Over the years, I’ve dedicated a lot of time towards studying for various certifications for both partner status and personal enjoyment. Much like collecting Pokemon, the thrill of hunting down a new certification is one of my strange quirks. To that end, it can be a challenge to get some proper stick time with the gear referenced in an exam blueprint, especially when it’s something that belongs in a proper data center. Examples of this include the Cisco Nexus 7000 series switch and Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System).
I understand that not everyone has the space, power, and budget to plop Cisco UCS gear into their home lab. While I can’t help you out with a monster sized Nexus 7010 switch, there is a great alternative that I’ve leveraged for quite some time with much success for diving into UCS: the Cisco UCS Platform Emulator (UCSPE) appliance. Free for download, this little guy is an OVA that you can import into a vSphere lab. It has the vast majority of a real system’s features and is a great starting point for getting your hands dirty. I tend to keep an updated copy in the Wahl Network lab at all times as a quick method of answering any question that pops into my noodle.
The following video playlist contains a series of walkthroughs on the UCSPE appliance, including a general introduction, virtual hardware management, and limitations vs a real system.
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