Is Creating a CCNA voice lab any hard these days?

Certification: CCNA Voice - CCNA Voice Certification

CCNA Voice was introduced by Cisco in 2008 to make the CCNA certification a common base for the CCNP-level certification. The CCNA Voice certification connected the CCNA with CCNP level certification and enabled the professionals in the networking field to gain knowledge in the voice technologies without having to complete CCNP level certification. The exam requirement for CCNA Voice was Introducing Cisco Voice and Unified Communications Administration (IIUC) 640-460 when the certification was introduced. The requirement was improvised in 2009 with the addition of CVOICE 642-436 exam giving an option for test-takers to take either IIUC 640-460 or CVOICE 642-436 to get the CCNA Voice certification.  However, the certification was further improvised with introducing the Introducing Cisco Voice and Unified Communications Administration (ICOMM) 640-461 exam in 2010 and completely replacing the option of taking either of the two exams (IIUC 640-460 or CVOICE 642-436) by the one new exam in March, 2011.

The current CCNA Voice exam lays more emphasis on the configuration and functioning of Cisco Unified Communications applications including Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM), Cisco Unified Presence (CUPS), and Cisco Unity Connection (CUC). The changes in the exam requirement also led to enhanced lab requirements for practice. While the earlier version of the certification exam just required a router with an IOS that had Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express (CUCME) and few phones for learning the material, the new version of CCNA Voice requires access to the Cisco Unified Communications applications to understand the syllabus of the ICOMM 640-461 exam. To know in detail the difficulty in building a CCNA Voice lab now in comparison to the before, it is important to know the difference between the lab requirements for Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express (CUCME) and Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM).

CUCME Lab:

  • A Cisco 2811 Router with a 512/128 memory to support the operation of CME 8.6 and IOS 15.1. This router acts as the CME router for the lab giving multiservice voice and integration of data, and embedding call processing.
  • A Packet Voice Digital Signal Module (PVDM) that is inserted to the main board of 2811 router in the PVDM slots. Similar to the NM-2V required for the 2600XM routers, PVDM also provides linkage of the telephone network with a direct connection to public switched telephone network (PSTN). The PVDM provide connectivity by supporting the Voice Interface Cards (VIC) that backs the analogue connections to the local telephone exchange, to an analogue phone and to a PBX.
  • VIC2-2FXO module which is a voice/fax interface card used to enable making and receiving calls through the voice lab from the home telephone number by connecting the home telephone line with the module.
  • VIC2-2FXS module is the voice interface card with Foreign eXchange Subscriber (FXS) interface for direct connection to the voice network through the standard phone and fax machine. 
  • Minimum two Cisco IP Phones with at least one having more than two line buttons such as 7960G. The other phone can be a two line 7940G or even a one line 7912G if cost is an issue. The ‘G’ in model number of IP phones stands for global use of phone on soft keys. Power bricks will also be required if the switch is not Power over Ethernet (PoE).
  • AIM2-CUE for providing functionality of autoattendent, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) features and intuitive prompts. AIM2- CUE stands for Advanced Integration Module 2 – Cisco Unity Express.

CUCM Lab:

  • Cisco 2811 router installed with a PVDM-16 (Packet Voice/Fax DSP Module - 16) and a VWIC2-1MFT-T1/E1 card, and running on IOS 12.4T. 
  • Cisco Catalyst 3560-24PS switch, poweredwith Power over Ethernet (PoE) and running IOS 12.2(53)SE.
  • Another Cisco router installed with minimum two VoiceWANInterfaceCards of Cisco 2nd Generation with one and two Port T1E1 and Multiflex Trunk (MFT)and sufficient Digital Signal Processor to operate as a simulator for public switched telephone network (PSTN).
  • Minimum one 7900 Series Cisco IP Phones that has at least three line buttons.
  • Minimum one Cisco IP Communicator (CIPC), which is a soft phone, that can run on at least in one virtual machines or personal computers.
  • Version 8.6.2 of CUCM, version 8.6.2 of CUC and Version 8.6.3 of CUPS than can run in a virtual machine.
  • A machine that can run theapplications on a server or personal computer. The machine to support the applications must have RAM of minimum 8  gigabytes and virtualization software like VMware Workstation or ESXi Server as processing pace of the machine will be the main driving factor for the performance of virtual machines.

Solutions for Specific issues with CUCM and IP Phones

The Security by Design feature of CUCM version 8 and higher can have issues for multiple users or in returning back for using CUCME while registering to different systems. The issue is caused due to the fact that Security by Design requires a certificate on the phone which should match with the (Trivial File Transfer Protocol)TFTP server. The phone gets its configuration file from the TFTP server and the certificate on the phone which is an authentication to the TFTP server does not allow the phone to get configuration from any other TFTP server. However, this issue can be resolved in two ways:

  • The phone can get registered by resetting it by using the erase key in the network settings of the phone.
  • For switching between CUCME and CUCM, sometimes clearing the Initial Trust List (ITL) security file may become unavoidable for upgrading or downgrading the firmware on the phone. The phone resetting option in the 7900 series phones are under the navigation Settings > Security > Trust List > ITL File > **# (For unlicking the settings) > More > Erase and in the 8900/9900 Series phones under the navigation Settings > Administrator Settings > Reset Settings > Security Settings.

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