Geek Speak

January 2019 Previous month Next month

Still no sign of snow here in New England, but baby it's cold outside! Looks like snow will get here soon enough, just in time for ice dam season. Lucky me.

 

As always, here are some links from the Intertubz that I hope will hold your interest. Enjoy!

 

Top 10 IoT vulnerabilities

A good list that applies to IT security in general. Have a look and see how many of these you have overlooked.

 

The Feds Cracked El Chapo's Encrypted Comms Network by Flipping His System Admin

Nice reminder that the biggest threats are often from within.

 

Filled with malware, phishing and scams, does the web need a safety manual?

Yes.

 

IBM’s new quantum computer is a symbol, not a breakthrough

20 qubits is not a lot, but it’s a start. We are still on track for quantum supremacy within 8-10 years.

 

GitHub is Now Free and That’s Great

Microsoft continues to embrace open source, especially if it is open source code hosted on servers they own.

 

AWS gives open source the middle finger

AWS gives open source the middle finger, whereas Microsoft has been making efforts to embrace open source. What Bizarro World is this?

 

Costco Now Sells A 27-Pound Tub Of Macaroni And Cheese That Lasts 20 Years

I’m not saying that I want this 27-lb bucket of mac ‘n cheese, but I’m not saying I would send it back if someone had it shipped to my house.

 

Sometimes we all need a little "retail therapy":

 

 

SWUG began in 2016 as a largely-volunteer effort, cobbled together using spare time and budget by a core set of dedicated SolarWinds staff and THWACK fanatics. The effort hit its stride in 2017, standardizing the format, honing the style, and gathering data from attendees.

 

And then in 2018, all hell broke loose. SWUG went to more cities than ever before, presenting on a wider range of topics and inviting speakers from every corner of the SolarWinds organization, and even inviting some of our MVPs to take the podium and share their valuable knowledge and experience with the audience.

 

And it was that last part—the variety of speakers—that caused a very small but beloved change for me. As Head Geek, I had the best seat and the best job in the house: emcee. I got to introduce each of our speakers, frame their topics, and then stand back and watch in awe as each and every one of them brought the house down with their skills and knowledge.

 

The introductions themselves became something of a labor of love for me. This group of superstars needed more than a simple recitation of their name and title. They needed to have their praises sung and their accomplishments shouted from the rooftops so the SWUG attendees understood just what an incredible individual they had in front of them, and how deep the SolarWinds bench truly was.

 

However, in retrospect, I may have gone a bit overboard. But I'll let you be the judge. Because as we move into 2019, SWUG is once again evolving, and it might be time to set aside these introductions in favor of some new form (note: I say "might").

 

Nevertheless, I submit for your reading pleasure "A Year of SWUG Introductions", i.e. all the ways I introduced speakers at the 2018 SWUG events.

 

Consistency Is the Key

In many cases, I was remarkably consistent when we had regular speakers such as Chris O'Brien, Steven Hunt, and Kevin Sparenberg:

 

Chris had two main variations:

  • A man whose name is literally part of the source code for NPM, who is known as the father of NetPath, PM Chris O'Brien.
  • A man whose name is literally part of the source code for NPM, who had an Easter egg built in his honor, PM Chris O'Brien.

 

Similarly, Steven (aka "Phteven"):

  • My kayfabe arch nemesis Steven Hunt, Windows fan boy, and Principal Product Strategist (Systems).
  • My kayfabe nemesis and, conversely, my little Linux protégé, PM Steven Hunt.

 

And Kevin only had this one intro...

 

  • The only person here who's landed gentry as well as a SolarWinds PM, a former customer, and a THWACK MVP, his Lairdship Kevin Sparenberg.

 

...until the very last one, because it was such a special moment for him:

 

  • This year he's acquired more titles than some people change shoes. He's also the only person here who is both a member of landed gentry as well as a former customer, SolarWinds employee, and a THWACK MVP. Please help me congratulate him on his 10-year THWACKniversary and welcome our DM of community (or THWACKbassador), his Lairdship Kevin Sparenberg.

 

Variety Is the Spice of Life

For the UX team, I just kept doing variations on a theme:

  • Combine the observational skills of Sherlock Holmes with the empathic skills of a Betazoid ship's counselor, you pretty much end up with our manager of UX, Tulsi Patel.
  • Cross rainbows and sunshine with a Betazoid ship's counselor asking, "How does this wireframe make you feel?" and you pretty much have Kellie Mecham, User Experience Researcher.
  • Combine the observational skills of Sherlock Holmes with a Betazoid starship counselor asking, "How does this wireframe make you feel?" and you pretty much have Katie Cole, User Experience Researcher

 

While at other times I was clearly at a loss

(admittedly, these all came from one of the first SWUGs where I barely did any introductions at all):

  • On Drums, SE extraordinaire Mario Gomez.
  • Director of Cinematography and Certification, Cal Smith.
  • Itinerant food critic and Fed SE, Andy Wong.
  • Chief roadie Kyle Lohren, video production manager.

 

For the guest MVP speakers, I tried to roll out the red carpet:

  • From Atmosera comes a person who's been an MVP as long as I have: Byron Anderson.
  • From Loop 1, we have a programming force of nature and an avid learner of all the things, THWACK MVP Steven Klassen.
  • When I was at Cardinal, Josh joined our team one month before I ended up getting the Head Geek job. He's had every right to punch me in the face, but I lucked out because he's not only Canadian, he's just an all-around amazing guy as well as a THWACK MVP, Josh Biggley.
  • He began his IT career with a walk-on role in Star Wars, but now he divides his time between monitoring and specializing as a Mini Cooper stunt driver. Please welcome THWACK MVP Richard Phillips.

 

The “Bodyguard to the Stars” shtick ended up being a go-to for newcomers

(Those I may not have known well enough to tease):

  • Bodyguard to the stars with top secret clearance, Federal and national Sales Engineer Sean Martinez.
  • Bodyguard to the stars and former stunt driver for Tom Cruise, Federal Sales Engineer Arthur Bradway.
  • Bodyguard to the stars, world-famous He-Man cosplayer, and Virtualization PM Chris Paap.

 

Saving the Best For Last

But for many folks, I let the originality flow:

  • A pretty pink unicorn with rainbow painted brass knuckles and top-secret clearance, Head Geek Destiny Bertucci.
  • Forget about knowing where the bodies are buried or who has the pictures. This person knows which NPM questions you got wrong – Nanette Neal, Program Manager for SCP.
  • Formerly a Calvin Klein model, before he gave up fitted pants for NetFlow packets - Product Manager Joe Reves.
  • Just like Locutus, it takes incredible willpower to escape the Borg collective known as the SolarWinds sales group, and yet Robert Blair did the impossible and is now our Customer Advocacy Manager.
  • Whenever you see Tom Cruise doing a mountain climbing scene, you're actually watching his stunt double, Product Manager Serena Chou (they're about the same height).
  • We sometimes find him sleeping in his car, not because he's fallen on hard times, but because he simply loves his Jeep that much. Please welcome Network Management Product Manager Jonathan Petkevich.
  • Clocking in at 6'5", he's officially the tallest person in our department and therefore the most important to us because he can reach the really good Scotch up on the tall shelves - Senior web properties manager Ben Garves.
  • Out at conventions he has fun playing the role of Patrick Hubbard's kayfabe arch-nemesis, but in the office, he's got veto power for every new feature or upgrade – Our VP of product strategy Mav Turner.
  • In D&D one of the most interesting PC's is the multi-classed character. At SolarWinds we value our multi-class staff. She started out as a UX illusionist and is now part of our rogue’s gallery of product marketing managers -Katie Cole.
  • What happens when someone with a degree in mechanical engineering takes a right turn at San Antonio and ends up at a software company? You get a product marketing manager who can tech you under the table. Lourdes Valdez.

 

Last But Not Least

And finally, as I have done at every SWUG this year, I'd like to introduce and Thank the people who make THWACK a reality every day:

  • And of course, Ms. THWACKniss Everdeen herself, the heavenly source of THWACK point blessings, Community Cat Wrangler Danielle Higgins.
  • And of course, the woman whose THWACK ID sends everyone into spontaneous giggles, who can repeat, from memory, every post ever banned from THWACK – Wascally Wendy Wabbot... I mean Abbot.

 

If you were able to join us for a SWUG this year, I hope this brought back some fond memories. And if you couldn't make it out to join us, I sincerely hope you'll have that chance in 2019. Read more from SWUG Head Master, Kevin Sparenberg, on what you can expect at these events this year.

 

Or just cut to the chase and join us for FREE at a SWUG in 2019:

Here’s an interesting blog about the Internet of Things and battlefield advances.

 

The internet of things (IoT) is advancing into the theater of war and becoming the Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT).

 

Planning for the IoBT

 

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is devising ways to turn inanimate and innocuous objects, including plants and stones, into connected information gathering points. This work complements initiatives undertaken by DARPA to provide war fighters and their commanders with critical information through the innovative use of smartphones, floating sensors, and more. It also recently began working with leading universities on these initiatives.

 

According to a report from the IEEE Computer Society, the IoBT will lead to “an unprecedented scale of information produced by the network sensors and computing units.” Already overtaxed and undermanned, here are some things IT teams should consider.

 

Monitoring the Monitors

 

Ensuring the security of IoBT networks will most likely be uncharted territory for network administrators. The military will not control nontraditional IoBT sensors or their pathways (it’s hard to control a rock, for example). Also, enemies could use similar tactics and their own unorthodox devices to breach U.S. defense networks.

 

Gaining greater visibility into the devices and connections using these networks will be more important than ever. Automated tools that scan and alert to suspicious devices will likely prove invaluable to ensuring that only devices deemed secure are gaining access to their IoBT networks. Watch lists should be established to account for rogue or unauthorized devices and sensors. The goal should be to create an intelligent and automated network of devices that can respond to potential threats or service interruptions with minimal input from an operator.

 

Ready for Change

 

The 2018 SolarWinds public sector IT Trends Report found that a large portion of survey respondents ranked inadequate organizational strategy and lack of user training as barriers to network optimization. What happens when something as complex as IoBT management is thrown into the mix? We should remain cognizant that the size and complexity of these networks changes quickly—and the devices on these networks are becoming more diverse.

 

Policies and procedures should be clearly articulated to define what constitutes a potential risk and how to report it. Military IT pros can be trained and reminded about vigilance, or as the old adage goes, “If you see something, say something.” Equally important, they should know exactly who to say it to.

 

IT teams should continuously evaluate and reevaluate their tools to ensure they are adequate to address their security concerns and network complexity. Like networks, threat vectors are also evolutionary, and can change quickly. Regular testing of network tools and adjusting security protocols are important to a healthy, proactive, and robust security posture.

 

Winning the Battle

 

The IoBT may seem like something straight out of “Starship Troopers,” but it is very real, and is evolving rapidly. The IoT will likely only become more pervasive. Soon, it will hit the battlefield, so administrators can benefit from getting ahead of the challenge now.

 

Find the full article on C4ISRNET.

 

The SolarWinds trademarks, service marks, and logos are the exclusive property of SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC or its affiliates.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

The conservation of quantum information is a theory that information can neither be created nor destroyed. Stephen Hawking used this theory to explain how a black hole does not consume photons like a giant cosmic eraser. It is clear to me that neither Stephen Hawking, nor any quantum physicist, has ever worked in IT.

 

Outside the realm of quantum mechanics, in the physical world of corporate offices, information is generated, curated, and consumed at an accelerated pace with each passing year. The similarity between the physical corporate world and the quantum mechanics realm is that this data is never destroyed.

 

We are now a nation, and a world, of data hoarders.

 

Thanks to popular processes such as DevOps, we are obsessed with telemetry and observability. System administrators are keen to collect as much diagnostic information as possible to help troubleshoot servers and applications when they fail. And the Internet of Things has a billion devices broadcasting data to be easily consumed into Azure and AWS.

 

All of this data hoarding is leading to an accelerated amount of ROT (Redundant, Outdated, Trivial information).

 

Stop the madness.

 

It’s time to shift our way of thinking about how we collect data. We need to become more data-centric and do less data-hoarding.

 

Becoming data-centric means that you define goals and problems to be solved BEFORE you collect or analyze data. Once these goals or problems are defined, you can begin the process of collecting the necessary data. You want to collect the right data to help you make informed decisions about what actions are necessary.

 

Here are three ways for you to get started on becoming more data-centric in your current role.

 

Start with the question you want answered. This doesn’t have to be a complicated question. Something as simple as, “How many times was this server rebooted?” is a fine question to ask. You could also ask, “How long does it take for a server to reboot?” These examples may seem like simple questions, but you may be surprised to find that your current data collections do not allow for an easy answer without a bit of data wrangling.

 

Have an end-goal statement in mind. Once you have your question(s) and you have settled on the correct data to be collected, you should think about the desired output. For example, perhaps you want to put the information into a simple slide deck. Or maybe build a real-time dashboard inside of Power BI. Knowing the end goal may influence how you collect your data.

 

Learn to ask good questions. Questions should help to uncover facts, not opinions. Don’t let your opinions affect how you collect or analyze your data. It is important to understand that every question is based upon assumptions. It’s up to you to decide if those assumptions are safe, and an assumption is considered safe if it is something that can be measured. For example, your gut may tell you that server reboots are a result of O/S patches being applied too frequently. Instead of asking, “How frequently are patches applied?” a better question would be, “How many patches require a reboot?” and compare that number to the overall number of server reboots.

Summary

When it comes to data, no one is perfect. These days, data is easy to come by, making it a cheap commodity. When data is cheap, attention becomes a commodity. By shifting to a data-centric nature, you can avoid data hoarding and the amount of ROT in your enterprise. With just a little bit of effort, you can make things better for yourself, your company, and help set the example for everyone else.

Welcome back to the blog series that never ends, but does take time off for the holidays. I hope everyone had a wonderful time with family and friends these past two weeks. We are about 2.5% done with 2019 at this point. Don’t wait to get started on whatever goals you have set for the year.

 

As always, here are some links from the Intertubz that I hope will hold your interest. Enjoy!

 

It's Time for a Data Bill of Rights

Yes! Data rights should protect my privacy by default, not force me into consenting to the opposite.

 

Marriott breach included 5 million unencrypted passport numbers

Passport numbers are considered PII, and should have been protected in some manner. This is a large oversight by Marriott, and makes me wonder what else they are missing.

 

Is blockchain living up to the hype?

No.

 

'Tracking every place you go': Weather Channel app accused of selling user data

Well, now we know the real business model behind reporting the weather 24/7.

 

How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually.

Wait, you mean that random dude online bragging about success as a ‘full stack blockchain developer’ making $500k a year may not be telling the truth? Shocking.

 

Can't unlock an Android phone? No problem, just take a Skype call: App allows passcode bypass

My first phone was a Droid, and I recall this functionality. But I thought it was a feature at the time. Now I see it’s a bug. Funny how perspectives can change over time.

 

100+ Lessons Learned for Project Managers

Wonderful article, filled with great advice such as ‘Reviews, meetings, and reality have little in common.’

 

With 20 guests for Christmas dinner, this 20lb roast beast was just enough:

 

Here’s an interesting blog that looks into the importance of two-factor authentication for the public sector as digital crime increases.

 

“It won’t happen to me” can be naïve, and perhaps even irresponsible, in an era that sees digital crime grow each day.

 

Awareness Through Education

 

Google has done much to elevate online security awareness. Most account users will be familiar with its 2-Step Verification process, designed to make it much harder for hackers to gain access to files and information. Known generally as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), this additional layer of security requires not just a username and password, but also something that is completely unique to that user, whether it be a piece of information or a physical token. It’s based on the concept that only those users will achieve access based on something they know (knowledge) and something they have (possession).

 

Leading by Example

 

In a public sector context, data sits at the heart of organizations, in an environment shaped by stringent data regulations and growing security threats. As such, a renewed emphasis has been placed on expanding the use of strong multifactor authentication that’s resistant to attack, particularly for systems accessed by the public. Two years ago, the U.S. government launched a Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP), which included mandatory two-factor authentication for federal government websites and government contractors.

 

The Local 2FA Landscape

 

From a U.K. perspective, a growing number of government agencies are deploying encryption to help secure critical information properties. For example, the Code of Connection (CoCo) and public services network (PSN) frameworks recommend that any remote or mobile device should authenticate to the PSN via two-factor authentication. The uptake in two-factor authentication processes in public sector organizations is rising, with some vendors delivering authentication-as-a-service that can be used to authenticate cloud applications, infrastructure, and information.

 

Better Security = Peace of Mind

 

Two-factor authentication provides reassurance for both users and system administrators. Biometric authentication, such as a fingerprint, is becoming more common and can be used in diverse systems such as websites, enterprise applications, and secure thumb drives.

 

The Practical Way Forward

 

Organizations will need to ensure that their back-end solutions are designed and in place to support the technology and work properly for system users. Thought also needs to be given to education and awareness when introducing new authentication systems. It could become overwhelming, particularly when considering that many public sector organizations may have only recently started to develop a digital transformation strategy. In the NHS space, for example, just 24% of trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have begun to develop strategies.

 

Processes such as cloud adoption and 2FA are all part of the same digital transformation journey, and having the appropriate government cybersecurity tools to manage each of these components can go a long way towards helping public sector organisations understand what is needed to best support them and their publics. Striving for more secure authentication systems that provide far more confidence in the identity of both end users and systems administrators is a great example of this, and is why it matters.

 

Find the full article on Open Access Government.

 

The SolarWinds trademarks, service marks, and logos are the exclusive property of SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC or its affiliates.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

As we stand here, in the dawning moments of a new year, let’s all take a moment to acknowledge the acts of generosity, enthusiasm, and bravery of our community in sharing their personal stories, observations, and lessons. Through them, the members of THWACK have transformed the last 31 days into an exercise in reflection, contemplation, and growth. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this group, and part of a company that fosters these types of conversations.

 

While I have the individual post summaries and a selection of comments below, I wanted to share some statistics with you to emphasize just how engaged everyone was in this dialogue. From December 1-31, the Writing Challenge generated:

  • 1 lead post each day from 31 different authors, including 14 THWACK MVPs
  • 1,257 comments
  • 22,083 views
  • ...from 1,931 people
  • ...spread across 19 countries

 

Some other informal statistics* worth noting:

 

  • 127 people mentioned “Back to the Future,” “Doctor Who,” and/or “The Butterfly Effect”
  • 4,846 expressed concerns about altering the past
  • And 1,332 also worried they wouldn’t be who they are today if they had encountered their younger selves

 

Based on the data, we can rest easy knowing that the THWACK community will not be the one to screw up the timeline, should technology advance sufficiently to permit traveling to the past.

 

However, as we travel into the future in the normal fashion, one second at a time, I’d like to wish you all, on behalf of the entire SolarWinds team, a very happy New Year, and hope you experience nothing but joy, prosperity, and peace in the coming year.

 

- Leon

 

*Remember kids, 52.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

 

***********************

**** The Authors *****

***********************

 

Danielle Higgins, Manager of the Community Team

https://thwack.solarwinds.com/community/solarwinds-community/contests-missions/december-writing-challenge-2018/blog/2018/12/28/day-29-what-i-would-tell-my-younger-self-perspective-from-a-millennial

We can’t always know what experiences led someone to become the person they are. But when we are privileged to discover the details, it cannot help but bring us closer. That’s exactly what Danielle did in her post, giving a frank and pointed description of her youth, and the messages she would tell that young woman. It’s emblematic of Danielle’s personality that those messages center around hope, reassurance, trust, believing, and focus.

 

Allison Rael, Marketing Communications Manager, Content Marketing

https://thwack.solarwinds.com/community/solarwinds-community/contests-missions/december-writing-challenge-2018/blog/2018/12/29/day-30-

Alli outs herself as a card-carrying member of the international order of worriers and offers some background on it. But she immediately pivots to a breathtaking observation that I think we all (and especially those of us who are also members of the worrier’s club) can take to heart:

 

“I’ve gradually come to realize that when you worry less and live more, amazing things start to happen.”

 

She lists out some of those amazing things—both from her past and her present—and then comes up with this gem:

 

“In most cases, my worries are just head trash holding me back.”

 

“Head trash.” I’m definitely going to use that one in the future to frame my less helpful thought patterns.

 

Jenne Barbour, Senior Director, Corporate Marketing

https://thwack.solarwinds.com/community/solarwinds-community/contests-missions/december-writing-challenge-2018/blog/2018/12/30/day-31-

Finishing up both the week and the challenge itself, Jenne begins by sharing her family’s Yuletide tradition (re-watching the Harry Potter series) and how the theme of the challenge this year naturally blends with the idea of Time-Turners in the Harry Potter mythology.

 

As so many have done, Jenne understands that, while our own past is something which cannot and should not be changed, offering reassurance to our younger selves so that we can face our challenges with a measure of comfort would be a blessing.

 

Her final words are the perfect way to wrap up the series, as well as my summaries:

 

“And as we have traveled through time to meet ourselves today, I like to think our past selves would be pretty impressed by how we’ve all turned out. By how we’ve met obstacles both big and small, celebrated wins, learned from losses, and how we cherish our families, friends, and the good things in life, however we see them. And as we head into a new year—into the very future itself—I hope we all choose to encourage ourselves to be strong, to believe in ourselves, and to remember that we are enough.”

 

***********************

*** The Comments ***

***********************

Day 29

Laura Desrosiers Dec 29, 2018 5:30 AM

I grew up being told I would be a failure, which I believed for a very long time, but when I went back to school 10 years after high school and found out I was able to achieve, I started to push myself for more. Everything you have stated in the list in the article is so true and I just have to begin following your advice. I will print that off and hang it in my office as a reminder to myself no one is perfect, you don’t know it all, and you can thrive at what you do.

 

Jan Pawlowski Dec 29, 2018 1:44 PM

I’d add to 8 by saying own your failures as well. Celebrate the wins, but own your failures. This will teach you humility, and people will respect you much more for it.

 

Olusegun Odejide Dec 29, 2018 8:09 PM

Very good article. I love the list, especially No 1. You don’t need to fix everything, you need to let go sometimes, sit back and enjoy the ride.

 

Day 30

Phillip Collins Dec 30, 2018 8:28 AM

Your letter speaks to me. I can see myself in it. How right your Grandpa was. All my life I have allowed my worries to dictate my actions, except one brief period. The last 3 years of college I was able to let worry go and enjoy my life. Many good this came of that time. I pledged a great fraternity, made several wonderful friends, met and married my beautiful wife. None of this would have happened if I didn’t let worry go and just live my life. For whatever reason, I was not able to continue this after graduating. I often look back on those 3 years and try to understand what I was able to do then I can’t seem to do now. I wish they would come up with a pill to help you keep things in perspective. Why worry about what you cannot control. Do your best, learn and grow, enjoy the life you have been gifted.

 

Holger Mundt Dec 30, 2018 5:16 PM

Thanks for your encouraging words to worry less. As a native southern German worrying is deeply rooted in my genes.

Always a good reminder to let aside those worrying thoughts.

 

Laura Desrosiers Dec 31, 2018 4:51 AM

I worry way so much about things. I will stay up all night wearing holes out in the carpeting pacing the floors. This is going to be my New Year’s resolution. Don’t worry so much and live more.

 

Day 31

Mark Roberts  Dec 31, 2018 7:17 AM

A great post, which for those that have read more than a dozen of the articles this month (go back and read them all if you haven’t btw), it has been interesting to see that common thread of not taking this opportunity to tell their younger self to do much or anything differently. Everyone can recount times of pain, loss and missed opportunities, but that those life experiences and challenges have brought them to the place, physically and emotionally they are happy and proud to be.

 

Jeremy Mayfield  Dec 31, 2018 7:56 AM

It is interesting to think about what could have been, but the truth is we will and can never know. We are who we are, where we are, and the how’s and why’s matter little. All we can do is strive to be better moving forward. The future is not written, but the past, as you referenced, is set in stone.

 

Jan Pawlowski Dec 31, 2018 8:22 AM

I think too often we concentrate on “What might’ve been,” rather than what is. We can all relate where we wish a certain situation had gone differently, or an outcome had been different. It’s all too easy to blame things on past discrepancies that have brought you to where you are today. In truth without those happenings, you wouldn’t be where you are, nor the person you are today. Every day is a school day, it’s your choice if you learn or not.

Here’s a recent article from Signal magazine discussing innovation in the federal marketplace that I think you’ll find interesting.

 

The need for next-generation networking solutions is intensifying, and for good reason. Modern software-defined networking (SDN) solutions offer better automation and remediation, and stronger response mechanisms than others in the event of a breach.

 

But federal administrators should balance their desire for SDN solutions with the realities of government. While there are calls for ingenuity, agility, flexibility, simplicity, and better security, implementation of these new technologies must take place within constraints posed by methodical procurement practices, meticulous security documentation, sometimes archaic network policies, and more.

 

How do modern networking technologies fit into current federal IT regulations and processes? Let’s take a look at two popular technologies—SDN and so-called white box networking solutions—to find some answers.

 

SDN: Same Stuff, Different Process

 

Strip away the spin around SDN, and IT administrators are left with the same basic network management processes under a different architectural framework. However, that architecture allows administrators to manage their networks in very different and far more efficient ways. This greater agility and responsiveness should not grant administrators a carte blanche approach to network operations.

 

If a network is overloaded with traffic, then administrators could decide to spin up more virtual switches to address the issue, right? The federal government requires strict documentation and record-keeping every time a new technology is implemented or an existing one is changed. From managing IP addresses to the dynamic scaling of resources, administrators should carefully consider and account for changes to ensure what they are doing does not pose a security risk.

 

Beware White Boxes

 

White box networking solutions are designed to run on any network, including those that are software-defined, ostensibly at a lower cost. Fortunately, agencies may not need to switch because original equipment manufacturers will continue to step up their game to stay competitive.

 

Even if agencies decide to go the white box route, there are other potential issues that need to be considered, particularly in relation to federal regulations. Agencies need to know who manufactures the technology they use, where it comes from, and other critical considerations that the government requires.

 

Balance Considerations and Benefits

 

There is a lot more to consider before moving into network modernization. Solutions must be compatible across agencies, which can be challenging if every vendor offers a different flavor of SDN. Agencies need to make sure they have the right people in place for the job and are embracing a pattern of continuous employee education.

 

Despite these considerations, modern network solutions can provide great benefits to federal IT teams. Teams can save significant money in the long run because they will not have to invest in patching or maintaining outdated systems.

 

Most importantly, federal administrators can use modern solutions to help build a network foundation that is ready for future innovations. Those innovations may need to occur within the mold of existing government processes, but the groundwork will have been laid for more scalable and more secure networks.

 

Find the full article on Signal.

 

The SolarWinds trademarks, service marks, and logos are the exclusive property of SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC or its affiliates. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

In general, our products are vendor-agnostic, and this is important to us.
Using Network Performance Monitor (NPM) as an example: If a vendor is following the SNMP RFC, we can retrieve data, correlate KPIs, and forecast situations.
However, sometimes, this is not enough, just like eating half a portion of pasta carbonara.


As Cisco® is the most popular network vendor in our customer base, we focus on providing a little more information out-of-the-box and make (work) life more comfortable, such as via support for non-RFC OIDs. 
Also, we added support for CLI/API access to collect statistics that are not available at all via SNMP.


Let’s jump into our DeLorean and travel back in NPM’s history to…five years or so!

10.4        Hardware Health

10.7        Support for EIGRP and VRF

11.5        Wireless Heatmaps
12.0        Cisco SwitchStack®

12.1        Meraki
12.2        Network Insight for Cisco ASA

12.3        Network Insight for Cisco Nexus®

12.4        Support for ACI

 

Some of these features have been around for ages. I arrived just before the NPM 11.0 release, so for me, things like hardware health have been there “forever.”
The SwitchStack support was the first highlight for me, followed by the ASA integration in both NPM and Network Configuration Manager (NCM).

By the way, do you know that most of the features in the list are based on community requests?


On top of that, other Orion® Platform modules support VOIP, DNS, and DHCP solutions from Cisco, and you can attach those with a few clicks.
Finally, there is NetFlow. Over the years we have added support for NBAR2 and WLC flows into our NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA).


There are various statistics out there discussing Cisco’s market share and how it changed over time, and I don’t want to get in an “I don’t like them at all” discussion. Trust me, I’ve had enough of those already. I prefer JunOS when it comes down to the CLI.
But also, I love both pasta carbonara and all`Amatriciana, and there is nothing wrong with it.


Still, Cisco is basically everywhere. You guys keep on using it, so we keep on adding new features into our network products to help you support your infrastructure.

So, the good news is that we’re attending Cisco Live! EMEA in Barcelona. You will find us in booth S20A starting on Monday, January 28, and the code word to remember is “T-shirt.”

 

Over the course of December, the THWACK community had the privilege to peek inside the personal thoughts and formative moments of many of our members. The ideas, stories, and emotions they shared with us were sometimes raw with honest sincerity, often amusing, and always relevant and engaging.

 

As monitoring aficionados, we are sensitive to patterns, seeking to discover the signal that may lie, undetected, beneath the "noise" of unrelated data. And sure enough, as the days progressed, certain themes surfaced again and again in both the lead articles and the comments. While I identified a few of them in yesterday's post, I'd like to focus on a particular one here.

 

Catherine O'Driscoll may have phrased it best on day 10:

"I found it quite difficult to pass on just one piece of advice when there is so much I wanted to tell my younger self; to prepare her for and to protect her from. But then I realized that if she doesn’t go through it, then we wouldn’t become the person we are today."

 

The idea that we cannot go back, cannot undo what we have already done, because it will fundamentally change who we are, came up time and time again. And here, on the first day of 2019, I'm going to challenge that idea, in the hope that it allows us to set a goal for ourselves in the coming year that could have far-reaching consequences.

 

Recently, I read an essay where the author laid out the following logic:

 

First, for any action, there are many downstream consequences—some expected, others not. Some of the results of an action are intentional, while others are not. And some of the outcomes of that action can be understood as empirically "good," and others not.

 

So how are we—the individual who performed that initial action—judged? Are the expected, intentional, and "good" outcomes ascribed to us, or the ones on the other side of the equation? Or are we credited with all outcomes and results? Or a mixture of both?

 

The answer, this author states, lies in our reason for taking the action in the first place.

 

If our reasons were to harm or hurt or otherwise "do bad," then those are the results that we, in a sense, get "credit" for. The fact that our action might ALSO have had helpful or positive results is less a credit to us, and more a credit to fate, Karma, nature, luck, Divine providence, etc. And, obviously, the reverse is also true.

 

But let's say that, at some point in the past, we acted wrongly with the intention to harm, and that action had a mixture of reactions both bad and (unintentionally) good. Sometime later (moments, days, or even years), we look back at that moment and feel true, sincere, honest regret. We reflect on that moment and learn something about ourselves that we understand much change.

 

And we change it.

 

We work on ourselves. Grow. Improve. Mature. That moment in the past becomes an object lesson for us, and impels us to become better than the person we once were.

 

NOW, standing in the present moment, how is that action judged? As it turns out, all the positive results—unintended though they may have been—can be ascribed to us and the negative ones (while not disappearing entirely) fade into the background. This is the critical idea behind reformative, versus punitive, consequences. Behind repentance. Behind forgiveness.

 

Looking back at that theme that came up again and again—that we cannot offer advice to our younger self because it would fundamentally change who we are today—I say that if we use those past moments as motivation to change who we are today, then we HAVE changed our past selves. We have reached back through the years and changed the past. Not by changing WHAT we did, but changing the MEANING of what we did.

 

And in the words of the author,

"Time then becomes an arena of change in which the future redeems the past and a new concept is born – the idea we call hope."

 

My hope is that over the course of December, you found more than just some interesting stories, or chuckle-worthy reading. I hope in either reading or writing the words that were shared, you found a catalyst for positive change that can lead you toward hope and happiness in your life in the coming year and beyond.

 

From everyone at SolarWinds and the THWACK community,

we wish you a very Happy New Year and the best to come in 2019.

 

P.S.: Use this link to catch up on any part of the 2018 December Writing Challenge you may have missed.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag:

SolarWinds uses cookies on its websites to make your online experience easier and better. By using our website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies, see our cookie policy.