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Preparation Steps Required to Manage a Cisco Device

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One of the first and most important things that a new engineer needs to learn is how to actually connect to a Cisco device. There are a number of different methods that are available to an engineer who wants to manage a Cisco device, these include connection through the console port (RJ-45 or USB), TELNET, SSH, HTTP/HTTPS, Security Device Manager (SDM) and Cisco Configuration Professional (CCP). Since the HTTP/HTTPS implementations are very basic and the SDM functionality has been sent to the end of life pile, this article will only cover the configuration of CCP which performs all of the functions of SDM and adds support for unified communications.
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One of the first and most important things that a new engineer needs to learn is how to connect to a Cisco device. There are a number of different methods that are available to an engineer who wants to manage a Cisco device; these include connection through the console port (RJ-45 or USB), TELNET, SSH, HTTP/HTTPS, Security Device Manager (SDM) and Cisco Configuration Professional (CCP). Since the HTTP/HTTPS implementations are very basic and the SDM functionality has been sent to the end-of-life pile, this article will only cover the configuration of CCP which performs all of the functions of SDM and adds support for unified communications.

Physical Connection to a Cisco Device

When initially configuring a new Cisco device, a physical connection must be used to connect to the device itself. On almost all older Cisco devices, the method used to connect to these devices was through the console port. The physical connection that was used to connect to these devices was a RJ45 connector. This can be very confusing to many new engineers, as the typical use of a RJ45 connector is for an Ethernet connection. In this case, the RJ45 connector is used to connect to a serial connector. The most common way that this is done is through a RJ45 to DB9 cable or through a rollover cable (RJ45 ends) and a DB9 adapter (RJ45 to DB9). When configuring a management device to connect to a Cisco device via a serial connection, the following parameters are used by default:

  • 9600 baud
  • 8 data bits
  • No parity generated or checked
  • 1 stop bit
  • No Flow Control

For those who do not have access to the cables that came with these devices, it is important to have a pinout reference to create a proper cable.

A RJ45 to DB9 cable is pinned out as shown in Table 1:

Table 1

RJ45 Pin

DTE

Description

DB9 Pin

DCE

Description

1

Ready to Send (RTS)

8

Clear to Send (CTS)

2

Data Terminal Ready (DTR)

6

Data Set Ready (DSR)

3

Transmit (Tx)

2

Receive (Rx)

4

Ground (GND)

5

Ground (GND)

5

Ground (GND)

5

Ground (GND)

6

Receive (Rx)

3

Transmit (Tx)

7

Data Set Ready (DSR)

4

Data Terminal Ready (DTR)

8

Clear to Send (CTS)

7

Ready to Send (RTS)

Note: Pins 1 and 8 on a Cisco device RJ45 connector are not physically connected but are internally connected to each other.

The pinouts for a RJ45 rollover cable is the easiest to remember and is shown in Table 2:

Table 2

RJ45 Pin

DTE

Description

RJ45 Pin

DCE

Description

1

Ready to Send (RTS)

8

Clear to Send (CTS)

2

Data Terminal Ready (DTR)

7

Data Set Ready (DSR)

3

Transmit (Tx)

6

Receive (Rx)

4

Ground (GND)

5

Ground (GND)

5

Ground (GND)

4

Ground (GND)

6

Receive (Rx)

3

Transmit (Tx)

7

Data Set Ready (DSR)

2

Data Terminal Ready (DTR)

8

Clear to Send (CTS)

1

Ready to Send (RTS)

The pinouts for a RJ45 to DB9 adapter are shown in Table 3:

Table 3

RJ45 Pin

DTE

Description

DB9 Pin

DCE

Description

1

Clear to Send (CTS)

7

Ready to Send (RTS)

2

Data Set Ready (DSR)

4

Data Terminal Ready (DTR)

3

Receive (Rx)

3

Transmit (Tx)

4

Ground (GND)

5

Ground (GND)

5

Ground (GND)

5

Ground (GND)

6

Transmit (Tx)

2

Receive (Rx)

7

Data Terminal Ready (DTR)

6

Data Set Ready (DSR)

8

Ready to Send (RTS)

8

Clear to Send (CTS)

Newer Cisco devices also provide a USB connection that is used for console access to the device;, this connection is a 5-pin mini Type-B-to-Type-A.

Once connected to the device, it is typically a good idea to at least configure a password that is prompted when anyone attempts connection through the console port. The steps required for this are shown in Table 4 below:

Table 4

Step

Description

Command

1

Physically connect to the device console port and establish a connection


2

Login to the device and go into enable mode (By default there are no passwords)

router>enable

3

Enter into global configuration mode

router#configure terminal

4

Enter into console line configuration mode

router(config)#line console 0

5

Configure a console line password

router(config-line)#password password

Remote Command Line Interface (CLI) Management

One of the most commonly used methods to remotely connect to a Cisco device is through a Telnet connection. A Telnet connection is very simple and does not provide any encryption capabilities; all usernames and passwords will be easily recoverable by using a simple packet capture. Because of this limitation, the other common method used to connect to Cisco devices CLI is Secure Shell (SSH); SSH provides the ability to have the same CLI access that is provided by Telnet and does it while also offering encryption on the information going from the device to the managing station. Thus, SSH is often preferred on production networks.

Table 5 shows the configuration steps that are required to setup a Telnet connection to a Cisco device:

Table 5

Step

Description

Command

1

Physically connect to the device console port and establish a connection


2

Login to the device and go into enable mode (By default there are no passwords)

router>enable

3

Enter into global configuration mode

router#configure terminal

4

Configure an enable secret password

router(config)#enable secret password

5

Enter into interface configuration mode (repeat as needed)

router(config)#interface interface

6

Configure IP address (repeat as needed)

router(config-if)#ip address ip-address subnet-mask

7

Enter into terminal line configuration mode (most Cisco devices have 5 terminal ‘slots’ labeled 0 through 4)

router(config)#line vty 0 4

8

Configure a terminal line password

router(config-line)#password password

9

Configure the terminal line for login (This is typically the default setting)

router(config-line)#login

SSH has a couple of different requirements; the configuration steps required are shown in Table 6:

Step

Description

Command

1

Physically connect to the device console port and establish a connection


2

Login to the device and go into enable mode (By default there are no passwords)

router>enable

3

Enter into global configuration mode

router#configure terminal

4

Configure a device hostname

router(config)#hostname hostname

5

Configure a device domain name

router(config)#ip domain-name domain-name

6

Create the keys required for SSH (Follow prompts, keys above 1024 bits are advised)

router(config)#crypto key generate rsa

7

Configure an enable secret password

router(config)#enable secret password

8

Configure a username/password combination

router(config)#username username password password

9

Enter into interface configuration mode (repeat as needed)

router(config)#interface interface

10

Configure IP address (repeat as needed)

router(config-if)#ip address ip-address subnet-mask

11

Enter into terminal line configuration mode (most Cisco devices have 5 terminal ‘slots’ labeled 0 through 4)

router(config)#line vty 0 4

12

Configure the terminal line to use the local authentication database (This is setup with the username command above)

router(config-line)#login local

Remote Graphical User Interface (GUI) Management

On modern equipment, the method of GUI management that is used is called Cisco Configuration Professional (CCP). CCP is a replacement for the previous Security Device Manager (SDM) product and also provides the ability to manage unified communications. To set up a device to support CCP, there are a couple of tasks that need to be completed at the CLI. The device needs to be set up with a username/password combination and set up to allow HTTP and/or HTTPS connections; the commands that are required for this setup are shown in Table 7:

Table 7

Step

Description

Command

1

Physically connect to the device console port and establish a connection


2

Login to the device and go into enable mode (By default there are no passwords)

router>enable

3

Enter into global configuration mode

router#configure terminal

4

Configure a username/password combination (Must have privilege 15 access)

router(config)#username username privilege 15 password password

5

Enable HTTP Server

router(config)#ip http server

5

Enable HTTPS Server (CCP can be used with HTTP and HTTPS)

router(config)#ip http secure-server

6

Enable the use of the local authentication database

router(config)#ip http authentication local

7

Enter into interface configuration mode (repeat as needed)

router(config)#interface interface

8

Configure IP address (repeat as needed)

router(config-if)#ip address ip-address subnet-mask

Summary

To build any type of network, an engineer must be able to access the devices that are going to be implemented. It does seem basic must these are the fundamentals that must be known by any engineer. Hopefully, the content of this article will get any entry level engineer started and enable them to set up a management connection to any Cisco device.

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