Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Putting remote automation to the test
As a company that has developed a unique solution for network automation, it's easy to draw a few comparisons (as well as some significant differences) between the new Mars Science Laboratory and Local Management from Uplogix.
Observing remotely just doesn't cut it, you have to be local.
If you put the lab on the surface in a rover, it can engage in observations nearly full-time. Instead of space-based spectroscopy, the rover can collect and analyze samples directly. And the more capable the rover, the more science you can do with it.
Deploying a device with built-in intelligence, memory and a powerful rules engine ensures that you can do more with your automation.
Even when automation is the answer, sometimes it's hard to let go
The precision required plus the radio signal delay between Mars and Earth made it impossible for a human to remotely pilot the craft to a landing -- the entire process had to be automated. Various new technologies invented for this mission all had to perform flawlessly. And they did.
Plus, local management can help you limit unplanned downtime with Surgical Rollback. Say you are working on a device and accidentally push a change that cuts you off from the device. The Local Manager will ask if you to confirm the changes, and upon your lack of response, will roll back the device to it's previous working configuration, reestablishing your connection to the device. Instead of minutes of terror, you can use those moments during the roll back to get some coffee. Or watch a video from NASA.
But I need proof that the automation is working
On landing, the rover was programmed to take a few pictures and transmit them before losing the relay when Odyssey went over the horizon. The initial thumbnail image was all NASA engineers needed to confirm their success and begin the celebration.
The automation was working, and everyone could see it.
With local management there are a number of ways that you know the automation is working.
Service Level Verification measures network properties from the user's perspective in the network. By polling network gear for status information, or by actually conducting synthetic transactions like voice calls and HTTP-gets between Uplogix Local Managers or the web, we can grade quality on a host of metrics. With this information, automated actions can be taken including notifications back to the Uplogix Control Center.
Like the multiple orbiters staged to catch signals from Curiosity and relay them back to mission control, a key component of local management is out-of-band capability. This ensures you'll always know what's going on, as well as have access to remote gear using POTS lines, cell modems, secondary networks, or even (like Curiosity!) satellite connections.
The automation is working, and everyone can see it.
The final frontier...
Automation is a requirement these days whether you're landing on another planet, or just trying to ensure that your network is bold enough to take your company where no one has gone before.
One last comparison -- the Curiosity program is designed to drive on Mars conducting scientific analysis for about two years at a cost of about $2.5 billion. But you can deploy Uplogix Local Management a little closer to home, for just about the cost of a nice laptop. See how today.