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.

 

Evolution of the Data Center

August 2, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

Just as computers, phones and everything else in our world has made advancements over the years, so have data centers. 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. Traditionally, data centers were only as good as the physical space they took up, they were restricted by server space and having enough room for hardware to be stored. With today’s technological advancements, they are less space-centric, and more focused on the cloud, speed and flexibility. Here, we’ll take a look at the evolution of the data center, from inception to the realm of future possibilities.

 

The Early Days

 

The earliest data centers were large rooms filled with computers that were difficult to operate and maintain. These primordial behemoths needed a special environment to keep the equipment running properly – equipment that was connected by a maze of cables and was stacked on racks, cable trays and raised floors. Early data centers also used a large amount of power and generated a lot of heat, so they had to be cooled to keep from overheating. In 1964, the first supercomputer, the ancestor to today’s data centers, was built by Control Data Corporation. It was the fastest computer of its time with peak performance of 3 MFlops, sold for $8 million and continued operating until 1977.

 

1970s

 

The 1970s brought the invention of the Intel 4004 processor which allowed for computers to be smaller. And in the 1973, the first desktop was introduced, the Xerox Alto. Although it was never sold commercially, it was the first step toward eliminating the mainframe. The first LAN was brought to life in 1977 in the form of ARCNET, which allowed computers to connect to one another with coax cables that linked to a shared floppy data storage system.

 

1980s

 

The personal computer (PC) was born in 1982, with the introduction of the IBM model 5150. This new, smaller computer was a far cry from the expensive and expansive mainframes that were hard to cool. PCs allowed organizations to use desktop computers throughout their companies much more efficiently, leading to a boom in the microcomputer industry. Plus, in 1985, Ethernet LAN technology was standardized, largely taking the place of ARCNET. 

  

1990s

  

The 1990s started with microcomputers working as servers and filling old mainframe storage rooms. These servers were accumulated by companies and managed on premise, they were knows as data centers. The mid-90s saw the introduction of the Internet, and with it came a demand for faster internet connections, increased online presence and network connectivity as a business requirement. To meet increased demands, new, larger scale, enterprise server rooms were built with data centers that contained hundreds or thousands of servers working around-the clock.  In the late 1990s, virtualization technology originally introduced in the 80s was revisited with a new purpose in the form of a virtual workstation, which was comparable to a virtual PC. Enterprise applications also became available for the first time through an online website.

 

2000s 

 

By the early 2000s, PCs and data centers has grown exponentially. New technology was quickly emerging to allow data to be transmitted easier and faster. The first cloud-based services were launched by Amazon Web services, which included storage, web services and computation. There was also a growing realization of the power required to run all of these data centers, so new innovations were being introduced to help data centers be more energy efficient. In 2007, the modular data center was launched. One of the most popular was from Sun Microsystems, which has 280 servers in a 20-foot shipping container that could be sent anywhere in the world. This offered a more cost effective way for corporate computing, but also refocused the industry on virtualization and ways to consolidate servers.

 

2010s

 

By the 2010s, the Internet had become engrained in every part of day-to-day life and business operations. Facebook had become a main player and began investing resources in trying to find ways to make data centers more cost and energy efficient across the industry. Plus, virtual data centers were common in almost 3/4 of organizations and over 1/3 of businesses were using the Cloud. The focus then shifted to software-as-a-service (SaaS), with subscription and capacity-on-demand being the main focus, instead of infrastructure, software and hardware. This model increased the need for bandwidth and the creation of huge companies providing access to cloud-based data centers, including Amazon and Google.

 

Today, the Cloud appears to be the path we are headed on, with new technology being introduced and the implementation of the IoT becoming more of a reality every day. We’ve definitely come a long way from the first gigantic mainframe data centers, one can only imagine what the next 60 years of innovation will bring.

 

Our Best-Selling Product of 2017

January 4, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

To start off this year, we would like to take a moment to present the award for the best-selling product of 2017.  With so many high-performing, quality products in the running, the competition was fierce. But after all the votes (sales) were tallied, there was one clear winner.

 

And the winner is……(drumroll).…. the ECF504-SC5E coupler!

 

If you’re not familiar with this year’s best-selling product, here is what you’ve been missing:

 

The ECF504-SC5E is a Cat5e, RJ45, shielded, 8x8, panel-mount-style coupler that is ideal for telecom, LAN, voice/data and IDF/MDF applications. It is a part of L-com's ECF panel-mount RJ45 coupler line that combines an innovative design with a competitive price. With a solid, die-cast, metal mounting frame, these unique RJ45 couplers allow panel mounting with virtually any panel thickness.

 

This unique coupler is very versatile and was used in a wide variety of applications and purchased by a varied group of customers including OEM’s who used the ECF504-SC5E in enclosure and panel products, IT professionals and network installers who used the ECF504-SC5E in data center applications, and a host of other customers who used the ECF504-SC5E in a variety of Ethernet cable pass through applications.

 

On behalf of the ECF504-SC5E, we would like to thank all the customers who helped this product win the 2017 best seller award. Without your support, and purchases, none of this would be possible. (cue music).

 

Ethernet Switch Showdown: Commercial vs. Industrial

August 10, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

An Ethernet switch is a great way to create a Local Area Network (LAN) to share resources. Ethernet switch LANs can allow an entire office to share the use of printers, servers, Internet connections and other Internet Protocol (IP)-based applications.

 

For decades, Ethernet switches were limited to climate-controlled IT closets and buildings for use in commercial and office networks. In recent years, their use has expanded to include Ethernet-based industrial IP networks for manufacturing, automation and process industries.

 

Here, we’ll look at the major features of commercial and industrial switches and how they differ from one another.

 

Commercial Ethernet Switches:

  • •   Designed for desk or rack mounting in controlled environments such as IT closets        and data centers
  • •   110V-240V AC powered
  • •   Limited operating temperature range, typically between 50° F to 95°F
  • •   Cannot withstand shock and vibration
  • •   Single Point of Failure (SPOF): many commercial grade switches depend on               cooling fans and other components that can compromise the entire switch if they         fail 
  • •   Most have lower Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) than industrial switches

 

Industrial Ethernet Switches:   

  • •  Designed for harsh environments with extreme temperatures, vibration, dust and        moisture
  • •  Typically used in manufacturing facilities, mining, oil production, power plants,            waste water treatment plants and other extreme environments
  • •  Usually do not have any moving parts, such as fans (SPOF)
  • •  Conformal coating used in damp environments to cover PCB and protect                    components
  • •  Wide operating temperature range, typically from -40° F to 167°F
  • •  DIN rail mounting and small form factor allows switches to take up minimal space
  • •  Safety Extra-Low Voltage (SELV): accepting 24 V DC power makes industrial switches safer than higher powered switches
  • •  Many have an Ingress protection (IP) rating which allows the switches to resist dirt, dust and wash down
 

White Paper: Layer 3 Routing at the Network Edge

July 13, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Implementing Layer 3 at the edge of a LAN can have many benefits including increased network security, greater availability and improved network utilization, but it’s not always clear where Layer 3 routing should be used in the LAN. Traditionally, Layer 3 routers were at the core of the networks and acted as gateways to the Wide Area Network. As technology, pricing and availability have changed, Layer 3 routing has moved closer to the edge of the network. 

 

Our white paper discusses when to employ a Layer 3 switch at the edge of a network and gives definitions and applications for several widely used routing protocols including RIP, DVMRP, PIM and OSPF.

 

Topics covered in our Layer 3 white paper include:

 

Layer 2 Switching vs. Layer 3 Routing

 

Defining Layer 3 Routing Protocols

    -      Routing Information Protocol (RIP)

    -      Open Shortest Path First (OSPF)

    -      Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP)

    -      Dstance Vector Multicast Routing Protocol (DVMRP)

    -      Protocol Independent Multicast (PIM)

    -      Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP)

 

Layer 3 Routing Applications

    -      Assigning static IP routes to VLAN/Sublets

    -      Routing between Layer 2 VLAN

    -      Routing on high-speed uplinks to the core

    -      IP multicast routing with IGMP and DVMRP

    -      PIM-DM multicast routing in the LAN

    -      PIM-SM multicast routing protocol

    -      OSPF to route IP traffic through LAN into the core router

    -      VRRP in the LAN

 

Click here to read our Layer 3 Routing at the Network Edge white paper.

 

All our free white papers are available from our website by clicking here.

 

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