Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Giving potential customers that light bulb moment

When you have a solution like Local Management, that can impact a variety of IT groups and reach across network management and security processes, the sales process can be a long and winding road. One stop along that journey is the proof of concept (POC).

Thomas Edison said, "Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success." The proof of concept is a chance for us to prove the utility of Local Management with a potential customer.

Our POCs are designed to quickly demonstrate how our solution resolves some of the most challenging network problems. Each proof of concept is tailored to meet the needs of the potential customer.

A typical POC has four stages:

Planning

Prior to the evaluation, customers meet with a member of the Uplogix technical team to discuss challenges and brainstorm solutions to those problems using Uplogix. Testing facilities and equipment are identified and potential dates for an onsite or virtual POC are discussed.

Next, Uplogix drafts a POC plan which captures testing scenarios, identifying the challenge the customer faces and how Uplogix can resolve the challenge with Local Management. The POC plan also includes the location of testing, equipment provided by Uplogix and the customer, as well as the expected start and end dates for the evaluation.

The draft plan is sent to the customer for review and a meeting is scheduled to discuss the plan and make any modifications. Once the customer and the Uplogix team have finalized the plan, testing is scheduled.

Execution

Evaluations can involve 1-3 days of onsite set-up and hands-on testing with the customer and a member of the Uplogix technical team. We’ll work through all the test cases identified in the POC plan, and create the plan of action coming out of the POC.

Follow Up

When testing is complete, Uplogix equipment can remain on the customer site for a period of time to allow the customer additional hands-on testing time.

We’ll also follow up on any open questions from the onsite visit.

Closing 

When testing is complete, a meeting will be scheduled with the Uplogix account team to wrap up any open questions and identify next steps.

Example Evaluation Scenarios

POCs are built around common network management challenges and the Local Management solution. Here is one example of the dozen or so scenarios we typically pick from based on customer interests.

Scenario: Network Outage Event

Operations are dependent on the availability of a fast and reliable network. Outage events are often due to equipment or interface failures. These can be difficult to troubleshoot and correct from a centralized location in a timely manner. 

Uplogix Solution – Proactive Alerting
The Local Manager (LM) is directly connected to the console port of the equipment it manages, enabling the LM to monitor more frequently and take corrective actions when an outage situation occurs. In the same time it takes traditional network monitoring tools to discover a problem, Uplogix can find, fix, and alert that the problem has been resolved. This eliminates costly site visits, downtime and reduces Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR).

POC Actions
  • Schedule monitors to examine chassis and interface statistics as well as the system log and raw buffer streams.
  • Define and apply rules that take level-1 or -2 actions based on various conditions and thresholds.
    • Generate alerts and alarms
    • Take actions such as cycling interfaces, clearing service modules and rebooting
  • Alerts based off of permissions
    • Users/groups subscribe to resources they are responsible for to receive emailed alerts containing alarms about that resource.
    • Users subscribe to specific network device resources to receive alerts.
    • To receive alerts, a user must have permission for and be subscribed to a particular resource.
    • Each alert is sent with currently active alarms and the relevant data that matched each alarm condition.

Do you see the light?

The POC isn't the first step on the journey toward implementing Local Management in your network, but for many it's an important event. Over the years we've refined the POC process to ensure maximum value for both the potential customer as well as our highly skilled technical team. We want you to see what you need to see to make the move to Local Management with confidence. Contact Uplogix for more information.

Permission to come aboard?

Most experts agree that human error or ignorance is responsible for more security breaches than technology flaws. The challenge is to use technology to try to overcome these human weaknesses.

A recent article in CSO magazine promotes the use of Least Privilege Management (LPM) as one method to cut down on security issues. The methodology works like government security clearances -- not only do you have to be cleared at a certain level, but you also have a need to know before you have access.

The LPM method is similar to what is implemented in Uplogix Local Management for user management. By default, users have no privileges on any resource. Privileges are defined by roles, which are tables of permitted commands. Privileges are granted by assigning appropriate roles on the desired resources to define what the user can do on each resource.

The 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report from Verizon said that of the breaches included in their research, 96% were not highly difficult for attackers and 97% could have been avoided through simple or intermediate controls.

Managing multiple users and roles in enterprise networking groups is simplified by the Uplogix Control Center. It allows you to create and manage group accounts across multiple Uplogix Local Managers to ensure a consistent user group organization and privilege policy.

Uplogix defines permissions, roles, and privileges as follows:
  • Permission - ability to use a specific command or capability; can be allowed or denied in a role definition
  • Role - a named set of permissions, such as admin
  • Privilege - a role assigned to a specific account for a specific resource, such as "admin on server" or "guest on port 1/4"
The Uplogix Control Center restricts access to features based on users' privileges. For example, if a user does not have a role that includes permission to use the config system ipcommand, the IP configuration link will be unavailable for that user on the appliance detail page.

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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New year, new hardware for Local Management

The Uplogix 500 (top) and Uplogix 5000.
We recently announced two new hardware platforms for deploying Local Management in your network. They represent the fourth generation of Uplogix hardware are the latest result of our continuing investment in exceeding customer reliability, durability, form factor and power efficiency requirements. Both platforms are available immediately.
The Uplogix 5000


  • Exceptional reliability and durability, with no moving parts | Uses a 40GB solid state drive in place of a spinning disk drive, and an air mover instead of a fan. The solid state drive is more resilient to shock, vibration and temperature extremes and offers faster boot-up and file transfers.
  • Very power efficient | Uses two load sharing power supplies; maximum power consumption is 40W (as compared to 120W for the 3200 which it replaces)
  • Compact form factor | 1 RU high (1.7”), 17.5” wide and 8.5” deep, weighing 8.2 pounds (as compared to 26 pounds and 19” deep for the 3200 which it replaces)
  • Flexible management Ethernet connection | Two 10/100/1000 management Ethernet ports
  • New option slot | Option slot for field-installable internal modems (including cellular), or a DB9 connection for external modems (where required), or an optical Ethernet interface.
  • Manageability | RJ-45 and USB console connectivity


The Uplogix 500


  • Improved performance  | Upgraded CPU and increased RAM (compared to the Uplogix 430 which it replaces)
  • Exceptional  reliability and durability with no moving parts | Uses a 30GB solid state drive in place of a spinning disk drive .  The solid state drive is more resilient to shock, vibration and temperature extremes and offers faster boot-up and file transfers
  • Very power efficient | Maximum power consumption is 20W
  • Compact Form Factor | 1 RU high (1 .7”), 6 .5” wide and 5 .25” deep, weighing 1 .7 pounds (as compared to 1 .94” high and and 2 .6 pounds for the 430 which it replaces)
  • Flexible management, Ethernet connection | Two 10/100/1000 management Ethernet ports
  • New option slot | Option slot for field-installable internal modems (including cellular), or a DB9 connection for external modems (where required), or an optical Ethernet interface.
  • Manageability  | RJ-45 and USB console connectivity

Knowing Which Local Manager is Right for You
The Uplogix 500, like the 430, is a small form factor Local Manager offering a fixed set of serial ports for connection to managed devices. It differs from the 430 primarily with the addition of a new option slot for internal and external modems, making five serial ports available for management instead of four with the 430.
Both include an additional serial port for power management.

There are some significant differences between the 5000 and the 3200. For configuration purposes, the 5000 can be viewed as a 500 with the addition of two expansion bays, a keypad and an LCD. The bays can be used to add additional serial ports. One bay may be used to add an Ethernet expansion card with dedicated Ethernet ports. These ports pair with serial ports when customers want direct Ethernet connections to each managed device.

To decide which 5000 configuration meets your needs, you need to know:
  • The number of managed devices requiring direct serial connections (ports)
  • The number that require dedicated Ethernet
  • The number, if any, of non-critical devices where LAN-dependency with management functionality is acceptable (i.e. virtual port over network candidates)
  • Future expansion needs
Learn more
For more information on Local Management hardware options and the features of the Local Management Software, please see Uplogix.com/products.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How will you define M2M?

With the start of the new year, there are many stories about what it will bring in terms of technology. M2M (machine-to-machine communications) seems to be a trending topic in the IT press when it comes to growth areas for 2013.

In his "Tech guestimates for the year ahead," ZDNet Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan stated:
"Machine-to-machine Internet connections become a key focus for tech vendors (but not necessarily customers). In 2012, tech vendors talked big data a lot. In 2011, the focus was all on cloud washing. In 2013, don't be surprised if the machine-to-machine (M2M) bandwagon starts rolling. Like most trends the talk will be ahead of the actual implementations in production. But rest assured, M2M will get some real-world traction because it sits in the middle of both the big data and cloud trends."
This idea of M2M sitting between big data and the cloud is related to the Nexus of Forces that Gartner was promoting at its CIO symposium in Orlando back in the fall. They add the influence of Social and Mobile technologies to the Cloud and big information components for "Nexus" which they feel will revamp corporate technology, vendors and employment. 


These forces come together to create a user-driven ecosystem for computing:
"In the Nexus of Forces, information is the context for delivering enhanced social and mobile experiences. Mobile devices are a platform for effective social networking and new ways of work. Social links people to their work and each other in new and unexpected ways. Cloud enables delivery of information and functionality to users and systems."
Gartner says that the challenge for IT executive and staff is to be prepared to deliver what their increasingly sophisticated, creative and sometimes circumventive users require. Faced with legacy architectures, processes and skills designed for previous waves of computing, IT has to be agile to adapt to the Nexus of forces.

At Uplogix, we'd say one key to helping meet this challenge in an environment with tougher problems and fewer highly-skilled people to solve them is to ensure that skilled IT staff are only working on big issues. For the day-to-day tasks in network management, IT managers have to look to automated solutions.

If you start taking the user of the ecosystem entirely with true M2M, you are getting into the Internet of Things concept that started in the RFID world. Machines can talk to other machines to do more than just automatically collect data -- if you have the right approach, you can have confidence that they can collect data AND take actions based on what they see. In the networking world, this is Local Management.

Read more about Uplogix M2M solutions.

As 2013 plays out, see if you are hearing more about M2M and nifty applications, but keep in mind it's more than industrial controls and mobile applications. In the case of Uplogix, we think M2M is about more than increasing convenience -- it's a solution for ensuring that the networks that drive the Internet of Things and business all are up and running.