Dec
22

We have added some new US and International CCIE Voice bootcamps to our schedule!

With every 10-Day Bootcamp purchase, INE gives you your choice of either:

OR

 

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Dec
15

We are finished with our L2VPN beta testing, and are very happy to report that all 38 of our beta testers reported back not only no issues with connecting to us, but also an incredible experience overall with phones that appear directly connected to their rack switchports, and that behave and function exactly as they did when any of them have previously sat for the CCIE Voice lab exam. We are happy to announce that every one of our Voice racks now fully supports SIX Layer 2 VPN connections - one for each phone.

At INE, we are all about putting as much knowledge in your mind as it can hold, as many tools in your hands as possible, and doing it all for far less than anyone. We offer so many ways of connecting to our Voice racks and often I get asked which method is the best and which they should use. So I thought I would take this time to quickly outline all of the ways we offer to connect to our racks, and then break them down by most-to-least desirable methods for doing so after the break.

Outline of Connection Methods

  1. Layer 2 Hardware VPN - Use Your Own Hardware Cisco IP Phones
    • (This option is the only true way to experience the CCIE Voice lab)
  2. Layer 3 Hardware VPN - Use Your Own Hardware Cisco IP Phones
  3. SSL AnyConnect VPN - Use Our Rack-Connected Phones with FREE Web-Based Remote Control
  4. IPSec (EzVPN) VPN - Use Our Rack-Connected Phones with FREE Web-Based Remote Control
  5. NO VPN AT ALL - Use Our Rack-Connected Phones with FREE Web-Based Remote Control


 

Option 1: Layer 2 Hardware VPN - Use Your Own Hardware Cisco IP Phones JUST LIKE Actual CCIE Lab
This is by far the best option, and gives you the exact lab environment that you will experience when you give your actual CCIE Voice lab exam - and if you are just starting on studying for your CCNA or CCNP Voice exams, this option will make by far the most sense, giving you the ability to test everything naturally as if you had your own rack of equipment. Pretty much the only reason you would not use this option, is if you don't have the needed hardware to support it, or you are on the move a lot and don't have a place to dedicate to setting up hardware phones. This option is exactly what Cisco uses to connect all of their remote CCIE testing facilities back to all of the centralized gear in San Jose. In fact, even if you give your exam in San Jose, CA, you will still experience this same setup (they do this to keep every experience the same). This is also the exact same method that we use in each of our live CCIE Voice bootcamps.

To use this option, you need to have a Cisco IOS router and a Cisco Catalyst switch. The router needs to have 2 FastEthernet interfaces - be it either a 2611XM, 1841, 28xx, 29xx, 38xx, etc., etc.. No older 2600s (must be XM) and no 8xx routers. Also no ASAs (sorry, they just don't provide the needed feature set). For the switch, it needs to be a 3550 or better (sorry, no 3500XL or older). Oh, and hardware IP phones. Oh, and the switch doesn't need to be a PoE switch - you can use power cubes with your phones if you prefer. Details on how to connect with this option will be found in Appendix A of the newest Voice Rack Rental Access Guide

 

Option 2: Layer 3 Hardware VPN - Use Your Own Hardware Cisco IP Phones
This is the 2nd best option. You get to use your own hardware phones (which at some point in your studies, is a must to be fully prepared for your studies, even if you start out using our remote control option). The only reason you would choose this option over Option 1 is if you don't have both a supported Cisco IOS router and Catalyst switch. If you do have both of those (see above for requirements), then move back up to option 1 for the only true lab experience.

To use this option, you need to have a Cisco IOS router or a Cisco ASA 5505 or a PIX 506 (no ASA 5510 or PIX 515 support) and hardware IP phones. And for this option, it can be a Cisco 8xx router - it just needs to have 2 ethernet interfaces (not switched interfaces, routed interfaces -- easy way to tell is if you can assign an IP address to them). Details on how to connect with this option will be found in Appendix B or C (depending on IOS or ASA respectively) of the newest Voice Rack Rental Access Guide

 

Option 3: CiscoAnyConnect SSL VPN - Use Our Rack-Connected Phones with FREE Web-Based Variphy Remote Control
This is your third best option, and one that you would most likely choose if you either were on the move a lot, or else didn't have the resources for both IP phones and a router. Using this option gives you full routable access to everything on your rack, which allows you to remotely control the IP phones attached directly to our racks using our provided free Variphy web-browser-based software, or else your own software phones, if you so choose. The nice thing about this option, is that you don't have to manually download or install any software from Cisco's web site - everything is automatically installed through your web browser when you first sign on.

To use this option, all you need is a Mac, Windows or Linux laptop/desktop. Details on how to connect with this option will be found in Appendix D of the newest Voice Rack Rental Access Guide

 

Option 4: IPSec (EzVPN) VPN - Use Our Rack-Connected Phones with FREE Web-Based Variphy Remote Control
This is your fourth best option, and one that you would choose if for some reason you prefer not to use SSL VPN and also again if you either were on the move a lot, or else didn't have the resources for both IP phones and a router. Using this option again gives you full routable access to everything on your rack, which allows you to remotely control the IP phones attached directly to our racks using our provided free Variphy web-browser-based software, or else your own software phones, if you so choose.

To use this option, you need to have the Cisco VPN Client (separate download from Cisco.com - we cannot provide) and a Mac, Windows or Linux laptop/desktop. Details on how to connect with this option will be found in Appendix E of the newest Voice Rack Rental Access Guide

 

Option 5: NO VPN AT ALL - Use Our Rack-Connected Phones with FREE Web-Based Variphy Remote Control
This is your fifth best option, and one that you would be likely to choose if you were either visiting a remote machine, or if you simply could not or did not want to install or use any sort of VPN connection.
Using this option gives you routable access to most everything on your rack, and does provide you with everything you need to practice, with the only exception being that you cannot use your own software phones, however you CAN remotely control all of our rack-connected phones since all you need is a web browser to accomplish this. This method gives you access to everything you need to study on our voice racks via the following methods:

  • Web browser access to all configuration windows
  • RDP access to UCCX and XP-UTIL machine
  • Telnet to all your devices in one of two ways:
    • RDP to XP-UTIL and then use Putty installed there to telnet/SSH to anything
    • Telnet directly to PSTN router and then telnet/SSH to anything

which allows you to remotely control the IP phones attached directly to our racks using our provided free Variphy web-browser-based software, or else your own software phones, if you so choose. This nice thing about this option, is that you don't have to manually download or install any software from Cisco's web site - everything is automatically installed through your web browser when you first sign on.

To use this option, all you need is a web browser and a Remote Desktop Protocol client. Details on how to connect with this option will be found in Section 8 of the newest Voice Rack Rental Access Guide

 

Finally a note about our provided free Variphy remote control software called Insight. We have a strategic relationship with Variphy that allows us not only to provide you with free control over our voice racks, but also allows us to give you their software for free usage in your own private racks, if that's how you choose to study (If you would like a personal copy, please unicast me). This software is accessed purely through your web browser, and therefore is completely OS agnostic. It also looks, acts and performs exactly like a Cisco IP phone -- not relying on some obscure software client interface that not only looks nothing like an actual Cisco phone, but requires complex keystrokes, mouse clicks and about 10 shots of espresso to fully understand and operate. It's very simple. You want to press a Softkey? Press that softkey. You want to dial a number? Dial that number on the keypad. Desire QoS stats? Press the help key. Sure, it has loads more powerful features than any other client (in fact remote control is not even close to it's primary feature - just the one we utilize most), but we don't require you to know them nor do we tout them as they really have nothing to do with studying for your CCIE Voice Lab exam. They simply exist should you wish to dig deeper. If you are a consultant, this might be the most invaluable tool you have in your arsenal. In fact it is used by some of the largest global consulting firms providing managed UC services to multi-cluster installs with overlapping IP schemes with hundreds of thousands of phones per customer. For instance, install a system, and go back later and want to see exactly what has changed (and exactly who changed it), this tool will do that in spades. And not just for CUCM. Oh, and it doesn't rely on arcane CTI protocol. Everything is done through lightweight and modern HTTP. Take a quick 2 minute tour of it here.

 

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Dec
02

I mentioned a few weeks back in bullet #3 in my post titled "SO Many Voice Updates!" that we would be adding Layer 2 VPN support for our Voice racks. Well, our hardware is in place and tested (by us), and now it is ready to be tested by you!

To start out, we are going to select a few beta customers to try out the service, and work out any kinks that may be there. I will work personally with all beta customers, and any issues will be resolved very quickly. I just want to make sure that we get everything documented properly.

If you would like to be a beta tester of this L2VPN, please either note it below in the comments, or else ping me offline, and I will let you know if we still have openings and coordinate a time with you to setup and test everything.

Please note that you must have a Cisco Catalyst 3550, 3560 or 3750 switch, along with the standard Cisco EzVPN router (could be as small as a 2611XM or 1841) in order to use this service. When you note it below or email me, be sure to include a "show ver" from both your router and your switch.

Also, we are currently in the process of updating all of our Voice Racks to support the CCNA Voice and CCNP Voice tracks. This is ahead of the new bootcamps that I will teach in January in Seattle, and also to which -if you act this week- you can get a substantial discount for the live class.

Jul
29

Updated with 18 Month Plan!

Not only have I updated the post below quite a bit, but I have also now put together a spreadsheet that you are free to download and customize to your liking. It includes both a 12-month plan that closely resembles what is listed below, but it also includes an 18-month plan on the 2nd tab that can be used by those who simply cannot devote as much time as I propose in the below post. Simply change the start date and the rest will cascade. Use this spreadsheet to be able to propose a very comprehensive plan to your boss if you are getting corporate-backing.

Download the 12 and 18-month plan spreadsheet

Introduction

I often get questions in class or via email that go something like "I am just beginning my studies for CCNA Voice - do I really need a two year AAP subscription?" or "How can I best utilize INE's products to attain the CCIE Voice exam", or simply "Where should I start?".

This document seeks to provide you with a detailed guideline to using each of the products that compliment INE's complete Voice training program. This program structure has been designed under the realistic assumption that you may be able to dedicate roughly 4 days a week, with approximately 4 hours a day (16 hours a week) to some form of study (be it watching our lecture and demo-based VoDs, reading Cisco documentation and books found in our Recommended Voice Reading Book List, or practicing on lab equipment), and be able to span a total duration of roughly 55 weeks from the start of studying for your CCNA Voice exam, and progressing through the CCNP Voice exam, and finally onto being ready to sit for your first CCIE Voice Lab exam attempt. This works out to just around one year of studying, with around 4 weeks off. This could (and probably will) vary, depending on your schedule, as you will undoubtedly need to custom tailor this program a bit to your life. All-in-all, you are going to spend almost 900 hours. I realize that this is a very committed study schedule, and I also wholeheartedly realize the sacrifice involved to commit fully to such an undertaking, however know now that these are hours that you, later in life, will look back on and attribute to some of the most beneficial that you have ever spent in your professional career. So buckle-up, and prepare yourself for the ride.

Note: It is assumed that before beginning this regiment, that the candidate has already studied for and obtained the necessary CCNA (Routing and Switching) exam. If you have not yet completed this Cisco-prerequisite exam yet, we strongly recommend that you take our CCNA Associate Course - 640-802 first, and pass that required exam.

Products Used in Study Plan

Before we start by referencing how to use the structured program, we will start by listing all of the products included, as well as links to those products on our site. We’ll reference these products as we progress through the guide, and we recommend you clicking on each of the product names below see samples of each, so that  you may get to know them and their layout a bit better for a more thorough understanding how and where they fit into this program as you continue reading this guide.

Detailed Structured Approach

Phase 1 - CCNA Voice :: Weeks 1 - 2 (32 hours)

Here in the first 2 week phase you will develop the basic skills and concepts that will stay with you for the rest of your Voice studies. It is very important that you take copious notes while you watch these videos, and review them often. By completion of this phase, you should be ready to take and pass your CCNA Voice exam.

  • We break the CCNA Voice Videos down into halves
    • Week 01 :: Watch 1st half of CCNA Voice videos and take notes
    • Week 02 :: Watch 2nd half of CCNA Voice videos and take notes, review notes and Bookmarks*, and take CCNA Voice exam
Phase 2 - CCNP Voice :: Weeks 3 - 10 (128 hours)

In this next 8 week phase you will upgrade your skills quite a bit more, focusing intensely on the technologies you were introduced to during the CCNA Voice study phase, to get the thorough understanding you will need to take and pass each of the five CCNP Voice exams. This phase will begin to solidify a strong technical acumen which is extremely important for the rest of your CCIE Voice studies. All of the lessons in this phase will be repeated. This is by design and completely necessary to fully comprehending these concepts at a true professional level. Also, while the CCNP Voice exams are not practical, hands-on lab-based exams, they do have some simulations in them that have to be solved by the candidate. That, along with the fact that we believe firmly that you learn best by doing, and have therefore included a number of hours set aside for you to simply experiment in any fashion you choose using either lab hardware of your own or else that which you rent from us. It is still very important that you take copious notes while you watch these videos as well as while you spend practice time on lab equipment, and again - review them often. By completion of this phase, you should be ready to take and pass all 5 of your CCNP Voice exams.

  • We begin by breaking down the CCNP Voice Videos down into thirds
    • Week 03 :: Watch 1st third of CCNP Voice videos and take notes
    • Week 04 :: Watch 2nd third of CCNP Voice videos and take notes
    • Week 05 :: Watch final third of CCNP Voice videos and take notes
  • We follow that up by breaking down the CCNP Videos down into fifths, and mixing in lab practice, along with exam taking
    • Week 06 :: Watch 1st fifth of CCNP Voice videos and take notes while practicing on lab equipment what you have learned here, and take the CVOICE exam
    • Week 07 :: Watch 2nd fifth of CCNP Voice videos and take notes while practicing on lab equipment what you have learned here, and take the CIPT1 exam
    • Week 08 :: Watch 3rd fifth of CCNP Voice videos and take notes while practicing on lab equipment what you have learned here, and take the CIPT2 exam
    • Week 09 :: Watch 4th fifth of CCNP Voice videos and take notes while practicing on lab equipment what you have learned here, and take the CAPPS exam
    • Week 10 :: Watch final fifth of CCNP Voice videos and review notes and Bookmarks* while practicing on lab equipment what you have learned here, and take the TVOICE exam

 
Take a single week of rest, possibly two, but no more, as you are already primed to move directly into CCIE Voice studies.
 

Phase 3 - CCIE Voice:: Weeks 12 - 55 (704 hours)

This 44 week phase is where you will obviously spend the bulk of your time practicing what you've learned over the past 10 weeks - over and over and over and over and over and over and over again - on lab gear. And that's no joke, either. If you thought it was tedious to read that word "over" repeated 7 times, just wait until you begin actually repeating what you've done more than that many times. And if you're one of those who didn't read that whole thing, and skipped to the end of it, maybe you need to re-think whether you're ready to commit to this undertaking of studying for this certification. Now while whether you actually read all seve 'overs' or not doesn't necessarily determine your readiness or ability to commit to such a repetitious regiment of study, I do believe that it demonstrates a point - namely that this phase is going to test your resolve. You will be repeating the same or similar tasks over and over in order to build both accuracy and speed -- finger 'muscle memory', really -- things that will be absolutely crucial to being able to take and pass the CCIE Voice lab exam. We recommend that even if we don't specifically list a given video or lab to be repeated in the syllabus, but you find yourself lacking a thorough and complete understanding in any single topic, that you self-police and choose to go back and re-watch that technology section in any of the video-based lecture-and-demo products, along with reading Cisco documentation on the topic, to gain proficiency before moving on. At the end of this phase, you will be ready to sit for your first attempt at the CCIE Voice lab exam at a Cisco facility.

  • We begin by working with the Deep Dive video series, and accompanying Deep Dive Technology-Focused Workbook (Volume I)
    • Week 12 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 1 :: Network Infrastructure and QoS
    • Week 13 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 2 & 3 :: CUOS & CLI and CUCM System & Phone Basics
    • Week 14 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 4 & 5 :: Users & LDAP and Phone & Calling Features
    • Week 15 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 6 :: Media Resources
    • Week 16 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 7 :: Gateways and Trunks
    • Week 17 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 8 :: Gatekeeper
    • Week 18 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 9 :: Dial Plan Part I (Basics)
    • Week 19 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 10 :: Dial Plan Part II (Globalization, Localization)
    • Week 20 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 11 :: Dial Plan Part III (More Practice)
    • Week 21 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 12 :: Dial Plan Part IV (CUBE)
    • Week 22 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 13 & 14 :: Unified, Device & Extension Mobility
    • Week 23 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 15 :: CUCM Express (CME) System and Phone Basics
    • Week 24 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 16 & 17 :: CME Dialplans, Class of Restrictions, & Media Resources and CME Advanced Call Features
    • Week 25 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 18 :: CME Call Coverage and CME-as-SRST
    • Week 26 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 19 :: Unified Contact Center Express & Scripting
    • Week 27 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 20 :: Unity Connection Mailboxes & AA Trees
    • Week 28 - Watch and Lab: Workbook Volume I :: Module 21 :: CUCM Presence & CUPS with CUPC & IPPM

 
Take a single week of rest, possibly two, but no more.
 

  • We follow that up with watching the Advanced Technologies Class (ATC) videos, broken up into thirds
    • Week 29 :: Watch 1st third of CCIE Voice ATC videos and take notes
    • Week 30 :: Watch 2nd third of CCIE Voice ATC videos and take notes
    • Week 31 :: Watch 3rd third of CCIE Voice ATC videos and take notes
  • Next it's time to move on to practicing heavily with Mock Labs! For this phase we will utilize the Mock Lab Workbook (Volume II)
  • This is also the perfect time to go ahead and schedule your CCIE Voice Lab Exam. This is to set a hard deadline for yourself, and to push you towards that goal. Schedule it for week 55.
    • Week 32 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 1 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 33 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 2 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 34 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 3 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 35 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 4 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 36 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 5 (repeat this lab during the week)

 
Take a single week of rest.
 

  • Now you should be ready to attend a 10 Day CCIE Voice Bootcamp. We highly encourage the live classes, however if you cannot manage one, then substitute for the recorded version of Week 1
    • Week 37 & 38 - Attend: CCIE Voice 10-Day Bootcamp (Live Class)
  • Now it is time to go back home, and begin practicing harder on the labs you've already been through, but with the newfound knowledege of your recently-discovered weak areas.
    • Week 42 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 5 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 43 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 4 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 44 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 3 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 45 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 2 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 46 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 5 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 47 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 1 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 48 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 3 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 49 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 4 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 50 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 5 (repeat this lab during the week)
    • Week 51 - Labs: Workbook Volume II :: Lab 3 (repeat this lab during the week)

 
Take a single week of rest.
 

  • Finally it is time to see what you are made of!
    • Week 52 - Take your first CCIE Voice Lab Attempt

 
*Transcripts and Bookmarks only available through All Access Pass streaming playlists, not available via downloaded videos.
 

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Jan
28

Let's say you get a bunch of inexpensive (but a bit outdated) routers (36XX or 72Xx) and some really nice (maybe not so cheap) Cisco switches (e.g. 3550/3560) and you would like to provide a VPLS-like service to your customers. Since VPLS is a service available only on more powerful Cisco platforms, we have to figure a way to simulate Multipoint Ethernet L2 VPN over a packet switching network (PSN) using only "convenient" point-to-point L2 VPN services.

Let model a situation where we have a number of routers connected over (PSN), with an ethernet switch connected to router at every location:

VPLS with L2TPV3

What we can do, is connect ethernet ports using pseudowires to form a virtual ring topology over PSN. That is, refeferring to our picture, xconnect routers' ethernet ports counter-clockwise, say xconnect E0/0 of R3 with E0/1 of R4, then E0/0 of R4 with E0/1 of R5 and finally E0/0 of R5 with E0/1 of R3. Effectively, we will form an ethernet ring, partially connected over convenient switches, and partially using L2VPN pseudowires. Router configurations look pretty much similar, for example at R3 we would have something like this

R3:
pseudowire-class PW_CLASS
encapsulation l2tpv3
ip local interface Loopback0
!
interface Loopback0
ip address 150.1.3.3 255.255.255.255

!
! Xconnecting E0/0 of R3 with E0/1 of R4
!
interface Ethernet0/0
no ip address
xconnect 150.1.4.4 34 encapsulation l2tpv3 pw-class PW_CLASS

!
! Xconnecting E0/1 of R3 with E0/0 of R5
!
interface Ethernet0/1
no ip address
xconnect 150.1.5.5 35 pw-class PW_CLASS

!
! Frame-Relay is used to connect to other routers (PSN network)
!
interface Serial1/0
no ip address
encapsulation frame-relay
!
interface Serial1/0.34 point-to-point
ip address 150.1.34.3 255.255.255.0
frame-relay interface-dlci 304
!
interface Serial1/0.35 point-to-point
ip address 150.1.35.3 255.255.255.0
frame-relay interface-dlci 305

!
! OSPF is used as a sample IGP
!
router ospf 1
router-id 150.1.3.3
log-adjacency-changes
network 0.0.0.0 255.255.255.255 area 0

Speaking honestly, it's not "classic" VPLS in true sense:

Firstly, STP should be running over ring topology, in order to block redundant ports. One can use star topology and disable STP, but this will introduce a single point of failure into the network. Classic VPLS does not run STP over packet core, only a full-mesh of pseudowires.

Secondly, there is no MAC-address learning for pseudowires, since they are point-to-point in essense. MAC addresses are learned by switches, and this impose a usual scalability restriction (though cisco switches may allow you to scale to a few thousands of MAC addresses in their tables).

However, this is funny and simple example of how you can use a simple concept to come up with a more complicated solution.

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