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Cisco UCS Platform Emulator Installation

To continue my series of posts on building the framework for a functional lab environment, I'd like to talk about the Cisco UCS Platform Emulator (UCSPE). It is a software appliance packaged as a vSphere OVA that approximates a UCS deployment, including the networking components (a pair of switches called the Fabric Interconnects) and both blade and rackmount UCS servers (B- and C-Series, respectively). It can be a great tool for learning and becoming more familiar with the UCS platform. I will be deploying my UCSPE on vSphere 6.7 in my lab, but it should work similarly in other recent versions.

1. Start by downloading the UCS Platform Emulator OVA from https://communities.cisco.com/docs/DOC-71877 - you will need a Cisco Connection Online (CCO) login in order to begin the download. I am using version 3.1(2ePE1) of the emulator for this guide as that appeared to be the latest version available at the time of writing. Side note, I also noticed during the boot process that this version of the UCSPE was called GALVANIZED GORILLA, which I found hilarious.

2. Deploy the OVA template from the vSphere Web Client, following the steps and filling in name and networking information that is relevant to your environment. Below are the settings I used for my emulator VM, but obviously yours will be different.














3. Once the import is complete, you can power on the UCSPE VM. It will boot and run through its inital configuration, after which you'll be presented with a login prompt. The credentials are as follows:

User Name: ucspe
Password: ucspe

Once you log in, you'll be presented with the menu below.


















Note: We'll be using a statically assigned address for our deployment, but the UCSPE can use DHCP addresses as well.

You will need three IPs for the UCSPE deployment - one for the virtual IP (VIP), and one each for the Fabric Interconnect management interfaces. We'll be using the following IPs:

VIP: 10.20.21.115/24
FI A: 10.20.21.116/24
FI B: 10.20.21.117/24
Gateway IP: 10.20.21.1

4. Select the Modify Network Settings option by pressing the n key.
5. When asked if you want to modify the network connections, press y.














6. Select the Custom option by hitting c and then enter the IP information you've chosen for your environment. Once the gateway IP is entered and you hit Enter, the network interfaces will be restarted to make the configuration changes active.















7. After that is complete, the UCSPE will restart and continue its initial configuration. This will take a few minutes (the "Inserting devices..." step in particular), so be patient. Eventually, the configuration will finish and you can return to the menu you saw before.

8. At this point, you can open a Web browser and browse to https://VIP_IP_ADDRESS. You'll be presented with a Hardware Inventory screen like the one below.








9. From there, you can click on the Triforce logo on the Hardware Inventory screen to launch UCS Manager (UCSM) and log in with the ucspe user credentials.







I have been conditioned to hear the "A Link to the Past" SNES intro music when I see this logo.

10. After login, you'll see a UCSM page that looks like the image below.









This concludes the initial UCSPE deployment. That being said, there is a LOT of functionality built into UCSM (and UCS in general) that is much different than managing a traditional rackmount server architecture. For me, the most difficult thing was getting an understanding of the policy-driven way that UCS resources are managed. Once I took the time to dig into the inner workings of Service Profiles though, it all began to make sense. Keep an eye out for future posts that discuss specific features of the UCS platform.

As always, thanks for reading!

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