Recently, I wrote about the struggles NAC (Network Admission Control) solutions have been going through to gain acceptance. According to a Computerworld.com article, Cisco is working to deal with the issues that have faced NAC solutions by merging both of their NAC approaches together. The resulting NAC solution will reportedly be faster, less complex to implement, and easier to maintain than either of the existing solutions. Cisco believes that the unified approach, dubbed oneNAC, will solve the primary issues and provide the flexibility enterprises are looking for to begin adopting NAC as a security solution.
Do you understand the difference between classless and classful IP addressing? Can you explain what is different in IPv6 from IPv4 and why businesses or individuals should care? How about calculating a subnet mask- or determining the total possible IP addresses based on the subnet mask?
I had a mental block for years on the subnet mask thing. I just could not seem to understand how to do the math either way- either to determine the subnet mask based on the address space I wanted, or to determine the number of available addresses from the subnet mask. Then one day I had an epiphany and what was confusing suddenly made sense. You don’t have to wait for an epiphany though. TechTarget’s SearchNetworking site has a free crash course in IP addressing that will have you understanding that CIDR is different than the cider you drink and otherwise fluent in all things IP. Check it out here- Crash Course: IP addressing and subnetting fundamentals.
Actually, the rumor is that Microsoft might be in the market to purchase Canadian-based mobile device manufacturer RIM (Research in Motion), makers of the popular Blackberry communication devices. Microsoft may be feeling some pressure to stake a stronger presence in the mobile device market after their two biggest rivals have entered the fray. Apple recently rolled out the iPhone through AT&T (formerly Cingular), and Google is reportedly seeking to purchase airwave bandwidth and may be announcing a Google-centric mobile device of their own. Microsoft already makes the Windows Mobile operating system, used on a variety of mobile and handheld devices. The purchase, if it happens, would put Microsoft in a position to develop both the hardware and software, and could also allow them to potentially phase out the Blackberry OS, one of the biggest competitors for mobile device operating systems.
Microsoft has set an October 16 launch date for their Unified Communications initiative. Unified Communications are products and services that- as the name implies- are designed to bring various forms of communication together and allow them to work in conjunction with each other. The live webcast on October 16, co-hosted by Bill Gates, will roll out Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, Office Communicator 2007, and Office LiveMeeting. You can get more information about the Unified Communications initiative and the October 16 rollout from this Computerworld.com article.
The iPhone had already developed a fanatic, cult-like following before it was even released. Although there are some shortcomings (lack of 3G wireless being a big one), that popularity has just grown since its release. However, the Apple iPhone evangelists were dealt a setback last week…or so it seemed. Duke University experienced a failure of its wireless network which it quickly blamed on the iPhone. The claim was that the iPhones being used on campus flooded the wireless access points with ping requests in an endless attempt to find a connection point. Unfortunately for Duke University and Cisco, the rush to judgment to blame the iPhone was apparently premature. Upon further investigation, it was an error within the Cisco networking hardware that caused the problem. Duke and Cisco have put a fix in place and resolved the issue, but have not revealed what exactly the root cause was or what the fix does. For more details on the Duke University iPhone issue, read this Computerworld.com article.
Cisco has released a report detailing their forecasts and predictions for the world of IP communications. In a nutshell, they see the continued adoption of broadband Internet access, and the growth of online video (for business use as well as consumer / social sites such as YouTube.com) and peer-to-peer (P2P) networking as driving forces that will cause the total volume of IP traffic to roughly double every 2 years through 2011. You can read the report from Cisco, or check out this Networkworld.com article for an analysis and summary of the report forecasts.
The issue of Net Neutrality has been a hot topic lately. Some major Internet providers, such as AT&T and Comcast, propose that they own their networks and that they should be able to block or throttle content. In other words, if Company A pays more than Company B, maybe Company A’s data gets priority throughput. Or, perhaps AT&T can hinder content or data from competitors such as Comcast. On the other side of the spectrum are those who argue that the Internet has to remain free and neutral. In this Computerworld.com article, the issue is explored more deeply.
Here is my $.02. The Internet has to remain neutral. We can’t take something as indispensible as the Internet, a tool that can be leveraged to educate and to level the playing field between rich and poor, big and small, and let big corporations control who can access it or how. Capitalism and free trade aside, AT&T does not have the right, in my opinion, to throttle or limit access from competing Internet providers, or to give a higher priority to some data over other data based on who is paying more.
Granted, users already receive varying speeds of access depending on what they pay. Users of cable modems typically get faster speeds than users of DSL who get faster speeds than users of dial-up telephone connections. But, whatever data they do send or receive is treated equally. It may be slower getting to the routers and servers it is heading for, but it is not unduly hindered based on who generated it or how much they are paying.
The Internet is a tool for the masses. As the old Information Superhighway comparison suggests, it is analogous to our highway system. If the United States were to privatize the maintenance of the roads and highways, would we allow the corporations running the road system to restrict or deny access? All inidviduals and corporations need equal access to the road system. Otherwise, a corporation, or coalition of corporations, can abuse their power to separate the haves from the have-nots.
The Internet providers need to come up with some other business model for generating revenue and profit, and compete fairly with other Internet providers. If they don’t like to play nicely with others, they should get out of the ISP business.
One of the downsides to being a dominant provider of telecommunications around the world is that it also makes you the owner of legacy telecommunications hardware and networking equipment around the world. Even dominant global providers have to upgrade though. BT has begun a project dubbed 21CN (21st Century Network) estimated at $21 billion and projected to be completed in 2009. The focus of the rollout is to upgrade customers from legacy telecommunications networks to a new, all-IP communications network. Alcatel-Lucent is a key supplier, as is Cisco, Fujitsu, and Huawei Technologies. You can learn more in this article from Computerworld.com.
A couple of years ago the concept of network access control (NAC) was introduced and many touted it as the next shift in network security technology. A product that sits between the client and the network and ensures that devices are clean and safe and meet with the prescribed network security policy before allowing them to connect with network resources seems like a no-lose situation. As it turns out, the various implementations of NAC have had their share of issues and NAC adoption hasn’t been quite the tidal wave of acceptance that some had predicted. Check out this Computerworld.com article for more about the issues with NAC and the current state of NAC implementation.
The web site for the company that makes much of the hardware that other companies around the world rely on to ensure their data centers are available and their network connectivity is reliable was unavailable last week. Last Wednesday, at 2pm eastern, the Cisco web site that customers and partners rely on to order equipment and request support was offline for about 2.5 hours. Cisco has investigated the issue and has stated that it was caused by an accident which caused a power outage during maintenance at their San Jose data center. You can get more details from this report on NetworkWorld.com.