Federal Insights

How Network Automation Can Move AI from Science Fiction to Reality

by gcastell ‎10-11-2017 07:09 AM - edited ‎10-11-2017 07:14 AM (1,409 Views)

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a buzzword in the federal space, and what once was realized only in sci-fi movies, is now a burgeoning reality in IT processes. In fact, just last year, the White House encouraged federal agencies to explore all of the possibilities AI could offer, and the General Services Administration (GSA) launched programs to enable federal adoption of AI.

 

Furthermore, a recent Deloitte study found that AI could potentially save government 1.2 billion hours and $41.1 billion annually and increase mission-delivery speed by automating processes. However, before government can take advantage of advancements like AI today, agencies must take a few key steps. One area where Brocade has implemented fundamental changes to make way for AI technology is in the network. Below I will explore how agencies can begin to evolve their network technology in order to leverage AI capabilities in the near future:

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Security Starts with Visibility and Automation

by walkerj on ‎09-26-2017 06:32 AM (2,115 Views)

When federal agency CIOs discuss the challenges that keep them up at night, there’s no lack of topics to explore. However, there’s one issue that is constantly bubbling to the top. According to Professional Services Council and Grant Thornton’s annual CIO study, cybersecurity is the top concern for federal IT leaders. This is likely to only increase, as 81 percent of CIOs in CIO Magazine’s annual study noted a greater involvement in cybersecurity in the most recent survey than in the past.

 

While there are new, increasingly advanced cybersecurity solutions constantly introduced, cyber criminals are nimble and have many resources at their disposal. It’s too easy for cyber criminals to stay a step ahead given misaligned incentives. In such an environment, it’s critical that agency approaches to cybersecurity start with a solid baseline that lies within the agency’s network. Just like network performance and reliability, security starts with visibility and automation, and successful efforts cannot exist in silos.

 

Network visibility can reveal a lot about an agency’s systems, from where the majority of traffic flows originate to the times of most activity. Similarly, network insights are valuable from a security perspective. Just as network visibility can identify when traffic flows require a change in network configuration, they can also point to anomalous traffic patterns that likely indicate a security breach. For example, if an agency typically sees most activity coming from within the United States during normal work hours, an influx of activity from Europe at 2:00 a.m. may be enough to trigger concern.

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The Needle in the Haystack (The Visibility Challenge of IT Operations)

by jrizo on ‎05-01-2017 11:19 AM - last edited on ‎06-23-2017 01:25 PM by Community Manager (6,445 Views)

My intent in putting this post together is not to bore you with mundane talk about how we can make networks great again. Rather, I’m going to quickly review the challenges I’ve personally faced operating networks over the past 20+ years and offer a revolutionary solution for networkers. I’ll show you how this works in a real world scenario that solves “The Needle in the Haystack” challenge.

 

Three Operational Challenges

 

The Network is Slow: Operationally, simple problems like user access issues, links that have gone down, or switches or routers that have gone belly up can be quickly identified and remediated by network engineers targeting specific points in the infrastructure.

 

What happens with my favorite support call? When the complaint is that the network is slow, the real fun begins. Engineers sift through the latest batch of Syslogs and check NMS for error messages or alerts that may have been logged. Nothing found? Then it’s time to go element by element to see if anything along the path is behaving badly. Chances are that nothing is going to immediately jump out, leading to a painstaking search through the entire infrastructure to identify and resolve the cause of the slowdown.

 

Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) Peer Goes Down: Another one of my favorites challenges is when a long established BGP peer goes down overnight. Depending on peering relationships and network failover, this could be a big deal. For instance, if a customer uses BGP peer A for their primary network traffic and have a contract with BGP peer B as a backup connection, this comes at a hefty usage cost. The longer they are on BGP peer B, the more money they are paying for this service. Service providers typically staff BGP experts 7x24, but most federal agencies do not and cannot afford to do so. This means costs are mounting as the issue goes either unnoticed or unresolved until appropriate resources arrive. Worst case scenario…you’re in Texas and the outage is in Minot, North Dakota. Come on, tell me some of you haven’t been in this situation before.

 

Command Line Interface (CLI) is Cumbersome: If you’ve been following the Federal Insights Tech Corner, then you may have read through the most recent Tech Corner post on how the CLI is dead. The piece explains why using CLI and point management tools are inefficient and operationally cumbersome. I’m not going to belabor the fact that this is correct, but want to present the current widespread use of CLI as another operational challenge agencies face.

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