Federal Insights

New Users and Devices on the Network? How to Maintain Security & Productivity

by bwright on ‎06-06-2017 08:14 AM - last edited on ‎06-15-2017 01:49 PM by Community Manager (2,736 Views)

You are a network administrator, responsible for running a campus area network spanning several buildings within a business park. Your company, Widget Inc., runs a portion of its manufacturing, all shipping and receiving, sales, support, admin and HR out of the buildings in the office park. At the same time, you provide support for the remote sales reps and a few overseas employees that offer oversight to an off-shore manufacturer of some of your Widget components.

 

Fortunately for Widget Inc., the buildings in use are close together, sharing parking lots and allowing for direct cable runs between each. This makes for an easier to build, deploy and maintain campus network infrastructure. However, the diverse nature of the operations that Widget Inc. maintains requires a robust network infrastructure providing wired and wireless access to employees, and wireless access to guests and visitors. With all business functions of Widget Inc. accessing the same network, security concerns have arisen.

 

As the network administrator, you must identify what your requirements are for a secure means of network access, both for internal and external users and for wired and wireless. For years, you’ve run an Active Directory (AD) server with LDAP and some type of NAT for your Windows-based desktops. However, several new employees have stated that they prefer to use Mac OS-based computers, all staff use smartphones now and warehouse staff use tablets to facilitate a new inventory application that you have been testing. At the same time, the devices brought in by your suppliers and visitors run all sorts of operating systems, from Linux-based laptops to Google Chromebooks. All of these devices need access to the guest network.

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The Needle in the Haystack (The Visibility Challenge of IT Operations)

by jrizo on ‎05-01-2017 11:19 AM - last edited on ‎06-23-2017 01:25 PM by Community Manager (2,166 Views)

My intent in putting this post together is not to bore you with mundane talk about how we can make networks great again. Rather, I’m going to quickly review the challenges I’ve personally faced operating networks over the past 20+ years and offer a revolutionary solution for networkers. I’ll show you how this works in a real world scenario that solves “The Needle in the Haystack” challenge.

 

Three Operational Challenges

 

The Network is Slow: Operationally, simple problems like user access issues, links that have gone down, or switches or routers that have gone belly up can be quickly identified and remediated by network engineers targeting specific points in the infrastructure.

 

What happens with my favorite support call? When the complaint is that the network is slow, the real fun begins. Engineers sift through the latest batch of Syslogs and check NMS for error messages or alerts that may have been logged. Nothing found? Then it’s time to go element by element to see if anything along the path is behaving badly. Chances are that nothing is going to immediately jump out, leading to a painstaking search through the entire infrastructure to identify and resolve the cause of the slowdown.

 

Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) Peer Goes Down: Another one of my favorites challenges is when a long established BGP peer goes down overnight. Depending on peering relationships and network failover, this could be a big deal. For instance, if a customer uses BGP peer A for their primary network traffic and have a contract with BGP peer B as a backup connection, this comes at a hefty usage cost. The longer they are on BGP peer B, the more money they are paying for this service. Service providers typically staff BGP experts 7x24, but most federal agencies do not and cannot afford to do so. This means costs are mounting as the issue goes either unnoticed or unresolved until appropriate resources arrive. Worst case scenario…you’re in Texas and the outage is in Minot, North Dakota. Come on, tell me some of you haven’t been in this situation before.

 

Command Line Interface (CLI) is Cumbersome: If you’ve been following the Federal Insights Tech Corner, then you may have read through the most recent Tech Corner post on how the CLI is dead. The piece explains why using CLI and point management tools are inefficient and operationally cumbersome. I’m not going to belabor the fact that this is correct, but want to present the current widespread use of CLI as another operational challenge agencies face.

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CLI is Dead

by tbraly ‎03-13-2017 08:43 AM - edited ‎03-15-2017 01:53 PM (4,658 Views)

The much-loved Command Line Interface (CLI) with its simplistic, yet complex set of instructions entered one line at a time is dying. With major changes to the IT landscape, introduced with digital transformation and IT modernization, the approach can no longer keep up. Per Gartner by 2020 only 30 percent of network operations teams will use the CLI as their primary interface. I believe that number should be closer to 1 out of 10. Here’s why:

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Creating Possibilities and Enabling Virtualization with OpenStack

by kevin.deterra ‎02-02-2017 12:57 PM - edited ‎02-08-2017 08:34 AM (1,942 Views)

Open source software and open standards continue to rapidly evolve data center technologies much in the same way that Linux and Android have enhanced our lives over the last decade. Thanks to them, it’s possible to order a pizza from top-ranked local shop on the way home from work or to find the closest gas station on the way to the airport in an unfamiliar city.

 

The agility these tools enable on a personal level can be brought to government and business through OpenStack and Software Defined Networking (SDN), making an impact on citizens and warfighters that goes far beyond the convenience of ordering a pizza. In government, what open source technology makes possible can help mitigate security concerns or maximize agency cost savings. Agility and customization are possible as a result of virtualization and open source, both open standards-based tools.

 

This blog will cover a range of open source tools that can help make new possibilities a reality for government and will illustrate how they work together to provide a flexible, virtualized environment.

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With so many technologies emerging and rapidly changing, it’s hard to stay up to date on all options for IT innovation and know which infrastructure options best fit your agency and customer needs. The technical trends have dictated that IT technologist must think differently to adapt to consumer demand and mission effectiveness.

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