Running Cisco UCS Platform Emulator on VirtualBox

My studies of Cisco Data Center technologies have led me to Cisco UCS (Unified Computing Systems). To manage a UCS domain Cisco provides us with the UCS Manager software. This software runs on switch-like devices called Fabric Interconnects acting as the “doorways” between the UCS domain and “the world”.

For all of us studying and needing to understand it without access to a bunch of expensive servers, Cisco was kind enough to create the UCSPE (UCS Platform Emulator) as a free downloadable virtual machine.

Since I’m not a good friend of VMWare and can’t have a bare metal hypervisor, my “playing” focuses mostly on Virtualbox but there is a small detail that must be taken care of:

Summary

Problem: After importing the UCSPE appliance you can’t access the GUI even after changing adapter 1 to Host-only or Bridge.

Solution: After importing the appliance the 3 network adapters come configured as “connected” but only one of them is attached. Configure all 3 network adapters as attached to the same network (Host-only recommended) and restart UCSPE processes or the whole VM to get a cluster IP.

Details

UCS Platform Emulator is available to download in the Cisco Communities (which I never actually heard of before needing UCSPE).

I downloaded the .ova of version 3.1(2bPE1) file and deployed it to Virtualbox (5.1.18) with the “very complex” process of double-clicking the file. At the “Import Virtual Appliance” window you should leave most of the settings unchanged.

deploy ucspe ova virtualbox

Notice there are 3 network adapters on the VM. Leave them all active.

deploy ova network adapters

I recommend changing the name of the VM so its easily found in the Virtualbox VM list and to also change the location if you don’t want to use the VirtualBox default location for VM disks.

After finishing you should see the VM in the list.

virtualbox ucspe deployed

After running the VM for the first time we are faced with the console where an IP address should be displayed in the “Connect to IP:” field. However, we get <Unconfigured> instead even after changing Adapter 1 from NAT to any of the other options.

I won’t botter you with the details and tests but the solution is quite simple. To show an IP address and for us to be able to access the UCSPE GUI  we must make sure all 3 VM adapters are attached and to the same subnet.

The reason behind this is that the Platform Emulator defaults to a cluster configuration where 3 IP addresses are needed: 1 for each Fabric Interconnect and 1 for the cluster VIP (Virtual IP). This is actually supported by the planning for UCS initial configuration:

The Fabric Interconnect runs an initial configuration wizard and assigns three IP addresses in the management and administrative subnet: one for each Fabric Interconnect and one for the virtual IP interface that defines the Cisco UCS Manager instance and enables management

To change adapter settings go to Devices – Network – Network Settings. In that window, change all adapter settings attachment to “Host-only Adapter”.

host only adapter

 

After doing this UCSPE services must be restarted. The easy way is to just reboot the UCSPE VM. But there is a fun way, going to the UCSPE console menu.

Login with user ucspe and password ucspe.

UCSPE Console Menu

Press “s” to Restart UCSPE and “y” to confirm.

Once you see the message “DONE!!” press any key to go back to the menu. Press “x” to logout and you should now see a very different result in the “Connect to IP:” field.

UCSPE connect to IP

The IP address shown is the cluster IP but the actual IP and subnet shown will depend on your particular Virtualbox configuration.

After this you can go ahead to your browser and type the IP address shown to open the UCSPE GUI. Launch the UCS Manager, use any username/password you are ready to go!

UCSPE connect to IP

UCS Manager running on Platform Emulator

UCSPE is a network service accessible through the network and not just locally on the PC. If you want to access UCSPE GUI from another computer, the 3 network adapters should be set to bridged or NAT with port forwarding.

 

4 Comments Running Cisco UCS Platform Emulator on VirtualBox

  1. Pingback: CCNA Data Center – A minha jornada | Ignorante e Indeciso

  2. Imran

    Thanks so much for posting this. Was going to purchase VMware Fusion for my MAC as UCSPE supposedly didn’t work with VirtualBox. Atleast the prev versions I guess. Thanks Again!

    Reply
  3. Ali

    Excellent Post.. got the solution in one shot. I’m a beginner for UCS and trying to install on VBox.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *