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How to use SANless clusters to protect SQL in the cloud

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

While cloud computing has proven to be beneficial for many organizations, IT departments have been slow to trust the cloud for business-critical Microsoft SQL Server workloads. One of their primary concerns is the availability of their SQL Server, because traditional shared-storage, high-availability clustering configurations are not practical or affordable in the cloud.

Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure both offer service level agreements that guarantee 99.95% uptime (fewer than 4.38 hours of downtime per year) of IaaS servers. Both SLAs require deployment in two or more AWS Availability Zones or Azure Fault Domains respectively. Availability Zones and Fault Domains enable the ability to run instances in locations that are physically independent of each other with separate compute, network, storage or power source for full redundancy. AWS has two or three Availability Zones per region, and Azure offers up to 3 Fault Domains per “Availability Set.”

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4 ways bimodal IT accelerates innovation

Innovation is the cornerstone for sustained business success, and given how much innovation relies on technology these days, IT has to play a vital role in making it happen. Even so, Brocade's 2015 Global CIO Study found that more than half of CIO respondents spent around 1,000 hours a year reacting to unexpected problems such as data loss, network downtime and application access. With that much time spent fighting fires, how is the average CIO supposed to find the time to innovate?

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NIST publishes guidelines for SSH key management: What happens next?

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

Secure Shell (SSH) is a tool for secure computer system management, file transfers and automation in computer and telecommunications systems. The Secure Shell protocol ships standard with every Unix, Linux and Mac system and is also widely used on Windows (Microsoft has announced plans to make it a standard component of Windows). It is also included on practically every router and mobile network base station. In many ways, the connected world as we know it runs on Secure Shell. Its keys are ubiquitously used for automating access over a network, and modern systems could not be cost-effectively managed without it.

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How to use application-defined automation tools to successfully deploy cloud apps

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

The cost and scalability benefits of cloud computing are appealing, but cloud applications are complex. This is because they typically have multiple tiers and components that utilize numerous technologies; as a result, applications can end up scattered across a variety of execution environments. To ensure successful cloud application deployment and management, the key is to use application-defined automation tools.

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SDN and NFV: The brains behind the “smart” city

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

In major metropolitan areas and smaller cities alike, governments are adopting software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) to deliver the agility and flexibility needed to support adoption of “smart” technologies that enhance the livability, workability and sustainability of their towns.

Today there are billions of devices and sensors being deployed that can automatically collect data on everything from traffic to weather, to energy usage, water consumption, carbon dioxide levels and more. Once collected, the data has to be aggregated and transported to stakeholders where it is stored, organized and analyzed to understand what’s happening and what’s likely to happen in the future.

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10 use cases where NoSQL will outperform SQL

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

Once only used by the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook, many industries are now adopting NoSQL database technology for crucial business applications, replacing their relational database deployments to gain flexibility and scalability. Here are 10 enterprise use cases best addressed by NoSQL:

* Personalization. A personalized experience requires data, and lots of it – demographic, contextual, behavioral and more. The more data available, the more personalized the experience. However, relational databases are overwhelmed by the volume of data required for personalization. In contrast, a distributed NoSQL database can scale elastically to meet the most demanding workloads and build and update visitor profiles on the fly, delivering the low latency required for real-time engagement with your customers.

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What’s inside your containers? Why visibility and control are critical for container security

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

As organizations turn to containers to improve application delivery and agility, the security ramifications of the containers and their contents are coming under increased scrutiny.

Container providers Docker, Red Hat and others are moving aggressively to reassure the marketplace about container security. In August Docker delivered Docker Content Trust as part of the Docker 1.8 release. It uses encryption to secure the code and software versions running in Docker users’ software infrastructures. The idea is to protect Docker users from malicious backdoors included in shared application images and other potential security threats.

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What’s inside your containers? Why visibility and control are critical for container security

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.As organizations turn to containers to improve application delivery and agility, the security ramifications of the containers and their contents are coming under increased scrutiny.Container providers Docker, Red Hat and others are moving aggressively to reassure the marketplace about container security. In August Docker delivered Docker Content Trust as part of the Docker 1.8 release. It uses encryption to secure the code and software versions running in Docker users’ software infrastructures. The idea is to protect Docker users from malicious backdoors included in shared application images and other potential security threats.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Which NoSQL database is right for you?

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

Many organizations are turning to NoSQL for its ability to support Big Data’s volume, variety and velocity, but how do you know which one to chose?

A NoSQL database can be a good fit for many projects, but to keep down development and maintenance costs you need to evaluate each project’s requirements to make sure specialized criteria are addressed. Keep in mind that it is not just a question of being able to develop the application specified, it also means being able to easily manage and support applications with the potential for dramatic growth in scope and size in production for many years. One of my customers doubled the size of their business 12 times in less than 4 years.

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How to use stipends to ensure BYOD success

Stipends are a way for businesses to reimburse employees for a portion of their wireless costs and, if implemented properly, address these common issues: cost, eligibility, control and taxes. Here’s how:

* Costs. When businesses talk about costs, they generally are referring to either time or money. And companies opting to use expense reports for stipends will find the task occupies a good bit of both. It’s time-consuming for accounting departments to sort through individual expense reports and issue payments only after an employee’s usage has been verified. It’s no surprise, then, that an Aberdeen Group study suggests each expense report costs $18 to process. Compounding those costs, companies opting for this method will issue hundreds or even thousands of payments each month, so the benefits that attend stipends can be quickly outweighed.

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Five steps to optimize your firewall configuration

Firewalls are an essential part of network security, yet Gartner says 95% of all firewall breaches are caused by misconfiguration. In my work I come across many firewall configuration mistakes, most of which are easily avoidable. Here are five simple steps that can help you optimize your settings:

* Set specific policy configurations with minimum privilege. Firewalls are often installed with broad filtering policies, allowing traffic from any source to any destination. This is because the Network Operations team doesn’t know exactly what is needed so start with this broad rule and then work backwards. However, the reality is that, due to time pressures or simply not regarding it as a priority, they never get round to defining the firewall policies, leaving your network in this perpetually exposed state.

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Savings that telecom expense management providers miss

If you use a Telecom Expense Management (TEM) provider to audit your telecommunications invoices, you may be in for a surprise. TEM providers claim to catch all supplier billing errors and overcharges. They don’t. In fact, often what they miss is bigger than what they find.

We’ve spent much of the past decade coming in behind the TEMs, finding the overcharges they’ve missed, and turning them into client refunds. We have found something in every post-TEM audit we’ve completed. After creating our master issues list, we were struck by the diverse nature of the errors the three of us have uncovered at one time or another. Here are some of our favorites:

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Sharpening cyber defenses with an “attacker’s eye view”

To understand risk exposure, security pros gather and digest intelligence feeds about vulnerabilities, indications of compromise (IOCs) and other machine-readable data all the time. But real-time insight into what adversaries are seeing in underground forums, the dark web, social media and other sharing sites is hard to come by. Yet it is precisely this attacker’s eye view you need to gain a clear picture of your risk profile, to prioritize which threats are likely – even imminent – versus others.

With 411 breaches so far this year exposing 17,678,050 records, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center report, there is a growing need to use this insight to better inform and tune defenses. However, it takes more than downloading the TOR browser bundle or devising a good underground cover identity to access these sources and gather actionable intelligence. What can you do to avoid wasting time, keep your employers out of trouble with the law and make a difference in anticipating risk? It starts with understanding the intelligence gap that exists between you and your adversaries.

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At what point do white hat hackers cross the ethical line?

In recent months the news of Chris Roberts alleged hacking of an inflight entertainment system and possibly other parts of the Boeing 737 have sparked a wave of controversy. Public opinion was originally on Roberts' side, but the recent publication of the FBI affidavit changed that drastically. According to the affidavit, Roberts admitted to doing a live "pen-test" of a plane network in mid-air.

Whether this is true or not, it raises some valid concerns over the ethical implications of white hat hacking. In the case of Roberts, who, according to the affidavit, was able to steer the airplane off the intended course, the consequences could have been dire. It is not believed that Roberts had any intention of hurting either himself or any of the passengers, but if the affidavit is in fact true, the possibility was real.

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The 2020 WAN takes shape – SDN, virtualization, and hybrid WANs

The gold standard for corporate networks today is MPLS, but carrier pricing issues and MPLS’s failure to play well with new, cost-efficient forms of network access are causing problems for the legion of enterprise customers that rely on it.

Consider:

  • TDM dedicated access (T-1 and DS3) is expensive; Ethernet access isn’t universally available and, though economical on an ongoing basis, can cost a bundle (and take months) to install because only about half of the major commercial buildings in the US are served by fiber.
  • It takes a lot of CPE and management to integrate MPLS with broadband public Internet access, which is widely available and fast, but doesn’t come with robust SLAs (other than site availability).
  • MPLS itself may not require a lot of management, but the CPE that accompanies it does.
  • The explosion of collaboration tools like Skype for Business and cloud based apps are straining capacity and management. The desire to leverage today’s robust software/cloud applications is driving a need for more sophisticated routing schemes and greater control over how WAN traffic is handled.

It’s not clear how fast MPLS will go the way of Frame Relay and ATM, but changing apps and bandwidth needs, coupled with Continue reading

The 2020 WAN takes whape – SDN, virtualization, and hybrid WANS

The gold standard for corporate networks today is MPLS, but carrier pricing issues and MPLS’s failure to play well with new, cost-efficient forms of network access are causing problems for the legion of enterprise customers that rely on it.

Consider:

  • TDM dedicated access (T-1 and DS3) is expensive; Ethernet access isn’t universally available and, though economical on an ongoing basis, can cost a bundle (and take months) to install because only about half of the major commercial buildings in the US are served by fiber.
  • It takes a lot of CPE and management to integrate MPLS with broadband public Internet access, which is widely available and fast, but doesn’t come with robust SLAs (other than site availability).
  • MPLS itself may not require a lot of management, but the CPE that accompanies it does.
  • The explosion of collaboration tools like Skype for Business and cloud based apps are straining capacity and management. The desire to leverage today’s robust software/cloud applications is driving a need for more sophisticated routing schemes and greater control over how WAN traffic is handled.

It’s not clear how fast MPLS will go the way of Frame Relay and ATM, but changing apps and bandwidth needs, coupled with Continue reading

Network infrastructure cost optimization services can save millions

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

If network infrastructure is not your organization’s core competency or you have outsourced the environment, you lack control of equipment and transport services and probably struggle with complex pricing and non-standard billing. Worse yet, if your service provider owns either all or components of the processes, procedures, staffing and tools, it limits the changes you can make.

If that describes your environment, a network infrastructure cost optimization consultation can help you drive infrastructure costs down, capture the network environment processes, identify systemic issues and leverage best practices.

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Three critical considerations when optimizing infrastructure for application performance

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

Overprovisioning has been the go-to approach for ensuring infrastructure and application performance. But when performance degradations and unplanned outages occur, even the most experienced teams move into “react-and-guess” mode.

Where to start? Every level of the infrastructure stack comes with its own possible issues, and tracking the culprit down takes time. And with IT infrastructures growing at an exponential pace and workloads to the cloud, the typical approach of overprovisioning and reacting-and-guessing is no longer a viable option.

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Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC) applications emerge as the tech stabilizes

Perhaps the single-most significant standards based technological advancement in the field of unified communications over the past year has been the completion of Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC) standard and the appearance of several WebRTC based implementations.

WebRTC 1.0 APIs are defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the IETF (Internet Engineering Taskforce) RTCWeb Working Group, and they make it possible for Web browsers to support voice calling, video chat, and peer-to-peer connections.

There has been considerable stabilization of the WebRTC browser implementation over the past year or so, enabling much more robust WebRTC apps to be developed. On the other hand, there still remains considerable and substantial work to be done on the IETF protocols for WebRTC.  

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IoT analytics brings new levels of innovation to new product development

Studies show that around 40% of products fail. But what if product designers could understand what features are most and least popular, which components tend to fail sooner than others, and how customers actually use products versus how designers think they use them? And, what if product developers could then utilize these insights to develop products that perform better, potentially cost less and, most importantly, are aligned with actual customer needs?

Innovative product development teams in pretty much every industry are beginning to look at ways to translate enormous streams of real time machine data into actionable information to improve the product development process by understanding where product innovation is necessary, which features are most desirable, and how to lower their overall cost of ownership.

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