Palo Alto Networks – PCNSE Certification – Part 2 – Building a Lab (Where to get Started)

As with any certification that I attempt I go into it with a mindset of learning by reading, watching videos and doing… Being doing the strongest one in my list of things to do. I want to make sure all the things that I have seen listed in the PCNSE Study Guide I can do, with the exception of the High Availability piece, which I will have. Bait of a hard time using since I only have access to 1 VM.

Let’s being testing this and how easy it is to implement

The current state of my Lab

For years I have maintained a home lab that has evolved and now is sitting in my garage, I will share a quick image of how it looks but I want to mention that is very modest but maybe a bit of an exaggeration for what I would like to do.


As you notice I still have an ASA routing all the internet traffic on this diagram and as part of the network, so what I will be doing is adding a PA-VM and will connect it to the internet as follows:


I will be updating this diagram as I progress in my quick adventure

What is needed for a Palo Alto Lab?

First, you need to make sure you have access to either a Demo VM, those run for 60 days and you can request them to your Palo Alto Account Manager or Sales Engineer. In my case, I was able to get my hands in an NFR Demo that was given to me for being a member of a Next-wave Partner of PAN.

Support Portal Account

Once you have access to a Support account with PA, you will register the code and will have access to your PAVM, this by going to the Assets –> VM Series Authorization Codes ** Once the auth code has been accepted, make sure to Download the Image you will be using


This opens up a new window, which will allow you to select the VM Version, in my case I will have to go to the Base Image as I don’t have anything installed so far


The one I picked is this version –> 9.0.4 09/30/2019 –> PA-VM-ESX-9.0.4.ova – Which seems the latest Base image for version 9.x

To be Continued

At this point, I will be creating another part where I will be going over the installation and configuration of the VM. Stay Tuned

About the Author:

Andres Sarmiento, CCIE # 53520 (Collaboration)
With more than a few years of experience, Andres is specialized in Unified Communications and Collaboration technologies. Consulted for several companies in South Florida, also Financial Institutions on behalf of Cisco Systems. Andres has been involved in high-profile implementations including Cisco technologies; such as Data Center, UC & Collaboration, Contact Center Express, Routing & Switching, Security and Hosted IPT Service provider infrastructures.

“I’m all over the place, I’m literally involved in anything that I can get involved in. I have a day job as a Network, UC and Collaboration Architect for a Cisco Partner, I co-own an e-Learning company called Collaboration Technologies USA based in South Florida, and I’m the guy that is always writing about multiple things technology at  Collaboration Engineer blog, which started as I was getting started on Cisco Collaboration, and now you see me again but this time pretending to know and learn about Security and CyberSecurity”

You can follow Andres using Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top