Monday, August 25, 2008

VOIP Fundamentals Lab 1 - PSTN Setup

Scenario Background
Ballplayers, Inc. is a sports marketing firm with locations in New York City, NY and Baltimore, MD. The firm represents both current and retired athletes and their associated marketing ventures. The CIO of the firm, Fuzzy Dunlop, has instructed you to begin piloting VOIP between the NY and Baltimore sites.

VOIP Lab 1 – PSTN Setup
You’ve have been given two Cisco ISR 2801 routers to stage a pilot. Lab 1 involves preparing the Adtran for support the lab depicted below.

Task 1.1 – Initial Adtran Atlas 550 Setup

1. Using a terminal emulation program such as HyperTerminal or SecureCRT, configure the settings for 9600 data rate, no parity, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, and no flow control.

2. Connect to the Adtran Atlas 550. The console port (Adtran calls it “Craft Port) requires a special pinout DN9. I did not know this when I initially purchased the box off of eBay. I spend a few nights playing with my SecureCRT setting and HyperTerminal. Finally, after some research, I discovered the requirement for this proprietary cable. Errr…..

3. I’ve opted to set up Telnet on the Adtran. That way, from the comfort of my home office (or via VPN for that matter), I can hit the box in my basement. To assign the Adtran Atlas an IP, use your arrow key to move down to Router, press Enter, and then Enter again on IP.

4. From IP, expand the Interface menu. Again, use your arrow keys to select Interface[1]. You can scroll over and modify each entry. In my case, I set the IP address as and the Subnet Mask as

5. Using your arrow keys, go back, select Global, and modify the default gateway, which in my case is Vola! Telnet is already enabled by default on the box.

Task 1.2 –Adtran Atlas 550 Dial-Plan Setup.

1. For this lab, the following numbers will be assigned:

  • Adtran FXS 3/1: R5-Baltimore FXO 0/0/0, 410-555-5001

  • Adtran FXS 3/2: R5-Baltimore FXO 0/0/1, 410-555-5002

  • Adtran FXS 3/3: R6-NewYork FXO 0/0/0, 212-555-6001

  • Adtran FXS 3/4: R6-NewYork FXO 0/0/1, 212-555-6002

  • Adtran FXS 3/5: PSTN Baltimore, 410-555-5555

  • Adtran FXS 3/6: PSTN New York, 212-555-6666
2. In order to support a 10-digit dial plan, the default Global Parameters need to be modified. From the main menu, scroll down to Dial Plan, and then over Global Param and press Enter.

3. From here, select Number Complete Templates.

4, Expanded the Number Complete Template, and modify the seven-digit dial to support ten-digit dial.

5. Next, select the Type Templates and modify the seven-digit Local number type to ten-digit dial.

6. You are now ready to modify the dial plan. Let’s start by heading back on the Adtran Atlas menu and selecting the User Term screen under the Dial Plan menu.

7. We’ll begin by modifying the In#Accept for FXS 3/1. Use the arrow key to highlight the In#Accept for FXS 3/1 and hit Enter. From the Incoming Number Accept List, once again use the arrow keys to highlight the Accept Number option and hit enter. You can now modify the ten-digit number for the port, in this case, 410-555-5001.

8. We will now modify the call-id setting by using are arrow keys to select Interface Configuration. From there, we modify the Caller ID Number to match the Accept Number previously configured. A little farther down, we will modify ANI to Caller ID setting to Enable.

9. At this point, the first FXS port on the Adtran has been properly configured. The process is repeated for the remaining dial numbers. Upon completion, you can test the configuration by attaching analog phone to each configured port and dialing the numbers accordingly.

After successful completion, it is time to begin working on some basic VoIP labs. I will save the PRI configuration, which is very similar, for a later time.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Home Lab

I thought I would share my thoughts on my home lab. I’ll use this post to discuss my current and future software and hardware plans. I will avoid debating and discussing the pros and cons of building a home lab versus renting lab time. Building a home lab can be a significant financial investment; indeed over the past five+ years I have spent over $20K on equipment. However, for me, making the investment made good business sense; I’ve made what I’ve feel is a good return on my investment. Finally, since at least 50% of that investment was made for my R/S attempt, I already feel I am in a very good position to augment my equipment for a CCIE Voice.

Below is a logical diagram of my lab. For routing and switching, I own four (4) 2801 ISRs and three (3) 2811 ISRs. Please refer to the info below for cards, memory, and DSP resources; items italicized in red are devices that I plan to add to my lab in the relative near future. One of the 2811s functions as both an Access Server for reverse telnet to the console ports, as well as a frame relay switch. I also have a Catalyst 3750-24PS switch. For PSTN simulation, I have a first generation Adtran Atlas 550 with four PRI ports and 8-ports of FXS. Finally, I have a handful of analog phones, two (2) 7962Gs and two (2) 7942Gs.

I also own three servers: one DL320 G2 with two 250GB HDs and 4GB of memory; a DL320 G3 with two 750GB HDs and 4GB of memory; and a MCS7816 with two 160GB HDs. My plan for these is to install VMWare ESX on each, and then build out everything in virtual machines. This will make restoring configs very efficient and easy. Thus far I’ve gotten ESX to install and work on the DL320 G3. Next I will see how the install goes on the G2, and finally the MCS7816 (which is essentially a DL320 G5 with Celeron, if my research is correct).


  • R1 (2811): 256D, 128F, PVDM2-32, VIC2-2FXO, VWIC2-1MFT-T1/E1, (2) WIC-2T, AIM-CUE, NME-16ES-1G-P
  • R2 (2811): 256D, 128F, PVDM2-32, VIC2-2FXO, VWIC2-1MFT-T1/E1, (2) WIC-2T
  • R3 (2801): 384D, 128F, PVDM2-32, VIC2-2FXO, VWIC2-1MFT-T1/E1, WIC-2T, WIC-2A/S
  • R4 (2801): 384D, 128F, PVDM2-32, VIC2-2FXO, VWIC2-1MFT-T1/E1, WIC-2T, WIC-2A/S
  • R5 (2801): 384D, 128F PVDM2-16, VIC2-2FXS, VIC2-2FXO, (2) WIC-2T
  • R6 (2801): 384D, 128F PVDM2-16, VIC2-2FXS, VIC2-2FXO, (2) WIC-2T
  • R7 (2811): 256D, 64F, (3) WIC-2T, NM-16A
  • DL320-G2: 4GB Memory, 2 x 250GB HD, VMware-ESX (planned) for AD & Exchange Server
  • DL320-G3: 4GB Memory, 2 x 750GB HD, VMware-ESX for UC Managers, UCCX
  • MC7816: 2GB Memory, 2 x 160GB HD, VMware-ESX (planned) for Unity, MPE

I can access my lab remotely via VPN over a PIX501 that is connected to my Comcast Cable Modem. It appears that Comcast rarely if ever changes their customers' IP; I've had the same one for over a year. Once I VPN in, I have to APC SNMP enabled power strips (AP9225 and AP9211). These are awesome for remote power management, although I probably scare the heck of out of my dog when I turn my lab on remotely.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Basic Study Plan

I’ve laid out a basic study plan in my head, which roughly follows the CCVP track in terms of material. Namely, the gola is to become proficient in a particular Voice/UC technology one at a time. Once I’ve completed that goal, I then will addon the next technology as an overlay. This approach will be similar to the methodology that I used for my Route/Switch study. In that pursuit, I began with Layer 2, moving on to IGPs, followed by BGP, and finally IP Services. I also plan to have a little “fun” with my studies, such as creating a fictitious company that I will use to build out my UC lab.

Conceivably, and in my humble opinion, there are two basic approaches for preparing for the CCIE lab.

  1. Learn the test. Meaning, learn how to take the test, prepare for the known “gotchas” and common question types, and become proficient in the core material. This will likely get you to about sixty to seventy percent in exam, and arguably, you would have a decent chance at passing.
  2. Learn the material and technology. By this, I mean more than just learning the test. What I mean is learning and understanding the technology inside and out. You would have a decent chance at passing, but in the end, the candidate will be a much better engineer.

I know that I am vastly oversimplifying the above, but my goal and approach will be the later. Below is the rough approach, subject to change of course:

  1. VoIP Fundamentals: FXS, FXO, PRI, dial peers, VoIP, basic GWY/GKPR
  2. UC Express: UC Manager Express, Unity Express
  3. QoS: LAN & WAN, CAC (non-GWY)
  4. Unity 5.0 (assuming that this will be tested by Summer 2009)
  5. UCM 6.x - may move this up prior to Unity.
  6. Advanced Gateway & Gatekeeper
  7. UCCX 5.x
  8. MPE (assuming that this will be tested by Summer 2009)
  9. Presence (assuming that this will be tested by Summer 2009)

For actual study material, the plan will roughly be:

The above should keep me fairly busy for a few weeks! LOL

Next posting… my home lab

Monday, August 4, 2008

CCIE Journey, Round 2?

As I mentioned in my first posting, Cisco requires their active CCIEs to recertify every two years by passing any active CCIE written exam. This past February, I opted to take the voice written exam, primarily due to the fact that my job has been very heavily UC-centric in the past two years.

The idea of adding a second “IE” to my resume is certainly intriguing. From one perspective, I relish the challenge; the idea of defeating “the beast” a second time would certainly be something to savor. It would also add another layer of credibility to my resume of existing certifications and formal education. And, no doubt, I would hope of gain an additional bit of “financial ROI”. Probably my biggest concern about accepting the challenge is the time burden. Make no mistake, preparing for the exam, especially as I assess my current practical skills, would be a significant time investment. I would estimate, without having yet actually created a detail project plan or study chart, it would require:

  • 2 – 3 hours of study 4 weekday evenings each week
  • one or two full weekend days per month
  • for about a year, before I would be ready to sit for the lab.

Factor in the daily trials and tribulations of everyday life (and I am single with no children), and you can certainly imagine and respect the time and commitment required to prepare for the exam. And of course, the above does not include the financial commitments of building a lab (or renting lab time), nor any guarantee of passing the first time (or second time, for that matter!)

Based on the above, I would expect that I may be ready to sit for the lab sometime in the summer of 2009. I attended the Cisco Networkers CCIE Voice Power Session a few weeks ago in Orlando, and it was strongly suggested that by then, the lab would be testing UCM 6.x. About time! As I prepare my study plan, I will likely focus on UCM 6.x, Unity 5.x, MPE, and UCCX 5.0; look for my thoughts on my personal study plan in a coming posting. Check out Brian Dennis’s posting on Internetwork Expert’s blog, dated June 22, for some additional comments on this topic. I agree with Dennis's suggestion of renaming the Voice CCIE to the UC CCIE or Unified Communications CCIE. Any thoughts or comments?

Next post: either a review of my home lab or my high-level study plan…