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Friday, January 04, 2008

How the NetFlow protocol monitors your WAN


How the NetFlow protocol monitors your WAN

Tom Lancaster
Rating: --- (out of 5)

NetFlow technology is a method of switching that collects an extraordinary amount of information about the traffic passing through routers, switches and other network devices. This information has myriad uses -- from monitoring users and applications to trending and network planning. You can also do traffic engineering with it. It is even detailed enough to use for accounting and billing. Most important for some is that the information can be extremely useful for diagnosing those difficult, intermittent performance problems, and it can help you sort out DDoS/worm issues where traditional tools are overwhelmed with tons of traffic going in all directions.

To be clear, what we're talking about here is the NetFlow protocol that's used to transfer the information about your network traffic from the network devices to a server that collects and stores the data. The server is called a "NetFlow collector." Although some other network hardware manufacturers are supporting this technology in various forms, and others are offering competing technology -- like sFlow, which uses sampling -- the current Cisco NetFlow protocol format is the ninth version.

More on NetFlow
NetFlow network monitoring tools go with the 'flow'

Combining NetFlow analysis with security information management systems

Mining NetFlow 

Going beyond the flow: Giving network engineers the tools to think, act globally 

NetFlow was invented by Cisco years ago and has been proprietary for a while, but recently it's become an IETF "standard." Here's a link to the IETF's working group for Flow Information Export (IPFIX). And there's more interesting reading in this IETF informational RFC.

Opening this standard has done two big things:

It lets non-Cisco devices send data to your NetFlow collector. Riverbed's WAN optimization appliances are an example of this. They are typically placed at the edge of the WAN, an ideal position in the network to gather critical data about WAN utilization because they see the packets before and after they're optimized. These devices can export the data in a NetFlow format.

It also lets management software vendors directly access a much more detailed source of information than the old SNMP/ mini-RMON.

Implementing NetFlow

If you're considering implementing NetFlow, here are a few things to keep in mind:

NetFlow has a reputation for increasing CPU utilization on your network devices. Cisco's performance testing seems to indicate that newer hardware can accommodate this load pretty well, but you will still want to check it out before you turn on the feature. Some symptoms of high CPU utilization are very large jitter and increased delay. Services running on the device may also be affected.

Another thing to keep in mind is the amount of data you're going to be sending across the network. Depending on how much traffic you have and how you configure it, the traffic can be substantial. For example, you may not want to send NetFlow data from a datacenter switch to a NetFlow collector on the other side of a small WAN circuit. Also bear in mind that the flows from aggregating large numbers of devices can add up.

About the author:
Tom Lancaster, CCIE# 8829 CNX# 1105, is a consultant with 15 years of experience in the networking industry. He is co-author of several books on networking, most recently CCSP: Secure PIX and Secure VPN Study Guide, published by Sybex.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Gartner outlined its top 10 strategic technology areas for 2008 and many roads lead to service oriented architecture.

October 9th, 2007

Gartner’s top 10 technologies for 2008: SOA precursors; fabric computing; Real world Web; WOA

Gartner outlined its top 10 strategic technology areas for 2008 and many roads lead to service oriented architecture.



The top 10 is off to the right and there aren’t any huge surprises. Who didn’t see green IT and virtualization being listed? But what’s notable are all of the SOA precursors to be found. Business process modeling (No. 3), metadata management (No. 4), mashups and composite apps (No. 6) and Web platforms (No. 7) all add up to SOA down the road. All of those aforementioned items need to be done as large companies adopt SOA. What’s notable here is that Gartner’s list is focused on 2008. If you assume everyone in this packed room at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando runs back to the office to implement these technologies (fat chance) mass SOA adoption should come sometime in 2009 or 2010.

“SOA isn’t on the list because we are looking at some of the implementation technologies for service oriented architecture,” says Gartner analyst David Cearley. For instance, business process modeling (BPM) isn’t even a technology, but it’s a necessary precursor to introducing new technology. “SOA without BPM will not deliver on its process to the business,” says Cearley.

Cearley argues that metadata management falls into a similar category. Without the upfront work on developing an information infrastructure SOA will stumble.

A look at some of the other key technologies described.

Green IT: The technologies for green IT practices–multicore chips, power supplies, fans and power management software–are all mature, says Carl Claunch, an analyst at Gartner. So what’s new about green IT for 2008?

Claunch argues that there may be limits put on data center choices, regulations may become more prominent and then there’s the cost savings to your electric bill. “Green really matters and there’s a lot of work coming from the technology vendor sphere,” says Claunch.

Cearley notes that he has talked with many technology managers that haven’t been prodded for green IT practices. His advice: Plan ahead because “at some point someone will knock on your door about it and it’ll be easier if you plan ahead.”

Computing fabrics: Claunch says blade servers are just an intermediate stage. A fabric will allow several blades to be merged. “Blades are not the final step,” says Clough. His description:

The fabric based server of the future will treat memory, processors and I/O cards are components in a pool, combining and recombining them into particular arrangements to suit the owner’s needs. That is, a large server can be created by combining 32 processors and a number of memory modules from the pool, operating together over the fabric to appear to an operating system as a single fixed server. Any combination of the components can be configured, as they will not longer be defined as blades.

Unified communications. Plain old telephone lines are merging to VOIP. Convergence of communications is underway. The big question: When do the real value added applications come along? Claunch says converging things like Web services, contact centers, email and phone services will lead to combinations with storage networks, video from security cameras and sensors. “All sorts of potential applications emerge,” says Claunch. Timeline: 2010.

Virtualization is more than just consolidation of hardware. Claunch argues that virtualization is all about flexibility and the ability to adapt. These advantages go beyond mere hardware savings.

Here’s a chart outlining what Gartner calls Virtualization 2.0:


Web platforms (also known as SaaS today). Cearley says that 25 percent of Gartner customers have some form of SaaS already. Cearley advises that IT managers build in SaaS providers into their sourcing strategies.

Longer term, however, Web platforms will be the model for the future. Ultimately everything–infrastructure, information, widgets and business processes–will be delivered as a service. All of these intertwined APIs will give us a acronym: WOA (Web oriented architecture.) “Put this on your radar screen and start with some ‘what if’ models,” says Cearley. These Web platforms will also make mashups more common in the enterprise. In fact, Cearley argues that enterprises will need an architecture just to manage mashups.

Real World Web: Claunch defines the Real World Web as one where all devices–wireless devices, cameras, PCs etc.–combine to analyze location, intent and even emotions over a network. This will augment reality, says Claunch. Many verticals–military, healthcare, travel and retail–are expected to adopt applications for the Real World Web.

Going green tops Gartner's 2008 IT trends list

Going green tops Gartner's 2008 IT trends list

Posted by Chris Hynes at 12:41PM, Thursday 11th October 2007

Shifting to "Green IT" and unified communications are next year's top two trends, according to analyst Gartner.

Environmentally-friendly "Green IT" will continue to be at the forefront of businesses' strategies next year, according to analyst Gartner who this week revealed the top 10 trends and technologies it believes will be key in 2008 and beyond.

Potential "green" regulations could further constrain companies from expanding data centres and the impact of power grids and carbon emissions are under constant scrutiny, meaning that the pressure to get and stay green is only set to increase.

Gartner has previously claimed that the manufacturing, transportation and use of IT equipment causes roughly two per cent of the world's carbon emissions, on a par with the aviation industry.

Although the issue has been widely highlighted, and many organisations have publicly declared their eco-friendly commitment, a large number of businesses have yet to turn intentions into action. Indeed, a poll conducted in September by storage vendor Onstor revealed that just over a third (36 per cent) of organisations currently have projects that would make their computing needs more environmentally friendly, leaving a majority that has yet to act.

However, some companies are doing their bit, particularly the major IT vendors who are trying to take the lead. Dell, for example, has clear plans to become carbon neutral as evidenced by its tree-planting and energy-savvy initiatives.

But being green isn't the only major change predicted for the coming year. Currently, 20 per cent of the installed base with private branch exchanges (PBX) have migrated to IP telephony, with more than 80 per cent in a trial phase, according to Gartner, which expects the majority of companies to embark on full-blown implementation over the next three years.

The impending switch to unified communications, the first major change in voice communications since the mobile phone revolution, could prove key as companies look towards reducing meeting-related travel as part of their mission to become greener.

The remaining trends that Gartner believes will be prevalent in 2008 are business process modelling, metadata management, virtualisation 2.0, mash up and composite applications, web platform and web oriented architecture (WOA), computing fabric, real world web and social software.

"Companies should factor these technologies into their strategic planning process by asking key questions and making deliberate decisions about them during the next two years," said David Cearley, vice president of IT for Gartner Symposium, an event being held next month where the analyst plans to go into more detail about its predictions.

"Sometimes the decision will be to do nothing with a particular technology. In other cases it will be to continue investing in the technology at the current rate. In still other cases, the decision may be to test/pilot or more aggressively adopt/deploy the technology. The important thing is to ask the question and proactively plan."

SaaS ERP gains ground in large IT shops

SaaS ERP gains ground in large IT shops

Herman Mehling, Contributor

The Software as a Service (SaaS) model is quickly growing in some
enterprise software markets (notably customer relationship management),
but it's been slow to gain traction in ERP. Until now, that is.

More on SaaS
Large firms weigh SaaS as NetSuite goes public

For years, SaaS has been popular with small and medium-sized businesses
(SMBs), where vendors such as Intaact Corp. and NetSuite Inc. have been
successful in addressing simpler computing needs and environments,
compared with those of large enterprises. The generic SaaS model has
numerous cost benefits, including no up-front costs, no licensing fees
and rapid, easy deployment. Many SMB CIOs have moved their
mission-critical apps to a SaaS model to reap these benefits -- and now
large-enterprise CIOs are following suit.

"The ability to adopt on-demand services on a pay-as-you-go basis is a
perfect sourcing strategy for businesses seeking greater cost controls
and flexibility," said Jeff Kaplan, founder of ThinkStrategies Inc., a
Wellesley, Mass.-based SaaS consulting firm.

SaaS ERP for the enterprise market is taking shape, with demonstrable,
sustainable ROI as a result of its scalability, broad-based
applicability, easily adaptable technologies and reduced operating overhead.

Chiquita Brands International Inc., a producer and distributor of
produce with more than 25,000 employees worldwide, found that a SaaS ERP
implementation offered clear-cut ROI. The Cincinnati-based company
recently partnered with Workday Inc., a SaaS ERP company, to implement a
human capital management product worldwide.

Chiquita chose Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Workday for several reasons,
including its ability to meet the needs of Chiquita's unique global
structure, according to Stan Swete, chief technology officer at Workday.
Other reasons included the next-generation Web 2.0 interface, lower cost
and the simplicity of Workday's on-demand architecture.

SaaS has made enormous inroads among enterprises and smaller companies
during the past 18 months, for reasons that translate into demonstrable,
sustainable ROI, Swete said.

The ability to adopt on-demand services on a pay-as-you-go basis is a
perfect sourcing strategy for businesses seeking greater cost controls
and flexibility.
Jeff Kaplan
founder, ThinkStrategies Inc.

"SaaS provides customers and vendors with the lowest-cost, most
efficient model for delivering software applications," he said. "It's a
pay-as-you-go subscription model that costs less than traditional
licensing. There are no hardware or software requirements and no upgrade

More vendors are now offering ERP service options, and the benefits are
more apparent:

It can be implemented quickly. Companies can be up and running very
quickly, according to Swete. "Implementation of mission-critical apps
can take weeks compared to the months involved with premise-based
software," he said. Patches and upgrades are delivered as quickly.

Fewer IT staff members are needed. SaaS allows enterprises to add
applications without having to justify the expense of dedicating an IT
person to manage a particular application, unlike with premise-based
software, Swete noted. This allows IT staff to focus on other tasks.

It's Sarbanes-Oxley compliant. SaaS can enable enterprises to overcome
their Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) needs. "A year ago, most large-scale
enterprises rejected SaaS because they thought it didn't satisfy their
compliance requirements," Kaplan said. "Now, they view the process
controls, audit abilities and off-site hosting features of SaaS
applications as a perfect solution for SOX."

It's low-maintenance and costs less. Software applications are delivered
on an as-needed basis. "The beauty of SaaS is that customers are always
using the latest version of the software, without having to endure any
implementation or upgrade pain," Swete said.

SaaS does have its downsides for enterprise IT departments as well. One
of the biggest issues is the complexity of integrating SaaS in an IT
environment dominated by premise-based software.

However, as Kaplan notes, integration challenges often arise in
enterprises, so it can also be a non-issue. "Enterprise CIOs always have
to blend new applications into legacy ones," Kaplan said. Most SaaS
solutions reduce integration complexities via the vendors' flexible
application programming interfaces, he noted.

The bottom line on ROI: SaaS ERP allows enterprises to outsource mundane
IT work while offering strategic, value-added benefits such as improving
functionality and overcoming complex application/technology deployment
and maintenance responsibilities.

Herman Mehling is a freelance writer based in San Anselmo, Calif. He can
be reached at

Monday, December 31, 2007

Google Alert - ITIL

Google News Alert for: ITIL

Arab Academy and ITpreneurs conduct first ITIL Foundation V3 ...
Al-Bawaba - Amman,Jordan
The Arab Academy for Microsoft Technologies, a fully-owned STS company, partnered with ITpreneurs to conduct the first ITIL Foundation Version 3 training ...
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IT Desktop Support Analyst - Kingston, Surrey/£18k - MCP/ITIL - UK
A Junior IT Helpdesk Analyst with experience working in an ITIL environment is required by our IT Solutions client based near Richmond, Surrey. ...
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Systems Administrator - UK
... of operating systems/applications within a Microsoft and Citrix environment; and possess an understanding of ITIL framework and working to SLAs. ...
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Google Blogs Alert for: ITIL

The Infosys Enterprise Architecture Survey 2007 Results
By Architecture and Change
Generic IT management frameworks such as ITIL and COBIT. We found that framework adoption has increased significantly; with almost 70% using one or the other framework. Architecture frameworks have been adopted by 55% of the ...
Afrigator -

Increased training for ITILv3?
Version 3 of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a best-practices framework which should be in the lexicon of every CIO, was released this May without a great deal of fanfare. Seen primarily as an update to the ...
The CIO Weblog -

ITIL change management in the tool of SalesForce Dreamforce
By steen_isdahl
Vision, that the ITIL standards that is around Configuration Management control is part of the DreamForce tools set, so we don’t need to facilitate this outside DF. I can’t conclude, if CC15 is the core one, among problem, incident, ...
IdeaExchange -

IT support manager
from: mblk 1 hour ago. Tags: support itil support itil.
Recently Uploaded Slideshows -

ITIL® Glossary v01, 1 May 2006: Acronyms
By itilorg(itilorg)
Acronym. Term. ACD. Automatic Call Distribution. AM. Availability Management. AMIS. Availability Management Information System. ASP. Application Service Provider. BCM. Business Capacity Management. BCM. Business Continuity Management ...
ITIL Studies -

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Google Alert - Infrastructure Management

Google News Alert for: Infrastructure Management

L&T taps Travelers of US for non-life insurance foray
Economic Times - Gurgaon,Haryana,India
This year, L&T Infrastructure Finance has begun funding core sector projects. Sources said L&T’s huge thrust on infrastructure is expected to provide ...
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Google Blogs Alert for: Infrastructure Management

Controlled Chaos
By Frank
This contrarian approach to traffic management, known as shared space, is gaining a foothold in Europe. Towns in the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain and Belgium have tossed out their traffic lights and stop signs in a bid to reclaim their ...
Orphan Road - Documenting Seattle's... -

2008 predictions
By Mark Watson, author and consultant(Mark Watson, author and consultant)
New web based applications will continue the upwards trend to outsourcing infrastructure to Amazon (EC2, S3, SimpleDB), Google (GData, applications), etc. Pressure to reduce IT costs will drive most organizations even more towards open ...
Mark Watson's opinions on Java,... -

weekend Stock Alert: December 30, 2007
By David J. Phillips(David J. Phillips)
Walter Pritchard, the infrastructure software analyst for Cowen, after talking with 900 people involved with technology purchases, concluded that Citrix Systems (CTXS-$37.90), a global leader in application delivery infrastructure, ...
10Q Detective -

By johnadonovan
Early December the Infrastructure Sourcing Programme (ISP) submitted the proposal to outsource a substantial part of our IT infrastructure services to the RDS Board. On behalf of the RDS Board and Executive Committee, ...
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Health and Safety Advisor
The Client My client delivers whole life solutions through business case, design, procurement, construction and maintenance in property and infrastructure management. Their operations reach throughout the UK and Middle East via a ...
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