Friday, 10 February 2012


This is the first time I have seen Cisco WLC FUS (Field Upgradeable Software), its very much like the old bootloader versions and something you should apply if needed. It is only for code version at the present time however there may be future versions, I guess we will have to wait and see.

Field Upgrade Software (FUS) is a special AES package that performs various system-related component upgrades. We recommend that you install FUS to upgrade components such as the bootloader, field recovery image, FPGA/MCU, and other firmware to their latest respective versions.


Note On a Cisco 5500 Series Controller, it is observed that the controller sporadically reboots and displays the following FPGA error message:

fpga: Lost heartbeat from Environment controller, system will reboot in 5 seconds!!!

A crash file is not created to debug or troubleshoot the error.
You can resolve this issue by installing FUS.


The table lists the components that are upgraded after you install Field Upgrade Software for various controller platforms.

Components Upgraded 

Controller Platform
Components Upgraded

Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers

•Field Recovery Image is upgraded to runtime image version

•Bootloader is upgraded to 1.0.16

•Offline Field Diagnostics is upgraded to 0.9.28

•FPGA Revision version is upgraded to 1.7

•Environment Controller (MCU) Image version is upgraded to 1.8

•USB Console Revision version is upgraded to 2.2

Cisco Wireless Services Module 2 (WiSM2)

•Field Recovery Image is upgraded to runtime image version.

•Bootloader is upgraded to 1.0.16

•Offline Field Diagnostics is upgraded to 0.9.28

•USB Console Revision version is upgraded to 2.2

Note Due to a software issue, the FPGA does not get upgraded in a WiSM2 controller even though the console output indicates that it has been upgraded.

Cisco Flex 7500 Series Controllers

RAID firmware

Note You must install FUS only if you do not have the versions of the components mentioned above.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Cisco NCS Deployment

Having deployed the Cisco NCS a few times now I thought I would add a post outlining the steps to get it up and running. Its a little more difficult that the WCS and seems to take a little longer to get up and running. Hopefully this may help one or two people. This relates to the virtual appliance.

The minimum server requirements are available via the datasheet but once you have your hardware and software you are ready to rock. There really is nothing that complicated however make sure you do meet the server requirements for your deployment. If you do not have enough memory, like the first deployment I did, it can be problematic and take a looooooong time to install.

Something to point out is that you need to start the server after the installation, simply use the command "ncs start"

Below are typical screens presented during the NCS implementation

From the VMware vSphere Client main menu, choose File > Deploy OVF Template. The Deploy OVF Template Source window appears:

Choose Deploy from file and choose the OVA file that contains the NCS Virtual Appliance distribution.

Click Next. The OVF Template Details window appears. VMware ESX/ESXi reads the OVA attributes. The details include the product you are installing, the size of the OVA file (download size), and the amount of disk space that needs to be available for the virtual machine (size on disk).

Verify the OVF Template details and click Next. The Name and Location window appears

Either keep the default name for the VM to be deployed in the Name text box or provide a new one and click Next. This name value is used to identify the new virtual machine in the VMware infrastructure so you should use any name that distinguishes this particular VM in your environment.The Host / Cluster window appears

Choose the destination host or HA cluster on which you want to deploy the NCS VM and click Next. The Resource Pool window appears.

If you have more than one resource pool in your target host environment, choose the resource pool to use for the deployment and click Next. The Ready to Complete window appears.

Review the settings shown for your deployment and, if needed, click the Back button to modify any of the settings shown.

Click Finish to complete the deployment. A message notifies you when the installation completes and you can see the NCS Appliance in your inventory.

Click Close to dismiss the Deployment Completed Successfully dialog box.

In the vSphere Client, click the NCS Virtual Appliance node in the resource tree. The virtual machine node should appear in the Hosts and Clusters tree below the host, cluster, or resource pool to which you deployed NCS Virtual Appliance.

On the Getting Started tab, click the Power on the virtual machine link under Basic Tasks. The Recent Tasks pane at the bottom of the vSphere Client pane indicates the status of the task associated with powering on the virtual machine. After the virtual machine successfully starts, the status column for the task displays Completed.

Click the Console tab, within the console pane to make the console prompt active for keyboard input.

At the login Prompt, enter setup.

The NCS configuration script starts. The script takes you through the initial configuration steps for NCS Virtual Appliance. In the first sequence of steps, you configure network settings.

As prompted, enter the following settings:

Hostname for the virtual appliance.
IP address for the virtual appliance.
IP default subnet mask for the IP address entered.
IP address of the default gateway for the network environment in which you are creating the virtual machine.
Default DNS domain for the target environment.
IP address or hostname of the primary IP nameserver in the network.

At the Add/Edit another nameserver prompt, you can enter y (yes) to add additional nameservers, if desired. Otherwise, press Enter to continue.

NTP server location (or accept the default by pressing Enter). At the Add/Edit secondary NTP server prompt, you can enter y (yes) to add another NTP server. Otherwise, enter n (no) to continue.

Enter the username for the user account used to access the Cisco NCS system running on the virtual machine. The default username is admin, but you can change this to another username by typing it here.

Enter the password for NCS. The password must be at least eight characters and must include both lowercase and uppercase letters and at least one number. It cannot include the username or default Cisco passwords. After you enter the password, the script verifies the network settings you configured. For instance, it attempts to reach the default gateway that you have configured.

After verifying the network settings, the script starts the NCS installation processes. This process can take several minutes, during which there is no screen feedback. When finished, the following banner appears on the screen:

=== Initial Setup for Application: NCS ===

After this banner, it starts with database scripts and reboots the server as shown in the console:

Running database cloning script...

logger: invalid option -- l
usage: logger [-is] [-f file] [-p pri] [-t tag] [-u socket] [ message ... ]
Running database creation script...
logger: invalid option -- l
usage: logger [-is] [-f file] [-p pri] [-t tag] [-u socket] [ message ... ]
Setting Timezone, temporary workaround for DB...
Generating configuration...


Log in as admin and enter the admin password.

Exit the console using the exit command.

Enter the following command to start the NCS Server.

ncs start

CCNP Wireless - IAUWS

Well I sat and passed the IAUWS exam today, thats the security part. I am pushing hard to complete version 1 of the CCNP Wireless as I have some study materials available and I have been studying on and off for about a year. The only reason I haven't actually taken any of the exams is time.

This exam was a bit of a suprise. The exam blueprint is a great starting point which is available here but I was suprised how much focus there was on wireless NAC. Not an easy exam and you really need to read the documents. Some of the questions, as in any exam I guess were really straight forward but there were that were difficult to understand.

A great deal of material to cover and some tricky areas. A great test though.

Monday, 6 February 2012

802.11ac update

I briefly mentioned 802.11ac a while ago here however a little more information is now available. At CES this year some vendors demonstarted 802.11ac products. Notably Buffalo with a prototype running a Broadcom chipset. Although this had a mighty 800mbps throughput that really is the tip of the iceberg.

A few highlights.
  • 802.11ac should be backwards compatible with 802.11a/n.
  • Channel widths will be 80 or 160MHz (802.11n can use 40MHz wide channels) now it remains to be seen exactly which channels these will be and how that can be worked into the current regulatory domains around the world.
  • Support for 8 spatial streams compared to 802.11n 4 spatial streams. If like 802.11n initial products wont be the full bore 8 spatial streams however and similarly to 802.11n that may be a theoretical maximum, nobody has commercialised a 4 spatial stream device and there are only a few vendors with 3 spatial stream access points.
  • A massive 256 QAM against 64 QAM for 802.11n.
  • There will be compatability mechanisms for 802.11ac to coexist with 20 and 40MHz 802.11a/n
  • Lets not forget MU-MIMO which will let us have multiple devices receiving from a single signal.
  • Ultimately we all want to know how fast, well 6.93Gbps.
I feel it will certainly speed up the adoption of the 5.0GHz technology, I only hope it does not become as congested as the 2.4GHz spectrum however this may be the leading technology of the future so simply it will be everywhere, consumer electronis included. That will present its own challenges again as we try to support a greater level of legacy devices.

It certainly bodes for an interesting future as a wireless engineer.

Friday, 3 February 2012

CCNP Wireless - CUWSS

Finally sat down and took the first of my CCNP Wireless exams, and passed.

OK its generally agreed that this probably is not the hardest of the CCNP exams but there are a few questions that could trip you up. Even if you do a lot of surveying there are areas that you will need to know with respect to the WCS planning tool and Cisco Spectrum Expert.

Now I admit that I do not use these tools every day so I spent a little time on WCS and read through the Spectrum Expert stuff.

The Quick learning guide from Cisco Press was great as any areas I was not 100% on I done a little studying.

It probably helped iron out any wrinkles I had as well in best practices etc.

Overall pretty straightforward if you know your stuff.

Already booked IAUWS for later this month and started reading the Quick Learning Guide, I must say there are a few more grey areas than there were for the CUWSS as there are a few things you dont work on often, and some not at all so onwards and hopefully upwards.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

CCNP Wireless v2 & CCNA Wireless v2

Well at first glance looking at the exam topics for each of the exams there does not seem to be a massive amount of change. Each of the exam numbers is incremented by a single digit however the core topics remain largely unchanged.

From converstaions with various people and reading the forums such as CLN the biggest changes are updates due to code. Also how Cisco are approaching the exams is alleged to have changed in some cases quite a lot which could add to the fun.

One of the difficulties I had sitting the CCNA Wireless was remembering how things used to be done and as an entry level exam many candidates will not have seen the older code versions. I think the refresh will make a much fairer environment for the candidates however there is one major issue, no study materials.

Its been a major gripe of most candidates taking the Cisco wireless exams that there is scarecly any training or self study material. Pretty much the same for any wireless vendor exams actually! Without simulators and the need for hands on you need to be working with the equipment or very wealthy to buy a lab and or take the official traing which will have course materials, or like me determined and prepared to make the sacrifices and buy a lab and spend hours looking through the design guides. OK for me its almost a hobby.

The few books that were about for the CCNA Wireless will now be well out of date for the new exam. The CCNP Wireless Quick Reference guides will be equally out of date, that said only three of the four promised were ever released, Cisco Press still says the forth, IUWVN,will be released soon and states January 2011, hmmmm OK.

Well I think the core technologies are still relevant OK we have to forget about LWAPP now, that seems so long ago and think CAPWAP. New features like CleanAir, MSE replacing the Location Appliance etc. Largely I think alot of great information is still contained in these publications and they will help analyse your weaknesses. Once you know your weaknesses its into the design and deployment guides.

Good luck anyone taking these I have my first CCNP Wireless booked for 3/2/2012 which is CUWSS, this I should pass! Then I will take my IAUWS before the end of the month, I really want to get this before I have to start thinking about v2. I migh even dabble in v2 to see how different they are.