Category Archives: Networking

Notes about 802.1x and MAC authentication

Open network ports in offices, waiting rooms and entrance halls make me curious. Sometimes I  want to plugin a network cable, just to see if I get an IP address. I know many companies that does not care about network access control. Anybody can plugin any device to the network. When talking with customers about network access control, or port security, I often hear their complains about complexity. It’s too complex to implement, to hard to administrate. But it is not sooo complex. In the easiest setup (with mac authentication), you need a switch, that can act as authenticator, and a authentication server. But IEEE 802.1x is not much more complicated. read more

NetScaler ADC – Hidden vServer for HTTPS redirect

Starting with release 11.1, NetScaler ADC offers an easy way to redirect traffic from HTTP to HTTPS within the configuration of a load-balanced vServer. With 11.1, Citrix introduced the paramter  -redirectFromPort and -redirectURL.

While playing with a NetScaler ADC in my lab, I discovered a strange error message as I tried to configure the redirect.

Internal vserver couldn’t be set?! Okay, there was already a vServer, that was listening on port 80. After removing the vServer, I was able to setup the redirection and it was working as expected. read more

Enable IPv6 SLAAC on HPE OfficeConnect 1920 switches

The HPE OfficeConnect 1920 switch series is designed for SMBs. The switch is perfect for small environments, that require features like VLANs, routing or 802.1x. This switch is smart-managed, so it has “only” a web interface and only a limited CLI.

I have two switches in my lab: A 1910-8G and the successor, a 1920-24G. Although the device supports IPv6, it doesn’t support SLAAC (Stateless Address Autoconfiguration) by default. The switch does not send router advertisements (RA). I’m using IPv6 in my lab (Stateless DHCPv6 + SLAAC), so the missing RAs were a problem for me, or at least, annoying. Fortunately you can change the default behaviour. read more

I’m routing on the edge…

In my last post (Routed Port vs. Switch Virtual Interface (SVI)), I have mentioned a consequence of using routed ports to interconnect access and core switches:

You have to route the traffic on the access switches.

Routing on the network access, the edge of the network, is not a question of performance. It is more of a management issue. Depending on the size of your network, and the number of subnets, you have to deal with lots of routes. And think about the effort, if you add, change or remove subnets from your network. This is not what you want to do with static routes. You need a routing protocol. read more

Routed Port vs. Switch Virtual Interface (SVI)

Many years ago, networks consisted of repeaters, bridges and router. Switches are the successors of the bridges. A switch is nothing else than a multiport bridge, and a traditional switch doesn’t know how to pass traffic to a different broadcast domains (VLANs). Passing traffic between different broadcast domains, is a job for a router. A router has an IP interface in each broadcast domain, and the IP interface is used by the clients in the broadcast domain as a gateway.

Switch Virtual Interface read more

Redundancy on the first hop – VRRP

The Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP) was developed in 1998 as an open standard protocol. VRRP is the result of an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and it’s described in RFC 5798 (VRRPv3). VRRP was designed as an open standard protocol, but it uses some patents from Cisco. Its function is comparable to Cisco Hot Standby Router Protocol (HSRP), or to the Common Address Redundancy Protocol (CARP). VRRP solves a very specific problem at the network edge: It offers highly available virtual router interfaces, or in simple words: A highly available default gateway. Its home is the network edge, and because of this, VRRP is a so called first hop redundancy protocol. When moving towards network core, VRRP loses importance. If you move from the network edge to the core, redundancy is primarily offered by dynamic routing protocols and redundant links. read more

Changing DHCP server config on AOS 7

The embedded DHCP server on AOS 7 and AOS 8 is a less known feature. But it’s pretty handy in some cases, e.g. if you have no servers on premises, or you don’t want that a a non redundant firewall or router acts as DHCP server. Because you can run two or more switches as a virtual chassis, you can easily make the DHCP server role highly available.

Configuring the DHCP server

The configuration is pretty easy.

Edit the dhcpd.conf as necessary. Then start the DHCP server. read more

Dynamic VLAN assignment with AOS 6

Manually assigning ports to VLANs can be a time consuming and error prone process. Depending on the size of the network, there is a point where it doesn’t make sense to do this manually. Especially in SMB networks, VLANs are assigned manually, because the effort of automating the VLAN assignment exceeds the effort for manually assigning VLANs. Those environments are often very static. I know many SMB networks where VLAN have not been addressed for a long time. With declining costs for Layer 3 switches, the separation of workloads in VLANs for SMB customers became affordable. Server virtualization was another mainspring for VLANs and inter-VLAN routing. To be honest: I’m talking about SMB customers, not enterprise customers or enterprise-grade SMB customers (latter is my special term for SMB customers with enormous IT budgets…). But the main driver for VLANs was Voice over IP (VoIP). With the increasing proliferation of VoIP, even the smallest SMB customer were forced to use VLANs. But this led to situations, where customers had to change the switch config every time a new client or IP phone was added to the network. Common workarounds: read more

Microsoft Windows: Avoiding COM port proliferation

This is not a specific problem of Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) OmniSwitches, but I’m affected by this behaviour and it’s really, really annoying. It’s not a problem with the switch, but with the device handling of Windows.

ALE delivers a micro USB-to-USB cable with each OmniSwtich 6860E. This cable is used to connect to the console port of the switch. Each time you connect the cable, Windows will discover a new USB-to-UART bridge and creates a new COM port. This happens each time you connect to a new switch or if you choose another USB port. Over time, you will see the number of COM ports increasing (COM 2, COM 3, COM 4, COM 5…). read more

Windows recieves wrong DNS server from DHCP after DHCPINFORM

Last week, I was surprisingly booked by a customer who observed a problem in his network. Unfortunately, colleagues worked on this network some day before (moving servers, routers etc. to a new pair of HP 7509 new core switches).

It was quickly clear, that some of the clients have received the wrong DNS servers from the DHCP server. The environment is a bit unusual. The customer is running two Active Directory domains (root and sub domain) in a single layer 2 broadcast domain. This nothing unusual, but he is also running two DHCP servers in the same layer 2 broadcast domain. To get this working, the customer uses exclusion ranges and reservations. This guarantees, that the client receives the correct DHCP information. read more