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Recent trends in IT networking: One observer's view

In this week's SN blog roundup, analysts explore recent trends in IT, the Juniper breach and next-generation firewalls.

CTO adviser Keith Townsend kicked off the new year by exploring some of the recent trends in IT networking. According to Townsend, recent trends in IT included the death of the term cloud washing, as enterprises began to focus less on the technical and more on the business aspects of the cloud.

Meanwhile, among other recent trends in IT, Townsend labeled "hybrid" as the year's most widely used phrase, citing references to hybrid cloud, hybrid infrastructure, bimodal IT and composable infrastructure -- where servers and other components have the ability to reconfigure themselves on demand. Nevertheless, data centers did not achieve 100% virtualization. To meet soaring demand for hybridization, Intel made substantial investments in open source and cloud-related projects. VMware and Microsoft each moved to adopt containerization, while Hewlett Packard Enterprise honed in on hybrid infrastructure.

Townsend added that recent trends in IT also included growth in SD-WAN, but he was less inclined to call microservices a trend -- primarily because of too many unanswered questions. Docker, he wrote, saw its popularity rise, while developers mulled the arrival of APIs focused on data centers.

Explore more of Townsend's thoughts on recent trends in IT.

Weighing Juniper's backdoors

Looking back at the fallout from Juniper Networks' firewall breach, Network Inferno blogger Anthony Burke dissected the incident. According to Burke, the unauthorized code has resided within Juniper's ScreenOS since 2012, and it can decrypt and inspect virtual private network traffic passing over a device equipped with the software. He added that system access is simple through any named account, using a password <<< %s(un=’%s’) = %u.

For enterprises facing concerns about Juniper's firewall, Burke recommended immediately swapping out the software with a newer version of ScreenOS. In addition, he advised IT managers to set up SNORT or intrusion detection system rules to guard against malicious system logins. While the problems with Juniper's firewall make the company ripe for criticism from other vendors, Burke advised other enterprises not to throw stones, citing the Juniper incident as a stepping stone in the transformation of networking companies into software companies.

Read more from Burke on Juniper.

Retiring the term 'next-generation firewalls'

Gartner analyst Adam Hils suggested reconsidering the term "next-generation firewall," or NGFW. The term was first coined in 2004 by Gartner to refer to firewalls with built-in intrusion prevention system features slated to become available in 2005. The firm updated the term in 2009 to encompass what are now known as first-generation firewall capabilities, adding such features as integrated network intrusion prevention, full-stack visibility, application awareness and extra firewall intelligence.

For 2016, Hils proposed it's time to once again redefine NGFW as a concept. He dismissed endpoint agents from the same vendor as being representative of next-stage NGFW, but tentatively supported extensions into the public cloud and the notion of cloud-based network sandboxes. Hils hesitated to support east-west microsegmentation in software-defined networking as criteria, because he does not believe that it supports differentiated security.

Learn more about Hils' thoughts on the next iteration of next-generation firewalls.

Next Steps

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