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Evolution of Network Technology: Preparing for 2020 and Beyond

Level 12

By Joe Kim, SolarWinds EVP, Engineering and Global CTO

As agencies look ahead to the new year, I wanted to share an insightful blog about the evolution of network technology written by my SolarWinds colleague, Leon Adato.

We are entering a new world where mobility, the Internet of Things (IoT), and software-defined networking (SDN) have dramatically changed the purview of federal IT pros. The velocity of network changes is expected to pick up speed in the next five years as new networking technologies are adopted and mature. The impact this will have on network administrators will be significant.

To help prepare for this new world, we have put together the following list of positive changes we expect federal administrators—and the tools they use to do their jobs every day—will experience between now and 2020.

Streamlined Network Troubleshooting

Today, network administrators spend a lot of time troubleshooting. Moving forward, this process will become far more streamlined by using data that already exists to free up administrator’s time.

The vast majority of applications in place today hold a lot of data that could be used to help in troubleshooting network issues. Unfortunately, they don’t quickly and easily bubble that data up to administrators. Soon, systems will be able to arm the administrator with enough information to fix problems much more quickly. The future will see administrators steeped in automated intelligence, where an emailed alert not only describes a present problem, but also includes details of similar past incidents and recent configuration changes that could be related.

Greater Ability to Resolve Potential Problems Before They Arise

With the development of advanced network management capabilities comes the ability to increase automation by tapping into a historical knowledge to predict problems before they happen.

Every agency would like the ability to have its systems effectively take care of themselves with a greater degree of automation. There is an emerging need for network technology that distinguishes from simply alerting administrators to problems, to alerting, fixing, and escalating a notification when conditions are ripe for an issue based on historical context.

Greater Awareness of Virtualization by Network Management Tools

Virtualization is increasingly common, yet many network management and monitoring tools have not evolved. All the tools that make up that portfolio of network management necessities need to be aware of the construct of what network virtualization is and the specificities it brings—in particular, how to operate, gather, and relay information within a more hybrid and software-defined world.

Increased Connectivity Across Devices

Finally, there’s IoT, which will, without a doubt, bring dramatic complexity to the evolution of network structures over the next three to five years.

The concept of IoT is really about connecting and networking unconventional things and turning them into data collection points. Think everything from sensors in military materiel shipments to connected cars. A lot of these “things” are being tested to see where we might consider the boundaries of the network edge to be, and where that data processing needs to take place.

The best approach is somewhere between decentralized and centralized—which is where network management will be heading. Network management tools and Federal network managers will need to build internal capability – staff and technology – to maintain visibility, awareness, and control over a growing evolution of network technology.

Find the full article on Federal Technology Insider.

12 Comments
petergwilson
Level 14

It's getting too complicated and widespread for humans to manage.  Automation and machine learning will have to take on some of the workload to allow humans to focus on the more oddball problems.  Look at SolarWinds.  I find it useful to set alerts up to "fix" known problems automatically whilst I concentrate on 'new' or more complex issues.

rschroeder
Level 21

These are some of the great challenges and hopes for our I.T. futures.  Yet it continues to look like a house of cards to me, in Networking.  I know what hardware and protocols and IOS versions things are based on.  I do my best to design for 99.999 uptime.  I get the budget to do it right.  I try to get training, and try to get the right numbers of staff.

But compromise the right combinations of items, and it might all come tumbling down.  Each time something new and vulnerable and IoT is released to the public, I shake my head in sorrow and think of Leia:

giphy.gif

cjfranca
Level 15

Humanoid

In this future the people no more will need go to medicine becouse, inside people have a chip with all informations about problem and solutions your

health.

mtgilmore1
Level 13

I'm Sorry Dave..... I'm afraid can't do that......

Image result for hal 9000 quotes

byrona
Level 21

As things continue to change and the velocity of change increases it's definitely becoming critical that we have good monitoring systems in place to see the status of everything and when a problem does arise to be able to quickly isolate and resolve it.  I agree with petergwilson​ in that ML and AI will be helpful new additions to our monitoring systems.

petergwilson
Level 14

1979 - The Boomtown Rats  -  I don't like Mondays.      The silicone chip inside her head gets switched to overload. 

Premonition of things to come ?

vinay.by
Level 16

Nice write up

michael.kent
Level 13

Really looking forward to expanding on network Automation.

foonly
Level 12

RE: IoT

It's bad enough that voting machines and back-end voting software is so easy to hack, but commercial power systems that use IoT are also a disaster waiting to happen. The industry lacks standards. Customers do not demand standards. There's your problem.

As an old curmudgeon, I don't want IoT anywhere near my corporate net, and generally not even in my house. It's almost never engineered to enterprise standards, and has already proved to be a major vector for botnets. IoT has so many boxes that are virtually undocumented, and largely unsupported by their vendors. The usual response to problems from vendors, if they respond at all, is "What did you expect for $100?"

I see so many articles on IoT security problems, you'd think IoT itself was malware. Many people will say, "He, we use it every day, and have never had a problem." I would ask, "How do you know you don't have a problem? Just because the box does it function, does not mean it's not also causing problems."

I would go so far as to say there are problems in many things we don't call IoT, but are indeed IoT, like UPSes and video conferencing gear - anything with an embedded OS. While some companies, like APC, have made strides recently, it took them 2 decades to realize that their cards were so bad. Customer demand (particularly federal government) pulled them into the new millennium.

If the box doesn't have a management protocol like SNMP, it's not enterprise, and probably should be on a carefully segmented network, and not allowed to access the internet via your regular gateway - lest your IPs be blacklisted when a botnet breaks out because some c-level or manager wanted the gee-whiz ability to see their IoT toy from their cell phone.

IoT security camera infected within 98 seconds of plugging it in | CSO Online

Demand standards. Look for regular software updates. Don't go cheap for cheap sake. Don't pretend that expensive stuff is secure. Some of our Cisco gear doesn't even support SNMPv3. Some of our devices require FTP and telnet. Many devices come with built-in passwords. By themselves, each vulnerability is not a major problem (well, unless you expose it to the internet like in the example above), but those are signs of a 1990s engineering mindset where security is not even addressed.

Make your own standards and write them down. Invite legal to the meeting, and show them IoT problem articles. Argue it out with the c-levels. Get them to literally sign off on policy.  Cheap to buy does not mean cheap to own.

rschroeder
Level 21

One of our CISSP's bought a DVD recorder and remote security cam monitor solution from Alibaba.  His home network is locked down tighter than you know what, and as soon as that unit was powered on and plugged in, it started trying to send pictures from all his home security cameras to an IP address in China.

He hadn't allowed it outbound access to the Internet from his DMZ, and his Splunk caught all the traffic alerts, while Nexpose found its weak points.

The thing was hacked/infected BEFORE he opened the box, pre-programmed to participate in a botnet, listening for instructions from the zombie master, and it had tried to send pictures from all his security cameras, inside and out.  The shots included his network hardware, front door, back door, garage door, in the baby's room (including pictures of his child), etc.

Luckily he had everything secured and was testing it in a sandboxed environment.  Not everyone has that dedication, intelligence, drive, resources, training, money, and interest.  It's time to start believing everything is unsafe, and saying "Verify before trusting" on anything you purchase that has IoT functionality.

ecklerwr1
Level 19

It seems like the big new thing is really SD-WAN and software defined networking really.  I know vmware nsx is going the change a lot of things we do with this overlay.

tinmann0715
Level 16

Streamlined Network Troubleshooting is probably at the top of my holiday wish list. I am tired of digging through sloppy networks to find the problem all the while the Network team throws up their hands. Make it so.

About the Author
Joseph is a software executive with a track record of successfully running strategic and execution-focused organizations with multi-million dollar budgets and globally distributed teams. He has demonstrated the ability to bring together disparate organizations through his leadership, vision and technical expertise to deliver on common business objectives. As an expert in process and technology standards and various industry verticals, Joseph brings a unique 360-degree perspective to help the business create successful strategies and connect the “Big Picture” to execution. Currently, Joseph services as the EVP, Engineering and Global CTO for SolarWinds and is responsible for the technology strategy, direction and execution for SolarWinds products and systems. Working directly for the CEO and partnering across the executive staff in product strategy, marketing and sales, he and his team is tasked to provide overall technology strategy, product architecture, platform advancement and engineering execution for Core IT, Cloud and MSP business units. Joseph is also responsible for leading the internal business application and information technology activities to ensure that all SolarWinds functions, such as HR, Marketing, Finance, Sales, Product, Support, Renewals, etc. are aligned from a systems perspective; and that we use the company's products to continuously improve their functionality and performance, which ensures success and expansion for both SolarWinds and customers.