Extending your MeetingPlace Express installation lifeline

Whilst I’m always in favour of migrating to the latest technology and taking advantage of the features they offer, every once in a while you have some existing installation that simply does the job and you are happy with what it offers.

We’ve had an old installation of Cisco MeetingPlace Express 2.1, which dates back to circa 2006/7, it offers conference call facilities, screen sharing and presentation, all nice and simple. It’s been replaced by the latest Cisco offering of WebEx. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great product, but we simply can’t justify the expense of it when the feature set we have now fulfils our needs. We’ve gone OSX on our desktop, and whilst MeetingPlace Express is strictly only supported under Windows, for the plugins etc, it’s perfectly useable from within the web based client. In order to use our existing install, we needed to make it use our backend Active Directory infrastructure and also change it to our current domain suffix, from a legacy one.
Initially, integrating it to Active Directory appeared daunting, as we had existing, stand alone users configured, with existing repeat meetings etc.

There is plenty of good documentation available here, but when we followed it, we managed to import users, but they were detached from their meetings, and as those meetings had no owners, they in turn vanished. This could have been a disaster, but we had of course made a full system backup before we did anything.

So, the aim was essentially 2 separate processes; change the DNS suffix and lookup; make the system AD integrated somehow.
In integrating MeetingPlace Express with an external directory, there are 2 methods to do it, LDAP and AXL SOAP API. They will both authenticate against CUCM or a CUCM related/generated directory. It pretty much depends which version of Call Manager (CUCM) you’re running, for 4.x and earlier, ldap is recommended and for 5.x and above, AXL is supported. As I wanted to authenticate against Active Directory and not CUCM, I opted to do it with ldap, it’s by far the simplest way.

The procedure is like this:

Export all users to csv text file.
Log in to Cisco Unified MeetingPlace Express and click Administration. Click System Configuration > Usage Configuration.
Complete the fields available

  • Cisco Unified Communications Manager/ Cisco Unified CallManager version: Set this field to Cisco Unified CallManager Release 4.x
  • LDAP URL: (Make sure that this URL starts with ldap) ldap://server.whateveryourdomain.com:389 (Make sure that there are no spaces after the URL)
  • Directory username: Use the format of an LDAP distinguished name: cn=serviceaccount,dc=whateveryourdomain,dc=com
  • Password: Self explanatory
  • Cisco base: Leave blank if you are not using the Cisco Unified CallManager DC-Directory to authenticate Cisco Unified MeetingPlace Express users.
  • User base: dc=whateveryourdomain,dc=com
  • Directory type: ADSĀ  (Active Directory Services)
  • Click Test LDAP Configuration to test that the configuration parameters work correctly.
  • Click Save.

MeetingPlace Express Administration Center
The test should dictate your success.
So, if like us you have existing users and want to convert them to AD authentication, you will need to take your exported file and modify it.

The procedure is like this:
1 Export all users again as before, safety first.
2 Open the file in Excel and then import as comer separated CSV
3 Edit text file, and modify field ISUSERLOCAL set to NO
4 Save the file, as csv, (however you cannot import using csv, the file MUST be text or it will corrupt on import)
5 Drop into a file manager and rename the file extension to .txt
6 Now import user TXT file and select the option to overwrite any existing users
7 Check you can now still login with AD credentials
8 Check meetings are all still visible. Test

Don’t change settings for admin users, or guest user as these must stay local.

You should not have all your users still with their existing meetings, but authenticating against Active Directory!

Now to change the domain suffix…

To change network parameters post installation, you can use the net command to modify the network configuration settings. To access the net command, you can use the Meeting Place terminal via the GUI, or SSH into it as the user called mpxadmin and then enter the command net.
In order to change the network settings, you must shut down the application by entering the following: sudo mpx_sys stop

MeetingPlace CLI

The options pretty much speak for themselves, to change the DNS suffix, option 5; to change the DNS servers, option 6 and so on.
Option 8 when you’re done modifying settings, and don’t forget to reboot for the settings to take effect. (shutdown -r now)

With MeetingPlace now authenticating against your domain, any users who weren’t already enrolled will have accounts created on the fly when they attempt to login. It’s great, lowers the support overhead and is much quicker for the users too.