An Introduction to NETs SmartSIP

In recent weeks I’ve had two different clients ask about integrating Cisco systems with OCS.  After the initial talks about what OCS can do and how they will use it, the next question always seems to be, can I still use my Cisco phones once we move to Enterprise Voice with OCS?

Thanks to a product from NET called SmartSIP (originally created by Evangelyze and acquired by NET) the answer is yes!  SmartSIP is a server based app that allows you to register SIP phones to it, and then proxies that registration back to OCS so the SIP phone can act as an OCS endpoint.

This type of functionality is important on many levels.  First of all it gives you a low-cost option (less than 6 Tanjays for the server license) for keeping your existing SIP phones around, lowering the cost to implement a UC solution.  Secondly, and this one is more and more important to the environment as each day passes, we get to keep thousands of perfectly good phones out of landfills.

Now that we’ve covered the purpose of this article we can jump right into the architecture.  The first question we have to cover is how SmartSIP works.  SmartSIP is a SIP registrar that allows devices to connect to it, and then connects to OCS on their behalf.  Once registered to OCS, the SIP phone acts as any other OCS voice endpoint, taking advantage of the native functionality within OCS to send calls to all active endpoints.

For this article SmartSIP will be installed on my mediation server, this is a supported configuration for up to 250 seats and was the exact installation method I used during the private beta testing I did with the product.  For larger scale deployments it is best to have it on its own box.  Here is what my lab environment looked like:

We’ll begin with a mediation server that is already functioning and jump right into the SmartSIP install.  Because we are re-arranging a few ports, we’ll want to do this during downtime.  We start out by reconfiguring our listening ports on the mediation server:

After reconfiguring our ports we are ready to start the install:

Nothing earth shattering here, all Next, Next, Finish….

Just like OCS, after we’ve installed the application we need to configure/activate it.  To do this we go to Start>All Programs>Network Equipment Technologies>Active SmartSIP.  Here’s a “Cliff Notes” version of the install, leaving out screens that aren’t necessary:

Here we see our Mediation servers FQDN and List IP Ports, all but the IP for trunks will be automatically populated.

For the internal Dial Plan all fields are populated; notice the 1-555 is in use.  This prefix is used by SmartSIP to identify and route traffic.  It is necessary to leave this as-is so SmartSIP will function properly.

Next we can set our OCS Pool and our server FQDN Alias.  It is important that the certificate for your mediation server includes this as a SAN field in the cert.  In this example “smartip.ocsguy.local” should be an A record pointing to the data network IP of the Mediation/SmartSIP server and an entry in the Subject Alternate Name field in the certificate.

Next we enter in the service account information:

And now we complete activation:

Once activation is complete we are going to utilize the “Telephone number” and “IP Phone” fields in AD.  We’ll start with the Telephone number field.  This will be populated with a unique extension.  In this example I will use the last 3 digits of the users DID, this information is only utilized by SmartSIP and isn’t seen by the client directly.

Now we get the MAC address from the user’s phone and assign it to them in AD:

Although we see “smartsip.local” in the above screen shot, there is no DNS resolution required, this is for SmartSIP’s internal use only, you won’t need to create a zone for it.

Now we set option 066 for TFTP in our environment to point to the SmartSIP server, boot the phone and start making calls.

This article was written utilizing an early release version of the code so your install screens and possibly install steps might be slightly different.  If you run into any issues, the quickest fix is to contact NET’s incredibly helpful support staff.

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About Kevin Peters

My name is Kevin Peters.
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4 Responses to An Introduction to NETs SmartSIP

  1. Mukhtar Qazi says:

    Hi,
    Thank you for post such a nice documentation, I must congratulate you for doing such a good work,very few people are posting articles in such details on OCS.

    We were suppose to install OCS 2007 R2 with NET VX1200 an SmartSIP server, but our gateway got stuck for some reason in the custom and finding it difficult to release from there.
    Now temporarily we have arranged Cisco Voice gate way with OCS compatibilty but we still want to USE SMARTSIP from NET. Is this software supported with Cisco Voice gateway as i saw that SmartSIP supports only NET or Quintum Gateways, such as the Tenor or VX.

    Can you confirm this claim

    Thank you,

    Mukhtar

  2. Kevin Peters says:

    Hi Mukhtar,

    I’ve spoken with NET and they would not support the Trunk side (to the Cisco Voice Gateway) directly. However, SmartSIP is standards based and would likely still work in this scenario. The reasons they would not support are 1: It has not been tested with a Cisco Gateway and 2: Moving forward testing with the Cisco Platform is not likely so they could not guarantee it would continue to function if you got it working.
    I would certainly encourage you to contact NET for more information, the best person to contact regarding SmartSIP is Suresh and you can reach him via email at: Suresh_Tatavarthy@net.com.

    I hope this helps clear up any confussion, if you decided to give it a shot please post back to let me know how it goes.

    Thanks!

    -kp

    • Mukhtar says:

      Hi Kevin,
      I have started the implementation process. I finished the SmartSIP installation and its activation.
      When i plug the Cisco Phone it takes the DHCP config with required parameters but it says “file not found” error. When i checked the Cisco folder in the TFTP Root. it has following:
      1) One folder with name united states
      2) dialplan xlm file
      3) SEP[MAC].cnf xml file
      4)SIP[MAC] .cnf file

      Are all the required files there u think. As i saw the documentation which says that there should be .cfg file with name SIP[MAC].cfg should be there. In the remaining folders like polycom and linksys file with such an extension is already there in their respective brand.

      Can you please help on this. As i have a deadline of finishing this project in next two days.

      Thank you for the support.

      Regards,
      Mukhtar
      mukhtar.qazi@gmail.com

      • Kevin Peters says:

        Hi Mukhtar,

        I’d recommend contacting NET support on this as my SmartSIP lab is currently down, I had to set up some more servers and didn’t have enough lab space to run everything. Did you get the SmartSIP software through a trial or direct purchase with NET?

        Thanks!

        -kp

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