Categories
Microsoft

Cloud – fueling the “always connected” consumer trend

Its 9:06 pm on a Wednesday night. I am sitting in the Bengaluru airport by myself and eating a nasty airport Podi idli. As I wait for my flight I find myself wondering about the two things keeping me entertained at that moment – my smart phone and social media. I was compelled to think about the beautiful intersection of these two powerful trends, and how their combination has catalysed the birth of a compelling “trend” – “Always connected”

I can’t help but ponder that back at home where I am longing to get to, me and my roommate own a series of disparate devices – 2 laptops each, 1 tablet each, 1 smart phone each and a big TV; that’s a total of 9 devices! I am not trying to paint a picture of extreme addiction to digital world, but the scenario is a reality with all of us today. This goes a long way in saying that the trend in young consumers today is heading towards owning tiny, many pieces of technologies each having unique apps and services which makes them meaningful to us in a specific way. Additionally the ‘Internet of Things (IOT)’, is perceived to make debut this decade, will only make more connected devices available. An interesting phenomenon that will propel the need for IT and developers to step out of their comfort zones and embrace new ways and techniques for quickly weaving solutions that the consumers like using.

I would like to believe that consumers know what they want, they are enlightened and imaginative in how they think technology can solve their problems. In order to win today’s consumer, one has to build solutions that bring people close to each other while they are on the go, solutions that enable working people to work from anywhere, solutions that lets peoples share their thoughts, locations and reviews on just about anything from just about anywhere. Solutions that reimagine mobility for people. And most importantly solutions that can reach consumer as soon as possible!

It would make sense therefore to spend maximum time and energy into brainstorming meaningful solutions rather than provisioning infrastructure for such solutions, and given a choice – have someone else can do it for! And that’s where cloud vendors plays a very crucial role. If there is one thing that I can say with full conviction today is that, to meet the increasingly unpredictable demand of consumers who are evidently making things go viral on social media without any fair warning, the auto scaling feature of cloud computing makes the most sense.

The immense server capabilities, storage options, website hosting plans, mobile app notification, video streaming services etcetera that the cloud vendors offer out-of-the box, makes it walk-in-park easy for the solutions developer to get their ideas across to the consumers at a pace much-much faster than what they are previously used to. Whether it’s the payment model, or the services offered, the reliable cloud vendors such as Microsoft, Amazon, all in all make a compelling strategy which is ready to take on full responsibility of future.

Cloud is here to stay to fuel mobility and encourage connected-ness in consumers. Have you tried it yet?

Categories
General Guest Posts

NetFlow to CYA for BYOD

As the BYOD promise of an increase in productivity and improvement to the bottom line becomes more apparent, its adoption in enterprises is inevitable. But BYOD has not been all wine and roses and its biggest impact has been on enterprise security and bandwidth. Let’s look at some of the BYOD problems and how you can use NetFlow to counter them.

Vanishing Network Perimeter:

BYOD causes the network perimeter to disappear. By allowing remote access to enterprise resources, users connect to the enterprise network fromtheir personal devices when away from the office. Problems start when a device falls into the wrong hands and they download sensitive information even before the device is reported lost.

Walk-In with the Malware:

What happens after the user leaves the network? Sometime, somewhere users will connect over an unsecured public Wi-Fi where they are more susceptible to viruses and malware. Edward Felten’s classic comment,“Given a choice between dancing pigs and security, users will pick dancing pigs every time”, is sadly true. If a user picks up a virus or malware and walks into the office next day, it is likely that your firewalls and IDS will not stop those that are physically carried in. Once plugged into the network, the virus or malware spread at the access and distribution layers while your firewalls, ACLs and IDS/IPS are all expecting malicious traffic to come in through the WAN link.

Application Explosion:

The growth in mobile devices has caused an application explosion. At the last count, the top 3 mobile eco-systems combined had more than one million applications1. BYODhas removed the norm of having only business applications on a device. Users install anything they find interesting and the result of it is that your network sees an influx of new, unverified and sometimes unapproved applications, some of which are malware in disguise or some simply bandwidth hogs like mobile versions of file sharing and peer-to-peer apps.

Personal @ Work:

The consumerization of IT has played a part in removing the thick line between personal and work. With BYOD, there is a tendency to use the devices for personal purposes. Do some bandwidth analysis and what you will find are a countless number of tweets, social media apps, personal emails, VoIP calls and YouTube videos.. Add streaming HD videos to the list and your WAN bandwidth can explode.

CYA with NetFlow

NetFlow has over the years become the de facto standard for bandwidth monitoring and traffic analytics and now it is increasingly being used for security. Most access or distribution layer devices support flow export. NetFlow answers the Who, What, When and Where of traffic  by reporting on source and destination IP Addresses, applications, protocols, port numbers, ToS, and more.

NetFlow identifies VPN tunneling protocols like GRE or ESP as well as many remote connection applications. It can be used to watch for high volume remote downloads to make sure no one is downloading more than they should. You can also have your NetFlow reporting tool alert you if the traffic volume crosses a pre-defined threshold or identify any unknown endpoints connecting to your data center.

You can also look at the top conversations or top sources report from your NetFlow tool. Do you see an end point sendingpacketsover one port to multiple destinations? That can be an infected system doing a port scan. Is there excessive SMTP traffic?It could be a bot using your network to send out spam!

Bandwidth monitoring and NetFlow go hand-in-hand. With NetFlow, you can find how much load BYOD has added to your network bandwidth, what applications are behind it or who the top talkers are. Based on the actionable information NetFlow gives, you can tweak your QoS policies to either drop theexcess non-business traffic or set priority for business applications. With NetFlow monitoring software, you can get your applications and sources reports and also make sure the QoS changes you made are really working.

If you have started BYOD adoption, don’t forget to add NetFlow export and reporting to the list of ‘To Do’. Check out Configuring NetFlow on Cisco Routers to see just how easy it is to enable NetFlow reporting.


Author: Don Thomas Jacob, Technical Marketing Specialist and Head Geek

Don Thomas Jacob is a Technical Marketing Specialist and Head Geek at SolarWinds, an IT management software provider based in Austin, Texas. He worked as a tech support engineer; product blogger, product evangelist, and tech marketing lead for close to eight years until he joined SolarWinds in 2013. Don’s experience and interests lie in network performance monitoring solutions, flow-based monitoring technologies like NetFlow, sFlow and IPFIX, and Cisco’s offering for traffic analytics such as Flexible NetFlow, Cisco ASA NSEL, Cisco NBAR, Cisco QoS reporting, Cisco IPSLA, and Cisco Medianet and MediaTrace.

 

Reference:

  1. Adding up available apps for Apple, Android and Microsoft from http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57542502-94/google-ties-apple-with-700000-android-apps/
Categories
Guest Posts Virtualization

Virtual SAN Fragmentation – Diskeeper Corporation’s V-locity

Guest Post – The marriage of Storage Area Networks (SANs) and virtual machines is a match made in heaven. The entire idea of a SAN is to reduce unnecessary resource usage on production systems and to streamline storage so that it’s more easily accessible. Virtual machines take the entire concept one step further, adding the benefits of maximizing hardware resources and the capability to add servers without taking up additional space.

File fragmentation—since the origin of modern computing is a prime drain on system performance—has substantial effects on both technologies. In the case of SAN, gains made with network technology and drive speeds are totally dependent on the state of the files on the disk. If those files are fragmented, data being read and written will be slowed to the degree of the fragmentation, affecting all users and applications waiting for that data. The entire purpose of a SAN is defeated. Even performance measures such as thin provisioning are crippled: in a fragmented environment, drive space is wasted.

Virtual environments also suffer their own brand of trouble from fragmentation, due to the fact that a virtual environment has added steps to data storage and retrieval. When a file request occurs on a virtual server, the I/O request is relayed, at the least, from the guest system to the host system—which means multiple requests are occurring for each file request. When fragmentation is present, there are multiple I/O requests for each fragment, creating an enormous amount of unnecessary overhead on disk subsystems.

Robust technical challenges require robust solutions and Diskeeper Corporation’s V-locity virtual platform disk optimizer—developed for VMware ESX and Microsoft Hyper-V platforms—is designed specifically to relieve IT personnel from dealing with complex fragmentation scenarios in virtual environments.

“V-locity software is absolutely transparent on our virtual SAN systems; it just works,” said Richard Webb of Sustainable Evolution, Inc. of Lynnwood, Washington.

V-locity utilizes Diskeeper Corporation’s proprietary IntelliWrite fragmentation prevention technology, which makes it possible to prevent 85 percent of fragmentation before it ever happens. Fragmentation is addressed at both the host and virtual machine levels—so that performance is maximized all across the virtual platform. V-locity also has InvisiTasking® technology, which means that only otherwise idle resources are utilized in addressing fragmentation and handling other tasks associated with VMs.

“The V-locity product really takes care of the fragmentation on the host and VMs automatically, without the need of manual intersession or overhead of creating scripts and jobs,” Webb said. “The central reporting and configuration management really facilitates ease of management and metric transparency.”

When combining two of today’s most beneficial innovations—SAN and virtual machines—fragmentation is completely addressed with V-locity.

You can contact Colleen Toumayan, at this email address for more information.

Read other Guest Posts here – http://www.msigeek.com/category/guest-posts

Categories
Guest Posts Microsoft

Top tips for utilizing AutoCAD LT 2011 and Windows 7 – Seven for 7

Hi Folks, after a long gap we are back with the Guest Posts on this weblog. Today, we have Kate Morrical who talks about the Top tips for utilizing AutoCAD LT 2011 on the Windows 7 platform. She explains on how a user can leverage the features available in Windows 7 and get the best experience while working on AutoCAD LT 2011.  As the Technical Marketing Manager for AutoCAD LT, Kate works closely with the AutoCAD LT Product Development & Marketing teams and with AutoCAD LT users through discussion groups, her blog, and events such as Autodesk University and AUGI CAD Camps.

Kate’s thoughts on msigeek weblog – “MSIGeek.com is a great resource for learning more about making the most of MS technology, including design firms looking for the best ways to optimize the compatibility between Windows 7 and Autodesk products like AutoCAD LT 2011. Your How-To and Best Practices articles provide helpful, real-world ways to work smarter and faster. Thanks for putting all this valuable information in one place!”

Over to Kate’s article –

You know that the Windows 7 Professional operating system is designed to meet business needs by delivering better performance, helping you get more done faster, and safeguarding your work.  Here are seven tips for using features in Windows 7 to speed up everyday tasks in AutoCAD LT 2011.

1. Use thumbnail previews to navigate between open DWG files

Quickly locate and switch between open AutoCAD LT 2011 drawing files by hovering your cursor over the taskbar icon to display thumbnail images of each open drawing. Switch between drawings by clicking on thumbnails, or use the red X to quickly close a file from the thumbnail.

Use thumbnail previews to navigate between open DWG files

2. Locate recent files with jump lists

Right-click on a program icon in the taskbar to display a jump list of your ten most recently-opened files. Open an item on the list simply by clicking on it, or drag-and-drop files to attach them to e-mails or copy them to a different folder.  Use the pushpin icon to make sure that important files always stay on the list. Jump lists are also available for your frequently-used programs in the Start menu.

Locate recent files with jump lists

3. Pin your favorite programs for easy access

Pin AutoCAD LT and other programs you use on a regular basis to the taskbar with the option in the right-click menu,  and launch them with a single click. You can also store favorite programs on the Start menu. While your most frequently-used programs will show up there automatically, you can keep them there permanently by right-clicking on the program and selecting “Pin to Start Menu.”

Pin your favorite programs for easy access

4. Quickly resize program windows with Snap

Use Snap to display two programs side by side on your screen, without overlap, simply by dragging one window to the left of the screen and the other to the right.  Easily reference your email, spreadsheet, or other program while working in AutoCAD LT 2011. Drag a single program to the top of the screen to have it fill your entire display.

Quickly resize program windows with Snap

5. Find files faster with Instant Search

Search is faster in Windows 7—libraries and other popular file locations are indexed so results appear as soon as you type in the first few letters of your keyword, whether in the Start menu or in the search box available in every Windows Explorer window. To make your search even more efficient, matching files and folders are grouped by category, and keywords are highlighted to make the list even easier to scan. Filter your results by type, date, size, or author to further narrow your search.

6. Safeguard your work with Backup and Restore

No matter how much care you take with your files, accidents can happen—drives can fail, files can become corrupted, and “copy” can even become “delete.” That’s when you need Windows Backup to store copies of your important files on an external drive and update them periodically so they’re as current as possible. When you need to retrieve a file, the Restore function lets you select the entire backup file or specific files and folders. You can even specify whether to restore files to their original location or a new one.

7. Manage default printers with Location Aware Printing

When you run AutoCAD LT on a laptop, you can take your computer with you, but chances are you leave your printer behind. With Location Aware Printing, you can set a different default printer for every network you connect to. Then, when you change networks, Windows automatically sends documents to the correct printer.

Manage default printers with Location Aware Printing

About Kate Morrical – As the Technical Marketing Manager for AutoCAD LT, Kate works closely with the AutoCAD LT Product Development & Marketing teams and with AutoCAD LT users through discussion groups, her blog, and events such as Autodesk University and AUGI CAD Camps. She has over 10 years of experience with Autodesk products, starting with AutoCAD R14, and has been blogging about AutoCAD LT since April 2007. Kate is a licensed professional engineer in Maryland, and was employed as an engineer and CAD Manager for a 30-person office of a structural engineering firm before joining Autodesk. For the latest in AutoCAD LT news, tips and tricks check out Kate’s blog, LT Unlimited, at http://ltunlimited.typepad.com