Monthly Archives: March 2021

Establishing an AWS VPN Tunnel to Azure Virtual WAN; Active/Active BPG Configuration

This is a quick reflection of the steps I took to establish two IPSec tunnels between AWS’ VPG and Azure’s Virtual WAN VPN Gateway, propagating routes dynamically via BPG and ensuring High Availability. The design itself is a bit interesting since AWS and Azure differ on how connections are established to remote peers. When everything is said and done, you’ll end up with a diagram that conceptually looks something like this:

Note: It is recommended to start with the Virtual WAN side first since you cannot modify the IP address of a Customer Gateway in AWS

Create Azure Virtual WAN and Virtual WAN Hub

On the Azure side, first we need to create a Virtual WAN resource and a Virtual WAN Hub, which will contain our VPN Gateway. If you have already created these, you can skip to the next session.

First, click the “Hamburger” icon and select Create a resource

Search for Virtual WAN and select it from the list in the marketplace.

Select Create

Specify the resource group and region you wish to deploy the Virtual WAN resource to. Specify a name for your Virtual WAN resource and click Review + Create

Click Create to start provisioning the Virtual WAN resource.

Once the resource is created, click Go to resource to navigate to your Virtual WAN resource.

On the Virtual WAN resource, select New Hub from the top menu.

Specify the name of the Hub and an address space that can be used for all the networking components Virtual WAN will deploy into the Virtual Hub. Click Next : Site to Site >

On the Site to Site tab, toggle Yes that you want to provision a VPN Gateway, and specify the scale units you need. Click the Review + create button when done.

Click the Create button to start provisioning the Hub and VPN Gateway. Please note this can take up to 30 minutes to complete.

Configure customer BGP IP Address for Virtual WAN VPN Gateway Instances

Once provisioning is completed, navigate back to the Virtual WAN resource. You can do this by clicking the “Hamburger” icon and searching for Virtual WAN

Select your Virtual WAN resource.

You should now see your Virtual WAN Hub resource you provisioned. Select the Virtual WAN Hub.

On the Virtual WAN Hub, click on the View/Configure link.

On the View/Configure Gateway Configuration blade, specify as the Custom BGP IP address for Instance 0 and as the Custom BGP IP address for Instance 1. Notate the Public IP address uses for Instance 0 and 1 and then click Edit and Confirm to apply the changes.

Create Virtual WAN VPN Site

On the Virtual WAN Hub, click Create new VPN Site

Specify a name for your VPN Site to define the connection connecting to AWS. Click Next : Links >

On the Links tab, add two entries with the following values (to tell VWAN how to connect to each of the AWS Site-to-Site connections). Note: this is very similar to AWS’ Customer Gateway section.

Link 1:

  • Link Name; AWS_Tunnel1
  • Link Speed: 1000
  • Link Provider Name: AWS
  • Link IP address: (this is a placeholder value until we configure the AWS side)
  • Link BGP address:
  • Link ASN: 64512

Link 2:

  • Link Name; AWS_Tunnel2
  • Link Speed: 1000
  • Link Provider Name: AWS
  • Link IP address: (this is placeholder value until we configure the AWS side)
  • Link BGP address:
  • Link ASN: 64512

Click Next: Review + Create >

Click Create

Click Go to resource once the links have finished being created.

Configure Phase 1/2 Proposals

Select your Virtual WAN hub on the Virtual WAN Overview blade.

Check the box for the new VPN Site Name and click the Connect VPN sites button

Specify the following configuration:

  • Protocol: IKEv2
  • IPSec: Custom
  • IKE Phase 1:
    • Encryption: GCMAES256
      • GCM algorithm is more efficient and can improve throughput on the Azure Gateways
    • Integrity/PRF: SHA256
    • DH Group: DHGroup14
  • IKE Phase 2 (ipsec):
    • IPSec Encryption: AES256
      • AWS does not support GCM algorithm for IPSec integrity at time of writing this, but if it is available, you may want to opt for that
    • IPSec Integrity: SHA256
    • PFS Group: PFS14

Click Connect

Configure AWS


This guide assumes you have a VPC already (in my case, mine is called AWS-OHIO-VPC), a corresponding set of subnets for your servers, and a route table associated to your VPC.

Note: An AWS VPC is the equivalent of a VNet in Azure. One thing that is different between AWS and Azure is that in AWS you do not need to specify a subnet for your Gateways (i.e. “GatewaySubnet”).

Create the Customer Gateways

Customer Gateways in AWS are the equivalent of a local network gateway that you’d associate to a connection for a traditional VPN Gateway in Azure. It is also the equivalent of a defined Site Link for Azure’s Virtual WAN VPN configuration.

In this section, you will need to create two Customer Gateways. Specify the corresponding instance value obtained from the Configure Customer BPG IP address section. When creating the Customer Gateways ensure Dynamic routing is enabled and the BGP ASN is specified as 65515.

Configuration for the second Customer Gateway using the Instance 1 Gateway Public IP address.

Create a Virtual Private Gateway

Next we need to create an AWS Virtual Private Gateway. This is the equivalent of Azure’s VPN Gateway.

Create VPN Connections

We need to create two VPN Connections, each VPN Connection linked to its corresponding Customer Gateway and VPC.

On the Inside IPv4 CIDR for Tunnel 1 on the first VPN Connection, ensure you use as the BGP Peer addresses and for the second tunnel. Due to the way that the VPN Connection works, we are using a placeholder value of tunnel, which will never be used in practice since we cannot point it to leverage Azure’s secondary VPN Gateway instance. This value must be specified as if we define the secondary BGP Peer address that will be created for the secondary instance in VWAN, you will receive an error that overlapping address space exists between this VPN Connection and the secondary VPN connection we create in AWS.

When creating the second VPN connection, ensure is specified for Inside IPv4 CIDR for Tunnel 1 and is specified for Inside IPv4 CIDR for Tunnel 2 (which is again a placeholder value that won’t be used).

Configure Route Table to Propagate Routes

To allow the learned routes from BGP propagate to the VPC, you need to enable route propagation on your Route Table.

Navigate to Route Tables and select your Route Table and click the Route Propagation tab and select Edit route propagation

Check the Propagate box and click Save

Update Azure

Update Azure Site Link IP addresses

As per the Configure Phase 1/2 Proposals section for Azure Virtual WAN, you specified and as a placeholder value for the Public IP addresses of the AWS VPN Gateway instances. We will need to update these addresses with the proper values.

Naviate to your Virtual WAN instance and select your Virtual WAN hub

Select VPN (Site to site) and choose click on the Site name you created

Click on the three dots (ellipsis) for AWS_Tunnel1 and click Edit Link.

Specify the proper IP address for Tunnel 1 on AWS Site-to-Site connection 1. Click Confirm.

Click on the three dots (ellipsis) for AWS_Tunnel2 and click Edit Link.

Specify the proper IP address for Tunnel 1 on AWS Site-to-Site connection 2. Click Confirm.

Verify connectivity

On the Azure Side, you should see the VPN Site’s Connectivity status change to Connected

You can also select a Virtual Machine that may have it’s virtual network attached to the VWAN Hub and validate you see learned routes from the VWAN Hub (and AWS) propagated into the VNet.

Tip: You can see the same route twice as we have both VPN Gateway instance BGP Peers actively connected to AWS. In the event you lose a peer, you would only see one route to one gateway listed.

On the AWS side, you can validate for each Site to Site VPN connection that you see Tunnel 1‘s status as UP and Tunnel 2‘s status as DOWN (remember, Tunnel 2 will always be listed as down because a fictitious BGP is specified).

Here you can see the secondary Site-to-Site connection with the same status: UP for Tunnel 1, DOWN for Tunnel 2

How to upgrade Home Assistant Z-Wave integration to Z-Wave JS for Docker

If you’ve been following my last two tutorials (Home Assistant + Docker + Z-Wave + Raspberry Pi | Jack Stromberg and How to update Home Assistant Docker Container | Jack Stromberg) on running Home Assistant via Docker and how to keep the container updated, you may have noticed that 2021 has been a big year for larger changes, with a surprising change coming to how Home Assistant handles Z-Wave Devices.

In Home Assistant v2021.2, Home Assistant announced the Z-Wave integration as deprecated in favor of a new integration called Z-Wave JS. In Home Assistant v2021.3, many fixes were implemented, with the notable limitation of Door Sensors being removed.

So why the change?

As per the Home Assistant v2021.2 announcement:

More and more people were concerned about the future of Z-Wave with Home Assistant; meanwhile the Z-Wave JS project was rapidly growing and gathering a large community around it. Long story short: Home Assistant and Z-Wave JS teamed up! And a lot of contributors jumped on the train!

This new integration is based on the same base principles as the OpenZWave integration: It is decoupled from Home Assistant. Instead of MQTT, the Z-Wave JS integration uses a WebSocket connection to a Z-Wave JS server.

This means, in order to use this new integration, you’ll need to run the Z-Wave JS server that sits in between your Z-Wave USB stick and Home Assistant. There are multiple options available for running the Z-Wave JS server, via Docker or manually, and there is also a Home Assistant add-on available.

So how do I upgrade?

This article reflects the steps I took to update my Z-Wave implementation.

Ensure you are running Home Assistant v2021.3.2 or greater

This will ensure you have support for most all sensors. You can find your Home Assistant version by selecting the Configuration gear on the left menu, and then selecting Info

Here you should see the version of Home Assistant (in my case 2021.3.2)

If you are not running the latest version, you can follow my upgrade steps here: How to update Home Assistant Docker Container | Jack Stromberg

Create a backup

It’s rather critical to create a backup, especially in this case if you need to roll back to the older OpenZWave integration if you find many of your devices not being compatible. One downside in not using Home Assistant’s OS is you don’t have the “Supervisor” option to create a full backup.

To complete this step, I’d recommend checking out this blog post here which provides several options: Backing up Home Assistant | Tinkering with Home Automation (

Alternatively, you can be extremely lazy and less cautious by simply copying the configuration folder containing your docker config:

sudo cp /home/docker/home-assistant/ /home/docker/home-assistant-backup/ -R

Update your Operating System

Execute the following commands against your machine:

sudo sh -c 'apt update && apt upgrade'

Make sure you restart your machine to ensure your kernel updates to the latest version:

sudo shutdown -r -t now

Document Z-Wave entity IDs

The easiest way to do this is to navigate to Developer Tools (hammer icon on the left menu) and then type node_id into the Attributes column’s filter.

In this case, you’ll want to write down the node_id and the name of the entity it maps to. If you want to do this quickly, you can single click on the table, press Control + A to select all contents, or cmd+a on a Mac, and copy the contents into Word or Excel (Excel works remarkably well).

Document & Comment Z-Wave Stick Hardware ID and Network Key

SSH to your server and find your configuration.yaml file (if using my tutorial it should be /home/docker/home-assistant/configuration.yaml). Open the file in vi

sudo vi configuration.yaml

Find the section of code labeled zwave: and copy the information (we’ll need it later) as well as comment out the following lines like so:

#  usb_path: /dev/ttyACM0
#  network_key: "0xAA, 0xBB, 0xCC, 0xDD, 0xEE, 0xFF, 0x00, 0x11, 0x22, 0x33, 0x44, 0x55, 0x66, 0x77, 0x88, 0x99"

Type :wq to write the changes to the file and quit vi

Uninstall Z-Wave integration

Navigate to Configuration -> Integrations

Click the three dots on the Z-Wave integration and select Delete

Click OK when prompted

Click OK on the prompt that you should restart home assistant (it won’t restart home assistant at this point)

Restart Home Assistant

While we can restart Home Assistant from the web UI, we need to ensure that the Docker container running home assistant no longer needs access to your Z-Wave stick directly (Z-Wave JS Server will be what interfaces with the device directly). In this case, you will need to SSH into your Home Assistant server and stop / remove / start the container accordingly.

Stop the Docker container

sudo docker stop home-assistant

Remove the container

sudo docker rm home-assistant

Deploy the new container configuration, which removes any device mappings to your Z-Wave stick/device

sudo docker run --init -d --restart=always --name="home-assistant" -e "TZ=America/Chicago" -v /home/docker/home-assistant:/config --net=host homeassistant/raspberrypi4-homeassistant:stable

Install Z-Wave JS Server

Create a new directory for the zwave-js server configuration files

sudo mkdir /home/docker/zwave-js/

Run the docker container (the first port listed is for the Z-Wave JS Web Interface, the second port is the Z-Wave JS WebSocket listener)

sudo docker run -d --restart=always  -p 8091:8091 -p 3000:3000 --device=/dev/ttyACM0 --name="zwave-js" -e "TZ=America/Chicago" -v /home/docker/zwave-js:/usr/src/app/store zwavejs/zwavejs2mqtt:latest

Configure Z-Wave JS Server

Navigate to the JS Web Server


On the settings page, enter the following configuration values (ensuring you substitute in the correct values obtained in the previous steps)

  • Serial Port: /dev/ttyACM0
  • Network Key: AABBCCDDEEFF00112233445566778899
    • Take your existing network key you obtained earlier and remove the 0x and “s to only leave one long hex string. For example:
      • Before
        • 0xAA, 0xBB, 0xCC, 0xDD, 0xEE, 0xFF, 0x00, 0x11, 0x22, 0x33, 0x44, 0x55, 0x66, 0x77, 0x88, 0x99
      • After
        • AABBCCDDEEFF00112233445566778899
  • Log Enabled: Disabled (toggled should be grayed)
  • Commands Timeout: 30 seconds
  • Disable MQTT Gateway: Can be enabled if you have no use for MQTT

Click the Home Assistant menu and set the following:

  • WS Server: Enabled
  • Server Port: 3000

Click SAVE

Verify you see devices

Click on the Control Panel icon on the top left of the Z-Wave JS Web UI. Verify that you see the amount of devices you previously had.

At this point, I would recommend waiting a few minutes / possibly hours to let the table populate with all the device information.

Install Z-Wave JS Integration

I would recommend a full refresh of the web page for Home Assistant and then navigate back to Configuration -> Integrations

Click the Add Integration button and search for Z-Wave JS

Click Submit to accept the URL as-is (assuming you are running the container on the same server running the Home Assistant container; if not, you can specify the IP address of the server hosting the Z-Wave JS Server container as well).

If all went well, you should see your Z-Wave devices and you can click Finish (Note: I wouldn’t worry about specifying Areas since it’s likely you have no idea what device is what at this point)

Update your Z-Wave Device Names in Home Assistant

The last step is to update your device names to match your existing device names. To do this, on the Configuration -> Integrations page, select the devices link on the Z-Wave JS integration tile

Next, select one of the items in your list. In my case, I’m going to select the first 1000W Dimmer I have.

On the device, you should see Node ID. This can be looked up on your list of devices you exported in the previous steps.

Click the Device Name (in my case 1000W Dimmer) and specify the correct information for the device. Once done, click Update

Rinse and repeat

Go through each of the devices you have and update their corresponding names. If you click Advanced settings, you can specify the area for the device as well.


If you’ve made it this far, you have successfully migrated to the latest Z-Wave integration for Home Assistant!

How to generate base64 encoded SSL certificates via PowerShell for Azure


Many Azure services allow you to bring your own SSL Certificate to the cloud. While Azure provides an easy way to create and deploy resources through ARM templates, specification of what SSL certificate is a little less trivial since it’s not as easy to specify an exported PEM or PFX file. In this case, Azure may look for the certificate in a base64 encoded format, so the certificate can be passed as a string (or list of characters) into the template.

Goal of this tutorial

This tutorial will walk through the commands needed to generate a self-signed certificate that is base64 encoded via PowerShell (Option 1) or base64 encode an existing PFX (Option 2), so that the certificate can be passed as a parameter into ARM templates in Azure.

Option 1: Generate and encode a self-signed certificate

Generate a self-signed certificate
$selfSignedCert = New-SelfSignedCertificate -DnsName * -NotAfter (Get-Date).AddYears(2)
Export the self-signed certificate into PFX format from Certificate manager
$pwd = ConvertTo-SecureString -String "1234" -Force -AsPlainText
Export-PfxCertificate -cert $selfSignedCert.PSPath -FilePath "selfSignedCertificate.pfx" -Password $pwd
Convert the certificate to base64 encoding
$pfxBytes = Get-Content "selfSignedCertificate.pfx" -Encoding Byte
[System.Convert]::ToBase64String($pfxBytes) | Out-File "selfSignedCertificate.txt"

Option 2: Encode from a pre-existing pfx file

Convert the certificate to base64 encoding
$pfxBytes = Get-Content "selfSignedCertificate.pfx" -Encoding Byte
[System.Convert]::ToBase64String($pfxBytes) | Out-File "selfSignedCertificate.txt"


At this point, if you open selfSignedCertificate.txt, you should see a long list of characters compromised of letters, numbers, and a few symbols, which is your base64 version of your certificate. See example below (…s denote I removed a large portion of the text, you won’t see that in your file).


This text can be used-as within your templates now (although, in general, try to never code these values into your templates, these values should be passed as parameters into the template).