Observations from Enterprise Connect 2011

Author
Terry Slattery
Principal Architect

I just returned from Enterprise Connect 2011 (EC), which was previously known as VoiceCon. They changed the name because of the trend towards unified communications, video, and converged networking. I participated in two panels at EC.

The first panel was “Network Test Tools for Voice and Video,” a panel led by John Bartlett about the tools that are needed to support a voice and video deployment. In it, we were talking about how different tools have different strengths and no single tool does everything. An audience member asked how to identify the gaps in the tools that he has deployed, supposedly so that he can deploy more tools to fill those gaps. However, I’ve seen way too many sties that have an over-flowing tool box and they don’t use any of them. So my reply was “The tool that you have and use is infinitely more valuable that the five tools that you have and don’t use.”

My point is that you should select tools that you will use regularly for a specific function. Most sites start with a performance monitoring tool, which is conceptually easy. It should identify interfaces and devices that are running at high utilization levels or that are exhibiting errors (i.e. error counters are climbing). Configuration archiving and management are often next because incorrect configuration changes are the most common source of network problems.
The network management architecture that I use also includes event logging and network analysis. Event logging handles syslog and snmp traps, which tell me about real-time events that are occurring on the network. Network analysis tells me about network operational characteristics that are incorrect, such as a Hot Standby Routing Protocol (HSRP) configuration in which there is only a single router (there should be at least two to handle a failover event).

So that answers some of this audience member’s question about identifying the gaps in tool coverage. But I stand by my statement that any tool that you have and use is more valuable than any number of tools that you have and don’t use.

The second panel at EC was “QoS & Network Design for Converged Networks,” also led by John Bartlett. This was more like a workshop than a panel, because six of us teamed together to present an in-depth coverage of the topic. It was great to get audience participation through some good questions about the topics that each of us covered. I talked about network resiliency, which is critical to continuing operations of converged networks when (not if) failures occur. One point of the presentation is that with a good design, you can take half of the infrastructure down for maintenance while the other half is handling the production operations. This avoids the need for network outages to perform network maintenance and upgrade operations.

The exhibit hall was full this year. The economy definitely looks like it is coming back. There were a lot of interesting companies and products. It is a good place to take your specific operational or management problems to look for good solutions.

-Terry

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Re-posted with Permission 

NetCraftsmen would like to acknowledge Infoblox for their permission to re-post this article which originally appeared in the Applied Infrastructure blog under http://www.infoblox.com/en/communities/blogs.html

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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.

 

Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.

 

John Cavanaugh

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Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.