Blog Posts 2016

SD-WAN : The Goldilocks solution for midsize companies

Remember the story of Goldilocks? Every chair she tried was either too big or too small. Some furniture was enormous and the rest were tiny. Nothing was a perfect fit. The Goldilocks dilemma doesn’t just happen in the land of nursery rhymes though. It’s also common in the world of IT, especially for midsize businesses.

 

Government, Vendors and Telco providers traditionally lump Midsize companies in small businesses into the SME category.

 

The problem is that small business solutions rarely meet the unique requirements of medium-sized organisations. And large enterprise solutions are too expensive and cumbersome to drive acceptable ROIs. Let’s take a closer look at a typical example of this Goldilocks problem: the wide area network (WAN).

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What every business should know about ransomware attacks

Does your organisation have tens of thousands of dollars to spare? Even if you have extra cash lying around, you probably have better ways to spend it than responding to a ransomware attack.

 

If your organisation is targeted, your IT team won’t be able to rely on a hero like Liam Neeson’s character in Taken to save the day. It is your responsibility to ensure systems are robust and ready to thwart attacks.

 

Experts estimate that ransomware strains like CryptoLocker, TorrentLocker and Locky have cost Australian businesses over $8 million. Proving that any company is vulnerable, they’ve even affected iconic businesses like Australia Post and the ABC.

 

Ransomware attacks are expensive, time-consuming and put confidential information at risk. Even organisations that rebuild from backups instead of paying the ransom suffer financial losses as a result of downtime and lost productivity.

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Meet the next generation in enterprise security: Software-Defined Secure Networking (SDSN)

If you work in enterprise IT, you probably already know that network security issues are expensive to fix. But did you know the average cost of a data breach for an Australian organisation is around $2.5 million? Yikes.

That figure comes from the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s 2015 Threat Report, which also predicts the already high incidence of data breaches to continue.

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Technology Disruption is here to stay. Is your network ready?

Last week, when I walked into our office, I found myself quickly whisked away around a fortress of cardboard boxes, past the server room, and dragged over a zillion cables and a cat to find myself in a room where a headset and goggles were strapped to me and a pair of wireless controllers were shoved in each hand.

 

I had been reluctant to try virtual reality (VR), despite all the hype in our office around our latest toy. I have never been much of a ‘gamer’ myself, probably because I could never get one-up on my older brother playing 007 Bond on Nintendo 64. Now I’m showing my age.

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Architecting a Network Design That Delivers

When it comes to networks, there’s no such thing as set and forget. Your network design and architecture are essential for keeping your business equipped to move forward and maintain industry momentum as well as guarding your competitive advantage. It is therefore imperative for your business to review its network design from time to time to ensure that it is not only meeting current business requirements but also satisfying security, speed and user demands, as these will all change over time.

When architecting a network design, whether for one site or five hundred, it’s important to weigh the needs and wants of those who will be using it against the budget and security requirements of those who will be paying for it. Some important things you should consider before undertaking a network design – whether it be a greenfield project, adding on additional sites or upgrading your infrastructure – include:

 

 

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IoT- not so rosy? 10 things to check before submitting your PO.

While our industry may be well known for its marketing hype, when looking back over my 30 years in IT, I have come to understand that our industry’s marketers have a tendency to start fussing about industry trends years before they become a reality. However, like many things in 21st century life, the cycle of hype to install is becoming shorter and shorter.

 

Having just completed a meeting with a developer at a Building Systems Automation company a few weeks ago, it was with great interest that I started trawling the net to look for case studies of enterprises jumping on the latest hype wagon – IoT, or the Internet of Things.

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Beyond Cisco’s IOS: Should you should consider the path less followed?

My dad is a “Jack of all trades” kind of guy. He’s handy at fixing anything around the house. Needed the bathroom tiled? Not a problem. Need a car serviced? He can do that too. How about getting something welded? Check. He’s great at fishing, diving, gardening and painting… he’s the kind of guy who restores vintage motorcycles as a hobby. He even repaired my favourite sunglasses when I stepped on them and snapped the arm off. Not to mention his dreaded financial advice. Yes, my father can do or fix pretty much everything… just don’t ask him to cook!

 

“What on earth does this have to do with IT and Networking?” I can hear you asking. For every skill that you could possibly develop in life, there is a level of skill for which people will pay you. Your career as a network admin, infrastructure manager, engineer, CTO, Security expert, chef, lawyer or plumber is simply one area where you’ve carefully crafted a skill or a set of skills that people both value and lack – and are therefore prepared to pay for.

 

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Traditional store connectivity networks no longer support retailers.

As an industry that is always under profit margin pressure, retail has been particularly challenged and disrupted by the rise of digitalisation.

 

The Internet has led to the growth of digital natives, upstarts who have built their businesses using a browser as a storefront and negotiated drop-ship arrangements with manufacturers, significantly reducing traditional opex models. The Internet has opened up market competition to global competitors, who even a decade ago could not operate, let alone compete, in a given market. It has launched hugely successful marketplaces, such as eBay, which have facilitated the introduction of micro retailers. This has given every consumer the ability to research every product available globally, view competitive price offers, and browse feedback from users who have already purchased the product.

 

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Managing Red Tape: The good, the bad, and the ugly of IT Change Management Processes

 

Working for a company that provides network professional services to a host of organisations across a variety of industry verticals, I have witnessed first-hand the good, the bad, the ugly, and the sexy when it comes to change management processes. And despite all the best intentions, even the most stringent change management processes can fall short when staff are facing pressure to deliver.

 

Whether it be a developer bursting in mid- SCN/RFC meeting with a change request scrawled on a post-it note, or the ‘Remediation Plan’ section in a change request document stating if everything goes wrong, the plan is to “fix the problem,” (sound familiar?) clearly there are times when organisations face challenges and resistance when it comes to successfully implementing a change management program.

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How to Get the Network Support Contract You Really Need

Have you ever tried to raise a support case on your networking equipment, only to find that your support contract had lapsed, or your network device was End of Life. Or has the Service Desk asked you infuriating questions, e.g. “is the device plugged in? Have you tried turning it on and off again?”

 

Frustrating isn’t it. Read on!

 

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Will the Rise of Encrypted Traffic Put Your Security in Peril?

According to recent research conducted by leading network security vendor, Blue Coat, encryption, which keeps the content of digital communications hidden from prying eyes, currently makes up about 25-35% of enterprise network traffic. This traffic, which is encrypted with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is forecast to grow at a very healthy rate of 20% each year.

 

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Is the firewall dead?

Not according to two of the top four selling vendors in the market. Both Juniper Networks and Palo Alto Networks have presented their vision for the evolution of the Firewall with their partners in early 2016 and their plans share some remarkable similarities!

 

Lets face it…. Even with the addition of so-called next generation features, firewalls are still only permitter protection devices that play the role of traffic cop between the network and the Internet or between network segments. They are limited to applying security policies against the visible packets that travel through them.

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A switch, is a switch, is a switch… Or is it?

Like death and taxes, the commoditisation of products, over time, is a given in our industry. You only have to look to the impact that Intel has had on the server and storage market, as a prime example. Unfortunately for us (uh hem) as resellers, we will feel the pain right alongside vendors when products become commoditised. We can see network switches following the server model of becoming low margin, and therefore dependent on high volume turnover, i.e. commoditised.

 

In terms of the datacentre switching market, vendors proclaim their technologies as being best of breed, providing enterprise organisations with advantages in scalability, performance, availability and ease of management, which in turn reduces OPEX. However, wading through the differences among vendor offerings can be a challenge, and many enterprises are left pondering the question of whether the humble network switch has become a commodity item?

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Finally a Software Defined solution that make sense for Corporates

‘Software Defined’ networking (SDN) has been capturing headlines and marketing dollars throughout 2014 and 2015 but I have struggled to see the ROI for most enterprise organisations until late last year when I was introduced to a technology labelled SD-WAN.

 

SD-WAN is an overlay technology that allows enterprises to flexibly and securely connect users to applications via the most cost efficient source of connectivity available. This enables enterprises to augment or replace MPLS networks with secured broadband Internet connectivity.

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Five reasons why you need to add another vendor to your network in 2016.

It’s a debate that raises its ugly head time and time again. And there are ferocious arguments for each approach, ranging from ease of management, lower total cost of ownership and having a single vendor to point an angry finger at when issues inevitably arise. 
It’s a resounding argument that is particularly pronounced when putting Cisco against its direct competitors: HP, Juniper Networks and Huawei.

 

So gloves on, let’s settle this, once and for all. Is it more efficient to pursue a single or multi-vendor approach when it comes to your network architecture?

 

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Why Enterprise CTO’s should think more like Telco CTO’s.

Telco networks are undergoing tremendous change. Challenged by significant reductions in their traditional service model (how many of us still use a landline at home?) and 3rd parties adding value to basic data (iMessage, Hangouts, Skype etc) they have been facing falling average revenue per user. On top of this the explosion of smart phones, video streaming etc has required continual network and technology upgrades to remain competitive.

 

Without exception Telco’s globally have had to reinvent themselves, their business models and infrastructure. They have had to add new revenue streams, new differentiated services and build agility into their networks that allow for fast, low cost roll out of new services to survive and continue growth. Interestingly the very same digital forces that have driven the commoditisation of data for Telco’s are threatening traditional enterprise business models.

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