Cisco VIRL heads to the cloud

Explaining the power of Cisco VIRL used in a bare metal cloud environment.

Cisco's Virtual Internet Routing Lab (VIRL) platform is splendid for practicing with all kinds of Cisco gear. For example, you can easily connect ASAs, NX-OS, Layer 2 IOS switches and routers, and more devices in a topology in seconds. And you are fully licensed for all of the fun thanks to the powerful emulator's annual subscription.

So what is the problem? Well, the fancier your equipment and/or the larger your topologies, the more RAM your host is going to need. In fact, anything less than 16GB of RAM on the host system tends to be pretty disappointing pretty quickly for students. 

The VIRL team has gone a long way in solving this issue for many users with their partnership with packet.net. Packet.net is a bare metal hosting cloud service and it turns out to be very powerful for a cloud-hosted VIRL implementation. 

In my experimenting with a Type 1 server there (32GB of RAM), I was able to run two IOS routers, two Layer 2 IOS switches, two NX-OS switches, and a Cisco ASA. These devices ran beautifully and I was only consuming less than half of the RAM made available to me in the cloud. 

Now is certainly the time to try this if you are interested. Packet.net is currently offering a $25 credit for anyone setting up their account through the link at virl.cisco.com. 

You can install directly to the cloud with your VIRL license, or you can port to the cloud from your existing VIRL server. Remember, the Packet.net server fees are in addition to your VIRL licensing fees. I plan on using the cloud version, only when I need to do something so big, my local server cannot handle it. 

More good news - the VIRL team doubles your node count in the cloud. So if you are only licensed for 20 Cisco nodes, when you port to the cloud you get 40! 

Happy emulating everyone! 

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