Window on WANs

April 26, 2010  9:55 AM

No job? No training? Start a network engineering career in IPv6

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

The jobs cut in the Great Recession have amounted to significantly more than in the previous four downturns, (see The great job fake-out), but that job loss number in the tech industry hasn’t faltered as drastically as, say, the auto industry. Around December of last year, Foote Partners saw job stabilization and even job increase in the IT sectors. Although that’s good news for IT, that doesn’t mean that everyone in IT has a job.

Rocky Mountain IPv6 Task Force logo

In a recent chat with Rocky Mountain IPv6 Task Force (RMv6TF) chairman Scott Hogg, we discussed how the recession could continue to affect IPv6 adoption.

“I think people might use the economy as an excuse not to work on [IPv6 adoption],” Hogg said, “but the costs don’t necessarily have to be high to transition…. The cost for organizations to migrate to IPv6 are mostly around people’s time…. I could argue that in a down economy, if there aren’t other projects taking place, IT people have lots of time at their disposal” he added.

In my rebuttal, I claimed that IT has more to do because layoffs have probably left one person doing the job of two or three others. But if you don’t have a job — whether you were laid off or whether you’re new to the IT market — IPv6 can be an even greater opportunity for you.

“If you’re unemployed and you want to build a career in a hot emerging market, you could use your time to learn about IPv6 and really become on the cutting edge,” Hogg said. “You’d have lots of job opportunities, I think, if you knew about IPv6 at this point.”

Part of the trouble though is finding programs in the IPv6 field. Hogg said, “There aren’t a lot of really good training resources out there available for people to learn about IPv6. There are some good books to read that have been written in the past 5 or 6 years [such as IPv6 Essentials and IPv6 Security] … but it’s difficult to find readily available low cost IPv6 training.”

You can always start with an IPv6 tutorial if you know nothing, but for more information, attending a two-day conference could be another option. At a low cost ($200 or free with a valid student ID), the 2010 Rocky Mountain IPv6 Summit will be holding its third annual conference. For those who cannot go to the conference May 26-27, you can view the information after the conference off of the RMv6TF website and even view past presentations to learn more.

March 26, 2010  5:00 PM

WAN management: New tools and strategies that deliver high performance

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

When phone, video and data traffic converge (otherwise known as “network convergence”), it complicates the local area network (LAN). This network convergence puts even greater demands on enterprise wide area networks (WANs), especially in terms of bandwidth. Neither monitoring nor managing varied traffic get any easier either, and on top of it all — WAN management and monitoring are converging.

Expert Tom Nolle points out this WAN management/monitoring convergence in his tip series on how your WAN network monitoring strategy needs to evolve and what network monitoring tools need in a WAN supported by less staff and newer technology:

One reflection of the evolution of monitoring is its collision with network management. A WAN network monitoring strategy has always required the analysis of traffic in real time, but most management systems support at least some form of real-time traffic analysis too; so the distinction between monitoring and management may become more cloudy.

What’s good to know is that vendors are beginning to catch up in their offerings. NetScout’s embedded branch office network monitoring probe in Cisco’s ISR, announced last week, is an example of the many other branch office monitoring tools that can resolve WAN performance problems and keep your users from complaining about slow network speeds over the WAN.

February 23, 2010  4:48 PM

Free tool from F5 will help developers understand application delivery controllers

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

It’s a familiar old yarn: Developers whip up a nice application that works wonderfully in the lab. But when you deploy it on the WAN or in a public or private cloud, the app just won’t work. And then the networking team gets blamed by the development team. “What’s wrong with your network? Why won’t it support my application?”

As i reported in the past, collaboration between development teams and network engineers early on can save you from a lot of headaches later.

So, WAN engineers, do what you can to help the development teams understand how their apps will behave in your production network. You can insist they buy some WAN emulators, for instance.

Also, it’s worth showing them what will happen when the application is running through a Layer 4 through 7 network.  F5 Networks, for instance, just released a virtual version of its application delivery controller BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM). LTM Virtual Edition (VE) is available in a free trial version right now. Network engineers and app developers alike can download LTM VE, whether for evaluation, or simply to test how new apps will work in a production application delivery controller environment. It will certainly allow you to avoid any nasty surprises.

This free version has a throughput limit of a 1mbps, so it’s really only useful for evaluation and testing, but F5 is planning to release an LTM VE version with production-class throughput rates later this year. This version  will be ideal for cloud computing and virtualized environments. F5 customers will be able to use LTM VE in concert with physical LTM appliances, allowing for quick deployment of new ADCs without having to buy and set up a new hardware appliance. A customer quote from a recent press release explains the utility of the eventual production version of LTM VE. Mandar Ghosalkar, applications infrastructure manager at Byer California, said:

F5’s virtual BIG-IP LTM fits well with Byer’s IT strategy for several reasons. First, this will enable us to test new solutions in an isolated environment and then easily transfer them to our production BIG-IP devices. Second, it should save valuable time and resources by eliminating the need to purchase and rack additional devices, helping us deploy applications faster.

F5 envisions scenarios where the LTM VE can be deployed to manage application delivery within both private and public clouds, working in concert with physical LTM appliances that are already in place to manage the traditional Layer 4-7 networking that goes on in data centers.

February 19, 2010  10:28 PM

Choosing the best WAN optimization vendor

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

How can you determine the best WAN optimization vendor for your enterprise? You could listen to rehearsed sales pitches from several vendors — or you could listen to a vendor-neutral analyst like Dr. Jim Metzler on how to evaluate WAN vendor products, ask vendors the right questions and get a WAN optimization vendor snapshot in this guide: Comparing WAN optimization vendors and products.

When I attended Interop NYC last fall, Jim Metzler hosted a session called “A comparison of WAN optimization controllers.” Here, essentially, is the product of that session in a comprehensive unbiased tutorial comparing products, including Cisco’s WAAS WAN optimization, Riverbed’s Steelhead WAN optimization, Ipanema Technologies’ WAN products and more. While it was nice to hear each vendor talk about its own, surprisingly very different, solution during the session — I found it much more useful to look at the WAN optimization controller market through Metzler’s third-party eye.

Let us know how Metzler’s WAN optimization vendor comparison guide helped you choose the best WAN optimization vendor for your enterprise at or feel free to comment below.

January 26, 2010  4:38 PM

Move away from IPv4…This is not a test

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

For the 100th time at least, no one is kidding about the need to move to IPv6. We repeat, make the move now if you haven’t already. Last week the Number Resource Organization (NRO) announced that less than 10% of the remaining IPv4 addresses are unallocated, and that puts IPv4 on the endangered species list. What’s NRO? The group that officially represents the five Regional Internet Registries that oversee Internet number resources.

Since IPv6 includes a numbering system that provides a much larger address pool than IPv4, the NRO urged all Internet stakeholders to spring into action by planning for the necessary investments required to deploy IPv6. Obviously that includes enterprises. Here are the NRO suggestions:

Given the less than 10 percent milestone, the NRO is continuing its call for Internet stakeholders, including governments, vendors, enterprises, telecoms operators, and end users, to fulfill their roles in IPv6 adoption, specifically encouraging the following actions:
• The business sector should provide IPv6-capable services and platforms, including web hosting and equipment, ensuring accessibility for IPv6 users.
• Software and hardware vendors should implement IPv6 support in their products to guarantee they are available at production standard when needed.
• Governments should lead the way by making their own content and services available over IPv6 and encouraging IPv6 deployment efforts in their countries. IPv6 requirements in government procurement policies are critical at this time.
• Civil society, including organizations and end users, should request that all services they receive from their ISPs and vendors are IPv6-ready, to build demand and ensure competitive availability of IPv6 services in coming years.

January 25, 2010  3:28 PM

Is new technology hurting your wide area network?

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

To those managing, building and working on enterprise wide area networks (WANs):

I’m pleased to introduce myself as the new site editor of

As I’ve worked on for the past few years, I’ve come to find that many emerging technologies intended to help IT professionals do more with less may be easing other facets of IT, but not the network — WANs included.

Take virtualization for example — a technology meant to save power and physical resources — actually makes managing and monitoring networks very difficult. Likewise, as this Q&A with Riverbed Technology’s chief scientist suggests, the flexibility that cloud computing offers may kill WAN performance.

While these new technologies work against the WAN, I plan to provide you with the information and resources necessary to meet those challenges.

Is there a particular technology putting stress on your corporate WAN? Are you stuck on a particlar task? If so, tell me what you’re working on at or leave a comment below. Or, to stay up on WAN news and tips, you can follow us at NetworkingTT* on Twitter; sign up for our WAN RSS feed; or subscribe to any of our free WAN newsletters through your TechTarget member profile.

I look forward to your responses!
Tessa Parmenter — Site Editor

*Correction: @NetworkingTT not @NetworkTT — shares the same Twitter account as (2/25/10).

December 9, 2009  5:04 PM

Lions and the lambs: Enterprise/telecom carriers to work on cloud services together

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

Large enterprises and telecom service providers working together for the common benefit of cloud computing service adoption? Imagine that.

To bring it about, the TM Forum announced a new role for itself -– the middle-person of its new cloud services buyer’s council — this week at its Management World Americas conference in Orlando. The point of the new Enterprise Cloud Buyers Council (ECBC) is to make sure telecom providers are listening to what enterprises need in terms of public, private and hybrid cloud services and technologies. The council also plans to form focused groups for specific vertical markets like financial services or pharmaceuticals because of their unique needs.

Because the cloud is such a highly hyped issue, the TM Forum’s Eric Pullier, executive director of the ECBC, said he wants working groups to get familiar with the realities and challenges of cloud computing services so they can present a solid business model. It may come as a surprise to enterprise IT, but as the cloud model takes hold, IT groups will find themselves as one of the competitors vying to provide services to the corporation.

“One of [the] suppliers is themselves. IT groups didn’t have to be competitive before, but now there’s a new economic setup,” Pullier said.

Two heavy-hitting enterprises — Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Deutsche Bank — have signed on to represent the buyers’ side of the cloud-services equation. Commonwealth Bank moved to a Platform as a Service (PaaS) model for its company almost two years ago and has seen costs plummet to 40% of what they would have been for maintaining individual application silos for different divisions of the company. On the sellers’ side is a virtual who’s who of telecom provider, equipment vendor and solutions provider players, including AT&T, BT, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, EMC, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Nokia Siemens Networks.

In particular, the group will attempt to create common product definitions; identify security challenges, equipment interoperability and data portability issues that would prevent provider lock-in; deliver provider benchmarking tools and studies; forecast buyer demand; and delve into advanced issues like federated cloud storage and cloud service level agreements (SLAs).

November 17, 2009  9:12 PM

Riverbed eyes Israeli WAN optimization start-up for acquisition, but why?

Jessica Scarpati Jessica Scarpati Profile: Jessica Scarpati

Oh, how the rumor mill churns! Israeli business publication Globes reports that “sources” say Riverbed Technology Inc. may buy Expand Networks, a Tel Aviv-based fellow WAN optimization vendor.

The reporters at Globes haven’t gotten any official word from Riverbed or Expand, but their sources say the deal could be somewhere between $30-40 million. Globes hints that Expand has run into some financial troubles, and it seems the vultures are circling:

Gartner said that Expand was a small private company in a market led by large companies. In other words, it would not survive independently for long.

The sources added that Expand had been in contact with other potential buyers, and another communications equipment vendor may end up acquiring it, or else a company that wants to enter the sector.

Interesting that Riverbed would be making this play. It is already an established leader in the WAN optimization market, so what does Expand have that Riverbed wants? The blogosphere seems pretty quiet on it.

British IT outlet The Register speculates the two companies are just in the right place at the right time.

[Riverbed] earned $102m in its third 2009 quarter, a 12 per cent increase on the second quarter and 18 per cent up on the year-ago quarter. Net income was $5.5m, which compares to a net loss a year ago of $11m. It reported a $38m cash flow from operations and $297m in cash and marketable securities and no debt. That’s a nice situation to be in with a bottoming out, or maybe recovering economy.

The previous two quarters had been disappointing and a much-heralded Atlas deduplication product technology has been shelved. So it appears Riverbed’s growth is going to be by acquisition and not by organically developing its own technology.

… It looks as if, with that funder’s vote of no confidence in Expand, the company is on the selling block and looking to be bought, with Riverbed a front runner.

Fellow TechTarget blogger Shamus McGillicuddy also points out any possible acquisition is something Riverbed partners (and IT shops who use these VARs) to keep an eye on:

If the Riverbed-Expand deal happens, Riverbed and Expand partners should watch carefully how Riverbed incorporates Expand’s technology into its product portfolio. Certainly Riverbed would prioritize the integration of Expand’s remote and virtual desktop acceleration capabilities into its Steelhead appliances.

Riverbed might also try to integrate Expand’s vision for software-only WAN optimization appliances. Riverbed’s approach focuses more on having physical boxes between each location, although its Steelhead Mobile technology has departed from this vision, allowing enterprises to deploy acceleration software on end user devices.

November 11, 2009  5:50 PM

Content security study points to the cloud; Cisco takes top vendor slot

Jerry Jackson Profile: JerryJackson

The complexity of security solutions needed to keep content free of viruses, malware and worse is driving many enterprises to hosted and cloud-based solutions, according to a new Infonetics Research study on the content security buying plans of 240 North American organizations of all sizes. Not surprisingly, then, cost turned out to be the number-one barrier affecting customer deployment of new content security solutions.

But as enterprises consider making those moves, equipment to address security issues on the a la carte security menu include host products, gateway appliances and gateway software, such as purchased standalone software and licensed Software as a Service (SaaS) clients, according to Infonetics network security analyst Jeff Wilson. A full 60% of study respondents planning to roll out SaaS solutions cited strength of security as a chief driver. Cisco rated highest overall in user ratings of content security manufacturers, but edged out Symantec by only a slight margin for most criteria. Infonetics based the study’s ratings on eight criteria: technology, product roadmap, security, management, price-to-performance ratio, pricing, financial stability, and service and support.

Moving away from system-specific security and toward a centralized, network-wide strategy is one course of action for businesses looking to reduce their WAN costs and position themselves to strike quickly when the economy begins to bounce back, according to CIMI Corp. President Tom Nolle.

November 10, 2009  11:11 PM

Managed WAN services: Who you gonna call?

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

WAN stands for wide area network, right? Since that’s the case, Current Analysis Research Director Brian Washburn believes in going wide or going home if you’re looking for a managed WAN services provider. When it comes to breadth, depth and reach of services, Washburn looks to the biggest global carriers, like AT&T, Verizon Business, Orange Business and BT Global services, if you’re talking worldwide presence, along with consulting, professional services, global networks and service personnel on-the-ground presence.

Of course lots of smaller telecom service providers offer managed WAN services well, and Washburn notes Qwest, Sprint, Global Crossing, New Edge Networks and MegaPath. In the “rising star” category is PAETEC. Notably absent on his list are cable companies, even though they serve smaller businesses well with managed router, managed firewall and managed VPN offerings. Go figure.

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