With the release of Cisco’s new network simulation software (calling it this is a huge injustice) looming around the corner, just a brief taster of why you need Cisco VIRL for your home lab (also – latest info suggests it’s free for individuals!):
Some more details of the features enabled: http://www.mostlynetworks.com/2014/02/cisco-modeling-labs-overview/
Of course, there is a Cisco supported version called CML for enterprises that can scale much larger, but for a home lab you can’t ask for more – VIRL will be available on Cisco DevNet very soon. It will run as a single VM image on your laptop/desktop – the CML version allows it to run on ESXi or bare-metal.
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