The data center networking trend is clear with every network service being slowly virtualized. Network devices that are virtual provide big advantage over their physical counterparts. First, VMs can be provisioned much more quicker and be part of a larger virtual infrastructure, you can easily scale them adding more virtual CPU or memory and you can snapshot them to save their actual state to a file and move them around.
Cisco has also introduced their virtual version of their popular firewall product ASA. It simple called ASAv and runs under popular hypervisors such as VMware vSphere or KVM. You can find the product home page here. This is different product and idea than Cisco ASA 1000V Cloud Firewall.
First you need to get hold of the ova package. You need to be entitled with Cisco to download the software from here or you can do a Google search and find it elsewhere. I had some problems with the latest release 9.3.2(200) where it would stuck at booting loop, the kernel complained about Illegal Instruction. Looks like it did not like my dual Opteron 4180 host. Therefore in this demo we are going to use release 9.3.1 which worked just fine.
Sharping the axe
Before we are going to deploy the actual virtual firewall, lets make some solid ground for it. Firewalls usually divide network into multiple security zones so first we are going to create some, and we use vSwitches for that. In my vSphere deployment I already have default vSwitch called vSwitch0, with a Portgroup called Native that has a connection to outside world.
We are going to create additional two vSwitches that will have following Portgroups: ASAv-inside and ASAv-DMZ respectively, and we are going to attach two linux instances to them. So in the end we end up with simple topology like this:
To get started, log in to vSphere and go to Hosts\Configuration\Networking\Virtual Standard Switch, click add Add networking.
Select New Standard Switch, there is no need to assign physical adapter for breakout, we will attach this vSwitch to one of ASAv interfaces. The first port group will be called ASAv-inside with no VLAN tag. Follow the same steps for DMZ vSwitch and its ASAv-DMZ PortGroup.
Chopping the tree
Back to ASAv, after downloading, log into the vCenter and go to VMs and File\Deploy OVF Template.
Note: I tried to deploy the asav932-200.ova directly into ESXi, however I received and error that The OVF package requires support for OVF properties. Details: Line 264: Unsupported element ‘Property’
Answer the usual OVF deployment question such as name of VM, which Data Center and Cluster will be used. I only have one so it is no brainier. Deployment configuration specifies the number of vCPU that the VM will have and whether it will be part of HA pair. By default ASAv will come with 1 Management Interface Management0/0 and 9 regular interfaces GigabitEthernet0/0 – 0/8. You need to map each of them to correct port group created in previous step.
I am only really using 4 interfaces at this point, so I left the rest connected in ASAv-DMZ portgroup.
Some basic configuration parameters such as IP configuration of management interface can also be entering during wizard. That makes me wonder if those parameters can be passed to template while deploying automatically via script.
After quick OVF deployment, you can look at default resource requirements which correspond to deployment size selected in wizard.
And finally the ASAv console is available directly through vCenter.
Before you can take full advantage of all ASAv features in your lab you need to license the box. If you are lucky you can ask a Cisco representative for a temporary license or *hint* do a smart Google search for a little piece of software.
To actually verify that the ASAs has indeed network connectivity, we will perform initial configuration and test reach ability to Google DNS servers.
If you are currently aiming for CCIE Security this is an excellent way how to build your own virtual lab for practice. Coupled with virtual ACS server and IPS appliances it is very easy to test and learn new features, validate syntax for scripts and many more without harming your production environment.
I draw the line in the sand here and leave your imagination what you can do with multiple of these virtual firewalls bundled with couple of virtual routers and virtual machines to re-create complete data center infrastructure sandbox.
Introduction to ASAv
ASAv Product Overview