Tag Archives: Network

How to Build an Agile Future-Proof Network | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community


Embracing digital transformation is essential for forward-thinking businesses, and an agile network is crucial for organization-wide digital transformation. Network agility is all about having an infrastructure that can respond to your business needs based on human or technical triggers, such as network congestion and changing customer trends. Today’s software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) technologies with APIs are key components of agile networking, as they enable you to make policy-based changes to your network, and switch links in near-real-time to tackle congestion. 

Upskill to meet the needs of the business

Today’s IT professionals must upskill in APIs and SD-WAN to deliver agile networking. Many of them have grown up using tickets to respond manually to the requirements of different lines of business. In that old world of IT, it has been completely normal and acceptable for the roll-out of a new application to take a couple of weeks.

But now, lines of business expect to have secure and reliable access to that new application in a matter of hours, or even minutes. If IT can’t do that, lines of business will find their own way of doing things. This can lead your organization down the slippery slope of shadow IT, where IT projects are managed outside of the IT department. That is why it is so crucial that businesses upskill their IT teams, and if needed, seek the help of networking experts to get them trained up on agile networking technologies. Programming and SD-WAN skills are a must to enable IT teams to respond more quickly to the constantly growing needs of the business. 

SD-WAN: not a quick fix

Some think that it is possible to achieve network agility by simply slapping an SD-WAN on top of a traditional Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network. While SD-WAN offers businesses greater control and visibility over any type of network, SD-WAN on its own won’t boost capability and capacity – the two key enablers of network agility. 

If the current enterprise network is already choking due to limited bandwidth, putting an SD-WAN on top will just cause performance to falter even more. This is because SD-WAN can take up to 20 percent of bandwidth for the management of traffic. So, if you have a 2MB link, putting SDWAN on that link means that you will have less than 1.6MB left for users – leading to much worse application and network performance than they had to begin with.

That is why it is not possible to achieve network agility just with SD-WAN, without upgrading the underlying network first.

Lay the groundwork

To build a future-proof, agile network requires a rethink of the network foundations, combining the public internet and private networks for maximum scalability, security, and cost-effectiveness. Starting small, in one region, for example, is often a less disruptive approach than a complete global network overhaul.

To illustrate, we deployed a network like this for Carlsberg in just five months – a year less than the industry standard – and did this during the FIFA World Cup, which is one the busiest times of the year for the brewer. As the growing use of cloud-based applications has led to 70 percent of Carlsberg’s network traffic being on the internet, the new agile network has given the brewer ten times more bandwidth, reduced costs by 25 percent, and halved the occurrence of network incidents.

Well begun is half done

Whether you want to start in one region like Carlsberg or do a global overhaul, you must evaluate the capabilities and performance of your current network before implementing SD-WAN to boost network agility. Furthermore, while SD-WAN and APIs help eliminate the manual effort needed to respond to business needs, these technologies also call for a renewed focus on measuring performance to ensure that your applications and the underlying network perform as they should. 

So, to achieve network agility requires a bottoms-up review and redesign of your network. The key points to address are: what does good enough look like for your business? How quickly are you able to respond to application migration requests? How quickly are you able to deploy new links for backups?  How quickly can you boost capacity at critical times to help the business react to rapidly changing market conditions? 

The right mix of technologies, the right skills to deploy and manage them, and a step-by-step approach will help businesses turn their legacy WAN into an agile network. It will enable them to respond more quickly to business needs as market conditions change or new opportunities emerge and accelerate organization-wide digital transformation.

Related Network Computing articles:

Include the CISO in Your SD-WAN Planning Strategy

 The Best Ways to Determine How Much Bandwidth Your Data Center Needs



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A Pragmatic Approach to Network Automation | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community


The evolution of network automation has been fraught with early challenges and setbacks. The unfulfilled promises of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) have led to inconsistent vendor implementations, limited equipment resources, unexpected complexity, and lack of expertise, resulting in stalled efforts made by early adopters of these concepts. As a result of those early hiccups, organizations have course-corrected and are pursuing more manageable and concrete network automation initiatives with a focus on simpler goals, a more targeted scope, faster time to value, and creation of abstraction layer for underlying equipment capabilities.

However, many networking teams already have collections of standard operating procedures, template config files and scripts in varying languages, and are confused about how to rationalize their existing investments and embark on a path toward true network automation. What is the key to success? Here are six steps for a pragmatic approach that discuss how to develop a network automation strategy that incorporates existing initiatives while still planning for future innovation.

Start with the end in mind

Before prescribing practical steps and building blocks to build a network automation strategy, it is important to note that a pragmatic approach does not limit or impact long term strategic initiatives like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Rather, it helps build a foundation on which an organization can continue its innovation within the industry.

However, to lay the proper foundation for your network automation strategy, it’s important to start with the end in mind. Since today’s complex networks require automation capabilities that span multiple networking domains from traditional physical networks, next-generation programmable networks, SD-WANS, cloud networks and more; a successful network automation strategy must allow for flexibility that expands across multiple networking domains without having to re-train, re-develop, or rip and replace existing technologies.

Define use cases

It’s all about the use case. Typically, network-related activities are categorized into a few main buckets, such as network operations and maintenance, configuration management, service orchestration, and policy management. As use cases stack up, something simple like operations and maintenance can lead into automation of device-specific configuration. As use cases around device configuration and lifecycle become manageable, users can pursue service orchestration, and ultimately policy management. Taking a steppingstone approach to network automation helps NetOps teams gain confidence while experiencing results.

Address network domains

Next, an organization must decide how to apply those use cases to specific domains. For example, teams may be looking to automate activities within the physical infrastructure like a branch or a data center switch, but others may have a pressing need to address network automation in the virtual environment residing in the cloud infrastructure. Determining the right combination of domain and use case would provide a great starting point with respect to planning automation projects that would pay immediate dividends.

Determine sources of truth

Historically, organizations have tried to centralize all network-related data either in a CMDB or an inventory platform. However, today’s complex network is more distributed than ever, especially when multiple domains make up the network ecosystem. The source of truth for network and inventory data is going to be highly fragmented across systems based on specific data sets. Using the source of truth, which is the most accurate for the use case and the domain would be an essential step when considering network automation. In today’s world, where the velocity of network services is growing rapidly, assuming that networks are static will result in a setback, especially when there are controllers or orchestrators in place that assist NetOps teams in making dynamic changes within the network. Ultimately, it is important to understand that successful automation is driven based on good data. Hence, if organizations want to achieve success in network automation, they must focus on choosing the right sources of truth for data as part of their overall approach.

Identify integrations

Organizations beginning a network automation journey will soon realize that without robust integrations, automating any activity will be difficult. It is imperative that once NetOps teams determine the sources of truth for their use cases, building integrations to each of these systems is the next step. The good news is that several vendors are pro-actively building robust integrations for their systems, reducing the need for customers to waste cycles doing so as part of their automation plan. Being able to integrate, either by leveraging DevOps platforms or directly through REST APIs, allows organizations to accelerate their efforts towards delivering successful automation for networking activities.

Understand personnel roles and skillsets

Finally, it’s important to understand who will perform which activities within these network automation systems. What are the skillsets needed to tackle and deliver successful automation initiatives and relevant ROI? NetOps skillsets including familiarity with network scripting (examples include Ruby, Python or YAML), DevOps and orchestration tools (Ansible, Puppet, NSO), network device communication protocols and modeling languages (like NETCONF and YANG), public cloud networking (AWS, Azure and associated APIs), and software development principles (such as agile and CI/CD) are all important for a successful network automation deployment. A correct assessment and selection of team members with the right skillsets is a trivial yet crucial step of an automation approach.

When planning a network automation strategy and roadmap, understand that it is acceptable to start slow and have incremental progress towards comprehensive automation. Don’t feel pressure to boil the ocean with your initiatives. Rather, pursue simpler goals and scope. Automation efforts that result in faster time to value will increase confidence and competencies to tackle more sophisticated and complex networks. Start with the pragmatic approach outlined in this article and reduce the chances of the project being derailed or stalled.

 



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Network Visibility Rightsizing | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community


The entire enterprise is becoming tightly data-driven and precision-controlled. Data must be captured from every realm of the business and turned into information that can guide its progress, continually improving efficiency and effectiveness. This data focus is also taking place in networking to achieve high levels of security, ensure compliance and assure network performance and uptime.

When it comes to network data, too much of it is often a major problem. Full capture of network traffic creates a massive processing and storage problem and generates a lot of data that security and network management applications just don’t need. Too much data creates noise and can make it difficult to find valuable insights. It’s the classic needle in the haystack problem—it’s easier to find the needle in a much smaller haystack.

The challenge for security, network performance and management applications is to get the right data from the right traffic. Using metadata rather than entire packets often solves this issue, providing the traffic is from the relevant part or parts of the network the application needs. Getting the right traffic is often no easy task, but let’s concentrate on the process of getting the right level of data—the use of metadata.

Metadata is data that describes other data. It is a summary of the key facts about the packets that is often exactly what an application cares about to perform its function. The other information in the packet would be irrelevant.

Today, there are two primary methods for deriving metadata from packets. The first is a protocol developed by Cisco and made available for their devices in 1996. At the time, it was limited to IPv4, and just a few data fields. Over the years, newer versions expanded it to support more use cases such as IPv6, MPLS and numerous others and has been adopted as an industry standard, supported by many devices and monitoring tool vendors.

The second is the IP Flow Information Export (IPFIX) protocol which was derived from NetFlow V9. It was released by the IETF in 2013 and continues to advance in capabilities. There are clear differences between the two protocols, and it is important to know which is best suited for a particular need.

The most important difference between IPFIX and NetFlow lies in flexibility and interoperability offered by each. Since NetFlow is managed by Cisco, users are limited in monitoring and analyzing their network by their protocol definition.  IPFIX, on the other hand, is designed to avoid these issues, providing more universal support for exporting data to collectors. There are workarounds in NetFlow to increase flexibility—most notably Flexible NetFlow—but it’s important to understand that certain barriers can be avoided when using a flexible protocol, like IPFIX. IPFIX enables custom input of vendor IDs to allow proprietary information to be placed in a flow, exporting all kinds of information without the need for syslog or SNMP collection.

Another key difference with IPFIX is that, unlike NetFlow, the variable-length fields in IPFIX provide access to additional types of information, including messages, HTTP hosts and URLs, which  provide valuable and actionable insight into network behavior. It is also important to consider the application(s) collecting the metadata.  Ultimately, one needs to ensure that the metadata is in a format that their network management tool and metadata collector can interpret with visualizations needed for clarifying how to optimize and protect a network.

It is important to understand what data is needed to perform the particular function. Are full packets necessary to derive the data, or can metadata provide the complete, relevant source? It is also important to understand how the metadata is derived. Does NetFlow fulfill the requirements, or does the application require IPFIX? Traffic delivery systems need to provide the necessary means of getting exactly the right data to the applications it serves.

In either case, metadata is the key to unlocking valuable insights about network behavior. From application performance to security vulnerabilities, user access behavior and root cause analysis, metadata gives the information necessary to keep networks running smoothly.

 Related Network Computing articles:

The Importance of Managing the Entire Lifecycle of Metadata

Auditing and Compliance with Metadata



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How Intelligent Network Automation Solves ITSM Integration Challenges | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community


IT service management (ITSM) includes activities to design, plan, deliver, operate, and control IT services. Typically, Change Management, Asset and Configuration Management, and Incident and Problem Management are core ITSM use cases involved in the end-to-end network management process. Network automation efforts should include integration with these key components. Let’s explore the various use cases and challenges associated and how intelligent automation can overcome barriers.

Network Automation Integration with Change Management

Change management is a crucial activity for enterprise network operations. All network changes must go through the proper approval process to ensure network changes aren’t being made without the context of the network’s overall health and performance.

When integrating change management with an automation solution, the solution needs to consider more than the single network change being requested. Automation must assess the entire network and the impact of that change. Current script-based network automations assume change management has been handled offline. This takes place through people logging into the system, entering tickets, notifying approvers, getting approval, and notifying the engineer to execute the script(s) needed to make the change. The lack of an enforced, programmatic control before the engineer executes the script is a security gap and exposes a risk for outages.

Intelligent network automation understands that a change request is required to even begin the process. Intelligent network automation will utilize APIs to the change management system to create change requests whenever a network change process is initiated, eliminating time consuming manual steps and preventing execution of the change until approved. Alternatively, the request can begin within the change management system and trigger the automation process via API, communicating the approval to proceed along with the initiation. This removes swivel-chairing between the change management system and the execution of the procedure. As the change proceeds, updates are shared via an API notifying status and completion.

Network Automation Integration with Asset and Configuration Management

An enterprise network is a conglomeration of connected devices and represents a significant capital asset. Every device must be tracked as to its value, where it is deployed (if it is), where it is located (if it is not deployed), how it is configured, the role it is deployed to perform, and utilization of the device.

When integrating asset and configuration management with an automation solution, it must consider not only the device configuration, but also the deployed device location. For example, new device deployments pull hardware from a warehouse or vendor and deploy it into the network. For accurate asset management, the automation process updates the location of the device and the status of that device (in service, warehoused, etc.). Automation must focus on the end-to-end process by integrating with asset management via APIs for these updates.

Software upgrades, patches, port turn-ups, and service configuration all impact the configuration of the device(s). A key part of these maintenance activities is periodic snapshots of the device configuration. The challenge is managing the storage and lifecycle of the configuration of each device. An intelligent network automation solution does not just store this data, but instead federates data from the various configuration management tools and automates the routine creation of backups.

Network Automation Integration with Incident and Problem Management

Incident and problem management are responsible for monitoring the network and triggering key defined events to initiate incident and problem tickets. While traditionally a manual process, an incident in the network can easily trigger an automated workflow that re-routes traffic or makes a configuration change to restore network service until a more permanent resolution is implemented.

When integrating incident and problem management with an automation solution, it must have the intelligence to know what change to make in each incident. This requires not only integration with the monitoring systems, but also a full view of asset and configuration data. This allows the solution to take an incident, see what devices are involved, where they are, their configuration, what capacity levels they are operating at, and use this data combined with alarm and fault data collected by incident management to decide what should be done. Automation can be triggered based on this data to change a configuration, remove a device from service, add capacity, initiate a device deployment action to either replace or add to the number of devices present, or turn up additional ports. This fully integrated solution provides the beginnings of closed loop network automation and ultimately reduces network down-time.

To solve ITSM integration challenges, an intelligent network automation tool should integrate with all ITSM components including change management, asset and configuration management, and incident and problem management. Script-based approaches can’t provide this integration at scale. Taking an approach that focuses on the end-to-end process and data federation can successfully automate and scale network operations.

 



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How to map network drive on Ubuntu 9.04/9.10


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This tutorial expalins how to map a network drive in ubuntu 9.04/9.10.This is very useful if you are trying to map your windows machine/another linux machine drive on to your system.

Preparing your system

First you need to create a directory where you want to mount

sudo mkdir /media/share

Now install cifs-util package this provides support for cross-platform file sharing with Windows, OS X and other Unix systems.

sudo apt-get install cifs-utils libnss-winbind winbind

Now edit the nsswitch.conf file

sudo gedit /etc/nsswitch.conf

Change the following line from

hosts: files mdns4_minimal [NOTFOUND=return] dns

to

hosts: files mdns4_minimal [NOTFOUND=return] wins dns

Save and exit the file.

Now restart your ubuntu system.

Mapping network drive

Now you need to edit the /etc/fstab file and you can take backup before editing the live file.You need to create credential file and also need to get the UID and GID values.Create smb password file using the following command

gedit ~/.smbpass

Add the following details

username=geek
password=newworld123

Save and exit the file.

Note:- Replace username and password with your own

You can get UID and GID details using the following command

id ubuntugeek

Note:- Replace ubuntugeek with your logged in userid

We need to edit the fstab file using the following comamnd

sudo gedit /etc/fstab

Add below command in one line and save it.

//192.168.3.55/share /media/share cifs credentials=/home/ubuntugeek/.smbpass,iocharset=utf8,gid=1000,uid=1000,file_mode=0777,dir_mode=0777 0 0

Replace the bold ones with your own details.

Run the following command

sudo mount -a

you’ll get the network share mapped in Unity Launcher and Nautilus file browser.This will map your drive permanently.

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