Nov
26
2018
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AWS Transit Gateway helps customers understand their entire network

Tonight at AWS re:Invent, the company announced a new tool called AWS Transit Gateway designed to help build a network topology inside of AWS that lets you share resources across accounts and bring together on premises and cloud resources in a single network topology.

Amazon already has a popular product called Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), which helps customers build private instances of their applications. The Transit Gateway is designed to help build connections between VPCs, which, up until now, has been tricky to do.

As Peter DeSantis, VP of global infrastructure and customer support at AWS speaking at an event Monday night at AWS Re:Invent explained, AWS Transit Gateway gives you a single set of controls that lets you connect to a centrally managed gateway to grow your network easily and quickly.

Diagram: AWS

DeSantis said that this tool also gives you the ability to traverse your AWS and on-premises networks. “A gateway is another way that we’re innovating to enable customers to have secure, easy-to-manage networking across both on premise and their AWS cloud environment,” he explained.

AWS Transit Gateway lets you build connections across a network wherever the resources live in a standard kind of network topology. “Today we are giving you the ability to use the new AWS Transit Gateway to build a hub-and-spoke network topology. You can connect your existing VPCs, data centers, remote offices, and remote gateways to a managed Transit Gateway, with full control over network routing and security, even if your VPCs, Active Directories, shared services, and other resources span multiple AWS accounts,” Amazon’s Jeff Barr wrote in a blog post announcing to the new feature.

For much of its existence, AWS was about getting you to the cloud and managing your cloud resources. This makes sense for a pure cloud company like AWS, but customers tend to have complex configurations with some infrastructure and software still living on premises and some in the cloud. This could help bridge the two worlds.

more AWS re:Invent 2018 coverage

Nov
26
2018
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AWS Global Accelerators helps customers manage traffic across zones

Many AWS customers have to run in multiple zones for many reasons, including performance requirements, regulatory issues or fail-over management. Whatever the reason, AWS announced a new tool tonight called Global Accelerators designed to help customers route traffic more easily across multiple regions.

Peter DeSantis, VP of global infrastructure and customer support at AWS speaking at an event Monday night at AWS Re:Invent, explained that much of AWS customer traffic already flows over their massive network, and customers are using AWS Direct Connect to help applications get consistent performance and low network variability as customers move between AWS regions. He said what has been missing is a way to use the AWS global network to optimize their applications.

“Tonight I’m excited to announce AWS Global Accelerator. AWS Global Accelerator makes it easy for you to improve the performance and availability of your applications by taking advantage of the AWS global network,” he told the AWS re:Invent audience.

Graphic: AWS

“Your customer traffic is routed from your end users to the closest AWS edge location and from there traverses congestion-free redundant, highly available AWS global network. In addition to improving performance AWS Global Accelerator has built-in fault isolation, which instantly reacts to changes in the network health or your applications configuration,” DeSantis explained.

In fact, network administrators can route traffic based on defined policies such as health or geographic requirements and the traffic will move to the designated zone automatically based on those policies.

AWS plans to charge customers based on the number of accelerators they create. “An accelerator is the resource you create to direct traffic to optimal endpoints over the AWS global network. Customers will typically set up one accelerator for each application, but more complex applications may require more than one accelerator,” AWS’s Shaun Ray wrote in a blog post announcing the new feature.

AWS Global Accelerator is available today in several regions in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

more AWS re:Invent 2018 coverage

Oct
10
2018
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Google Cloud expands its networking feature with Cloud NAT

It’s a busy week for news from Google Cloud, which is hosting its Next event in London. Today, the company used the event to launch a number of new networking features. The marquee launch today is Cloud NAT, a new service that makes it easier for developers to build cloud-based services that don’t have public IP addresses and can only be accessed from applications within a company’s virtual private cloud.

As Google notes, building this kind of setup was already possible, but it wasn’t easy. Obviously, this is a pretty common use case, though, so with Cloud NAT, Google now offers a fully managed service that handles all the network address translation (hence the NAT) and provides access to these private instances behind the Cloud NAT gateway.

Cloud NAT supports Google Compute Engine virtual machines as well as Google Kubernetes Engine containers, and offers both a manual mode where developers can specify their IPs and an automatic mode where IPs are automatically allocated.

Also new in today’s release is Firewall Rules Logging, which is now in beta. Using this feature, admins can audit, verify and analyze the effects of their firewall rules. That means when there are repeated connection attempts that the firewall blocked, you can now analyze those and see whether somebody was up to no good or whether somebody misconfigured the firewall. Because the data is only delayed by about five seconds, the service provides near real-time access to this data — and you can obviously tie this in with other services like Stackdriver Logging, Cloud Pub/Sub and BigQuery to create alerts and further analyze the data.

Also new today is managed TLS certificated for HTTPS load balancers. The idea here is to take the hassle out of managing TLS certificates (the kind of certificates that ensure that your user’s browser creates a secure connection to your app) when there is a load balancer in play. This feature, too, is now in beta.

Jul
12
2018
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Microsoft launches new wide-area networking options for Azure

Microsoft is launching a few new networking features today that will make it easier for businesses to use the company’s Azure cloud to securely connect their own offices and infrastructure using Azure and its global network.

The first of these is the Azure Virtual WAN service, which allows businesses to connect their various branches to and through Azure. This basically works like an airline hub and spoke model, where Azure becomes the central hub through which all data between branches flows. The advantage of this, Microsoft argues, is that it allows admins to manage their wide-area networks from a central dashboard and, of course, that it makes it easy to bind additional Azure services and appliances to the network. And with that, users also get access to all of the security services that Azure has to offer.

One new security service that Microsoft is launching today is the Azure Firewall, a new cloud-native security service that is meant to protect a business’s virtual network resources.

In addition to these two new networking features, Microsoft also today announced that it is expanding to two new regions its Azure Data Box service, which is basically Microsoft’s version of the AWS Snowball appliances for moving data into the cloud by loading it onto a shippable appliance: Europe and the United Kingdom (and let’s not argue about the fact that the U.K. is still part of Europe). There is also now a “Data Box Disk” option for those who don’t need to move petabytes of data. Orders with up to five of those disks can hold up to 40 terabytes of data and are currently in preview.

Jun
19
2018
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Cisco buys July Systems to bring digital experience to the real world

Customer experience management is about getting to know your customer’s preferences in an online context, but pulling that information into the real world often proves a major challenge for organizations. This results in a huge disconnect when a customer walks into a physical store. This morning, Cisco announced it has bought July Systems, a company that purports to solve that problem.

The companies did not share the acquisition price.

July Systems connects to a building’s WiFi system to understand the customer who just walked in the door, how many times they have shopped at this retailer, their loyalty point score and so forth. This gives the vendor the same kind of understanding about that customer offline as they are used to getting online.

It’s an interesting acquisition for Cisco, taking advantage of some of its strengths as a networking company, given the WiFi component, but also moving in the direction of providing more specific customer experience services.

“Enterprises have an opportunity to take advantage of their in-building Wi-Fi for a broad range of indoor location services. In addition to providing seamless connectivity, Wi-Fi can help enterprises glean deep visitor behavior insights, associate these learnings with their enterprise systems, and drive better customer and employee experiences,” Cisco’s Rob Salvagno wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

As is often the case with these kinds of purchases, the two companies are not strangers. In fact, July Systems lists Cisco as a partner prominently on the company website (along with AWS). Customers include an interesting variety from Intercontinental Hotels Group to the New York Yankees baseball team.

Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research says the acquisition is also about taking advantage of 5G. “July Systems gives Cisco the ability to expand its localization and customer experience management (CXM) capabilities pre-5g and post-5g. The WiFi analytics improve CXM, but more importantly Cisco also gains a robust developer community,” Wang told TechCrunch.

According to reports, the company had over $67 billion in cash as of February. That leaves plenty of money to make investments like this one and the company hasn’t been shy about using their cash horde to buy companies as they try to transform from a pure hardware company to one built on services

In fact, they have made 211 acquisitions over the years, according to data on Crunchbase. In recent years they have made some eye-popping ones like plucking AppDynamics for $3.7 billion just before it was going to IPO in 2017 or grabbing Jasper for $1.4 billion in 2016, but the company has also made a host of smaller ones like today’s announcement.

July Systems was founded back in 2001 and raised almost $60 million from a variety of investors including Sequoia Capital, Intel Capital, CRV and Motorola Solutions. Salvagno indicated the July Systems group will become incorporated into Cisco’s enterprise networking group. The deal is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of fiscal 2019.

Nov
15
2017
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Facebook open sources Open/R distributed networking software

 Facebook is no stranger when it comes to open sourcing its computing knowledge. Over the years, it has consistently created software and hardware internally, then transferred that wisdom to the open source community to let them have it. Today, it announced it was open sourcing its modular network routing software called Open/R, as the tradition continues. Facebook obviously has unique scale… Read More

Aug
24
2017
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Inflect’s infrastructure marketplace adds 30 new service providers and 2,200 data center and peering locations

 Inflect, a San Francisco-based startup that wants to make it easier for businesses to find the right co-location facilities, network service and exchange providers, today announced that it has added over 30 service providers and information about 2,200 data centers and networking peering locations to its database since its launch two months ago. These new service providers include industry… Read More

Aug
23
2017
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Forward Networks nets $16M to help prevent network outages

 As IP networks continue to grow and become ever more complex, and people become ever more dependent on them staying up all the time, a startup that is building software tools to help administrators keep networks running has landed a round of funding. Forward Networks — a startup that only emerged from stealth last November and has built a platform aimed at service providers and… Read More

Jul
20
2017
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Google Cloud gets a new networking algorithm that boosts internet throughput

 Google today announced that TCP BBR, a new congestion-control algorithm is now available to its Cloud Platform users. The general idea here is to improve on the existing congestion-control algorithms for internet traffic, which have been around since the 1980s and which typically only take packet loss into account (when networking buffers fill up, routers will discard any new packets). Read More

Jun
19
2017
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Dropbox announces massive network expansion

 When Dropbox announced it was leaving AWS last year and bringing the bulk of the operation in-house, you had to figure it was working on a significant network expansion, and today the company announced a massive global network growth plan that is designed to increase syncing speed for users and cut costs for the company. The plan involves several approaches including custom-built… Read More

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