Course11:Advanced - innovaphone Virtual Appliance IPVA

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A book about IPVA.

Contents

Introduction

The innovaphone Virtual Appliance (IPVA) is a version of innovaphone operating system that has been ported to the x86 architecture and has device drivers implemented for VMWare virtual infrastructure.

The wikipedia.ico hypervisors other than VMWare, like Xen or Microsoft Hyper-V are not supported at the moment.

The IPVA can be used in scenarios with customers that have a running VMWare infrastructure to save costs for PBX hardware. Also projects where a PBX system is required to be able to handle more than 3200 users in one physical PBX, an IPVA is a only suitable solution.

With VMWare fish-help.png Fault Tolerance it is possible to run an IPVA without an interruption of voice calls in case of hardware failure.

An IPVA instance contains following screenshot.png components:
  • CPU
  • DRAM
  • Virtual disks
    • hd-boot - contains firmware of IPVA
    • hd-cf - emulates a Compact Flash card
    • hd-flash - stores the configuration file of IPVA containing all settings for interfaces, PBX, PBX-objects etc.
    • hd-dump - used to store a crash dump for debugging purposes
  • Virtual network interfaces - used for ETH0 and ETH1

Distinction to the Linux Application platform



The terms innovaphone Virtual Appliance (IPVA) and Linux Application platform are often mixed up by students. This happens because both can be operated as virtual machines on a VMWare infrastructure.
Their scope however is completely different.

The IPVA is a virtual machine that emulates the innovaphone operating system. As a result, you can use the IPVA as replacement for a physical device (e.g. 0010) - at least in a scenario where physical interfaces (e.g BRI) are not needed. When accessing the IPVA via the web-browser, you will have almost all functions (e.g PBX) as when accessing a physical device (e.g. 0010).

The Linux Application platform uses a Linux operating system (Debian 6) to offer a customer applications like Reporting(see separate topic Reporting). To run this Reporting application, a web-server - with PHP support and a SQL database are running on the virtual machine. So, this is completely different to the IPVA.

Therefore, always make sure that you downloaded and work with the correct virtual machine type, either innovaphone Virtual Appliance (IPVA) or Linux Application platform.

Initial Setup and Recovery

Initial Setup


The IPVA can be downloaded from the innovaphone download page. The download package contains the firmware file ipva.bin that can be uploaded via web interface to an already running IPVA instance and virtual machine files and virtual disks that can be used to start a new IPVA instance on VMWare Player, Workstation or Server. Also it is possible to use this files to insert an IPVA instance into a VMWare vSphere 4.1 using VMWare vCenter Converter.

The MAC addresses of the virtual Ethernet interfaces of IPVA instance are generated by the VMWare host at the first start of the IPVA virtual machine. This MAC address must be provided in the Device Setup Definition if you make lessons with IPVA.

Recovery


The IPVA stores the configuration data and PBX objects in the virtual disk hd-flash.vmdk. In case the virtual machine or its firmware are corrupted, it is possible to create a new virtual machine and to copy the virtual disk files hd-flash.vmdk and hd-cf.vmdk to it. The IPVA will try to recover the data while booting.

Trap Trace


A dump of memory on physical innovaphone boxes (gateways, phones etc.) after the crash of the innovaphone operating system is stored in DRAM.

In an IPVA it is not possible to retain the crash dump in RAM. Therefore a virtual disk dump.vmdk was created. It stores the trap trace of last crash. You can show this trap trace via the trace(crash-dump) link under fish-help.png Maintenance/Diagnostics/Tracing.

Licensing

The IPVA virtual machine software and firmware is free of charge, but to be able to register endpoints on the PBX running on an IPVA, an IPVA license is required in addition to a Port license . Every Port license used on an IPVA PBX requires one IPVA license.

The VMWare vSphere virtual infrastructure provides various features for redundancy purposes like Fault Tolerance and High Availability. This enables to implement an innovaphone PBX with a hot standby (with Fault Tolerance) or a cold standby (High Availability) PBX. There is no need to install the innovaphone Standby license if redundancy mechanisms of VMWare are used.

The only restriction is to run only one IPVA instance with same MAC address at the same time.

Customizing

Some parameters of an IPVA can be adjusted for the requirements of your project.

Following parameters can be changed:
  • DRAM can be increased or decreased
  • the size of the virtual disk used for Compact Flash emulation can be increased
The size of the DRAM may be changed to free up unused DRAM or increased DRAM for big installations.

The emulated compact flash card is defined with 1 GB. In case a big number of VoiceMail messages or announcements must be stored, it is possible to increase the size of the virtual disk hd-cf.vmdk. Don't forget to format the compact flash in the IPVA card afterwards, in order to use its whole capacity.

In older VMWare Player versions (e.g. 2.5) it is not possible to adjust the parameters of virtual machine via GUI. You have to install a newer version of VMWare Player or you have to edit VMX-file and change the settings of the virtual machine.


Performance

One of the advantages of the IPVA (besides of the disadvantage of the server hardware) is the possibility to use x86 hardware with much more powerful resources than embedded innovaphone devices.

Since the innovaphone operating system can run only on a single CPU(no multiprocessor support) the performance of an IPVA depends first of all on the performance of a single CPU core of the host machine running the virtual machine. Other resources like RAM, disk space or network bandwidth are usually not a bottleneck.

Internal tests have shown that it is possible to register more than 50000 IP-endpoints at a PBX running on an IPVA. The host hardware was a workstation with a 2,5 GHz CPU. However the background CPU load caused by H323 registrations was only about 30 percent. For a more complete thoughts on IPVA performance, see fish-help.png A rough estimate of IPVA Performance.

The IPVA is also a good solution for scenarios were the PBX or the gateway must terminate a large number of audio-channels (i.e. working as mediarelay or RTP-proxy).
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