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Afroz Ahmad

My Official Blog


Category: Data Center

What is Bluecoat Packet Shaper and why we need it ?? :-  

Does your network know the difference between important web traffic like online meetings, and lower-priority traffic like games or streaming media? In a world that is increasingly more interactive, mobile, and content-driven, Blue Coat PacketShaper helps enterprises control bandwidth cost, deliver a superior user experience and align network resources with business priorities.

Below are some of the benefits of Bluecoat Packetshaper :-

  • Superior user experience.
  • Lower bandwidth cost.
  • Reserve bandwidth for critical applications
  • Contain disruptive traffic and slow bandwidth increases
  • Easily embrace new trends such as BYOD, video, cloud and social media
  • Eliminate potential bandwidth increases

Requirement :-

The very first step in deploying any new hardware into the production network is to understand the requirement and actual need of the hardware to be deployed. It is evident that addition of a new hardware adds complexity and sometime creates more problems rather than solving them. Also , placement of the device in the production network directly relates to the requirement or the purpose we want that device to serve.

In our scenario, the main reason of adding Bluecoat packet shaper is to classify, shape and prioritize outgoing internet traffic so that bandwidth hungry application (like facebook, youtube,etc) can be limited to certain level and business related internet traffic can be prioritized accordingly.
The second reason was to see internet traffic in real time aka visibility.
Ordering the right Hardware :- 
We have ordered Bluecoat PS400 with one year support and additionally we ordered 4 port expansion NIC card in order to connect more devices. Below is the snap of actual bill of material.
Deployment Strategy :-
After understanding the requirement , the second step is to plan for deployment. As the primary goal was to shape outgoing internet traffic , so the best place to install packetshaper is just behind the internet router and above all firewalls so that it can capture all traffic.
Although this deployment cannot classify encrypted traffic (for example , site to site or remote client VPN traffic terminating on firewalls ).
After finalizing device placement the next step was to design the strategy and phases in which the installation will take place.  Initially we thought of doing this in two phases , watch mode and inline mode. Watch
For minimal impact on production network , initially we thought that we will deploy Bluecoat packet shaper in two Phases.
1. Watch Mode
We will connect Bluecoat Packet-shaper in watch mode in DMZ area first , and monitor and understand the traffic flow. We will use SPAN to copy traffic from Internet interface to bluecoat interface.
2. Inline Mode
After traffic segregation, we will connect Bluecoat into the internet traffic flow .
But after discussion with Bluecoat experts we finalized that in first phase we will deploy packet shaper directly in Inline mode and will turn shaping off while discovery on , so that it can pass through all traffic without applying any shaping rules.
In second phase, We will monitor traffic for at least two weeks and after understanding traffic types and flows we will put shaping rules in place.
Implementation :-
There are lots of good documents available on bluecoat website that I will provide in the end of the topic as reference points. Here I will only discuss the approach that I took and problems I faced.
Below are the steps I performed :-
1.Unbox the bluecoat package and verify that all required parts are available inside box.
2.If you have ordered any separate NIC cards then install it into the slot. Here I have faced difficulty in opening the slot , after sometimes I figured out that there is button on the top of the Bluecoat packetshaper that you need to open first and then remove the entire module in order to install the NIC. I would suggest doing configuration first and then rack and cable the device.
3.Now you need to access Blueocat  via GUI or CLI through console. Because bluecoat comes with factory set ip that is , so the easiest way I found is to connect laptop through a RJ45 cable into Management port and provide one ip on the laptop in the same range without any default gateway  (For example . And then open the browser and type
the default read-write username/password is “touch/touch”. Alternatively you can also get CLI access (as it is required for running some critical commands) through console port.
I would suggest to do the initial configuration through CLI and the steps are self explanatory and easy.
Only two things that I found little bit tricky is Inbound and outbound bps rate that I set to 100m as my switch and router interfaces are also hardcoded to 100m/full duplex. The next thing is the class tree , as there are two option Default or Model , I selected default. Also make sure Shaping is turned off if you donot have rules in place as this might drop traffic.
4.Now once you are in the bluecoat , the next important thing is to license the device. You can get the license by providing serial number on the bluecoat site or to the vendor from where you have purchased the device. After getting license (in .bcl format), you need to upload it via inbuilt file browser into bluecoat file directories.
and then run  command (license load <file location>) in order to install the license. In order to complete license installation you need to reset the device as well.
Here I faced some challenges in finding the directory where I loaded the license , so make sure the directory location must start with” file://localhost” and then the file location.
Sample Output :-

PacketShaper# license load file://localhost/9.258/license.bcl
Updating license from: file://localhost/9.258/license.bcl
License is updated.
Run the “reset” command to activate the new license.
PacketShaper# reset

Please confirm if you really want to proceed (YES):

5.After license installation , the next step is to install the latest software/image into the Bluecoat. The method is same , we need to first upload software in to the directory called “9.258/images” and then run command “setup images add file://ps_11_3-.bcs”  .The latest software recommended by Bluecoat was 11.3 at the time of installation.
Sample Output :-
PacketShaper# setup images add file://ps_11_3-.bcs
Installing image. Please wait…
Image upgrade successful. Please reset to activate new image.
PacketShaper# reset
Please confirm if you really want to proceed (YES): y
Run below command for verification.
PacketShaper# setup image show
List of Installed Images
PacketShaper     Release Id: 146516
PacketShaper     Release Id: 157419  (A)

Total 2 images. (A) Active image

6. Now your bluecoat is ready to be racked and cabled.
Racking instruction :- As bluecoat comes with RAIL type kit so make sure you are familiar of racking rail mounted devices.
Cabling Instruction :-
Bluecoat and Router :- Cross Over cable (out port)
Bluecoat and Switch :- Straight through (in port)
7. After successfully installing bluecoat device I faced a strange thing that all bluecoat ports negotiated speed as 100 mbps and half duplex although all upstream and downstream devices was hard coded for 100 mbps and full duplex. This was critical as it might hamper entire internet performance of users on the production day .
After troubleshooting for sometime , I realized that it is better to hard code at Blueocoat interface level as well.
And voila it worked like a champ. Below are the sample outputs.
PacketShaper# setup nic Slot4_in1 100bt full
slot4_in1 interface set to 100Mbps full-duplex
PacketShaper# setup nic Slot4_out1 100bt full
slot4_out1 interface set to 100Mbps full-duplex
PacketShaper# setup nic Slot4_in2 100bt full
slot4_in2 interface set to 100Mbps full-duplex
PacketShaper# setup nic Slot4_out2 100bt full
slot4_out2 interface set to 100Mbps full-duplex
8. If everything is fine and traffic is passing through Bluecoat as expected , we will see below graph on the home screen.
Testing :-
Testing is very critical for any kind of deployment.
Although we are putting Bluecoat in inline mode , initially all traffic will be pass through and we will observe traffic for two  week and collect data before putting any rules.
1.Unplug first physical connection from Internet Router and see if traffic going through second connection.
2.Switch off the Bluecoat and test whether traffic is passing or not.. –> Very Important
3. Test all of its VPN’s and Wensense traffic before and after bluecoat PS Installation.
4.Test all DMVPN tunnels from the DMVPN router before and after bluecoat PS installation.
5.Test public services from LAN before and after bluecoat PS installation.
Useful Links :-

This exercise has been completed on Nexus 7K titanium emulator. I am running two N7K titanium machines inside vmware workstation and have connected 7 network adapters to emulate the physical interfaces in N7K, i am using titanium emulator version 5.2.1, if you are curious to know about the N7K titanium emulator and how to install inside vmware workstation, i will be writing more stuffs on it, soon.


I have connected my network adapters as follows on both machines, we can check which physical Ethernet interface on N7K machine is connected to network interface card on vmware workstation by simply disconnecting and watching ” show interface brief” on N7K console  which interface is going down.


Right now my Ethernet2/1 on both N7K is connected to Vmnet4 on both vmware machines.We need to confirm and recheck else our virtual machines will not talk to each other, they should be on the same Vmnet. Lets start with our configuration.

Step 1:- Lets change the hostname of the device and assign N7K-1 to one machine and assign N7K-2 to other machine, by our old IOS familiar command “hostname N7K-1″.

N7K# conf t
Enter configuration commands, one per line.  End with CNTL/Z.
N7K(config)# hostname N7K-1  –>Same for other machine  as N7K-2.

Step-2:- Assign ip address of N7K-1 Ethernet2/1 as and unshut the interface, also assign ip address of N7K-2 Ethernet2/1 as and unshut the interface.Verify connectivity by pinging across the interfaces.

N7K-1(config)# ping
PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=254 time=1.747 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=254 time=1.262 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=254 time=1.423 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=254 time=1.396 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=4 ttl=254 time=1.58 ms

— ping statistics —
5 packets transmitted, 5 packets received, 0.00% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max = 1.262/1.481/1.747 ms

Step-3 Check VRF membership of all interfaces inside N7K by ” show vrf interface”, by default there should be one “management” vrf for interface “mgmt0″and all other interfaces assigned to “default” vrf. Create a Loopback0 interface on N7K-1 and N7K-2 as and Also Create a VRF instance OSPF-VRF and assign it to interface Eth2/1 and Loopback0. Verify vrf assignment by “sh vrf interface”


We can also verify with “sh run vrf OSPF-VRF” to check the interface vrf assignment.


Step 4 Configure the same on N7K-2 with the loopback0 address of and vrf as OSPF-VRF and assign it to interface eth2/1 and loopback0.


Step 5 Next we start our OSPF configuration , this Lab is completed under vrf just to show the vrf functionality along with OSPF, we can also run OSPF without vrf instance  in NXOS like we do in IOS. First we enable the “feature ospf” and configure some basic OSPF commands and assign Area 0 to interface Eth2/1 on both N7K and assign Area 1 and Area 2 to both Loopback0. And in the end we will verify our OSPF neighborship and routes received.


Step 6 :- We will verify our configuration with various show commands. And play around with OSPF.


We can also clear ospf process by “clear ip ospf neighbor vrf OSPF-VRF” and by command”restart ospf 1″ . And watch hellos send and received and other ospf traffic related parameters by “sh ip ospf traffic vrf OSPF-VRF”.


We can also configure OSPF authentication in NXOS same as IOS.


This lab has been completed on Nexus 7010 with following hardware and software installed, it can be seen here in my previous post.

In this task we will configure ACLs using the atomic programming feature of Cisco NX-OS
Software. In addition, we will investigate the method used to modify, validate and re sequence ACLs.

Step 1 On your N7K switch create two object-groups, one named ALLOWSUBNETS and the other BADPORTS.

N7k Object1

N7k Object2

Step 2 Exit global configuration mode and reenter using the configure session command.
Name our session ACL-CHECKER
N7K11-pod3# configure session ACL-CHECKER

Step 3 Create an IP access list named BIG-ACL.
N7K11-pod3(config-s)# ip access-list BIG-ACL

Step 4 Assign the object-groups named ALLOWSUBNETS and BADPORTS created in Step 1 above to the IP access list BIG-ACL.
N7K11-pod3(config-s-acl)# permit ip addrgroup ALLOWNETS any
N7K11-pod3(config-s-acl)# deny tcp any port-group BADPORTS any

Step 5 Add the following deny statements to the access list named BIG-ACL.
N7K11-pod3(config-s-acl)# deny tcp any
N7K11-pod3(config-s-acl)# deny tcp any
N7K11-pod3(config-s-acl)# deny tcp any
N7K11-pod3(config-s-acl)# deny tcp any
N7K11-pod3(config-s-acl)# exit

Step 6 Assign the IP access list BIG-ACL to the port channel interface within our pod
VDC in the ingress direction.
N7K11-pod3(config-s)# interface port-channel 1

N7K11-pod3(config-s-if)# ip access-group BIG-ACL in
N7K11-pod3(config-s-if)# exit

Step 7 Step 7 Verify the configuration session ACL-CHECK.
N7K11-pod3(config-s)# verify
Verification Successful

Step 8 If the operation in Step 7 was successful, then commit the session to the running
N7K11-pod3(config-s)# commit
Commit Successful

N7k Object3

We can check our access-list just configured by ” show access-list BIG-ACL”. Also we can insert multiple sequence in between our access-list sequence, here we will insert sequence 11 to 19 between 10 and 20.

N7k ACL1

We can resequence the ACL also by using “resequence ip access-list BIG-ACL [start-seq] [end-seq]” and we can verify our new restructured ACL.

N7k ACL2

We can use several Show commands like “show ip access-list”, ” sh access-list”to check our configuration like “, one cool command is “Show running-config aclmgr”

N7k ACL3


This exercise has been done on Nexus 7010 chassis with following pieces installed:-

  • Dual supervisor modules, dual power supplies, dual system fans, dual fabric fans, and three fabric modules per chassis.
  • One 48-port 1 Gigabit Ethernet I/O module per chassis.
  • One 32-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet I/O module per chassis with SFP+ SR optical transceivers installed.
  • Cisco NX-OS LAN Enterprise License.
  • Cisco NX-OS LAN Advanced Services License.

First we verify the hardware discussed above.

N7K Module

The above output shows One 48-port 1 Gigabit Ethernet I/O module and One 32-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet I/O module and three fabric modules per chassis installed  in the Nexus 7010. The rest of the hardware can be easily seen by our very old IOS familiar command “Show environment” and NXOS version can be seen by “Show Version” command.

Without AAA, IOS relies on privilege levels.  Privilege levels (0-15) defines locally what level of access a user has when logged into an IOS device, i.e. what commands are permitted.

  • Privilege Level 1 — Normal level on Telnet; includes all user-level commands at the router> prompt.
  • Privilege Level 15 — Includes all enable-level commands at the router# prompt.

NX-OS uses a different concept for the same purpose, known as User Roles. User Roles contain rules that define the operations allowed for a particular user assigned to a role. There are default User Roles:

  • Network-Admin—Complete read-and-write access to the entire NX-OS device (only available in the default VDC).
  • Network-Operator—Complete read access to the entire NX-OS device (Default User Role).
  • VDC-Admin—Read-and-write access limited to a VDC (VDCs are not yet available on Nexus 5000).
  • VDC-Operator—Read access limited to a VDC (Default User Role).

VDC(s) allow the partitioning of a single physical Nexus 7000 device into multiple logical devices. This logical separation provides the following benefits:

  • Administrative and management separation
  • Change and failure domain isolation from other VDCs
  • Address, VLAN, VRF, and vPC isolation

We will discuss VDC in detail in upcoming posts.

When a NX-OS device is setup for the first time, during the first login, a Network-Admin account must be specified and subsequently be used to login. Arguably a bit more secure that IOS. Any additional users created locally after that will by default receive the User Role “Network-Operator“, unless specified implicitly.

Note:-User Roles are local to a switch and only relevant in the absence of AAA being configured.

When logging into a N5K or a N7K system VDC, the default User-Roles assigned is “network-operator”. When logging into a VDC, the default User-Roles is “vdc-operator”.

Apart from above system default roles we can create custom roles as per our requirement.Lets create a new role AFROZ and assign read and write privileges to this role.

In the below figure we have created a new role AFROZ, assigned read and read-write privileges with feature-group L3-ROUTE , feature-group L3-ROUTE has all routing protocol feature.

N7k role

Additionally we can configure our role(AFROZ) to permit or deny a feature. Here we will deny all Vlans except the range 1-100 and deny all VRF instances except for vrf INTERSWITCH and Limit access to all interfaces except the first two 1 Gigabit Ethernet and port channel interface  and verify our configuration.

N7k role deny

Now we will assure that strong passwords are supported and that any roles are distributed
between adjacent Cisco Nexus devices. We will check our password strength by attaching the role AFROZ to a new user. Create a new user named “afroz” and assign the password “afroz123” obviously without quotes. As we have already enabled password strength now NXOS tells us that the current password it weak , so now we will assign a password Rbac@AFROZ, and now the NXOS system excepts it.

Then we will check the status of the configured “roles” and apply the user role configuration changes in the temporary database to the running configuration and distribute the user to role configuration by “role distribute” to adjacent nexus devices.

N7k rbac









Data Center Architecture High Level Overview:-


1. Data Center Networking

2.Application Networking

3.Data Center Security

4.Unified Computing System

5.Unified Fabric

6.Storage Networking

7.Operations & Management

8.Services Component

9.Branch Operations

Overview Of Each Component and Devices Used:-

1.Data Center Networking:- Data Center networking accesses services and connectivity at the data link and network layer.

DC Networking Provides:-

  • Layer 2 services
  • Layer 3 services (as needed)
  • Server access and aggregartion
  • Core Switching
  • 10G and/or 1G connectivity.
  • VLANs
  • Virtual Devices Contexts or VDC

Products from Cisco in DC networking includes:-

  • Nexus switch family(7000,5000,3000,2000,1000)
  • Catalyst switch family(6500,4500,4900)


2.Application Networking :- Application networking assures efficient use of network resources.It Provides :-

  • Server load balancing
  • WAAS(Wide Area Application support)
  • Application Control

Products from Cisco and Other Vendors:-

  • Application Control Engine (ACE) from cisco and  LTM or GTM from F5
  • WAAS from cisco and Riverbed Products like Riverbed Steelhead
  • Wide Area Application Engine or WAE from cisco


3.Data Center Security:-Security protects critical business assets and information from internal and external threats. Security provides in depth protection of network devices, applications and operating system via:

  • Firewall security and deep packet inspection
  • Access Control
  • Host and Network intrusion detection
  • Attack mitigation systems
  • Anti-virus systems

Products from Cisco and Other Vendors:-

  • Catalyst firewall service modules
  • ASA firewall appliances
  • Juniper , Checkpoint and other vendors security product range


4.Unified Computing System:-UCS brings together compute, network and system management into a scalable, cohesive system. UCS is the only product range from cisco in the current market of its class.UCS provides:-

  • Single converged system
  • Programmable infrastructure
  • Unified Fabric

Products from Cisco:-

  • UCS B-Series chassis-based servers
  • UCS C-Series Rack mount servers


5.Unified Fabric:-Unified fabric is based on open standards, and integrates silos to allow access across the data center. Unified fabric provides:-

  • 10G server access
  • Fibre Channel over Ethernet(FCoE) functionality
  • I/O consolidation
  • LAN/SAN server connectivity

Products from Cisco:-

  • Nexus 5000 and Nexus 2000 with appropriate NXOS image and license


6.Storage Networking(SAN):-Storage networking constitute both the actual storage components and the link between storage and servers.SAN provides:-

  • Data Replication
  • Data Deduplication
  • SAN switching
  • Storage connectivity
  • Data vault
  • Disk and Tape subsystems

Products from Cisco:-

  • MDS 9000 SAN switch family


7.Operations & Management:-It integrates data center operations, management and services. It provides:-

  • Equipment and application health monitoring
  • Backup and restore operations
  • Security functions – network and physical security
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Policy management
  • Provisioning of services

Products from Cisco:-

  • Data Center Network Manager (DCNM)
  • UCS Manager (UCSM)


8.Services Component:-Services include network add-ins, software and appliances. It provides

  • ANS- app control, server load balancing, WAAS
  • Security
  • Firewall
  • Intrusion Detection

Products from Cisco:-

  • ASA
  • ACE
  • WAAS


9.Branch Operations:- Branches can pose challenges to Data Center operations. Branches are usually considered part of Data Center. However, when goals include changes to business models, including mobility and virtual options, branch needs must be considered.

Products from Cisco:-

  • Branch Router (ISR)
  • LAN Switch (Catalyst)
  • UCS C-Series server
  • ASA
  • UC Express




Data Center Migration is one of the challenging job in networking world, and the reason behind this we have less documentation available online for this. Recently i did DC migration for a client in Vancouver, Canada. Below are the main highlights, i will be writing more in detail soon.

1. Network:-The first objective is to understand the network in and out from every aspect and user termination to current DC. We need to document  different type of users that are connecting to current DC, like VPN remote users, Site 2 Site VPN tunnel traffic, AVPN layer 3 MPLS cloud users, local remote site users connecting directly via OPTEWAN(layer 2 point to point MPLS) ,etc. Document everything related to current network and the network where we are planning to migrate, like allocation of Public ips, different routing protocols,technology and devices used, WAN and LAN vendors, etc.

2. Firewall:-Firewalls and the rules associated are the major concern and always create issues while migration, so we need to carefully document and consult client and vendors to understand the seriousness of each and every rule associated with the firewall.

3.Load Balancing:-Load balancing of web servers is again major concern and for this we need to understand the current DC setup, devices used, servers associated, etc. In most of the DC’s F5 LTM is used for load balancing, we need to carefully document F5 related configs and integration of F5 to the network from the current DC and plan according to the network setup of the new DC.

4.Storage:-Storage migration is also very important, here we have two options either migrate the storage physically or purchase a high bandwidth link( 1gig or so)from the WAN provider and migrate the entire storage over  the WAN circuit. The second option will take time depending on the WAN speed and amount of storage.

5.Virtual Machine:-Now a days almost every company is using virtual servers instead of many physical servers. The idea is to use few physical server and build as many Virtual servers on top of one physical chassis, this way cutting cost , also administration and other server related tasks will become simpler. So the migration of Virtual Machines is also very important , we need to understand and document VM’s from the application point of view and the way to migrate all VM’s over the WAN.