Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Matt Brickey, Pat Romanski, Wayne Salpietro, Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, SDN Journal, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

The Changing Face of Networking | @CloudExpo @Solarwinds #SDN #IoT #AI

The transformation and adoption of next-generation IT will improve both business and IT department ROI

The Changing Face of Networking

In the last year or so, we have seen burgeoning trends like software-defined networking (SDN), open source-based automation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the continuing rise of hybrid IT dramatically impact traditional networking. Long gone are the days of being a router jockey. We're now more focused on delivering services rather than just configuring packet traversal across ports. Especially as the modern data center continues to converge, network administrators are dealing with complex networks and associated technologies, and it is critical to be well versed and trained across various network functions.

As expected, there are pros and cons to all of these changes. But in the long run, this transformation and adoption of next-generation IT will improve both business and IT department ROI and eventually make managing and monitoring networks more efficient.

The Cloud and Hybrid IT
Unsurprisingly, the advent of hybrid IT is many a network specialist's first hurdle. Despite the cloud's claims to deliver greater operational simplicity, IT's mandate to manage cloud services brings with it the inherent challenge of being held accountable for the performance of networks the company doesn't even own - those of the cloud provider. At the same time, the convergence of data center technologies to enable cloud computing means network administrators can no longer be siloed experts. Instead, we need to have a much broader understanding of other key data center infrastructure elements and how they work together to deliver and support hybrid IT services.

The key to the success of a hybrid IT strategy is to break down the virtual wall between the physical data center and the cloud to realize greater visibility, meaning network managers should be able to see the paths of application traffic and the quality of the service from on-premises to the cloud and back again. In doing so we can spend our time on more pressing issues, as well as learn about more up-and-coming technologies like SDN and how to work with the enterprise IoT.

Network Automation
Network automation capabilities have also contributed to the changing face of networking. Surprisingly, a good portion of network administrators are still tackling some of the most monotonous tasks manually. But not only does the automation of configuration, provisioning, operation, orchestration, and management save significant time and resources, it also maximizes network and team efficiency (human error remains the biggest cause of network downtime). Network administrators who have started to bring automation into the network management equation (either via their own programming script or third-party applications like GitHub®, Puppet®, Chef®, and others) benefit from a greater amount of free time, allowing them to focus on other areas of the network without worrying about the basics.

More specifically, the growth of open source is better enabling IT professionals to write their own macros and script to automate a number of procedures. For example, we know that changing administrative passwords is time-consuming, but automating this with a set of scripts is simple. However, in order for automation to truly be successful, it's crucial that network engineers are consistently testing it; open source also enables a constant drumbeat of testing to ensure human error isn't replaced by machine error.

Internet of Things
Last, but certainly not least, the steady integration of thousands of IoT devices on to corporate networks is also a rising concern among network managers. As we saw toward the end of 2016 with the Dyn® DDoS attack (executed by installing malware on IoT-enabled printers and other office equipment), IoT is chock full of potential network security vulnerabilities that today's administrators must be prepared for. Until the industry reaches a "2.0" phase for IoT devices, where security is a front-and-center consideration, IT professionals should always begin by testing and monitoring these devices before letting them loose on corporate networks.

Start slow: connect a handful of test devices and then closely monitor to see what they are doing and how they interact with the network. This type of preparation will alleviate the major point of contention for IT professionals: fear of the unknown (in this case, fear of connecting IoT devices without knowing what kind of change they will effect). A monitoring test drive will help establish a baseline of functionality and what "normal" operation levels look like. Remember, without knowing what is standard, it's much more difficult to identify a performance or security issue. From there, you can develop corresponding procedures and policies, and slowly start to move them onto corporate networks. It's all about trust.

Meeting the Challenge
At the end of the day, it's a "shape up or ship out" world when it comes to managing today's networks. Whether you're a seasoned networking professional or new to the scene, here are a few best practices that can help jumpstart your up-skilling journey and better manage the modern network:

  • Develop a Network of Peers: Networking with other IT professionals and network specialists at industry events and vendor conferences is a critical and highly valuable resource as you look to better understand new technology and implementation strategies. These technologies are changing so quickly that being able to share real-life scenarios and best practices about how other organizations tested and deployed an SDN environment, for example, will help you become more confident and think more quickly on your feet. It's worth mentioning that many vendors of products that enable SDN, for example, also offer free training that IT professionals can and should take advantage of.
  • Learn New Skills: Network administrators also need to cultivate a broader range of skills. To start, network-specific skills like coding and scripting (for more agile automation) is critical. You should stop thinking in terms of configuration, which incorrectly implies a certain level of control over the devices and services you're managing, and start thinking more like a developer. However, it will also be key to begin cultivating an "IT generalist" understanding of various infrastructure elements and how they work together. As data center convergence continues, the network team will need to be in lock step with the rest of the IT department to ensure QoA and performance.
  • Practice Monitoring as a Discipline: One of the best but perhaps underestimated ways to maintain an effective network is to implement a comprehensive monitoring strategy. Monitoring as a discipline, so to speak, provides businesses and IT value by allowing the IT department to turn disparate data points from various monitoring tools and utilities into more actionable insights. It considers all, and does so from a holistic vantage point. This is critical if your organization is considering the adoption of one or more of these new technologies discussed here, as a fundamental understanding of your environment's baseline performance and history will inform future implementations.

Conclusion
The bottom line is that there is more pressure than ever on network administrators to manage both current challenges, such as the implementation of hybrid IT, while also looking ahead to the future of IoT devices on corporate networks, a broader adoption of software-defined networking, SDN, and more. Networks are only going to get more complex as they evolve; by leveraging the above best practices, network administrators of all levels of expertise can be better prepared to tackle the biggest trends impacting network management today.

More Stories By Destiny Bertucci

Destiny Bertucci is a Head Geek at SolarWinds, and is a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), CIW Masters, INFOSEC, MCITP SQL and SolarWinds Certified Professional. Her 15 years of network management experience spans healthcare and application engineering, including over nine years as SolarWinds Senior Application Engineer.

After starting her networking career in Vo-tech CCNA/Security+ and working as consultant, Bertucci decided to apply her experience using SolarWinds tools in her everyday life to grow with the tools. Certifications and degrees followed, including database development and INFOSEC, with more in the works. Customizing SolarWinds products while working on setups and performance broadened her knowledge across networking, systems, virtualization, security, and databases.

Bertucci began her IT career in 2001 as a networking consultant before joining SolarWinds to help grow the tools she had come to rely on. She boasts a deep knowledge of the complete SolarWinds product line, including customization, leading to expertise across network, security, application, server, virtualization and database management.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
"We are focused on SAP running in the clouds, to make this super easy because we believe in the tremendous value of those powerful worlds - SAP and the cloud," explained Frank Stienhans, CTO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"DivvyCloud as a company set out to help customers automate solutions to the most common cloud problems," noted Jeremy Snyder, VP of Business Development at DivvyCloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
"As we've gone out into the public cloud we've seen that over time we may have lost a few things - we've lost control, we've given up cost to a certain extent, and then security, flexibility," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics,in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
"The Striim platform is a full end-to-end streaming integration and analytics platform that is middleware that covers a lot of different use cases," explained Steve Wilkes, Founder and CTO at Striim, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We want to show that our solution is far less expensive with a much better total cost of ownership so we announced several key features. One is called geo-distributed erasure coding, another is support for KVM and we introduced a new capability called Multi-Part," explained Tim Desai, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Hitachi Data Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"With Digital Experience Monitoring what used to be a simple visit to a web page has exploded into app on phones, data from social media feeds, competitive benchmarking - these are all components that are only available because of some type of digital asset," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo, an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy and security, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalised support service from its globally located cloud plat...
"We focus on SAP workloads because they are among the most powerful but somewhat challenging workloads out there to take into public cloud," explained Swen Conrad, CEO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"Outscale was founded in 2010, is based in France, is a strategic partner to Dassault Systémes and has done quite a bit of work with divisions of Dassault," explained Jackie Funk, Digital Marketing exec at Outscale, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"I think DevOps is now a rambunctious teenager – it’s starting to get a mind of its own, wanting to get its own things but it still needs some adult supervision," explained Thomas Hooker, VP of marketing at CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are still a relatively small software house and we are focusing on certain industries like FinTech, med tech, energy and utilities. We help our customers with their digital transformation," noted Piotr Stawinski, Founder and CEO of EARP Integration, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We've been engaging with a lot of customers including Panasonic, we've been involved with Cisco and now we're working with the U.S. government - the Department of Homeland Security," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We're here to tell the world about our cloud-scale infrastructure that we have at Juniper combined with the world-class security that we put into the cloud," explained Lisa Guess, VP of Systems Engineering at Juniper Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...