Saturday, December 1, 2012

Virtual Equipment + Physical Equipment = Big Lab

I have posted a few entries covering GNS3 and how you can use it to help you with your studies. And, in the "Connecting Your PC to Your Virtual GNS3 Routers" I showed you how it was possible to break your GNS3 routers out of the Virtual world and bring them in to the Physical world. In this post, I am to show you how I used this technique in my lab to give me a rather nice setup.

Figure 1 shows the equipment I own at the time of writing. I don't really use the 2610 as GNS3 fulfills all of my router needs. I do use the 2509 though as a console router for the rest of my equipment.

Figure 1

You may be wondering why I need four physical machines... well, at least the wife does ;) My explanation can be found in Figure 2.

Each physical machine has a Virtual Machine (VM) installed. These VMs are bound to their own physical NICs. This is why each machine has a minimum of three NICs. The reason why one machine has five NICs is because it also hosts GNS3. Two of its NICs are assigned to the job of connecting virtual routers to the physical network.

Figure 2

Figure 3 shows how each of the physical NICs are mapped.

Figure 3

Figure 4 tries to explain (or should I say justify?) why I have five monitors.

Figure 4

Finally, Figure 5 shows a basic topology which can be created with the above equipment.

Figure 5


For a more detailed, step by step guide on how to achieve the above, please see my new website.

Update: Where to from here?

My lab has increased in size quite a lot since this post was first written (see the photos below). Even more exciting though is the purchase of my new PC purchase. With this PC I will be able to set up a few ESXi hosts, Nexus 1000V VSMs and VEMs. This will enable me to play around with vCenter, vMotion, VSM High Availability, etc. This, in conjunction with the additional VMs I will be able to create inside the ESXi hosts, will allow me to create even larger topologies than before. I can't wait to get started! :)

The lab as it stands now:

As always, if you have any questions or have a topic that you would like me to discuss, please feel free to post a comment at the bottom of this blog entry, e-mail at, or drop me a message on Twitter (@OzNetNerd).

Note: This website is my personal blog. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not those of my employer.


  1. Thanks for posting this. Great read. I have a similar setup with 2 esxi hosts and 2x 3550 and HP 1810G-24. Not big and good as yours tho.

    What OS are you running gns3 under? Gns3 workbench?


  2. Thank you for the comment. I'm sure your lab will grow larger in time.

    I use GNS3 under Windows. I have spoken with quite a lot of people who have had trouble getting it to work under Windows, but I never have. One of my topologies consist of 16 routes ( ) and I still had no issues with it.

    Having said that, Linux is the recommended platform for running GNS3, so if any readers do have issues with getting it to work under Windows, I suggest you try it under Linux (a VM would do, or as momo mentioned, GNS3 Workbench is another great alternative).

  3. Hi, when i connect Gns3 to physical network in my Computer Lab it gets only 1 mb, my actual speed is 40 MB

    1. Unfortunately that is a GNS3 limitation, as per their site -

      "GNS3 will provide around 1,000 packets per second throughput in a virtual environment. A normal router will provide a hundred to a thousand times greater throughput."

      I've always found that the 1mb is more than enough for my needs though. If I'm doing bandwidth testing/QoS/shaping, I configure my policies so that less than 1mb is used, therefore I know they're working. The 1mb also works fine when I'm doing routing labs.

      To sum up the above, I've never been in a situation where the bandwidth limitation prevented me from testing something.

  4. Thank you for sharing the valuable information .

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