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vim-emu: A NFV multi-PoP emulation platform

This emulation platform was created to support network service developers to locally prototype and test their network services in realistic end-to-end multi-PoP scenarios. It allows the execution of real network functions, packaged as Docker containers, in emulated network topologies running locally on the developer's machine. The emulation platform also offers OpenStack-like APIs for each emulated PoP so that it can integrate with MANO solutions, like OSM. The core of the emulation platform is based on Containernet.

The emulation platform vim-emu is developed as part of OSM's DevOps MDG.


This software was originally developed by the SONATA project, funded by the European Commission under grant number 671517 through the Horizon 2020 and 5G-PPP programs.

Cite this work

If you use the emulation platform for your research and/or other publications, please cite the following paper to reference our work:


    author={M. Peuster and H. Karl and S. van Rossem}, 
    booktitle={2016 IEEE Conference on Network Function Virtualization and Software Defined Networks (NFV-SDN)}, 
    title={MeDICINE: Rapid prototyping of production-ready network services in multi-PoP environments}, 


There are multiple ways to install and use the emulation platform. The easiest way is the automated installation using the OSM installer. The bare-metal installation requires a freshly installed Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and is done by an ansible playbook. Another option is to use a nested Docker environment to run the emulator inside a Docker container.

Automated installation (recommended)

./ --lxdimages --vimemu

This command will install OSM (as LXC containers) as well as the emulator (as a Docker container) on a local machine. It is recommended to use a machine with Ubuntu 16.04.

Manual installation

Option 1: Bare-metal installation

sudo apt-get install ansible git aptitude
Step 1. Containernet installation
git clone
cd ~/containernet/ansible
sudo ansible-playbook -i "localhost," -c local install.yml
cd ..
sudo python install
Step 2. vim-emu installation
git clone
cd ~/vim-emu/ansible
sudo ansible-playbook -i "localhost," -c local install.yml
cd ..
sudo python install

Option 2: Nested Docker Deployment

This option requires a Docker installation on the host machine on which the emulator should be deployed.

git clone</code>
cd ~/vim-emu</code>
# build the container:
docker build -t vim-emu-img .
# run the (interactive) container:
docker run --name vim-emu -it --rm --privileged --pid='host' -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock vim-emu-img /bin/bash



This simple example shows how to start the emulator with a simple topology (terminal 1) and how to start (terminal 2) some empty VNF containers in the emulated datacenters (PoPs) by using the vim-emu CLI.

  • First terminal (start the emulation platform):
    • sudo python examples/
  • Second terminal (use docker exec vim-emu <command> for nested Docker deployment):
    • vim-emu compute start -d dc1 -n vnf1
    • vim-emu compute start -d dc1 -n vnf2
    • vim-emu compute list
  • First terminal:
    • containernet> vnf1 ifconfig
    • containernet> vnf1 ping -c 2 vnf2

A more advanced example that includes OSM can be found in the official vim-emu documentation in the OSM wiki.

Further documentation and useful links


How to contribute?

Please check this OSM wiki page to learn how to contribute to a OSM module.


To run the unit tests do:

  • cd ~/vim-emu
  • sudo pytest -v
  • (To force Python2: sudo python2 -m pytest -v)

Seed code contributors:




The emulation platform is published under Apache 2.0 license. Please see the LICENSE file for more details.


Manuel Peuster (Paderborn University)

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