Tag Archives: IP anywhere

Hacking the HP 5406zl…

The HP 5406zl
The HP 5406zl

The venerable HP 5406zl.  This switch has been around for many years, in fact, it was introduced back in 2004.  Over time, this switch has seen a number of upgrades, and the current base model 5406zl’s provide 379Gbps of non-blocking goodness.  A while back I acquired one of these to replace the Cisco SG200-26 I had.  The 5406zl is a fully modular switch, and great deals on eBay can be had, if you know where and what to look for.

One of the modules for the 5406zl is the Advanced Services Module.  I have two of these.  They are x86 servers on a blade, letting you run VMware, Hyper-V or Xen.  Normally, you have to buy them from HP pre-configured.  The reality is you do not, you just have to be a bit creative.

These blades J4797A, come with a dual core 2.53Ghz, 4GB RAM and a 256GB 2.5″ hard drive.  You can easily upgrade the RAM from 4 to 8GB (it is DDR3 SODIMM).  You can also swap the Hard drive for a SSD.

I have a J4797A which is supposed to run Citrix XenServer.  I simply upgraded the RAM, and installed VMware 5.1 to the SSD, and viola, I was able to get a $2000 VMware blade for around $250CAD all in.  While not super speedy, these blades work great for DNS, Firewall and TACACS.  They even come with HP’s Lifetime Warranty.

Oh, and if you did not hear, the latest K15.16.0006 (now .0008) firmware, enables the “Premium” features for free.  Even more reason to find one of these switches on eBay.

IPv6 and the need for IPAM

For many, the thought of moving to IPv6 is aipv6 theoretical exercise.  The thinking goes that the existing network, running IPv4, with a mixture of route-able and private IP addresses is more than enough for today, and tomorrow.  Why complicate things?  The straight facts are IPv4 exhaustion is coming, and organizations will need the appropriate “hands on” skills in working with IPv6.

For the unfamiliar, IPv6 is the successor to IPv4.  IP or “Internet Protocol” is the underlying technology that allows you to be reading this blog post.  At its simplest, IPv4 assigns your computer a location on the network, a location that allows routers a way to get information to and from your system.

Then, one could assume IPv6 is a simple upgrade, since TCP, UDP and ICMP continue to operate in a similar manner.  The short answer is “no.”  IPv6 uses a base 16 notation to denote it’s address.  IPv4 uses a quad dotted base 10 notation.  It means that for network admins and architects, the simple familiar becomes abcd:abcd:abcd:abcd:abcd.  With the address space being trillions of trillions of trillions of times bigger, concepts like NAT go away.  You do not need them, when every star in every galaxy in existence could have it’s own 4.3 billion addresses.

Why no NAT?  There is no need since every address is route-able.  Applications in addition to using ports, could use IPv6 addressing schemes for control and backplace operations as well as data transport.  Our method of layer 4 to 7 communication fundamentally changes.

To start on this journey, a good IPAM (IP Address Management) solution is needed.  Beyond spreadsheets, or Active Directory, think of how your organization will handle this transition.  It is coming, and the sooner organizations prepare, the better.  IPAM brings benefits of managing the IP space effectively, and combine that with Software Defined Networks (SDN) you can get some very powerful ways to reduce the costs of transition and get a better managed network out of this.

It’s best to start now, rather than later.  Blue Cat provides some very robust software that happens to provide IPAM functionality and SDN components that take network and address management to the next level.  If you are thinking of modernizing your network, they should be in your list of products to review.

Cisco 7960 & Asterisk – This is what IP telephony should be!

Folks who know me will understand I have this passion for most technology items that are either telephony or network related.  This goes back to my youth where I was enamored by the magic of 2400 baud modems and BBS’s.   It is also one of the reasons I went to work for Nortel for so many years.


For the past 2 years I have been running my own IP PBX using Asterisk and a combination of interesting telephony devices to make and receive PSTN calls.  I have been using a Bluetooth headset for work-related calls, but, after having my 3rd headset die in under two years, its clear they are not meant to be daily drivers.  So, I went out and picked up one of the IP phone products that my customers use quite frequently.  The Cisco 7960 IP Phone.


Yes, I am a HP guy, and I tried to get one of the HP 41xx series phones, but, no dice.  The HP products are great, they just require the use of MS Lync 2010.  While I do support Lync here, in an effort to have a wrking phone for work I went with the Cisco eBay route.  For $100 including the power brick, I have a almost new phone on my desk.


The difference between this IP phone and my other ATA’s and softphones is clear.  Not only did the phone require less than an hour to get running in SIP mode, I have had people comment on the quality of the sound in both speakerphone and handset modes.  The sound is clean, clear and crisp.  I usually had some complaints of echo, not so with the Cisco phone.


Using Endpoint Manager in Asterisk and FreePBX made getting the phone up and running in a cinch.  I already had all of the SIP firmwares for the 79xx series, so it was just grab and go.  Only had to change the extension to “nat=no” and viola the phone registered no problem.


My only complaint so far.. no backlight!  I do wish the screen had that, and more expensive phones do have the feature, but for $100 I’m not going to complain.


All in all, this is what IP telephony should be.  Simple, and easy to use!

IP Anywhere

globeI have been doing a lot of travel lately.  Right now, as I type this I’m on my way to Montreal via train from Toronto.  The train service’ internet was spotty, so time to use the trusty iPhone to get me working.  This got me thinking about the topic of IP-Anywhere.  Literally, if I look over there are many perople using their IP-connected devices to do things like Twitter, Facebook, etc.  10 years ago this would not have been the case.  Many would have good books to rad.  There is still some of that, but for the most part, it’s IP-devices and working with them.

This has me thinking.  What about the next 10 years?  Are we going to have IP-enabled seats on the trains where you won’t even need the device to connect?  Am I dreaming?  It seems pretty logical that the next 10 years will be an even bigger jump than the last.

What do you think? Discuss…