Thursday, December 13, 2012

CCIE-V "I Shoulda' Checked That" Tip #4: Media Resources and Live Record

This is the fourth installment in what I am calling the "I Shoulda' Checked That" series. The inspiration for this series is covered in the first installment. To save readers some time, I am going to jump right into things. On this go around, I am going to discuss the third tip of the series: Don't Forget the Media Resources. This one could also be called: Just because they didn't ask doesn't mean you shouldn't do it...

Friday, December 7, 2012

CCIE-V "I Shoulda' Checked That" Tip #3: MTP Out To Lunch

This is the next installment in what I am calling the "I Shoulda' Checked That" series. The inspiration for this series is covered in the first installment. To save readers some time, I am going to jump right into things. On this go around, I am going to discuss the lazy MTP.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CCIE-V "I Shoulda' Checked That" Tip #2: SNR and Voicemail

This is the second installment in what I am calling the "I Shoulda' Checked That" series. The inspiration for this series is covered in the first installment. To save readers some time, I am going to jump right into things. On this go around, I am going to discuss voicemail requirements and Single Number Reach (or Mobile Connect).

Friday, November 30, 2012

CCIE-V "I Shoulda' Checked That" Tip #1: Network Clocks

This blog series is inspired by a forum thread I found where a fellow CCIE-V candidate was really fired up about a recent exam attempt. He had finished the exam in around 6 hours and had 2 hours to double and triple check everything. He was very confident about this sitting and was sure everything was operating as expected. Unfortunately, the grade came back "Fail". Obviously, he wasn't too happy about that and was convinced that everything was working when he left the testing facility.

I heard this story more than once and it got me thinking about a couple of things. The first thought revolves around how the IE voice exam is graded. For the IE voice it is a hybrid method of running automated scripts and proctor review. Since a portion of the grading is automated, you have to ensure you are very specific. If you overlook or miss any aspect of a question, no matter how small the miss, you will get zero points.

Another thought was about the relationship between requirements in the lab. While the lab is made up of individual questions, it is supposed to act as a seamless solution once you complete all tasks. This means that when you work on one question, you have to ensure it does not violate the requirements of another question.

Enough of my pondering, let's get to the point. While I believe it is remotely possible that an exam is unfairly or inaccurately graded, I believe it is more likely that small oversights will derail your efforts. The first "I shoulda' checked that" tip of the series: Checking Network Clocks.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Provisioning Cisco Jabber for iPad on the VCS Starter Pack

Cisco Jabber Brand
Cisco just released VCS release X7.2.1, which contains some third-party software updates and a handful of bug fixes. That's great but hardly noteworthy. What is noteworthy is that X7.2.1 adds support for the Cisco Jabber for iPad client on the VCS Starter Pack Express.

A few months ago, I posted a write up on provisioning the Cisco Jabber for iPad client with CUPS/CUCM and another one covering provisioning the client for hosted services like WebEx Connect. I guess the next logical step would have been to discuss provisioning with the VCS+TMS. I'll have to come back to that one. For this blog post, I am going to focus on provisioning the Jabber client with the Cisco VCS Starter Pack Express.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Using SQL to Verify Configurations for CCIE-V Lab

It was bound to happen: two separate blog series have collided. Ever since I started down the path of getting the CCIE-V I have been thinking of ways to leverage the
Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) CLI to speed up the provisioning process. In most cases, I have determined that while I could do some complex provisioning from the CLI it didn't really save much time (or, in many cases, it cost more time).

That isn't to say there aren't some shortcuts available via the CLI. In fact, I think using SQL select queries from the CLI can save time when doing verification. A case in point: this past week I had a problem with RSVP between two sites that resulted from a configuration issue. I used SQL to identify the configuration issue and eventual fix in about 1.5 minutes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Coming Down from the CCIE-V Bootcamp High

Last week I was out in San Jose, CA for the CCIE-V "One Week Lab Experience" delivered by IPexpert. Now that I am back home, I am starting to go through withdrawal. I think I would like a 3-week bootcamp! That would be a lot of fun. I suppose you would learn something too. However, that isn't really what I enjoyed the most about the experience. I enjoyed having an excuse to focus my full attention on a specific task.

I put the bootcamp experience up there with the various Cisco Proof Of Concept (CPOC) sessions that I have had the good fortune of being involved with. It is a real joy to focus on a task that allows you to build something from the ground up.

If you are pursuing a CCIE and have the means, you should invest in the bootcamp experience. I think it is worth it just to have an excuse to focus on the technology. Not to mention, I definitely think it will go a long way to ensuring success when sitting for the exam.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Taming Dial-Peers for CCIE-V Lab

Accuracy and efficiency are two critical success criteria for the IE lab. I know that this is not a monumental revelation! On my own personal journey, I am starting to develop/adapt strategies for taking the test and tactics for streamlining execution. You need both. 

You need a strategy so that you don't get lost. There are several popular strategies, but you have to pick one (or create one) that works for you.

You also need to put together some tactics for executing specific tasks. This is different than having a strategy for taking the test. Think of the test-taking strategy as a "macro-level" thought process and the tactical execution of tasks as a "micro-level" process. They work together and can, if you aren't careful, work against each other. 

You can come up with strategies/tactics on your own or you can adapt these from your contemporaries that are on the same journey as you. I recommend that you explore the latter approach first. There are lots of good ideas out there. In fact, the topic of today's blog is to discuss having a convention for creating dial-peers, translation rules, and translation profiles. The approach provided is a combination of an idea I got from the ipExpert boot camp and my own method for building out dial-peers in production environments.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cisco Jabber for iPad Pt 2 Individual Accounts and Hosted Services

Using Jabber with Hosted Services
Last month I posted a blog on provisioning Cisco Jabber for iPad to use CUPS and CUCM. For part deux, I wanted to switch gears and provide a walk through for provisioning the Jabber client to use hosted services for Presence and video. 

Namely, I am going to discuss using Cisco WebEx Connect for IM/Presence and Cisco's Jabber Video for TelePresence (or as I like to call it, It is worth noting that we are going to explore the "Personal Account" provisioning track here. That means discussion of WebEx Connect with CUCM or Cisco VCS won't be front and center. That will come later.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

CCIE-V Understanding Basic MGCP Ingress Call Setup

About two weeks ago I posted an article on Understanding Basic MGCP Egress Call Setup. At the same time I started an outline and collected traces for the "ingress" view of MGCP. Then a "little bird" told me about a blog article that Vik Malhi posted on that covers dissection of the ingress call. Vik's article breaks it down quite nicely (no big surprise here) and there is no sense in duplicating effort!

Vik's article is entitled: MGCP T-Shoot Call Setup and Tear-down. It is a good read as is his other articles on the ipExpert site. Good job Vik and many thanks for all of your contributions to growing our collective knowledge and understanding.

Thanks for reading. If you have time, post a comment!

CCIE-V Looking at SIP Call Setup from UCM to ITSP

As I mentioned in a previous blog on MGCP Egress Call Setup, I have been studying for the CCIE-V and putting some emphasis on getting cozy with trace files. This is a necessary aspect of the IE voice exam. In what may become a series, I am taking my notes and dumping them in the ol' blog blender. 

In this installment, I want to walk through a SIP call setup scenario.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Interview on Cisco Support Community

Recently I was interviewed for the Cisco Support Community, which is an online technical support forum for Cisco Systems. The content of that interview is available here. I wanted to thank Dan Bruhn and Litsa Pitsillidou for setting up the interview and for their (as well as their team's) dedication  to making the Cisco Support Community so successful!

I'd also like to thank Litsa and Rhonda Raider (Raider Communications, Inc.) for conducting the interview. You're tops in my book!

Thanks for reading. If you have time, post a comment!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Using SQL to Report on Route Lists and Groups in CUCM

In this installment of the SQL query series I wanted to actually explore a query that is inspired by one of the comments on my blog. The reader asked:
Is there a command that will show the route list, route group, and gateway a pattern points to?

Seems like a reasonable request to me. Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) doesn't provide a command that will dump this information but there are a couple of ways to get at the data and using SQL is one.  

In the toolkit I developed to survey customer sites, I have a query that does exactly that. Using SQL, or more accurately using AXL/SOAP API to access SQL queries, is the best option when bulk surveying a site for the purpose of gathering data that will be processed off line. However, there is another method that is more straightforward for a quick view of the path a pattern will take through your dial plan.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CCIE-V Understanding Basic MGCP Egress Call Setup

For the past couple of months I have been diligently preparing myself for a successful CCIE-V lab. One of the key factors in successfully navigating this exam is your ability to quickly troubleshoot a problem and, sometimes, provide information to the proctor about how you came to your conclusions. 

Unfortunately, you can't say things like "well, I know the codec is G711 because the phone told me so (double "?")" nor can you use explanations such as: "based on the annunciator message, I conclude that the call is failing because it is Unallocated/Unassigned". You actually need to show definitive proof to back up your conclusion. So, you need to dissect traces or debugs and demonstrate that you understand them fluently. 

I have been collecting notes on trace dissection as I study and I figured that I should try to integrate studying with my blog a little more than I have to date. So, this may be ugly but I am going to start with a basic MGCP call and using "debug mgcp packet" to identify the key phases of call setup, media initiation, and call termination.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Cisco Jabber for iPad Pt 1 Provisioning CUPS and CUCM

Cisco Jabber Brand
As noted in my blog on Cisco Jabber for iPad Now Has Video, the latest version of Cisco Jabber for iPad was released on July 11, 2012. This version of Jabber not only adds video capabilities that leverage the built-in cameras on the iPad2 and 3rd generation iPad, but it also combines call processing, presence, and IM functionality into a unified client

In this series on provisioning, I am going to go through the various provisioning options for the Cisco Jabber for iPad. We'll initially start with the basics of getting the client communicating with various back-end services by using the Cisco Unified Presence Server and Cisco Unified Communications Manager integration options.

Monday, August 6, 2012

CCIE-V Tip: Using Config Replace

Seeing that I have not taken the practical yet, it may be a bit presumptuous of me to offer up "tips" on taking the CCIE-V lab. Maybe it is better to think of this post as more of an idea I have or a process I plan to adopt when taking my own lab. I invite others to comment if they have suggestions for improvement.

I feel that when you are entering a pressure cooker, it is best to have a well thought out plan of execution. For the CCIE-V lab you can't have a detailed plan for every situation. There are just too many permutations. However, you can (and should) have some "base" methodologies that you attach to your test taking strategy. I think one of these base plans should include configuration management.

The problem I am focused on here is making sure I have a process to roll back configurations during the middle of the lab -- just in case I break something.  I was inspired to think on this problem after watching some of the excellent videos from Kevin Wallace. I suspect that my idea is nothing at all new for veterans who are preparing for this lab. The tools I will be discussing are staples for anyone who has been studying on their own lab gear or managing live systems.

Friday, August 3, 2012

In Bizarro World: Roddenberry Would Sue Apple

Maybe not everyone will agree with me on this one but I think that if Apple can sue Samsung over developing a "rectangular product shape with all four corners uniformly rounded" then the Gene Roddenberry estate may want to consider entering into the foray and get a piece of the pie (Apple pie, if you please).

There are numerous examples where Star Trek has inspired a generation of technical inventions. Where is the credit people? By credit, I mean money. Money for blatantly copying a design that has been around for decades. If we are living in a world where you can patent a shape then I want to see Star Trek given props for just about every gadget we use today.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Lesson Learned about Flash File Systems

I came across something interesting (well, at least mildly interesting) a couple of weeks ago when I was rebuilding my home lab. My plan was to set up an archive directory on each device so that I can archive configurations and easily rollback or reset the lab to a specific configuration. All was well until I tried to use the mkdir command on one of the 2800 ISRs I inherited from a colleague. 

I was a little surprised to see that the command was not found. I used the ol' context sensitive help method (i.e. I typed in "?") and sure enough, no sign of "mkdir" in the list of commands. This sparked a memory on the different file systems that IOS supports on PCMCIA flash drives. Since I "purged" the specifics a while ago, I had to RTFM. After a quick read, the problem is solved and I figured this would be something to throw in the blog-blender.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Using SQL to Fix CUCM Enterprise Services

In this installment of the SQL query series I wanted to actually explore some queries that came in handy during a CCIE-V mock lab. One of the lab questions was to disable the Corporate Directory look-up functionality on one of the phones in the lab. There are several ways to approach this. I did a write up discussing how to disable the Corporate Directory on my NetCraftsmen blog some time ago.  

It just so happens that one of my fellow classmates went the path of deleting the Enterprise Subscription completely. Of course, this broke other phones in the lab. So, what do you do? You re-add the Enterprise services and all is well, right? Not quite, this creates a problem that can only be resolved by using your handy-dandy SQL commands.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

VMware vCenter Converter Saves the Day

While VMware vCenter Converter isn't really what I would consider a common Unified Communications (UC) tool, it is a handy tool for anyone that has a lab environment with guest virtual machines (VMs) on different flavors of VMware. I have VMware Workstation, Fusion, Server 2.0, and ESXi hypervisors running in my lab. 

This didn't happen because I am a VMware fanatic (well, I am a big fan, if that counts). It happened because I have been running Cisco UC applications in VMware since CCM 4.1. As anyone with a home lab knows, VMware was king of the lab before it became the ruling monarch of Cloud City!

But that isn't what this blog is about. No, what this blog is about is how VMware vCenter Converter saved me a lot of time by allowing me to move guest VMs from Server 2.0 to ESXi.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Side Effects of CCM-MANAGER Config

One of the lessons I learned this past week has to do with the logistics of shutting down and turning up my home lab gear. I just recently decided that my wallet may appreciate me more if I shut down the equipment rack I have in my lab on a nightly basis. Being as "nice" to my lab as possible, I shut everything down gracefully. I shut down all of my VMs first. A little later in the evening, I saved router/switch configs and powered off the rest of the gear. 

As I found out the next time I turned up the gear to do some studying, this was a mistake.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Road to CCIE-V

I meant to start a series on my "Road to CCIE-V" a while ago. Actually, it was one of the reasons I started a new blog. Of course, I didn't account for how much time I would be spending on studying and how it would affect my other extra curricular work activities (like blogging).

I guess we can say "better late than never?" as it has meaning that goes well beyond the confines of this blog. I have been working with Cisco voice technologies for a long time and I have conveniently excused myself from pursuing the CCIE Voice (CCIE-V). I have always spent a lot of time outside of normal work hours studying, exploring, and testing. So, working hard is not an issue. The issue was making the commitment. Well, this cowboy has put on his spurs and that horse is riding head first into battle. 

I say horse but it started off as more of a slow pony. It took a CCIE bootcamp to truly light a fire under my you-know-what. I have been working on CCIE studies for a few months now and it is progressing. To save me from going back in time and doing a play-by-play, I think it best to focus this entry on the one event that made a difference: the CCIE Bootcamp.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cisco Jabber for iPad Now Has Video

I know there are a fair number of people out there in Cisco land that have been waiting for Cisco to bring video capabilities to the iPad via their Jabber client. Well, the wait is finally over. 

On July 11, 2012 the Cisco Jabber for iPad client appeared in the AppStore. The new Jabber client (yes, it is a 1.0 release) is an application that provides instant messaging (IM), video and voice calling, corporate directory, and presence all in one client. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Using SQL to Validate CUCM Extension Mobility

In this installment of the SQL query series I wanted to expand on the last installment where we explored a query that listed phone subscriptions to Cisco IP Phone Services . An administrator provisions IP phone services on the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM)

For this week's queries, we are going to take a look at ways to view a summary of how services are provisioned and an example leveraging SQL queries to identify configuration issues.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cisco Live 2012 Recap

It has been two weeks since Cisco Live and I am finally finding some time to do a write up. The original plan was to write a "daily" blog series on my experience at Cisco Live 2012 in San Diego, CA. Well, as anyone who has attended Cisco Live knows, Cisco's annual networking event has a way of warping space and time. My Cisco Live experience technically was five 24-hour chunks of time more commonly known as "days". In reality, it felt like one, long day. I barely remember going back to the hotel, much less sleeping.

Following Live!, I found myself 460 miles north of San Diego in San Jose, CA. feeding my brain at a CCIE bootcamp. Here I am two weeks after Live! started and I am finally finding some time to blog about the experience. So, instead of a series of short "dailies" I will try to capture the key pillars of my Live! experience.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cisco RTMT on Mac OS X

Typically, it isn't my style to post what I call a "cover blog". But I had to make an exception this time around. While I was at Cisco Live 2012 I got into a conversation about switching to the Apple Mac OS X platform and porting applications that are traditionally Windows-based. Specifically, the conversation revolved around applications that end users and administrators of Cisco UC solutions can use. 

Whenever I get into this discussion, the question of running Cisco's Real Time Monitoring Tool (RTMT) application on OS X is a popular talking point, right behind soft phones. In this brief blog spot I wanted to highlight a resource I stumbled across a while ago that was very helpful in getting RTMT running on Mac OS X. 

Of course I am talking about @ciscomonkey's article that is aptly titled "Real Time Monitoring Tool on Mac OS X" ( There isn't much to say except that the article is well written, accurate, and an indispensable book mark. In fact, there was a period of time where I couldn't find the article after I first discovered it. Fortunately, the author was kind enough to re-publish this invaluable resource (and I promplty archived an offline copy). 

Thanks for reading. If you have time, post a comment!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Querying IP Phone Service Subscriptions

In this installment of the SQL query series I wanted to explore IP phone service subscriptions. An administrator provisions IP phone services on the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM). To leverage these services on an IP phone, the phone must subscribe to the appropriate service, with the appropriate parameters. On this initial foray into the IP phone service arena, we will focus on reporting on service subscriptions.

I typically leverage this type of query when doing deployments or upgrades. For deployments, I have had instances where I needed to double check how devices or device profiles were provisioned. For upgrades where we are migrating to a new CUCM version, we'll use queries like this to prepare for the data move. We also query phone services when doing clean up.

Troubleshooting: Protocol Captures on Cisco VCS

This is just a quick write up on how to pull network traces from the Cisco Video Communications Server (VCS). As anyone who has been in the business of integrating solutions in existing networks knows, having the ability to pull protocol traces goes a long way to streamlining the troubleshooting process. Deploying a VCS is no different.

Cisco Live 2012 is Right Around the Corner

The hours are ticking away quickly and over the course of the next few days, techies of all ages will begin to converge on San Diego, CA. By Monday of next week throngs of back-pack wielding techno-geeks will be filing down 1st Avenue, Front Street, and West Harbor Drive. With badges swinging to and fro, these back-packing silicon adventurers will be marching steadily to the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC) to pay homage to all that is Cisco. That's right, I am talking about Cisco Live packet fans.

I am amazed at how fast a year has come and gone. In just 24 hours or so, I will be hopping on a "short flight" from Washington, D.C. to San Diego. To join my fellow cyber lemmings in the great "Gathering".

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Prolific PL2303 USB to Serial Adapter and Mac OS X

This is a quick note on getting a USB-to-serial adapter working on my MacBook Pro so that I can console into Cisco routers, switches, etc. You may say this is a boring topic, that's because it is. Very perceptive of you! Nonetheless, it was an annoying journey to get my specific configuration working and I'd like to save someone some time if at all possible.

The gear: an old IOGear GUC232A USB to serial host adapter and Zoc Pro terminal program for Mac.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Identifying Cisco IP Phone Models for Custom Directory

Earlier this year I decided to develop a web application (NetCraftsmen Enterprise Directory - NED) that could provide a multi-tenant and multi-source corporate directory feature for the Cisco Unified Communication Manager (CUCM) telephony environment. I have written custom corporate directory apps before using the Cisco IP Phone SDK. 

This time around, I decided to start from scratch. I also decided to use C# and the ASP.NET framework. So, I am immersed in a learning curve - which is really where I like to be. I thought that periodically I could throw a tidbit of information in this blog. Whether that information is about C#, ASP.NET, or just Cisco-isms.

In the current installment, I am going to provide a very simple example for determining what model of phone is connecting to a web application. Turns out, this is pretty important to create a robust corporate directory application for Cisco IP Phones.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Redundancy Considerations and Cisco IP Phone Services

Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) and, more specifically, Cisco IP Phones support application extensibility by leveraging web server applications and the Extensible Markup Language (XML). Anyone who has used Extension Mobility, Corporate Directory, Missed Calls, Received Calls, and other similar apps on a Cisco IP phone has witnessed a XML application in action. 

Users of these standard applications and the numerous other productivity applications optimized to leverage the Cisco IP Phone XML capabilities have grown to expect these applications to be 100% available. A common question I field from customers and one I have seen on the Cisco Support Forums from time to time is: "how to make these web-based applications redundant?".

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Querying Fast Dials Using SQL Queries in CUCM

We suffered a lapse in our weekly series on Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) SQL Queries. Getting back on track, I wanted to take a spin off of the installment I presented on querying speed dials and dive into a related CUCM feature: Fast Dials and its partner in crime Personal Address Book (PAB).

I typically leverage this query when doing upgrades for people. I also query this data when customers feel they need to do some sort of house cleaning. Fast Dials have this uncanny way of being forgotten. I can see why. Anyway, on with the show...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hot Toys 1/6th Scale Dark Knight

One of the main focal points for this blog is to talk about topics around design, implementation, and operation of UC and Collaboration technologies. But that isn't all that I do. I also collect 1/6th scale action figures. Specifically Hot Toys Marvel characters (with some Dark Knight thrown in - the only DC series I like). Yeah, it's nerdy but "I am what I am and that's all that I am".

Anyway, a few weeks ago my wife and I were hanging out and talking about a new macro lens she was testing (she's a professional photographer) and we decided to snap a few shots. I figured I might as well go ahead and post a couple here. First round goes to the Dark Knight.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Gorilla Got a Brand New Bag

It has been a couple of weeks since I put up a blog. I had a couple of work distractions come up, I was out in San Jose for the ATA conference, I took the CCIE-V (written), and I was working with a designer on a logo for my "online brand". I have also spent a decent amount of time tweaking blogger templates to give my blog a facelift incorporating the new logo. I am still tweaking but version "2.0" is online and I plan to stick with it for a few months.

I am pretty happy with the new look and wanted to take this opportunity to give a shout out to Luci Morreale at Ladderback Design ( Luci was the creative force behind the newly branded logo. Needless to say I definitely (and shamelessly) recommend Luci and Ladderback to anyone who is looking to update their brand, logo, or online identity. Luci was very adept at extracting the essence of my abstract (and sometimes warped) ideas and giving them substance.

If you like the logo, let me know via comments! If you don't, you can still comment but don't be surprised if I quietly click "delete". Yeah, that's how I roll!

Thanks for reading. If you have time, post a comment!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Gold Cisco IP Phone

DIY Gold Cisco IP Phone
Several years ago I was in a Cisco office in Herndon, VA and I was cruising the hallway looking for someone (paging Dr. Ta). During my wondering, I came across the unicorn of Cisco phones - a gold plated 7971. At least, I think it was a 7971. I thought it was kind of odd and found out later that it was a "trophy" given to AMs who hit certain thresholds. Cute. 

Well, I all but forgot about that phone until recently. One of the engineers on our Collaboration team is Bruce Enders. Bruce has been in the industry for a long time and has recently retired. Well, of course I want to send Bruce off in style. What do you get someone when they retire? A gold watch? A plaque? A night out on the town? Well, NetCraftsmen was doing the plaque, company gift, and night out on the town. So, that left me with the watch. Bruce recently bought a new watch and really likes it. So, I decided to give him the next best thing: a Gold Cisco IP Phone. This blog is about the process used to turn an old gray piece of telephony plastic to a shiny new gold show piece (insert bling sound >here<).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Updating Speed Dials Using SQL Queries on CUCM

In this week's installment of my Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) SQL Queries series I wanted to build on last week's query with a special treat: Using the update SQL query to make changes to database entries.

This type of query is handy whenever you are looking to make system wide dial plan changes. For instance, you are going to move from a 4-digit dialing solution to a 5-digit solution or you are going to change your off-net dialing prefix for some reason. Yeah, this actually happens. In fact, it is a recent query from a colleague concerning off-net dialing prefix changes that inspired this week's installment.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Upgrading Cisco VCS from X6.1 to X7.1

This is just a quick blog on a recent upgrade I did for a VCS X6.1 system to X7.1. The upgrade was pretty painless but I wanted to highlight two points of interest. Well, interesting to me anyway...

Upgrading from Factory Built X6.1

The first is a RTFM item that I almost missed. Fortunately, I caught this on a second read through. From the X7.1 release notes, if you have a VCS unit that was shipped with X6.1 pre-installed, you will need to do some CLI tinkering for the backup process to work correctly. I suppose something was missed in the build. Anyway, in summary:
  1. SSH to the Cisco VCS 
  2. Login as root
  3. Create the /tandberg/persistent/oti and /tandberg/persistent/management folders
  4. Logout 
wolverine:~wjb$ssh root@
root@'s password:

~ # mkdir /tandberg/persistent/oti
~ # mkdir /tandberg/persistent/management
~ # exit

Getting an Upgrade License

This was a new one on me. I am used to upgrading other Cisco Collaboration applications but have only applied an upgrade to the VCS under the Tandberg regime. The process is pretty simple. First, go to and log in using your CCO account. From here, you should scroll down to the section under Product Authorization Key (PAK) and RMA License Transfer. You will see a "tab" option called Tandberg Software Upgrade & Look up.

After clicking the Tandberg Software Upgrade & Look up select the "Register for a Tandberg Software Upgrade License" link. You will need the Serial Number and MAC address from your VCS unit. Enter that data, click on the GetVersion button and then the rest is self-explanatory. 

NOTE: You may not see X7.1 listed in your entitlement drop down [I saw X7.0(y)] versions only). Just pick the latest X7.0, the license key will work fine and dandy.

Read More
There is a good discussion on the Cisco Support Community where Martin provides a good jump point for looking at X7.1. Of particular interest, Cisco provides an OVA for VCS. Yes, that's right vVCS! More on that later.

Thanks for reading. If you have time, post a comment!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Querying Speed Dials Using SQL Queries on CUCM

In this week's installment of my Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) SQL Queries series I wanted to cover querying for speed dial configurations.

This type of query is handy whenever you are looking to make system wide dial plan changes. For instance, you are going to move from a 4-digit dialing solution to a 5-digit solution or you are going to change your off-net dialing prefix for some reason. Yeah, this actually happens. In fact, it is a recent query from a colleague about change off-net dialing prefixes that inspired this week's installment.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cisco Expands Base UC to Include Presence and IM

I came across a Network World article on how Cisco is adding IM software as a basic feature of their UC offering. I think this is interesting news. Basically, Cisco is going to include Jabber and their Unified Presence Server (CUPS) at no extra charge to customers that have Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM)

Customers who have CUCM 7.1 and above will get Jabber IM client and CUPS. It sounds like this won't be limited to users with IP phones. So, if you have a telephony solution that has a mix of call processing solutions (CUCM and Avaya, for example) you will be able to offer presence and IM features to all enterprise users. IOW, you don't need to have an IP phone or CUWL user license to make the IM and Presence capabilities available to your enterprise users.

My understanding is that we are talking IM and presence here - not voice and video services. These will likely be optional features that customers can add where and when it makes sense. 

I think this is a good play and a necessary move to competitively position CUPS/Jabber against MS Lync. Also, I have had this sneaking suspicion that presence capabilities may one day be built into the CUCM application (does anyone remember the Unified Mobility server?). I am just speculating here but it isn't what one could call completely unfounded.

Thanks for reading. If you have time, post a comment!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Troubleshooting FindMe Alias Forbidden Error on Cisco VCS

I just wanted to dump a quick blog on using FindMe configurations on the Cisco Video Communications Server (VCS) Express Starter Kit. I was doing some testing with FindMe and realized pretty quickly that I may want to RTFM a little more. I thought the quick troubleshooting exercise may be of interest to someone out there in bitLand! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

ATA 2012 Conference

I will be attending the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) 2012 annual conference in San Jose, CA. This will be the first time I am attending this conference. ATA is an organization that advocates promoting the use of advanced remote medical technologies in healthcare delivery. 

The annual international meeting and exposition (now going on its 17th anniversary) is a gathering of the best and brightest in the healthcare industry. It provides an opportunity for healthcare professionals to network and get in tune with the latest trends in policy, process, technology, etc. 

To be honest, I'll be a little out of my element. I am a pure techie. I am participating in this event because I believe that to build a sustainable solution in any environment you must first understand the use case, the needs of the people who directly interface with or rely on the solution you are building. It does not start with technology, that is secondary. I believe that if you try to engineer the use case around your technology, you have already failed.

If only it were that simple. Whenever I talk to professionals in the healthcare industry about what they need and what they are looking into, the ideas are endless. These are exceptional people with exceptional ideas and I look forward to taking part in the event, even if it is a bit role! 

If you are planning on attending the conference let me know via comments or email.

CUCM SQL Queries: Listing Call Forward All Settings

In this week's installment of my Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) SQL Queries series I wanted to dive into the call forward all (CFA) configurations in a production environment. This seems to be a "favorite" for folks who follow my NetCraftsmen blog.

I have found that being able to see where phones are forwarded is a common need. I have seen the question come up often in the Cisco support forums and I need to query CFA status on a pretty regular basis in my own job.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Content Sharing and Video Communications

I was recently pondering my first opportunity to design and deploy video communication solutions [back when it was known as Videoteleconferencing (VTC)]. I was thinking about what people wanted from the technology. How they wanted to interface with the technology and the other video users out there over their ISDN (H.320) or IP (H.323) networks. Lots of things about the technology have changed, but the use case has not. People use video for the promise of interacting with people visually over a great distance. Moreover, people want to collaborate over video. 

In this blog, I wanted to go on a tour down memory lane with the collaboration aspect of good ol' VTC IPVC telepresence(?). Whatever you want to call it, here we'll call it video. We are going to discuss the ITU-T's T.120 and H.239 Recommendations as well as the IETF's Binary Floor Control Protocol (BFCP) and associated proposals.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

CUCM SQL Query Series: List Calling Search Spaces

In last week's installment of my series on CUCM SQL queries we did a quick dip in the CDR pool. This week we are going to meander our way back to some basic configuration gathering. Specifically, we are going to run a basic query that dumps a list of calling search spaces with associated partitions.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Adventures in Coding: Web Caching and C#

Continuing on my "lame-man's" journey down the road of application development on the .NET platform with C#, I thought I would discuss one of the more interesting lessons I have learned thus far: System.Web.Caching.

I was developing a custom Corporate Directory application for a customer using ASP.NET and C#. This application pulls data from a remote repository and presents it to the Cisco IP Phone as XML. One issue that was immediately apparent was that I needed to cache results or drive the users mad with the lag in rendering the data. In steps System.Web.Caching and all of the goodies that come with it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cisco CUCM RTMT Session Trace

For many moons the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) Real Time Monitoring Tool (RTMT) has been a staple for CUCM administrators. I have always found the tool to be very useful and it has become increasingly powerful over the years. Recently, I have become remiss in my duties and haven't paid as close attention as I should have to some of the niftier features of RTMT. You get kind of used to going to same interfaces/menus/etc. Fortunately,  a colleague at one of my customers showed me the Session Trace interface. It was nifty enough to warrant a blurb I think.

Monday, March 26, 2012

CUCM SQL Queries: CDR Analysis (CAR)

In this week's installment of my series on CUCM SQL queries we are going to switch gears a little. Thus far, we have been exploring configuration data in the Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) Informix database. This week, we are going to take a look at another table: The billing data table in the CAR database (tbl_billing_data).

Monday, March 19, 2012

CUCM SQL Queries: NumPlan Partition Allocation

The fourth query in my series on CUCM SQL queries provides another example of using the count() function to get a view of the number of patterns allocated to each partition provisioned in CUCM.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Primary NI and International Number Type

This is just a quick note on a topic where I recently found closure. This is one of those things where you apply a configuration workaround, intend to find out why people do it this way but get distracted by just about everything. Recently, one of my customers ran into a situation that caused the topic to come up in conversation. Curiosity got the best of me and I made the time to dig deeper. Interestingly enough, I didn't have to dig around as long as I thought.

Anyway, let's get down to it: the "thing" I am talking about is an IOS command. The command is isdn map address ^011* plan unknown type unknown

Thursday, March 15, 2012

CUCM SQL Queries: Supplemental - Informix System Catalogs

I recently fielded a request on Twitter (@ucguerrilla) for Cisco documentation that covers the database schema and structure. This request is the inspiration for this supplemental entry to my series on CUCM SQL queries. In this supplement we are going to expand on the initial primer and demonstrate ways to use SQL queries to explore the system tables of the Informix database. When I have a need to get at data in Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) I leverage the Cisco's data dictionary along with some "exploration" of the Informix system tables. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

CUCM SQL Queries: List Phones and Line Appearances

The third query in my series on CUCM SQL queries provides a simple but effective query that dumps a list of devices and the directory numbers assigned to those devices. This is probably one of the first queries I learned (other than the basic "hello world-ish" queries). 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Adventures in Coding - Fun with Corporate Directory

This is just a quick blurb pointing to a blog I published on the NetCraftsmen Site: NetCraftsmen Enterprise Directory Application. I have been working with Cisco UC solutions for a long freakin time a while. Prior to that I was doing routing switching (Cisco, Foundry, Juniper, etc.) and prior to that I was doing app dev (short lived). I have always worked in some custom app to help me with deployment, migrations, and operational tasks. It's how I "relax". As dorky as that sounds.

Recently I have started building a few applications that are being deployed by my customers.  Nothing mind blowing (yet) but the journey is always at least as much fun as the destination! 

Thanks for reading. If you have time, post a comment!