28 Aug

VIRL 1.3 – the first impression

Cisco VIRL

Last week Cisco released the VIRL PE 1.3 (previously called just VIRL). This version includes major technology upgrade to the underlying infrastructure; only minor adjustments are visible to the users. That was something everyone expected as old Ubuntu used for VIRL 1.2 regularly asked for packages updates.

I worked with new VIRL for few hours. I must say I am not impressed. Some old problems got back, at least in my installation. Frequent snapshots of the VIRL VM are something required again. Here is my quick summary of my thoughts and experience so far

Changes

Few things have changed in new VIRL PE 1.3.

  • The single project only – it is called as Single User but de facto now you can only run the single simulation at the same time using the guest user. It looks like I need to change my approach for demos at some conferences
  • OpenStack upgrade – it uses now the new Mitaka release. I am not following the OpenStack project as much to say how much advantages it brings for users. One important change is that now FLAT and FLAT1 interfaces are routed via bridge interface instead of just bridge.
  • No Graphical Desktop – it was useful when you had to troubleshoot the VIRL installation only. Not a big loss
  • Two images (1 interface and 5 interfaces) of virtual machine – I do not understand this step. I know some people do not bridge their LAN network with VIRL (check How to manage simulation in VIRL from local network post to see how I do this), but they can always set interfaces as Host-Only in an example. I think this change will lead, or already led in my case, to some problems.
  • New Landing Page – now everything is accessible via UWM panel. I like it.
  • No real change to VM Maestro which is a shame, so many things require improvements in this component!

 

Installation and configuration

Because of major upgrade of the underlying infrastructure we have to face some additional tasks and new (or old) issues

  • You cannot upgrade from VIRL 1.2 – you need to perform the fresh installation. I can live with that, and I assume that upgrading OS and OpenStack on existing installations may lead to more problems.
  • I was able to change the eth0 interface configuration from DHCP to static IP at 5th attempt. During previous attempts, the rehost process worked for over 2 hours or was not able to reboot the VM – each time I got error Service Unavailable and could not connect to the UWM.
  • If you use the image with 5 interfaces, it is recommended to disconnect everything except eth0 until you finish the configuration and activation. If you leave rest of the interfaces connected, the strange things may happen like unexpected routing.
  • I was not able to generate new configuration to some of my old projects in VM Maestro. Every time I tried I got Internal Error. I got this problem before, and the only solution is to create a new topology, place and configure everything again.

 

Summary

I must say I am not impressed at the moment. After long months of waiting for a new release, I was expecting much more. I understand that OS and OpenStack significant upgrades were not easy for VIRL team, but the user experience is dropping lately. The product is handy, but problems we can face are quite annoying.

If I can recommend something to the VIRL team my recommendation would be – get the information from users what changes they expect from user experience perspective, which bugs need to be fixed quickly and work on them.

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