New Service Provider Operations Track Training and Exams

The Cisco CCNA Service Provider (SP) Operations certification and the written exam for the CCIE Service Provider (SP) Operations certification are now available.
The Cisco CCNA SP Operations certification targets entry-level students with a foundation of network operations skills in SP IP NGN environments required of associate-level operations personnel. Both the Supporting Cisco Service Provider IP NGN Operations (SSPO) course and required # 640-760 exam are now available. Interested students should access the CCNA SP Operations home page for more information.

The Cisco CCIE® SP Operations certification assesses and validates core IP NGN service provider network operations expertise and broad theoretical knowledge of operations management processes, frameworks and network management systems. Registration for the for CCIE SP Operations written exam is now available. In addition, students may download the blueprint for the CCIE SP Operations practical exam from the CCIE SP Operations practical exam overview page. The practical exam for the CCIE SP Operations certification is scheduled to be made available in the third quarter of 2010.

For more info:

Cisco: Mark voice packets at the network edge

You know how Cisco always advise to mark the packet as close to the your network edge as you can? Even more you can find a lot of example where Cisco show how to trust the packets directly on the access switch, but not all the time you can do this.

First because not everybody has devices that mark correct packets (like Cisco IP Phones) but we still have to deal somehow with packet marking as maybe your provider treat packets different on their backbone based on their marking.

In this idea what I’m taking care the most are the voice packets as usually this has to be prioritized on the network. Let’s face it, if you have a TCP connection and some FTP packet are retransmitted you don’t notice this too much, but if you have delay on your phone conversation with your boss, that it’s not so good.

Please have a look at the topology below:

In this scenario we have a Voice server and some IP Phones (I know they look like Cisco IP phone, but pretend they are not) connected to the access switch. Let’s assume that  we cannot trust marking on this packets as they arrive from this devices.

Here we run into one of the two issues. First if we trust the marking on the access port, than we don’t know what we are stuck with. If we don’t trust them, then the packets header DiffServ (TOS) bits are rewrite with a value of zero making no difference between voice packets and regular ones.

My solution is the following. I’m not saying that’s the only solution or the best, but it’s working:

On the access switch:

1. enable globally:

mls qos

2. configure and access-list that match the voice packet; this is a very general list:

access-list 101 permit udp any any range 16384 32767
access-list 101 permit udp any range 16384 32767 any
access-list 101 permit udp any any range 5060 5061
access-list 101 permit udp any range 5060 5061 any

3. match the access-list in a class-map

class-map match-all VOIP
match access-group 101

4.configure a policy-map with the class-map above and set the DSCP value to EF (decimal 46) or COS or whatever you need

policy-map ASTERISK
class VOIP
set dscp ef

5.on the access port configure the service-policy direction inbound

int x/y
service-policy input ASTERISK

6.on all trunks from your access switch to your first Layer 3 device trust this DSCP  value (or what you have set, as now we are sure what values we set) with:

mls qos trust dscp

Let me know if it’s working!

Cisco: Use TTCP to test together with TTCPW or JPerf

In one my previous posts, I shown you how to test a connection using a hidden Cisco IOS tool called TTCP.  A few days ago I run into an issue. I had to test a TCP connection to a remote Cisco router, but I had not other router on which to initiate the TTCP connection. As explained in Testing TCP Connection post, to use TTCP you need 2 Cisco routers.

Now, I found 2 new ways to do the testing without the need of having 2 routers, but just one. Maybe you already know this methods, but for those who don’t please keep on reading.

First, there is a Windows tool called TTCPW (download here) (actually you can download also the code, and I think it’s possible to compile and run it under Linux as well). This TTCW tool have the same option like Cisco TTCP and can work together without any issue.
On Cisco router, issue the ttcp command, and keep the regular parameters (we are not interested for now in fine tuning). Below I set the Cisco router to be the receiver:

Cisco TTCP
Cisco TTCP with default settings

On PC side, you download TTCPW and use the same settings. Basically to transmit you only need to input ttcpw.exe -t or -r “ip.address” and that’s it  Of course you can tune the settings to meet your needs. Just type ttcpw.exe to see all the settings.

TTCPW help

The second tool that you can use with Cisco TTCP is IPerf (text mode) or JPerf (Java graphical mode). Just fill in the IP address and the port (5001 if default) and you’re ready to go:

Jperf with TTCP
Jperf with TTCP

Of course there are some limitations on JPerf to TTCP compared to JPerf to JPerf testing. One of then is that you cannot use parallel streams, if you want to stress the connection. To overcome this limitation, I do the following.
Open 2 or 3 connection to the Cisco router where TTCP will run. Start one each connection one TTCP daemon with different ports (e.g. assuming 3 connection than ports 5001, 5002 and 5003). Then on the client start 3 JPerf (Iperf) with the same IP address but different ports (you can take the one below). In this way you can stress the connection a little bit.

Cisco makes its Nexus 1000v virtual switch less virtual

Cisco Nexus 1000vCisco Systems is making its virtual switch, the Nexus 1000v, a little less virtual.

The Nexus 1000v virtual switch replaces the vSwitch embedded in VMware hypervisor software and aims to give network administrators more control and visibility into the switching that takes place between virtual machines on a virtual host server. To date, however, the Nexus 1000v has existed as a virtual machine — a turn-off for network administrators who are accustomed to being able to see and touch their physical network devices.

“I think a lot of network administrators were leery about having [Nexus 1000v] as a virtual appliance because it’s something that’s beyond their control,” said Eric Siebert, senior system administrator with restaurant chain Boston Market and a TechTarget contributor. “Traditionally, the virtual administrators have control over [any virtual machines on a host server].… I think the Nexus 1010 gives them the option to have that type of control in a physical chassis.”

Read more on…

Cisco EnergyWise fundamentals

Cisco EnergyWise is a key part of the Borderless Network concept. According to this document:

The network discovers Cisco EnergyWise manageable devices,
monitors their power consumption, and takes action based on business rules to reduce
power consumption. EnergyWise uses a unique domain-naming system to query and
summarize information from large sets of devices, making it simpler than traditional
network management capabilities. Cisco EnergyWise’s management interfaces allow
facilities and network management applications to communicate with endpoints and
each other using the network as a unifying fabric. The management interface uses
standard SNMP or SSL to integrate Cisco and third-party management systems

I know, I know you will say that it’s a lot of marketing and this is typically for Cisco, but let’s be fair. Tell me one company that is not marketing their product. It’s true that Cisco is quite aggressive in their campaigns, but we have to admit that many times the quality of the products meet our expectation.

Back to EnergyWise, I was lucky enough to have my question taken and being discussed in the live Cisco Borderless Network phase 2, European presentation, on 18th of March. I was curios about the following thing. The Phase 2 campaign was oriented on the power and energy saving, by controlling a lot of device power remotely and being able to shutdown an entire environment when it’s not needed. I asked how will Cisco EnergyWise accomplish this? Either controlling the power outlet in which a device (e.g. laptop) is connected or directly OVER the Ethernet wires.
Their answer was that in the moment Cisco is working closely with the companies that develop network cards, to make this compatible with EnergyWise to be able to power the device over the Ethernet wires. I know about PoE, but PoE is something different and I’m sure that it does not offer enough energy to power up a laptop.
When the recording of the live session will be available, I sure hope to get it and to posted here. In the meantime, I found a very nice explanation of the EnergyWise fundamentals from TechWiseTV. Enjoy it:

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