The vast majority of the discussion about SDN to date has focused on the data center. Since the network is a lot bigger than just its data center LAN that begs the question “Does SDN have a role in campus networks?”Read more...
One of the biggest challenges faced by the enterprise world today is how to overcome the security issues faced in many of the enterprise organizations. The early adopters of the BYOD strategies have learnt their lessons the hard way – a plethora of mobile devices in the enterprise result in huge demand for authentication and authorization framework caused by the sheer volume of devices and each device’s varied authentication interface.Read more...
Did you know that the root cause for many upgrades is not based upon new applications or user demands, but based upon Planned Product Obsolescence and Vendor-Centric Business Practices?
Consider the dramatic increase in incumbent network devices moving to end-of-support (EOS), from 38% to 45%, in Cisco’s product portfolio. This was reported by Dimension Data, one of Cisco’s top notch partners no less.Read more...
My previous blog detailed how organizations worldwide can adopt BYOD programs seamlessly using innovative stackable switch solutions. While a solid network infrastructure and enhanced capacity form the backbone of any BYOD program, security is one of the overarching issues faced by many organizations today. With over 23% of US based employees experiencing some form of security compromise on their personal devices in any single year, it’s not surprising that a recent Gartner study shows over 75% of organizations cite security issues as their biggest concern for adopting BYOD programs. What is Brocade's Campus solution to help mitigate BYOD security risks faced by organizations worldwide?Read more...
Well, many of you may be wondering what happened after the network disruption that Cisco did a decade ago. Where are we going from there? Do you still want to stay status quo?Read more...
With BYOD strategies maturing, organizations worldwide are frantically looking to adopt BYOD programs, not only to improve employee satisfaction but also to improve user productivity. According to a recent Gartner research half of the enterprise world says they intend to move to BYOD for smartphones alone by 2017, let alone other devices such as tablets, standard mobile phones and PCs. What are the steps taken by Brocade's Enterprise LAN switches to mitigate these issues?Read more...
In part one we talked about disruption in Layer 1. After Cabeltron, other companies entered the market with innovations in Layer 1. Notably Synoptics and Chipcom who were challengers to Cabletron. Chipcom came up with improved hardware with high-density ports.Read more...
1985 - Two great networking giants, Novel and 3 Com competing for the dominance. Novel wins at last and people rushed Certified Novel Engineer (CNE) certification.Read more...
The expansion of wireless networks in recent years has been phenomenal. The rapidly growing use of smartphones, tablets and corporate acceptance of BYOD has forced businesses to offer wireless connectivity virtually everywhere. Pundits have forecasted the decline of the wired network as we know it and, perhaps, the demise of wired-only network companies.
How then, can a network company that only makes wired network switches still be growing? As with most technology companies, it requires a business to adapt and change, to survive and thrive. The end-user connectivity may be changing, but the importance and dependence on the wired network has never been greater.Read more...
Combining all the elements of a modern IT infrastructure can often feel like solving a technological dot-to-dot puzzle; there aren’t any visible relationships between all the points that must be interconnected but when they are joined up they form a coherent picture. Every IT professional is painfully aware that the reality is somewhat different; the relationship between the different components – network nodes, servers, storage and applications – runs deeper than mere connections;Read more...
One of the biggest challenges when designing any new system that requires an element of capacity planning – computing, networks, transportation, to name a few - is deciding what the primary criteria are; should you go for a big initial costly build-out and hope that all of the capacity is used? Or aim for something more flexible that can start smaller and be expanded as required to deliver greater capacity. Factors such as the need for up-front investment and sketchy predictions of future demand need to be considered and the result can sometimes be a difficult compromise.Read more...
The data center is getting all the SDN attention these days, but the applications that will help SDN cross the chasm may actually very well come from the campus.
SDN has the ability to radically transform campus networks over the next few years and address today’s most acute management challenges. Campus networks require application specific policies like security & access control, VLAN traffic isolation and QoS policies to be provisioned across the network one switch at a time. This consumes a lot of resources and results in a static network that cannot be easily updated as business requirements evolve and new applications are deployed.Read more...
Since early last Wednesday, the web and media have been abuzz over a new security vulnerability they have named the Heartbleed bug. Heartbleed is a security vulnerability inOpenSSL, an open-source protocol primarily used to encrypt web communications but also used by IT personnel for connecting securely to network devices and servers for administrative purposes. After thorough investigation, our engineering teams have concluded that neither our products nor website are affected by the Heartbleed bug.
Brocade product offering including SAN products running FOS or M-EOS software, IP products running ServerIron, FastIron, NetIron, BigIron RX and Brocade Network Advisor, DCFM, Vyatta and vADX software are not exposed to the vulnerability highlighted by the attack. These products do not make use of the code that is the vector for the attack and hence are not exposed to it.
For additional information, please refer to Brocade Technical Support Bulletin TSB 2014-185-A uploaded on Brocade.com for your convenience.
The “Big Five” IT initiatives: 1) data center consolidation; 2) mobility; 3) security; 4) big data; and 5) cloud computing are gaining visibility and awareness for their promise to improve state and local agency performance, productivity and service. However, a recent MeriTalk study and webinar on “The Big Five in Overdrive” demonstrate that while these solutions get a lot of attention, it’s the underlying network infrastructure needed to support these that is keeping CIOs awake at night. The hot, new technologies get the visibility, but it’s the basics, blocking and tackling, where the real opportunity to re-engineer and save big comes from.Read more...
Everyone seems to believe that Software Defined Networks (SDN) is the future. They know it’s coming… whatever it is and whenever it gets here, but don’t really know what to do about it.
We talked to hundreds of attendees at the Open Network Summit (ONS) in Santa Clara and the Aruba Airheads Developers Conference in Las Vegas over the past two weeks about our SDN strategy. Most were familiar with the general concepts of SDN and knew what it is, at least in concept. Some had ideas about what they might do with it… some day. Few had specific plans to implement SDN or had even done any work with SDN yet.
What we learned was that Brocade is helping customers on the road to SDN with OpenFlow 1.3 and Hybrid SDN implementation to make the transition smoother.Read more...
A new Meritalk study, underwritten by Brocade, examines how the implementation of the Big Five of IT-data center consolidation, mobility, security, big data, and cloud computing – will affect state and local government. According to the report, most state and local organizations plan to fully deploy the Big Five in the next three years, but almost all say their agency is not fully prepared for the resulting demands on the IT organization and the network infrastructure.
The study examines:
Scaling up vs. Scaling out: for years, IT architects have been debating the respective merits of big box vs. multi-box solutions to achieve scalability.
Big box solutions can be simpler to deploy and manage but they are typically more expensive to acquire and offer limited upgradability and future proofing.
With the recent success of cloud computing, the question has been settled for compute and storage: only distributed multi-box architectures can achieve the level of scalability and availability required for cloud based applications.
As network architect are redesigning enterprise networks to meet the demand of next generation applications including a massive increase in traffic generated by the broad adoption of video, peer-to-peer communications, BYOD and personal cloud storage, they are evaluating options for migrating the aggregation and core layers to 10/40 Gigabit Ethernet to eliminate bottlenecks.
Traditional three-tier network design with “big-box” chassis at the aggregation and core require a significant up-front investment and offer limited scalability and future proofing.
On the other hand, adopting a distributed “multi-box” architecture at the aggregation/core can deliver much greater scalability and future proofing with an easier “upgrade as you go” model. It enables network architects to add capacity exactly where it is needed in the network unlike a “big-box” chassis approach with all ports located in the same closet.
This week, Brocade is introducing a new family of high-density fixed-port 10/40 GbE switches purposely designed for “scale-out” networking at the aggregation/core. Be sure to check out the Brocade ICX 7750 press release for more details.
Is managing your campus network a bit of a daily headache? Are you finding you have more not-spots than hot-spots in your wireless coverage? Do you find yourself have to explain (again) just why it is going to take “THAT long” to deploy that application? The campus environment in many organizations has just not kept up with evolving trends, and the legacy networks are showing their age. The “fixes” that have been deployed over time often make things worse rather than better, as complexity and cost go up, and overall performance and availability at best stay static.
Learn how to change this dynamic for the better and take charge of your campus environment. A new white paper from IDC explains what the campus environment has to handle today, and will have to be able to support over the next few years; and why flatter, more automated, agile campus networks are the way forward.
As stated in the paper - Enabling Organizational Agility with New Campus Network Architectures - “The campus network is a vital component of the enterprise network and the primary link through which users’ access applications and network services. Organizations must ensure that they have cost-effective, flexible approaches to their campus network that ensure organizational agility and scalability and are easy to manage”.
Growth in mobility and trends such as BYOD, consumerization of IT, increasing video, UC, client virtualization, private cloud and increased demand for faster deployment of more applications and increased agility are all putting the legacy environment under pressure it can’t take. At the same time budgets remain constrained and staffing is often an issue - one that gets more intense as the above trends increase workloads. Having to manage wired and wireless campus networks as separate entities just adds to the challenge, confusion, and cost.
This paper explains how you can adopt the flexibility, simplified deployment, investment protection, automated management, cloud-ready and reliable campus network you need, with Brocade.
To download and/or read the whitepaper, click here: Enabling Organizational Agility with New Campus Network Architectures
Before my kids developed into the smelly grunting teenagers that they are today they loved Lego™. It offered limitless possibilities with no rules on how the bricks should be arranged or the exact shape of the star-fighter, or house, or whatever their imagination dreamt up. With every birthday a new assortment of colored bricks would arrive and the first thing that was built was whatever was pictured on the box, after that the parts were separated, scattered and then recombined into another world of infinite possibilities. You could build whatever you wanted, not what the toy designer thought you wanted. The only disappointment came when a new creation couldn’t be completed as there was one vital part missing, usually because the dog had eaten it. The missing part usually reappeared later but not in a useable condition!
If only networks could be built the same way. We seem to have got bound up in a dizzying array of complex protocols and technologies that have been designed to solve relatively simple problems. Whatever happened to plug-and-play? The geeks need to rediscover Lego and become inspired again.
The Effortless Network is about making campus networks fit the environment that they are being deployed into, making things simpler and more flexible by allowing network managers to build networks that are only limited by their imaginations. By using Ethernet as the connection medium within a switch stack we allow far greater deployment flexibility. A “stack” can actually be distributed across multiple wiring closets (or racks in a data center) with the stacking protocols taking care of ensuring that the connections are secure, resilient and efficient. And because the distributed stack is a single management entity configuration changes, software deployment and failure recovery are greatly simplified. And the best part is that this is just the beginning, there is so much more to come in 2013 and beyond.
So maybe there is another way, you don’t have to build the network the way the geeks intended; with the right building blocks the possibilities are endless.
For every tee shot, there’s a backswing. The bigger the backswing the bigger the drive. In Sales and Marketing terms, every customer pitch has a backswing. Typically, this is where we describe the situation, the trends, the problem, etc. If done properly, it sets up the points you’re about to make to be more compelling.
For campus networking, customers have been challenged with a convergence of trends that are forcing them to rethink their architectures and technology. For the last year or so, we’ve been saying that campus networks have moved beyond “best effort” and are now as critical as your datacenter network. While some early visionaries “get it”, many campus network architects have not….yet.
Well folks, Gartner just release the ultimate “tee up”…
What do you think?Read more...
In most office buildings today, network wires are laid down in the walls and ceiling during construction and that predefines the number of network ports available in each room once and for all as it is impractical and very expensive to run additional wires from the wiring closet once construction is completed if additional network ports are needed.
So, what do you do when you need to convert an existing room into a conference room or a classroom where you are going to need more ports than what’s currently wired in the walls? Essentially, the network admin faces two options, deploy an enterprise switch inside the room or let users bring their own switches to solve the problem on their own as they often do.
Deploying consumer class unmanaged switches in an enterprise network is a bad idea, the problems are numerous: no security, no quality of service, no traffic management, no monitoring, no visibility to the network administrator and the biggest of all, no spanning tree. What if a user inadvertently creates a loop through improper wiring and brings part of the network down?
The only viable option to preserve the network integrity is the deployment of enterprise class switches outside the wiring closet. A new class of products is emerging to specifically address this need. Enterprise compact switches are designed to be deployed anywhere and blend into the work environment, they are fanless, completely silent, use very little power and they are small enough to be mounted anywhere or integrated into the furniture. The more advanced enterprise compact switches can even be powered through PoE eliminating the need for and AC outlet nearby for even greater placement flexibility.
The good news for network administrators: These compact switches offer the exact same enterprise features as their bigger brothers deployed in wiring closets. Same manageability, same security, same layer 2 and even layer 3 features, same software image. They are essentially an extension of the enterprise network at the edge, not a poorly integrated add-on.
This week, Brocade is launching a new advanced compact switch to complete the ICX line of campus products, be sure to check out the press release for more details.
During these times of budgetary concerns in both private and public sectors with ongoing reductions in discretionary spending, IT managers are being forced to look at every possible way to cut costs.
According to the Federal Office of Management and Budget, IT hardware actually represents only 20 percent of the total Federal IT spend. The lion’s share of the budget goes toward paying IT services including annual hardware maintenance contracts.
Federal IT Budget Spend Breakdown
Source: Federal OMB
When it comes to purchasing network infrastructure, the total cost of ownership over the useful lifetime of the equipment is not always easy to evaluate causing the initial price of acquisition to often play a disproportionate role in the purchase decision.
According to Gartner, enterprise customers expect a useful life of 5 to 10 years for their network infrastructure. Over such an extended ownership period the initial cost of acquisition is going to represent only a fraction of the total cost.
So it’s important for IT departments to evaluate the total cost of ownership, including the cost of service and support, power, cooling and floor space, over the expected life of the network when making the vendor selections.
Additionally, when looking at different vendors, it is important to compare complete network solutions rather than simply looking at the price of base level product configurations. For example product offerings will vary broadly in capabilities such as port density, redundant power supplies and stacking to name a few. For some vendors these capabilities come standard in base product configurations while for others, they are costly options.
To help determine the true cost of your campus network, you can use our new Brocade Campus TCO calculator to compare the cost of 35 prebuilt network solutions from Brocade, Cisco, HP and Aruba.
Go check out for yourself the true cost of your campus network at Brocade.com/CampusTCO
Healthcare makes up a large segment of all worldwide economies. It is a very diverse environment made up of many entities, which can include large health systems, children’s medical centers, rural hospitals, ambulatory facilities, urgent care centers, laboratories, medical testing facilities, pharmacies, therapy centers, surgical facilities, long-term care facilities, teaching and research organizations, ambulance and mobile units, component and equipment manufacturers, vendors and distributors, etc. These entities are often spread over a large geographical area and are heavily regulated by each respective government. Correspondingly, the networks employed by the industry reflect the inherent complexity.
The healthcare industry is seeing rapid and evolutionary changes due to recent government regulations, primarily concerning the conversion of medical records to a digital format. This is expected to generate massive amounts of new data and will continue to do so for years to come. Many of the existing network infrastructures do not currently have the capacity to handle the expected increase in data traffic. These networks need to be responsive, since practitioners may be geographically far from the data centers where the information is typically stored. For example, video conferencing and...Read more...
Today we are pleased to announce the availability of our pioneering HyperEdge Architecture, which provides a holistic wired and wireless edge infrastructure and supports the next phase in delivering “The Effortless Network” to customers. Read more below...
By automating and simplifying the campus network, and creating a holistic wired and wireless infrastructure, the Brocade HyperEdge Architecture enables organizations to harness the productivity gains and competitive edge that mobility, cloud-enabled services and new applications can offer.
According to IDC, mobile workers1 will account for more than a third of the overall global workforce within the next few years2, and the adoption of services and applications to aid collaboration and increase productivity continue to grow. In addition, the deployment of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), Unified Communications (UC) and the increased use of video for business communications place additional burdens on current campus networks. Unfortunately, these overly complex, rigid, legacy campus networks are unable to support modern requirements for fast application deployment, instant information access and multi-device mobility.
“With more users dependent on services delivered over the network, an agile and resilient campus network is crucial to business productivity. If the campus network cannot support the organization’s application needs, the ability to compete, transform and even to perform can be impaired. Solutions such as Brocade HyperEdge Architecture help flatten the network and deliver automation to simplify deployment and manageability while delivering greater flexibility, making it easier and faster to deploy business critical applications that can scale, ” said Rohit Mehra, VP Network Infrastructure, IDC
We have also announced the general availability of the Brocade HyperEdge features announced in 2012, including Distributed Services and Consolidated Management, along with additions and enhancements to the Brocade wired and wireless campus product portfolio. The new HyperEdge features include Centralized Access Point (AP) management, Distributed AP Forwarding, Self-healing Brocade Mobility APs and Active-Active links within individual and scaled HyperEdge Domains.
To learn more about the unique features and functionality delivered by Brocade HyperEdge Architecture read more here: The Effortless Network
BYOD = Bring Your Own Disaster
For many enterprises, schools, or even Federal agencies; BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Disaster. After talking with lots of customers and partners, I can relate. By my anecdotal calculation, over half of all BYOD projects fail (a major Brocade partner swears it’s closer to 90%). The thing is, it doesn’t need to be that way. After attending numerous seminars, reading tons of papers and blogs, etc., and viewing vendor ads; you’d think BYOD was all about security. But it’s not!! And this is the trap that everyone falls into and is the main cause for failure.
Surprisingly, the solution is very simple –it just takes planning and focus. With careful planning and a focus on delivering a secure, high quality user experience as your guide post; you’ll see that BYOD is much more than just security. Yes. Security is a very important aspect but without forethought and planning for the impact BYOD will have on your infrastructure, you’re doomed to fail. You have to make sure your wireless and wired infrastructure can deliver the level of service your...Read more...
"You can't manage what you can't measure" is a quotation that we often hear thrown around the business world by people who forget that organizations are populated by human beings who can be somewhat unpredictable as they are often respond in ways are governed by what Human Resources professionals call “hygiene factors”, in other words, unpredictable things driven by emotion and instinct. KPIs are not the only answer to management headaches. I’m not suggesting that data and statistics have no part to play in managing modern IT systems just because they are used by irrational and unruly human beings, what is important is the interpretation of the data and the best decisions are made when we have the maximum amount of information available at our fingertips.
So the starting point for any analysis of network activity is gathering good data and one of the best tools we have to help us with this is sFlow® which is an industry standard network and system monitoring technology. The role of sFlow is to streamline the collection and delivery of data that can be used as the foundation for better decisions and when linked to a management system it can drive the automation of policy deployment and threat mitigation.
Brocade was the first networking vendor to recognize the power of sFlow and has implemented it on a broad range of platforms from the latest ICX range of switches to the high-end MLXe terabit router to deliver packet sampling across a wide range of interface speeds from 10Mbps to 100Gbps. In all cases the implementation is in hardware and on chassis based systems such as the MLXe sFlow is embedded in the line cards thus guaranteeing the performance and scalability of the solution. This is particularly important when sFlow is being used to detect anomalies that could be the result of malicious activity. Humans might be unruly but their actions often create patterns that can be detected!
During a recent conversation with a customer the power of having sFlow data available in real-time was highlighted to me. During our discussions I had expressed surprise that in his network of over 400 access switches they were using 1GbE up-links and had no plans to upgrade to 10GbE, a few clicks on the management system revealed the reason why; “The up-link usage is typically less than 20% across the campus and the peaks are not much higher so we don’t see the need for 10G in the immediate future” he added “New applications may change that but I don’t see anything in the near future… oh look at that…” His voice tailed off as several icons flashed amber and red. A few more clicks revealed that someone had started a BitTorrent download which had been detected and the management system had responded by blocking their network port. “When the user calls to complain that their network connection has failed we can explain why and re-enable the port”. It was great to see someone who had the measure of their network and their user base so clearly captured by sFlow.
The quotation I opened with is often incorrectly attributed to the American statistician William Edwards Deming, what he actually said was “It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth”. Measurement is just the start, interpretation of the data and follow on actions are vital but without good inputs and a strong understanding of the user dynamics it is impossible to make the right decisions.
sFlow is a vital component in delivering the information needed to run an efficient network. To learn more about getting started with sFlow take a look at the new best practice guide posted on the Brocade Communities pages sFlow® Traffic Monitoring in Brocade Campus NetworksRead more...
Is managing your campus network a bit of a daily headache? Are you finding you have more not-spots than hot-spots in your wireless coverage? Do you find yourself have to explain (again) just why it is going to take “THAT long” to deploy thaRead more...
We are so used to, and so busy dealing with or working around, the complexity of our networks that sometimes we need reminding that it doesn't have to be this way. Network complexity is an issue of the way legacy campus environments are designed. It wasn't an inherently bad design when campus networks began to be deployed for the first time; it’s just that it isn't a design that could cope with the massive changes in scale, volume and mobility that have come into play since.
Dave Stevens, CTO at Brocade, explains this situation and the impact it has on organizations very well in a new video available here: The Effortless Network
With Gartner predicting that around one billion smartphones will be sold this year alone; and IDC suggesting that more than one third of all employees will be mobile workers by 2015, mobility – and as a consequence wireless connectivity – is a huge trend organizations have to deal with. Bring video, cloud, unified communications and VDI into play and then try and ensure they can be supported wirelessly, and things get even more challenging. After all, when you watch Dave explaining the problem on the video noted above, are you doing it with your laptop plugged-in to the wired network? No? Didn't think so.
Organizations that can’t keep up when it comes to campus will also start to discover it becomes harder to compete and productivity and responsiveness to changing market conditions suffers. Workers, customers, visitors; all have come to expect always on connectivity when on-site; and they will become more demanding, not less.
To date the most common response has been to deploy endless “band-aid” fixes and more layers of complexity. As a result the campus environment has just gotten more complex, slower, harder to manage, and more costly.
Brocade has turned to innovation to create a solution, and designed a new approach, a new way of looking at and building campus networks; to create networks that have the agility and intelligence needed for the cloud-enabled, multi-device, mobile-workforce of the future.
We call it the Effortless Network, and you can learn more about how Brocade customers are already reaping the rewards of this approach, and access more information and resources on this approach here: The Effortless Network
We would like your feedback, leave a comment and let us know what you think.
Last year Brocade unveiled our vision for campus networking under the banner “The Effortless Network”. Our proposition; that we need to make things simpler not more complex to create campus networks that can not only cope with but can improve the performance of wireless devices, applications, video, unified communications and cloud services etc, clearly hit a cord.
As Simon Pollard wrote in his post on this site titled Lego Networks; “If only networks could be built the same way [as Lego]. We seem to have got bound up in a dizzying array of complex protocols and technologies that have been designed to solve relatively simple problems. Whatever happened to plug-and-play?”
Indeed we have seemed to become, over the past decade, almost oblivious to the fact that extreme complexity is not a necessity of networking. “Premium, high-spec and full-featured” should not have to mean “harder to deploy and maintain”. In almost everyone other field of IT, making IT easier and more intuitive to use has been at the heart of much of the innovation that has occurred. Why not in networking?
Brocade is changing this and challenging the status quo. Brocade innovation means you can create campus networks that deliver improved performance while simplifying management and maintenance. So why continue to compromise between the two?
Today we are already delivering on our proposition. Customers are already seeing the benefits of a new way of approaching their wired and wireless campus environments.
Learn how Brocade is helping customers and partners design and deploy campus environments that work. Environments that mean they can deploy applications faster, scale up more easily, support more mobility better: cost-effectively, and without adding complexity. Click here for a range of resources and examples that illustrate The Effortless Network in action.
We would like to hear your thoughts on complexity, please add your comments below.