Monday, April 30, 2012

Infographic: Be ready for the Cloudy forecast

Cloud is going to change customer expectations. New requirements are emerging, service levels are becoming more stringent and some of the time-tested strategies for managing costs and ensuring adequate service levels are being invalidated.

The new whitepaper form Uplogix shows how the same old network and network management strategies and tools won't just rain on the Cloud and Virtualization parade, without adding Local Management to the mix, the forecast is bleak indeed.

Get some of the facts from the following infographic, and then download the full whitepaper for more discussion.

Limit risks and calculate the savings of Local Management

Local Management enables a range of savings that traditional centralized tools can’t deliver
When the network and dependent systems are down, orders can’t be placed, employees are less productive, and costly resources have to be diverted to fix problems. Traditional centralized network and system management tools—although good at collecting and reporting system data—still do not proactively fix problems once they occur. The result is that people are still required to perform most of the work over console servers on remote networks.

Understanding the business case for remote network support is based on a risk/return calculation that takes into account the cost of downtime compared to the mix of resources spent to avoid downtime. The following chart shows that how much you spend on your resource mix doesn’t always equate to the lowest risk.

Determining where to invest– Managing network cost & risk
The key is in defining the resource mix:
  • Automation | Whether scripts that run over the network, or the automated management and recovery processes deployed by Uplogix, automation saves human effort, and reduces risk by taking human error out of the equation.
  • Monitoring Software | Software that uses SNMP polling to monitor a wide variety of network and device statistics. Reliant on a network connection to the equipment and networks it monitors.

  • Console/OOB | Connecting remotely to devices over the console port, providing base-level access for management. Out-of-band (OOB) access is an alternate path to connect to equipment other than the primary network.
  • Onsite IT Staff | Trained people. Whether direct employees or through break/fix contracts, this is the cost of assigning a human to solve a problem at a site. Along with high costs come issues like lack of coverage during night or holiday hours, plus the possibility of travel costs if they are unable to access a site remotely.
Running the numbers
For companies administering their own networks, quantifying downtime is more than just the infrastructure management costs (both planned and unplanned), but also the opportunity costs of the network being down (again, both planned and unplanned). In this example we’ll use statistics provided by an Uplogix customer that is a managed service provider (MSP), because the cost of network downtime is so clearly articulated by SLAs with their customers. Some of the categories listed represent an aggregated cost. For a more detailed analysis with your specific costs, please contact Uplogix.

Starting Assumptions
Sites: 1,000 Devices per site: 4
“Real” Tickets per Device per Year: 2.0
(not alerts, tickets after ECA tools)
Tickets per month: 667

Make your own calculations
There is a confidential ROI calculator available on the Uplogix website.
It allows you to input your own data on things like the number of sites and devices, cost of managing those devices (both scheduled and unscheduled), as well as your own expectations for the value delivered by Uplogix. Just go to:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ensure good configuration health before it's too late

Username: admin, Password: password - weak configuration could result in big issues.
Don't let this be your configuration!
Hackers broke into a server for the State of Utah Health Department recently in what has been described as a "configuration error" or an "installed password that wasn't as secure as needed."

The breach resulted in over 182,000 Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program members having their personal information stolen, with about 25,000 Social Security numbers being compromised. Those affected will be notified of the information theft.

Configuration errors are often thought of in terms of downtime, with well known stats from folks like Gartner, calculating 80% of all downtime is caused by human-induced configuration errors and average hourly costs for business of $42,000. Amazon's hourly cost of a website outage was independently calculated at $350,000!

But how much more expensive is a security breach than downtime? Potentially much, much more expensive. The Congressional Research Service concluded in 2004, that companies' stock prices dropped between 1%-5% in the days following the announcement of data loss. For the average NYSE corporation, that's shareholder loss of $50M - $200M (remember we're talking 2004 dollars).

How Uplogix Can Help
Uplogix ensures that only the right users have the right access to devices and systems by providing very granular and customizable administrative access. Here are a few ways Local Management can help you ensure good configuration health:
  • Maintain and enforce AAA (Authentication, Authorization and Accounting), regardless of the state of the network. Under normal circumstances, Uplogix Local Managers integrate with remote authentication mechanisms, such as TACACS and Radius, but if connectivity is lost, the LM can failover to other AAA servers before falling back on cached authentication data to maintain authorized access.
  • Use multifactor authentication through integration with RSA SecureID and Secure Computing Safeword
  • Prevent unauthorized user access by automatically closing idle sessions, eliminating a potential security gap. Uplogix also ensures that the right users have the right access by enforcing granular, role-based permissions
  • Enable audit and compliance reporting by constantly logging all changes made to managed devices and the results of these changes
  • Eliminate modem security issues with CallHome™ connectivity. Uplogix appliances always “dial-out,” never allowing in-bound dial-up requests, to restore connectivity when the primary network connection goes down, closing common security holes.
  • Improve overall security by restricting access to specific IP addresses and encrypting passwords stored in the database, and by automating management functions related to security enforcement, like updating the access passwords on hundreds of managed devices at once.
Local Management also has important capabilities for audit and compliance reporting to validate and demonstrate that you are meeting both internal and public standards. Uplogix not only audits all changes made to the managed infrastructure, but also inspects audit logs in real-time for problems and can proactively take rules-based automated corrective actions based on log patterns.

So, the next time you are evaluating the cost of downtime in your organization and trying to minimize the opportunities for configuration errors, keep in mind that you are only looking at the cheaper side of the configuration risk equation and give Local Management some thought. You probably can't afford not to.