Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kick the tires, feel the horsepower

A frequent question we get at Uplogix is "is your product a console server?" Answer - absolutely, we're the best console server on the market—the most reliable and secure out-of-band access solution. Add in our Local Management Software, when you need access, you'll get it. Whatever you want out of a console server you'll get from Uplogix.

However, that's where console servers stop and we're just getting started. Uplogix Local Managers (LMs) have a wide array of communications, secure access and automation capabilities not found in traditional console or terminal servers. The difference is that console servers are built for remote access, while Uplogix LMs are designed for Local Management.

Console servers are generally weak computing platforms, while an LM is built with intelligence and horsepower:

  • CPU
    Console: Slow CPUs, generally older, single core in the 130-160 MHz range
    Uplogix: A 600 MHz to 1.3 GHz Intel Atom powers local monitoring, evaluation and execution of automation routines
  • Memory
    Console: Typically in the 256 MB range or less
    Uplogix: 1 GB
  • Storage
    Console: Typically it's under 1 GB with some models offering up to 16 GB
    Uplogix: Our Local Managers have 40 GB solid state drives with wear-balanced storage intended to support frequent writes. Imagine the value of easy access to a dozen configuration files for each managed device, including local storage of Candidate, Current and Previous version. 
Today we're just talking a bit about what's under the hood, we're not even getting into the real power, which is the Local Management Software. The physical specs say it all -- console servers lack the horsepower to support anything other than remote access. For monitoring and storage of diagnostic data, storage and execution of automation routines and rules engines, to cache configurations and apply/fail-safe configuration changes and upgrades with differencing... this is what Uplogix Local Managers are designed for. 

For true local management of critical infrastructure, communications and M2M environments, that takes real horsepower. If you are in Orlando June 24-27, come by the Uplogix booth #553 at Cisco Live. Kick the tires of a Local Manager and try out your racing skills on our very own test track - right in the booth. 

New heights for remote networking

Photo courtesy of Google.
Google recently announced plans to provide wide-area Internet service to under-served regions via balloon-based wireless radios, in the cleverly named Project Loon.

With two-thirds of the world's population still not connected, Google says the idea is to find a more cost-effective way to offer Internet service utilizing balloons floating above weather systems and the majority of air traffic at an altitude of about 20 km. Each balloon is expected to provide 3G speed connections across an area 40 km in diameter. The potential drifting of the balloons is expected to be controlled with altitude changes between predictable high altitude wind currents.

A solar collector powers the balloon's systems by day while charging a battery for nighttime operations. The panels produce 100 Watts of power in full sun.

An experimental pilot starts this month in New Zealand in the Christchurch and Caterbury areas with 30 balloons beaming Internet to a small group of testers.

Benefits of going the 'loon route over expanded satellite-based services include lower infrastructure costs, and less round-trip time from ground to radio and back. With multiple balloons, there is also the opportunity for higher capacity via a multiplicative effect associated with wireless meshes.

No word yet if the balloon kits are going to include Local Management, but it's clearly an ideal use case. At only 1.7 pounds, an Uplogix 500 Local Manager would provide excellent network automation and out-of-band access for the high altitude network.

After all, when your network is literally floating in thin air, downtime has a whole new meaning.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Still compatible after all these years...

Uplogix recently re-verified the Cisco Interoperability Verification Testing (IVT) of our Cisco Unified Computing System Express platform solution. Using the UCS Express as a hosting environment to embed Local Management Software on Cisco ISRs, the router becomes a full featured Uplogix Local Manager. 

First released by Uplogix in 2011, a 2900 or 3900 series ISR is configured with HWIC serial port cards to allow serial port connections to up to 48 managed devices. An HWIC wireless modem is used for out-of-band access.

Read the Uplogix Local Management on UCS Express datasheet.

According to Cisco, the IVT program is important for both Cisco Developer Network members (like Uplogix), but also customers. Developers can promote products as "Cisco Compatible," and for customers:
"...faced with a choice between tested and un-tested products [customers] may prefer the product that has gone through IVT. Customers may also be reassured by knowing that technologies have been pre-tested, reducing integration costs, accelerating deployments and minimizing risk of failure. Often Cisco IVT is a pre-requisite for customers to consider the solution."
The solution provides an all-Cisco route to deploying Local Management. See it for yourself at this year's Cisco Live in Orlando. Uplogix will be in booth #553 showing off both the Cisco UCS option as well as our own dedicated Local Management hardware

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Look in the mirror for the biggest security risk

With just over 1 in 3 data breaches of a malicious nature,
most of the time, the security risk is just human error.
In the eighth installment of the annual Symantec Cost of a Data Breach report, the security firm concluded that mistakes made by employees lead to nearly two-thirds of data breaches.

Surveying 277 companies from around the world on actual data breach experiences, the Ponemom Institute study includes a wide range of direct and indirect business costs. Only 37% of the attacks were malicious, but whether attributed to friend or foe, costs are still high. In the United States, businesses paid an average of $5.4 million per data breach, which breaks down to $188 per record.

The report concludes with a few tips to reduce the risk of a data breach including educating employees, using (Symantec!) technology to protect sensitive info, and deploying encryption.

As a network automation solution provider, at Uplogix we say that if people are the problem, get them out of the equation.

What the report doesn't mention is to take steps across the organization to reduce employees from making these mistakes in the first place, by automating routine processes that lead to accidental negligence. Take for example idle user sessions. Whether left open because the user was cut off, or they just packed up and left without logging out, it's a big security risk.

Local Management is a tool for combating data breaches. Uplogix Local Managers prevent unauthorized user access by automatically closing idle sessions. Every time.

Tracking and compliance reporting of events in the network infrastructure management won't necessarily stop problems from happening, but it is the first step in finding and fixing issues. Uplogix constantly logs all changes made to managed devices and the results of these changes. This can help you enable policy compliance and satisfy internal and regulatory security standards.

Finally, Local Management is a secure way to manage your network. Automation of routine tasks helps keep people out of jobs that make it enticing to skip steps or deviate from security policies - whether from negligence or ill intent. Accessing the Local Managers themselves is secure, with AAA maintained and enforced regardless of the state of the network. Overall security is improved by restricting access to specific IP addresses and encrypting passwords stored in the database.

Uplogix can make sure you don't have forgotten devices out there with old security policies. Local Management scales to large environments with features like updating the access passwords on hundreds of managed devices at once.

So maybe the security problem is not looking back in your mirror, but you probably know someone who could be without even trying to be or knowing that they are. Save them (and your business) from themselves with Local Management.