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Enterprises seek operational insight from network analytics

This week, bloggers look into operational insight from network analytics, vulnerabilities in the wake of WannaCry and slow 25 GbE switch adoption.

Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates Inc. in Boulder, Colo., said he sees opportunities for companies to achieve operational insight with network analytics.

Network data is emerging as a critical asset to boost enterprise performance. In retail, healthcare and finance, almost every business-critical function passes over the wire. According to McGillicuddy, IT teams are beginning to leverage packet flows not only to determine IT performance, but also to gain operational insight.

EMA research indicated that nearly half of network managers deploy advanced analytics tools to network data, primarily for network security and optimization. But 27% use these tools for business process optimization, determining factors such as underuse of point-of-sale devices or the impact of Wi-Fi in a retail environment.

According to McGillicuddy, network service providers will be the first to focus on operational insight through network analytics, followed soon after by enterprises. The Linux Foundation is already working on the PNDA.IO network analytics project for service providers. "But network managers will need more than analytical insight. They need tools that help them present that insight to the business. Reports and dashboards that are designed for consumption by non-technical personal will be critical for impactful network analytics," McGillicuddy wrote in a blog post.

Read more of McGillicuddy's thoughts on gaining operational insight.

Anticipating threats in the wake of WannaCry

Jonathan Care, an analyst with Gartner, said he views Linux as the next great vulnerability now that the WannaCry ransomware attack has stalled. Care said professionals need to be aware of the many embedded systems that rely on Linux, such as point-of-sale terminals, TVs, cameras, routers and medical equipment.

In the wake of the WannaCry-EternalBlue exploit, a new Unix-Linux vulnerability, dubbed EternalRed, is coming to light. The vulnerability has existed since 2010 and is only patched in recent distributions.

According to Care, WannaCry was an important reminder about basic hygiene factors in IT security, such as vulnerability management and patch installation. "Industries across the board are vulnerable. I've talked above about IoT [internet of things], web applications, cloud, and as we've seen in EternalBlue there are many vulnerable systems out there that have been forgotten," Care wrote in a blog post.

"We have to take action and control, no matter what industry we're in," he added. Advanced attacks will be the new normal and therefore companies must take basic infrastructure safety steps, focus on a secure development lifecycle and ensure vigilance on the part of fraud managers and incident responders.

Dig deeper into Care's thoughts about Linux vulnerabilities.

Slow adoption for 25 GbE switches

Carlos Cardenas, writing in Packet Pushers, looked into the reasons for slow adoption of 25 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switches. According to Cardenas, the new 28 GHz standard -- the basis for both 25 GbE and 100 GbE -- permits backward compatibility to 12 GHz standards.

However, to reach faster speeds, auto-negotiation and forward error correction (FEC) were also needed, which proved to be a big challenge for vendors that wanted to create interoperable 25 GbE switches. Broadcom, for example, wasn't able to support FEC in every single lane of its 25 GbE chips, although it was able to in its 100 GbE devices.

By focusing on chip debugging, Mellanox was able to deploy its ASIC to interoperate with both standards. Cardenas said he expects Barefoot Tofino and Cavium XPliant to be able to interoperate because they were introduced after Mellanox, when the new standards had been ratified. More vendors are now moving toward interoperability with Tomahawk and potentially also with ASIC vendor Cavium. Cardenas projected that 25 GbE top-of-rack switching will soon begin to take off.

Explore more of Cardenas' thoughts on 25 GbE.

Next Steps

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Why ransomware is a losing battle

Can 25 GbE tackle data center oversubscription?

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