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Apstra intends greatness beyond Sparta

I swear it’s impossible to keep up with the networking industry. Just when I think I have it figured out, a technology hits the market that makes me rethink my life the past 10 years. It’s not fair! Apstra, a newer start-up company out of Silicon Valley, is guilty this time with their brilliant new approach to integrated closed-loop networking that will likely revolutionize the way we think about data center networks in the future. Like Spartans that followed a strict system emphasizing duty, discipline and endurance, Apstra is building structure and reason in a network of chaos. (more…)

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Forward Networks – Extraordinary Stuff!

It’s not every day you see something that excites you to a point of ecstatic glee. This is a special day indeed, and it’s thanks to the minds at Forward Networks.

TL;DR, Forward Networks has introduced the first and only accurate software copy of your exact network. That’s right — a full-scale, veritable sandbox of your massive network, in a clean and powerful interface. No lie – it’s cool! (more…)

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My thoughts on Paessler may surprise you

Ever hear of a company called Paessler AG? No? Neither have I. Ever hear of a product called PRTG? Of course?! Me too! Call me crazy, but I never knew this was the same company! Paessler AG presented for Tech Field Day at VMworld in Barcelona yesterday, demonstrating their product PRTG and making legitimate points in support of their competitive edge in the monitoring industry. In this blog I’ll be doing a personal Q&A about PRTG, running queries against the DB (Dave Brain), hoping it doesn’t fail on me. If it fails, I’m not too concerned, for I’ve installed the appropriate SNMP MIBs used to alert my right hand that coffee needs to be delivered to my mouth. PRTG, save me! (more…)

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SolarWinds Orion API & SDK can do that?

My life was a one-track record on repeat, tirelessly playing the same tune over and over. New nodes added to the network means new nodes to monitor. The manual, arduous tasks of clicking through monitoring tool menus, selecting appropriate polling agents, configuring appropriate properties, and validating node status can lead a man to madness. There must be a better way!

When I first heard that I could “easily” script and automate some tasks in SolarWinds, I stared askance, knowing good and well this wouldn’t be easy, if it worked at all.  A couple of years later, and several hundred more managed nodes in the pocket,  I figured it’s time to revisit this possibility.  Although the SolarWinds Orion SDK has been around for a few years, documentation is limited and content is heavily reliant on the THWACK community.  However, dig deep enough, and you’ll find a wealth of useful information!  I learned that “easy” is relative, and given the number of examples SolarWinds provides in their SDK, it’s really not all that bad. (more…)

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How writing has turned walls into windows

Those who have read my blog know that I am not a professional writer.  I’m a novice at best, blissfully blurting mediocre sentence structure in cyber space.  These words have never really been for anyone other than myself, so who cares if I’m overly generous with commas, or underwhelmingly inept with word diversity?  I mean, no one will ever be as critical as I am to myself.  This hasn’t stopped me.  In fact, I continue to write despite barriers and walls, for this has opened my mind far beyond what I could have imagined.  It’s all about the content. (more…)

Fireflies, Synchronicity and SD-WAN

Imagine a warm summer night away from the city hustle and techno grind. Moon is new, sky is clear, air is crisp, mind is easy. Peering out towards a bank of pines that border the woodland, you notice a few fireflies start to flash their bulbs. Your eyes are opened wide, equipped like a sharp shooters, honing in on the next flash. More start to blink into existence, matching the rhythmic nature of the others that have already joined the mantra. It’s as though an endless number of blinking fireflies are entering the night, breathing in epic unison. 

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ONUG – What is it, and why am I here?

If you’ve ever seen a film with audio engineering by THX, you’ve experienced that brief, immersive surround sound that captivates your senses, completely eradicating your thoughts while the mind basks in weightless bliss.  Much like the beginning of a George Lucas film, the networking industry is currently in a state of THX, steadily swelling with that warm buzz, fantasizing about the potential for bliss.  Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV), Hybrid Clouds, Virtual Overlays and Containerization are at the crest of this tsunami of change, promised to radically disrupt the way businesses develop and operate their networks. But change is risky, especially in regards to bleeding technologies. Companies need better opportunities to understand their options and share experiences with each other.  Enter ONUG.

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802.11ac Wave 2, MGig and Cisco’s 2800 & 3800 Series Access Points

Several weeks ago I attended a presentation on Cisco’s new 2800 and 3800 Series access points.  I’m quite impressed with some of the new capabilities these APs bring to the market.  The presenters, Mark Denny and Brian Levin, were passionate regarding the implications this has for wireless networks.  I felt I needed to take a step back to really understand why some of these enhancements and new features are so important to wireless infrastructure.  I’ll run through a few of the capabilities that I personally feel are most significant.  I’ll attempt to keep it concise.

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The roof, the roof, the roof is on IP

What is Digital Ceiling?

Looking back at the evolution of the network in the past decade, we see a constant trend of devices migrating to Ethernet, resulting in a migration to IP. IP telephony took off in 2005 and is now the de facto standard for any phone system. Coax-connected cameras migrated to IP surveillance in the late 2000s. Legacy building management systems using BACnet started migrating to low-voltage PoE systems in the early 2010s. Within the past year, we’ve seen a new trend of high-voltage systems like lighting start migrating towards low-voltage PoE, dubbed “Smart Lighting”. This move towards digitization makes sense on all fronts. It’s cheaper, scalable, extensible, can easily be managed and monitored, and opens the door for new experiences with intelligent buildings. (more…)

Cisco Linguistics & The Grumpy Old Router

Traveller

I’m a first time traveler to another country. I’m aware of multiple languages, but I don’t know how to speak any other than English. It’s one of those things that I’ve always wanted to learn, but just never got around to. So, I’m aboard an aircraft to Germany, and the first conversation I had on the plane was with a flight attendant. It went a little something like this:

Her: Ist das Ihre rote Tasche dort?
Me: … <wishing I knew what she was saying>
Her: …
Me: English?
Her: Is that your red bag over there?
Me: Nein

It started out weak and embarrassing, I didn’t know what she was saying. There was a very brief moment, just a second or two, where my brain was attempting with futility to decipher the foreign tongue, returning a meandering blank stare, followed by the simple one-worded question: “English?”. The flight attendant immediately responded in my native language, and I clearly understood her. I responded confidently with a German “nein”. She smiled. (more…)