Building an NSO Lab Environment

Cisco Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) is listed three times on the DevNet Associate Blueprint, specifically:

  • 3.2 Describe the capabilities of Cisco network management platforms and APIs (Meraki, Cisco DNA Center, ACI, Cisco SD-WAN, and NSO)
  • 3.9.a Obtain a list of network devices by using Meraki, Cisco DNA Center, ACI, Cisco SD-WAN, or NSO
  • 5.6 Describe the capabilities of automation tools such as Ansible, Puppet, Chef, and Cisco NSO

In addition to the Exam Blueprint items, NSO netsim is a good lightweight tool for testing code. NSO Netsim will let you quickly start and simulate one or more network devices. This simulation is just the management plane, not the control or data plane for the devices. This keeps it light, with very little resources required. With the management plane simulation you can verify your code is making the appropriate changes to the devices running configuration. However, you can not verify the network behaves as expected after the change.

The consistent message from Cisco Live this year was to develop using netsim. Once your code is operating as you expect in netsim, the next step is to test using a network emulation tool like VIRL. In my case I will stick with GNS3 for now until VIRL2 is released.

To be able to understand how NSO works I am building out a lab environment. In this Lab I want to be able to:

  1. Create netsim devices for quick test
  2. Familiarize myself with NSO web interface and CLI interface
  3. Read and write configuration to netsim devices using NSO
  4. Read and write configuration to GNS emulated network devices, including CSR’s, NXOS, and other emulated IOS devices
  5. Use NSO the API’s to interact with my emulated devices using Postman and Python code

As I build out and test my NSO lab environment I will post a series of posts explaining how I have things setup. If you want to get started with NSO quickly, checkout https://developer.cisco.com/ . There are some learning modules to get you started quickly. NSO is also available through Cisco dCloud and DevNet Sandbox.

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