Deploying Cisco Modeling Lab (CML2) – On VMware vSphere

Here’s a quick rundown of the steps I took to install Cisco Modeling Lab version 2.1 on VMware vSphere platform. For my example I will be using the CML 2.1 OVA image along with vSphere 7.0 update1 (I will be deploying via vCenter, but the steps dont overly differ if deploying directly to ESXi.)

Cisco modeling lab can be purchased and downloaded from the Cisco learning network store. There are two versions of the personal edition of Cisco modeling labs. The base personal version allows for 20 nodes to be created. The personal plus version allows for 40 nodes to be created for utilization. Once you have completed purchase within your “my account” you will see download link to the binaries as well as licensing for your instance of Cisco modeling labs.

Okay, once you are ready to download CML please note that for deployment on vsphere there are two separate downloads that are necessary. The first, the OVA, you will see under file information it states that this image is for deployment on VMware. Then the second download, the larger iso that contains the node images, is labeled Cisco modeling labs reference platform ISO file.

Once the reference platform iso has been downloaded you will need to upload that to any data store that you may use that is attached to your hosts and vcenter. This is so that the aforementioned ISO can be attached to the virtual CD drive of the CML virtual machine once it is created.

Of course first step is to deploy the OVF template to the vcenter.

Don’t forget the name your virtual machine….The remaining steps are pretty self explanatory/straightforward. On step three you will select a computer resource for the virtual machine to deploy to, which will be a host or to a cluster depending on how you have things configured (Once this is selected the ova menu will add in the step for network selection). On step four is just a basic review of what is getting configured and will show you a few things like the size on disk or any extra configuration that will be done by the OVA. Step five you will select storage to deploy to, step six will be virtual network selection, and then finally step seven will be to review and deploy.

As the OVA deploys you can watch it in the recent tasks bar located towards the bottom of your vcenter window.

Once it completes appointment of the OVA and before you power on the virtual machine right-click and edit settings in order to map the nude image file ISO that was downloaded earlier to your new virtual machine. Also do not forget to set it to connected. Now go ahead and power on the virtual machine.

Once you enter the console of the virtual machine after it is powered on you will be presented to the initial system configuration for CML. Go ahead and hit continue/enter.

Next accept EULA and continue forward.

The screen will present you with some additional help to navigate around inside of the system configuration.

Next you will select a password for the SysAdmin account for the underlying CENTOS machine that CML runs on top of.

You will now create a password for the admin account to access the web user interface of CML.

You can select DHCP if that is how your virtual network is configured. I have selected a static IP address on the network segment that this instance of CML will reside on, so select static IP and move on forward.

Now you will enter the specific network and subnet information for this instance of CML.

Confirm your information hit enter and allow the appliance to finalize configuration.

Once the appliance has finished its configuration you will be brought to the below screen for CML2. As seen below you are now able to go to the IP address that you entered earlier, so do so now.

You are brought to the main page for a login for Cisco modeling labs go ahead and login with admin and the password you created.

Once you login you are brought to the Cisco modeling labs dashboard. The first thing I did was to hit tools in the upper right-hand corner and select dark dark mode. The next item at hand is to address the system health issue, which is this instance, newly deployed, needs to be licensed for utilization. So you can click on the red icon in the bottom right-hand corner

Once you have brought up that menu go ahead and click the blue link for licensing which is next to the red X..

If you are using the 20 node capacity license then you do not need to do this part. I went with the 40 node capacity licensing so first before actually licensing the appliance you need to change the product configuration to match. To change the product configuration click on the blue link labeled “choose the product configuration”

Then select the correct node capacity. You can take note here that there are multiple versions that are deployable you have the 20 no capacity the 40 no capacity the enterprise licensing and also it appears there is an education installation license as well.

Once that is complete you can now hit register and enter the key, which is a long string, but you will get after purchasing CML. Under your Cisco learning network store account next to the download link there will be a 2.X license link button. Once you select that you can copy to clipboard the registration token that will then be copied into the box below. It may take a few moments but the product will register and now your version of CML is active for use.

So far I’m really enjoying Cisco modeling labs. I definitely so far like it much better than the previous version VIRL. In the next coming weeks I hope to play around with it a little bit more get used to it create some scenarios and see how I can incorporate this into the automation system that I’m building for work as this can become the test lab/along with the physical hardware of course that I do have in my lab already.

I hope to have a few more posts about making use of CML for testing and development use. My plan is to first deploy a small BGP-EVPN lab and be able to test against the API in that way, will see how it goes.

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