Home > Production Story, Rants > NORTEL switch – a different experience

NORTEL switch – a different experience

I’m a spoiled network admin – throughout my career I used only Cisco equipment.

Using only one vendor has a huge advantage as you have to learn one system, one syntax (yes, I know different devices or even IOS versions use different syntax but the major part never change). Using Cisco as your only vendor is expensive but if you can afford it the benefits are obvious: you get high quality hardware, great support (TAC), online documentation that is both easy to find and accessible and Googling any problem is easy, you always find a dozen of answers and useful information.

Now at my new job I had a different experience. We have two Nortel switches, BES1020 and I was assigned with the simple task: turn on monitoring on the switch (thinking of Cisco’s SPAN).

Before I continue two quick notes:

  1. As it was one of my first assignments I was anxious to prove my skills which mean make it work and do it fast.
  2. I’ll be more than happy to find a comment that would say something like:
    “dude, you’re wrong! this is how you can do it”

The first step was finding the IPs of the 2 switches. As we didn’t know it I had to use Nortel’s Business Element Manager – their switch management tool. Couple of minutes later I found one of the switches and had no problem changing the IP. This is a screen shot of BEM with the 3 switches we have:

If you wonder, BEM’s scanning found another switch in a different site – a switch I wasn’t aware of. The one big problem with this tool is that it finds the switches by IP and since both local switches used the factory default IP –, I could only find one of them, had to change the IP and remove all previous data from BEM before I could find the second switch.

Victory was never closer. I opened PuTTY and tried to telnet the IPs I just assigned but…
Yes, every good story has its but 🙂
Telnet failed to connect and googling a bit I found that people mention ‘enable telnet-access’ command, not for my switch but I assume that Nortel’s default configuration disable telnet. I had to connect using console to make those changes.

When we found the right DB9 connectors and finally got into console mode (using Hyper Terminal for Win7) I had another surprise. While I expected a command line to show up (like a good Cisco device), this is what I saw:

Clicking CTRL+Y to get in, this is the next screen:

Very limited, very old school and most important – no word on telnet or port monitoring.
It was time to find the Business Ethernet Switch 1000 Series guide and figure out what’s going on here. Reading the BES quick install guide (check this doc for the default password – it is kind of funny) just to confirm my finding resulted in the amazing sad conclusion: BES 1020 does not support telnet or port monitoring 😦

Yes, I checked the documentation few times (conig by BEM and config by Web – these are the 2 options), looked at the web configuration which has the same options as BEM and telnet does not exist. Oh, I miss my Cisco…

If anyone can correct me here I’ll be the happiest guy in the blog-sphere. If anyone has another idea on How to port-monitor this switch – stand up and HELP ME!!!


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