CMX Direct Elasticsearch Connector

I recently had the chance to become one of the first people outside of Cisco to setup and configure the CMX to Elasticsearch Connector. Being one of the first meant that the install instructions were not the best, in fact some steps didn’t work at all.
The real benefit of being able to automatically have CMX data collected exported to Elasticsearch for analytical processing, the benefit of using elasticsearch over CMX’s built in reports is the ability to bring in other data sources to cross reference wireless data fields such as username.
Cisco released both a direct connector to elasticsearch and also splunk, I choose to test out the elasticsearch one first.
Below are the steps that I followed to get the Connector passing data from CMX to an Elasticsearch server.

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CMX into AWS

UPDATE: I have updated this post as we had to re-deploy a new template into AWS and ran into some issues following the original instructions. The below is working now

As the company that I am working on has a directive from the CIO to go SaaS or Cloud first, I was tasked with attempting to get the current CMX instance into the cloud. Note: Whilst Cisco currently has a CMX Cloud offering, it currently does not support detect and locate feature required to the CMX use case.

Whilst Cisco CMX BU advised me that they (or TAC) would not support the installation process of  CMX into AWS (as AWS do not support OVA deployments), they did advise me that they (and TAC) would support it if the install was successful.  Further to this the CMX BU asked for a list of the steps we needed to under go in order to get it working in AWS.

This Post will advise the steps required to get CMX working within AWS (I would confirm with your Cisco support managers that they will support your install prior to going into production).

The AWS EC2 Instance type that we deployed was the i2.8xlarge due to it was the only EC2 instance that meet all the requirements of the CMX High End specifications. Details of the i2.8xlarge are:

Model vCPU Mem (GiB) Storage (GB)
i2.8xlarge 32 244 8 x 800 SSD

Steps to create CMX image and migrate to AWS (I was given these steps from the Sysadmin team and advised that AWS has provided the powershell app to them)

  1. Import OVA into on premise VMWare environment
  2. Startup the VM
  3. Backup the existing /boot/grub.conf
  4. Cp /boot/grub.conf /boot/grub.conf.bak
  5. vi /etc/grub.conf and delete the first boot entry as this points to a modified linux kernel which aws does like and will make the upload fail

  6. Remove the custom kernel config from the grub.conf entirely
  7. Shutdown the VM
  8. Export the VM to OVA
  9. Steps 9 – 15 were provided by AWS you might need to contact your AWS resources about this for your environment.
  10. Upload to  using EC2 command line tools
  11. Export as OVF from VMWare (this is NOT the option that puts everything into one file). If you already selected the one file option, right click the file under lucy.ocio and select 7-zip → open archive and extract the .vmdk file.
  12. Upload the VMDK using:


  13.  Once you have export the OVA in file format (OVF), open a powershell window server and cd to the directory of the OVF files output
    ec2-import-instance .\is-test05-poc-v1\is-test05-poc-v1-disk1.vmdk --region "ap-southeast-2" --prefix RHEL7AMIv1 -p Linux -t "t2.micro" -f "vmdk" -a "x86_64" --subnet subnet-3fecb55a --instance-initiated-shutdown-behavior stop -b "$S3_BUCKET_NAME" -o "$AWS_ACCESS_KEY" -O "$AWS_ACCESS_KEY" -w "$AWS_SECRET_KEY" -W "$AWS_SECRET_KEY"
  14. Once VM has been uploaded and instance has been created, convert it to AMI
  15.  The upload process may fail. Please just re-run the upload in case there was a problem….
  16. Run the following command to check the status of the upload:
    ec2-describe-conversion-tasks  -O “AWS-access_key” -W “secret-key” --region "ap-southeast-2" 
  17. Once this says it is complete, please allow for up to 30 minutes for the conversion to take place. An easy way to see is looking at the EC2 instance and if it has a “root” volume attached.
  18. Start the amazon instance
  19. Restore the original grub configuration
  20. Cp /boot/grub.conf.bak /boot/grub.conf
  21. Reboot to insure it works
  22. Shutdown instance
  23. Export instance to ami
  24. Share ami with relevant amazon zones
  25. Deploy template and then adjust /etc/hosts (the file has the immutable flag so it can’t be directly edited. We need to unset the flag, then edit it)
    $su -
    $chattr -i /etc/hosts
    $vi /etc/hosts
    $:1,$ s/orginal_hostname/new_hostname/g
  26. This will change the hostname to the new hostname. The reason we need to do this is because the networking is broken so the standard reference points in this file are pointing to something else.
  27. Also ensure the IP address of the hostname is in the hosts file as a fully qualified name
  28. Edit /etc/sysconfig/network – and add the full name of the server
  29. Reboot
    $chattr +i /etc/hosts


Following installation you will need to configure CMX via the WebUI and SSH as you will not have console access within AWS. Please refer to this post for how to do this

You will need to ensure that traffic between the WLCs, Prime is able to access CMX.

Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX)

Well what is the Cisco CMX product? It is the replacement to Cisco’s Mobility Services Engine (MSE) in the sense that it can show you where wireless devices are on a map.

The two big differences are that CMX is now a stand alone application (altho it does require connections to WLCs, Prime). Cisco have removed the WIPS feature of the MSE  from CMX and is WIPS is currently undergoing its own stand alone re-write.

CMX has been focused more at the business intelligence with the ability to analyze visitor behaviour whilst they are on your site. This is done with heat mapping and analytical reporting.

CMX has also introduced a very nice Guest Wireless Portal, that allow easy guest login via self registrations or social media (Facebook, instagram and foursquare, with the more scheduled to be released soon) OAuth Login and a few other options.



CMX – Installation / Configuration

Hardware Guidelines

The following table lists the hardware guidelines for the Cisco MSE virtual appliance. I have installed to a VM with higher specifications than the High End Appliance and it appears that all extra vCPU are used, haven’t done any benchmarking as to if it improves it. 
Hardware Platform Basic Appliance Standard Appliance High-End Appliance
CPU 8 vCPU (2.4 GHz core) 16 vCPU (2.4 GHz core) 20 vCPU (2.4 GHz core)
RAM 24 GB 48 GB 64 GB 1
HDD 500 GB 500 GB 1 TB

Continue reading “CMX – Installation / Configuration”