affiliated with an academic institution. You can find all that out on the main VIRL page. So in my experience with this product so far I have found it very easy to use once you get everything worked out. It really is amazing to continue where I left off on network topology or if I’m just playing around with OSPF on a Friday night, who doesn’t right? 🙂