Let’s build a lab!

I’ve decided I am WAY past due for a good lab. I’ve so far been unsuccessful in setting up a valuable lab. GNS3 is really great, but very complex to understand sometimes, and it is still limited in many fashions when it comes to UC and telecommunications. So I decided I’m doing this all with real equipment.

Random thought: I can use a SIP registrar such as voip.ms or twilio for SIP servers through the 2921 router.

My first challenge is how do I get internet connection to my lab equipment in my basement. My house was built in 2006, but for some reason the builders decided it didn’t need any sort of ethernet run throughout the house. My first thought was to try to run some ethernet, but that proved to be the least cost efficient method. I decided on a MoCA solution. It took a bit of research and a bit of work since I’ve never used MoCA devices before, but the concept is fairly simple, your home TV and internet come in on coax (if you have broadband) below the 900Mhz frequencies, so if you have coax throughout your house you can extend your ethernet over coax above the 900Mhz frequencies with adapters.

Motorola MM1002 MoCA Adapters to the rescue. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078HMDDVS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

So I purchased a pair of Motorola MoCA adapters for $140 total, about $70 each, and drew up a diagram of house this would work. I start by putting the PoE filter at the back end of my filter so that anything over 900Mhz does not leave my house. I don’t want my neighbors buying one of these adapters and using my internet.

Next I install a splitter between my internet model and the wall. This step isn’t required, but I find it to be a cleaner install this way from a logical standpoint. The MoCA adapter can act as the splitter, but I prefer it to be separate. Then I provide an ethernet run from the router to the MoCA devices, and the MoCA device back to the splitter to send it back out to my house. It essentially just makes a big circle before going back down to the basement. (Charter > House-Wide Coax Splitter > Living Room Splitter > Internet Modem > Wi-Fi Router/Switch > Living Room Motorola MoCA > Living Room Splitter > House-Wide Coax Splitter > Basement Motorola MoCA > Basement Switch)

UPDATE: I did end up having some issues with having the splitting in the living room between the MoCA device and the modem. My internet was randomly cutting out requiring a reset. The MoCA device actually serves as a splitter, so I ended up taking that splitter out of the equation, plugged directly into the MoCA device, and then a coax out from there to the modem and haven’t had any issues since.

UPDATE – I had to remove the splitter on the main level because it was causing issues. The MoCA device has a built in splitter, so your coax goes into the MoCA device, and then out to your modem. Then the ethernet goes back into the MoCA device.

Once the lab was hooked up and connected to the internet, it was time to fire up the server and try to install ESXi. ESXi 6.5 if a 60 day trial, so unfortunately I’ll have to reinstall every 60 days, but CUCM is a 90 day trial, so I’m going to have to do it often anyways. The best thing I can do is to take good backups so that once I reinstall, I can simply restore the backups and not have to reconfigure everything.

UPDATE – I found that if you click on the register button on the VMWare page for ESXi, they will give you a free license. It’s a limited license in terms of functionality, but it works perfectly for a lab.

Installing ESXi on the server.

After fighting with the server and ESXi for several hours trying to figure out why the hard drives weren’t being recognized and then why my CPU was incompatible (ESXi 6.7 deprecates a lot of CPU’s apparently, so I downgraded to ESXi 6.5 which is still compatible with CUCM 12.5) I finally got ESXi installed and on the network. The rest of the server configurations can be done from the comfort of my desk. (Whew!)

Keep in mind, I’m not going through a step by step here. There are FAR too many steps for me to document each and every thing. What I will do is try to document the IMPORTANT parts so you can get inside of my head of what I’m doing and why.

It is important to note that in CUCM 12 and above, the new Guest OS version changes from Red Hat Linux to CentOS 7.
Keeping with CUCM virtualization requirements I gave it 2 CPU’s, 4GB of RAM, and an 80GB hard drive. https://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/td/docs/voice_ip_comm/uc_system/virtualization/virtualization-cisco-unified-communications-manager.html
Got the .ISO uploaded to the datastore for an easy install. Time to attach the CD to the server and fire it up!
Ahh! What now?
After reading this, I looked through the BIOS and found that the Dell PowerEdge R610 has the ability to turn off virtualization technology for the processor… and of course it was disabled… so I enabled it.
And success! It’s powering on!

Now this is the difficult part for a lot of people, including myself. If you don’t work in the industry, it’s nearly impossible to get your hands on the .ISO’s for cisco UC products. Luckily for me, I just recently upgraded my systems at work from 10.5 to 12.5, so I had to get the bootable files in the process in order to upgrade. Cisco keeps a pretty tight grip on their .ISO’s, though. You probably won’t find these on any torrent websites.

A few steps in and I’m at the network configuration. I set my home network to have static IP’s for everything above .225. After a few other home items on static, .231 is the bare server IP address, so .232 is CUCM. Since this is a small lab, I’m not going to worry about IP address scheming like I would in an enterprise environment. This is more than enough static IP addresses for my lab.
I’m setting up without DNS since this is my first server, so I can’t just type in pool.ntp.org into the NTP server configuration… so a simple nslookup gave me four IP addresses to use.
Install is running.
It fought me a little bit and didn’t want to install. Admittedly I had to work through a few issues and one issue I couldn’t even figure out, but it finally worked for unknown reasons.

That’s going to do it for this first post. I still have a lot of work to do to make this lab functional, though. I still need to set up my router and a switch, I need to set up some phones. I need to configure my router as a CUBE router and register with a SIP registrar for outbound calling. I think from here I might start making more detailed posts about each step. So be sure to check back in and see my new posts. This is sure to be fun.

UPDATE: Ok, one last thing. Had to include a drawing of the core lab, at least how it will be once I’m finished setting it up. I may go through all of this in another post as I do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *