Hello everybody. Well I promised a post on what I thought of the IPexpert BLS so far since receiving it Monday, and a technical rambling regarding what I have learned thusfar about Frame-Relay.

First Thoughts On IPexpert BLS

First, I will tell you my thoughts on the BLS. I will preface this by saying I am in no way affiliated with any of the vendors and do not wish to sell you anything. I promise. My first thought when I opened up the little box containing the USB hard disk was “Wow, this is so compact!” It truly is a portable solution. The hard drive is a very reasonable 2.5″ USB 2.0 hard drive with the IPexpert logo on the top of it. It comes with a USB cable. Another thing I love about it, is that the USB provides power to the drive, so no heavy and space consuming power supply to lug around. It is great for studying wherever you want, which for me means wherever I feel like taking my laptop and headphones that night. I don’t have a digital camera right now, but I believe Arden has posted some pics over on his page. When you plug in the drive, you just run an executable to fire up the main “home” page which contains very nicely laid out buttons going to all the major categories such as “Video On Demand” “Workbooks” “Audio Lectures” and “Communities” as well as stuff for rack rentals. I quickly learned that the workbooks are accessible via your online account so that you are sure to have the most up to date copies. While I understand that, I sort of wish they would provide you with all the content printed out and in some nice binders. I did spend a very good portion of my work day printing over 2500 pages of material on our heavy duty xerox color laser printer, punching holes in all the pages, putting them in binders, etc. You get the eBook volume 1 as well as volume 1, 2, 3 of the workbooks with proctor guides. I still have to print off volume 3 πŸ™‚ It is definitely an intimidating stack of material to look through. I actually received access to the workbooks a day before my hard drive came so I couldn’t help but flip through some of the scenarios. I quickly realized how much I don’t know. Then I decided I better not get too down on myself, and actually go through the materials first before trying to conquer the world in one night. The audio lectures are also available for download from your online account, so I took that opportunity and moved everything over to my iPod as well. The audio lectures are simply the audio portion of the video on demand classes. I find this pretty cool, because even if I am in the car or at work or something I can get repetition. I used the community feature to join up on a mailing list and have already received a good amount of email from other group members. I’ve been very impressed by the responses given my seasoned CCIEs thusfar. OK so on to the Video on Demand! I was particularly impressed by IPexpert’s choice to use high definition video. It really looks awesome…I mean Scott Morris in shining 720p what more could a geek ask for? The video plays in a proprietary little software application. My laptop is kind of lagging in power with only 512MB of RAM so I do experience some lag from time to time. Not that big of a deal, and I really blame my machine more than anything. I was really pleased to see that the one and only Scott Morris teaches the entire Video On Demand. It’s nice that you still get his expertise here, even after his recent departure for IE. The first video is essentially tips for taking the lab exam. Everything from read the entire exam first, to don’t be afraid to ask the proctor questions to everything in between. We get into the technical meat in video #2 Frame-Relay. It seems every section is laid out into 2 videos. The first explains the technology conceptually, and the second video involves configuration exercises.

I am just going to share with you guys the notes I jotted down regarding Frame Relay, and some of my thoughts. The information comes quick. I mean, this is after all a CCIE level course. Nothing is really spoon fed to you. It is assumed you already know a LOT, which I like.

General Good Tips

The first tip I wrote down was where to find Frame stuff on the DocCD: Configuration Guides/WAN Network Guide, then find Frame-Relay. I printed that bad boy off at work today too…love that Xerox πŸ™‚ I also jotted down the helpful hint that almost every command begins with “frame-relay” so that is a good place to start if you are hunting through the command reference.


OK, next we got into LMI vs end to end PVCs. Remember, your LMI is between you and the frame switch only. Of course we have cisco, ansi, and Q933A modes. Your LMI type MUST match the frame switch but it is usually not a big deal these days with LMI auto sense. Another great thing to remember is that the Cisco LMI type is technically supported by many other vendors. Also, LMI type and Frame type are 2 seperate things. We were told that in the real lab your frame switch will likely be hard coded for Cisco…if you get in a situation involving multi-vendor support, probably best to look at your frame type and not the LMI type.

Fun With DLCIs And Their Status’

Alright DLCIs and what the status’ mean:

– Active: Good πŸ™‚

– Inactive: Good between router and frame switch, but something missing on the other side of the PVC. Likely a timing issue

– Deleted: Probably a local configuration issue. Why? Well, if you assign a DLCI to an interface, and start sending it out, but the frame switch doesn’t agree that you actually should be using that DLCI it sends it back to you as deleted

LMI Full Status Updates For Fun & Profit <– Always wanted to use “For Fun & Profit” in a title

Alright, on to the wonderful and exciting world of LMI full status updates. First, it is important to lay the foundation for how the technology is supposed to work by default, so that we are prepared to tweak it for lab tasks if need be. Alright, by default LMI full status updates happen every 6 keepalives. The default keepalive is 10 seconds, so simple math tells us that the LMI full status updates by default happen every 60 seconds. What if we have a requirement to alter that behavior? Say Mr. Proctor tells us to ensure LMI full status updates happen every … 300 seconds instead. Changing the keepalive timer won’t really help us, because the keepalive timer should match between the router and frame switch and we don’t have access to the frame switch in the lab..hmmmmm. We CAN however change the value for the # of keepalives to send between full status updates. The magic command: frame-relay lmi-n391dte

Frame-Relay Interface Types

Pretty straight forward here, we have Physical, Point-To-Point and Multipoint. Physical interfaces don’t require a frame-relay interface-dlci command. If a DLCI is not defined on a sub interface it is assume to belong to the physical interface. Point-To-Point sub interfaces require the frame-relay interface-dlci command for layer 3 to layer 2 mapping. Likewise, a multipoint interface will use frame-relay interface-dlci or a frame map for the same purpose.

Back To Back Frame-Relay

Well…there is no frame switch to handle our DLCI management here. Mainly this boils down to 3 main things

1) Turn off LMI – no keepalive

2) Both sides must use the same DLCI – Remember DLCIs are locally significant…but with no frame switch they are locally significant between each other!

3) One side needs to provide clocking

Inverse ARP

It seems that we are trained right from the beginning that Inverse ARP with regards to the CCIE lab is pretty much evil. It is pretty much assumed that we will be requested to not use it in the lab. You can accomplish this with no frame-relay inverse-arp. What I found particularly useful was learning that you can disable it per IP address via no frame-relay inverse-arp ip <DLCI> That could help is in a situation where we might be requested to not use static mapping but also selectively use certain DLCIs when having more than one DLCI to get to a certain place. Another good thing I learned was that when a DLCI is placed on a sub interface it will not initiate inverse-arp but will respond to them. Seems it is best to simply disable inverse-arp all together unless told otherwise and stick to static mappings.

*Another Fun Frame-Relay Fact* when doing frame maps, you only need to specify the broadcast keyword once per PVC.

Frame-Relay Multilink (FRF.16)

– Uses an mfr interface via interface mfr 1 or interface mfr1.100 point-to-point/multipoint

– The DLCI must match on all the links you wish to bundle together

– Verification via “show frame-relay multilink”

PPP Over Frame-Relay

– Uses a virtual-template interface interface virtual-template 1 which contains your IP address configuration and other L3 stuff like perhaps PPP authentication

– Physical interface links your virtual-template to the interface with frame-relay interface-dlci <dlci> ppp virtual-template 1

– Remember when doing show ip interface brief or other commands, the virtual-template interface will actually show as down. This is normal.

Well those are pretty much my notes for Frame-Relay. This is getting pretty boring and long, so I won’t even go into my notes on the frame configuration right now. One thing I like about writing this stuff out, is that it really actually helps refresh my memory. Hey even if I am boring, I am at least getting something out of it. Consider this as sort of my personal journal, but viewable to the world. It’s really for my benefit as much as anything else.

When I started the configuration video, I got inspired to lab it up for real in my basement. The first part of the video deals with a pretty straight forward Hub and spoke frame network with 1 Hub and 2 spokes. Easy enough…I used a 2520 for my frame switch, a 2511 for an AS, a 2514 for my hub, and a 2501/2502 for my spokes. Unfortunately, I only have 8MB RAM and Flash in most of them, so the best IOS I can still find for download is like 12.1.27 but oh well. It seemed to work pretty well for the purpose. Then Scott added a 4th router for much of the rest of the video and I was screwed because I ran out of DTE/DCE crossover cables. I ordered some more today. I still should really go over actually DOING the back to back exercises as well as the ones involving back to back with frame-relay multilink. Then, when I get add a 3rd spoke going through the other stuff.

Well I hope this is useful for somebody out there πŸ™‚ Cheers, I’m going on vacation now! I’ll be out of town this weekend and plan on fully enjoying myself. Yes, I will bring the laptop, but likely not the portable hard drive or any Cisco Press this time πŸ™‚ I plan on hitting the ground running Monday or Tuesday if I’m still wiped out.

– Joe A.