Just in time for thanksgiving, Cisco has released version 1.0 of the popular network simulation tool VIRL. This is a major new release moving from Openstack Icehouse to Openstack Kilo. This means that your previous release of VIRL will NOT be upgradeable, only a fresh install is available. Cisco has started mailing out a link to the new release and I received my download link yesterday. It is also possible to download the image from the Salt server to the VM itself and then SCP it out from the VM, this is described in the release notes here.

The following platform reference VMs are included in this release:

  • IOSv – 15.5(3)M image
  • IOSvL2 – 15.2.4055 DSGS image
  • IOSXRv – 5.3.2 image
  • CSR1000v – 3.16 XE-based image
  • NX-OSv 7.2.0.D1.1(121)
  • ASAv 9.5.1
  • Ubuntu 14.4.2 Cloud-init

There are also Linux container images included. These are the following:

  • Ubuntu 14.4.2 LXC
  • iPerf LXC
  • Routem LXC
  • Ostinato LXC

This means that it will be a lot easier to do traffic generation, bandwidth testing and simulating a WAN by inserting delay, packet loss and jitter. It’s great to see these images included to make it easier for VIRL users to fully utilize the VIRL suite.

New Features

There are some interesting new features in this release. The VIRL team has added support for OpenVPN. This means that you can VPN in to the VM and reach the FLAT network. The user can then communicate with any device connected to the FLAT network and run network management tools, snmpwalk and so on.

It is now possible to set latency, jitter and packet loss directly on a link! This is a very nice feature which can be used in simulation to simulate a WAN link or a faulty link.

It is now also possible to statically set the console port of the devices in the VIRL simulation.

The VIRL team has also included an ALPHA version of a web editor. This means that the VIRL user can edit the topology from a browser instead of the VM Maestro GUI. This is a very nice addition and I think this is the way forward for VIRL.

VM Maestro will now have Java bundled which means that the user does not have to install it themselves. Should help with Java issues asking for specific versions although I would rather see Java not used at all. Hopefully that is possible with the web GUI in the future.

The packet capture feature has been simplified. A VIRL user can now directly click on a device and do a packet capture. This has been available in GNS3 for a long time so it’s nice to see this feature make it into VIRL.

The export function has been improved so that configurations can be exported to a directory of choice.

The visualization engine of VIRL has been improved and it’s possible to click a node and do ping and traceroute to another node directly from the simulation.

A full list of installation instructions and new features can be found in this link.

This is a major step for VIRL and I’m looking forward to installing this version. With the recent adding of more nodes and these new features together with the web GUI, the future looks bright for the VIRL team. I can only hope that more BUs inside Cisco start realizing the value of providing a virtual image of their product so that they can help the VIRL team in implementing support for their product.

Network Simulation – Cisco Releases VIRL 1.0
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2 thoughts on “Network Simulation – Cisco Releases VIRL 1.0

  • November 27, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    This latest update does make the product much more appealing. Any idea when we might get some L2 (l2vpn/vpls/evpn) features in XR? For SP labs, that’s a big omission.

    • November 27, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      I’m not sure how much more they will add to the XRv. I do know that the XR9000v will have a proper forwarding plane but I’m not sure if this will be made available to the public or not. The ideal would be if they released it with the same restrictions as the CSR, with a limited amount of BW available.


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