How to use the Cisco UCS emulator

Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) emulator allows people who don't have UCS to play with it. Here's what you need to know about this handy tool.

You might be considering whether to purchase Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) gear but want to test it out first. Or, perhaps you have UCS, but you'd like to test some things out with the UCS Manager (UCSM) that you don't want to mess with in production. If so, the Cisco UCS emulator might be the thing for you. Although it doesn't do everything a physical UCS implementation will do, it's a really nice tool for getting familiar with it or even developing on top of it. In this blog I'll take you through downloading and installing the Cisco UCS emulator and then give you a tour of some of the features.

The first thing you need to do is get a ID. You'll go to the website and register for a free ID. Then point your URL to and download the OVA file. This is a virtual appliance that will be deployed on some sort of hypervisor or VMware Workstation or VMware Fusion. (I'm using VMware Workstation, so this blog will reflect that.)

Once the OVA file is downloaded, you can open VMware Workstation, and then double click the OVA file in your file browser, and it will automatically open the Import Virtual Machine wizard. Specify a name for the new virtual machine and click Import. When it completes the import, you will see it in your list of VMs. If you highlight it to show the console, it should tell you the IP addresses you can use to access the UCS Manager.  You can also log in at the console to do some network configuration (Figure A). Figure A

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Now we want to log in to the UCSM via a browser. Open a Java-enabled browser and go to the IP address shown at the top of the console or one you specified in the network configuration on the console. Enter the default username and password (admin/admin), and you'll see a page that looks like Figure B. Figure B

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On the left side you'll see some options. Normally you'll go to UCS Manager and click the Launch UCS Manager button, but you are able to change Emulator and Hardware settings from here. For instance, you can also change your management IP if you click Emulator Settings. If you click Hardware Inventory and then Start-Up Inventory, you'll see that there is one chassis set up by default. However, you are able to change the hardware in that chassis or even add more chassis if necessary. You simply click the Add New Chassis button and then choose from the hardware items below (Figure C). The really neat thing about this is you can actually import a current physical configuration that you might have in your environment. This makes testing a lot easier and less tedious. Figure C

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Let's go back to the UCS Manager. As I said above, click the UCS Manager tab on the left panel and then select UCS Home. Click the Launch UCS Manager button to launch UCSM. You may get some sort of Java notification and then a login screen. Log in with username admin and password admin. After a couple of seconds, you will see the UCSM as shown in Figure D. This will look exactly like the UCSM that comes along with Cisco Blades. There is a tree structure on the left that defaults to Equipment, but you're able to click on LAN, SAN, VM, Admin, Equipment, and Servers depending on which kind of equipment you would like to see. On the right, it will show you different tabs and graphics depending on what you're looking at. Figure D

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Let's take a second and check out the blades themselves as an example. Click the Equipment tab if it's not already selected. Then drill down to Chassis | Chassis 1 | Servers and highlight Server 1. If you look on the right side and select the General tab, you can see any alerts under Fault Summary. It will also highlight where this server is physically in your chassis by showing a picture. You can see status details, create a service profile, restart it, and several other things (Figure E). Figure E

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Cisco's UCS emulator is such a great tool and concept — it would be nice if all vendors followed suit! Do you know of other tools like this? Have you had any issues or experienced any benefits from using the Cisco UCS emulator? If so, we'd love to hear about it in the comments section.

By Lauren Malhoit

Lauren Malhoit has been in the IT field for over 10 years and has acquired several data center certifications. She's currently a Technology Evangelist for Cisco focusing on ACI and Nexus 9000. She has been writing for a few years for TechRepublic, Te...