Thursday, November 4, 2010

What is VCE and Vblock?

The Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition is a collaborative effort between Cisco, EMC, and VMware to deliver a complete IT infrastructure that integrates best-of-breed virtualization, networking, compute, storage, security, and management technologies. The concept is wrapped around VCE's Vblock Infrastructure Packages, composed of the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), EMC storage, and VMware vSphere. The result is a reference architecture jointly created by EMC, VMware, and Cisco to create a modular building block architecture for cloud computing.

There are three Vblock Reference Architectures:

Vblock 0 (300 – 800 VMs): An entry-level configuration to meet the IT needs of small datacenters; test/development platform for Partners and customers.

1-2 Blade Chassis
6-30 ½-height Blades + 2 Management
32-128 Cores
48-GB Server Memory per Blade
46+ TB Storage Capacity
SATA drives
NAS, iSCSI, and SAN
1 Rack
















Vblock 1 (800 – 3,000 VMs):
A mid-sized configuration to deliver a broad range of IT capabilities to organizations of all sizes.

2-4 Blade Chassis
16-32 Blades
128-256 Cores
960-1,920-GB Server Memory
38-64-TB Storage Capacity
FC, SATA, & EFD drives
SAN, iSCSI, and optionally NAS
2 racks (min) or 3 racks (max)
















Vblock 2 (3,000 – 6,000+ VMs): A high-end configuration that is completely extensible to meet the most demanding IT needs of large enterprises or service providers.

3,000-6,000 VMs
4-8 Blade Chassis
32-64 Blades
256-512 Cores
3-7TB Server Memory
96-146TB Storage Capacity
FC, SATA, & EFD drives
SAN, iSCSI, and optionally NAS
4 racks (min) or 5 racks (max)















WWT and Vblock

As Cisco largest UCS and Federal partner, WWT has successfully deployed the Vblock solutions a number of customers. For example, VCE was deployed for one customer to performance issues for their existing Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution. After implementation, overall performance in creating and starting virtual machines was enhanced by 50% or more. Having reads from “delta” disks on SSD drives eliminated I/O issues. PCoIP was proven to display audio and video well enough to meet their needs.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cisco & The Private Cloud

In my previous post, I briefly discussed Cisco and Citrix Teaming up on the Desktop. While I suggested this was an exciting development, I failed to put the announcement in proper context of the overall evolving Private Cloud initiatives that I foresee on the horizon. First, let’s define Cloud Computing, based on NIST’s version 15 definition:

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.”

NIST then defines three service models:

  1. Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS)
  2. Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  3. Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

To a certain extent, many Federal Agencies have already dipped their toes in some or all three of these services models. For example, the Department of Homeland Security is in the process of developing their own Private Cloud and offering email-as-a service to many of its various sub-agencies. But, what other SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS are available for consideration?

For example, perhaps deploying a Cisco Unified Communications Solution on the Cisco UCS platform in a virtual datacenter type of environment, providing true collaborative UC options across multiple agencies? How about thin client and VDI solutions on iPad and Android tablet devices, as I alluded to in my previous post, with imbedded VTC capabilities? Most importantly, how do you build out the virtual storage and cloud infrastructure to support these concepts and infinitives?

In upcoming posts I’ll touch on two other Cisco partnerships to support the Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): the Cisco/EMC/VMware Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) initiative and the Cisco/NetApp/VMware Secure Multi-Tenancy (SMT) concept.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cisco and Citrix Team up on the Desktop

This was a very interesting announcement which caught my attention a few weeks ago. It appears the Cisco and Citrix have teamed up to develop joint desktop virtualization solutions using Citrix XenDesktop and the Cisco USC Server Platform. I think a Citrix blog on the announcement hits the nail on the head perfect:

“Cisco has an amazing history of catching market trends right before they take off. Let's take a quick look at their track record:

1. From connectivity to communications - Cisco caught the voice transition as it went from analog to IP
2. From communications to collaboration - Cisco then capitalized on unified communications as the voice market transitioned
3. From collaboration to telepresence - Arguably its new hallmark, Cisco is now the king of video and high-def conferencing”

Coincidentally, many of my customers are asking more and more about multi-vendor OEM VDI solutions over platforms such as the iPad and Android. WWT’s Datacenter Practice is also developing various VDI solutions over both client platforms. For me, this is an exciting and promising announcement!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Changes & Updates….

First, my apologies for not having posted an update in quite some time. It has been an extremely busy three months for me professionally…

A business leader at GE once told me that “The only constant in the business world is change. If one is afraid of change, then he should find a new career.”

Since my previous post, I have transitioned into an Account Manager role here at World Wide Technology. My new responsibilities will be to support the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Prior to my new role, I was supporting DHS as a Presales SE. My predecessor Account Manager, with whom I had a great working relationship and a great deal of respect for, decided to leave WWT to pursue a professional opportunity with Cisco. Given the circumstances, I felt this was an excellent opportunity to try something new in my career, leveraging my existing technical skills. Only time will tell with regards to whether this was a smart career move, but I am excited about my new responsibilities, as well as supporting the mission of DHS.

As for this blog, at the very least, I will continue to keep the legacy postings online. However, given that I no longer plan to pursue a CCIE Voice, I will no longer continue with any new lab postings. Moving forward, I may utilize this space to post observations as well as general insights relating to the IT products, solutions, and services that WWT provides to its customers.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who has enjoyed my postings and has shared comments, feedback, and/or suggestions over the past 2+ years. I wish everyone the best of luck in their CCIE pursuits and professional endeavors.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Comments on Cisco’s Tandberg Acquisition

In case you haven’t been following, Cisco completed its acquisition of Tandberg on April 18. By coincidence, I was attending a Tandberg training class at their Reston, VA facility on the first official day of the marriage. There was certainly an atmosphere of excitement in the area during that week.


I had been vaguely familiar with the Tandberg product line prior to my training. At the conclusion of that week of class, it became varies obvious why Cisco choose to pursue this acquisition – Tandberg’s VTC products rock! Tandberg’s impressive offerings include a software video MOVI client, various desktop units, room based solutions, and a Telepresence offering that is absolutely incredible. Their management GUIs are extremely intuitive and I look forward to many of those features being integrated into Cisco’s UC product portfolio (awesome troubleshooting tools!).


As a leading Cisco Gold Partner, I am very excited about this new set of solutions that I can now offer my customers. One of my DOD customers has told me that the word “Tandberg” is often treated as both a verb and a noun and is synonymous to VTC (e.g.: “Please Tandberg me to the Deputy Director”). There will undoubtedly be some kinks in the weeks and months ahead in terms of integrating the product line into Cisco’s UC portfolio. However, this acquisition certainly reinforces John Chamber’s belief that Video Is the next Killer App, as discussed during the 2009 Networkers Conference.

Friday, March 19, 2010

CCIE Voice Lab 1.12 – UCCX

We will configure Cisco Unified Contact Center Express in Lab 1.12.

CCIE Voice Lab 1.12 Tasks


1. Configure UCCX to work with CUCM using the following parameters:

a. CUCM AXL Username: use your CUCM Admin username and password

b. Cisco Unified CM Telephony Provider Configuration, User Prefix: uccxcti; create a password

c. RmCm Provider Configuration, User ID: uccxrmcm; create a password

d. NTP Server: NY VGWY

e. Number of HR session licenses: 3

f. Recording Count: 6

g. Number of Outbound seats: 6

h. Codec: G711

i. Cisco Unified CCX Administrator: Ari Gold (agold) and David Wright (dwright).

j. Use CTI Ports/DNs beginning with 1201.


2. Configure the auto attendant script to answer calls when a call arrives at 1300. However, when callers hit the AA, they should be greeted with “Welcome to Ballplayers LLC” followed by the default welcome AA. Do not modify the existing AA.


3. Configure an NY Mets ACD Queue that will be triggered when dialing extension 1010. When callers dial 1010, they should be greeted with “Welcome to Ballplayers LLC” followed by the default prompt. Ari Gold should have a new UCCX DN 1011; David Wright should have a new UCCX DN 1012. Ari should also take the call first, unless he is busy. Caller should hear Music On Hold while sitting in queue.


4. Ari and David should be able to log into ACD service from their phone without typing a username and password. Both should be in a ready state once he has selected the “Ready” softkey and remain ready as long has he hasn’t either logged out or selected the “not ready” softkey.



CCIE Voice Lab 1.12 Solutions

The CCIE Lab is notorious for wording task in such a way to as either “confuse” or trip up the test taker (at least this was the case when I took my Route/Switch lab). I’ve worded the tasks in Lab 1.12 to makes the student think about all of the tasks in this lab. For example, just because a particular task comes later, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the test taker must complete those tasks in that particular order.

Also note, the Administration Guide for Cisco Unified CCX and Cisco Unified IP IVR, Release 7.0(1) is only available on CCO as a PDF document. Therefore, I will refer to specific chapters during my explanations below.


1. Prior to configuring UCCX, I begin by provisioning the user parameters in UC Manager; specifically adding the UCCX DNs for Ari Gold and David Wright, as configuring a new UCCX template. First, I create a new Phone Template for agents, and then associate this Phone Button Template with Ari’s and David’s phone.


Next, I add the 1011 and 1012 lines to Ari and David phones, respectively. Finally, under User Management > End User, I associate these new DNs with both Ari and David as their IPCC Extension. See Guidelines for Configuring Agent Phones, page 4-16 of the Administration Guide for Cisco Unified CCX and Cisco Unified IP IVR, Release 7.0(1) for further details.


2. Before we can begin configuring either the AA or ACD, UCCX requires some basic setup. When logging into UCCX the first time, a setup wizard launches. During this wizard, you are prompted to provide the following configuration parameters:


UC Manager IP address: 10.1.10.20

AXL Username: Administrator

Password:

Installation of License

Cisco Unified CM Telephony Provider Configuration, User Prefix: uccxcti; create a password

RmCm Provider Configuration, User ID: uccxrmcm; create a password

NTP Server: NY VGWY

Number of HR session licenses: 3

Recording Count: 6

Number of Outbound seats: 6

Codec: G711

User Configuration: Ari Gold (UCCX Administrator) and David Wright.




For additional information and details, refer to Provisioning Unified CM Telephony Subsystem, page 6-5 of the
Administration Guide for Cisco Unified CCX and Cisco Unified IP IVR, Release 7.0(1).

Next, configure the Cisco Unified CM Telephony Call Control Group under Subsystems > Cisco Unified CM Telephony.
See Adding a New Unified CM Telephony Call Control Group, page 6-9 of the Administration Guide for Cisco Unified CCX and Cisco Unified IP IVR, Release 7.0(1).



You can verify that the CTI ports are registered with UC Manager under Device > Phone.



3. There are a few things we need to do in order to work with the default AA script. First, record your prompt per the task. Refer to Recording and Uploading Prompt Files, page 10-12 of the Administration Guide for Cisco Unified CCX and Cisco Unified IP IVR, Release 7.0(1) for instructions on using the Microsoft Windows Sound Recorder in Windows XP. Then, upload your prompt in Applications > Prompt Management.


Next, launch your Cisco Unified CCX Editor. Open the Auto Attendant template under File > Open > C: > Program Files > wfavvid > Scripts > Template > IVR > Auto Attendant.aef. On the left side of the editor, expand the Media Folder and drag
“Play Prompt” in front of the existing “Play Prompt” in the script. Then, right-click this new prompt and select “Properties”. In the “Prompt” option tab, type the name of your Prompt in “quotations”.
Verify the script and then save it in the Script Repository > Default.



To configure the new AA script, go to Application > Application Management > Add a New Application. From the Add a New Application > Application Type drop-down, select Cisco Script Application, then next. Provide the necessary information for the Cisco Script Application and select Add.



Lastly, we need to add a Trigger for this script. Under the Trigger Type drop down, select “Unified CM Telephony Trigger”. Then, provide the necessary Trigger Configuration information, and Add. At this point, you should be able to dial 1300, whereupon you will hear your custom prompt followed by the standard AA.

Refer to the Configuring Script Applications, page 9-3 of the
Administration Guide for Cisco Unified CCX and Cisco Unified IP IVR, Release 7.0(1) for additional information and guidance.


Configuring the ACD follows a similar process. Once again, launch the Cisco Unified CCX Editor. This time, open the ICD template under File > Open > C: > Program Files > wfavvid > Scripts > Template > Queuing > Simple Queuing.aef. As before, add a new “Play Prompt” step prior to the first one. However, in order for a call to hear MOH, you must add a Call Hold step and Call Unhold step before and after “Delay DelayedWhileQueued sec”. Verify the script and then save it in the Script Repository > Default.

5. Since UCCX Extensions have already been associated with users, there are two primary tasks left for configuring the NY Mets ACD queue; creating/modifying a script and then setting up another Cisco Script Applications.

Once again, open the
Cisco Unified CCX Editor, and select the ICD template. As with the AA script, modify the ICD script to include your custom welcome message. Next, in order for callers to hear MOH while in queue, you must add the “Call Hold” and “Call Unhold” steps to the queueLoop.




Next, in UCCX, go to Subsytems > RmCm and configure a Resource Group and assign the users to that Resource Group. Then, configure your CSQ, Script Applications, and Trigger.











6. The last task involves the configuration of Cisco IP Phone Agent and a few system tweaks. You’ll notice that during the CSQ configuration, Automatic Work is disabled by default, which is what we want. Then, under system parameters, change the value of “Agent State after Ring No Answer*” from the default Ready to Not Ready.

To have Ari and David login into IP Phone Agent (IPPA), refer to the
Configure a "One Button Login" for IP Phone Agents example on CCO.

Monday, February 8, 2010

CCIE Voice Lab 1.11 – Unity Connection and CUE

In CCIE Voice Lab 1.11, the New York, Los Angeles, and London locations will be configured to support voice messaging and associated components.

CCIE Voice Lab 1.11 Tasks

1. Configure Cisco Unity Connection (CUC) integration with CUCM. You must integrate using SCCP. Use pilot 1170, directory number 1171 and 1172, and 1180 for MWI-on and 1181 for MWI-off.

2. Configure Unity Connection voicemail for all users in New York and Los Angeles. Users must be imported from CUCM. Ensure that the users in the directory are listed last name, first name. Accounts should be created with the following requirements:
a. No Limit for Failed Logons
b. Credential Never Expires
c. Minimum Credential Length: 5
d. Stored Number of Previous Credentials: 0
e. No Check for Trivial Passwords
f. User must be prevented from sending Broadcast Messages to Users

3. Configure an Auto Attendant for NY with DN 1000. Configure the AA so that when users press “0” they are routed to Ari Gold at ext. 1001. Business hours are 8AM – 6PM EST/EDT. Customize the greeting as follows:
a. Allow callers to press “4” to use the phone keypad to spell all or part of the last then first name of the Connection user that they want to reach.
b. At the end of the greetings, users should be sent to a Directory Handler. If a Caller Exits, he/she should be sent back to the NY Opening Greeting. If a caller provides No Input, No Selection or Presses Zero, the call should be routed back to Ari Gold’s mailbox.
c. After hours messages should also be stored in Ari Gold’s mailbox.

4. Configure an Auto Attendant for LA with DN 2000. Configure the AA so that when users press “0” they are routed to Arliss Michaels at ext. 2001. Business hours are 8AM – 6PM PST/PDT. Customize the greeting as follows:
a. Allow callers to press “4” to use the phone keypad to spell all or part of the last then first name of the Connection user that they want to reach.
b. At the end of the greetings, users should be sent to a Directory Handler. If a Caller Exits, he/she should be sent back to the LA Opening Greeting. If a caller provides No Input, No Selection or Presses Zero, the call should be routed back to Arliss Michaels’s mailbox.
c. After hours messages should also be stored in Arliss Michaels’s mailbox.

5. Configure a second line appearance on Ari’s phone using *1001. When Ari’s primary extension is busy, calls should roll to this number, followed by voicemail. This line should be able to access voicemail in Ari’s mailbox.

6. London CUCME users should use their local CUE for voicemail, with the following parameters: pilot 3170; and 3180 for MWI-on and 3181 for MWI-off. Create mailboxes for Jerry Maguire and David Beckham with blank passwords and PINS.

7. Create an AA in London using ext 3000. Ensure that callers in NY and LA can reach the AA via VOIP as well as PSTN dialing.


CCIE Voice Lab 1.11 Solutions

1. The Cisco Unified Communications Manager SCCP Integration Guide for Cisco Unity Connection Release 7.x is an excellent document for describing the tasks required to integrate CUC with CUCM. I more or less used the examples and naming conventions provided in Programming the Cisco Unified CM Phone System for Integrating with Cisco Unity Connection section of the Setting Up a Cisco Unified Communications Manager 7.x SCCP Integration with Cisco Unity Connection chapter.

Below is screenshot of the final page of the Cisco Voicemail Port Wizard.



After the wizard finishes, configure the Hunt List and Hunt Pilot.Then, add the MWIs, Voice Mail Pilot Number for the Voice Mail Ports, and Voicemail Profile, per the instructions in Programming the Cisco Unified CM Phone System for Integrating with Cisco Unity Connection.

Now, proceed to Creating a New Integration with Cisco Unified Communications Manager. Do not forget to add your Pub as an AXL Server under the Phone System Configuration, as well as adding Unity Connection as an Application Server in CUCM.

2. To modify “No Limit for Failed Logons”, “Credential Never Expires”, “Minimum Credential Length: 5”, and “Stored Number of Previous Credentials: 0”, modify the default “Voice Mail Authentication Rule” under System Settings > Authentication Rules.

Looking ahead to the AA configuration, it would be wise to create a new schedule under Systems Settings > Schedules. Then, apply this new schedule to the Templates > User Templates > voicemailusertemplate.

Next, to ensure that users cannot send Broadcast Messages to Users on This Server, verify that “User Can Send Broadcast Messages to Users on This Server” is not-checked under Templates > User Templates > voicemailusertemplate > Send Message Settings.

Finally, you can import users from CUCM from Tools > Import Users. Be aware, users in CUCM must have their primary extension define. Visit Creating Multiple User Accounts from Cisco Unified Communications Manager Users for a good overview. Keep in mind that when you import your users, they will inherit the system Timezone. For your LA based users, you will need to modify their Timezone to PST.

3. Now we are ready to create the AA for both New York and Los Angeles. The process if almost identical. Basically, I create two now Call Handlers, “NY-Opening-Greeting” at extension 1000 and “LA-Opening-Greeting” at extension 2000. Edit the Greetings and Caller Input to match the task requirements. I then created to new Directory Handlers, one for NY and another for LA. I edit the Caller Input for each based on the task requirements.

4. Task 5 is relatively straight forward. Create a new Voice Mail Profile for the *1000 extension with a Voice Mail Box Mask of 1000; this strip the “*”. When you add the *1000 dn to Ari’s Phone, make sure that you use this Voice Mail Profile on this line appearance.

5. We now move on to CUE. Given that I covered CUE extensively in the CUCME-CUE Labs, so I will not recap the details here. However, I did run into an issue, which I haven’t fully yet fixed….

Because the SIP dial peer to the AA in London is not H323, it does not register with the gatekeeper. Therefore, I cannot dial 73000 from either NY or LA to hit the AA in London. I tried adding the e164 via the alias commands under gatekeeper. However, this is only a temporary fix and will not work in the actual lab. When you reboot either the gatekeeper (NY) or the CUCME router (London), the CUCME (London) will attempt to register using a random port. Since the alias command uses a static port (either 1719 or random, depending on how you initialing configuring), the RRQ from the gateway will be rejected (RRJ) by the Gatekeeper. I’ve spent a fair number of hours trying to find a work around, nothing has successfully worked. For now, I am moving on. If anyone finds a resolution, please share!