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I have been using the Cisco CSR1000V for my home lab setup for a little bit now.  There have been some questions on how to set this up for a home lab and I figured I would cover how I am using it.
For this post, here is what we are going to build –  a three (3) node CSR1000V network and three (3) vSwitch Networks to connect the CSR1000Vs together.  We will also configure the CSR1000V to have connectivity back to the “home production” network so that we can SSH/Telnet to these routers when we are labbing.

Obtaining the CSR1000V Router Software

To obtain the Cisco CSR1000V you need to download it from Cisco at this LINK and click on the Download software as seen circled below

Once you click on that link you should be presented with the image below.  Click on the Cisco Cloud Services Router 1000V
Then select IOS XE Software from the next menu
Now you can select the appropriate version, for me I am going to download the OVA version for vMWare.
You will be prompted to login and then to Accept the License agreement to download the image, I used my CCO account that I have for my CCIE and was able to download it no problem.  There are no contracts associated with this item from what I understand, it is free to use in a limited fashion.
Once it is down downloading, we can deploy the OVA file using VMWare vSphere Client.

Deploying the OVA Software Just Downloaded

To deploy the software, launch your vSphere Client, click on File – Deploy OVF Template
Then click on Browse
Then browse to and select the OVA file we just downloaded and click next
and then click next after you confirm the details
Now you can give the CSR1000V a name, here is the default one use –  I appended a 1 to mine before clicking Next.
Select your Datastore to store the CSR1000V on and click next
Here you can choose Thick or Thin provisioning, I do Thin for my home lab –  but that is up to you.  For Thick, it will need 8.3 G and for thin you need 546.2 MB.  Then you can click Next.
Since we did not create our VM networks yet, just accept the defaults for now.  We will cover creating and assigned new VM Networks later in this post.
After you click next you will get a confirmations screen.  Click FINISH to start to deploy the OVF Template.
Now the system will start to deploy the template.  This may take some time depending on your server/network
Once complete, click on Close and you are down with your first router.
I ran this two more times and created a total of 3 CSR 1000V routers from that OVA.

Creating your VM Network…

To create your VMNetworks for the lab, first you need to create some Virtual switches.  We will use thse to connect the routers together, just like a normal switch would connect a normal router to a network, but here we will use Virtual Switches –  so no cables needed! 🙂
Click on your VM server and then select the Configuration tab
Now click on the Networking option
Now select Add Networking from the upper right hand corner
Select a Virtual Machine Network and click Next
Make sure Create a vSphere standard switch is selected and then UNCHECK any VMNics that may be listed.  This will allow us to create a VM Only network that has no connection back to any physical network.
This is the default naming for your VM Network, here mine is 2 –  but you need to change that to CSR1000V_NET_1….
and once you do that you can click on Next
You will get a Ready to Complete confirmation and you can click on Finish.
Under your networking options you should now have your default vSwitch0 and the newly created CSR1000V_NET_1 switch.
Do this two more times to create CSR1000V_NET_2 and CSR1000V_NET_3

Assigning vSwitches to your CSR1000V

Now that we have our three (3) CSR1000V created and our three (3) vSwitch networks created, we can now put our network together.
Click on your CSR1000V Router 1 and select Edit Virtual Machine Settings
From here you can see all your VM Settings.  We will just focus on the Network Adapter section.
Leave Network Adapter 1 as the default VM Network.  This will be our Management network connection back to our “Home Production” network.  We will use this for Telnet/SSH access to the routers.
Select Network Adapter 2 and from the Network Connection drop-down box on the right, select CSR1000V_NET_1.
Click on Network adapter 3 and select CSR1000V_NET_2 from the drop-down box and then Click OK.
Do the same fro CSR1000V-2, but change the networks to CSR1000V_NET_2 and CSR_1000V_NET3
And do the same for CSR1000V-3 but use CSR1000V_NET_1 and CSR1000V_NET_3
Now that we have our Virtual Switches created and assigned to our Virtual Routers, time to power the routers on!
Powering on your CSR1000V
To power on your CSR1000V, click on the VM Router and select Power on the virtual machine from the screen on the right
Once you do that, click on the CONSOLE tab to access the console
You will now see the console and can watch the router boot. You can either hit ENTER here or wait until the timer expires and it will continue to load.
Booting one of these does take some time, so be patient.
Remember, CTRL-SHIFT will get you out of a console window.
While the first one powers on, go ahead and power on the other two.
Once they are all powered on and booted up, lets go back to CSR1000V to configure the management interface via the virtual console.
Mine is still booting when I went back, so be patient as it can take a while.
Once it is done booting, you should see a screen similar to this one, should look kinda familiar!
Now that we are booted, time to configure them!

Configuring your CSR1000V for the first time

Ok, now we can set the CSR1000V up for the first time.  I am going to focus on connecting it to my “home production” network for remote access.
Since I guess I am old skool, I will answer NO to this question if I want to use the configuration dialog
Ahh, the initial Router> Prompt –  yeah!
Let’s  Enable up
Ok, it is normal router –  first up let us check our interfaces with a show ip int br
Just like we configured, 3 interfaces.  The first one, if you remember, is connected back to our “home production” network.  Let us take a look at the running config of that interface
Looks like any other interface.  Since we are going to use this for a lab, we should create a Management VRF and assign Gig1 to that VRF.
Just like any normal router, it is the same procedure.
1st  –  Create the VRF – here mgmt-vrf
2nd  –  Assign the interface to the VRF
As you can see, the interface is by default in shutdown.  For my home lab setup I use the range for labbing.  I use the X to signify the router –  to .91 will be CSR1000V-1, .92 will be CSR1000V-2, and .93 will be CSR1000V-3.
I will go ahead and configure CSR1000V-1 for my home network using the G1 mgmt-vrf interface
Ok, let see if this works.  The interface is up, so we should try an PING the default gateway (.1 in my network)
But that failed, why?  Simple –  it is in a VRF and we need to ping from that VRF –  DOH!
Let’s try that again –  Good, all is working.
Now in order to connect to the router we need to configure some remote access quick –  I am lazy, I will do the following:
Disable console logging
Set the enable password to cisco
Create a login password of cisco on the VTY 0 4 interface
Set the default privilege level to 15
And disable the login prompt when connecting so I get dropped right into the cli
Now to see if we can connect –  launch your terminal client of choice (mine is SecureCRT) and enter the IP of the CSR1000V-1 router
And you should connect and be at a Router# prompt immediately.
Time to configure the other two routers just the same.
Now that we are in, we can build our 3–router lab!

Building your 3–Router Lab

Here are the IP addresses we will use for this lab
CSR1000V-1 to CSR1000V-2 = 10.1.12.x/24
CSR1000V-1 to CSR1000V-3 = 10.1.13.x/24
CSR1000V-2 to CSR1000V-3 = 10.1.23.x/24
Where x = router number
To confirm the interfaces are right, you can use CDP.  In order to do that though you need to enable CDP in the interfaces you want to run it on and then enable CDP globally.
Once you have done that on the other two routers, you can run a show cdp nei and see what your network looks like
Ok, now to configure things!
First up CSR1000V-1
We will configure G2 with an IP of and G3 with an IP of
Make sure you no shut them as well
And you can do the same for CSR1000V-2
..and CSR1000V-3
And now you should be able to PING from CSR1000V-1 to CSR1000V-2 and CSR1000V-3
As well as between CSR1000V-2 and CSR1000V-3


If you come across a feature you need a license for, say MPLS –  you can change the license level and the router will function at that level for 60 days
To change the license level, just use the license boot level command from configuration mode and reboot!
That about covers it for this post!