Written by Marina Gil-Santamaria
Recently I came across this chart and it got me thinking about how Ipswitch can help you cut your IT costs.
The way things are these days keeping costs down in any business is tough, especially when it comes to IT. This recent IDC chart outlined the best practices reducing your IT costs. We’ve taken it a step further with specific actions you can take through network management to reduce overall spending. This week we’ll focus on limiting lost productivity.
Many organizations have some type of layer 3 discovery in place based on whichever network management tool they use. The major limitation of layer 3 discovery is that the physical connectivity between devices in the network is not automatically established. Connectivity between devices or systems (a layer 2 discovery) must be manually established by network management personnel and this process is really tedious, time consuming, resource intensive and prone to errors. And this gets more complicated if technology such as virtualization, WLAN, etc are used in your environment. After all, you have to manually plough through router configurations, device logs, Access Points, etc to try to get to the bottom of how everything is connected. Plus, how can you be assured that the connectivity and topology information that your IT team has manually gathered is complete and accurate, and will remain up-to-date in an on-going basis?
One of the best ways to increase IT productivity is to use a layer 2/3 discovery tool. And here we can definitively help. Ipswitch’s WhatsUp WhatsConnected offers a stand-alone solution (that can also integrate with an existing WhatsUp Gold installation) that lets you automatically discover, map and document your entire infrastructure – network devices, servers, VMware virtual machines, VLANs and port to port connectivity quickly and efficiently. With WhatsUp WhatsConnected you can ensure complete accuracy; validate your archived CI (Configuration Item) data for process and regulatory compliance; and immediately visualize how everything is connected down to port-to-port connectivity. No more manual port-to-port connectivity tracking, no more taking notes on paper and then converting those notes into a drawing using Visio, not more massive inventory spreadsheets using vendor specific tools to find info. With the touch of a button, and a matter of minutes, WhatsConnected discovers the entire enterprise and stores it in easily understandable and exportable format.
How is that for productivity increase? You’ll save immeasurable time and money. Stay tuned for more best practices on IT cost reduction.
I had the pleasure of attending the SecureWorld Expo last week in Santa Clara, CA, right in the heart of Silicon Valley. Although it was a relatively small show, the audience was feisty! And as the first tradeshow I’ve attended as an Ipswitch employee, and my first security-themed show, there was a ton to learn.
The range of exhibitors and their offerings was impressive and instructive. Attendees (and this reporter) had the opportunity to learn about end point security, patch management, threat management appliances, disaster recovery, identity management, and much more.
Here are a few vendors that caught my eye:
- ESET – whose live, 2-inch long cockroaches drew cringes and well-earned attention to their anti-virus solutions set;
- Websense – whose DLP solution is a great complement to Ipswitch’s managed file transfer products, as it automatically identifies content that likely contains data that is sensitive and needs to be secured;
- Veracode – which is changing the game in application security testing with its SaaS static testing and analysis offerings.
I was tapped to be a panelist for a breakout session entitled “Data Protection – Walking the Thin Line Between Employee Productivity and Security”. It was a great subject that my fellow panelists handled very well, demonstrating their deep knowledge about security solutions and how they fit (or don’t) within corporate cultures. I look forward to exploring these questions with Ipswitch’s customers and at other tradeshows in the coming months.
The most insightful conversations I had at the show were with attendees who visited our booth. More on those conversations soon….
We recently reached an amazing milestone in our iCare@Ipswitch program. Through iCare, Ipswitch has donated over $2 million dollars to a variety of community and charitable causes.
As an employee of Ipswitch, I take great pride in knowing that our CEO has incorporated social conscience and philanthropy into the core culture of our company. Not only does Ipswitch donate 5% of company profits to a variety of community programs, but also employees from around the globe volunteer to participate in events and causes. It’s our unique deep-rooted culture that truly separates Ipswitch from other organizations that I have been a part of.
“We make more than software. We make a difference.
Community involvement is an integral part of Ipswitch’s culture and values. At the heart of the iCare@Ipswitch commitment we recognize that the vitality of our company is linked to the health of our communities. And we know that our communities cannot flourish unless we invest in their future.”
At my 1-year and 3-year Ipswitch anniversaries, Ipswitch gave me $500 to donate to a charity of my choice. When my son was born last year, Ipswitch gave me another $500 to donate to my preferred charity. These are personal and meaningful examples of why Ipswitch is so special.
Please take a minute to read more about Ipswitch’s community involvement and our iCare partners CARE, GiftsToGive, The Foundation To Be Named Later and the Equal Justice Initiative.
So the other day my husband was telling me about ideas that were being considered for his friend’s upcoming bachelor party. Now some wives may not actively engage in these types of conversations, but this wasn’t one of those typical conversations. You see, the front runner for the party’s festivities was to have a LAN party. All of the guys would gather together in close vicinity, set up their own network, and play video games against each other.
Now from my perspective, I would of course prefer this to my husband visiting certain typical “bachelor party” establishments. But it made me realize how active the virtual world is becoming….and so now I turn the floor over to you.
Share your favorite “virtual reality” game or activity and we’ll randomly pick someone to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Submit your response with a Facebook post, Tweet, or blog comment by 11 a.m. EST next Thursday, September 30th 2010.
A message from Ennio Carboni:
24 x 7 network access is absolutely critical to the Texas State Guard, a branch of the Texas Military Forces. Their mission is to assist local authorities during emergencies, protecting the public during hurricanes, floods and other natural or manmade disasters.
Information Officer Mark Bell explained just how critical round-the-clock network access is in a recent case study:
“By the time users realize they are unable to use e-mail or access other resources, it’s too late. You don’t want to find out from a field unit actively involved in an emergency that they aren’t able to communicate. We need to know as soon as a problem occurs so it can be addressed before it impacts our users.”
Bell had used WhatsUp Gold in his previous employment, so when he saw their network had no automated monitoring in place when he came on board about a year ago, he recommended our solution.
We’re proud to be the preferred solution to many military and government branches around the world – and we’re prouder still that so many of customers’ are life-long WhatsUp Gold users.
We’ve dedicated the last two decades to developing our product with our customers’ changing needs in mind so we’re particularly honored that our product’s reputation very often precedes it.
“WhatsUp Gold demonstrated its value immediately, and it continues to prove its worth,” says Bell. He estimates a 25% improvement just in systems availability since the installation “plus the immeasurable comfort of knowing that our systems are being ‘watched’ 24×7.”
Interested in learning how WhatsUp Gold can help you monitor your military or government environment? Watch this video, “WhatsUp Gold: Secure Network Management for Government” and/or visit the government page on our website.
Tonight I’m blogging from the PCI Council Community Meeting here in Orlando, FL. Tomorrow we’ll be talking about the new changes in version 2.0 of the PCI DSS audit requirements (set to go into effect in 2011), but tonight was the welcome reception for the 1000 attendees here at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel.
Participation in the PCI Council Community Meeting conference is on the rise. Two years ago there were about 500 attendees from 300 participating organizations – now the numbers have roughly doubled. There are probably two major factors behind this.
One factor is the de facto status of PCI DSS as one of the gold standards of information security. When five competing credit card companies came together in 2004 to publicly agree on a single security standard there was much rejoicing throughout the industry. And the standard has held up: though major releases have come every two years, the original twelve categories and most of the subcategories remain essentially unchanged from the original.
The second factor is the ever-widening circle of companies that fall under the scope of PCI compliance. Originally it was large credit card processors and retailers, but in recent years even companies that only handle a few dozen credit card transactions a year have had to take notice. And as the scope widens, there are more people who want their voices to be heard in the decision-making process, which is where this week’s conference comes in.
I’ll be posting a few more items about this conference in next few days – please stay tuned.
Here’s another reminder for webmasters and server admins that you need to carefully protect your FTP login credentials because people are trying hard to steal them.
Last week SC Magazine wrote about a website containing over 100,000 stolen FTP login credentials. Network security and management firm Blue Coat discovered the sensitive files, which contained username and password combinations to FTP servers located around the globe.
The really scary part of this story is that most of the compromised passwords were deemed “reasonable strong”, according to Chris Larsen, a security researcher at Blue Coat. The breach wasn’t the result of weak passwords that were easily hacked or guessed. The credentials were stolen by an attacker who used sophisticated tools to get machine or network access, and then watched for them.
“The discovery, however, does provide an opportunity to remind webmasters that their FTP credentials should be protected and treated with as much care as banking credentials. Try to only use them from computers that are known to be secure. The bad guys want your login.”
Here are a few password tips to keep in mind:
- Always use strong passwords. Here’s a nice primer on how to create strong passwords.
- Don’t use the same password for all your online accounts. Sure, it’s easier, but the flipside is that if your password is hacked for one account, then the password you use for your other accounts is compromised also.
- Change your password to sensitive accounts at least every couple of months. That way, even if your account has been compromised, you’ve limited how long it stays that way.
- Never leave a post-it note with your secret passwords stuck to your wall or on your desk.
Do you still have to manually document port-to-port connectivity and interdependencies between devices? If you do, then you know how wearisome, time consuming and prone to errors this process is. After all, you have better things to do than plowing through router configurations, device logs, Access Points, among others, and to conduct a tedious visual port-by-port connectivity verification and documentation to map topology information.
Did you know that WhatsConnected automates the process of discovering, mapping and documenting your entire infrastructure quickly and efficiently in a matter of minutes?
With WhatsConnected you can:
• Discover everything connected to your network–devices, servers, VMware virtual machines, VLANs and port-to-port connectivity–automatically or ad-hoc
• Map and visualize your network topology and interdependencies
• Access accurate network and server inventory information and network diagrams for audit and compliance-centric initiatives (SOX, HIPAA, PCI, FISMA and others)
• Document & archive your asset inventory (Routers, Switches, Wireless Access Points, Printers, Windows, Unix, Linux, Macintosh, Firewalls, Hubs, IP Phones, and more)
• Publish network topology maps through Microsoft® Visio™
And announced today – you can now install WhatsConnected wherever you need it! Together with WhatsUp Gold, on a system with a Microsoft® Visio™ license, on any server or workstation, or on a laptop – WhatsConnected provides flexible discovery, mapping and documentation on the go.
Intrigued? Learn more in our Product Tour video, try it free for 30 days, and join our live webinar on October 5th on Best Practices: How to Discover, Inventory and Map your Physical and Virtual Infrastructures.
Ipswitch’s Jonathan Lampe will be attending this week’s PCI Security Standards Council Community Meeting in Orlando, FL. He’ll be blogging from the event to keep us updated on discussions about the new PCI DSS 2.0 and other key Council initiatives.
As part of their ongoing mission, The PCI Security Standards Council enhances and evolves the PCI Data Security Standards as needed to ensure that the standard includes any new or modified requirements necessary to mitigate emerging payment security risks, while continuing to foster wide-scale adoption. We anticipate some very interesting forum conversations to review and discuss how the PCI DSS should evolve with this next release.
In the meantime, thought you’d want to watch this great video from the PCI Security Standards Council website. BTW, the bearded singer is Bob Russo, the PCI Council’s General Manager. Great job with the video Bob!
I’m sharpening my marketing skills at this week’s Social Media Strategies Summit. I’ll be bringing back some innovative and creative ideas to help in our quest of having more open, engaging, relevant and educational conversations with customers and prospects over social channels.
We hope you follow and retweet us on Twitter, watch our videos on YouTube, write on our Facebook wall, connect with us on LinkedIn, and of course continue to read and comment on our blog posts.
Written by Marina Gil-Santamaria
Here at Ipswitch’s Network Management Division we think of networks as “living entities” since planned or unplanned changes happen all the time. Changes to your network introduce the need for a complete re-discovery of your infrastructure, hardware assets and port to port connectivity. WhatsUp Gold WhatsConnected can automate that for you.
As a layer 2/3 discovery and mapping tool, WhatsConnected can identify not only the physical server and virtual resources that you have deployed in your environment and how they are mapped, but how everything is connected down to the individual port. With more and more compliance-centric corporate initiatives which require access to accurate network/IT asset maps, connectivity and configuration data, it is important to have these discovering capabilities.
A layer 2/3 discovery is actually an eye opener for many organizations since they discover pieces of hardware unaccounted for or inter-device connections that they didn’t even know they were there. Once you have a hardware inventory in place, you can use it to document your network to simplify troubleshooting tasks, for auditing purposes or simply to try to reduce costs by repurposing unused resources.
We recommend running discovery periodically, more frequently for larger networks, for a well-mapped, secure network. After all, establishing that device connectivity is not the source of network problems is a top priority when troubleshooting. With WhatsConnected you can be confident in your network’s integrity with complete infrastructure discovery, mapping, and visualization in a single tool, for a price that won’t break your budget.
Coming late September, WhatsConnected will be available as a standalone solution – stay tuned for more details.
Last post I mentioned the various geolocation apps out there. Come to find out this interesting concept has opened up a niche market. More and more companies are feeding off this trend with innovative ideas like automatic Foursquare check-in by Checkmate and Future Checkin that function through background-running location info on iPhones. Another iPhone-centric app, MessageParty, combines chat rooms with the geolocation model, where users can create public parties that are location-aware. In other words, you can choose to chat with anyone that is logged on near your area.
Similar to MessageParty is Qilroy (“kill-roy”), an app that peruses your social networks for location-based status updates, allowing you to filter for specific events or places, and then reply directly to people with corresponding mentions. Dialogue can then continue as a Qilroy thread.
If the whole publicly-broadcasting-your-whereabouts-thing is a turn off for you, see Qualcomm’s Neer for the Android and soon-to-be-released version for iPhones. This location app is suited for the private-type, and allows for automatic location sharing among trusted friends, family, and spouses within your native contact list. It even smart enough to look through your call/text behavior to suggest members for your “inner circle.”
A recent AdAge article brought to light the two different types of “check-in app” users: hyperactive and hyperpassive. It went on to elaborate on geolocation apps that appeal to hyperpassive users specifically. First, there’s Xtify, one of a handful of apps that uses geolocation to deliver sales promotions and discounts. ShopAlert is a similar service that also incorporates alerts by social media, SMS, and other means. Shopkick is a contender as well, providing “kickbucks” for consumers who enter different stores.
It really comes down to the level of commitment and customization the user is looking for. I predict, just as what happened with Twitter, that the bigger names in Geolocation (Foursquare, SCVNGR) will start picking up on ways to expand their services based on what the ‘little guys’ are doing to maintain market share. We’ve already seen the beginning; Foursquare recently announced the new ability to see when you’ll become mayor of a location, an app that third-party WhenWillIbeMayor.com had spearheaded.