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.
- Dell PowerEdge R610 Server – $100 – Sporting goods store in St. Louis going out of business selling off their IT equipment. Found an ad they posted on facebook market.
- Cisco 2921 ISR – $50 – I found this at an electronics recycling warehouse. Negotiated a bit, and bought a few other things, and he gave this to me on the cheap. Found an ad for this on the facebook market, too.
- 4-Post Network Rack – $260 – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01A6JQEBI/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
- 500ft Blue Ethernet – $73 – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016YS99X0/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
- Network Rack Shelf – $30 – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008LUW4CI/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
- Total Cost So Far: $513… Not bad. Keep in mind, I didn’t buy everything at one time. I bought the rack, shelf, and ethernet back in the beginning of August, and then the router and server a month or two later.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.