Cisco Live 2015, Antennas, & Mike Rowe

Last month I attended Cisco Live! 2015. I’m a big fan of this conference and always feel like it’s a great event. This year was a large show with around 25,000 attendees, well over 700 sessions, hundreds of vendors, and only four days to take in as much as you can.  It is summer camp for geeks, where we get to learn new things and talk to everyone we haven’t seen since last year’s conference.

The Keynote

This year’s conference was historic as the last Cisco Live with John Chambers as the CEO of Cisco. At the end of his keynote he brought out his replacement, Chuck Robbins. They said all the things you expect them to say, but we’ll have to see how everything shakes out with the changes this brings. After 25 years with Chambers at the helm, this is going to be quite the transition for Cisco. It will be interesting to watch over the next few years, but I’m optimistic that things will go well.

The Antennas

One of the more interesting things I was able to get a close look at is the new Hyperlocation Module for Cisco APs. It uses a new version of the WSM (WSM2, I believe) and wraps around the AP. They made a cool version of the module that allows you to see the antenna arrays inside.

Cisco Hyperlocation Module, Transparent Edition

Cisco Hyperlocation Module, Transparent Edition

The idea here is that with this array of antennas, they can determine the Angle of Arrival of a Wi-Fi signal. This allows a much more precise calculation of location and with these you can improve from the previous best case of about 3m of accuracy to about 1m of accuracy. That’s some pretty precise location information. Potentially more important, this will give more flexibility in design. You no longer will need to have APs all the way out in the corners of a building to get good location information. They also said that the module is where they do their research and try out new things before including them in the AP. There is an implication that they will try to get this technology inside the next generation of APs. Imagine if all your APs just had something like this built in. Designing a wireless deployment for 5GHz might naturally be a location capable design if you choose the right APs.

I also learned about a new patch antenna. The 2513P stadium patch antenna available from Cisco has 30 degree beam width and the 2566P patch has a beam width between 105 and 120 degrees, depending on the band. They wanted something in between so there is now a 2566D that has a 60 degree beam width. If you’ve ever worked with the 2566P, you know about dealing with the cables. There just are not many good ways to install that antenna in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The 2566D helps with that. The antenna will mount flush to the wall with the cables either going straight out the bottom or straight out the back. This gives you options for a much cleaner installation.

Cisco AIR-ANT2566D4M-R Antenna

Cisco AIR-ANT2566D4M-R Antenna

The Dirty Jobs

The conference ended with a closing keynote from Mike Rowe, who told the story of what led to the creation of the Mike Rowe Works Foundation. Mike started the foundation to provide scholarships to those who wanted to work hard and learn a skilled trade. He was very entertaining, but had a message that things are out of whack in the US when many people are out of work, yet jobs remain unfilled. Many of those jobs are from the skilled trades such welders, plumbers, and electricians. Jobs that don’t require a college degree, yet people are racking up huge debt from student loans for an education to get a job that may not exist. Mike Rowe seems like a down to earth guy and he’s leveraged his position to do some good work. You might consider checking out if you like the sound of what he’s doing. You can also view his keynote online at the Cisco Live on-demand library (free account required).

I have more to say, but that’s enough for now. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference. In fact, I’m already registered!


Cisco TSHOOT v2 (300-135)

My CCNP certification (Story here, if interested) was expiring at the end of June. I’d taken a number of professional and expert level exams at Cisco Live over the years, but hadn’t passed anything that would renew my CCNP. It was time for the (almost) sure thing. TSHOOT.

The TSHOOT exam is my favorite Cisco written exam because it is all hands on. You don’t actually configure anything; you are just looking and analyzing. This exam is unique in several ways, including:

  • The network topology is available for download.
  • You really can score 1000 (that’s a perfect score).
  • It’s actually fun.

The exam is set up as a series of trouble tickets in the topology mentioned above. There is a problem description and you have access to the consoles of simulated equipment to try and determine the cause. After you have investigated, you answer three questions to narrow down the cause and the solution, then you move on to the next ticket. If you know your stuff, it’s a pretty easy exam. That said, don’t get too comfortable. I started running out of time because I was taking too relaxed of an approach and ended up using almost the entire time to complete the exam.

If you’ve taken the previous version:

  • The topology is the same (as best I can tell)
  • The question style for the tickets is the same.
  • You are no longer allowed to abort a ticket. You must finish once started and you must answer in the order delivered.
  • The simple multiple choice questions are spread throughout the test instead of all being at the beginning.
  • The interface is different. There are no tabs for the tickets. You just click “next” when you are finished with your answers.

I’m pleased to report that I did pass and even had a perfect score. I’ve never done that before and I doubt I could do it on any of the conventional multiple choice exams, but it was satisfying to achieve on this one. With my CCNP R&S recertification complete, I can concentrate on other studies without worrying about it!

In case you are looking for study materials, you may want to investigate the CCNP Routing and Switching TSHOOT 300-135 Official Cert Guide Premium Edition eBook and Practice Test or the Troubleshooting and Maintaining Cisco IP Networks (TSHOOT) Foundation Learning Guide.


My Cisco Live Schedule

First of all, if you are a Cisco Live NetVet, the scheduler is open at If you are not a NetVet, it will open for you on March 31st.

I’ve spent a bit of time tweaking my schedule and here’s my current plan:

My schedule for Cisco Live

Scott’s schedule for Cisco Live

I suspect I may want to change things up a little after the technical seminar on Sunday. I might also change things after the slides are released and I can see what the plan is for those sessions. Focus this year is obviously on wireless. :) I’m looking to learn more about are CMX and all the changes that have come with MSE 10. I’m not using CMX right now, but the need for it and the value are starting to rise. My current architecture is centralized controllers and FlexConnect APs. This has some limitations, so I’ll be looking to learn more about the converged access solution to see if I can leverage the 3650s we’ve been deploying to get the APs back to local mode, but still have the branch traffic stay in the branch. I might drop a session to spend some quality time in the WoS without a huge crowd, but I’ll have to see what the session slides say first. I haven’t looked to see what recent recordings are available in the Cisco Live On-demand Library, either. Might be able to free up a session or two that way, as well.

I dropped the industry keynote and replaced it with the CCIE Wireless written exam. I’ve taken the R&S exam a couple times before and didn’t quite make the cut, but I’ve been doing a lot more wireless work than routing work, so I’m optimistic that I can get a better score here. We’ll see how I do in a few months. :)


What’s new in WLC 7.6.110 – 8.0.100

A while back I wrote an article that covered the changes from WLC 7.1 – 7.6.100 . Let’s catch up to 8.0, shall we?


  • Bugfix release.
  • Fix for issues with WMM with Broadcom clients (no 802.11n for you)
  • Fix for an issue with the AP3700 and replay counters which apparently causes major performance problems on 5GHz.


  • Adds support for 2700 series and 700W series APs.
  • Adds “Cisco WLAN Express Setup” for 2500 series controllers. The notes say: “It includes easy to use GUI Configuration Wizard, an intuitive monitoring dashboard and several Cisco Wireless LAN best practices enabled by default.” Sounds nifty. I need to get a 2504 for my lab… If you are upgrading a 2500 to this release, there’s a decent chunk of steps involved to enable this feature. More info about the feature and the steps here: Cisco WLAN Express Setup for Cisco 2500 Series Wireless Controller.
  • Of course, lots of bugfixes.
  • Several crashes fixed.
  • Obligatory security fixes.
  • False DFS positives fixed.
  • If you really want to see if your favorite bug is fixed, check here: 7.6.120 Resolved Caveats


  • Bugfix release with an even longer list of resolved caveats (7.6.130 Resolved Caveats).
  • More crash fixes and obligatory security fixes. The ones that jumped out at me below.
  • 99% CPU usage fix.
  • Apple auth problems fixed.
  • Fix for CAPWAP disassociation due to DTLS errors
  • Vocera broadcast failure fix
  • RAID volumes get proper status codes
  • vWLC Service Port issue with distributed vSwitch fixed
  • Annoying MFP anomaly messages fixed (but I’m still seeing them)

Now the really interesting stuff. Major releases are always fun, at least once the first round or two of bug fixes come in. Let’s see what’s shiny, shall we?

[Note: I’ve since found this Cisco Wireless Release 8.0 document, which has a nice summary of the features.]


  • Cisco Aironet AP and Scale Features
    • Keep-alives now sent over both control and data CAPWAP tunnels.
    • New Flex+Bridge mode enabled FlexConnect functionality across mesh APs. This means if the wired link goes down, your AP can failover to mesh backhaul. (Not supported on 1130 and 1240. No surprise.)
    • Mesh fast convergence. Automatically sets faster convergence timers. Convergence time per hop down to 20s.
    • AP700W gets VLAN tagging
    • FlexConnect APs can be a PPPoE client. Was in 7.3/7.4, but not 7.5/7.6. Now it’s back. And it’s angry…
    • Dynamic Channel Assignment (DCA) on RF Profiles. Enables multi-country support using AP groups and simplifies mixed channel environments (40MHz/80MHz mix). Sounds like this could be useful for those of us with a mixed .11n and .11ac environment, which will probably be just about everybody soon… See Configuring RF Profiles for more information. (Not supported for mesh/bridge APs.)
    • Rx-SOP: Receiver Start of Packet threshold. #shiny Particularly helpful in high density environments. This helps reduce CCI by controlling what frames the AP will decode. The No Strings Attached Show has a nice whitepaper about it. Config information is here: Configuring Receiver Start of Packet Detection Threshold.
    • Optimized Roaming. Ooh, more #shiny! This helps with sticky clients by disassociating them based on RSSI and data rate. This will also help prevent clients from associating as they pass by. Config info: Configuring Optimized Roaming.
    • Side note: Good article covering Rx-SOP, Optimized Roaming, and RSSI low at Revolution Wi-Fi: Optimized Roaming, RSSI Low Check, RX-SOP, Oh My!
    • AP1700 support added
    • CleanAir Express for AP1600 and AP1700
    • OEAP gets basic firewall support, split tunneling, VoIP QoS
    • Increased scale of vWLC (now up to 6000 clients)
    • 2500 WLC now supports wired guests
  • Native IPv6 (if you need the exhaustive list see Native IPv6 Support)
    • Finally!
    • SLAAC for the service port
    • Full support for all the services and ways of accessing the WLC that you would expect out of v6 support.
    • DHCPv6 option 52 for controller discovery
    • CAPWAP preferred mode – you can choose v4 or v6 as preferred. v4 is preferred by default
    • List of things not supported, which will take away your initial joy:
      • FlexConnect-local switched, mesh/outdoor, teleworker/OEAP, converged acces
      • Services: mDNS, AVC, and TrustSec
      • Bridge mode APs with 64MB of RAM: 600 OEAP, ISR 800/802, 1130, 1240, 1250, 1310, 1410, 1520
      • Internal DHCPv6 server, DHCPv6 proxy, auto-configuration, dynamic interfaces, RA interfaces, OSCP and CA server URL, VLAN pooling
      • NTPv4 (typo?), MLDv2, IPSec v3 and IKEv2, RLDP and CIDS, PMIPv6, mDNS IPv6 clients, and New Mobility
      • IPv6 is not supported for HA Redundancy Interface configuration
      • Auto-RRM, Dynamic Anchoring, DNS RADIUS/TACACS+, core dump
  • Security and RADIUS enhancements
    • SPs can configure new VSAs and tell the WLC how to handle them.
    • WLC can be configured to use the realm value to determine the RADIUS server for a client.
    • WebAuth now works for HTTPS.
    • 802.1X and EAP WLANs now support sending the WLAN ID to the RADIUS server.
    • SHA256 certificate support
  • Ease of Management Features
    • SSID and WLAN profiles can be renamed (Yay! Now you can cleanup the mess!)
    • “ping” can be sourced from a dynamic interface.
    • “show ap summary” now shows the AP’s IP address. Also can search for APs based on IP in the GUI.
    • Bunch of new show system commands. They provide more info about how WLC is running.
    • show run-config startup-commands – Finally, something you can copy and paste into a controller!
    • You can globally enable/disable SSH/telnet for all APs on a controller.
    • Choice of color themes for the GUI (default and red). Helps distinguish between controllers.
    • You can now flash the LEDs on an AP to identify it. About time…
    • “show client detail” now shows AP and WLAN
    • “show ap join stats” corrects output for renamed APs
    • “debug client” now shows the AP connected and RSSI.
    • You can now update the OUI list without upgrading the controller. But it requires a reboot…
    • 802.11v. My understanding is it’s supposed to leverage 802.11k info to control client associations. Not sure if any clients actually support this.
    • 802.11r mixed mode. Yes, bold. No need for a seperate SSID for 802.11r and non-11r clients. This is very shiny. And useful.
  • High Availability Enhancements
    • 802.11ac is now supported in HA. I hadn’t realized it wasn’t supported before.
    • Handful of enhancements to HA, including faster sync and more configurability.
    • Internal DHCP now works with client SSO. The database is synced between the active and standby controllers.
  • Better policy control for mDNS
  • AVC
    • NBAR 2 protocol pack updated to 11. Heh.
    • Per app, per client rate limiting. Nice.
    • QoS marking can choose the direction instead of only bidirectional. I wonder what the use case for that is.
  • Q-in-Q support. Outer tag for AP group. Inner tag assigned by AAA.
  • VideoStream now supported for FlexConnect locally switched mode.
  • WPA/TKIP now only configurable from the CLI.

Closing Notes

WLC 8.0 is supported on PI 2.1.1. A number of the new features aren’t supported, though I expect those will be available in PI 2.2. ISE 1.2 is supported. Obviously, MSE 8.0 is supported with it. It’s not clear is MSE 8.0 upgrade is required, but it is at least implied.

I suspect this will be the last release to support the 1130 and 1240 series.

8.0.100 has a LONG list of resolved caveats (many of which are also resolved in the 7.x code base) and a decent list of open ones. If you are considering 8.0, I recommend going over those carefully: WLC 8.0 Caveats. Personally, I will likely wait for 8.0.110 before going into production with it.


This Is Not The Flash You Are Looking For

A while back, I was trying to install an IOS-XE update on an ASR1001 and run into something weird.

asr1001#request platform software package expand file ?
 bootflash: RP-relative file path
 flash: RP-relative file path

OK, sounds good, right? Nothing obviously weird, until you discover that only bootflash: actually works… Let me show why this is really confusing.

asr1001#request platform software package expand file flash:?

asr1001#request platform software package expand file bootflash:?

It looks like either one should work, doesn’t it? Let’s see what happens if you choose incorrectly.

asr1001#request platform software package expand file \
     flash:asr1001-universalk9.03.11.00.S.154-1.S-std.bin to flash:test
/usr/binos/conf/ line 1991: cd: flash: No such file or directory
Verifying parameters
  FAILED: Specified package file flash:asr1001-universalk9.03.11.00.S.154-1.S-std.bin does not exist

This can lead to a bunch of wasted time replacing images, verifying checksums, and scratching your head. Then you finally try bootflash…

asr1001#request platform software package expand \
     file bootflash:asr1001-universalk9.03.11.00.S.154-1.S-std.bin to bootflash:test
Verifying parameters
Validating package type
Copying package files
SUCCESS: Finished expanding all-in-one software package.

Yep. Pretty annoying. Check out the directory listings. (I’m doing the directory listings in this odd way so they fit my WordPress theme better, just in case you were wondering.)

asr1001#dir bootflash:test/?

asr1001#dir flash:test/?

So, just remember to use bootflash and you’ll save yourself some headache and confusion!


#vBrownBag Book Contest (not) Still Going!

The contest is still going until June 30, 2014 over! There hasn’t been a huge number of entries, so your odds are very good. Get your entries in!

Contest Details

ShowCover.aspI have copies of both the CCNA Routing and Switching 200-120 Official Cert Guide Library and Networking for VMware Administrators to give away. These are courtesy of Cisco Press and VMware Press, so a big thanks goes to them!

Here’s how you can win one:
Send out a tweet with your CCNA R&S question, including the hashtag #vBrownBag and @scottm32768. If your question too long for twitter, you can post it as a comment here, then link to it on twitter. The best questions by the end of the month (June 30 2014 23:59) will win. Myself and others related to the #vBrownBag podcast will make this decision. In the event we cannot reach a decision, we will use the contents of a hermetically sealed envelope kept in a #2 mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall’s back porch. Or maybe just choose winners at random.


Cisco Live 2014 Day 1

Pedometer Stats

Todays stats for the Official Unofficial Cisco Live Pedometer were:

Steps: 7611
KCals: 411
Miles: 3.6

Not as much as I expected for today. Maybe things are closer than I at first thought.

VIRL & CML Update

I had a chance to talk with some of the CML/VIRL team today and learned a few things of note:

  • VIRL (Virtual Internet Routing Labs) is back as the personal/developer edition and will be available through the Cisco DevNet. For free. Yes, you read that right!
    • I believe this will support up to 15 Cisco VMs and as many other VMs (Linux guests, etc) as fit in your RAM, but I need to verify the 15 number is still accurate.
    • The quid pro quo for this deal is they will be collecting data. They will be completely up front about this, the data they are collecting, and will transmit it in clear text. The data they will be collecting is going to be things like what kinds of virtual devices you launch, how many, what specific features you use, and that sort of general statistics. They will not collect any configuration information.
    • No NX-OS at this time. The virtual NX-OS is just not ready, yet.
    • Still no L2, but they have a prototype already for adding this in the future. It will be coming, just not right away.
    • This will be community supported.
  • CML (Cisco Modeling Labs) is the corporate version. This is licensed by the node, can scale much larger, and will have Cisco support. I have not seen pricing for this, but expect it to be priced for corporate use.
  • I have no release dates for either of these, but it does sound like they are pretty close to being able to ship it.

I’m really looking forward to this. It’s going to be a great tool for both validation and learning.

There was more to the day, but those were the bits that are probably most interesting for the moment.