Tips for Supporting Your Clients Network

Does supporting your client networks wreak havoc on your day-to-day productivity? If so, then this is the article for you. Managing client networks can be tricky. A picture-perfect set-up would be if each network device you managed came from the same manufacturer. But an experienced MSP knows better.

Did you know that 75% of MSPs manage at least four or more network devices from various manufacturers?

Well, now you do. Some MSPs have even reported up to twenty vendors for one client’s network.  How crazy is that?

To reiterate, managing various networks is a standard process for most MSPs, but just because it’s standard doesn’t mean it’s less complicated.

Managing client networks requires the understanding of managing diverse OS systems, various languages, and a whole LOT more. Even though standardization is preferred, it is not practicable for all scenarios.

Because we’re in the network business, we decided to offer a few tips for supporting your clients’ network. Hopefully, you find them helpful!

Tips for Supporting Your Clients Network

Out-Of-Band Management

Establishing a connection to a device via a substitute connection similar to a serial interface without utilizing the production network is out-of-band management. It can be used to access network devices when your product network is inaccessible. Switches, routers, firewalls, and other network elements can usually be configured via serial connections to the device. It offers command line control on the device in the absence of network interfaces.

IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interfaces)

When the primary metal server is not accessible, and the server’s OS gets corrupted and stops booting, remote connection to the machine cannot be established through SSH or RDP, which means inability to restore the backup or reinstalled OS remotely. The server can be managed out-of-band through IPMI. It serves as an IP switch and remotely creates a mouse, keyboard and video access to the server over the network. IPMI allows rebooting the server or repairing or reinstalling OS in situations where OS is corrupted and serve is inaccessible.

Console Servers

Console servers offer several serial ports, which can be linked to the serial console ports of different network elements. When the internet connection is down, they allow administering network devices over its 3G or LTE networks remotely. Even though the client would not have internet access until the repair has been done at the ISP end, you will be capable of making local infrastructure accessible. Because IPMI makes use of network interface controllers (NICs) for access, IPMI devices would also be inaccessible when the network is not available. The good news is that console servers are equipped with several NICs that allows server IPMIs to link directly to the console server. This further allows remote access to IPMI equipped server through the console server even when there is no internet connectivity.

Need help with managing your client’s networks? No problem.

Partnering with the best in business vendors, MSPs, and VARs, we offer an array of managed network services through our partner program. Whether you want to use us directly or share the customer service side of things, we are flexible. Check out our partner program to learn more!

Network vs. Security: Collaborating In An Evolving Market

Network vs. security. It’s an old debate. What’s more important?

Once upon a time, a business’ network system and application security system were considered separate isolated management items. With the way technology has evolved many IT departments have merged the two. That way they sit under one umbrella.

Past Grievances Between Network and Security Teams

In the past, the two management systems contradicted one another. While network teams generally demand speed and efficiency, security teams work on the opposite end of the spectrum. They prefer to slow things downs and apply additional security barriers to assure complete protection. Nevertheless, their opposing objectives have been the cause of the lack of communication between both parties.

Security teams are generally more focused on the mitigation of potential security risks and network vulnerabilities. Whereas network teams continually strive to enhance network accessibility and usability. This creates bottlenecks for network engineers because security measures are more likely to affect the speed of the processes due to firewalls, as well as the implementation of two-factor authentication and other precautionary measures.

Forward Thinking

Today, IT experts agree that collaboration between the two IT counterparts is key to supporting an organization’s needs. With the rise of security hack attempts, network and security teams are now required to sync up and shift their approach to combating system failures or system breaches.

A Collaborative Solution

It all boils down to communication to maintain a collaborative solution. Whether your business has merged to the two counterparts or not, the goal of both departments is to ensure that a company is operating at full speed and at all times.

This means taking a proactive measure to communicate about the latest trends and concerns.

It also means that when a new project begins, like adding a new application; both teams should be present in the process to ensure effective deliverability. That way the security team can provide feedback about the impending security issues and the network team can evaluate responsively.

To learn more about merging your network and security management teams, check out our managed networks services.

Evolved Firewalls

Similar to every technology, firewalls have also changed over the past few decades.

A firewall is a security device for the network that monitors both incoming and outgoing traffic over a network and allows or blocks the network traffic according to its programmed security rules. For a quarter of a century, these firewalls have served as the first line of defense in network security. Firewalls create a barrier between secured and controlled in-house networks. They also decide whether to trust an external system or not, such as the Internet.

In modern-day firewalls, you get to see more than just a packet inspection. Because of their proven ability to block malicious traffic from accessing the corporate networks and guard the most valuable assets of organizations, firewalls have become ubiquitous throughout their IT landscapes.

How Have Firewalls Evolved Over the Years?

Firewalls were invented as a software tool to regulate access from mainly free and non-targeted network security threats. Over the years, firewalls have evolved into exclusive hardware devices. As the appliances, firewalls are enforced to adjust according to the continually rising performance demands. With the increasingly sophisticated attacks, firewalls are also required to embrace additional security functionality. With the introduction of the public and private cloud services, a division of firewalls needed to get back to their software state and virtualized form.

The contribution of a firewall towards a cyber-ecosystem has been refined with evolution. Having progressed from a simple access guard, a few forms of modern firewalls act as a highly sophisticated cyber defense system. The evolved firewalls have taken on the extremely challenging, tough, and sneaky adversaries. Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) solutions and the multi-solution Unified Threat Management (UTM) are the two examples of evolved firewalls.

The Latest Trends in Firewall Security

Modern-day firewalls, also known as next-generation firewalls at present depend more on a similar analysis of the application layer. However, evolved firewalls are more focused on deep-packet introspection. To this extent, evolved firewalls can be highly effective in the execution of different security features such as detecting and preventing intrusions, integration of user ID, firewalls for Web applications. Another latest trend in Firewall security is the integration of Virtual Private Network (VPN) services into firewalls. This has become a common practice by most enterprises because it enables off-site employees of an organization access company resources while interacting over an unprotected network such as a public Wi-Fi.

Adaptive and responsive data services are our specialty. To gain a better understanding of your network performance get a FREE Network Assessment today!

Guest Post: Smart Card Technology

Massive Networks uses various types of smart cards for security measures within its data center facilities. And because the smart card is among the digital icons in today’s information era, we thought’s we’d share a feature guest post about it from our friends at The Smart Card Institute.

Smart Card Technology – Types, Applications, and Working

Your smart card is always at your beck and call for making transactions every now and then. Today’s article takes a dive deep into the types, applications, and workings of this technology.

Smart card technology is available in markets for gaining access to products and services, for authenticating identity, and for establishing and facilitating trade. In a survey conducted in 2016, it was discovered that 27 percent of smart card applications are utilized in the banking industry, 18 percent in the welfare and health sectors, and 15 percent in the transportation industry. Besides these, smart card tech equally applies to other applications, including radio security, identification, telecommunications, and metering. In this article, we elucidate on the types of this technology, its applications, and how it works.

What is a Smart Card?

“Smart card” is a term used to describe a special kind of card-like device, pocket-sized, and containing a small integrated circuit (IC) chip. Also called a readable device, it is deployed for security verification in big corporations. The IC chip embedded in smart cards could be a simple memory circuit or a microprocessor with memory. These cards have 3 primary functions: storing personal information/data, authentication, and storing values.

Types of Smart Cards

Contact Smart Card

This type comprises electrical contacts that connect to the reader where the smart card gets inserted. In a contact smart card, the electrical contacts can be seen arranged upon a conductive gold plated coating on the surface.

Contactless Smart Card

The contactless type establishes communication with your card reader without any form of physical contact. Contact-less smart cards consist of an antenna, used for communicating with the RF (radio frequency) band with the antenna on the reader. This antenna gets power from the reader via the electromagnetic (EM) signal.

Furthermore, based on smart card functionalities and configuration, 2 types of cards can be identified:

Memory Cards

These comprise only memory circuits and are used for storing, reading, and writing data to a specific location. These are cards which only consist of memory circuits. The data, stored and written in this manner, can neither be manipulated nor processed.

A memory card is also used as a rechargeable or disposable card, containing memory units usable only once. This type is a straight memory card, which is only used for storing and writing data. And this data is protected from unrestricted access.

Microprocessor-Based Cards

Microprocessor-based cards consist of a microprocessor, which is inserted into the chip together with memory blocks. This type has specific sections of files, associated with a specific function. The data contained in these files are either managed by a fixed operating system or a dynamic one. Microprocessor-based cards also carry out multiple functions and are equally utilized for data processing as well as manipulations.

How Smart Cards Work

Your smart card is connected to the controller or host computer through a card reader — also known as an interface device, card programmers, or a card acceptance device — that receives information from the card and then conveys this information to the controller or host computer. A difference of one minute exists between both the reader and the terminal.

When your smart card gets closer to a smart card reader, the card identifies itself to the interface device by transmitting information and receiving it. If the data that is exchanged does not match, any further processing will cease. Smart cards, just like ordinary bank cards, can secure themselves against unauthorized use.

Applications of Smart Cards

Smart cards were first introduced 3 decades ago in Europe as a storage value tool for payphones to crack down on perpetrators of theft cases. Since that time, the smart card technology has made great advances, and people have invented innovative ways of using them, which include tracking credit purchases, record-keeping that took the place of paperwork, among others.

For example, in the US, consumers have been making use of smart cards for all commercial activities, such as buying groceries, ordering items online via smartphones, visiting libraries, attending movies, just to mention a few.

Smart card applications cut across many sectors and industries, ranging from banking, transportation, to telecommunications, domestic purpose, and even in government agencies. We’ve firmly integrated the smart card technology into virtually every activity in our daily lives, obviating the need to carry cash on a person. Many a state in the United States has made things a lot simpler by including chip card programs for government applications, which range from traffic departments to electronic benefit transfers.

A lot of industries have equally adopted smart card technology in their products, like GSM digital cellular phones and TV-satellite decoders. Indubitably, smart cards have a wide variety of applications in modern times, stretching across many different fields.

One of the most prominent and relevant smart cards applications is in SIM Cards and telecommunication, where they are also called secure elements, allowing the safe and secure operation of network traffic, through the provision of security technology for several millions of subscriber identity modules (SIMs) on a yearly basis. Smart cards are consumed which help the unique identifier, stored in the SIM card to protect the rights as well as privileges of all mobile subscribers.

In 2017, Brussels, Belgium-based Eurosmart reported that 5.6 billion secure elements, would be shipped globally for applications in the telecommunications sector. Eurosmart estimated that in 2018 secure element shipments for applications in the telecommunications industry would grow to 10 billion.

In a Nutshell

The technology behind smart cards has many uses today and some potential benefits for the future. With this tool — contact or contactless cards; memory or microprocessor-based cards — so many organizations and individuals now seamlessly maintain a business relationship between clients, suppliers, vendors or government authorities. They are equally capable of use, either as portable storage devices or for different purposes entirely, as they possess the capacity to hold more data in various forms.

 

Cloud Centric Businesses Need Cloud Centric Networks

Right now, the need for connectivity and communications is booming. Why? Because cloud services are how businesses run their daily operations. From online shopping to human resources, billing, and educational platforms, automation is the name of the game. Redefining the way service providers facilitate their consumers and identify opportunities for further development.

Cloud-Centric Networks For Cloud-Centric Businesses

Organizations have become ambitious for an innovative approach in the form of cloud-centric networks to link their content and communication services. With the big push towards cloud services, network providers are now required to deliver innovative cloud-centric networking models to serve cloud-centric businesses. Making an on-demand, secure, agile, and configurable interface a pre-requisite offering. IT Teams looking to outsource the network side of the puzzle should focus on Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS) with considerable scalability.

Making the Switch From MPLS

With the cloud revolution, corporations are slowly fazing out Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks to a dedicated fiber backbone that supports connectivity for both private and public clouds. Further defining the need for cloud-centric networks.

Many different services that previously stayed within storage sectors are now becoming integrated for the provision of end-to-end networking solutions. Which adds to the speed of deployment for these services on a national and international level. With the rise of diverse portal offerings and software-defined networking (SDN), networking platforms are transforming into critical differentiators for service providers.

Today, network speed, efficiency, and user-friendliness of cloud-centric networks have created new competitive advantages for cloud-centric businesses. A cloud-centric network is an integrated environment where a cloud-centric business can enjoy connectivity across the world, monitor end-to-end performance, adjust networks for particular applications, and turn up different services on demand. It provides them with a tool for catering to several demands instantly with a virtually unlimited international scale. A Cloud-centric network is the right platform that can transform a cloud-centric business to succeed in the present market.

Adaptive and responsive data services are our specialty. To gain a better understanding of your network performance, get a FREE Network Assessment today!

 

Network Virtualization: What is it exactly and why is it useful?

Network Virtualization. What is it exactly and why is it useful? In a nutshell, network virtualization combines hardware and software resources into a single administrative entity. Its purpose is to enable a data center or service provider with the applications they require on a daily basis.

But What Makes NV So Special?

All businesses aim to achieve efficiency, flexibility and cost savings. Network virtualization fulfills those. Additionally, it also provides security. In a world where malware, hacking, and data breaches are common, eliminating these possibilities is crucial.

Behind The Network Virtualization Scenes

For the last ten years, enterprises have been embracing virtualization technologies at a fast pace. Network virtualization decouples networking connectivity and services, which were previously delivered through hardware, into a dynamic, logical virtual network.  Network virtualization helps address a large number of networking challenges within modern-day data centers. It also assists with consolidating any on-demand programming and provisioning of businesses networks while eliminating the need of making any physical changes to the primary infrastructure. Network virtualization allows enterprises to simplify the way they roll out, scale, and regulate workloads and resources for effective management of ever-increasing computing requirements.

The primary objective of advancements made in the field of virtualization is to automate and ease the physical management required. In physical environments, the addition of switch ports demands connections and configurations through cabling along with the additional cost of actual switch ports. A switch port can be created separately from the primary physical ports with virtual settings. Making it an ideal solution if a company requires multiple virtual switch ports.

Why Should Your Company Use Network Virtualization?

Aside from efficiency, flexibility, and cost reduction, a company can create and configure an entirely new logical network while using the existing physical hardware. This new logical network can be independent of the other virtual networks even though it also utilizes the same equipment including cables, routers, switches, etc. Network virtualization allows for the facilitation of complex needs within multi-tenancy settings while maintaining complete security. It can keep the traffic of each network into a different logical zone and prevents it from mixing with other resources.

By allowing multiple heterogeneous network architectures to cohabit on a shared physical substrate, network virtualization provides flexibility, promotes diversity, and promises security and increased manageability — all at a lower cost to you regarding physical hardware.

Network, security, and application performance are critical to business operations. Adaptive and responsive data services are our specialty. To gain a better understanding of your network performance, get a FREE Network Assessment today!

 

Network Deployment: 3 Best Practices

It can be extremely challenging to manage an enterprise network. Or any network for that matter. Most businesses are heavily dependent upon real-time data sharing, online transactions, and operational processes making network systems a critical component to ensuring business efficiency. From backup and load balancing to stringent security controls, the quality of every aspect pertaining to the network is heavily dependent upon an effective deployment process.

Below are some best practices related to network deployments that your business must know.

Embrace the power of Ethernet

We have seen an unprecedented improvement and progress in the ability of Ethernet in the last decade. Networks that power over Ethernet offers greater scalability, flexibility, and reliability to enterprises, supplemented by the improved security provisions. The installation involves a simple routing process using Ethernet cables compared to complex VPN and MPLS setups. Business Ethernet also supports the existing network configuration. Carrier Ethernet can handle massive volumes of traffic and facilitates in high-speed connectivity of data centers to transfer substantial data loads efficiently. Moreover, Carrier Ethernet is easily upgradable and helps an organization cope with adaptive networking and ever-changing application and service demands.

Copy physical media to a hard drive

To keep it short and sweet, copy your physical media to a hard drive. This will accelerate the process of the deployment while immunizing the risk of errors and file corruption. Using this practice will also ensure that no communication errors occur and data installation is performed smoothly without any bugs or connectivity issues related to private networking.

Use a Uniform Naming Convention (UNC)

When specifying network paths during the deployment, using a Uniform Naming Convention (UNC) instead of mapped drive letters can be extremely beneficial. Each computer has different mapped drive letters and utilizing UNC paths help to navigate this problem and facilitate error-free network deployment. An example of a UNC path is using “\\server\share\folder” instead of “E:\folder”.

Final Thoughts

Using the techniques as mentioned earlier and other best practices and data solutions will allow you to avoid bottlenecks and issues related to deployment and enable you to get your network up and running swiftly and smoothly.

Network, security, and application performance are critical to business operations. Adaptive and responsive data services are our specialty. Transform your technology connectivity, today!

4 Ways Ethernet Boosts Data Center Needs

Data centers are continually searching for ways to push more data at a faster rate. The increased demand for swifter enterprise-class data transport has resulted in substantial changes in Ethernet speeds in the data center.

Carrier Ethernet has become the networking norm in the past few years as customer data-center servers are required to handle the massive amount of traffic from smarter, data-intensive applications, IoT devices, and more. 

The Need For Increased Speed

Most hyper-scale data centers are equipped with 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), and it is anticipated that they will move to 200 or 400 GbE by 2021. Moreover, there is an expectation that they will move from Gigabit Ethernet to Terabit Ethernet in the next few years.

If we talk about enterprise data centers, they are trying to catch up as currently, we have only seen 10 GbE, which is much slower for adaptive networking, especially in this demanding business environment. However, as the Ethernet speeds are increasing at an accelerated rate, it is likely that we will see enterprise data centers upgrading to at least 100 GbE.

There are many reasons why data centers require higher speeds, the primary one being the significant growth of hyper-scale networks from tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Furthermore, the availability of higher Gigabit Ethernet products at a lower price has also amplified its demand, supplemented by an increased amount of data load and private networking.

Adaptive Networking

In addition to that, workloads are becoming more adaptable and flexible as organizations branch away from the conventional enterprise data center. Enterprises are becoming more mobile, more distributed and more hyper-scale oriented, which further warrants the need for adaptive networking and fast speed in data centers.

Other important reasons include usage of data for multiple applications, including, but not limited to, financial trading, traffic management, car and airplane design, private networking, social media drug discovery, and even national security. Most data centers are considering fiber backbone for their Ethernet cable to support increased GbE speeds, higher bandwidth, and future expansions.

Another important reason is the requirement for fast and high-speed ports and an increased amount of data being driven from the dense edges of the network, which is further driving the advancement in this area. It will be fascinating to see how high-speed Ethernet boosts data center needs in the future.

Network, security, and application performance are critical to business operations. Adaptive and responsive data services are our specialty. Transform your technology connectivity, today!

 

Massive Networks Meets CVTV

Recently Paul Mako, CTO of Massive Networks met with the crew members of Channel Vision Magazine (CVTV).

This short video will walk you through how Massive Networks:

  • Deploys its services
  • Custom designs networks
  • Designed a multi-location network for a Colorado-based medical tech company

Learn how our Premium-Blended Internet and layer 2 Private Line Transport connections from office-to-officedata centers, and cloud applications can transform network connectivity from bandwidth-intensive services.

 

Are You Protected? 8 Steps to Combat Cyber Threats

If it’s connected, it’s an access point that can be infiltrated.

And any digital device that is connected to your network, is at risk. Last week, CTO Paul Mako, addressed how cybersecurity threats can be detected from the network at the Denver Biz Tech Expo. Today, your business can reduce downtime from these threats by implementing protocols at all access points that are connected to your network. It’s not just computers or it’s users that may impact business security. It’s any digital device that is connected to the network. Building systems or AI devices are just the tips of the ice burg.

Remaining educated on the latest cyber threats is the first step in improving your security processes and combating these malicious attacks. By keeping all of your system hardware and software up-to-date, actively monitoring your network usage, and utilizing the internet security measures that anti-malware and anti-virus solutions provide, you can ensure that your business is ready to battle whatever cybersecurity threat that may be lurking.

Common Cyber Threats

Phishing attacks, DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, and APT (Advanced Persistent Threats) attacks are some of the more common cyber attacks that are being used against businesses today. Training administrators and users to be cautious when reading and opening all emails, and utilizing web application firewalls are great tools to use against these attacks as they give you more control over your web traffic while recognizing malicious exploits.

 Lock It Up

Because we’re a team of network people, it’s important to note that we feel the best defense model against any kind of threat begins at the network. Despite that, there are precautions you can implement to lock down your business in the event of a hack or threat. This includes locking down your processes, securing your transactions, then securing all of the access points. Last, but definitely NOT least, train your staff.

Recently, the FBI released an article on Defending Against Payroll Phishing Scams. Below, we’ve listed out some of their strategies businesses can use to avoid them.

Defending Against Cybersecurity Scams and/or Threats Checklist:

  1. Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from individuals asking about employees or other internal information. If an unknown individual claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company.
  2. Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, including its structure or networks, unless you are certain of a person’s authority to have the information.
  3. Do not reveal personal or financial information in an email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent an email.
  4. Don’t send sensitive information over the Internet before checking a website’s security.
  5. Pay attention to the URL of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).
  6. If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Do not use the contact information provided on a website connected to the request; instead, check previous statements for contact information.
  7. Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls, and email filters to reduce some of this traffic.
  8. Take advantage of any anti-phishing features offered by your email client and web browser.