Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Local Management part of the solution for wireless carrier challenges

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week wireless carrier executives discussed the challenges of meeting an exploding demand on their networks as the number of users and their appetite for bandwidth continue to grow. The service providers' concern is that while they are seeing doubling in wireless data needs, they are not expecting to see a linear increase in revenues.

Execs from Orange Group, AT&T and Shaw Communications all voiced concerns that their revenues were not growing enough to keep up with expenses. Panel moderator John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, didn't offer much comfort, saying, "We’re moving from a connected to a hyper-connected world. Two-fifths of cloud loads will be off a mobile environment, and video will be the killer app – the primary way to do mobile cloud, and not just how we communicate." His solution, presumably, is for service providers to buy more gear - and even better if it has the Cisco logo on it.

Dennis Steiger, CTO for Canadian-based Shaw Communications said that operators have no choice but to continue to innovate and invest in technology. "If you see the potential to make a disruptive change, you invest..."

Applying Local Management as a solution for Wireless Carrier Networks
Wireless providers fall into the sweet spot for local management in many ways. Their infrastructure is widely distributed and critical -- two requirements that make for high support costs involving frequent truck rolls and redundant gear.

A wireless location contains a variety of infrastructure devices for both transmitting and receiving signals as well as backhaul devices that vary from fiber connections to microwave or even satellite links depending on location and traffic load. An Uplogix local manager can connect via a console port to all of these devices and monitor at 30 second intervals. Automated functionality can ensure devices are up and running, as well as create an out-of-band link for remote experts to access troubled gear before rolling a truck.

Uplogix in a wireless station can manage the wide variety of networking and communications infrastructure.

Combined with highly configurable and granular role-based administrative access with flexible password rules, multi-factor authentication and TACACS and RADIUS integration ensures that the network infrastructure stays as secure as the weather-proof buildings that house the delicate electronics.

If you are a wireless carrier trying to innovate your way out of a challenging market, give Uplogix a call - or maybe a text message. We can probably help you squeeze more out of your network by lowering service costs and increasing uptime.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Single-vendor networks vs. multi-vendor, no problem

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

This well-known line most likely did not refer to the networks that today's IT shops have to deal with, but it's not far off when it comes to network management. As everyone struggles to find the right combination of spending, manpower and ingenuity, one reoccurring argument is single versus multi-vendor networks.

One vendor, one network
The argument for single-vendor networks is that you get better application and product integration. This holistic view of the infrastructure should ensure both a high level of QoS and security and application support integrated into the networking products.

More vendors, better networks
On the multi-vendor side, arguments boil down to cost, performance and risk. With more options for each layer of your network, you can mix and match based on your budget and requirements. Creating a more varied stack also should allow you to distribute some of the risks of putting all your eggs in one basket.

Network management in either regime
With Uplogix in your network, you are really equipped for either way of thinking. Say you are running a single-vendor network made up of gear from, oh let's say Cisco. We know Cisco gear backwards and forwards. In fact, you can run Uplogix on Cisco gear and maintain the purity of your network. Talk with us or your favorite Cisco rep to find out more.

If you are on the other side of the coin, running a network made out of best-of-breed devices, or maybe just the best-of-what-you've-put-together, Uplogix is there for you. We'll provide secure remote access and support for any console-managed device. We provide a unified CLI framework and a wide range of "native" functionality for any connected device. In addition, there are advanced drivers providing enhanced automation for some of the most common networking and communications vendors like Cisco, HP, Juniper, iDirect, Sea Tel, Comtech, and more.

For both setups, System alarms, events and device performance data can be forwarded to NMS systems from the Uplogix Control Center via SNMP messages that appear as if they came from the managed device itself. Additionally, syslog messages can be sent in real-time to an NMS system or syslog server for consolidation, auditing and analysis purposes.

So in this election year, breathe free and easy with local management because you don't have to choose a side. We can work with your network.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

De-duping redundant systems for savings, simplicity and savings

A recent congressional hearing focused on getting rid of duplicate IT systems - a significant potential source of savings considering the 2011 overall federal spending on IT was over $79 billion. The two organizations under the microscope were the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, with 2013 IT budget requests of $37 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a study on systems redundancies identifying potentially duplicative investments at DoD and DoE in three management categories - human resources, information & technology and supply chain totally approximately $1.2 billion for FY2007-12.

It's not in our scope here to evaluate these claims, but applying an Uplogix view of the IT world, systems redundancy can be a problem for any organization.  When it comes to what tools to use, obviously you want what to minimize cost while getting all the functionality you need. Local Management provides several ways to reduce redundancy in your network management.

While Uplogix provides all of the functionality of a top-end console server, that's really just the beginning. Unlike a console server, deploying local management means getting the ability to apply automation to infrastructure management. You get the tool and through automation, additional headcount on your IT staff. Save time and money by shedding the Level 1 & 2 management tasks plus avoid truck rolls with secure out-of-band access for jobs that require human expertise.

When it comes to device management, we're not picky. Sure we know how to manage Cisco like nobody's business, but we also have advanced functionality for most leading brands of networking and satellite communications devices. Then there is basic functionality (basic only compared to our advanced drivers, but still highly useful for device management), that we can apply to any device with a console port. Plus, we're more than happy to manage your all-one-vendor network, or a menagerie of heterogeneous gear.  That's power.

One question we're often asked is if migrating to local management requires a "rip & replace" strategy. Of course the answer is that it depends. It depends on what you have already in place. It depends on what you want to get out of local management. Now that the Uplogix Local Management Software has been ported for use as a virtual machine on a server, new custom solutions are available that can let you take advantage of your existing investment in console servers and reap the benefits of local management.

 When you start looking for areas of redundancy, give Uplogix a double-take. Local management might be the single solution to solve many issues.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ensuring the network is as fresh as the produce

Uplogix enables a small IT team to
support a 24x7 operation where the network
is as important as the fresh food.
Retail Customer Case Study
How one of the largest independent food retailers in the United States Controls IT costs with local management

Network is critical for everything from fresh produce to store management
This Uplogix customer is recognized for its fresh food, quality products, convenient services, and a commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability. With annual sales of more than $16 billion, the grocer operates in 150 communities and employs more than 76,000 people.

Ranked in the top 25 for both private US companies and retailers, this modern grocery operation encompasses stores, data centers, warehouses as well as large milk and bread processing plants producing own-brand products. The chain has been recognized by its industry as a retailer of the year and a top food retailer.

Supporting a cost-conscious retail network
Uplogix Local Management provides a network-independent platform that augments the grocer’s centralized management tools to reduce operational costs, improve both daily management tasks as well as break-fix  incidents, and increase security and compliance.

Reducing network costs in an industry with razor-thin margins

With Uplogix in their datacenter and part of the standard network installation at every new store, the IT staff has the benefit of local management when their dashboards are green, and red. Features for reliable automated devices upgrades and config changes increase efficiency and reduce the number of errors, while detailed local config change logging ensures accountability in a 24x7 environment.

Supporting a regional operation with a small IT staff
The combination of intensive local monitoring and secure out-of-band access to managed devices ensures that when there are network issues that are beyond Uplogix’ automated actions, IT knows about the issue and can take actions before having to roll a truck.

The value of local management in a double-redundant network
The network is so critical to operations that stores have redundant T1 connections backed up by a satellite link. Uplogix plays a key role in networks like this because monitoring the additional devices required for  redundancy decreases the risk of configuration problems. Plus, Uplogix can automatically test heterogenous  backup systems on a regular basis to ensure they are ready if, and when, needed.

Ensuring millions go home happy
A retail operation with hundreds of stores and critical uptime requirements really sees the benefits of Uplogix in increased performance, availability and security with lower operational expenses. For more information, please go to www.uplogix.com/retail.