Thursday, May 31, 2012

20 years of SMS messages

20 years ago this month, the first SMS-capable phones went on sale in Europe. Use of SMS messages swelled, with over 6 trillion messages sent worldwide in 2010. For phone companies, they've been lucrative as well -- generating more than $110 billion in revenue on those 6 trillion texts.

While many users have migrated from SMS (Short Message Service) to "free" Internet-based services such as Facebook and iMessage from Apple, texting remains a powerful method of communication.

Using SMS Messages in Local ManagementSMS has its uses in network management, along with some functionality that makes Uplogix even more useful when it comes to managing remote sites.

SMS messages can be generated to pass on alert messages. For example, say you have an Uplogix Local Manager on a ship that utilizes satellite connections. It's not uncommon for there to be blockage areas where the antenna is obscured from a satellite by a mast or some sort of structure. These known blockage zones can be monitored by Uplogix using rules that track information from the antenna like location, ship heading and satellite direction. One of the response options for Uplogix is to generate an SMS message indicating that the ship is in a blockage zone over an out-of-band connection.

SMS messages can also be used in-bound. For example, Iridium and cellular modems are often used for out-of-band connections because they offer wide flexibility when it comes to location and speeds ranging from acceptable to decent for network management traffic. That said, paying for these services is generally by the minute, and can become expensive.

For these situations, a Local Manager can be configured to monitor the SIM card for incoming SMS text messages sent by the Uplogix Control Center to determine if it should establish a PPP connection. When detected, the Local Manager can bring up its out-of-band connection for a specified duration.

So, SMS is 20 years old, but still going strong. And the next time you get a text, it might just be from your Local Manager. Watch the video to see how Uplogix can send an SMS message in a blockage zone. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Strengthen your AAA with local management

While your AAA servers might not be local,
Uplogix will ensure their security is still in place.
Your network infrastructure is only as good as its security. When it comes to controlling administrative access, organizations often want to limit and separate access and privileges among various IT groups. For example, the server people don't need the same access as the network folks, and it makes for better administrative control and auditing when users are assigned only the privileges they need.

Current solutions include authentication at the local device level, device segmentation, and centralized AAA (Authentication, Authorization and Accounting) using TACACS or RADIUS. The latter supports fairly granular permissions, allowing control over each user's level of access on a specific device, but if there is a problem with network connectivity, or if the device cannot communicate with the central software, then the system becomes unusable.

Local Management and the AAA Model
Uplogix applies a system of granular permissions that integrates with centralized AAA systems to provide command-level control over access and authorization. The benefits of this model are:
  • Customizable roles allow and deny access to commands
  • Roles can be assigned on a per-user and per-resource basis
  • Security is enforced even when the network is down or if the centralized AAA service is unreachable
  • When integrated with centralized AAA, last known permissions can be cached for offline enforcement

The Uplogix model for AAA ensures that you can maintain and enforce AAA regardless of the state of the network. Under normal circumstances, Uplogix Local Managers (LMs) integrate with remote authentication mechanisms, such as TACACS and RADIUS. If connectivity is lost, the LM can failover to other AAA servers before falling back on cached authentication data to maintain authorized access.

For more information, see the Uplogix website for Security and Compliance features of Local Management.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How smart is your data center?

One in five data centers are soaring at peak efficiency.
A January 2012 global study of CIOs and IT managers by IBM concluded that only about one in five data centers have reached the peak of efficiency.

How exactly do they define peak efficiency? Like many things -- it depends. For some data centers it means "providing state of the art levels of availability, flexibility and scalability," and for others, the goal is to provide "sufficient levels of service while keeping new capital expenditures to a minimum."

The study assessed data centers using an evolutionary efficiency path with four stages: Basic, Consolidated, Available and Strategic. It turns out that data centers running at the highest levels of efficiency allocate 50 percent of their IT resources to new projects.

It makes sense. If you are able to avoid spending resources on just maintaining existing infrastructure, you have more resources -- the time of highly-trained IT staff, equipment dollars, management time (think fewer meetings dealing with issues like downtime, hitting SLAs, etc.). These resources can be channeled into innovation and finding new ways to do things better.

This is the story we've been telling at Uplogix for years with the efficiencies that Local Management brings to an operation. Large amounts of time go into basic maintenance of infrastructure. Uplogix automates many of these relatively basic (level 1 & 2) tasks, freeing up that time for new projects -- innovations that will make your data center more cost efficient, flexible and available.

While Uplogix is currently deployed in many data centers around the world, we don't know if they participated in this study, or if they were part of the 21% identified as operating at peak efficiency by this IBM study. But we do have a pretty good idea that applying Local Management can play a large role for getting there.

For more information, check out the Local Management for Servers solution document in the Uplogix Resource Center.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Local Management: Imperative for the Cloud

Here is a peek at the new white paper from Uplogix: Meeting the Network Requirements of Cloud and Virtual Computing with Local Management. Don't let the catchy title fool you -- this paper could be the plot of a movie.

There is the introduction of characters, introduction of the conflict, rising action, heroes, villains... but this story isn't yet complete. The script is still being written as Cloud adoption continues to rise, and as more and more physical systems are virtualized in datacenters around the world. You can almost hear the previews: 

[To be read in the voice of that movie preview guy. You know the one.]

Imagine a world, poised to reap the benefits of a great new technology. The Cloud and related virtual computing breakthroughs promise to deliver new levels of service, savings and simplicity to corporations everywhere.

But a storm is brewing in the Cloud. It's bringing new customer expectations, new requirements for service levels, and business as usual in IT isn't going to be able to meet demands. And it just might bring down the whole network.  


Very dramatic, but all you have to do is read this white paper to see how IT is really going to need some new weapons, like Local Management, to deal with the good and the bad of cloud and virtual computing.

Here is the synopsis of the paper, along with some of the key sections to give you an idea of what is covered.

SYNOPSIS | The widespread adoption of virtualized computing (the enabling technology in “Clouds”) and the various ways that enterprises will change to fully exploit it will have a profound effect on the network and on IT Network Operations Groups.

Customer expectations are changing. New requirements are emerging, service levels are becoming more stringent and some time-tested strategies for managing costs and ensuring adequate service levels are being invalidated. Trying to use the same old network and network management strategies and tools will cause virtualization and cloud initiatives to fail or to incur runaway costs.

Implementing Local Management will be necessary to meet customer expectations for virtual and cloud computing.
Key Sections:
  • Climate Change in Virtualization
  • Network Operations Impacts
  • Changing Business Expectations
  • Centralization of Applications
  • The Impact of Rapidly Multiplying Virtual Switches
  • Local Management for Cost Control and Limiting Cloud Chaos
Get your copy of the white paper today and see what you are up against in the inevitable push to The Cloud. Every cloud has a silver lining, but the only way you are going to make it to the sequel, is to be ready with Local Management.