What is ARIEL?*

What is ARIEL?*

ARIEL is the “Access Research Internetworking Experimental Laboratory,” developed by Access Research Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia. 

ARIEL is an on-line tool to help you learn about networking technology.   It provides a guided interactive learning experience.   It is built around a collection of free software resources, that you can download and run on a suitable Windows, Macintosh, or Ubuntu platform (either the host OS or a virtual machine on your own hardware or in the cloud).  It also lends itself to classroom demonstrations and discussions.

What Does ARIEL Consist of?

ARIEL contains a series of experiments, with sets of discussion questions for you to explore, that will help you to discover the principles of networking.  The experiments provide a complement to conventional learning resources, such as:  textbooks, on-line-educational materials, and classroom instruction.  The experiments in ARIEL are not intended to replace those resources completely.  Many references to resources are given in ARIEL.

What is ARIEL’s Purpose and Scope?

I hope ARIEL will prove valuable to engineers and students who want to learn, from the “ground up,” about inter-networking, SDN, NFV, service orchestration, network and service management.  Especially if you value the experience of guided, hands-on interaction with networking technology, ranging from simple models to production-level software.

Relative to a course like CCNA, ARIEL is much more basic.  ARIEL is more of an introduction to basic principles.  It could be a good foundation for moving on to CCNA, for example.

If you are already familiar with basic principles of Ethernet and TCP/IP you could download and install the software, and then quickly run through the first few experiments to familiarize yourself with GNS3 and the other software, then jump to the more advanced topics of interest to you.

Topics include:

What Do I Need to Build ARIEL Myself?

The process is explained on the pages: SETUP Windows, SETUP Macintosh, SETUP Ubuntu, and also SETUP Everyone.

If you have access to a reasonably modern computer running Windows, Mac OS, or Ubuntu, NO further expense is necessary.  Though, in the case of Macintosh users, there is one software license you may opt to buy from VMWare to provide better performance on more complex networks.   I have not found it necessary.  Also, some optional extra software and hardware resources are available at low cost (by which I mean about the cost of one text book).  These are not necessary, but enthusiasts may want to purchase them and use them in conjunction with ARIEL.

You do not need prior expertise in networking.  Each experiment comes with some guidance to help you establish your basic theoretical knowledge, using a range of educational resources.  That theoretical understanding is made more tangible by guided, hands-on experimentation using the GNS3 network emulator, and many other free tools.   

The software used within ARIEL is all available for free.  It includes:

Back to ARIEL

* The name “Ariel” is used by Shakespeare in The Tempest, and also by Pope in The Rape of the Lock.  It was chosen as the name of one of the moons of Uranus. Perhaps most famously, amd my favourite, Disney Studios chose the name Ariel for The Little Mermaid.

** Other Network Simulation packages could also be used, such as mininet (http://mininet.org/), or Marionet (http://www.marionnet.org/site/index.php/en/), or others, such as IMUNES (http://imunes.net/), but I chose GNS3 as the primary platform because it has a broad set of capabilities, a user-friendly GUI, and a very large user base with an active community.  As a result there are many training resources available for GNS3, including the GNS3 Academy. In principle, the ideas of the experiments could be transferred to another simulator. See ARIEL Assignment Experiments for some suggestions.