Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Enjoy the holidays more with Uplogix

The holiday season is a weird mix of extremes within organizations. Some groups are busy trying to close out the quarter or maybe the tax year, while others drop off the grid for a couple weeks of guilt-free R&R to come back to a clean slate

Getting a green light for that IT project

IT groups sometimes have a reputation as a group that has trouble selling project ideas when it comes time for locking in funding from the corner office. Here a few roadblocks to avoid and approaches to try out next time you are pushing an IT project,

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Network slowdowns top IT issues

IT groups in large companies still consider network outages and slowdowns as their greatest headaches. In a recent survey of over 400 IT managers in companies with 1,000 or more employees, just under half listed network issues as their most common unexpected issue.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

MTN deploys virtual Local Management

Uplogix has begun deploying this month as a VM running on a server to manage satellite-linked networks at sea for MTN. These Virtual Local Managers utilize VMware to run the Uplogix software and connect to devices using USB to Serial adapters plugged into

Advanced management for satellite networks

When you deploy an Uplogix Local Manager with your network gear in a location that utilizes a satellite link for connectivity, you get much more than a reliable out-of-band (OOB) solution. Almost by definition, when you use satellite, your equipment

Monday, November 17, 2014

Infographic: Uplogix for Satellite Networks

At sea, on the battlefield or deployed for network redundancy, satellite networks with local management connect all corners of the world. Uplogix brings a variety of specialized features to the satellite arena in both fixed (autoacquire) antennas and

Friday, November 14, 2014

v5.1 release expands scope & speed of local mgmt

The v5.1 release of the Uplogix Local Management Software (LMS) is now available with a number of new features and improvements that include expanding the number of devices that can be managed, a new cellular modem for faster out-of-band,

Friday, October 24, 2014

Better security through config management

Gartner says that the average firm makes 10,000 changes annually to its IT environment. It's no wonder change management can make or break your network. Literally. Security patches, interdependencies among various components of your network, and the

Friday, October 17, 2014

Industry responds to cybersecurity framework

In August, NIST requested feedback from the owners and operators of the nation's critical infrastructure to understand how the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity was being used and how it could be improved. Most of the responses

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Despite security fears, IT execs forecast more cloud

Despite more than three-quarters of businesses in the US adopting cloud storage and web applications, and 70 percent globally, confidence around cloud security is at an all-time low according to a recent survey by BT.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An awareness month you should celebrate all year

In the month dedicated to more awareness topics than any other, you won't want to miss out on National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). While you won't likely see sporting events with athletes sporting uniform accessories with neon green

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A safety line for your centralized tools

Centralized, SNMP-based NSM solutions provide rich diagnostic, fault management and reporting information. However, the majority of these solutions are network-dependent, so when the primary network connection is down or disrupted, they lose connectivity

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Infographic: Choosing the right out-of-band

One of the key components to a remote network management architecture is an out-of-band connection. If the primary network goes down, you need a secondary connection to be able to troubleshoot remotely. The Uplogix Local Management platform

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Two sides of the out-of-band story

When we talk about out-of-band connections at Uplogix, there are really two sides to that story. The serial connections from an Uplogix Local Manager (LM) to the console ports of the devices it's managing, and the out-of-band connection to the NOC

Friday, September 5, 2014

Reliable connections: from ship and shore

Uplogix customer Orange Business Services was recently awarded a five-year $12 million contract from BW Offshore for an end-to-end satellite communications solution. The project will connect over a dozen vessels and two land-based locations, bringing offshore personnel access to the same business applications, communications and entertainment services at sea as on land.

The concept of an offshore vessel as an extension of the home office is built on reliable satellite connections with sufficient bandwidth and low latency that make it possible to roll out services like VoIP and unified communications along with applications for vessel diagnostics, cargo monitoring and scheduling. Here are some examples:
  • A connected ship can be closely monitored and managed from the home office, allowing an expert onshore to monitor multiple vessels at a time ensuring maintenance can be scheduled proactively - avoiding costly unscheduled servicing.
  • Exact positioning and cargo information can help with maximizing efficiency of the fleet and responding to ever-changing weather conditions on a global basis.
  • Crew welfare can be improved greatly by keeping them connected with loved ones at home as well as current news and sporting events.
The challenge of moving to an "office at sea" model is that you need the reliability of a corporate home office, but on a moving vessel in locations that can be about as remote as you can get on the planet. 

Uplogix Local Management has found a home in maritime networks with its combination of network management monitoring and automation, secure out-of-band connections over a variety of channels including LEO satellites, and the ability to manage a wide variety of gear including satellite modems and antennas. A Local Manager in the comms room truly acts like an onsite network and satcom technician - continuously monitoring devices and responding when there are issues. Shore-based staff can access gear at sea using the same connection as they would if they were on the vessel itself.

For more information about Orange Business Systems and their use of Uplogix in maritime VSAT, download the case study.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An upset in the hype cycle battle

If you are one to enjoy the big promises and excitement around high tech, the recent Gartner report of the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies featured an exciting battle between two hype heavyweights: Big Data and The Internet of Things.

The free special report, has been published for 20 years chronicling the advancement of technologies across a roller coaster curve through periods ranging from the Innovation Trigger to the Peak of Inflated Expectations, dropping down through the Trough of Disillusionment and finally up the Slope of Enlightenment to the Plateau of Productivity. While these regions might sound a bit subjective, they do take into account that not all technologies progress at the same rate, and not every hyped technology even makes it to a point of productivity.

Big Data still has a long ride ahead of it down the backside of Inflated Expectations, with a projected 5-10 years until it reaches the Plateau. Gartner sees progress is being made, stating:
“While interest in big data remains undiminished, it has moved beyond the peak because the market has settled into a reasonable set of approaches, and the new technologies and practices are additive to existing solutions.”
Those projections until maturity are fluid. In 2012 and 2013, the analysts thought the Internet of Things had more than 10 years to reach productivity, but this year that was shortened to 5-10 years. Gartner says it's already "becoming a vibrant part of our, our customers' and our partners' business and IT landscape."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Infographic: Continuous monitoring key for federal cybersecurity

In response to the 2013 Executive Order 13636 on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, the framework published in 2014 by NIST addresses improving resilience to cyber incidents and reducing cyber threats. While one solution can’t fit all, a core component of the framework is continuous monitoring. 

Scroll through the infographic below to see why continuous monitoring is so important as well as how Uplogix has a different approach that makes real continuous monitoring possible. 

Or, download the full white paper it's based on now. After all, you can’t protect against threats unless you know reliably what’s happening in the IT infrastructure. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

High resolution network device monitoring

As the summer season winds down, let's pull an analogy from a summer tradition: the great American road trip. Driving across the vast Western US, miles can go by without seeing another car, let alone an exit. You enjoy the scenery, only infrequently needing to consult a map because hours can pass before anything changes with your route. Then, later on in the trip you pull into a large city, trying to find your hotel for the night. If you consulted your map at the same rate as when you were on the open road, you'd miss the destination for sure. Instead, you are actively on the lookout—constantly checking the map, street signs and looking for landmarks to ensure you are ready to react when it's time.

This is kind of like monitoring in network management. Centralized monitoring tools poll remote devices over the network, generating traffic and a load on the managed devices. To lower this impact, sampling frequencies are decreased, sacrificing how quickly you'll know there is a problem when it occurs.

With network-independent, local connections to devices over the console port, Uplogix takes a default sampling interval down to every 30 seconds from a standard 15 minutes, or more. The high-resolution monitoring conducted by an Uplogix LM means that problems can be detected and recovered before SLAs kick in and the customer calls. This combination of monitoring frequency and depth with reliable automation of most level-1 runbook steps is like having an administrator with a crash cart plugged into network devices 24/7.

The clear benefit is increased uptime and decreased time for problem resolution—whether the issue is solved automatically, or the initial troubleshooting steps are taken automatically within minutes of the problem. In this situation, technicians at the NOC start working on the problem not from step one, but deeper into the runbook with the both the confidence that earlier steps did not resolve the issue, and knowing exactly where the problem lies because Uplogix has updated their dashboard and ticketing systems automatically.

In a multi-vendor network, issues often kick off a chain of finger pointing as everyone tries to isolate the problem and find out who is to blame. With local monitoring of devices, Uplogix can tell exactly where the issue is (with the carrier, in the network stack or downstream), ending the finger pointing and reducing what has been called the Mean-Time-to-Innocence—that period of time nobody likes when everyone is hoping someone else is to blame.

Check out our website for more information about Uplogix high resolution monitoring.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The challenge of continuous monitoring

In today’s environment of advanced persistent threats it is essential for organizations to have near real-time knowledge of their enterprise IT infrastructure so responses to external and internal threats can be made swiftly.

A successful continuous monitoring program provides visibility into assets, and leverages use of automated data feeds to quantify risk, ensure effectiveness of security controls, and implement prioritized remedies. A well-designed and well-managed continuous monitoring program can effectively transform an otherwise static cybersecurity process into a dynamic process providing essential security protection. 

The following is an excerpt from the Uplogix Solution Guide, Enhancing Cybersecurity in Federal Networks with Continuous Monitoring. Download the entire guide.

The challenge of continuous monitoring
Unfortunately there is no one single continuous-monitoring-in-a-box solution for critical infrastructure owners and operators. We have an ever-evolving patchwork of tools and processes focused on allowing organizations to view the health of the connected environment.

Continuous monitoring sounds like a simple solution to combat cyber-intruders. In theory with unlimited technology, funding and human talent, the challenge would easily be addressed. An organization would simply configure its networks and applications to automatically report in real-time all their connections and other various bytes of machine-generated data to logs for analysis, continuously analyze this data and wait for the signals of cyber-intruders to show up.

However, in the real world, where real technical, budgetary and human resource constraints exist, organizations face significant challenges to continuously monitor their infrastructure successfully. This is especially true at the federal government agency level, where networks produce an astounding amount of data and log files quickly grow exponentially in size.

The most valuable intelligence continuous monitoring can provide is situational awareness. Situational awareness is a term that refers to knowing what is around you, where it’s going, what it’s doing and how it might affect you. Situational awareness is important in work that involves significant consequences, such as military operations, piloting aircraft or managing a large enterprise. In cyberdefense, situational awareness is a prerequisite for meaningful action. After all, if you don’t understand what is happening, how can you make the right decision?

Continuous monitoring is, at its most elementary level, inwardly focused on activities such as vulnerability assessment and patch management. The strategic goal is to provide situational awareness of systems and their potential vulnerabilities. Yet simply knowing a problem exists doesn’t offer protection. One has to be able to act correctly and in time to keep up with the evolving threat and minimize risk.

When screening and evaluating available technology solutions, agencies should think about continuous monitoring as both an organizational and a technology challenge. They should seek a solution that increases situational awareness and enables an automated response.

Next time - how Uplogix enables continuous monitoring by operating from within...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Taking Network Management Local to Enable REAL Automation

Despite decades of advancements in network speed, reach and security, the management of network devices is still a hands-on task. It involves reactive and often tedious actions open to human error.

Traditional Network Management tools rely on the network itself to manage critical devices. This dependence on the network to manage the network is a critical design flaw. It limits the levels of automation administrators are willing to apply and ensures that when problems occur, those management tools offer little value.

One strategy to solve this design flaw is to de-centralize the management of network devices by connecting directly to devices and create an alternate path or network-independent connection. This approach can eliminate the roadblock while increasing network reliably and security. Also, many of the routine administrative tasks that consume a large portion of time can be automated. This local management strategy can free up time and resources that could be spent on innovation and improvements, instead of just “keeping the lights on.”

This is just a preview of the Uplogix White Paper: Taking Network Management Local to Enable REAL Automation

Section headings include:
  • The NOC as You know it: Centralized Network Management Tools
  • The Requirements for De-centralizing Network Management
  • The Benefits of a Local Management Platform
  • Meeting the Increasing Demands on the Network

Download your copy of the white paper today.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Will Google drive your car before you automate network management?

The reason people don't trust network automation is that it relies on the network itself to manage the network. Like the sensors atop a driverless car with the processing and brains in the trunk, Uplogix deploys in the rack with network infrastructure for network-independent monitoring and management, and tighter security.

For years, the answer to troubleshooting a problem with a network device was for an administrator to break out a laptop or roll up a crash cart and connect directly over the console port. This removes any networking issues from the situation and allows the admin to work directly on the device. Would anybody by a car that was driven autonomously from the Cloud? Not likely—on the first dropped signal you might end up in a ditch. You want that data gathering and decision making local.

The challenge for implementing real automation using traditional network management tools is that since they are dependent on the network for polling devices and pushing commands, any disruption to the network could result in downtime. So, as time has gone on, centralized tools have grown really good at what they do, and left the rest to people.

This means that skilled IT personnel spend far too much time performing mundane, tedious and error-prone tasks. Gartner has stated for years that upwards of 80% of network outages is due to human and process errors. Just removing people from a fraction of these tasks has massive implications for improved SLAs and freeing up IT time. These cycles could be used for innovation and delivering on the expanding expectations for the networks of today and tomorrow.

Using console connections and onboard intelligence, Uplogix automates several key areas of network management including:
  • Automated Recovery | Based on high-resolution monitoring data, Local Managers can take automated responses to device issues, saving time and service calls. 
  • Mass OS Updates | Schedule once to update all similar devices on your network with the confidence of SurgicalRollback—letting you manage by exception, rather than touching each device one at a time. 
  • Integrated Out-of-Band | Using the most cost-effective source available at the location, Uplogix automatically creates an alternate pathway for technicians to access gear as if they were onsite. 

In most industries, automation is the norm. To find out more about how Uplogix is bringing reliable automation to network management, download the Network Automation Solution Brief.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Three ways that network management is like a horror movie

Network management is kind of like a horror movie. Go with me on this -- in a horror movie only a few hearty and clever survivors get to the see the sunrise, or the sequel. Network management has many hands-on components that tend to weed out those not able to remember an obscure command to get out of a tight jam or remember to make a copy before blowing away a configuration.

Here are three other ways that network management and horror movies a similar, and a few ways that Uplogix makes network management less scary:

If you get cut off from the others, you are as good as gone.

The hormonal teens that leave the group to go frolic down at the dock, the lonely kid that takes a shortcut through the woods on the way home... We all know they are the first to go. The lesson here is bad things happen when you get cut off from others.

In network management, it's that innocent change to an access control list and [play Psycho stabbing sound here] you are as good as dead when it comes to getting your job done. This one is pretty hard to avoid and most anyone that works with network gear has cut themselves off from gear they were working on at some point or another. If the gear is remote, you'll probably have to find some local help, or worse get in the car for an unexpected field trip. Sometimes neither is possible and you are really in a scary situation.

Don't feel bad, analysts say upwards of 60-percent of network downtime is caused by human error during device configuration. So besides not taking a dip in the creepy, foggy lake at night or avoiding device changes because you fear network gremlins, you might consider Uplogix.

One feature for saving you from this particular horror is called SurgicalRollback. If a configuration change fails, Uplogix immediately rolls the device back to the last known good configuration using the unique SurgicalRollback™ feature, minimizing downtime. This process restores the device to working order without affecting other device operation.

All the action happens at night.

No horror movie takes place in mid-morning, amid the dew and yellow sunshine. Scary monsters and the undead always show up at night while the innocents are sleeping. It's the same witching hours that are devoted to service windows. While your customers are sleeping peacefully in their warm beds, you are pounding the caffeine to stay awake as if Freddie will show up in your dreams and crash your network.

But you have to make network changes when they won't impact anyone. Right? Generally that is the case, but with network automation that you can apply with confidence, you too can sleep at night instead of working the graveyard shift.

Mass configuration changes can be scheduled in the Uplogix Control Center and executed consistently by the Uplogix Local Managers as batches, rather than an administrator updating each router, switch or server one by one. Again, with SurgicalRollback™, changes can be pushed automatically with the confidence that any devices with failed changes will automatically be rolled back to the previous working state, restoring the network. Wake up refreshed and manage by exception—addressing any problem devices one at a time instead of ALL your devices individually.

Early warning signs are not heeded.

In the movies, the storm clouds gather, lights flicker and car engines die on lonely roads. The audience knows what is happening, and yet the folks in the horror movie go about their routine oblivious to the fact that their end is near.

In networking it's about knowing what's going on with your gear. If you are using SNMP to poll devices every 15 minutes (or more) a lot can happen during that time. AND, once something happens to your network, it becomes about as useless as lead bullets when you are dealing with a vampire.

What you need is high-resolution monitoring that takes place out-of-band so it's independent of the network. Uplogix connects over the console port, like an onsite technician, to gather more data, more frequently and to enable real decisions and automated problem resolution.

How to survive?

In horror movies, it's not that easy. Luckily, surviving the see the sunrise in networking is more likely—especially if you have Uplogix as your magic bullet. With persistent connectivity over a variety of out-of-band options, you are always connected to gear wherever it may be. Reliable automation for pushing configuration changes backed up with the ability to automatically roll-back to previous working configurations helps ensure that you don't have to rise with the bats for updates. Finally, network-independent direct connections to gear ensures that you have an exact picture of device health, making zombie devices a thing of the past. So stay with the group, don't manage the network over the network, and you might just make it to see another day.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Soccer bigger network drain than Olympics or March Madness

A survey conducted during the Group Stage of this year's soccer World Cup of over 200 IT admins and network managers in the United States showed the impact of "the beautiful game" on US business networks.

Seventy-percent of those surveyed said that employees streaming games in the office in the office was having an adverse effect on network performance and/or business operations. Of the only 52-percent that admitted to having a proactive plan in place to deal with the spike in bandwidth, the most common steps taken were:
  • 71% | Set threshold alarms
  • 59% | Monitor top applications
  • 56% | Blocked certain websites
  • 44% | Monitor bandwidth by user or device
  • 32% | Encourage employees to use one central location/device for streaming, such as a conference room
Why were so many caught without a plan for the World Cup network demands? Probably because only 45% of the surveyed IT professionals admitted to personally following the games. Next time they'll be following – maybe still not watching in front of the screen, but from their network dashboard.

Uplogix has service level verification functionality that could help your World Cup viewership in your office. Since Local Managers sit in the same physical location as your other network gear, Uplogix can generate synthetic calls and transactions between other Local Managers on your network. This generates a wealth of actionable data that can feed automated actions based on your run book. 

For more, check out this Uplogix Tech Tip on Service Level Verification:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Config changes: damned if you do, damned if you don’t

Cisco alone averages more than one “significant” security advisory a week that requires an upgrade or configuration change. The Digital Energy Journal says the lack of security patch upgrades are the biggest threat to energy infrastructure. Yet Gartner says that over 40% of all network outages are due to human error – mostly from configuration changes. How are we supposed to manage configuration changes safely while minimizing human error?

The answer is for humans to stop using the network to manage the network. 

Making changes to network infrastructure over the network can be a little like pruning limbs from a tree that you are standing in. Most of the time, you are probably OK, but sometimes, you might just come crashing down. Like a WAN connection. 

Enterprise Management Associates says there are just too many devices to manage and too many changes to make to those devices on a regular basis in enterprise environments to rely on manual, error-prone, one-at-a-time processes. IT needs to automate common configuration management tasks, reducing downtime by eliminating common errors introduced by the manual execution of tasks like OS upgrades, password updates, and device configuration changes.

Combining a shift to network management over the console port with robust automation is what you need to stop managing the network over the network. Moving management out-of-band and removes the risk and shortcomings of traditional network management. 

Uplogix deploys in the rack with the network infrastructure, connecting like a technician would to push automated configuration changes. Avoid sending someone onsite or worrying about the risk of taking down the network while staying current with critical patches. Manage problem sites by exception knowing that if an issue does arise during a config change, the device will automatically be rolled back to the last known good config, leaving the network intact.

See how to make automated mass config changes using local connections and Uplogix in this Tech Tip:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Part 2 - Getting ready for the Internet of Things

Whatever number of billions of devices you are comfortable with predicting for the Internet of Things (IoT) over the next 5-10 years, no one seems to be arguing that there is not a massive growth of IP-enabled devices already underway. And this expansion of end nodes means more work for network infrastructure, whether it's aggregation sites or the networks that are going to be moving massive amounts of data.

One key piece of realizing the vision of the IoT is finding ways to scale up the management of the network infrastructure to keep from totally drowning IT groups. Traditional network management relies on the network for moving SNMP traps to have an idea of what's going on and notifying IT. It won't scale -- what's needed is network management automation where the tools monitor continuously and can respond as needed, saving IT from the time and effort required for even minor issues.

The two key areas impacted by Uplogix Local Management are secure administration of devices, which we addressed in the first part of this series and scaling network infrastructure management, which we are talking about today.

Finding and fixing IT problems remains a time-consuming, labor-intensive and expensive process. Existing management tools are good at monitoring devices and identifying problems, but lack the intelligence and local control to actively fix problems when they occur, forcing IT staff to perform routine administration and recovery tasks.

Uplogix lowers the cost and complexity of management by diagnosing and automatically fixing common problems throughout network infrastructure. In fact, Uplogix local management can address and resolve the bulk of issues that commonly impact distributed networks such as configuration errors, nonresponsive devices and telecom hardware failures. This is how you scale network infrastructure management to support billions of nodes.

Administrators are more efficient using Uplogix features like the ability to push mass config changes and upgrades without the risk that changes could result in network outages. Out-of-band automated SurgicalRollback™ restores valid configurations instantly and automatically, allowing admins to focus on exceptions, rather than every site.

Get the whole story in the Uplogix Solution Brief, Preparing your network infrastructure for the Internet of Things.

Getting ready for the Internet of Things - Part 1

Whether you call it the Internet of Things (IoT), the Internet of Everything, or just the next logical steps in networking, it's clear that if you aren't ready for it, the coming onslaught of IP-enabled devices is going to break your network.

Maybe it will be the number of end nodes or the amount of data they will generate and transmit across the network. Maybe both. Without big changes to network management as we know it, the IoT and its machine-to-machine (M2M) interactions will break the underlying infrastructure—technically or from a financial perspective.

Uplogix is M2M management designed to automate the bulk of network management issues that eat up the bulk of IT's time. The time that will be needed for innovation in order to fully embrace the demands of users for more data, more control and more connected endpoints in industries as varied as retail, defense and manufacturing.

The two key areas impacted by Uplogix Local Management are secure administration of devices and scaling network infrastructure management. Here we're going to talk about the security story.

Uplogix connects over the console like an onsite technician to managed devices, simultaneously enhancing a remote NOC’s ability to mount an effective response to issues while ensuring that security and audit is not compromised.

Flexible and fine-grained role-based administrative access allows security policies to be precisely reflected and enforced in the form of user access privileges. Rules prevent unauthorized user access by doing things like automatically closing idle console sessions, or intercepting and stopping noncompliant administrative commands, or even command sequences eliminating security gaps.

By storing encrypted device credentials only on the Uplogix Local Manager, secure, policy compliant and audited administrative access can be ensured with complete logging of all transactions for compliance requirements.

Read more in the Uplogix Solution Brief, Preparing your network infrastructure for the Internet of Things.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Finding successful tech solutions for DoD

Maj. Gen. Brett Williams is the director of operations at the US Cyber Command. He recently wrote an opinion piece entitled, "Why too many technology solutions fall short." His assertion is that solutions fail because it's tough to balance the risk across the three stakeholder groups, essentially those: 1) controlling the money, 2) responsible for operating and defending the network, and 3) using the solution.

While Williams' viewpoint is that of the Department of Defense information network, his observations are easily applied to IT solutions in commercial enterprise. When it comes down to a successful IT solution, Williams says it's all about risk management.

To implement a solution, the three groups are going to evaluate the various risks related to the solution differently:
"The resource people frequently do not understand the operations. The security people can tend to be risk-averse to the point where operational effectiveness is unnecessarily degraded. And the operations people do not want to be bothered with the messy details of acquisition or security. They just want it to all magically come together to satisfy their specific needs."
Sound familiar? Williams' suggestion for a possible solution to help avoid "buying yesterday's technology tomorrow" is to create a fourth group charged with operating independently to balance the risk across the three other groups in a way that allocates resources most effectively to achieve acceptable levels of operational effectiveness with levels of security.

This team would be made from a mix of experts from each group and would report directly to senior management.

At Uplogix we frequently run into the first two groups in the purchase cycle due to the breadth of our solution. Group 1 knows the cost of supporting a network and appreciates the potential savings of Uplogix. Group 2 quickly sees the application of our feature set in their daily operations. And as for Group 3? Well after Local Management is implmented, all they know is that their network just magically comes together. And that's OK with us.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Federal agencies release healthcare IT framework

Will your healthcare IT application be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration? A report just released as part of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) brought together the FDA, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to propose a strategy on health information technology. The recommendations include mobile medical applications and are charged with promoting innovation, protecting patient safety and avoiding regulatory duplication.

One interesting aspect of the framework is the lack of standards usually associated with healthcare IT like HIPAA. Maybe it's because the office that enforces HIPAA policy on patients' privacy is part of the Department of Health & Human Services.

The FDASIA framework breaks healthcare IT into three categories:

  1. Administrative functionality - business processes like admissions, billing and claims, inventory -- tasks with limited or no risk to patient safety
  2. Health Management functionality - health information data capture and sharing, patient identification (think HIPAA)
  3. Medical Device functionality - This is where the FDA comes into the picture, overseeing medical devices that use IT for data gathering and analysis and can present a greater risk to patient safety than the first two categories
For those planning, building and maintaining network infrastructure in healthcare, it's hard to see any immediate impact of the framework beyond reinforcing the growing importance of data in the healthcare industry. Whether for secure sharing of data for clinical decision support (CDS), or the transmission of operational data from medical devices (think remote monitoring and troubleshooting of device health like a technician proactively scheduling maintenance on an MRI machine based on diagnostic data), IT networks need to be reliable, secure and robust enough to meet the growing demands.

Uplogix in Healthcare IT
Providing healthcare IT organizations with a solution that simplifies the management of the widely distributed and complex IT infrastructure of healthcare organizations, Uplogix reduces IT support costs, maintains high network availability and service levels, and constantly enforces security and compliance auditing requirements.

In the future, machine-to-machine applications might involve building Local Management into "smart" devices. As medical devices become more and more specialized, they often have their own internal networks and specialized components that can benefit from high resolution, local monitoring and intelligent automation.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Network management automation is no April Fool's joke

AUSTIN, TEXAS (April 1, 2014) - Uplogix today announced network management automation that can be implemented with confidence. Designed to work as an onsite Level 1 technician-in-a-box, the Uplogix Local Management Platform automates the routine tasks that eat up the bulk of IT's time and effort when it comes to maintaining network infrastructure. And we're not foolin'.

On this day of corporate April Fools jokes, product launches, and videos, we're not being silly. Sure, we're capable of making a fun video, but why make up products and features like these below, when our actual products are so cool? For example:

Google Chrome Emoji Translations
This video announces the availability in Google Translate for the Emoji language, promising to read all of their favorite web content using "efficient and emotive illustrations, instead of cumbersome text." Perfect for today's small mobile screens.

If you are looking for efficiency, you should be using Uplogix for mass configuration changes. In this clever scenario, an administrator has a number of routers across the network all needing the same configuration. Instead of working nights to avoid peak usage times and updating the routers one at a time, risking errors that might take down the site (and involve tedious remediation or even site visits), the administrator loads the patch into the Uplogix Control Center and schedules the update task to take place at 2 a.m. on each router of the same type across the network. For that odd router that doesn't take the patch, Uplogix can roll-back to the previous working configuration.

This enables the administrator more time to devote toward that perfect office prank.

Nest/Virgin Airlines Personalized Climate Control
Home automation company, Nest, announced a partnership with Virgin Airlines to provide personal climate control at every seat, utilizing a Nest thermostat on each seat back. With custom temperature settings from ‘Cancun Afternoon’ to ‘Chicago Polar Vortex,’ CEOs Richard Branson and Tony Fadel demonstrate the new system.

In the Local Management world, personalization comes through a highly granular system of AAA (authentication, authorization and accounting) that allows users to be grouped for maximum comfort when it comes to security policies. This means there is not only control who has access to which devices, but also that all of their interactions with managed devices are captured to ensure security and compliance.

Advances in Power Management with Sony Power Food
Everyone hates it when their devices run out of batteries. To celebrate the first of April, Sony announced that with recent advances by their engineers and culinary technicians, "the same fuel we’ve used to power ourselves for thousands of years can be used to power personal electronics." That's right - just plug your USB cable right into that bowl of Cheerios-like cereal, charge your Bluetooth headphones off of a hot dog, and protein energy bars (with a complete day's serving of protein, fiber, and charged lithium.)

Managing power to your personal devices is a critical life skill these days, and in network management, it's no different. Uplogix can manage and monitor power functions in your network infrastructure. Local Managers integrate with managed power devices to monitor power utilization, provide remote access to power units and automate hardware-specific management tasks involving power cycling. 

So, as you go through your day trying to separate what's a joke and what's real, keep in mind that when we say that you can implement Uplogix to automate network management with confidence, we can back that up. And if you were hoping we'd make a video where we really did have a network admin in a box, well, you might have to wait until next year. Q1 was a busy quarter for us.

7600B North Capital of Texas Highway, Austin, TX 78731

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cost cutting no longer top IT priority - what is?

IT leaders are less focused on cutting costs and turning their attention to the broader goal of building the business. In a recent survey by McKinsey of 800 IT executives, those citing their top priority as reducing IT costs dropped from 44 percent to 31 percent since 2011. "Improving the effectiveness of business processes" now ranks as the top concern for over 61 percent, which is an increase of 14% since the last survey.

In line with the shift from cost cutting, 64 percent say their budgets for new investments will increase this year, although that increase isn't necessarily headcount, as those surveyed were evenly split on increases/decreases in operational spending.

But increased spending doesn't mean everything is looking up for these tech executives. Just 42 percent rated their own departments as being effective at managing their infrastructures, which was a slide of seven points. Some problems have held relatively even—only one in five felt they are effective at "driving technology enablement or innovation in business processes and operations."

A long-standing area of need in IT remains the retention and development of IT talent. The survey listed conditions that would most help organizations improve effectiveness of talent acquisition. Topping the list was improved culture, energy and morale of the IT organization—possibly resulting from years of cost-cutting mentality, and in the second spot, more competitive salary and benefits. More than a third of respondents listed "more cutting-edge, exciting work within IT."

At Uplogix, we've long said that removing some of the Level 1 tasks from the plate of an IT administrator through automation has impact beyond lowering support costs and reducing opportunities for human error and shortcutting. All of these tasks have an opportunity cost for both the admin and their employer that makes it harder to provide more cutting-edge and exciting work within IT.

Shed those basic network management tasks with network-independent intensive monitoring that feeds an intelligent platform that follows your runbook to take care of the day-to-day issues that eat up so much of IT's time. And for the times when it's more than level 1, Uplogix serves as longer arms and better tools to ensure that tasks can be done remotely and faster than traditional network management.

If you're tired of taking IT management surveys or are looking to find ways to impact network infrastructure management in your company, check out Uplogix today.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Detailed monitoring feeding intelligent, automated actions

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

Traditional network management has a lot in common with Chicken Little. SNMP polling lends itself to snap decisions or delayed information, and relying on the network path for sending traps can fail at the times when you need it the most.

See this post as a presentation on YouTube.

What most network professionals dream of are tools capable of intensive, reliable monitoring that can drive intelligent responses to events – both in the physical environment and in the network. Automation that takes some of the routine workload off their punch list that they can implement with confidence. This is Uplogix.

There are numerous applications for these capabilities. In this article, we'll talk about using data captured from the physical environment to manage network systems. Tools that will retrieve information and alert on temperature and humidity are commonplace. Some might even cut power to devices when pre-set thresholds are hit. But wouldn’t a scenario like the following be preferable?
A networking closet has an unreliable AC system. At times, it shuts down along with other systems unexpectedly or maybe on holiday weekends. When this happens, temperatures rise and devices start shutting themselves down haphazardly, or worse, burning out. Maybe a temp sensor sends an alert to the NOC and the clock continues ticking until someone notifies the facilities group or tries to shut down systems remotely.
Put Uplogix into the picture and the story could go more like this. The AC shuts down, and temperatures begin to increase. Uplogix is continuously monitoring not only the device state of the networking gear, but also physical conditions such as temperature and humidity.

After 10 minutes, the temperature has increased 15-degrees. Using temperature data trends, the Uplogix rules engine triggers an alert to the NOC using the preferred method. This could be an SNMP trap to a dashboard system, a text message via an integrated cellular modem, and/or an email to a system admin group or a facilities person in the building.
After 20 minutes, temperatures are exceeding the limits for the gear in the network closet. Using pre-defined run-book procedures, Uplogix can utilize its individual console connections to devices to shut down gear just like an administrator would.
Each action taken by Uplogix can be fed upstream to the NOC – and if the primary network connection is lost during the process? An out-of-band link can dial-out to provide the information to the NOC as well as establish two-way, secure access back to the site. 
But wait – the air conditioning is back on and the closet is cooling down. Uplogix can bring gear back online gracefully, reestablishing the network environment to working status.
The value of going beyond basic monitoring and blindly alarming versus an intelligent automated response is clear. In this scenario, it’s reduced downtime—plus the costs of troubleshooting actions taken by the NOC (including a potential site visit) are removed entirely.

With Uplogix, it’s like having an onsite virtual technician taking care of the tasks that are best done locally. For more information on high-resolution out-of-band monitoring and automated responses, visit

This blog post as a presentation:

Friday, March 7, 2014

The risk and pain of configuration change

To update or not to update. Too often it's the question asked in IT. Even when the answer is that yes, you should update. Security patches, OS upgrades and password updates take time and effort, and often provide an opportunity for introducing errors.

Enterprise Management Associates estimated upwards of 60% of network downtime is caused by human error during device configuration. That's huge, no wonder updates are put off. One month out from the Microsoft support cut-off for Windows XP, the 12+ year-old operating system still has a 29-percent share of the market.

On the network infrastructure side, Uplogix is an important tool for lowering the bars for effort and risk when it comes to network configuration changes.

Uplogix enables reliable enterprise-wide execution of configuration changes with a few clicks via the Uplogix Control Center's simple, web-based interface. Common change management tasks, such as distributing patches or password resets, can be scheduled and consistently executed across the entire distributed infrastructure.

Surgical Rollback™ combines fine grained configuration differencing with a unique “production confirmation” based approach to changes. Any change made is followed by a prompt for confirmation by the technician initiating the change. If no confirmation is received (e.g. if the change brought down the network and the technician’s access with it), the change is precisely rolled back. Secure out-of-band remote access also provides for corrective action even if the network is unavailable for other reasons or if this method is preferred.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How-To: Maintain visibility and accountability in outsourced IT

The combination of a competitive managed services market and increasingly complicated enterprise network expectations have lead many companies to outsource their network management. Benefits that include lower cost of ownership, outside expertise and fewer inside demands must be balanced with less direct control and visibility. Or does it?

A common complaint is that when problems do arise in an outsourced arrangement, users are the first to notice the problem. Initial responses typically involve finger-pointing. From the outsourcer, "Sounds like a carrier issue. Not our problem." From the carrier, "Probably a network issue. Not our problem." From the users to their IT group: "This is big issue. We can't get to all of the applications that now reside in the cloud and are critical to our business. This is your problem."

Uplogix Local Management is well-suited for solving this issue. With high-resolution out-of-band monitoring, network infrastructure is always visible—say it is a carrier issue and a backhoe took out the line leading into the building, or a network management problem like a failed config on a key router.

Granular authorization functionality makes it possible for Uplogix to provide all parties with varying levels of access and visibility to specific devices. And audit and compliance reporting captures every interaction and response from managed devices.

Some of the largest Uplogix customers outsource their network management and have written Local Management into their contracts for the additional visibility it provides. From a Service Level Agreement perspective, Uplogix is advantageous to all involved parties. The automated responses possible with a Local Manager can resolve issues often before even users even notice. And for the people responsible for the network management, and those responsible for the network management contracts, the time that used to be spent finger-pointing can be spent solving the problem.

SLAs only go so far - at the end of the day, getting money back for downtime or slow networks is a good thing, but what you really need is a network operating at spec. Rather than put all of the focus on carrots and sticks, and deal with the finger-pointing it generates, improve visibility in your network management. In the words of technologist (for his day) and founding father George Washington, "Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cisco, health care reports show no industry is safe

Data breaches clearly aren't limited to retailers like Target. Cisco's annual security report predicts "unprecedented growth" for more and more advanced attacks coming in 2014. Mobile devices are clear targets, with about 99 percent of mobile malware affecting the Android platform. The behavior of mobile users tends to be less guarded, leaving devices with "unanticipated weaknesses and inadequately defended assets."

Network infrastructure is also increasingly targeted by cybercriminals "with the goal of proliferating attacks across legions of individual assets served by these resources." And organized cyber crime is maturing, with diverse motivations ranging from Robin Hood-type attacks to those aiming to score cold hard cash. There are public versus private sector battles and those seeking a financial payout versus inflicting vindictive damage on reputations.

No industry is safe. Cisco cites malware as becoming more directed toward oil, gas and energy companies than in the past.

Then there is health care. Another recent report by Redspin says over 7 million patient health records were recorded as breached in 2013 alone, an increase of over 138 percent year over year. 29 million patient health records have been affected since reporting became mandatory with the HITECH Act (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) in 2009. Despite HIPAA regulations, 83 percent of the 2013 breaches resulted from theft—about 35 percent were from someone stealing a piece of hardware like an unencrypted laptop or other portable device. Was the data used for malicious purposes? Probably not. In most cases a drive is probably wiped for a quick sale. But the law is clear that unencrypted data out of a controlled situation is breached.

The Cisco report wraps up by summarizing their recommendations as "verifying trustworthiness and improving visibility." Readers are encouraged to approach security from a real-world position. Cyber security is an ongoing battle, with new fronts opening up as quickly as others are conquered, or at least holding ground.
“Come to an agreement as to what is most important from a cybersecurity perspective,” says Gavin Reid, director of threat intelligence for Cisco. “This is a more productive approach than hoping to find a magic pill that can fix everything.”
Short of a magic pill, CTOs and CISOs need to be looking for—and finding—security at all levels. A technology like Uplogix Local Management won't disappoint. When it comes to network infrastructure security, at a high level, Uplogix:
  • Maintains secure software and configurations | Updating the software on, and configuration of, network and communications devices in the face of constantly evolving security threats
  • Secures Administrative Console Access | Ensuring appropriate and audited access and compliance with policy by the technicians, sometimes employees sometimes not, that you rely on to maintain network and communications gear

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cybersecurity Framework released in the calm before the storm

A day before another winter storm shut down Washington DC with up to a foot of snow, the National Institute of Standards and Technology released the first version of a long-awaited cybersecurity framework. The report follows several recent cyber-attacks that compromised more than 100 million customer records from major retailers.

The framework was billed in a statement from President Barack Obama as a "turning point" in a nationwide discussion about cybersecurity. During the Framework announcement, a senior administration official said:
“One of the biggest cybersecurity issues facing critical infrastructure companies in all of these sectors — transportation, financial, health care, communications, energy — is simply this: When are you doing enough? When do you know you’ve done the best you can to protect your company, your suppliers, your customers from the adverse effects of cybersecurity threats?”
The framework is a three-part risk-based approached to managing cybersecurity risk. The first part, the Framework Core, is a set of functions (Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover) that provide a high-level strategic view of an organizations cybersecurity management.

Framework Implementation Tiers describe the degree to which an organization is prepared to manage cyber security risk, ranging from Partial (Tier 1) to Adaptive (Tier 4). The tiers represent increasing levels of preparedness from informal, reactive responses to agile, risk-informed approaches.

Finally, Framework Profiles provide a snapshot of where an organization is currently and the target profile which is based on business drivers and risk assessments of what the organization needs to implement.

The report opens stating "Cybersecurity threats exploit the increased complexity and connectivity of critical infrastructure systems, placing the Nation’s security, economy, and public safety and health at risk." Hopefully the nationwide discussion inspired by the NIST framework will help ensure that the only infrastructure shutdowns in Washington (and the nation) will be from winter storms.

Make Uplogix part of your cybersecurity framework. Local Management has unique functionality for infrastructure security that can help you identify, protect, detect, respond and recover in ways that other network management tools just can't.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Assume that you are a Target

There has been a buzz in the Uplogix office about the much-publicized Target credit card information breach. No, not just because many of us are now carrying shiny new credit cards proactively replaced by our banks due to our vulnerability as frequent Targ├ęt (say it Tar-zhay) shoppers, but because initial reports indicated that the breach relied on access hacked from an HVAC vendor.

More recent information indicates it was an email phishing scam of some sort that probably found a small company (the HVAC contractor), that happened to have logins to an online partner portal of a big fish—Target (the 2nd largest discount retailer in the US after Walmart). The investigation is still ongoing, so factual information is hard to come by, but one thing is clear—when it comes to the chains of security, especially in the world governed by the PCI standards, it's only as secure as the weakest user. And often that user is external.

From its position in the rack of network gear, an Uplogix Local Manager has some unique capabilities when it come to allowing access to devices from internal and external users. Uplogix ensures that only the right users have the right access to devices and systems by providing very granular and customizable administrative access. By authenticating to systems through Uplogix, user access can be limited to specific devices, IP addresses, or even specific commands available to them.

Then there is the monitoring. By leveraging the Local Manager’s dedicated serial connection with managed devices and servers, Uplogix logs all changes made by users and the results of these changes. This information is saved locally and then transmitted to a central location for analysis and long-term storage. Logging, recording and reporting are unaffected by the state of the network—Uplogix continues to satisfy compliance requirements even during downtime. This is unlike network-based tools that fail to capture changes during a network outage.

Automated actions ensure that policies are enforced at all times. For example, Uplogix can prevent unauthorized user access by automatically closing idle sessions. This eliminates a potential security gap. Functionality like being able to update access passwords on multiple managed devices all at once gives IT additional tools in their fight against attackers.

Keep your eyes and ears open, there is surely more to come out on the breach that struck Target, Neiman-Marcus, and what sounds like other retailers involved that are not yet named. And if you are running a network, take a look at Uplogix. There's a good chance that we might plug a security hole you have, maybe don't even know about yet, or one that your weakest vendor might bring.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Locking down long-time vulnerabilities

Don't worry -- National Cybersecurity Awareness Month isn't until October, you still have many months to plan that perfect awareness event. But this month we're going to focus on the security topic because you need to be aware of security every month.

Today we're going to talk about two forms of critical security vulnerabilities continue to plague mission critical network infrastructure and account for the majority of related security breaches:
  • Maintaining secure software and configurations | Updating the software on, and configuration of, network and communications devices in the face of constantly evolving security threats
  • Securing Administrative Console Access | Ensuring appropriate and audited access and compliance with policy by the technicians, sometimes employees sometimes not, that you rely on to maintain network and communications gear
When it comes to maintaining securing and updating software and configs, it's an on-going battle that can never ultimately be won. New forms of attack are being developed and new vulnerabilities discovered every day in even the best software. For example in 2013 Cisco alone issued 42 Security Advisories typically recommending configuration changes or software patches.

Network devices that cannot be frequently and easily configured and upgraded cannot be secured. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is a hacker’s dream. (see a previous blog entry, Even it it ain't broke, you might want to fix it.)

When the network goes down users notice and the goals of the enterprise can be severely undermined. Given this, pushing upgrades and making changes to the network, over the network, using centralized tools is extremely risky. Applying upgrades and patches reliably can mean time consuming and expensive site visits, still with the risk of down-time, leading to infrequent change.

Uplogix Configuration and Change Management makes it easy and safe to apply changes and updates to address new threats immediately as they become known. For more key change management capabilities, see the Uplogix website.

For console access, in the heat of the moment when network problems arise, urgency can prevail over security. Break-glass root passwords are issued to empower technicians to console connect to devices and resolve issues, any centralized administrative audit is off-line, and carefully crafted policies intended to protect data are quickly forgotten. This is precisely the circumstance that sets the stage for a serious breach, unintended or not.

Uplogix Local and Out-of-Band Management is console connected to managed devices, simultaneously enhancing technicians’ ability to mount an effective response to issues while ensuring that security and audit is not compromised. By storing encrypted device credentials only on the Uplogix Local Manager, secure, policy compliant and audited administrative access can be ensured with complete logging of all transactions for compliance requirements. For more information on secure administrative access, see the Uplogix website.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Groundhog Day for network configuration

Every year, on February 2nd, crowds in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania gather at dawn to witness a rodent pass judgment on just how much longer winter weather will torment the country.

The Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day combined the weirdness of this 127-year tradition with a time loop/karma story where an unpleasant TV weatherman relives the same day until he finally learns his lessons. Each morning he wakes up and the world is exactly the same. Day after day.

This movie meaning of Groundhog Day is similar to an interesting application for Uplogix.

One customer uses Local Management to automatically power down and reset equipment to a baseline configuration on a nightly basis. At night, specific systems are shut down through the CLI and powered off by Uplogix. Then in the morning at a specified time, the systems are powered up and pushed a baseline configuration so they start up the same each morning regardless of changes tested the previous day.

It's the Groundhog Day of network configuration.

Set up by the customer using the rules engine in the Uplogix Control Center and utilizing direct connections to managed devices and a smart PDU, the case study shows a proactive application for Local Management.

For more information, check out the Power Management Solution Brief, available in the Uplogix Resource Center.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When an "air gap" isn't enough

The remote nature of offshore drilling platforms used to ensure the safety of their networks from the world wide web with three W's of another sort: a physical barrier of waves, wind and water. On-board, the "air gap" between vessel control systems, process control systems and data networks is shrinking as these become increasingly linked to the outside world over common communication lines. High speed satellite connections, underwater fiber links and cheap cellular meshes have made offshore platforms into mere branch offices from an IT perspective.

Bringing rigs into closer contact also means that they are more susceptible to the dangers of mainstream IT.

A recent Digital Energy Journal article entitled "Cyber attacks to drill rigs - understanding the threats" takes a look at where old school thinking opens up new world risks:
On conventional data networks (for example in your office), information security and data protection take a significant priority over system up time and availability.
The exact opposite is true of a control system. System uptime is paramount. Any downtime is effectively Non Productive Time (NPT), and prohibitively expensive. This polar variation in business drivers is important to recognize as it drives funding and security solution fit.
And in the past, control systems were isolated and relatively safe. Years might go by between software updates. As these systems become more sophisticated and precise, data is pumped onshore for analysis, and changes are sent back. In some cases, a few experts onshore control systems on number of vessels at sea.

Manufacturer patches face a double edged sword -- installation might mean downtime and testing, but not installing patches on these now networked systems could mean vulnerability. Think Stuxnet. "PLC level attacks are a slightly different animal than a typical data network attack... PLCs do not typically have viruses that impact operation in the same way that Apple OS is relative virus free. PLCs can however, be the subject of targeted, focused and damaging attack."

So, as drilling platforms become remote offices from an IT perspective, they'll lock down data systems against common viruses and Windows OS attacks. In this case, better connectivity means better ability to download current virus definitions and software. For the control systems, PLCs have not been targets of hackers, but that seems to be changing for drilling platforms and the energy infrastructure as a whole. In recent months the US Department of Homeland Security has raised warning levels and is asking companies to be prepared.

Drilling platforms are familiar environments for Uplogix Local Management. While commonly used in the communications stack for management of satellite and networking gear, the next logical step might be serving as a secure gateway to control systems. With strong security features for granular access, multiple options for out-of-band, and configuration management capabilities like SurgicalRollback, remote experts can maintain rig systems with the confidence of being out there on the high seas.

For more information, please visit the Uplogix website: