Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Traditional Call Signalling Overview

I was only able to get an hour in of study this evening due to performing some after hours work on our CUCM. I'm going to be enabling dependency records so that I know what ties to what. For example knowing what configurations depend on a specific device pool or calling search space (css). I'm wanting to get rid of our call configuration for one of our remote sites that's been shut down months ago but I had a lot of troubles figuring out what was tied to what.

I eventually went up the hierarchy in my head of how you configure things in CUCM from what little knowledge I have. I removed everything from the regions, locations, device pools, etc  for this site but there's still two css's that I can't figure out what's calling out to it. I'm also going to provision some of the region settings for our new remote site since configuring regions can drop calls currently in progress.

I was able to knock out about 10 pages today along with jotting notes down about the signaling types related to Supervisory, Addressing, and Informational. I left off going over the various E&M signaling from immediate start, wink-start, delay start and the different Types I-V used with Supervisory signaling. I won't be studying tomorrow as I will be doing an after hours upgrade on our Unity Connection servers. There's a good chance I may not study Friday as well depending on how much I want to have a social night that night!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Much Better Study Session!

Thanks to the help of a co-worker I was able to resolve the issues I was having with my PRI configurations. I knew it was something to do with clocking but I was just too annoyed to research it yesterday. Apparently there's a command called isdn protocol-emulate that is used to make a Cisco router emulate as the CPE or as PSTN switch basically. I threw this on my router I'm using to emulate the PSTN (go figure) and did away with the T1 CAS's and provisioned them back as PRI ISDN lines. Sure enough the circuits came right up without any issues.

After messing with that and placing test calls, debugs, and etc. I was able to knock out 18 pages in the CVoice book, way better progress than yesterday. I'm also going through old CBTNugget videos on CVoice as there's some good refreshers on traditional telephony. My plan is to listen to one of the videos first thing in the morning time permitting. We're about to bring up our new remote site so I'm going to be knee deep in configuring Cisco devices and creating the dial plan in CUCM. This should be some good experience, we also plan on doing some clustering over the WAN by bringing up a CUCM subscriber at this new site, also good experience!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Horrible Study Session

So to start off with, yesterday I made some decent progress. I knocked out about 30 pages of reading yesterday along with buying two cheap analog phones to test out POTS dial-peers using the PSTN. Today however was a complete mess, I wouldn't say I didn't learn anything but I made it through 1/2 a page of reading! The rest was spent troubleshooting Layer1 and 2 issues with just about every WIC card I had. From the FXS card that wasn't compatible with the Cisco 2821's all the way to ISDN layer two issues with my PRI configuration.

I gave up on PRI for now and went to T1 CAS but even that gave me a lot of issues. I spent an hour trying to get one analog phone to talk to each other, something that should be rather simple. I eventually got one end to call the other but not the other way around. It took another twenty minutes to figure out that the E&M signaling type was mismatched on both ends. Somehow I blew out my entire T1 configuration on both ends (I was frustrated to say the least) and spent another hour getting the configurations just right so that the routers were able to match dial-peer configurations to their respective ports.

I pretty much wasted 3 hours on a simple configuration but I guess in the end I gained some troubleshooting experience. I just 10 minutes ago was able to make a call to both analog phones from both sites. I'm using the PSTN router as my remote site for now since I don't have a 2800 compatible spare FXS card or a spare $150 to purchase one. I'm 43 pages in to the book so far, I'm hoping to make up for lost progress tomorrow.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

CCNP Voice Home Lab Nearly Completed

I retrieved most of the items on the list that I talked about yesterday, the last thing I really need for the CVoice is an analog phone. I'm thinking that I can go to Radio Shack or Walmart and buy a cheap $10 analog phone without any bells or whistles. I attached a picture above of how it looks physically, it's not the cleanest looking but it should get the job done. I had some weird issues with the HQ 2821 router not booting the startup-config. after being annoyed for 30 minutes, I looked it up online and somehow the registry setting was set to skip the NVRAM during boot-up. My guess is that this was the router I had to use password-recovery and I just forgot to change the settings back, either way it took all of 30 seconds to fix the issue.

I also read 13 pages in the CVoice book and wrote down notes between the differences of the four call-signaling protocols H.323, SIP, MGCP, and SCCP. I attached a picture above of my lab setup, there's still an analog phone and a dedicated VMWare server for the unified applications that I'm missing. I'll start putting together the VMWare server after I pass CVoice unless for some reason I absolutely need it, I don't see this happening though.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Setting up the CCNP Voice Lab Progess

My first day in of fully committing to the CCNP Voice certification is off to a great start. I'm building my home CCNP: Voice lab based on a modified version of Kevin Wallace's Voice lab design. The modified version is pictured above, I may add an extra switch for the branch site and an extra IP phone if needed; I also may add an extra branch site. I still need the following to complete the home lab and then I'll snap a few pictures of my final design for this certification:

  • 1 T1 cross over cable (PSTN router to branch office router)
  • 3 Cisco IP Phones (Maybe 4 if I decide to borrow an additional switch)
  • 1 IP Phone Power Brick (There's no PoE on the Cisco 28XX Gig ports)
  • 2  Seven foot long Ethernet cables (For the HQ IP Phones)
  • 1 Analog Phone (Hoping I can borrow this from someone)

I spent an hour or so setting up the physical equipment, cables, and basic network configuration. The longest part was provisioning the T1 controllers for the pseudo PSTN network using PRI connections. The HQ router didn't even see the VWIC card it had to configure it. After a quick Google search it jogged my memory of the card-type command and specifying if it was going to be a T1 or E1 controller. I'm surprised that I was able to configure the PRI ports all from memory, very good start to this long journey ahead.

I also went ahead and started my Safari Book subscription once again and read the pre-face for the new CCNP CVoice book by Kevin Wallace. I'm so glad that there's FINALLY material to study for this certification. I upgraded both Cisco 2821 routers to IOS 15.x already and I've downloaded a few different CME 8.x versions and a COP file for CUCM 8.0 for the later tracks. I'll proabably wait until around chapter 3 in the CVoice book to actually start installing and configuring CME but we'll see how impatient and anxious I get before hand.

I'm going to use the following web link: for a general idea on setting up the PSTN router. I'm pretty sure that the Cisco 1760 that I'm using will be more than efficient for this job.What's going to make it or break it for me through this certification will be how much I can stick to a study plan, consistency is going to be the key I think. I'm wanting to get 16 hours in a week of study time. Two hours on the weekdays and Three hours on the weekends, I'm going to use a timer to keep me on task and of course lots and lots of Coffee!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

1ExamAMonth and More Studying

I went through about 25 pages on additional Presence design along with viewing a few CCNP: Voice videos regarding basic dial peer configuration on It was all just review really from CCNA:Voice material, I'll keep going through the free videos on the website and I may purchase or see if my company can purchase the full training videos. I'm also looking at the IPExpert training videos but they're twice as expensive.

Monday, November 21, 2011

CUPS (Presence)

I went over about 30 pages in the SRND Guide regarding presence and best design practices. I have a little over 250 pages to go until I move onto the actual certification books and start digging in into my home lab setup. I should be getting the second 2821 put together later this afternoon and I think I should be all set. I'll borrow a few Cisco IP Phones from work and maybe buy a cheap analog phone from the Goodwill or something. MY 1760's have a FXS/FXO cards already so I can always shuffle them around where needed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thousand Pages Read, 300 More Until GO Time!

I finally crossed the 1,000 page mark in the CUCM 8 SRND guide (1356 pages total). I spent the last few days covering Unity and the design recommendations associated with it. As I near the end of the guide, I'm starting to finally acquire the hardware and plan out the materials I need for the CCNP: Voice. My company is letting me borrow two 2800 series routers loaded up with all the PVDM's and VWIC's I would ever need. I might need to buy another FXO/FXS card though.

I plan on using one Cisco 2821 (pictured above)  as a Voice Gateway for the HQ and the other for the branch site. I'm going to use one of the 1760's as the PSTN network hopefully, and maybe the other for a 3rd branch site. I'm thinking I can get through CVoice cert without the dedicated ESXi server loaded up with CUCM, Unity, Presence, and maybe UCCX. It seems that CVoice focuses more on the gateway's and CME (Call Manager Express).

I would love to hear any suggestions or recommendations about this lab setup, it's hard to find other people going for the new updated cert since there's not a lot of material for it like the CCNP: R&S.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


 I studied up on CUBAC which is short for Cisco Unified Business Attendant Console is an application designed specifically for receptionist to answer and dispatch calls. This requires a standalone server for the application itself and then integration with CUCM using CTI, AXL API and the Cisco TSP driver for call control. We currently use this in my work environment, when it works it's flawless but it likes to flake out every once awhile. 9 times out of 10 when there's issue with the program, simply logging the receptionist completely off attendant console and back on resolves whatever issue there is.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Music on Hold SRND

I'm currently going through the best practices section regarding music on hold (MoH) using unicast, multicast, or both to stream audio media. This section also covers best practices depending on your network environment, such as competently centralized VoIP network, multi-site network with centralized call processing, our multi-site network with multiple clusters.

In my current work environment we currently use unicast for MoH and our environment has centralized call processing with multiple remote sites. We actually used to use multicast for MoH because it's obviously more efficient but we ran into a Cisco Call Manager bug with our previous version 7.x. We have since upgraded to 8.X but whatever TAC engineer we were working with recommended unicast over multicast when possible. Seems as if the SRND says otherwise, again for obvious reasons.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cisco Unified CM and LDAP Connectivity

I spent the last few days reading the SRND chapter regarding CUCM and synching with LDAP. This is what we currently do in our environment since upgrading from 6.x to 8.x. Before we synchronized with our AD environment, it was a very manual and painful experience adding or changing user accounts in the phone system. Especially when we would provision new remote sites. It also makes administrating all of the different unified communication components alot easier since there is pretty much a single log in for all of our equipment. We even had security consultants come in and configure our ACS device to synch with AD so that we could log into all of network devices with our single Windows Account login, very efficient!