HP Network Simulator is available for public use!

    Good news!

    Not so long ago (in April of this year) we released a new version of the simulator of network equipment HP, available for use by everyone!

    Previously, this product was known in the bowels of HP as HP Simware, and was intended for internal use only. A little later, a version was released for our partners, and now it is available to the general public under a new name - HP Network Simulator .

    The product is based on the new HP Comware v7 network operating system and is designed for network modeling and studying the user interface and functionality of the HP Comware OS.

    In this article, I will describe in detail the principles of the simulator and show how you can use this tool in the work of a network engineer using specific examples.

    Install HP Network Simulator

    Before installing, you need to make sure that the machine meets the minimum requirements:
    CPU ≥ 3.0 GHz
    RAM ≥ 4 GB
    Disk: ≥ 80 GB
    OS: Windows 7 or higher

    Next, download and install Oracle VM VirtualBox version 4.2.18 or higher (I recommend using branch 4.2. xx).
    And finally, download and install the HP Network Simulator tool for Comware7 Devices itself .

    The installation process itself is too simple to paint, just click the “Next” button until the desired result is achieved.

    Configure and run the topology

    The logic of the simulator is quite simple:
    • First, a network topology configuration is created in a simple text editor (aka GUI);
    • Then, based on it, virtual machines for each device are automatically generated;
    • And in the final, these virtual machines are launched in VirtualBox.

    Next, we will consider each step in detail.

    Preparing a project configuration

    After starting the HP Network Simulator application, a GUI window with a text editor opens.

    We press the “New” button to create a new project, the editor will immediately generate the default configuration:

    It is from it that we will begin preparing our own (customized) configuration.

    The simulator is based on the HP Comware OS, which works on almost the entire line of HP network equipment - switches, routers, wireless WiFi controllers and security devices.

    The simulator allows you to almost fully reproduce the interface and functions of HP switches and routers (both modular and fixed configurations).

    Types of Supported Devices

    There is no binding to specific models of iron in the simulator; instead, each instance of a virtual machine can be one of the following types of devices:
    Device type
    SIM1101 / SIM1201 32-bit / 64-bit centralized router
    • Port 1: Network management port.
    • Ports 2 to 4: GE ports.
    • Ports 5 to 8: Serial ports.
    SIM1102 / SIM1202
    32-bit / 64-bit centralized router
    • Port 1: Network management port.
    • Ports 2 to 4: GE ports.
    • Ports 5 to 8: POS ports.
    SIM1103 / SIM1203
    32-bit / 64-bit centralized router
    • Port 1: Network management port.
    • Ports 2 to 4: GE ports.
    • Ports 5 to 8: E1 ports.
    SIM1104 / SIM1204
    32-bit / 64-bit centralized router
    • Port 1: Network management port.
    • Ports 2 to 3: 25-Mbps ATM ports.
    • Port 4: 155-Mbps ATM port.
    • Port 5: 622-Mbps ATM port.
    • Port 6: ADSL ATM port.
    • Port 7: G.SHDSL ATM port.
    • Port 8: E1 ATM port.
    SIM1105 / SIM1205
    32-bit / 64-bit centralized router
    • Port 1: Network management port.
    • Port 2: E3 ATM port.
    • Port 3: T1 ATM port.
    • Port 4: T3 ATM port.
    • Port 5: ADSL 2+ port.
    • Port 6: SHDSL_4WIRE ATM port.
    • Port 7: SHDSL_4WIRE_BIS ATM port.
    • Port 8: SHDSL_8WIRE_BIS ATM port.
    SIM2101 / SIM2201
    32-bit / 64-bit centralized switch
    • Port 1: Network management port.
    • Ports 2 to 8: GE ports.
    SIM2102 / SIM2202
    32-bit / 64-bit centralized switch
    • Port 1: Network management port.
    • Ports 2 to 4: GE ports.
    • Ports 5 to 8: 10-GE ports that can operate as FC interfaces.
    Modular Routers and Switches
    SIM3101 / SIM3201 (MPU)
    32-bit / 64-bit distributed switch or router
    • Port 1: Network management port.
    • In the Comware system, the number of this port is 0.
    SIM3111 / SIM3211 (interface card)
    32-bit / 64-bit distributed switch or router
    • Ports 1 to 7: GE ports.
    SIM3112 / SIM3212 (interface card)
    32-bit / 64-bit distributed switch or router
    • Ports 1 to 3: GE ports.
    • Ports 4 to 7: Serial ports.
    SIM3113 / SIM3213 (interface card)
    32-bit / 64-bit distributed switch or router
    • Ports 1 to 3: GE ports.
    • Ports 4 to 7: POS ports.
    SIM3114 / SIM3214 (interface card)
    32-bit / 64-bit distributed switch or router
    • Ports 1 to 3: GE ports.
    • Ports 4 to 7: E1 ports.
    SIM3115 / SIM3215 (interface card)
    32-bit / 64-bit distributed switch or router
    • Ports 1 to 2: 25-Mbps ATM ports.
    • Port 3: 155-Mbps ATM port.
    • Port 4: 622-Mbps ATM port.
    • Port 5: ADSL ATM port.
    • Port 6: G.SHDSL ATM port.
    • Port 7: E1 ATM port.
    SIM3116 / SIM3216 (interface card)
    32-bit / 64-bit distributed switch or router
    • Port 1: E3 ATM port.
    • Port 2: T1 ATM port.
    • Port 3: T3 ATM port.
    • Port 4: ADSL 2+ port.
    • Port 5: SHDSL_4WIRE ATM port.
    • Port 6: SHDSL_4WIRE_BIS ATM port.
    • Port 7: SHDSL_8WIRE_BIS ATM port.

    The choice of device bit depth (32-bit or 64-bit) depends on which machine the simulator runs on. If you have a 32-bit OS, choose 32-bit device types, if the OS is 64-bit, respectively, the devices should be 64-bit.

    Project Configuration Syntax

    The syntax of the project is quite simple and must comply with the following rules:
    • Configuration parameters are written line by line.
    • The configuration lines that define the parameters of the devices themselves are specified in the format Parameter = value . The editor supports syntax highlighting for the correct parameter names (see table below).
    • Configuration lines defining the parameters of connections between devices are specified in the format Parameter <-> Parameter .
    • Some parameters may contain sub-parameters. Sub-parameters are separated by a colon “:”. Example - Parameter = value : Sub-parameter value ;
    • Comments begin with a # .
    • Comments, blank lines, space and tabs are ignored and can be used to group and style text.

    Device Parameters

    The table below describes the parameters of devices available for use in the simulator config:
    Unique device ID (1-120). Supports up to 30 devices in one project.
    Series of device models. Obtained from a specific model (see table above) by setting the last two digits to 0. Example - SIM11 00 .
    Uniquely identifies a specific device model or line card (for modular devices).
    Supports the optional sub-parameter memory-size .
    The default memory size varies from 384 to 768 MB depending on the model, but it is recommended to set a minimum of 1024 in order for all functions to work correctly (for example, Telnet / SSH server).
    For modular devices, the slot sub-parameter additionally lists all interface cards and MPUs.
    board = slot 0: SIM3101: memory_size 768
    board = slot 2: SIM3111
    Optional parameter. It is required in a situation when it is necessary to distribute the simulated devices to different hosts. Specifies the IP address of the host where the device virtual machine will be launched.

    Connections between devices are described in the format device X1: [ slot Y1:] interface Z1 <---> device X2: [ slot Y2:] interface Z2.

    The connection of the device with the network interface of the physical host is described as follows:

    device X1: [ slot Y1:] interface Z1 <---> host : " NIC name "

    where " NIC name " is the name of the network interface (for example, "VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter »)

    Configuration example

    As an example, I used the simplest scheme of three switches connected in a ring:

    As a basis, we take the automatically generated default configuration and re-create it as follows:
    # device 1
    device_id = 1
    # device typeiscentralizedswitch (64-bit mode)
    device_model = SIM2200
    # board typeisswitchwith 8 GEports
    board = SIM2202 : memory_size 1024
    # device 2
    device_id = 2
    # device typeiscentralizedswitch (64-bit mode)
    device_model = SIM2200
    # board typeisswitchwith 8 GEports
    board = SIM2202 : memory_size 1024
    # device 3
    device_id = 3
    # device typeiscentralizedswitch (64-bit mode)
    device_model = SIM2200
    # board typeisswitchwith 8 GEports
    board = SIM2202 : memory_size 1024
    # connect switches in ring topology
    device 1 : interface 5 <---> device 2 : interface 6
    device 2 : interface 5 <---> device 3 : interface 6
    device 3 : interface 5 <---> device 1 : interface 6

    VM Generation

    To generate virtual machines from the project configuration file, click “F6” (“Run” button) and, if the syntax is correct, after a while VirtualBox starts up with VMs ready for launch for each of the three switches:

    VM start

    To start the simulation, we start all VMs at once and wait for them to load. After loading the VM, we get access to the CLI of our devices and we can begin to configure the newly made labs.

    Project preparation is more complicated: MDC + IRF + control system

    As I wrote earlier, the simulator supports not only the basic functions (switching, routing and various standard network services), but also the most interesting advanced technologies from the HP Networking portfolio, such as:
    • Virtualization N: 1 - HP IRF technology ;
    • Virtualization 1: N - HP MDC technology ;
    • L2 Data Center Integration Technology - HP EVI ;
    • as well as a number of other technologies and protocols: TRILL, SPB, OSPF, BGP, IS-IS, MPLS, FC / FCoE, LACP ... and many others.

    In our example, we will see the operation of MDC and IRF technologies in action. To do this, I depicted the following diagram:

    At the heart of this diagram are 3 devices: a modular switch with one MPU and two line cards ( device 1 ) and two switches of a fixed configuration, interconnected into an IRF stack ( device 2 and device 3, respectively).

    The simulator configuration will be as follows:
    #*********************************************************************#device 1device_id = 1#device type is chassisdevice_model = SIM3200#board slot type and memory_sizeboard = slot 0 : SIM3201 : memory_size 1024board = slot 2 : SIM3211board = slot 3 : SIM3211#*********************************************************************#device 2device_id = 2#device type is boxdevice_model = SIM2200#board type board = SIM2202 : memory_size 515#*********************************************************************#device 3device_id = 3#device type is boxdevice_model = SIM2200#board type board = SIM2202 : memory_size 515#*********************************************************************#connect host interface device1 : slot 0 : interface 1 <---> host : "VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter"device2 : interface 1 <---> host : "VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter"device3 : interface 1 <---> host : "VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter"#connect interfacesdevice1 : slot 2 : interface 1 <---> device 2 : interface 2device1 : slot 2 : interface 2 <---> device 3 : interface 2device1 : slot 3 : interface 1 <---> device 2 : interface 3device1 : slot 3 : interface 2 <---> device 3 : interface 3device2 : interface 7 <---> device 3 : interface 8device2 : interface 8 <---> device 3 : interface 7#*********************************************************************

    SW1 Switch Configuration

    Inside the modular switch SW1, we create two isolated contexts - MDC1 and MDC2 , which will function as fully independent logical switches.
    From the admin MDC (which we get to by default) for context MDC1 the line card in the second slot of the chassis SW1 is fully available , for MDC2 - in the third :
    mdc mdc1 id 2
     location slot 2
     mdc startallocateinterface GigabitEthernet2/0/1to GigabitEthernet2/0/7#
    mdc mdc2 id3
     location slot 3
     mdc startallocateinterface GigabitEthernet3/0/1to GigabitEthernet3/0/7#

    Switching between MDC is as follows:
    [SW1]switchto mdc mdc1
    ******************************************************************************* Copyright (c) 2010-2014 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P.          *
    * Without the owner's prior written consent,                                 *
    * no decompiling or reverse-engineering shall be allowed.                    *

    You can view the status of all contexts on the device as follows (from the admin MDC):
    [SW1]display mdc
    ID         Name            Status
    1          Admin           active
    2          mdc1            active
    3          mdc2            active

    In this article, I will not touch upon MDC technology in all its aspects, since a separate article on this topic is planned to be released soon.

    After we have created the contexts we need on SW1, we need to configure their management interfaces. For all contexts of one device, the common Management interface on the MPU is used - M-Ethernet0 / 0/0 . Within each context, its own management IP address is assigned on this interface:
    # В админском контексте
    [SW1-M-Ethernet0/0/0]ip address 24
    # В MDC1
    [SW1-MDC1-M-Ethernet0/0/0]ip address 24
    # В MDC2
    [SW1-MDC2-M-Ethernet0/0/0]ip address 24

    SW2 Switch Configuration

    Switch SW2 will be an IRF stack of two switches device 2 and device 3 . The complete IRF configuration methodology on the switches can be found in the corresponding manuals on our website.
    We will only make sure that the IRF is working correctly, and then we will also configure the management interface on the stack:

    Configuring Management interfaces on the IRF stack of switches:
    # обратите внимание, что номер интерфейса изменился (по номеру Master-коммутатора в стеке)
    [SW2-M-Ethernet1/0/1]ipaddress 24

    Next, I made the settings for interfaces, link aggregation, SNMP, LLDP, OSPF routing, and a number of other functions, but in order to save time, I will not describe each step in detail, all device configs can be found in the appendices to the article.

    Configure IMC Management System

    The most attentive of you may have noticed that in the simulator config I specifically indicated the following lines:
    #connect host interface
    device 1 : slot 0 : interface 1 <---> host : "VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter"
    device 2 : interface 1 <---> host : "VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter"
    device 3 : interface 1 <---> host : "VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter"

    Using such a simple scheme, all the management interfaces of the simulated devices will be connected to the virtual adapter VirtualBox on the host. Thus, I will have access to these devices from my laptop, as well as from other virtual machines running in VirtualBox.

    This is exactly what we need, since the plan is to put our wonderful HP IMC management system on a separate VM and visualize the entire topology of the virtual stand using this system. In addition, all other interesting IMC functions will be available, such as performance monitoring, configuration management, VLAN, ACL, SNMP trap and syslog messages collection and analysis, and many many others.

    For reasons of saving RAM on a laptop, I chose the most minimal version of the system -IMC Basic . You can download it from our website and use it for free for 60 days of the trial period.

    In the case of installation in production, the system is quite demanding on server performance (especially on RAM), but for test purposes two gigabytes on the VM were enough.

    To install the system, I created a new VM in the same VirtualBox, installed Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard there and, in fact, IMC Basic 7.0 itself.

    Network settings for VM are as follows:

    This means that the IMC server will be connected to the same virtual adapter as the management interfaces of all devices, and they will all see each other by IP.

    Now it’s up to you to start IMC, start automatic device discovery and open a window with network topology - IMC Network Topology :

    GNS3 integration

    GNS3 is perhaps the most famous graphical network simulator, so I decided to show how it is easy to integrate the topology familiar to many GNS3 engineers with our HP Network Simulator.

    The basis for the interaction of the two simulators is the cloud " Cloud " in GNS3. Just as virtual machines from HP Network Simulator are tied with their internal interfaces to the VirtualBox Host-Only Ethernet Adapter , the GNS3 cloud is also connected to the network interface of this adapter. Then, through it, virtual devices Cisco / Juniper from GNS3 communicate with each other HP devices from HP Network Simulator.

    In my example, I configured a GRE tunnel between the HP SW2 switch stack(HP Network Simulator) and the Cisco R1 (GNS3) router, and OSPF routing over the tunnel:

    Device customization

    Despite the fact that this is not in the official documentation for the simulator, you can manually customize existing types of devices or add new ones:
    • In the directory where the HP Network Simulator (HNS) is installed, open the “model” folder;
    • Open or copy existing .cfg device model files;
    • Edit their contents. For example, take the existing file “SIM2202.cfg” as a basis:
      SIM2202.cfg :
      PHY_ETH_GE 3 
      PHY_FC_XGE 4

    • Based on it, create a file with a description of the switch with 8 10GE ports and save it under the new name "SIM2203.cfg":
      SIM2203.cfg :

    • Further in the config you can use our new switch model:
      device_model = SIM2200
      board = SIM2203 : memory_size 1024

    Note : in the current version of the simulator there is a limit of 8 ports per device, which is due to the VirtualBox restriction (no more than 8 network interfaces on the VM. In the latest version of VirtualBox, their number is increased to 36, but the restriction remains in the simulator itself). In addition, in modular devices, one of the ports is used for communication between MPUs and line cards, therefore the maximum number of user ports on line cards is 7.

    Note 2 : 10G ports on the switches are converged and can be configured to operate in 10G Ethernet or Fiber modes Channel (FC).


    The new simulator is a really interesting and relatively convenient tool for modeling the network and is great for solving the following tasks:
    • Training specialists in network equipment and HP technologies;
    • Creation of virtual demonstration stands and demonstration to their customers;
    • Conducting small demonstrations "in the fields";
    • Verification of the operation of various network technologies and protocols;
    • Functional testing HP Comware 7;
    • Adapting engineers to the HPN command line syntax :)
    • • ... and many others.

    In addition, the new simulator is not demanding on iron resources. To make sure of this, I performed all the above manipulations with the stands on my work laptop with an Intel Core i5 2520M processor and only 8 GB of RAM (the bulk of which was occupied by many third-party applications - mail, office, browsers, skype and etc.).

    I managed to run 5 instances of devices in the simulator, as well as one virtual machine with an IMC control system, without experiencing any brakes.

    Device configurations

    Update: official lab examples for the simulator appeared.

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