Sunday, August 9, 2015

Blueprint: The Evolution of the Network - Part Two

by Leon Adato, Head Geek, SolarWinds

If you’re not prepared for the future of networking, you’re already behind.

That may sound harsh, but it’s true. Given the speed at which technology evolves compared to the rate most of us typically evolve in terms of our skillsets, there’s no time to waste in preparing ourselves to manage and monitor the networks of tomorrow. Yes, this is a bit of a daunting proposition considering the fact that some of us are still trying to catch up with today’s essentials of network monitoring and management, but the reality is that they’re not really mutually exclusive, are they?

In part of one this series, I outlined how the networks of today have evolved from those of yesteryear, and what today’s new essentials of network monitoring and management are as a consequence. By paying careful attention, you will likely have picked up on ways the lessons from the past that I described helped shape those new essentials.

Similarly, today’s essentials will help shape those of tomorrow. Thus, as I said, getting better at leveraging today’s essentials of network monitoring and managing is not mutually exclusive from preparing for the networks of tomorrow.

Before delving into what the next generation of network monitoring and management will look like, it’s important to first explore what the next generation of networking will look like.

On the Horizon

Above all else, one thing is for certain: We networking professionals should expect tomorrow’s technology to create more complex networks resulting in even more complex problems to solve. With that in mind, here are the top networking trends that are likely to shape the networks of the future:

Networks growing in all directions
Fitbits, tablets, phablets and applications galore. The explosion of IoT, BYOD, BYOA and BYO-everything else is upon us. With this trend still in its infancy, the future of connected devices and applications will be not only about the quantity of connected devices, but also the quality of their connections tunneling network bandwidth.

But it goes beyond the gadgets end users bring into the environment. More and more, commodity devices such as HVAC infrastructure, environmental systems such as lighting, security devices and more all use bandwidth—cellular or WiFi—to communicate outbound and receive updates and instructions inbound. Companies are using, or planning to use, IoT devices to track product, employees and equipment. This explosion of devices that consume or produce data will, not might, create a potentially disruptive explosion in bandwidth consumption, security concerns and monitoring and management requirements.

IPv6 eventually takes the stage…or sooner (as in now!)
Recently, ARIN was unable to fulfill a request for IPv4 addresses because the request was greater than the contiguous blocks available. Meanwhile, IPv6 is now almost always enabled by default and is therefore creating challenges for IT professionals even if they, and their organizations, have committed to putting off their own IPv6 decisions. The upshot of all this is that IPv6 is a reality today. There is an inevitable and quickly approaching moment when switching over will no longer be an option, but a requirement.

SDN and NFV will become the mainstream
Software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) are just in their infancy and should be expected to become mainstream in the next five to seven years. With SDN and virtualization creating new opportunities for hybrid infrastructure, a serious look at adoption of these technologies is becoming more and more important.

So long WAN Optimization, Hello ISPs
There are a number of reasons WAN technology is and will be kicked to the curb in greater fervency. With bandwidth increases outpacing CPU and custom hardware’s ability to perform deep inspection and optimization, and with ISPs helping to circumvent the cost and complexities associated with WAN accelerators, WAN optimization will only see the light of tomorrow in unique use cases where the rewards outweigh the risks. As most of us will admit, WAN accelerators are expensive and complicated, making ISPs more and more attractive. Their future living inside our networks is certainly bright.

Farewell L4 Firewalling 
With the mass of applications and services moving towards web-based deployment, using Layer 4 (L4) firewalls to block these services entirely will not be tolerated. A firewall incapable of performing deep packet analysis and understanding the nature of the traffic at the Layer 7 (L7), or the application layer, will not satisfy the level of granularity and flexibility that most network administrators should offer their users. On this front, change is clearly inevitable for us network professional, whether it means added network complexity and adapting to new infrastructures or simply letting withering technologies go.

Preparing to Manage the Networks of Tomorrow  

So, what can we do to prepare to monitor and manage the networks of tomorrow? Consider the following:

Understand the “who, what, why and where” of IoT, BYOD and BYOA
Connected devices cannot be ignored. According to 451 Research, mobile Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connections will increase to 908 million in just five years, this compared to 252 million just last year. This staggering statistic should prompt you to start creating a plan of action on how you will manage nearly four times the number of devices infiltrating your networks today.

Your strategy can either aim to manage these devices within the network or set an organizational policy to regulate traffic altogether. Nonprofit IT trade association CompTIA noted in a recent survey, many companies are trying to implement partial and even zero BYOD policies to regulate security and bandwidth issues. Even though policies may seem like an easy fix, curbing all of tomorrow’s BYOD/BYOA is nearly impossible. As such, you will have to understand your network device traffic in incremental metrics in order to optimize and secure them. Even more so, you will need to understand network segments that aren’t even in your direct control, like the tablets, phablets and Fitbits, to properly isolate issues.

Know the ins and outs of the new mainstream 
As stated earlier, SDN, NFV and IPv6 will become the new mainstream. We can start preparing for these technologies’ future takeovers by taking a hybrid approach to our infrastructures today. This will put us ahead of the game with an understanding of how these technologies work, the new complexities they create and how they will ultimately affect configuration management and troubleshooting ahead of mainstream deployment.

Start comparison shopping now
Going through the exercise of evaluating ISPs, virtualized network options and other on-the-horizon technologies—even if you don’t intend to switch right now—will help you nail down your particular requirements. Sometimes, knowing a vendor has or works with technology you don’t need right now, such as IPv6, but might later can and should influence on your decision.

Brick in, brick out
Taking on new technologies can feel overwhelming to those of us with “boots on the ground” because the new technology can often simply seem like one more mouth to feed, so to speak. As much as possible, look for ways that potential new additions will not just enhance, but replace the old guard. Maybe your new real-time deep packet inspection won’t completely replace L4 firewalls, but if it can reduce them significantly—while at the same time increasing insight and the ability to respond intelligently to issues—then the net result should be a better day for you. If you don’t do this, then more times than not, new technology will indeed simply seem to increase workload and do little else. This is also a great measuring stick to identify new technologies whose time may not yet have truly come just yet, at least not for your organization.

At a more basic layer, if you have to replace three broken devices and you realize that the newer equipment is far more manageable or has more useful features, consider replacing the entire fleet of old technology even if it hasn’t fallen apart yet. The benefits of consistency often far outweigh the initial pain of sticker shock.


To conclude this series, my opening statement from part one merits repeating: learn from the past, live in the present and prepare for the future. The evolution of networking waits for no one. Don’t be left behind.

About the Author 

 Leon Adato is a Head Geek and technical evangelist at SolarWinds, and is a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), MCSE and SolarWinds Certified Professional (he was once a customer, after all). Before he was a SolarWinds Head Geek, Adato was a SolarWinds® user for over a decade. His expertise in IT began in 1989 and has led him through roles as a classroom instructor, courseware designer, desktop support tech, server support engineer, and software distribution expert. His career includes key roles at Rockwell Automation®, Nestle, PNC, and CardinalHealth providing server standardization, support, and network management and monitoring.

About SolarWinds 
SolarWinds (NYSE: SWI) provides powerful and affordable IT management software to customers worldwide from Fortune 500® enterprises to small businesses. In all of our market areas, our approach is consistent. We focus exclusively on IT Pros and strive to eliminate the complexity that they have been forced to accept from traditional enterprise software vendors. http://www.solarwinds.com/


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Video: Comatose Servers are a big problem

Comatose infrastructure is reducing the efficiency of data centers, says Aaron Rallo, CEO of TSO Logic.

If you look deeply inside the enterprise, you'll find a significant amount of compute resources that is not doing any useful work. That's like having any airplane that is sitting on the ground.

A recent study has found that 30% of servers in data centers were completely comatose, drawing full amounts of power, consuming expensive IT licenses, yet there were not doing any useful work. This includes both virtual and physical resources not being used.

https://youtu.be/j3P84nvBgek


FCC Rule Requires Carriers to Notify of Copper Retirement

The FCC adopted a new rule that requires providers to directly notify retail customers – including consumers and businesses – of plans to retire copper networks at least three months in
advance. The new rules increase the notice period for interconnecting carriers from three months to at least six months. This requirement covers all parts of the copper network essential for providing service.

Carriers retain the flexibility to retire their copper networks in favor of fiber without prior FCC approval – as long as no service is discontinued, reduced, or impaired.

The FCC tentatively concludes that both consumers and industry would be served by clarifying these standards, and seeks comment on criteria, which include:

  • Support for 911 services and call centers 
  • Network capacity and reliability 
  • Quality of both voice service and Internet access 
  • Interoperability with devices and services, such as alarm services and medical monitoring 
  • Access for people with disabilities, including compatibility with assistive technologies 
  • Network security in any IP-supported network that is comparable to the legacy network 
  • Coverage throughout the service area, either by the substitute network or via service from other provider


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the "updates to our copper retirement process and Section 214 discontinuance process will accelerate and facilitate the transition from copper-based, analog services to more efficient fiber- and IP-based networks and services. It is a move from legacy services, to the innovative services of the future."

http://www.fcc.gov

FCC to Reserve Spectrum in 2016 Incentive Auction

The FCC reaffirmed its decision to establish a market-based spectrum reserve of up to 30 megahertz of spectrum  in the 600 MHz band in next year’s incentive auction.

Non-nationwide providers as well as nationwide providers who currently hold less than one-third of available high-quality low-band spectrum in a given license area will be eligible to utilize this first-of-its-kind reserve.

FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler stated: "This reserve would provide protection that bidders without significant amounts of low-band spectrum could not be predatorily prohibited from gaining the necessary competitive capacity by those whose interest might be served by eliminating such competition. With today’s Reconsideration Order, we take the important step of reaffirming the bold pro-competition policy."

http://www.fcc.gov

E8 Security Targets Security Intelligence based on Machine Learning

E8 Security, a start-up based in Redwood City, California, named Matt Jones as its new CEO. Ravi Devireddy, founder and original CEO, will continue to drive core technology innovation as the Chief Technology Officer and will remain on the board of the company.

Jones most recently he was Executive Chairman of InterAct a leading cloud-based software provider for public safety. He has also served as CEO of CloudShield Technologies, a provider of cybersecurity solutions and Allocity, a software company focused on storage management, and was instrumental in the sale of CloudShield to SAIC and Allocity to EMC.

E8 Security is developing behavioral intelligence and cybersecurity solutions. The approach leverages machine learning based behavioral analytics to empower security teams to find and prioritize previously unknown threats, provide insight for faster resolution and increase efficacy of the security infrastructure. E8 Security is funded by March Capital Partners, Allegis Capital and The Hive.

http://www.e8security.com


China's SMIC Commercializes 28nm Silicon for Smartphones

China's largest semiconductor foundry, has commercialized 28nm process technology that is used for manufacturing Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processors into mainstream smartphones.

The announcement is seen as a major breakthrough in the company's collaboration on 28nm, following SMIC's announcement of successfully fabricating Qualcomm Technologies' processors at the end of last year.

Dr. Tzu-Yin Chiu , Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of SMIC said: "The first batch that used SMIC's 28nm node performed well, achieving recognition from Qualcomm Technologies and mobile phone manufacturers. This is an important moment for the industry's entire ecosystem, because for the first time, China's mainland manufacturers can now introduce mainstream smartphones which is a result of the close collaboration between SMIC and Qualcomm Technologies."

See also