January 2010 Archives

How Many 3G Dongles Do You Need?

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Travelling Cross Country (in the train sense too) today twixt West of Yorkshire and Abingdon for a meeting; as ever lots to do, report adds/changes, presentations, emails to send and receive.

So, armed with Vodafone and 3.co.uk 3G dongles, how many successful connections do you think I was able to make throughout the entire journey (almost 4 hours)? One with each dongle was the answer, and those for a maximum of five minutes - just enough time to get some PPT slide changes away. For the sheer hell of it I checked the signal on my mobile, which is Virgin PAYG and therefore T-Mobile's network. Guess what - no signal there either, so a T-Mobile 3G dongle would not have added much in the way of data capabilities... All of which begs the question - just how many 3G dongles does one actually need in order to (near) guarantee connections when travelling cross country trains?

East Coast railway's barely working (free) WLAN service from last Thursday now seems like a positive memory...

So  - the reason for the travel; a meeting with Sophos and an insight into the world of the internal labs of a major AV software vendor. Think 80,000 new malware attacks a day to analyse. Think one infected web page every five seconds. Think how vulnerable the "Cloud" might be and how many people are putting their data and applications in it. Think where the protection should be - in the cloud, at the borders of and between the operators/ISPs/Hosting companies etc - yes, yes, yes and yes - at the edge of the private network (without and within), on the endpoints... Makes for an interesting architectural dilemma does it not? Mark Harris in the Sophos labs talked about the phases of malware/hacking - the first for the sheer hell of it, the second for serious financial gain and now the third phase - serious political and military activity, cyber going beyond the criminal and into the political activist and terrorist spheres.

I feel a film script coming on...

P.S. Speaking at a mobile technology seminar in London.... I still can't get a signal!

 

Is No News Really Good News?

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It's the middle of January now and, since snow and tragic earthquakes do not qualify as mainstream networking news, I've been patiently waiting for some news to appear in the networking world so that I can blog about it and, well, none has.

The closest we've come was with the GreenTouch initiative, which you can read about elsewhere in Comp Weekly; what is interesting to note there is the LACK of networking companies signed up for the saviour of the Earth's energy usage through IT.

But, while I would certainly support any such initiative, it's more important to look at what we can do with the technologies that are available right now. I do believe that it is possible to massively reduce the amount of energy consumed by a network at the moment. Our own tests to date have shown that, in some cases and mentioning no names, a management module from a chassis switch alone can actually consume 10 times the amount of power used by a complete 24-port switch in full use!

So, stop using those antiquated products please. Much of the technology still being sold is partially based on designs from the '90's when power consumption was not exactly top of the list when it came to priorities. However, every element of a IT infrastructure - especially the data centre; servers, Air-Con etc - and the end devices (PCs, laptops etc) themselves,  has to be massively optimised in order to make a real energy saving.

Simply reducing the energy consumption of the key networking devices, even if that is on a massive scale, is only part of the answer. Instead, why not focus on optimising every aspect of networking so that you naturally reduce power consumption. I've spoken many times on these pages about the likes of Brand Communications, Voipex, DBAM Systems, jetNEXUS and others who, between them, can massively reduce the amount of bandwidth required - from mobile data to LAN - and optimise servers, thus extending their longevity and reducing the spec reqs, so lowering the PSU requirement to boot (no pun intended). I'm currently speaking to a US start-up, Talari, that can channel bond across disparate network types (as indeed can aforementioned Brand) so that you optimise all available channels as well as providing full-time redundancy.

You can even look beyond that from an optimisation perspective. This week I've been checking out a website analytics product from Mtracking. Not only does this provide truly extensive - forget Google analytics - data for marketing geeks to analyse, but it actually lets you optimise your web server design, again potentially reducing the need for excessive numbers of CPUs, terabytes of memory etc, as well as getting your content in front of the website visitor more readily.

I reckon what's needed is a new company that simply pulls together all these optimisation technologies into one real, end-to-end solution. I know that's what resellers/SI's are supposed to do but, in reality, it just isn't the case. So if you're a VC with a bulging bank account - and I know there still some of you out there - ping me with a view to funding said company; we simply acquire and integrate all these technologies and we become the greenest and leanest networking vendor on the planet. And I'm happy to run that company...