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Windows Server 2019 Free Webinar

Posted in Other Articles

With Microsoft Ignite just around the corner, Windows Server 2019 is set to get its full release and the signs look good. Very good. Unless you’re part of the Windows Server insider program - which grants you access to the latest Windows Server Preview builds - you probably haven’t had a hands-on experience yet with Windows Server 2019 but the guys over at Altaro have and are preparing to host a webinar on the 3rd of October to tell you all about it.

altaro windows server 2019 webinar

The webinar will be held a week after Microsoft Ignite so it will cover the complete feature set included in the full release as well as a more in-depth look at the most important features in Windows Server 2019. Whenever a new version of Windows Server gets released there’s always a lot of attention and media coverage so it’s nice to have an hour long session where you can sit back and let a panel of Microsoft experts cut through the noise and give you all the information you need.

It’s also a great chance to ask your questions direct to those with the inside knowledge and receive answers live on air. Over 2000 people have now registered for this webinar and we’re going to be joining too. It’s free to register - what are you waiting for?

Save your seat: https://goo.gl/V9tYYb

Nexus 7000/7700 Software Upgrade via ISSU. Complete Upgrade Guide, Configuration Check, Verifying ISSU Capability

Posted in Cisco Data Center

nexus 7000 issu upgradeThis article shows how to perform an ISSU (In-Service Software Upgrade) on a Nexus Data Center switch (7000 and 7700 models) and avoid service and network disruption. We explain the importance of keeping your NX-OS software updated, how the upgrade process is executed, explain the purpose of the Kickstart and System images, provide methods on how to transfer the NX-OS images to the switch bootflash on both supervisor engines, verify ISSU capability and test/simulate the upgrade process.

In addition we cover useful commands to discover issues that might occur during the upgrade process, configuration backup methods, upgrading a Nexus 7000 and Nexus 7700 series with single or dual Supervisor Engines (SUP1 and SUP2 models).

Here is a quick overview of what’s covered:

Why Upgrade Your Nexus 7000/7700 NX-OS Software

Upgrading your NX-OS can be a daunting task as there is always the risk something might go wrong. Despite this, it is very important to ensure your core Nexus switch is running one of the latest and supported images.

If you’re looking for reasons why to take the risk and upgrade, here are a few that might help convince:

  • Old NX-OS images might be stable but usually contain a number of bugs and security vulnerabilities that can put your core network and organization in risk.
  • Your NX-OS version might not be supported any more. This means that in an event of a failure or problem, Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) might require you to upgrade to a supported NX-OS version before providing any support.
  • Support of new features, services and technologies. By upgrading to a newer NX-OS you’ll be able to take advantage of newer features that will now be supported.
  • Support of new Modules and Supervisor Engines. When considering upgrading your Nexus Supervisor Engines or adding new modules it’s likely an upgrade will be required to support them.
  • Peace of Mind. Knowing you’re on a supported, tested and patched up version always helps sleeping better at night!

It’s always recommended to perform a thorough research of the NX-OS version under consideration to identify caveats or issues that might affect your production environment. This information can be found on Cisco’s website or by opening a Cisco TAC Service Request.

What is an ISSU Upgrade?

The ISSU upgrade process provides us with the ability to upgrade a Nexus 7000/7700 switch without network or service disruption. During the ISSU process all Nexus modules and Supervisor Engines are fully upgraded without requiring a switch reboot.

Advanced Network Protocol Analyzer Review: Colasoft Capsa Enterprise 11

Posted in Network Protocol Analyzers

Firewall.cx has covered Colasoft Capsa several times in the past, but its constant improvements make it well worth revisiting. Since the last review, the version has bumped from 7.6.1 to 11.1.2+, keeping a similar interface but scoring plenty of new features. In fact, its change is significant enough to warrant a full re-evaluation rather than a simple comparison.

For the unfamiliar, Colasoft Capsa Enterprise is a widely respected network protocol analyzer that goes far beyond free packet sniffers like Wireshark. It gives users detailed information about packets, conversations, protocols, and more, while also tying in diagnosis and security tools to assess network health. It was named as a visionary in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Network Performance Monitoring and Diagnostics in 2018, which gives an idea of its power. Essentially, it’s a catch-all for professionals who want a deeper understanding of their network.

Installing Capsa Enterprise 11

The installation of Capsa Enterprise is a clear merit, requiring little to no additional configuration. The installer comes in at 84 MB, a very reasonable size that will be quick to download on most connections. From there, it’s a simple case of pressing Next a few times.

However, Colasoft does give additional options during the process. There’s the standard ability to choose the location of the install, but also choices of a Full, Compact, or Custom install. It lets users remove parts of the network toolset as required to reduce clutter or any other issues. Naturally, Firewall.cx is looking at the full capabilities for the purpose of this review.

capsa enterprise v11 installation options

The entire process takes only a few minutes, with Capsa automatically installing the necessary drivers. Capsa does prompt a restart after completion, though it can be accessed before then to register a serial number. The software offers both an online option for product registration and an offline process that makes use of a license file. It’s a nice touch that should appease the small percentage of users without a connection.

Using Capsa Enterprise 11

After starting Capsa Enterprise for the first time, users are presented with a dashboard that lets them choose a network adapter, select an analysis profile, or load packet files for replay. Selecting an adapter reveals a graph of network usage over time to make it easier to discern the right one. A table above reveals the speed, number of packets sent, utilization, and IP address to make that process even easier.

capsa enterprise v11 protocol analyzer dashboard

 However, it’s after pressing the Start button that things get interesting. As data collection begins, Capsa starts to display it in a digestible way, revealing live graphs with global utilization, total traffic, top IP addresses, and top application protocols.

DHCP Option 82 Message Format, Analysis. DHCP Snooping Option 82 Injection & Removal Method, Trusted – Untrusted Switch Ports

Posted in Cisco Switches - Catalyst Switch Configuration

This article provides in-depth analysis of DHCP Option 82 (DHCP Relay Agent) which is one of the +180 DHCP Options available to the DHCP protocol and used by the Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP) used for allowing  diskless client machines to discover and obtain their IP address. We’ll show you how DHCP Option 82 is used when implementing DHCP Snooping, the structure and content of DHCP Option 82, how and where it’s injected and removed from DHCP messages plus much more. You’ll can also download our DHCP/BOOTP Options Excel file and Wireshark packet captures of DHCP packets with Option 82 used in this article to help further understand all topics covered.

Let’s take a look at the list of topics covered in this article:

It’s highly recommend to read through our DHCP Snooping – DHCP Attack Mitigation article which is a foundation article.

The ‘DHCP Options’ Field within a DHCP Packet

The DHCP Options field is included inside every DHCP packet and is critical for the correct operation of the DHCP/BOOTP protocol.  You’d be surprised to know that there are almost 200 different DHCP Options available and there are more added as new features are introduced in the protocol.

The material used in this article such as wireshark DHCP Options 82 packet captures and DHCP/BOOTP Options excel file are freely available to download from our Article Attachments section.

The diagram below shows the structure of a DHCP packet and highlights the position of the DHCP Options field.

DHCP Packet-Diagram

It is important to understand that the above DHCP packet is the data payload within an Ethernet frame using UDP as the transport protocol.

The below screenshot was taken from a packet analyzer and shows an Ethernet frame with the DHCP data payload expanded:

dhcp packet capture with dhcp options

We’ve highlighted sections of the DHCP protocol using the same colours as our previous diagram to help the correlation process. Every field shown in our diagram maps directly to the fields of the captured DHCP packet.

The area marked in green is the section where the DHCP Options field is located. In our captured packet there are a total of 8 DHCP Options used, among them is also Option 82 (Agent Information Option).

DHCP Option 82 (Agent Relay) Message Format, Structure & Fields

The DHCP Option 82, aka Agent Relay Information Option or Agent Information Option, was originally created by RFC 3046 to allow the DHCP relay agent (e.g switch, router, firewall or server) to identify itself and the DHCP client that sent the original DHCP message.

The DHCP Option 82 is inserted and removed by the DHCP Agent Relay (e.g switch) as shown in the diagram below:

 insertion of dhcp option 82 by relay agent

While some DHCP servers might not support the Option 82 they are still required to copy the Option 82 value received from the DHCP client and include it in all replies back to the client. We’ll discuss the Option 82 insertion and removal process in the next section.

As we saw earlier, the DHCP Options field is positioned at the end of the DHCP packet and always contains multiple DHCP options. This of course means the DHCP Option field varies in length according to the number of options used:

The Most Common Worst Networking Practices and How To Fix Them

Posted in SD-WAN

gartner report worst networking practicesIn the rush to keep pace with the many challenges facing today’s organizations, all too often networking teams end up adopting practices and processes that are, shall we say, less than perfect. You probably have seen a few yourself in your own organization.

Management refusing to consider new vendors because, well, they’re new. Engineers wanting to do everything manually when automation would save them a ton of time. Overspending on capacity when there are more affordable alternatives. You get the picture.

Some practices are well known, others are less obvious. A great starting point for identifying the worst of the worst in your organization was a recent list compiled by Gartner. The list culls insight from several thousand client interactions.  While the Gartner report requires payment,  a free eBook from Cato Networks explains each networking practice and how they can be addressed with a cloud-based SD-WAN.

The practices fall into three categories — cultural, design and operational, and financial:

  • Cultural practices describe how IT teams relate to collaboration, and more broadly, innovation. Excessive risk avoidance is one example of a “worst” cultural practice. Adherence to manually configuring networking device and the silo-ism that often crops up among IT teams are other examples.
  • Design and operational practices are those practices that restrict the agility, increase the costs, and complicate the troubleshooting of the enterprise network. These practices often stem from having amassed legacy technologies, forcing less than ideal practices. Other practices include the lack of a business-centric network strategy, spending too much for WAN bandwidth, and restricted visibility into the network.
  • Financial “bad” practices stem from the dependencies IT organizations have on their legacy vendor relationships. All too often, busy IT professionals cut corners by leaning on their vendors for technology advice. This particularly the case in newer technologies where an IT professional may lack sufficient background to conduct an assessment. Vendors and their partners have a commercial interest in furthering their own aims, of course. As such, companies end up being locked into vendors or following questionable advice.

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