Articles Tagged ‘Cisco VIRL’

Introduction to Cisco VIRL – Virtual Internet Routing Lab & Other Simulation Tools

Cisco VIRL – Virtual Internet Routing LabOne of the most difficult things for people who are starting out in a networking career is getting their hands on the equipment. Whether you are studying for Cisco certification or just wanting to test certain network behaviors in a lab, no one would argue that practicing is the best way to learn.

I have seen people spend hundreds or thousands of dollars (myself included) buying used networking equipment in order to build a home Cisco lab to gain practical experiences and study for certification exams. Until a few years ago it was the only option available, or you had to rent lab hours through one of the training companies.

Other Simulation Tools

GNS3 is a well-known free network simulation platform that has been around for many years. Cisco IOS on UNIX (IOU) is another option for running Cisco routers in a virtual environment. It is a fully working version of IOS that runs as a user mode UNIX (Solaris) process. IOU was built as a native Solaris image and runs just like any other program. One key advantage that Cisco IOU has is that it does not require nearly as much resources as GNS3 and VIRL would require. However, the legality of the source of Cisco images for GNS3 is questionable.

Cisco VIRL Network Topology

Figure 1. Cisco VIRL Network Topology

If you are not an authorized Cisco employee or trusted partner, usage of Cisco IOU is potentially a legal gray area. Because of lack of publicity and availability to average certification students and network engineers, online resources are limited and setting up a network takes much more effort. Also, due to missing features and delays in supporting the recent Cisco image releases, Cisco is not recommending them to engineers and students.

Read our review on "The VIRL Book" – A Guide to Cisco’s Virtual Internet Routing Lab (Cisco Lab)

Here Comes Cisco VIRL

Cisco Virtual Internet Routing Lab (VIRL) is a software tool Cisco developed to build and run network simulations without the need for physical hardware.

The VIRL Book – A Guide to Cisco’s Virtual Internet Routing Lab (Cisco Lab)

cisco-virl-book-guide-to-cisco-virtual-internet-routing-lab-1Cisco’s Virtual Internet Routing Lab (VIRL) is a network simulation tool developed by Cisco that allows engineers, certification candidates and network architects to create their own Cisco Lab using the latest Cisco IOS devices such as Routers, Catalyst or Nexus switches, ASA Firewall appliances and more.

Read Jack Wang's Introduction to Cisco VIRL article to find out more information about the product

Being a fairly new but extremely promising product it’s quickly becoming the standard tool for Cisco Lab simulations. Managing and operating Cisco VIRL might have its challenges, especially for those new to the virtualization world, but one of the biggest problems has been the lack of dedicated online resources for VIRL management leaving a lot of unanswered questions on how to use VIRL for different types of simulations, how to build topologies, how to fine tune them etc.

The recent publication of “The VIRL Book’ by Jack Wang has changed the game for VIRL users. Tasks outlined above plus a lot more are now becoming easier to handle, helping users manage their VIRL server in an effective and easy to understand way.

The introduction to VIRL has been well crafted by Jack as he addressed each and every aspect of VIRL, why one should opt for VIRL, what VIRL can offer and how it different from other simulation tools.

This unique title addresses all possible aspects of VIRL and has been written to satisfy even the most demanding users seeking to create complex network simulations. Key topics covered include:

  • Planning the VIRL Installation
  • Installing VIRL
  • Creating your first simulation
  • Basic operation & best practices,
  • Understanding the anatomy of VIRL
  • External Connectivity to the world
  • Advanced features
  • Use VIRL for certifications
  • Running 3rd party virtual machines
  • Sample Network Topologies

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