So far, so good. But how do I get some hands-on experience without having to spend thousands of dollars?
My suggestions for the good of knowledge and our pockets:
- Cisco DCloud (D=Demo)
- NX-OSv Titanium in GNS3
- VIRL (Virtual Internet Routing Labs)
Before going further, lets make it clear that all these are virtual and based on the NXOS “Titanium” project. None of them gives you access to an actual, physical switch.
Cisco DCloud (Demo Cloud)
DCloud its a free portal for demoing of Cisco products. The portal is completely self-service with well written guides on how to use it and every specific demo. Most of the demos also have a script to follow but nothing prevents the user from diverting from this script and doing whatever they want.
To access the portal you need:
- cisco.com account
- Understand english
The links below are for the demos I found and allow you to login to a virtual Nexus switch.
Cisco Nexus 7000: Introduction to Cisco NX-OS v1
The best option to start. The objective of this demo is to know the NXOS interface with a Nexus 7000.
Charming the Python on Nexus 7000 Switch v1
This lab is prepared to show Python programming features in NXOS (similar to TCL in IOS).
The most complete option. This demo gives you access to VIRL (Virtual Internet Routing Labs) and all its possibilities without having to buy licenses or having the minimum prerequisites to run it in your own PC. You can build topologies with one or more Nexus switches (and why not IOS XR in between?)
Fortunately, in this post I won’t go to much into the details on how to use DCloud. All demos have detailed documentation. But if it interests you let me know.
GNS3 com NXOSv Titanium
NXOSv its a virtual machine that simulates the Cisco NX-OS operating system. GNS3 easily allows you to simulate networks between VM’s, and now its even easier with the GNS3 VM.
While GNS3 is free, a legal NXOSv image requires you to pay for VIRL licenses.
Some weeks ago I managed to run3 x NXOS inside a GNS3 VM with 100% of my available memory (a mere 8GB). The VM’s were very unstable, reloaded many times but it showed me it was possible and I confirmed communication between them.
VIRL (Virtual Internet Routing Labs)
The network simulation platform by Cisco grew a lot and with its possible to simulate Nexus switches… and much more. The only disadvantage I can see for us is that licensing is not free. But if you can… go ahead please.