Friday, October 28, 2011

Cloud Computing: The Destroyer of IT?

Will the biggest disruption of Cloud computing
be to the workforce?
There are countless articles on how Cloud computing will revolutionize the IT industry, but a blog by Larry Dignan, highlights a recent presentation at the Garner Symposium in Orlando that says that as servers become virtualized, so will the humans that currently support them.

The argument is that as more companies move to the Cloud, they will need fewer data centers. Since people run data centers, there will be fewer of those IT jobs as the number of data centers decreases to a smaller number of Cloud providers. The analogy came from the semiconductor industry, where many companies have shed theirs fabs, adopting a fabless strategy where their manufacturing is handled by a small number of large facilities providing chip-making services.

According to Gartner:
CIOs believe that their data centers, servers, desktop and business applications are grossly inefficient and must be rationalized over the next ten years. We believe that the people associated with these inefficient assets will also be rationalized in significant numbers along the way. We foresee a substantial reduction in the U.S. IT workforce, especially among those supporting the data center and applications, in end-user organizations. According to Gartner’s 2011 survey of U.S. CIOs, “Reducing the cost of IT,” “Reorganizing IT” and “Consolidating IT operations and resources” were ranked high among their top strategies. In the same survey, “Virtualization” and “Cloud Computing” were the two top ranked U.S. CIO technology priorities; 83% of U.S. CIOs estimated that their organizations would conduct “more than half of their transactions on a cloud infrastructure” by 2020.
What's the moral of this story for IT professionals?  Make yourself hard to live without. Embrace automation where you can to ensure you don't waste time doing tasks that can be automated. Use that time you are saving to innovate and become irreplaceable in your operation.

At Uplogix we've heard people react to the reliable automation that our local management platform provides for network infrastructure, saying things like "sounds like Uplogix would replace me!" The reality is often that the innovative companies deploying Uplogix create more time for their skilled network professionals by allowing them to shed many of the everyday Level 1 and Level 2 actions to tackle other problems and improve the overall network.

One thing is for certain change is the only thing you can really bet on in IT.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wrapping up National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Uplogix Local Management can help you celebrate
National Cyber Security Awareness Month
While possibly not as visible as Halloween festivities or the pink-trimmed uniforms of professional athletes promoting breast cancer awareness, October is also National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

There aren't many days left to celebrate, but cyber security is clearly a daily obligation for all of us. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, the most serious economic and national security challenges we face are cyber threats, and every Internet user has a role to play in securing cyberspace and ensuring the safety of themselves and their families.

At Uplogix, we also take cyber security seriously. With business success increasingly dependent on network availability and performance, it is absolutely necessary to protect the underlying network and IT infrastructure from security threats.  Traditional management protocols used today, such as SNMP and Telnet, fall short in securely managing remote networks, and require that the network is available to work.

Uplogix ensures that only the right users have the right access to devices and systems by providing very granular and customizable administrative access. Our Local Managers provide a secure management platform that meets the industry’s most stringent security, encryption and AAA requirements, ensuring that security and management policies are always enforced, even during a network outage.

By both enforcing IT policy and audit & compliance reporting, your network infrastructure will be more secure, ensuring that not only will the right people have the right access to the right gear, but that you will have a trail to document it all -- right down to the key strokes they made and device outputs during sessions. Uplogix Local Managers inspect audit logs in real-time for problems and can proactively take rules-based automated corrective actions based on log patterns.

Primarily required in federal applications, the Uplogix platform is FIPS 140-2 compliant and in-process with NIST. The Uplogix Control Center utilizes the SafeNet Luna PCI-e cryptographic module, which is validated to FIPS 140-2.

So, if you are an Uplogix customer, enjoy Cyber Security Awareness Month knowing that we're out there working for you with local network automation 24x7. If you aren't yet enjoying the benefits of Local Management, now you are a little more cyber-aware.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Locally managing inline devices with Uplogix

Inline devices like intrusion prevention systems (IPS) and WAN acceleration are a common part of most network setups today. While these applications have become critical to network operations, they also pose a critical point of failure based on their location, often between layers 2 and 3 in the network topology.

Network-independent local monitoring

Uplogix local management is especially valuable for inline devices. With more frequent polling than traditional SNMP methods (by default Uplogix polls at 30 second increments), Uplogix is able to gather more granular diagnostic data. Since an Uplogix Local Manager device sits with managed gear, but connects over a serial console port instead of over the network, the management is persistent whether the network is up or down.

Local management is also able to target specific performance data, such as packet loss both in- and out of a device. This is important for isolating a problem and determining root cause.

Automated actions from device data

Going beyond monitoring, Uplogix is able to take actions to resolve incidents based on pre-approved guidelines. For example, your run book might call for an inline device to be immediately bypassed in the event of a failure to ensure traffic continues to flow. Uplogix could recognize a device problem and push a config change to the router and switch allowing them to bypass the inline device.

In larger organizations, responsibilities for different network layers and devices might be distributed across multiple people or groups. With the capability to specifically monitor each device from a local perspective and take action reduces the "mean time to innocence," or the idea that sometimes devices (and by extension, their admins) are guilty until proven innocent. Being able to conclusively say that a problem isn't your fault potentially has a high value. This situation is also important and has clear financial implications when it comes to meeting SLAs.

Stay in contact, know device status
Finally, intensive monitoring and automated recovery is important, but organizations still need to know what's going on. Uplogix feeds centralized tools device data and state both in- and out-of-band. This means existing NSM tools and procedures can continue to function, but with more robust information. In the case of the network being down, Uplogix will continue to report on each device, creating an accurate picture in the NOC of exactly where the problem is (and isn't) located.

This out-of-band link to network devices is also available for secure, two-way communication for events that require hands-on troubleshooting. When there is a problem, admins can get access quickly to remote devices over the console port -- just as if they were connecting directly to it from a laptop.

Fall inline with local management

The benefits of devices like intrusion prevention and WAN acceleration are critical to today's networks. Local management allows you to experience the benefits of these tools without incurring all of risk of adding another device in your network's critical path.

Deploying local management in your network virtually

All Uplogix custom solutions are based on the patented Local Management Software (LMS), originally developed for use on specialized Uplogix hardware (Uplogix Local Managers). Uplogix LMS is now available, in its entirety, packaged as a virtual machine.

Virtual Local Managers of all kinds can be mixed and matched in the same deployment with Uplogix Local Managers and other kinds of Virtual Local Managers. This creates the opportunity for tremendous flexibility in the way that customers create Local Managers for use in their Uplogix deployment.

As a result, where appropriate, customers can save money by using hardware they already have or by consolidating servers. This also allows customers to use standard hardware from preferred vendors. In addition, this creates the opportunity for deployment on special purpose platforms such as WAN acceleration appliances or other specialized devices that run VMware.

While Custom Solutions are tailored to customer needs, certain general approaches have been shown to deliver an optimal balance between cost effectiveness, ease of deployment and robust functionality, including the following:

Uplogix LMS on a Virtual Server Connected via a Console Server
Uplogix LMS is installed on a virtual server connected via an Ethernet cable to a Console Server in order to provide LMS with network-independent console port connections to one or more managed devices. This configuration creates a fully functional Uplogix Local Manager. This option is ideal when console servers are already in place and available for use.


Uplogix LMS on a Virtual Server Using the LAN
Uplogix LMS is installed on a virtual server accessing managed devices over the Local Area Network via virtual console ports. When a server is available this approach requires no physical changes at the site where managed devices reside, while delivering much of the functionality of a full Local Manager. This solution offers a fast, easy, cost effective way to gain the benefits of local management for many applications, but may not be suitable for all scenarios.

Virtual Uplogix Control Center (UCC)
The Uplogix Control Center provides a centralized point of control and configuration for all of your Uplogix Local Managers, enterprise reporting, and serving as a consolidated point of integration for centralized management systems. In a standard deployment the UCC is delivered as hardware/software solution, but with the Virtual UCC, customers can use any hardware platform that meets system prerequisites with a VMware hypervisor.

Inside looking out: Local info for centralized network management

The device-level data used by traditional centralized management tools includes device statistics collected via ICMP, SNMP get requests and SNMP traps based on predetermined thresholds and rules. These tools gather and receive this important information from devices over the network. If the network isn’t available, the data isn’t either, and centralized network management cannot do its job.

The problem is that disruptive incidents are tough for IT departments to prevent because there are so many variables to control in complex and highly distributed network environments. Just some of the many possibilities include the following:
  • Service provider’s WAN link connecting a remote office is goes down
  • Technician’s simple error on a remote switch drops that device offline later that night
  • Kernel panic on a device in a remote location causes the device to stop responding
Each of these events occurs in even the best-managed networks, and on the most reliable platforms.
The resulting disruptions often limit visibility into the remote locations impacted. This restricts IT’s ability to troubleshoot, track configurations, enforce security policies, and provide timely fault assistance.
Adding Local Management to Centralized Tools
With uninterrupted access to device-level data, centralized tools can extend capabilities beyond the moment of outage. As examples, here is the impact on the above scenarios:
  • WAN link disruption could be quickly confirmed as the service provider’s fault in seconds or minutes instead of hours or days; service provider triangulation actions could be  executed and reported and the remote office infrastructure would be accessible for hands-on management
  • Technician error on a remote switch could be rolled back immediately  as an un-committed configuration change
  • An unresponsive device could be automatically power cycled in the first few minutes of outage.
Guaranteed and consistent data improves monitoring, makes troubleshooting easier, allows configurations to be tracked and security policies to be maintained, and accelerates fault resolution.

Uplogix makes your existing tools work better
Uplogix ensures that device-level data keeps flowing even if the primary network is temporarily unavailable. Uplogix Local Managers (LMs) collect device statistics and SYSLOG messages out-of-band, via a device’s console port. This information is stored locally on each LM and delivered at regular intervals to the Uplogix Control Center in the NOC and forwarded to centralized tools where it can be used to replace or augment statistics that might be missing or incomplete. Uplogix generates traps based on standard rules and policies. Traps generated by Uplogix Local Managers are forwarded to centralized tools even when the network isn’t available.

Uplogix collects and stores information commonly used by centralized tools:
  • Device statistics | These are the raw statistics about device state, such as error frames, CPU-status, or carrier transitions. Traditionally these statistics are requested via SNMP ping across the network at regular intervals (i.e., every 15 minutes), and this information is delivered on a best effort basis by the device.

    With Uplogix, these same statistics are collected directly from devices at much more frequent intervals (i.e., every 30 seconds), but without impacting network or system performance. Uplogix stores and forwards this data to centralized tools on a guaranteed delivery basis.  So not only does local management provide more granular device statistics at tighter intervals, it does so with less network overhead and with guaranteed delivery, even during disruptions.
     
  • SYSLOG messages | These are the unsolicited event records reported by devices. They generally tell that something has happened, where it’s happening, and what it is related to, such as “port 16 is having problems with duplex mismatch,” or “port 4 dropped a packet  -- out of memory.”

    Uplogix gathers SYSLOG messages over console (the most reliable method) and time and date stamps according to UDP. They are used along with device stats to generate traps.
  • Traps | These are alarms based on pre-determined rules and thresholds using device statistics and SYSLOG data, such as “if more than three malloc errors occur in five minutes” or “utilization > 50%” send an alarm. Centralized tools receive traps via SNMP on a best effort basis, which means a device can generate and send a trap, but doesn’t know if it arrives. Likewise, traditional management tools don’t know that a device sends a trap unless it is actually received.

    With Uplogix, traps are generated by the LM rules engine, which uses parameters and thresholds modeled on Cisco TAC best practices. Uplogix LMs store and forward traps on a guaranteed delivery basis. So when a trap is generated, centralized tools will receive it even if the network is not available.
For more information, read the Local Management Technical White Paper.

The Power of Local Management for the Energy Industry

The networking challenges in the Energy business rival those of any other industry. Combine vast distances between sites, large amounts of data and truly critical requirements for uptime and security with the fact that much of the infrastructure is years and decades old, and it's clear why Uplogix has found wide adoption in Energy.

Our customers include some of the largest providers of power, operators of vast electric grids, as well as producers of natural gas. Local management has lowered support costs and increased uptime along thousands of miles of pipelines crossing the United States and Canada.

The importance of the electric grid was demonstrated in last week's power failure in southern California, western Arizona and northern Mexico. Over 7 million customers were without power causing an estimated $80 million to $100 million in economic losses in an outage attributed to human error.

As Smart Grid technologies roll out, increased reliance on networks is a given. Integrating older SCADA-based networks with IP networks is an ongoing challenge that is seeing acceleration with the demand for smarter power networks.

Uplogix Local Management solutions address the unique challenges of managing a SCADA environment in harmony with growing networks. Uplogix Local Managers (LMs) collocate with SCADA devices and network equipment to provide local access, enforcement and control, minimizing time-consuming, expensive and risky tech support trips to remote locations to troubleshoot and fix routine network problems. From the Uplogix Control Center, administrators can centrally monitor and manage all network devices and SCADA systems connected to the Uplogix LM via an easy-to-use, web-based interface.

Learn more in the Uplogix Solution Brief on Local Management for SCADA Networks.

Local management for server automation (Part 2 of 2)

The first part of this article had an introduction of some of the functionality Uplogix brings to server management and an example of what that impact looks like when solving a problem.

This article will provide more details on what Uplogix does for servers. Uplogix gives you the option of connecting to servers over Ethernet, Serial or both. These different connections provide unique functionality for managing the server locally.

Ethernet Connection
Connecting to the server over Ethernet allows Uplogix to monitor through the service processor. This gives Uplogix the ability to remotely monitor, manage, diagnose and recover servers, even if operating system has hung or the server is powered down.

Connecting to the service processor over IPMI, Uplogix has a range of server management capabilities:
  • Monitoring of logs, events, baseboard statistics (for example, environmental data for temperature and humidity to be used to trending and root cause analysis)
  • Take actions such as power on/off, and power cycle
One key aspect to Uplogix Local Management is secure remote access. For servers, Uplogix provides KVM (keyboard video mouse) over service processor. This gives administrators local access and control (in- or out-of-band) for hands-on provisioning, monitoring, and troubleshooting. Since it’s over the service processor, access is independent of the server’s OS and network connection.

Remote Web Access (RWA) capability offers secure access to remote devices with web-only management interfaces. This avoids putting additional management overhead on the server (i.e. switch port, VLAN, user access). Uplogix connects to remote web servers and exports the web pages to the administrator’s desktop through a secure shell session (SSHv2), and integrates with remote authentication mechanisms such as TACACS+ and RADIUS.

Serial Connection
Using a serial port to connect to a server gives additional functionality for Uplogix using Linux console or Windows EMS including:
  • Monitoring | Kernel logs, chassis performance statistics (like memory and CPU usage)
  • Active management | Uplogix can take actions like alert, power cycle, one-line commands, and session management operations like logging out idle sessions
  • Raw buffer | Activity is collected locally in a 2 MB buffer
  • Audit and Compliance | Uplogix logs all changes made by users and the results of these changes. This information is saved locally and then transmitted to a central location for analysis and long-term storage. Logging, recording and reporting are unaffected by the state of the network—Uplogix continues to satisfy compliance requirements even during any network downtime.
Uplogix Compatibility
Local Management from Uplogix is compatible with servers from Sun, HP, Dell and IBM running Linux, Solaris and Windows 2003 operating systems.

Local management for server automation (Part 1 of 2)

In addition to the solutions that local management brings to network infrastructure devices, Uplogix has a number of features for management automation of servers.

The benefits are reduced operational costs, faster resolution when issues arise and improved security and compliance vs. centralized-only management.

Some of the key functionality for servers includes:

Secure Access | Provides secure access to remote devices with web-only management interfaces or no console port without requiring additional overhead to manage, leaving no need to consume an additional switch port, maintain VLANs or manage user access for more devices. Uplogix also integrates with TACACS+ and RADIUS for remote authentication.

Service Processor Automation Using IPMI | Provides users with the ability to manage, diagnose and recover servers, even if the OS has hung or the server is powered down.

KVM over Service Processor |
Allows IT administrators to gain local access and control to a remote server (i.e. provisioning, monitoring, troubleshooting, restricting access) via a local desktop without having to deploy external KVM appliances, functioning independently of the server’s operating system or primary network connection utilizing an automated out-of-band connection.

An example of Uplogix Local Management for Servers


The Problem Today
Detection, notification, prioritization and remediation can take over an hour for even small server issues like a full temp file. In this example, traditional NMS detects a previously unknown problem within 10-15 minutes of the event. Over the next few minutes trouble tickets are opened and Ops is notified of the problem. The problem is identified, but the system administrator response depends on priorities. The admin isolates and resolves the problem over the next 30 minutes or so by logging into the affected system, cleaning up files, and finally closing out the trouble ticket. Even a basic server issue could last over an hour and require a trained professional. 



The Solution: Local Management
With Uplogix, the full temp file is detected within 30 seconds with local monitoring and is verified over a few more polling periods. Uplogix is then able to perform cleanup actions (like removing old files, running scripts, etc.) and verify that the problem is solved. Finally the alarm is automatically cleared through the NMS. If the problem is not solved, Uplogix can notify the NMS and forward specific server status information.

In Part 2 of this series we'll address the functionality available for server management over Ethernet and Serial connections.

Bringing home office network reliability to the high seas

One of the key markets for Uplogix is maritime satellite services. We just published a new customer case study for Orange Business Services detailing how they utilize Uplogix in their efforts to deliver business-level reliability and service for networks aboard vessels at sea.

Connected ships are extensions of the home office

Modern satellite broadband communications transform any vessel into a mobile corporate office with the same access to email, supply chain management and procurement systems and applications as land-based locations. 

Orange Business Services has developed a maritime satellite service completely integrated with Business VPN for improved communications between ships and terrestrial sites and added benefits for passengers and crew that were previously cost prohibitive.

Examples of how Orange uses Uplogix
Orange Business Services uses Uplogix as extensions of their own support staff, using the Local Managers as onsite eyes, ears and hands to ensure the network is shipshape. Some of the key features include:

Locally Staged/Pushed files
Software that runs remote hardware used in maritime VSAT is always changing. New configurations and operating systems become available that promise new features and improvements. In the past, upgrading a vital component in the VSAT link was something that was only done in port, where the impact of downtime was minimized. With Uplogix, even if there is a problem with the upgrade, devices like a satellite modem, router or switch can be automatically restored to its last known operating state and the connection to the outside world restored. Changes can be pushed individually or scheduled across the fleet from the Uplogix Control Center.

Continuous Monitoring and Management with Out-of-Band
Access to the data that feeds satellite network management tools is possible even during a VSAT outage using Uplogix and an out-of-band connection. In an out-of-band situation, Uplogix utilizes port forwarding for access via serial or IP and caches commands to avoid latency issues and provide consistent remote access.

Learn more about how Orange uses Uplogix

Download the full case study to see how local management is enabling the promise of home office service levels on ships all over the globe.

Uplogix more than insurance for Information Assurance

We're back to the oven of Austin from the tropics of Tampa's LandWarNet Army IT tradeshow where we had many conversations with Information Assurance, or IA people. In addition to being able to drop some of the key acronyms that IA folks want to hear like FIPS 140-2 compliance, Uplogix really has a great story for IA with security features that one Army IA specialist called "pretty hot stuff."

If you aren't involved in networking for the US Department of Defense, you might not be familiar with the guidelines of the DISA Network Infrastructure STIG. It states:

"The processes and procedures outlined in this Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG), when applied, will decrease the vulnerability of DoD sensitive information. Network Security is clearly still one of the biggest concerns for our DoD customers (i.e., the warfighter)."

While you might not live in the world of the warfighter, network security is critical in most industries, making the DISA STIG guidelines supported by Uplogix Local Management widely applicable. We have a whitepaper that shows details on how Uplogix features apply to STIG requirements. Here is a high level summary:

STIG Section 5 - Device Management

In-band
All in-band traffic is secured via SSHV2 and HTTPS (port 8443). Monitoring is done via the CLI of the connected device via the console/serial port, and SNMP is not used for management of end components such as routers, switches, etc. SNMP may be used from the Uplogix Control Center to an NMS system via the management network. In essence this is Secure Monitoring.

Out-of-band (OOB)
Uplogix has multiple connection methods for OOB (PPP/POTS, Cellular, Satellite or Ethernet). By default Uplogix “dials-out,” not in, to restore secure connectivity to managed devices when the primary connection is lost, eliminating potential security threats. Once the OOB connection is established and secured, a user must authenticate and only has access to what they are authorized. This is granular to the port and command level.

SNMP
SSHv2 is supported between Uplogix and client via in-band and out-of-band. When OOB, a secure VPN is established back to the management network. Uplogix uses SNMP V3 and supports AES128, AES192 and AES256 for encryption.
Uplogix incorporates a hierarchy model and a query model to modify SNMP settings, allowing mass change on-demand of any SNMP setting for all Uplogix devices. Uplogix can also schedule SNMP configuration changes on a mass scale to managed devices supported by an Uplogix driver.

Configuration and Change Management
Uplogix stores the current and 21 previous versions of both the running and startup configurations on an ad-hoc or scheduled/reoccurring basis.

Section 6 - Authentication, Authorization and Accounting (AAA)

Implementation
Uplogix supports AAA locally on an encrypted database, plus TACACS and Radius. Uplogix supports tiered groups within its local authentication mechanism. Uplogix also supports two-factor authentication.

Administrator and Emergency Accounts
A user must authenticate to Uplogix to gain authorized access to a device. Uplogix utilizes a secondary authentication means when a device cannot connect to the AAA servers.

Auditing
Uplogix logs all interactions and failed attempts including time stamp of all logon/logoff activities. Furthermore, all commands executed and output displayed to user is logged. This is true for both interactions on the Uplogix device itself and via the managed device CLI.

Section 7 - Passwords

Password Encryption
Uplogix does not store any passwords to any device outside of its database. These passwords are stored in a 3DES encrypted SHA-1 salted hash and are not displayed by Uplogix when viewing any configuration.

Want to learn more?
Find a nice cool spot to sit and take a look at the full whitepaper for more details and examples of the "hot stuff" that Uplogix does for the STIG requirements.


Culture as important as technology for avoiding network downtime?

In a recent Network World article, Cisco's Denise Fishurne cautions recent attendees of Cisco Live returning to their workplace with aspirations of applying new knowledge for high availability and fast convergence to start off with a little introspection first.

She asserts that preparing your network for recovery once there is a failure is about more than the network -- you have to take into account the engineers that are involved and the management policies that they operate under. She says to ask yourself, "What can be done so that when failure occurs the transition from failure to recovery happens as quickly as possible?"

It's a basic question, and of course at Uplogix, our answer is to plug automation into the scenario to limit the need for human involvement to the atypical downtime scenarios that require advanced troubleshooting. Use Local Management for better monitoring and to take care of the level 1-type causes of downtime, and you reduce the number of -- and opportunities for -- additional problems during recovery situations.

To quote a bit more from the article:
"Now, how many times have you had a network operation failure that was caused by something that a human did? Or by something you didn't expect to have happen and didn't account for before? See that "action" box below?  That gets bigger and bigger (delaying getting to recovery) whenever a human (or multiple humans) has to get involved and troubleshoot what is going on.
 The trick is to figure out ways to get this box smaller and smaller and smaller."
We couldn't agree more. And it's no trick apply local management for more in-depth monitoring and automated device recovery while increasing security and reducing opportunities for human error. and we have a solution.

New Uplogix software version runs as VM and more

The next rev of the Uplogix Local Management Software, v4.4, is available. It runs as a VM on the Cisco UCS Express platform and includes features for dedicated networks plus new and expanded advanced device drivers.

The initial application of the newly virtualized Uplogix software is available on the Cisco UCS Express platform running in a Cisco integrated services router (ISR). With the ISR providing the serial connections to managed devices and the Uplogix Virtual Machine running on the UCS Express, the solution expands the hardware deployment options and increases managed port density to 48 per Uplogix Local Manager. This is an increase of 16 devices from the maximum number of supported devices with the Uplogix 3200 Local Manager for deployments requiring management of many devices.

Some of the other new features in the v4.4 release include the following:

  • Subinterface support | The Uplogix Local Manager Ethernet management interfaces now have Dot1Q/VLAN support, enabling dedicated networks for service level verification (SLV) traffic, static routing for management interfaces, and additional network access to the Uplogix CLI.
  • Updates for remote networks | The new release includes new support/enhancements for Sea Tel (General Software Release 4), iDirect iDX software, Multi-Tech iCell USB Modems, Iridium modems (Uplogix now can perform a SIM card activation check and retrieves the SIM ICC ID), and support for C-Com iNetVu and other software applications using high ASCII characters.
  • Additional Cisco features | Uplogix supports Cisco IOS 15 software as well as added a Pull OS function for Cisco ASA products.
  • Pull TFTP action for all drivers | A new standard feature available for any managed device is the ability to manually or automatically log into a device and copy a file via TFTP to store on the Local Manager.
Uplogix Local Management Software v4.4 is available now on all new Local Managers or to install on the Cisco UCS Express. Customers wishing to upgrade should contact Uplogix support at www.uplogix.com/supporthttp://www.uplogix.com/support.

Getting the Big Picture for Cisco ISR Routers

If you enjoy a good eye chart, then Cisco's recent publication of the Enterprise Routing Portfolio for Borderless Networks is for you. The 44"x34" poster is available in PDF format -- or if you are buddies with your local Cisco reseller, in print, to wallpaper your office. We hear Cisco printed up 10,000 copies.

Of course what we're excited about is that Uplogix made the poster in the Third-party Applications section under Local Device Management. The chart shows that Uplogix is compatible with 2911 ISR models and up with an UCS Express blade.



One of the exciting things about Uplogix on the UCS Express platform is that if you already have a compatible ISR and UCS blade, you're almost ready to start managing your network infrastructure locally. Add some HWIC cards for the serial devices connections, install the Uplogix Local Management Software as a VM, and you're in business.

Check out more about Uplogix on UCS Express in the Cisco data sheet on Local Management.

Is your network infrastructure ready for a cloudy forecast?

At Cisco Live in Las Vegas this year, you couldn't look in any direction without seeing or hearing about the Cloud. Granted some of the cloudiness above was coming from the Uplogix Be a Rock Star stage, but it seemed like most of the vendors in the World of Solutions had their heads in the clouds.

All the Cloud stuff is great, and about half of all Uplogix Local Managers are deployed in data centers positioned to support cloud infrastructure devices, but when your key business services live in the Cloud, don't overlook the importance of your branch office networks to get there.

Cisco predicts that business traffic will grow at a faster pace that IP WANs:

  • IP WAN will grow at 18% CAGR, while
  • Fixed business Internet access will grow at 19%, and
  • Mobile business Internet traffic at 79%
So if you are in charge of the average WAN, you are in big trouble in the worst case scenario, and best case, you'll need your network operating at its peak efficiency just to keep up. This means automating network management where possible to optimize IT spending on keeping up with strategic business needs, not on high cost tactical events like truck rolls and manual configuration changes.

With over 40% of internet traffic from video, and an increasing use of video conferencing in the workplace, automated monitoring of service levels from the user's perspective is a requirement. Your users expect, or will soon expect, high quality video on demand for collaboration and sales activities. Designing the right network is just the first step - delivering the expected performance is day-to-day.

These days, you've got to have your head in the Cloud, let Uplogix be your boots on the ground. See how we keep your network running with local management and automation for:

Who's the boss when it comes to IT network spending?

A recent Gartner survey indicated that it's becoming more common for the CFO to play a bigger role in IT decisions. The survey, which reflected the views of senior financial executives, showed only about 30% believe IT provides clear business benefits or view the CIO as a strategic partner.

Analyst John Van Decker says the results reflect the bias of CFOs during tough financial times and the need for IT to "get much closer to business."

At Uplogix we get the fact that we need to do more than wow IT folks with our local management solutions like we did at Cisco Live recently (see the photos!). We're the first (and only, as far as we can tell...) ones addressing some of the core challenges of network management that have just become accepted costs of doing business -- impacting the bottom line that CFOs really care about.

We built a detailed ROI calculator to speak to the CIO, as well as answer the questions that the CFO has. Here is a quick overview of the calculator:



Network Infrastructure
What does your network look like? We built the calculator to start off generally and get more specific. If you have a variety of sites with some that are small, with few devices, or large and complicated, break them out and run the calculator for each site type, then add up your results. This will give you a better calculation than just using a broad average.

Infrastructure Management

These are the hard costs of IT - how many times do you need to touch a device in the field? And since the cost of unplanned touches are rarely the same as the cost of planned activities, what's the ratio?

When an event requires a site visit, what does that cost? It adds up pretty quickly when you look across your whole network.

Opportunity Cost
When there are issues in the network, what does that cost the business? In some companies, unscheduled downtime is unthinkable, for others, it's merely disruptive. With Uplogix, impact both planned and unplanned downtime with network automation you can implement with confidence.

The Uplogix Solution
This section has one of the most important controls in the calculator - the assumption slides. We're confident that Uplogix will reduce both downtime and the need for site visits in your network, but you set the percentages you are comfortable with. This was a feature we saw as missing from most other IT ROI calculators that tend to default to best case scenarios.

Results
Here is where your CFO will take an interest. Net out the results from the savings with Uplogix less the cost of the solution. We'll calculate the payback period, plus some nifty financial things like the net present value so the CFO can gauge value of this IT project in the way they see the world, through a financial lens where everyone is competing for the same dollars.

That's it -- please give the calculator a look and let us know what you think. It might just let you and the CFO see eye-to-eye.

Local Management now running on a Cisco ISR near you

Last week at Cisco Live 2011 in Las Vegas, Uplogix announced the availability of our Local Management Software (LMS) running as a VM on the Cisco UCS Express blades. This expands the hardware options available for deploying Uplogix as well as increasing the number of ports managed by one local management device up to 48.

Installed in a 2900 or 3900 Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR), the UCS Express module provides the storage and processing needed for the Uplogix LMS. Connectivity to managed devices is through up to three HWIC serial port adapters which are available in both eight-port and 16-port versions. Out-of-band connectivity is possible through an HWIC wireless modem.

Uplogix Local Management Platform on Cisco UCS Express provides
an array of localized management services that augment centralized management

The Cisco-based platform offers the same functionality for robust monitoring, network management automation and security as the existing Uplogix hardware platforms (the 3200 and 430), but also can still exist as a traditional router while supporting Uplogix on the UCS Express.

So, if you are a Cisco-only shop or have already deployed (or plan to deploy) Cisco ISRs in your network infrastructure, the UCS Express option running Uplogix Local Management might be the right answer for you. Take a look at the Cisco Data Sheet or contact Uplogix today to find out more.

Network automation a life preserver in scarce IT talent pool

A recent article in Network World said that the tech unemployment rate is below 4%, with key IT positions staying open for months due to a shortage of qualified applicants.

For those running IT shops, this means a few things - new hires are going to be more expensive, current employees need to be kept happy if they are going to stick around, and everyone in IT needs to be working smarter. Doing more with less isn't just a nice-to-have, it's the only way for many IT groups to survive.

The IT people most in demand are those with six to 10 years of experience, followed by those with two to five years in the trenches.

Uplogix is here to throw you a line. Putting local network management into your ecosystem will save many of the routine device recovery and troubleshooting headaches that are a daily part of running a network. When we're not able to fix issues automatically, we tell your IT folks exactly where the problem is and get them direct secure access to the device -- even if the network is down.

No more hunting down dial-in numbers or trying to talk someone through a recovery operation over the phone. Or even worse - getting in a car, 4x4 or helicopter for a site visit. The last thing you want is pulling a talented IT professional off of other pressing tasks to sit in traffic.

What about just outsourcing it all? Remember, we're all swimming in the same IT talent pool and it's getting shallower. Keeping your head above water is going to get more and more expensive, so look for IT automation options as a way to stay afloat.

Want to know more?
Get more info in this white paper about how to calculate the real cost of network management.

Shining a light on the dark corners of your network

Being able to effectively monitor your entire distributed infrastructure and the performance that it is providing to end users is critical, and is what all network management systems are designed to do. However, not all are equally adept.

You wouldn't use a street light down the road to read a magazine at your house -- they are just designed to give a general view of the road with as few lights as necessary because they are expensive to install and operate.

Similarly, SNMP-based tools are limited by how much data they can collect and how often it can be collected in order to minimize the performance impact of these queries on the overall network. These tools are centrally located and network-dependent, so they fail to capture diagnostic data during network outages or disruptions, literally leaving IT staff “in the dark” and unable to determine the root cause of a problem, or how to fix it.

Uplogix Local Management Software can gather much more granular diagnostic data more frequently than SNMP-based systems without affecting the performance of the devices or the network. Uplogix Local Managers leverage serial connections to managed devices to collect data on hundreds of network performance variables every 5 to 30 seconds. Analyzing this data, Uplogix can then either automatically resolve the incident based on pre-approved guidelines, or communicate the problem and recommended recovery steps back to centralized IT staff for resolution.

Uplogix Local Managers, being locally deployed, can also monitor, measure and manage the performance of critical network services and applications from the end-user’s perspective. This is done by generating synthetic Internet, Network and VoIP transactions which can be designated to be performed over any network segment connecting two Uplogix Local Managers allowing infrastructure problems to be precisely isolated.

Administrators can quickly and easily establish acceptable thresholds for all monitored services and receive alerts via email when service-level events violate these thresholds. Service-level data is also stored to facilitate trend analysis, and can be easily exported for custom reporting or integration into other management systems.

See what local monitoring can do that SNMP can't when the network goes down:


A Black Box for your network devices

Everyone knows what a “black box” is on an airplane – it’s the flight data recorder. These hardened devices mounted in the aircraft record key information about the status of the flight controls, pilot inputs, and the results of their actions. Some of the features of the Uplogix local management platform work like a black box for your network devices for improved auditing, change management and recovery from errors.

Audit & compliance reporting
Enterprises need complete reporting data to pass today’s stringent compliance audits. Often companies are penalized as a result of incomplete information, especially when outages have occurred. During these most vulnerable moments for a network, reporting data on who has accessed devices and what was done to those devices often goes unrecorded.

Uplogix logs all changes made by users and the results of these changes. This information is saved locally and then transmitted to a central location for analysis and long-term storage. Logging, recording and reporting are unaffected by the state of the network—Uplogix continues to satisfy compliance requirements even during downtime.

Enforcing IT policy
With business success increasingly dependent on network availability and performance, it is absolutely necessary to protect the underlying network and IT infrastructure from security threats. Traditional management protocols used today, such as SNMP and Telnet, fall short in securely managing remote networks, and require that the network is available to work.

Uplogix ensures that only the right users have the right access to devices and systems by providing very granular and customizable administrative access. Uplogix provides a secure management platform that meets the industry’s most stringent security, encryption and AAA requirements, ensuring that security and management policies are always enforced, even during a network outage.

Recovering from failed changes
According to market research firm Enterprise Management Associates, "60% of network downtime is caused by human error during device configuration..." There are just too many devices to manage and too many changes to make to those devices on a regular basis in enterprise environments to rely on manual, error-prone, one-at-a-time processes.

IT staff need to automate common configuration management tasks, reducing downtime by eliminating common errors introduced by the manual execution of tasks like OS upgrades, password updates, and all-important device configuration changes.

If a configuration change fails, Uplogix immediately rolls the device back to the last known good configuration using its unique SurgicalRollback™ feature, minimizing downtime that is impossible to avoid using in-band-only software solutions. This process restores the device to working order without affecting other device operations. Uplogix locally stores multiple configurations for each device under management to enable this powerful feature.

Put a Black Box in your network infrastructure
Knowing is half the battle, and with Uplogix deployed in your network, you will know who did what, and the impact of their actions. Going beyond the traditional expectations of a black box, Uplogix proactively helps you maintain a safe and secure network with features to enforce IT policy and recover from failed configurations. And unlike a black box on an aircraft, with independence from the network it’s helping manage, Uplogix also won’t go down if the network buys the farm (i.e. crashes!).

Get SLV for your network infrastructure before you worry about APM

Application Performance Management (APM) is nothing new and continues to remain both a science and an art form. For large IT organizations ITIL provides a framework to align IT services to the needs of the business. Whether ITIL is a good fit for your organization, or you use more of an ITIL-Lite approach, most tools and processes focus on the applications and not the networks they rely on to deliver services. It's like worrying about the accuracy of your car's GPS system before you notice that you have a flat tire.

Uplogix addresses this gap with its service level verification (SLV) features. Since the Uplogix platform functions independently of the network and is directly connected to network infrastructure, it can assess network and server status more frequently and without degrading performance.

SLV monitors, measures and manages the performance of critical network services and applications from an end-user's perspective. This includes TCP/IP communications, web-based transactions and VoIP -- the "tires" that enable users to take advantage of the applications that drive business.

Even better, Uplogix SLV can be built into your processes with localized network automation, so before you worry about managing application performance, you already know your network is properly inflated and ready to roll.

For more information, check out the following:

Uplogix SLV Data Sheet 

Smarter grid requires more interoperability of SCADA and IP networks

An article in the current issue of the IEEE newsletter, Smart Grid, describes the importance of network interoperability as a key to success to creating the smarter grid of the future.
"As information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) converge in the smarter grid of the future, network interoperability will be the starting point and precondition for all else..."
At Uplogix we've already seen this demand from customers in the energy industry. As they push IP networking out into the field for data backhaul from SCADA systems it's a case of new vs. old, and often the IT staff vs. the operations teams. We've found that localized management can solve many issues that lead to downtime and truck rolls.

For example, the Uplogix platform connects directly to any device with a console port for real-time monitoring and to provide secure remote access. Know exactly what's going on with all equipment, all the time and be able to get to devices that need work -- even if the network is down. In the smart grid, with more and more equipment pushed out to the edge, these features are critical to scale the network without scaling support costs.

Secure remote access and automation for SCADA and hybrid networks makes any grid smarter
A key aspect of the smarter grid is security. Uplogix solutions enforce user access, authorization, and authentication privileges inside the firewall even when primary network connection is unavailable. All user access and changes made to SCADA and other managed devices are logged and reported to satisfy security and compliance requirements. Uplogix' core functionalities help meet NERC cyber security guidelines for Security Management Controls, Critical Cyber Asset Identification, and Elelctronic Security Perimeters that are insufficiently addressed by current technologies. 

For more information about how Uplogix can help make your grid infrastructure smarter, check out the following:

Cisco's Chambers on "good enough networking"

In a recent article for Network World, Cisco CEO John Chambers gave the networking industry a brief look back and asked a few questions about our vision of the network going forward.

He asks if the network will be robust-enough to accommodate the forecast that 91% of global internet traffic will be internet video by 2013, and handle over seven billion mobile-connected devices  -- nearly the projected population of the world -- in 2015.

Chambers also states that a "network-centric approach to security will become the only way to holistically protect our networks." At Uplogix, we're doing our part today to secure network infrastructure through localized management by:
  • Extending role-based management policies to all devices we connect to locally
  • Managing server and network device serial port access, applying policy to ensure sessions are properly closed to eliminate the likelihood of inappropriate access
  • Maintaining AAA even when the network is down - eliminating the need for unaudited access to managed devices using "break glass" passwords with sweeping privileges, and capturing both user inputs and devices responses for a complete audit trail

He says that large businesses can lose an average of 3.6% in annual revenue due to network downtime each year, and suggests the reader ask their CFO whether a good network is good enough.

This is the same question we've been asking at Uplogix. Many businesses settle for using console servers and people to manage networking gear. Run the numbers and see what the impact these predominately manual activities have on network downtime, quality of service and security.

Or, take a look at this whitepaper -- we've already done most of the work for you. Uplogix isn't going to solve all of the needs of the network of the future (we need to leave some work for Chambers!), but we're sure we can take your "good enough" network of today and make it better.


Addressing your NSM tools' elephant in the room

First, we're not here today to bash your enterprise network and system management suites. IBM/Tivoli Integrated Service Management, BMC Business Service Management, CA IT Management, HP Business Technology Optimization and others are all powerful tools for managing complex, distributed networks. But what they all have in common is that they rely on the very network they are managing to manage the network.

Think about it. SNMP polling travels back and forth over the network to feed information into these centralized management systems. Until recently, this weakness has just been accepted as the way things work. Troubles with the network often result in "blind" situations that can only be solved by a human logging into devices to determine the problem. This is expensive and time consuming. But that's just the way things work. Or is it?

Uplogix is addressing this status quo of the network world with a management platform located with -- and directly connected to -- managed devices, complementing traditional centralized management tools. When you look at all of the things that comprise the domain of Enterprise Systems and Network Management, you come to see that many of the functions must be done or are better done centrally, while at the same time many functions must be done or are better done locally. You can break these local functions out like this:

Configuration Management
  • Configuration change tracking | At the device level, with current and previous configs and OS files saved locally for easy restoration
  • Network configuration changes | Broad, sweeping changes to the network are implemented at the device level
  • Network & Server recovery | Bad configs happen. It's a fact of life, but when they are made through a local management platform, it's possible to recover - automatically
Security & Compliance
  • Access & Activity Logging | Know who has done what, when and with what impact on a device
  • Secure Remote Access | Granular authorization to devices, with the ability to act as a secure gateway, both in- and out-of-band
Performance & Availability
  • Real-time device monitoring | When monitoring is made a local activity, rather than a centralized task, it's possible to not only collect data more frequently, but also at a more detailed level. Combined with local intelligence, it's possible to go beyond merely monitoring to take actions
Over the next couple of months, we'll go into more details on each of these features and show how localized management addresses that elephant in the room to reduce network costs and complement your NSM investment.

Avoiding catastrophic outages by automating change management

There are plenty of examples of catastrophe these days, but in the IT world, catastrophic losses typically are the result of anticipated technology failures combined with unanticipated human failures.

The best laid plans often go awry due to the human nature to take shortcuts. Repetitive processes and time-consuming steps get skipped. It's a human problem, and when the result is a catastrophic outage, nobody can hide.

Our sales team recently relayed a pair of horror stories they heard where major data facilities lost their main and backup power. Power loss is an anticipated issue in data centers. What made the events catastrophic was the human failure over time to adhere to change management processes.

When power was restored, recovering key pieces of network infrastructure was hampered by the lack of the most recent configuration files. Without the ability to return to the previous operating state, MTTR rose steadily as administrators tried to recover devices.

The power of automation
Clearly these stories show the importance of having clear NCCM procedures that are followed to the letter. But it also shows the need for automation to take that human nature to shortcut out of the process.

Quantifying how big an issue this is, Gartner says "80% of unplanned downtime is caused by people and process issues, including poor change management practices."

Uplogix localized management can help you address these issues by automating the config management processes -- every time and consistently. For change management, Uplogix delivers the following:

  • Facilitating changes | Administrators log into the Uplogix platform to access only those devices that they have privileges on. Changes can be staged locally on Uplogix (especially useful for low-bandwidth/short change window situations) and scheduled in advance. Previous configurations and OS files are also saved locally on the Uplogix platform.
  • Verifying changes | When a change is pushed from Uplogix to a device it is validated. If the change fails, the Uplogix SurgicalRollback process backs out the exact changes, returning the device to its previous state.
  • Auditing changes | All changes are recorded by Uplogix, 24x7, capturing both commands and device responses.
So how good are your plans to avoid catastrophe? It's likely that the biggest risk isn't power or weather, but just day-to-day activities that turn your best laid plans awry.

Automated recovery from satellite blockage zones

In a previous post called How to know if your antenna is down or just blocked, we showed how Uplogix can send alerts when a vessel's satellite antenna enters a known blockage zone. This can be a handy capability for providing rapid notification for service providers or even alerting a ship's captain about the loss of connectivity.

But why stop there? Knowing there is a problem is useful, but what if the problem could just be solved automatically? With the Uplogix platform's local connection to both antenna controller and satellite modem, plus a rules engine to evaluate incoming data and take action, there are options for automated recovery from a blockage zone.

This video except (about 1 minute long) from a recent webinar with Cobham Sea Tel describes the process of changing from one satellite that becomes blocked to another satellite within view of the antenna:


In locations with strong satellite coverage, it is possible to pre-set alternate satellite targeting information for when a vessel enters a blockage zone. Uplogix monitors heading information and uses rules to compare it to known blockage zones. When a blockage zone is entered, Uplogix pushes a new configuration file to both the antenna and the satellite modem, retargeting the ship's comms on the secondary satellite and restoring the link.

Conversely, when the vessel's heading changes and the primary satellite is available again, Uplogix can push the initial configuration files and return operations to the primary state.

Manage your service level agreements proactively

Service level agreements are common for defining services, availabilities and performance specs both between providers and their subscribers and internally between IT departments and their customers.

With the unique position Uplogix occupies alongside network infrastructure, but outside of the critical path of network traffic, we're able to provide enterprise service level verification that monitors from the user's perspective. Enterprise-level reporting is available through the Uplogix Control Center to answer some basic, yet critical questions:

Can I get there? Is the network down?
The Uplogix platform can notify NSM tools both in- and out-of-band on network status within seconds of an outage. Local monitoring means that your NSM will receive information on an outage in the same time interval that users react to an outage. No more learning about an outage from the angry calls of your customers.

Going beyond notification, Uplogix can automate Level 1 and 2 troubleshooting steps, potentially solving the issue without the need to even generate a trouble ticket. This means fewer service calls and headaches from simple, yet interruptive fault recoveries.

Another benefit of local management is that when there is an issue, you'll know exactly where the default is. Referred to as the "mean time to innocence," sometime just know that the problem is not with your gear is highly beneficial for speeding up the recovery process. Or if it is a device issue, since the Uplogix platform is connected to each device over the console port, it's clear exactly where the problem is.

The network is up, but is it in spec?
The Uplogix platform deploys alongside the network gear it manages, yet is independent of the network. From this position in the architecture, Uplogix can collect actionable metrics, measuring service levels from the perspective of the user.

As more applications critical to the bottom line of the business are virtualized into the cloud, maintaining proper service levels in the network is critical. Applications like Voice and Video over IP require networks performing up to spec. Uplogix has tests for web-based transactions, TCP/IP communications and VoIP. These tests can be combined with automated actions to let you proactively manage your service levels.

Read more in the Service Level Verification Datasheet.

Survey Says Network Automation Adoption Increasing

A recent survey by EMA shows that network automation is increasing in use, with over 80% of respondents indicating they are actively using or deploying network automation, and saving anywhere from 16% to 50% of their network group's daily administrative tasks.

While targeting automation for configuration backups, config monitoring and IP address management ranked highly in the survey, respondents indicated more network automation would be needed for increasing adoption of cloud, server virtualization initiatives and compliance demands.

At Uplogix, we see the increasing dependence on the WAN as an opportunity for bringing network automation out of the cloud and into the local infrastructure. To stick with the EMA angle, analyst Dennis Drogseth said it well in his Ten Things to Watch for in 2011, "Cloud is making the network sexier, or at least more essential."

As data and services move to the cloud, don't forget that your users likely aren't focused on how that information gets to their desktop. The nearly limitless storage and increasingly business-critical applications will require a WAN that is operating at optimal levels.

One way to ensure that network performance doesn't negate the savings of cloud-based operations is by implementing automation in the WAN infrastructure. Complementing your centralized tools with localized management from Uplogix will ensure that your users can keep their hopes, dreams, data and applications alive in the cloud, and have the WAN they need to access them.








Read more in the white paper, Storm Clouds Ahead: Why "dumb" console servers are bleeding your company's bottom line.

Taking remote config changes to the extreme

Cisco announced this week that they conducted the first-ever software upgrade of an IP router in space. The Internet Router in Space (IRIS) program involves the Cisco 18400 Space Router -- hardened for radiation and launched on-board the Intelsat 14, a geostationary communications satellite.



The router runs Cisco IOS and is testing the idea of bringing the Internet into space to provide a mobile (at least widely distributed, if geostationary!) network that can adapt without reliance on a fixed and predefined infrastructure. One benefit envisioned is onboard routing to avoid the need to "double-hop" network traffic -- going from one site up to a satellite, down to a ground gateway hub, back up to the satellite and finally down again to the second location. A single-hop could route traffic on the satellite from one location to the other.

According to the release:






"Cisco updated the IOS® Software in the router aboard Intelsat 14 to enable a variety of capabilities for enhanced management that are already available for Cisco's terrestrial products including Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express, IPv6, Mobile IP and SNMPv3 MIBs (Simple Network Management Protocol version 3 Management Information Bases). It also enables additional security features, including hardware-based encryption."


What does this mean for you?
You can bet there was a whole team working on the upgrade of that router in space. But your routers are probably not radiation-tolerant, and it's likely you are responsible for more than a single router. At Uplogix we're solving your challenges with device upgrades -- whether they are remote (relatively) or just next door.

Making changes on devices you can't physically touch can be a little scary. Even if your devices aren't in orbit. It's all too easy to get cut off accidentally. You can avoid this with the Uplogix Surgical Rollback feature.

By applying configuration changes to devices through an Uplogix appliance, when there is an issue, the appliance can roll the device back to the last known good configuration and restore the network connection.

Here is a demo showing the feature:



Imagine scheduling an upgrade for all of your routers late at night. With Uplogix you could actually be out stargazing instead of verifying changes, because any routers with issues will roll back to the last known working config. 

Want to learn more about Uplogix features with the right stuff for your network? Check out the white paper, Making Cisco Stronger.

Out-of-band + automation sharpen service provider's competitive edge

In the oil & gas industry, outfitting fleets of communication vehicles on land, in the air and at sea means putting equipment into harsh locations -- often without a communications specialist onsite. Data Technology Solutions has found Uplogix appliances help them meet SLA's for uptime while keeping support costs low.

Download the full case study.

Remote visibility and access to deployed gear
By connecting an Uplogix appliance over the console port to the VSAT antenna, satellite modem, router and switch, DTS has secure management access to the key devices. The appliance monitors the gear at 30 second intervals, reporting any problems to DTS both in- and out-of-band. Technicians in the NOC can see exactly which device might be having issues and can take actions to recover them.

Reduced maintenance costs and faster recovery from device issues
In the event of a problem, DTS can access the site from the NOC. If the problem is just a configuration issue, like calibrating a compass, the recovery can be handled remotely.

Occasionally devices do fail. In these situations, DTS can instruct a user onsite to swap out the device with a spare deployed onsite—literally unplugging the old one and plugging in a new one. Then through the Uplogix appliance, the NOC can handle the configuration and bring up the system. The customer just returns the failed devices to DTS when it’s convenient.

Increasing value while reducing cost
As a leader in satellite communications for the energy industry, DTS is always looking for opportunities to further differentiate themselves from their competition. Uplogix allows DTS to compete on many levels and continue to build their roster of satisfied customers.

Meeting Gartner's predictions for network automation by 2015 today

This week the analysts at Gartner released their top predictions for IT organizations and users for 2011 and beyond. The list focuses on changes in the roles that technologies and IT groups play both in the performance of the business and increasingly in the lives of workers.

As an innovative company applying a new way of thinking to solving long-standing challenges in network management, it's pretty easy to see where Uplogix is making Gartner's predictions true today. Here are a few examples:

"By 2015, tools and automation will eliminate 25 percent of labor hours associated with IT services."
The comparison in the prediction is that as the IT industry matures, it will increasingly mirror other industries such as manufacturing, transforming from craftsmanship to a more industrialized model.

At Uplogix we couldn't agree more. Save the trade craft for the real challenges of running a network -- not the basic troubleshooting and routine configuration upgrades. We've built a platform that works just like a human would to manage network devices. Our appliance connects over a console port and follows the established run-book procedures, but the differences with automation are striking:

  • Monitoring is 24x7 whether the network is up or down
  • Response and resolution times are measured in seconds and minutes rather than hours and days
  • Run book procedures are followed step-by-step, every time. No shortcuts, no straying from best practices
  • All activity is logged for compliance
"By 2015, information-smart businesses will increase recognized IT spending per head by 60 percent."

IT-enabled organizations have weathered the recent recession with consolidation and optimization of IT spending, including staff reductions and freezes. This tightening of the IT belt is forecast to lead to an IT productivity windfall, but also sets expectations for IT to continue to do more with less even as percentage spending increases.

The only way to achieve this is to work even smarter and embrace automation. The bar for IT craftsmanship must shift to meeting new expectations by relegating routine and manual network management tasks to automated solutions.

"By 2015, 20 percent of non-IT Global 500 companies will be cloud service providers."

As the focus of the analysts and media shifts to the cloud, network infrastructure is often taken for granted. All of the cost savings and efficiencies assume that the cloud is accessible and with enough bandwidth to meet required service levels.

Functionality like Uplogix' integrated service level verification (SLV) technology helps make cloud applications possible. The unique ability of Uplogix appliances to measure key metrics from the user's perspective, take proactive remediation steps, and notify the NOC of issues means that your users can keep their heads in the clouds.

At this time of year, everyone is looking to the future with predictions of what to expect. At Uplogix, we're already there with a platform for network automation that allows IT staff increase efficiency and apply their craftsmanship to the cutting-edge issues of today instead of just the routine "keeping-the-lights-on" tasks.

Out-of-band access and automation for Winegard antennas

Uplogix recently announced interoperability of Winegard auto-acquiring antennas with the Uplogix remote management appliances. This means the appliances are able to monitor parameters on the antenna controllers and issue commands to enable, reposition, retarget, stow the antenna and more. This functionality allows operators to control remote equipment as if they were onsite.





Uplogix Local Management works with Winegard auto-acquiring antennas.

Uplogix Automation
This remote management of the antenna (plus associated satellite modems and IP networking gear) is important to ensuring uptime as satellite kits are often deployed in remote conditions and/or without a technician onsite. Frequently they are used in the energy industry for communications from a production site, or in emergency communications to provide broadband access in situations where the primary infrastructure is impaired, down or non-existent.

The customizable rules engine in the Uplogix appliance makes it possible to create specialized, automated operations, such as stowing an antenna on a satellite truck or trailer when the power is cut in preparation for travel.

Always in touch and in control
The integration of Uplogix with an out-of-band connection provides persistent management access to remote satellite infrastructure. This means troubleshooting steps that used to require and onsite technician can now be conducted by the service provider from their operations center.

One example of an Uplogix customer utilizing the enhanced interoperability is Data Technology Solutions (DTS). They use Winegard antenna systems as part of their portfolio of connectivity services for oil and gas, maritime and disaster recovery. With Uplogix, they have a high level of visibility and manageability of their fleet of Winegard systems. This means increased uptime, reduced support costs and happier customers.