Managing the Modern WAN

December 13, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

Today’s enterprise networks are utilizing more and more platforms and services, including cloud and multi-cloud computing. With all of these additions, there is an increasing amount of ground to cover and more challenges to face for today’s wide area networks (WANs). Here are a few tips to managing the modern WAN.

 

The cloud computing services that are becoming increasingly popular are not always easy to navigate. Each cloud operates in its own way and has its own intricacies, so educating yourself on the ins and outs is imperative to being able to successfully managing a modern WAN. When in doubt, jump in feet first. Sometimes the best way to learn how to manage a network in a multi-cloud environment is to just do it. Setting up a lab for research allows technicians to experiment and gather firsthand knowledge, and it’s usually not an expensive investment.

 

When it comes to actually implementing all of the new technology coming to market, integration can get tricky. Making sure that the legacy local area networks (LANs) and the new WAN platforms all work cohesively is a challenge. Fortunately, new products that enable software-defined WAN are also being developed and can be very useful in easing integration difficulties, especially for large networks. In a perfect world, all parts of a WAN would have end-to-end connectivity for seamless integration. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Thus, network administrators need to be able to adapt and be well-versed in alternative connection options such as load balancers, overlay networks and WAN accelerators. With a little savvy, you can achieve the performance goals of your WAN network while also staying within budget parameters.

 

Just like all other aspects of the world of technology, the parts that make up the modern day WAN are also changing. By staying current and educating yourself about new technology, and keeping a few tricks up your sleeve, you can integrate those changes and keep your network up to date.

 

Case Study: Performance Motion Devices

December 6, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

Performance Motion Devices (PMD) is a global leader in the arena of motion control ICs, drives, cards and software. They specialize in supplying OEM customers with high-performance, cost-effective motion systems for medical devices, robotics, test instrumentation and industrial automation industries, to mention a few.

 

The company was in need of a new supplier for a 100-position SCSI cable used with one of their motion controller interface cards after their current supplier increased pricing. This type of cable is not only uncommon, it’s also difficult to build, but PMD needed the cables quickly and needed them to meet the company’s cost and technical requirements. Luckily, L-com was just the manufacturing partner for the job.

 

L-com’s engineering team got to work and was able to quickly and successfully design a custom 100-Position SCSI interface cable with a rugged, molded back-shell. They were even able to add a few design tweaks to make the cables’ appearance more appealing. Plus, the team at L-com was able to meet all of PMD’s design requirements in the time frame given and on budget. Overall, this project was a successful study in how L-com’s engineering and Product Management teams were capable of stepping up to meet the challenge to fulfill their customers’ needs.

 

To read the entire case study click here.

 

How Network Security is Changing

November 29, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

With more users providing more information on more networks, and some of those networks being breached, it’s no wonder that network security is a hot topic for many people and businesses. In fact, network security is a top concern for many IT administrators. For, as network technology has become more advanced, so have the ways in which those networks can be hacked. Here, we’ll take a look some of the changes happening in network security to counteract those threats.

 

·        Network security will no longer be a small branch of IT, but rather a responsibility that encompasses the entire organization. The network is a part of every aspect of IT and thus it will need to be protected by all administrators. Plus, the network itself should be armed with tools to help avoid attacks by reinforcing network-based security such as firewalls and malware prevention.  

 

·        Today, so many things are being sent to the Cloud, and so will security. Many IT departments will take advantage of cloud-based services that will manage common security tasks as part of a contracted agreement. This allows a simple subscription plan to impart dynamic security measures that once took several hours for administrators to manage. Multi-Cloud security management platforms will also come into play to allow network security to be managed across public and private clouds via a single security control plane.

 

·        We’ve all seen the IT email alert go out warning of an email scam sent to employees to get them to click a link that then installs malware on the network. Because of these types of attacks, end-point security has become a priority. This has extended to include mobile device management for non-corporate owned devices. In the future, many of these end-point security measures will be simplified and condense the number of protection tools in place to provide better overall protection.

 

·        Penetration (pen) testing is a valuable tool used to detect security gaps that might not have been identified by IT staff. Outside firms are often hired to perform this testing for a true outside party perspective, but the service can be costly and needs to be done in a timely manner. With the development of new AI and automation technology, pen testing is becoming easier and less expensive, meaning that it can be done more often, which is especially beneficial to keep up with the increase of new viruses, malware and other cyber threats.

  

With these upgrades in network security, along with an increased focus on overarching enterprise wide security procedures, today’s networks will be able to keep up with tomorrow’s technology and do it securely.

 

802.11ad - What is WiGig?

November 15, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

As the evolution of wireless technology continues, so does the development of new wireless standards. Next on the list is 802.11ad – also known as WiGig. Most of the emerging wireless standards have been a steady progression, but this one has some fundamental changes planned. Here, we’ll explore what WiGig is all about.

 

As far as speed is considered, WiGig will support data rates up to 7 Gbps, though real data rates might be less than this maximum limit. WiGig operates on the 60 GHz frequency, as opposed to Wi-Fi which uses the 2.4 to 5 GHz bands. This should result in much less congestion compared to Wi-Fi’s congested frequencies and WiGig also shouldn’t have as many interference issues as there are on the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band. Plus, it utilizes a narrow signal beam to reduce attenuation. But with a range of only around 30 feet and the 60 GHz signal unable to penetrate obstacles, WiGig is limited to one room with a clear line of sight from the transmitter to the receiver.

 

Instead of MIMO, WiGig uses multiple antennas for beamforming, which helps reduce attenuation. WiGig beamforming utilizes a phased antenna array that provides a signal power boost in whichever direction it is aimed. One of these access points can have as many as 64 antennas to generate up to 128 beams.

 

For multiple access, Service Period (SP), a new channel access mode, has been added to WiGig. This creates transmission schedules that are assigned to clients by access points. Time on the channel is organized into intervals called Beacon Intervals (BI). SP access is projected to be the preferred channel access in WiGig.

 

WiGig will also introduce a new mode of operation called PBSS. With PBSS, there is a central coordinator, like an access point (AP), but it allows clients to communicate while surpassing the AP. Clients can also talk to one another directly with this. PBSS is designed for applications that stream HD video to a display, because it doesn’t require the video to be sent through the AP, but it can still connect through the AP in other areas of the network.

 

In addition to 2.4 and 5 GHz, future Wi-Fi devices are expected to include 60 GHz radios and are expected to be capable of seamless transfers between the bands. Not only is WiGig bringing something new to today’s wireless networks, but it will add extra capability to future applications.

 

5 Tips for Building a Modern Data Center

November 8, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

The world of technology is always changing, and the same goes for data centers too. Data centers play a critical role in networking and have evolved to allow businesses better access to their data with improved usability while being easier to manage. Now, they must also adapt to be cost-effective, efficient and responsive with the technology they support. Accelerating business demands beg for more storage and resources, and new technologies require improved infrastructure. Gone are the days of bigger is better, what we need now are smarter, more efficient, easier to manage and scalable data centers. Here are 5 ways to usher in the modernization of the data center:

 

1.      Make Appliances Multi-Task

 

Instead of having dedicated resources for only one purpose, combining the computing and storage capabilities of devices into one makes data centers more economical and efficient.  This allows the data center to be designed with a single tier that can fulfill all of the server and storage needs of any application. Plus, it improves scalability without acquiring additional or specialized equipment.

 

2.      Flexibility is Key

 

Being nimble and flexible are important qualities to have in today’s world of technology, and that applies to data centers too. A modular data center design is more flexible, simpler and allows for easy additions/removals as needed, which allows for better management of resources. One approach that’s gaining traction is combining storage and computing tiers into a single appliance (as referenced in tip #1), the overall data center design is streamlined  into a single console which makes management easier than ever.

 

3.      Consumer Focus

 

In addition to multi-tasking and flexibility, data centers also have to be more resilient and reliable than before. Today’s data centers have to support traditional technology as well as newer virtual desktops infrastructures (VDI) and mobile devices. This has led to a more consumer-focused approach that allows employees to access desktops, applications and data from within the data center via any device, anywhere. This modern approach also allows IT admins to better manage a rage of consumer-based workload demands as well as VDI systems, storage data services and existing virtual applications.

 

4.      Cloud Fusion

 

To be able to keep essential business applications safe within a private data center, while also being able to access the public cloud for other things, hybrid clouds are the way to go. Hybrid cloud environments are able to offer the best of both worlds by fusing the public cloud benefits of on-demand resource-sharing with multiple users, with the security, service and performance of private clouds. It’s a win-win.

 

5.      Continuation of Service

 

Most data centers have a plan for disaster recovery, but what about an interruption of service or latency issue? Users are accustomed to being able to access their data quickly and whenever they need it, a connection slowdown, or complete shutdown, can lead to employees using unauthorized cloud-based services. Thus, in addition to a disaster recovery, admins should have a plan to provide service continuity as well. This means designing data centers to be easily available with high-bandwidth and low round-trip times. Distributing applications across multiple sites, geographic regions or data centers can also be helpful, plus it improves scalability and performance.

 

As with everything in the world of technology, there are always upgrades to be made, and data centers are not immune to the need for improvement. With a few tweaks and a slightly different perspective, data centers can modernize their operations to best support the needs of today’s users.

 

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