Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cisco Briefing Bytes - New Cisco 4500 Life Cycle

This morning I was able to attend a small conference regarding the future for the Cisco 4500 platform along with the present. The 4500 series currently comes in 3 flavors, small (4503), medium (4507), and big (4510). Below I'll highlight briefly what I've learned and what I thought of the presentation.

The presentation was in a small conference room at my local Cisco office featuring models of all the latest and greatest offerings from the Unified Communications world. Our presenter was very knowledgeable, it was only me and two other guys who attended but the questions we shot to him he was able to handle with out skipping a beat. The presentation was the perfect amount of length for the product, 30-45 minutes long with Q&A time.

4500 New Features:
There are a ton of new features but I'll quickly list what caught my attention below:
  • Software WLAN Controller using a Supervisor Slot
  • Supervisors now use Dual Core CPU's
  • Internal VRF's (Allows multiple independent routing tables to be created) up to 64
  • Energywise Power Management
  • UPoE (Universal PoE) 60 Watts per port to power not only phones but also other network, computer equipment that are becoming PoE enabled such as monitors, Thin Clients, etc
4500 will use the new IOS-XE for its operating system, it sits on top of a Linux Kernel which allows it to take advantage of the dual core CPU and allows separate software to be run. WireShark comes installed by default and allows packet capture for not only the Control Plane but for also the Data. Also new to the new chassis and supervisors is the VSS (Virtual Switching System) that behaves very similar to HSRP on routers in which there's one IP to manage multiple switches in an active active state. the endpoint isn't aware that there are 2 or more physical switches and only sees it as one; this allows for  very High Availability.

Current Capabilities:
The presenter went over things the current 4500 chassis can do, in our case we use 1 WS-4510-E. There's a feature called ISSU that allows upgrades on the Supervisors without having to physically reload the chassis or Sup which causes downtime. Something else I had no idea about is what's called EEM which is a built in editor that seems to be pretty feature rich. There's even a GUI that can be used for the editor.

Like everything else that's moving to the new version 15 IOS, the new IOS has every feature set installed but you're unable to use them until you license them.  By default the 4500 IOS comes with LAN Base but in order to enable IP services you'll have to purchase a license to turn on the IP Base features.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The New CCNP: Voice Certification is Expensive...For Me

Now that I'm preparing to deep dive into the CCNP: Voice track, I'm in the very early stages of figuring out what hardware, software, etc I'll need to get through the entire exam. At the very minimum I'll need to cough up at least $2,000-3,000 dollars I think. Sadly when I put together my CCNA: Voice lab before the new update I used all equipment that isn't compatible with the new version 8.x that Cisco is currently on. I have a few 1760 routers and possibly even some VWIC's and some other stuff that I might not be able to reuse. I should of done better research of the long term and what will be needed.

Oh well lesson learned, I'm going to either borrow equipment from work or purchase a few 2801's and a beefy PC to through all the Cisco Software on in a VM environment. I need a new PC any ways, it's about 4-5 years old lol. I can obtain IP phones for both Type-A and Type-B easily, my work laptop for Presence testing and other random things. I'll need to buy some cheap analog phones which is simple and other random things. I'm going to go off of this good diagram which is a HQ, one branch, and a PSTN router for external calls. If absolutely needed I'll buy equipment to make a 2nd branch office. Hopefully this will get me through everything. I'm estimating about 18 months of study time give or take. Cisco changes certification requirements so much that if I'm going to tackle this I need to start now rather than later. It would suck to get 3/4 through the CCNP: Voice and have to start over due to an update to the track.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

User Input on Type-A and Type-B Phones

The SRND guide describes to types of phones which are the group of phones known as Type-A and the other group known as Type-B. Type-A phones consist mainly of the older and less power phone types such as the 7912's, 7940's, and 7960's. The Type-B phones are mainly the newer models such as 7941's and 7942's. The way you dial phone numbers vary by the phone type and the the protocol used (SCCP or SIP). Cisco phones connected to CUCM are basically dumb terminals that really on the CUCM to control them.

What's interesting is that user input when dialing numbers using SCCP on the Type-A phones relays a signalling event to CUCM every time a key is pressed. Which results in CUCM sending feedback regarding the buttons pressed in real time such as dial tone, ring back, etc. However when you're using SIP on Type-A phones, all user input events are stored until the user press the # key or Dial softkey. This is similar to cell phones where you dial the entire phone number you would like to call and then hit the "send" button to place the call with the carrier.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dial Plan Design

I ran through most dial plan design recommendations today in the SRND guide. The example above show's the model that we've adopted due to the smaller size of our network environment.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Unified CM and CME Connectivity

There are two primary ways to connect Cisco Unified CM systems and CME's between sites, that is H.323 or SIP. The primary focus in the SRND seems to be on the H.323 model which is deployed using either a Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE) or what's called a via-zone gatekeeper. The important thing to note between CUCM and CME is that H.450 is used with CME for supplementary services but not with CUCM which can turn into dropped calls over a PSTN due to compatibility issues. I believe CUBE or a via-zone gatekeeper is used to mitigate these issues and act as the middle man. SRND is a pretty high-level document so a lot of things I read aren't going to really explain the reasons why or how. That's what's the CCNP: Voice books should provide for me...hopefully.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Gatekeeper Redundancy

There seems to be two different options for gatekeeper design, clustering and directory gatekeeper (DGK). It looks as if the preferred method is clustering gatekeepers together rather than creating a DGK. Using gatekeeper clustering, you configure a local gatekeeper at each site but then you make redundant alternate connection other sites. This allows for the gatekeeper to provide primary call routing for the main site along with providing alternate call routing for other locations connected to it and vice versa.

DGK depends on the Hot Standby Router Protocol (HSRP) or by configuring multiple DGK's in your environment. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how this particular way works a little more.