Anyway, I have embarked on a new adventure - which is VIRL. This stands for Virtual Internet Routing Lab. I love my hardware lab, but I just had to try this virtualisation method. Installing it was pretty easy, it downloads as an OVF which you deploy as either standalone on a PC/Mac or onto an ESX. I used VMware Player and installed it on my laptop.
Here's what it looks like:
This was great and all you have to do is click on the VMMaestro icon to fire up the software that allows you to place virtual routers and do all sorts of network configurations. However, I ran into this error a lot:
It generally happens when stopping a simulation and restarting it or another simulation. I'm not 100% sure, but it feels like it takes a bit of time to release the memory once a simulation is stopped. This simulation above was 6 IOSv routers - I didn't even bother trying to run CSR1000vs which apparently use up 3GB of memory.
So my first bit of advice is... don't run VIRL on a PC with only 8GB. Although 8GB is the minimum requirement, you may get frustrated quickly.
I've since moved my installation to an ESX server, assigning the VM 32GB... and this is seamless. I've been running through the tutorials and am really enjoying the features that are available that you wouldn't get from using the VMs directly in KVM or whatever... or from using hardware. These features are things like the AutoNetkit which allows you to very quickly deploy configurations across a large network. So you can setup your test environment much faster than if you were setting it up on hardware or standalone VMs. I'll show you a screenshot here of auto configuring EIGRP on a bunch of routers - but this is directly from the tutorial mentioned above.
And secondly, the views allow you to troubleshoot so quickly what is going on in the network. You can click on various different configs to highlight what you expect to see.
Below is the eBGP neighbour relationships highlighted... but you can see the options on the left.
I am going move my installation one more time to my home ESX so that I can use it in the evenings. It has 16GB which I'm hoping is sufficient. But watch this space for some more VIRL fun. =)