New 4th-generation wireless networking equipment is entering the market. We started with consumer-based wireless equipment with virtually no security, then enterprise quality products with improved security were released. The current standard, the 3rd-generation wireless networks, have centralized controllers that help enable the hand-off between access points as users move about, and even more improved security. The next generation though, based on 802.11n technology, allows all access points to share a channel and greatly improves the hand-off from access point to acccess point. Unlike previous wireless implementations, which require careful placement of access points to maximize coverage while avoiding channel interference, 4th-generation wireless networks allow for denser, and simpler deployments. Take a look at this SearchNetworking.com article for more details about next-generation wireless for the enterprise: Wireless networking heads into fourth generation — but should you follow?
You might remember a couple years ago when President Bush supported a plan to sell management control of our sea ports to Dubai Ports, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) based company. There was significant backlash about the national security concerns of allowing an Arab company to control the U.S. ports and the deal was scrapped. Following immediately in the wake of that deal, Israel-based Checkpoint scrapped a deal to purchase software developer Sourcefire over concerns that a foreign company would control Snort, a popular open-source intrusion detection system (IDS). The 3Com deal threatens to be the latest deal scuttled over national security concerns. Bain Capital LLC sought to purchase 3Com, but with the Chinese Huawei Technologies capturing a minority stake as well. Congress has reservations about a Chinese company with close ties to the Chinese government having any ownership stake in a company that manufactures equipment used in public and private sector network security. Check out National security issues put Bain-Huawei bid for 3Com on hold for more information.
There have been rumors for some time that the network perimeter is dead. More users are relying on laptop computers connected over wireless networks, or via VPN from a hotel or coffee shop. Users have mobile phones that connect to network resources, and various methods of portable data storage- USB flash drives, mobile phones, digital cameras, MP3 players. If anyone can connect from anywhere and data is coming and going, it becomes virtually impossible to say what is ‘inside’ the network perimeter, and what is ‘outside’ the network perimeter. If all of that is true, should network security even be an issue? Why not declare a time of death, focus on endpoint security solutions and forget about the network? Read The Future of Network Security at Computerworld for a deeper look at this issue, as well as why the rumors of the death of network security might be exaggerated.
Cisco has had equipment available for small and medium businesses (SMB’s) to manage data and voice and enable unified communications for a while now. The initial equipment however was only available in 8-port or 16-port versions. The relatively small number of ports capped out at ‘small’, and did not meet the needs of the ‘medium’ portion of the SMB market. The recently-released next generation of the UC 500 appliance comes in 32-port and 48-port varieties, making it a much more viable solution for medium companies looking to join the unified communications revolution. You can read this article for more about the new unified communications equipment, as well as new ethernet and wireless equipment from Cisco.
OK, there probably isn’t any profit, and the idea of “fun” may be a bit of a stretch as well. Organizations that have multiple firewalls, from multiple vendors need an efficient way to monitor, manage, and optimize them. Network administrators just keep adding rules on the fly, rarely documenting why they were created. It doesn’t take long before there is a complete, chaotic mess of firewall rules to manage. Doing so across multiple firewalls, particularly from multiple vendors, can be tedious, and virtually impossible. The individual firewall vendors don’t provide tools with the power and flexibility to help make the process more efficient. Thankfully, there are 3rd-party vendors that do. Using one of the the 3rd-party tools, you can review, manage, and optimize firewall rules from multiple vendors and multiple firewalls. Read How to manage your multivendor firewalls like a pro to learn more about these products and how they can help you.
IPv6 is the latest, greatest, cutting edge version of the IP protocol. It is designed to be more secure, more efficient, more stable, and provide a larger (exponentially larger) pool of addresses to work with than its IPv4 predecessor. So, why would you want to disable it? In this SearchNetworking.com article, Brien Posey provides additional reasons, but the primary one is system resources. Windows Vista runs both IPv4 and IPv6 functionality simultaneously. If your network infrastructure is not actually leveraging the advantages of IPv6, then precious Windows Vista system resources are being eaten up by a protocol you are not even using. Of course, Posey also provides some logic behind why you would want to leave IPv6 on. Take a look at Disabling IPv6 in Windows Vista — Pros and cons to read the complete article and decide for yourself if you should disable IPv6 in Windows Vista.
To many, routers are the proverbial “man behind the curtain”. We all know they are there, and that they are integral to getting our data from Point A to Point B, but how? Why do I need a router? How does a router magically know how to get an email from my home in Houston, TX, to a recipient in Singapore? David Davis has addressed these concepts in an article on SearchNetworking.com. It is not a long article, but it gives you a quick and simple explanation for how routers use MAC addresses and IP addresses and how your data is handled to get to its final destination. Check out How Routers Work to learn more.
At some point in the future, maybe the next generation will simply see the rate of evolution of technology as a given. A normal way of life. On a day to day basis, I don’t think that much about it, but when I look back and realize just how much has been invented, and developed in just the past 10 or 15 years, and the rate that technology changes, it is somewhat mind-boggling. It wasn’t that long ago that 56Kbps modems were considered to be blazing fast. But, the extent of most users access to the Internet was from their employer’s network, or via dial-up on a 56k modem from home. Now, there are still some stubborn stragglers using dial-up, but broadband access with 24/7 connectivity is becoming the norm instead of the exception for home users. Notebook computer sales, even for consumers, have skyrocketed. Cell phones are PDA’s and mini-computers all rolled into one. From my cell phone, I can surf the Web, look up a phone number, click the linked phone number, and automatically initiate a call. While I used to have to be in my home or at my office desk to access the Internet, now I can access the Internet from almost anything and almost anywhere. This article from Computerworld takes a mort in-depth look at the trend of “hyperconnectivity” and what it means for the future of technology and communications.
Unless you have been in a coma, or living in a cave for the past year, you should be aware that the whole world is being converged into a single, IP-based network. Telephone and television service are both available via IP. Video services such as YouTube.com, and video conferencing for enterprise collaboration also consume a fair amount of IP bandwidth. As consumers and businesses aggressively embrace all of the new IP-based technologies, the network hardware vendors are racing to try to stay ahead of the curve and provide next-generation solutions to meet the bandwidth needs. Cisco, Juniper, Force 10, ConSentry Networks, and Enterasys Networks are all rolling out updates and new hardware to support bandwidth-heavy applications, such as virtualization, collaboration, unified communications and video. Check out this NetworkWorld article for more details about this trend.
Cisco launched their new application acceleration appliance, the ACE (Application Control Engine) 4710. At just under $16,000, this device is aimed at small and medium enterprises. It can support up to 50 virtual devices at throughput of 2 Gbps, enabling organizations to get the performance and efficiency they need to host and access web-based applications for their users. In addition, Cisco also rolled out their WAAS (Wide Area Application Services) Mobile Software product which accelerates TCP-based applications used by mobile and remote users. Check out this Computerworld article for more details about these new Cisco products and what it means to the networking market as a whole.