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Would Cisco Consider Releasing an IOS Emulator

Overview

I have been seeing a number of articles on the Internet trying to persuade Cisco to offer some kind of real-time emulation software for their IOS. I remember Greg Ferro from Etherealmind started a petition a while back and I have yet to see any development on that…

The fact that the matter is, Cisco already have such platform called IOU, which is designed to emulate their IOS to a near hardware experience for their internal testing environment. (Don’t quote me on this, but this is pretty good from what I have heard, or researched)

Currently we have Dynamips, which is one of the resource hungry Cisco Hardware emulation platform where testing can be done to a certain extend but it is nowhere near perfect, and here are some facts.

  • Dynamips does require a Lot of resources.
  • This is extremely processor heavy.
  • QoS does not work very well.

If you want to have a detailed explanation on, please have a look at the following post by Wendell Odom who explains thoroughly on the NWW.

What puzzles me is the fact that Cisco goes out of their way to promote their Educational sector, yet they are reluctant to offer some kind of Software Emulation to accommodate their IOS.

I can understand that fact that Cisco is trying to draw a line between testing and learning… When it comes to learning, it is fine. But, when it comes to Testing, Cisco might be concerned that it would affect their after sale services and revenue.

They are also maybe concerned about the lOS architecture getting onto the wrong hand. If you think about it, it does make sense because if they don’t support the Students, they would have put a stop to Dynamips 🙂

Suggestion

That is why I was wondering whether Cisco would consider releasing a pre built Topology such as the R&S 360 Lab within IOU/L2IOS (which they run on the R&S Lab for the troubleshooting section) and lock it with an encryption so it cannot be decompiled. There is still a risk on there, but it might be worth it. That way, it is only used for studying purposes and they don’t have to worry about it is being used for commercial use which might affect their after sale services…

That is why I suggest that if they released a “supersized” topology like the TS section on their RS Lab exam (with the correct IOS version), one can pretty much turn a few routers off and accommodate to the students needs.

With such topology, I personally think a student can pretty much cover CCNA/CCNP or even unto a level of a CCIP exams… If a CCNA student is overwhelmed by such topology, they can start with Packet trace and once they are comfortable, they can move onto this.

I do understand people wants such technology to test and troubleshoot, but I personally think, since they promote the 360 Learning solutions vigorously, they should consider this option to help the students.

Update

As of 21st April 2011, Cisco has finally listen to the request now offering the IOU Labs at their Cisco Learning Network Store. If you need more info, you can have a look Here

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Also, consider what happens when have a large network and you want to test a change before you deploy it ? How will be sure that it will work ?

    An emulator is a vital tool for change management and risk mitigation.

    • True, I am not ignoring the fact about Network Deployment and being able to test before deploying is the way to go… But, I am also trying to see Cisco’s Point of view here, If they release a near identical Emulator to their hardware platforms, they will lose considerable amount of revenue from their After-Sale services and from their point of view, it is correct.

      They have a huge advantage on having those resources and In my opinion, it would be daft to release such technology which will cause a competition to your service and indeed affect your revenue.

      I know I might sound very supportive to Cisco, I would love to be able to emulate some large topologies… But from my point of view and from the Design prospective, what they are doing is correct, But from an Educational point of view, they need to release some kind of Emulator, even that can be seen as a luxury because “Why fix something when it is working”?

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