Survey: Most data centers don’t meet the needs of their users

A joint report released by Forbes Insights and Vertiv found that just 29% of data-center decision-makers say their current facilities are meeting their needs, and only 6% say their data centers are updated ahead of their needs.

In yet another example of the disconnect between executives and people on the front lines, 11% of executives believe their data centers are updated ahead of current bandwidth needs, while just 1% of engineers feel the same way.

Future data centers, the report says, will inevitably require adequate processing power – locally in the cloud and at the edge – to effectively manage new challenges around bandwidth, security and technologiesAI, advanced analytics, 5G, edge computing and more.

Decentralization of data, by moving it around and processing it away from the central data center, will help enable faster processing. But that requires a three-pronged approach of cloud, core data center, and the edge. The survey found that on average, 32% of data is stored in local data centers today, but respondents plan to shift to more distributed computing – including local data centers, edge, and hybrid cloud.

Other findings:

  • Survey respondents say security (45%) and bandwidth/speed (43%) are areas where their data centers need to be upgraded.
  • The trend towards hybrid IT is accelerating with the range of data locations for enterprises increasing. There will be more data overall due to IoT and other drivers, and it will be located in a greater variety of hybrid IT destinations.
  • Self-configuring and self-healing data centers will become a bigger part of the data-center mix. Almost a quarter (24%) of executives report that over 50% or more of their data centers will be self-configuring by 2025. About one-third (32%) say that more than 50% of their data centers will be self-healing by then.
  • Introduction of new technologies, such as 5G-enabled edge computing, will have an impact on IT staffing. Almost three-quarters (74%) of C-suite executives believe staffing will be reduced or handled by external cloud or edge service providers.
  • Top features in the data center that will lead to competitive advantage include security (43%), the ability to implement new technologies (28%) and bandwidth (27%).

These findings all indicate one thing: enterprises need to invest more in their data center and IT equipment, not less. Shutting down your data center and moving everything to AWS is a 2012 strategy that you will have to undo very quickly.

To be successful and nimble in this environment – pandemics not included – you need fast connectivity to multiple locations – the core data center, the edge/IoT, and the public cloud – with the latest in AI, 5G, and hyperconverged infrastructure.

So, sorry CIOs, it looks like you can’t get rid of that data center just yet.

The survey can be found here.

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Tricks for getting around your Linux file system

Whether you’re moving around the file system, looking for files or trying to move into important directories, Linux can provide a lot of help. In this post, we’ll look at a number of tricks to make moving around the file system and both finding and using commands that you need a little easier.

Adding to your $PATH

One of the easiest and most useful ways to ensure that you don’t have to invest a lot of time into finding commands on a Linux system is to add the proper directories to your $PATH variable. The order of directories that you add to your $PATH variable is, however, very important. They determine the order in which the system will look through the directories to find the command to run — stopping when it finds the first match.

You might, for example, want to put your home directory first so that, if you create a script that has the same name as some other executable, it will be the one that you end up running whenever you type its name.

To add your home directory to your $PATH variable, you could do this:

$ export PATH=~:$PATH

The ~ character represents your home directory.

If you keep your scripts in your bin directory, this would work for you:

$ export PATH=~/bin:$PATH

You can then run a script located in your home directory like this:

$ myscript
Good morning, you just ran /home/myacct/bin/myscript

IMPORTANT: The commands shown above add to your search path because $PATH (the current path) is included. They don’t override it. Your search path should be configured in your .bashrc file, and any changes you intend to be permanent should be added there as well.

Using symbolic links

Symbolic links provide an easy and obvious way to record the location of directories that you might need to use often. If you manage content for a web site, for example, you might want to get your account to “remember” where the web files are located by creating a link like this:

ln -s /var/www/html www

The order of the arguments is critical. The first (/var/www/html) is the target and the second is the name of the link that you will be creating. If you’re not currently located in your home directory, the following command would do the same thing:

ln -s /var/www/html ~/www

After setting this up, you can use “cd www” to get to /var/www/html.

Using shopt

The shopt command also provides a way to make moving to a different directory a bit easier. When you employ shopt’s autocd option, you can go to a directory simply by typing its name. For example:

$ shopt -s autocd
$ www
cd -- www
/home/myacct/www $ pwd -P /var/www/html

$ ~/bin
cd -- /home/myacct/bin
$ pwd
/home/myacct/bin

In the first set of commands above, the shopt command’s autocd option is enabled. Typing www then invokes a “cd www” command. Because this symbolic link was created in one of the ln command examples above, this moves us to /var/www/html. The pwd -P command displays the actual location.

In the second set, typing ~/bin invokes a cd into the bin directory in the user’s home.

Note that the autocd behavior will not kick in when what you type is a command –  even if it’s also the name of a directory.

The shopt command is a bash builtin and has a lot of options. This one just means that you don’t have to type “cd” before the name of each directory you want to move into.

To see shopt‘s other options, just type “shopt”.

Using $CDPATH

Probably one of the most useful tricks for moving into particular directories is adding the paths that you want to be able to move into easily to your $CDPATH. This creates a list of directories that will be moved into by typing only a portion of the full path names.

There is one aspect of this that may be just a little tricky. Your $CDPATH needs to include the directories that contain the directories that you want to move into, not the directories themselves.

For example, say that you want to be able to move into the /var/www/html directory simply by typing “cd html” and into subdirectories in /var/log using only “cd” and the simple directory names. In this case, this $CDPATH would work:

$ CDPATH=.:/var/log:/var/www

Here’s what you would see:

$ cd journal
/var/log/journal
$ cd html
/var/www/html

Your $CDPATH kicks in when what you type is not a full path. Then it looks down its list of directories in order to see if the directory you identified exists in one of them. Once it finds a match, it takes you there.

Keeping the “.” at the beginning of your $CDPATH means that you can move into local directories without having to have them defined in the $CDPATH.

$ export CDPATH=".:$CDPATH"
$ Videos
cd -- Videos
/home/myacct/Videos

It’s not hard to move around the Linux file system, but you can save a few brain cells if you use some handy tricks for getting to various locations easily.

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ROLLING UPDATE: The impact of COVID-19 on public networks and security

As the coronavirus spreads, public and private companies as well as government entities are requiring employees to work from home, putting unforeseen strain on all manner of networking technologies and causing bandwidth and security concerns.  What follows is a round-up of news and traffic updates that Network World will update as needed to help keep up with the ever-changing situation.  Check back frequently!

UPDATE 3.27

  • Broadband watchers at BroadbandNow say users in most of the cities it analyzed are experiencing normal network conditions, suggesting that ISP’s (and their networks) are holding up to the shifting demand. In a March 25 post the firm wrote: “Encouragingly, many of the areas hit hardest by the spread of the coronavirus are holding up to increased network demand. Cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Brooklyn, and San Francisco have all experienced little or no disruption. New York City,  now the epicenter of the virus in the U.S., has seen a 24% dip out of its previous ten-week range. However, with a new median speed of nearly 52 Mbps, home connections still appear to be holding up overall.”

Other BroadbandNow findings included:

-Eighty eight (44%) of the 200 cities we analyzed have experienced some degree of network degradation over the past week compared to the 10 weeks prior. However, only 27 (13.5%) cities are experiencing dips of 20% below range or greater.

-Seattle download speeds have continued to hold up over the past week, while New York City’s speeds have fallen out of range by 24%. Both cities are currently heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

-Three cities – Austin, Texas, Winston Salem, North Carolina, and Oxnard, California – have experienced significant degradations, falling out of their ten-week range by more than 40%.

  • Cisco’s Talos threat intelligence arm wrote on March 26 about the COVID security threat noting what it called three broad categories of attacks leveraging COVID with known APT participation in each of these categories: Malware and phishing campaigns using COVID-themed lures; attacks against organizations that carry out research and work related to COVID; and fraud and disinformation. From an enterprise security perspective, Talos recommended a few enterprise security recommendations:

-Remote access: Do not expose Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to the internet. Use secure VPN connections with multi-factor authentication schemes.  NAC packages can be used to ensure that systems attempting to remotely connect to the corporate environment meet a minimum set of security standards such as anti-malware protection, patch levels, etc. prior to granting them access to corporate resources. Continually identify and remediate access policy violations.

-Identity Management: Protect critical and public-facing applications with multi-factor authentication and supporting corporate policies. Verify that remote account and access termination capabilities work as intended in a remote environment.

-Endpoint Control: Because many people may be working from home networks, endpoint visibility, protection, and mitigation is now more important than ever. Consider whether remediation and reimaging capabilities will work as intended in a remote environment. Encrypt devices where possible, and add this check to your NAC solution as a gate for connectivity. Another simple method of protecting endpoints is via DNS, such as with [Cisco’s] Umbrella, by blocking the resolution of malicious domains before the host has a chance to make a connection.

  • In an FAQ about the impact of COVID-19 about fulfilling customer hardware orders, VMware stated: “Some VMware SD-WAN hardware appliances are on backorder as a result of supply chain issues. As a result, we are extending the option to update existing orders with different appliances where inventory is more readily available. Customers may contact special email hotline with questions related to backordered appliances. Please send an email to [email protected] with your questions and include the order number, urgent quantities, and contact information. We will do our best to respond within 48 hours.”
  • Cisco said it has been analyzing traffic statistics with major carriers across Asia, Europe, and Americas and our data shows that typically, the most congested point in the network occurs at inter-provider peering points, wrote Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Mass-Scale Infrastructure Group wrote in a blog on March 26. “However, the traffic exchanged at these bottlenecks is only a part of the total internet traffic, meaning reports on traffic may be higher overall as private peering and local destinations also contribute to more traffic growth.”

“Our analysis at these locations shows an increase in traffic of 10% to 33% over normal levels. In every country, traffic spiked with the decision to shut down non-essential businesses and keep people at home. Since then, traffic has remained stable or has experienced a slight uptick over the days that followed,” Davidson stated.

“Typically, the busiest time on the network occurs between 6pm and 10pm, that’s when people are home watching streaming video. Although traffic during these hours has increased slightly (with some variance by carrier) it’s not the primary driver for the overall increase,” Davidson stated.   “As more of us use the internet for work and school our traditional busy hour has changed, starting earlier and lasting longer (e.g. 9am to 10pm). Although this new traffic load between 9am – 6pm is considerable, it’s still below evening peak hours. Service providers are certainly paying attention to these changes, but they are not yet a dire concern, as most networks are designed for growth. Current capacities are utilized more over the course of the entire day.”

  • Spanish multinational telecommunications company Telefonica’ said IP networks are experiencing traffic increases of close to 40% while mobile voice use is increasing by about 50% and 25% in the case of data. In general terms, traffic through IP networks has experienced increases of nearly 40% while mobile use has increased by about 50% in voice and 25% in data. Likewise, traffic from instant messaging tools such as Whatsapp has increased fivefold in recent days.

UPDATE: 3.26

  • Week over week (ending March 23) Ookla says it has started to see a degradation of mobile and fixed-broadband performance worldwide. More detail on specific locations is available below. Comparing the week of March 16 to the week of March 9, mean download speed over mobile and fixed broadband decreased in Canada and the U.S. while both remained relatively flat in Mexico.
  • What is the impact of the coronavirus on corporate network planning? Depends on how long the work-from-home mandate goes on really. Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp. takes an interesting look at the situation saying the shutdown “could eventually produce a major uptick for SD-WAN services, particularly in [managed service provider]    Businesses would be much more likely to embark on an SD-WAN VPN adventure that didn’t involve purchase/licensing, favoring a service approach in general, and in particular one with a fairly short contract period.”
  • Statistics from VPN provider NordVPN show the growth of VPN usage across the globe.  For example, the company said the US has experienced a 65.93% growth in the use of business VPNs since March 11. It reported that mass remote working has contributed towards a rise in desktop (94.09%) and mobile app (0.39%) usage among Americans. Globally, NordVPN teams has seen a 165% spike in the use of business VPNs and business VPN usage in Netherlands (240.49%), Canada (206.29%) and Austria (207.86%) has skyrocketed beyond 200%. Italy has had the most modest growth in business VPN usage at just 10.57%.

UPDATE: 3. 25:

  • According to Atlas VPN user data, VPN usage in the US increased by 124% during the last two weeks. VPN usage in the country increased by 71% between March 16 and 22 alone. Atlas said it measured how much traffic traveled through its servers during that period compared to March 9 to 15. The data came from the company’s 53,000 weekly users.
  • Verizon reports that voice usage, long declining in the age of texting, chat and social media, is up 25% in the last week. The network report shows the primary driver is accessing conference calls. In addition, people are talking longer on mobile devices with wireless voice usage notching a 10% increase and calls lasting 15% longer. 
  • AT&T also reported increased calling, especially Wi-Fi calling, up 88% on March 22 versus a normal Sunday. It says that consumer home voice calls were up 74% more than an average Sunday; traffic from Netflix dipped after all-time highs on Friday and Saturday; and data traffic due to heavy video streaming between its network and peered networks tied record highs. AT&T said it has deployed portable cell nodes to bolster coverage supporting FirstNet customers in Indiana, Connecticut, New Jersey, California and New York.
  • Microsoft this week advised users of Office 365 it was throttling back some services:
    • OneNote:  OneNote in Teams will be read-only for commercial tenants, excluding EDU. Users can go to OneNote for the web for editing. Download size and sync frequency of file attachments has been changed. You can find details on these and other OneNote related updates as http://aka.ms/notesupdates.
    • SharePoint: We are rescheduling specific backend operations to regional evening and weekend business hours. Impacted capabilities include migration, DLP and delays in file management after uploading a new file, video or image. Reduced video resolution for playback videos.
    • Stream: People timeline has been disabled for newly uploaded videos. Pre-existing videos will not be impacted. Meeting recording video resolution adjusted to 720p.

RELATED COVID-19 NEWS:

  • Security vendor Check Point’s Threat Intelligence says that Since January 2020, there have been over 4,000 coronavirus-related domains registered globally. Out of these websites, 3% were found to be malicious and an additional 5% are suspicious. Coronavirus- related domains are 50% more likely to be malicious than other domains registered at the same period, and also higher than recent seasonal themes such as Valentine’s day.
  • Orange an IT and communications services company aid that has increased its network capacity and upgraded its service platforms. These measures allow it to support the ongoing exponential increase in needs and uses. The number of users connecting to their company’s network remotely has already increased by 700% among its customers. It has also doubled the capacity for simultaneous connections on its platforms. The use of remote collaboration solutions such as video conferencing has also risen massively with usage increasing by between 20% to 100%.
  • Verizon said it has seen a 34% increase in VPN traffic from March 10 to 17. It has also seen a 75% increase in gaming traffic and web traffic increased by just under 20% in that time period according to Verizon.
  • One week after the CDC declaration of the virus as a pandemic, data analytics and broadband vendor OpenVault wrote on March 19 that:
    • Subscribers’ average usage during the 9 am-to-5 pm daypart has risen to 6.3 GB, 41.4% higher than the January figure of 4.4 GB. 
    • During the same period, peak hours (6 pm–11 pm) usage has risen 17.2% from 5.0 GB per subscriber in January to 5.87 GB in March. 
    • Overall daily usage has grown from 12.19 GB to 15.46 GB, an increase of 26.8%.
    • Based on the current rate of growth, OpenVault projected that consumption for March will reach nearly 400 GB per subscriber, an increase of almost 11% over the previous monthly record of 361 GB, established in January of this year. In addition, OpenVault projects a new coronavirus-influenced run rate of 460 GB per subscriber per month going forward.
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NEWS UPDATE: The impact of COVID-19 on public networks and security

As the coronavirus spreads, public and private companies as well as government entities are requiring employees to work from home, putting unforeseen strain on all manner of networking technologies and causing bandwidth and security concerns.  What follows is a round-up of news and traffic updates that Network World will update as needed to help keep up with the ever-changing situation.  Check back frequently!

UPDATE: 3.26

  • Week over week (ending March 23) Ookla says it has started to see a degradation of mobile and fixed-broadband performance worldwide. More detail on specific locations is available below. Comparing the week of March 16 to the week of March 9, mean download speed over mobile and fixed broadband decreased in Canada and the U.S. while both remained relatively flat in Mexico.
  • What is the impact of the coronavirus on corporate network planning? Depends on how long the work-from-home mandate goes on really. Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp. takes an interesting look at the situation saying the shutdown “could eventually produce a major uptick for SD-WAN services, particularly in [managed service provider]    Businesses would be much more likely to embark on an SD-WAN VPN adventure that didn’t involve purchase/licensing, favoring a service approach in general, and in particular one with a fairly short contract period.”
  • Statistics from VPN provider NordVPN show the growth of VPN usage across the globe.  For example, the company said the US has experienced a 65.93% growth in the use of business VPNs since March 11. It reported that mass remote working has contributed towards a rise in desktop (94.09%) and mobile app (0.39%) usage among Americans. Globally, NordVPN teams has seen a 165% spike in the use of business VPNs and business VPN usage in Netherlands (240.49%), Canada (206.29%) and Austria (207.86%) has skyrocketed beyond 200%. Italy has had the most modest growth in business VPN usage at just 10.57%.

UPDATE: 3. 25:

  • According to Atlas VPN user data, VPN usage in the US increased by 124% during the last two weeks. VPN usage in the country increased by 71% between March 16 and 22 alone. Atlas said it measured how much traffic traveled through its servers during that period compared to March 9 to 15. The data came from the company’s 53,000 weekly users.
  • Verizon reports that voice usage, long declining in the age of texting, chat and social media, is up 25% in the last week. The network report shows the primary driver is accessing conference calls. In addition, people are talking longer on mobile devices with wireless voice usage notching a 10% increase and calls lasting 15% longer. 
  • AT&T also reported increased calling, especially Wi-Fi calling, up 88% on March 22 versus a normal Sunday. It says that consumer home voice calls were up 74% more than an average Sunday; traffic from Netflix dipped after all-time highs on Friday and Saturday; and data traffic due to heavy video streaming between its network and peered networks tied record highs. AT&T said it has deployed portable cell nodes to bolster coverage supporting FirstNet customers in Indiana, Connecticut, New Jersey, California and New York.
  • Microsoft this week advised users of Office 365 it was throttling back some services:
    • OneNote:  OneNote in Teams will be read-only for commercial tenants, excluding EDU. Users can go to OneNote for the web for editing. Download size and sync frequency of file attachments has been changed. You can find details on these and other OneNote related updates as http://aka.ms/notesupdates.
    • SharePoint: We are rescheduling specific backend operations to regional evening and weekend business hours. Impacted capabilities include migration, DLP and delays in file management after uploading a new file, video or image. Reduced video resolution for playback videos.
    • Stream: People timeline has been disabled for newly uploaded videos. Pre-existing videos will not be impacted. Meeting recording video resolution adjusted to 720p.

RELATED COVID-19 NEWS:

  • Security vendor Check Point’s Threat Intelligence says that Since January 2020, there have been over 4,000 coronavirus-related domains registered globally. Out of these websites, 3% were found to be malicious and an additional 5% are suspicious. Coronavirus- related domains are 50% more likely to be malicious than other domains registered at the same period, and also higher than recent seasonal themes such as Valentine’s day.
  • Orange an IT and communications services company aid that has increased its network capacity and upgraded its service platforms. These measures allow it to support the ongoing exponential increase in needs and uses. The number of users connecting to their company’s network remotely has already increased by 700% among its customers. It has also doubled the capacity for simultaneous connections on its platforms. The use of remote collaboration solutions such as video conferencing has also risen massively with usage increasing by between 20% to 100%.
  • Verizon said it has seen a 34% increase in VPN traffic from March 10 to 17. It has also seen a 75% increase in gaming traffic and web traffic increased by just under 20% in that time period according to Verizon.
  • One week after the CDC declaration of the virus as a pandemic, data analytics and broadband vendor OpenVault wrote on March 19 that:
    • Subscribers’ average usage during the 9 am-to-5 pm daypart has risen to 6.3 GB, 41.4% higher than the January figure of 4.4 GB. 
    • During the same period, peak hours (6 pm–11 pm) usage has risen 17.2% from 5.0 GB per subscriber in January to 5.87 GB in March. 
    • Overall daily usage has grown from 12.19 GB to 15.46 GB, an increase of 26.8%.
    • Based on the current rate of growth, OpenVault projected that consumption for March will reach nearly 400 GB per subscriber, an increase of almost 11% over the previous monthly record of 361 GB, established in January of this year. In addition, OpenVault projects a new coronavirus-influenced run rate of 460 GB per subscriber per month going forward.
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BrandPost: Edge Computing: 5 Design Considerations for Storage

The arrival of 5G is expected to bring an unforeseen level of network capabilities and lightning-fast data transfer rates. This will set the stage for even more advanced and novel applications enabling everything to be more connected, in real time, all the time. 

It’s not enough to just capture data; you must be able to transfer data at high speeds to unlock the valuable insights that data provides. From the data center to the edge, 5G and high-speed flash storage are enabling emerging IoT use cases from autonomous vehicles to smart cities and the supply chains of the future. When designing storage to support IoT at the edge, you must consider how 5G and your storage choice will impact data center architectures.

By 2022, there will be 422 million 5G connections globally, and 77.5 EB (exabytes) of mobile data traffic per month, which is equivalent to 930 EB a year1. These increases will require changes to edge and core architectures in order to support this tidal wave of new applications and services, and most importantly, data.

Challenges: Complexity and Speed of Data

Today’s challenges with data are heterogeneous. Data is scattered and unstructured in mixed storage and computing environments – endpoints, edge, on-premises, cloud, or a hybrid, which uses a mix of these. Data is also accessible across different architectures, including file-based, database, object, and containers. There are also issues of duplications and conflicts of data.

5G will surely add more complexity to today’s existing challenges. With 5G, even more data will be generated from endpoints and IoT devices, with more metadata and contextual data produced and consumed. As a result, there will be more demand for real-time processing and more edge compute processing, analyzing, and data storage scattered throughout the network.

What is Your Data Strategy?

Each application and use case is unique and has different storage requirements and challenges, including performance, integrity of data, workloads, retention of data, and environmental restrictions. In the past, the capabilities of general-purpose storage greatly exceeded the requirements of networks, data, and applications. Now, with the insurgence of endpoints, edge computing, and cloud computing, storage has to meet advanced use cases and environment demands that general-purpose storage is not suited for. With the move to 5G, companies will need to re-think and architect which data they want to capture, process and keep across endpoints, edge compute and cloud.

5 Edge Computing Design Considerations: Storage

Today and in the new 5G era, storage has to anticipate and meet the conditions and expectations of various use cases, workloads, and environments. To create an environment for data to thrive, there are five key edge design considerations for storage:

  1. Environmental: In what kind of environment will the data be captured and kept? The most critical environmental conditions that can affect storage performance are altitude, temperature, humidity, and vibration. For example, a smart car outside in the desert heat or during a snowstorm will need to withstand extreme temperatures. Sensors in the mountains or on a high-speed train in Japan will need to be resistant to pressure and movement.
  2. Endurance and Workload: How many times can you write to the storage? Is your application write-intensive, such as video recording for surveillance, or read-intensive, such as map navigation and/or music from the car infotainment system? Is your equipment in a hard-to-reach place, such as a video surveillance camera at the top of a building, or behind the secured doors of a bank vault? In these scenarios, a high-endurance storage solution will help limit the frequency of maintenance and replacement.
  3. Data Retention: How long does the data need to be stored? What do you want to process, analyze, and save at the endpoints, at the edge, and in the cloud? For example, a corporate database may require electronic document storage for five years or longer due to governance specifications. Specific data may also be retained for future analytics. The storage solution needs to meet the data-retention policy and capacities required for various applications/use cases and regulations.
  4. Monitoring: How is the data monitored? Who has access to the collected data? How good is the data? With rapid increases in the number of connected devices and edge compute deployments, and the complexity of data being generated, people want to have access to the data at all times. The ability to monitor both the health of the storage device as well as the health of the data is becoming more important to users in order to ensure data integrity and cost management.
  5. Security: How will the data be protected? Typically, data is secured on the host side (CPU), but hosts can be susceptible to tampering. Customers want data also to be protected on the data storage device itself through encryption while data is at rest.

Defining Edge Computing Design from the Endpoints

5G is going to be fast, and it will bring in new, extreme use cases. We need to think differently about edge computing and architectures optimized with the right storage for the right application. Without clearly defining a data storage strategy looking at both user and application needs from the endpoints, through edge and cloud, 5G and future environments will not rise to their full potential.

Forward-Looking Statements:

This article may contain forward-looking statements, including statements relating to the market for Western Digital’s products and the future capabilities and technologies enabling that market. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements, including development challenges or delays, supply chain and logistics issues, changes in markets, demand, global economic conditions and other risks and uncertainties listed in Western Digital Corporation’s most recent quarterly and annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, to which your attention is directed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and we undertake no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

1Cisco Virtual Networking Index (VNI) Mobile Forecast Highlights Tool

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The coming together of AIOps and SD-WAN

Software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) and AIOps are both red-hot technologies. SD-WANs increase application availability, reduce costs and in some cases improve performance. AIOps infuses machine learning into IT operations to increase the level of automation. This reduces errors and enables businesses to make changes at digital speeds. Most think of these as separate technologies, but the two are on a collision course and will give rise to what I’m calling the AI-WAN. 

SD-WAN not a panacea for all network woes

SD-WAN is the biggest leap forward in networking since… well, the actual WAN. But many solutions still rely on manual configurations. SD-WANs certainly increase application resiliency, lower telecommunications costs, and often increase application performance, but they are more complicated than traditional WANs. Initial setup can be a challenge, but the bigger issue is ongoing operations. Manually tweaking and tuning the network to adapt to business changes can be time consuming and error-prone. A solution is needed to bring better automation to SD-WANs.

Enter AI-WAN. Much like a self-driving car, an AI-WAN can make decisions based on different rules and adapt to changes faster than people can. Self-driving cars continually monitor road conditions, speed limits and other factors to determine what changes to make. Similarly, a self-driving network can monitor, correct, defend, and analyze with minimal to no human involvement. This is done through automation capabilities powered by AI, obviating the need for people to get involved.

Make no mistake, manual operations will hold businesses back from reaching their full potential. An interesting data point from my research is that it takes enterprises an average of four months to make changes across a network. That’s because maintaining legacy networks and fixing glitches takes too much time. One ZK Research study found 30% of engineers spend at least one day a week doing nothing but troubleshooting problems. SD-WANs can improve these metrics, but there’s still a heavy people burden.

With growing data challenges businesses face as they migrate to the cloud, they simply can’t afford to wait that long. Instead of being afraid of AI taking over jobs, businesses should embrace it. AI can remove human error—which is the largest cause of unplanned network downtime—and help businesses focus on higher-level tasks instead.

AI-WAN will transform network operations

So how will the evolution of SD-WAN into AI-WAN transform network management and operations? Administrators can use their time to focus on strategic initiatives instead of fixing problems. Another data point from ZK Research is that 90% of the time taken to fix a problem is spent identifying the source. Now that applications reside in the cloud and run on mobile devices, identifying the source of a problem has gotten harder. AI-WANs have the ability to spot even the smallest anomaly, even if it hasn’t yet begun to impact business.

SD-WANs are fundamentally designed so that all routing rules are managed centrally by administrators and can be transmitted across a network. AI-WAN takes it a step further and enables administrators to anticipate problems before they happen through fault prediction. It may even adjust network glitches on its own before users are affected, thus improving network performance.

A self-driving car knows the rules of the road—where the blind spots are, how to synch with traffic signals, and which safety measures to take—using AI software, real-time data from IoT sensors, cameras, and much more. Similarly, a self-driving network knows the higher-level rules and can prevent administrators from making mistakes, such as allowing applications in countries where certain actions are banned. 

Security is another concern. Everything from mobile devices to Internet of Things (IoT) to cloud computing is creating multiple new entry points and shifting resources to the network edge. This puts businesses at a security risk, as they struggle to respond to changes quickly.

Businesses can miss security gaps created by users, with hundreds of software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps being used at the same time without IT’s knowledge. Older networking technologies cannot support SaaS and cloud services, while SD-WANs can. But simply deploying an SD-WAN is not enough to protect a network. Security shouldn’t be an afterthought in an SD-WAN deployment, but part of it from the get-go.

Increasingly, vendors are bundling AI-based analytics with SD-WAN solutions to boost network security. Such solutions use AI to analyze how certain events impact the network, application performance, and security. Then, they create intelligent recommendations for any network changes, such as unauthorized use of SaaS apps.

Going back to the autonomous car analogy, AI-WANs are designed to keep roads clear and accident-free. They enable smarter networks that can adapt quickly to changing conditions and self-heal if necessary. With the growing demands of cloud computing and SaaS apps, intelligent networks are the future and forward-thinking businesses are already in the driver’s seat.

AI-WAN exists today and will explode in the future

AI-WAN may seem futuristic, but there are a number of vendors that are delivering it or in the process of bringing solutions to market. Managed service provider Masergy, for example, recently introduced AIOps for SD-WAN to deliver autonomous networking and has the most complete offering.

Open System, another managed service provider, snapped up cloud-based Sqooba to add AIOps to its strong network and security services. Keeping with the M&A theme, VMware recently acquired AIOps vendor Nyansa and rolled it into its VeloCloud SD-WAN group. That move gives VMware similar capabilities to Aruba Networks, which initially applied AI to WiFi troubleshooting but is now bringing it to its SD-Branch offering. Cisco is another networking vendor with an AIOps story, although it’s trying to apply it network-wide, not just with the WAN. 

Over time, I expect every SD-WAN or SASE vendor to bring AIOps into the fold, shifting the focus away from connectivity to automated operations.

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The coming together of SD-WAN and AIOps

Software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) and AIOps are both red-hot technologies. SD-WANs increase application availability, reduce costs and in some cases improve performance. AIOps infuses machine learning into IT operations to increase the level of automation. This reduces errors and enables businesses to make changes at digital speeds. Most think of these as separate technologies, but the two are on a collision course and will give rise to what I’m calling the AI-WAN. 

SD-WAN not a panacea for all network woes

SD-WAN is the biggest leap forward in networking since… well, the actual WAN. But many solutions still rely on manual configurations. SD-WANs certainly increase application resiliency, lower telecommunications costs, and often increase application performance, but they are more complicated than traditional WANs. Initial setup can be a challenge, but the bigger issue is ongoing operations. Manually tweaking and tuning the network to adapt to business changes can be time consuming and error-prone. A solution is needed to bring better automation to SD-WANs.

Enter AI-WAN. Much like a self-driving car, an AI-WAN can make decisions based on different rules and adapt to changes faster than people can. Self-driving cars continually monitor road conditions, speed limits and other factors to determine what changes to make. Similarly, a self-driving network can monitor, correct, defend, and analyze with minimal to no human involvement. This is done through automation capabilities powered by AI, obviating the need for people to get involved.

Make no mistake, manual operations will hold businesses back from reaching their full potential. An interesting data point from my research is that it takes enterprises an average of four months to make changes across a network. That’s because maintaining legacy networks and fixing glitches takes too much time. One ZK Research study found 30% of engineers spend at least one day a week doing nothing but troubleshooting problems. SD-WANs can improve these metrics, but there’s still a heavy people burden.

With growing data challenges businesses face as they migrate to the cloud, they simply can’t afford to wait that long. Instead of being afraid of AI taking over jobs, businesses should embrace it. AI can remove human error—which is the largest cause of unplanned network downtime—and help businesses focus on higher-level tasks instead.

AI-WAN will transform network operations

So how will the evolution of SD-WAN into AI-WAN transform network management and operations? Administrators can use their time to focus on strategic initiatives instead of fixing problems. Another data point from ZK Research is that 90% of the time taken to fix a problem is spent identifying the source. Now that applications reside in the cloud and run on mobile devices, identifying the source of a problem has gotten harder. AI-WANs have the ability to spot even the smallest anomaly, even if it hasn’t yet begun to impact business.

SD-WANs are fundamentally designed so that all routing rules are managed centrally by administrators and can be transmitted across a network. AI-WAN takes it a step further and enables administrators to anticipate problems before they happen through fault prediction. It may even adjust network glitches on its own before users are affected, thus improving network performance.

A self-driving car knows the rules of the road—where the blind spots are, how to synch with traffic signals, and which safety measures to take—using AI software, real-time data from IoT sensors, cameras, and much more. Similarly, a self-driving network knows the higher-level rules and can prevent administrators from making mistakes, such as allowing applications in countries where certain actions are banned. 

Security is another concern. Everything from mobile devices to Internet of Things (IoT) to cloud computing is creating multiple new entry points and shifting resources to the network edge. This puts businesses at a security risk, as they struggle to respond to changes quickly.

Businesses can miss security gaps created by users, with hundreds of software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps being used at the same time without IT’s knowledge. Older networking technologies cannot support SaaS and cloud services, while SD-WANs can. But simply deploying an SD-WAN is not enough to protect a network. Security shouldn’t be an afterthought in an SD-WAN deployment, but part of it from the get-go.

Increasingly, vendors are bundling AI-based analytics with SD-WAN solutions to boost network security. Such solutions use AI to analyze how certain events impact the network, application performance, and security. Then, they create intelligent recommendations for any network changes, such as unauthorized use of SaaS apps.

Going back to the autonomous car analogy, AI-WANs are designed to keep roads clear and accident-free. They enable smarter networks that can adapt quickly to changing conditions and self-heal if necessary. With the growing demands of cloud computing and SaaS apps, intelligent networks are the future and forward-thinking businesses are already in the driver’s seat.

AI-WAN exists today and will explode in the future

AI-WAN may seem futuristic, but there are a number of vendors that are delivering it or in the process of bringing solutions to market. Managed service provider Masergy, for example, recently introduced AIOps for SD-WAN to deliver autonomous networking and has the most complete offering.

Open System, another managed service provider, snapped up cloud-based Sqooba to add AIOps to its strong network and security services. Keeping with the M&A theme, VMware recently acquired AIOps vendor Nyansa and rolled it into its VeloCloud SD-WAN group. That move gives VMware similar capabilities to Aruba Networks, which initially applied AI to WiFi troubleshooting but is now bringing it to its SD-Branch offering. Cisco is another networking vendor with an AIOps story, although it’s trying to apply it network-wide, not just with the WAN. 

Over time, I expect every SD-WAN or SASE vendor to bring AIOps into the fold, shifting the focus away from connectivity to automated operations.

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COVID vs. Raspberry Pi: Researchers bring IoT technology to disease detection

An IoT device that tracks coughing and crowd size in real time could become a useful tool for identifying the presence of flu-like symptoms among large groups of people, according to a team of researchers at UMass Amherst.

FluSense, as the researchers call it, is about the size of a dictionary. It contains a cheap microphone array, a thermal sensor, a Raspberry Pi and an Intel Movidius 2 neural computing engine. The idea is to use AI at the edge to classify audio samples and identify the number of people in a room at any given time.

Since the system can distinguish coughing from other types of non-speech audio, correlating coughing with the size of a given crowd could give a useful index of how many people are likely to be experiencing flu-like symptoms.

A test run between December 2018 and July 2019 saw FluSense installed in four waiting rooms at UMass’ University Health Services clinic, and the researchers said that they were able to “strongly” correlate the system’s results with clinical testing for influenza and other illnesses with similar symptoms.

And bigger plans for FluSense are afoot, according to the paper’s lead author, Ph.D student Forsad Al Hossain and his co-author and adviser, assistant professor Tauhidur Rahman.

“[C]urrently we are planning to deploy the FluSense system in several large public spaces (e.g., large cafeteria, classroom, dormitories, gymnasium, auditorium) to capture syndromic signals from a broad range of people who live in a certain town or city,” they said. “We are also looking for funding to run a large-scale multi-city trial. In the meantime, we are also diversifying our sensing capability by extending FluSense’s capability to capture more syndromic signals (e.g., recently we added sneeze sensing capability to FluSense). We definitely see a significant level of commercialization potential in this line of research.”

FluSense is particularly interesting from a technical perspective because all of the meaningful processing work is done locally, via the Intel neural computing engine and Raspberry Pi. Symptom information is sent wirelessly to the lab for collation, of course, but the heavy lifting is accomplished at the edge. Al Hossain and Rahman were quick to emphasize that the device doesn’t collect personally identifiable information – the emphasis is on aggregating data in a given setting, rather than identifying sickness in any single patient – and everything it does collect is heavily encrypted, making it a minimal privacy concern.

The key point of FluSense, according to the researchers, is to think of it as a health surveillance tool, rather than a piece of diagnostic equipment. Al Hossain and Rahman said that it has several important advantages over other health surveillance techniques, particularly those based on Internet tracking, like Google Flu Trend and Twitter.

“FluSense is not easily influenced by public health campaigns or advertisements. Also, the contactless nature of this sensor is ideal to capture syndromic signals passively from different geographical locations and different socioeconomic groups (including underprivileged who may not have access to healthcare and may not go to a doctor/clinic,” they said.

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COVID-19 vs. Raspberry Pi: Researchers bring IoT technology to disease detection

An IoT device that tracks coughing and crowd size in real time could become a useful tool for identifying the presence of flu-like symptoms among large groups of people, according to a team of researchers at UMass Amherst.

FluSense, as the researchers call it, is about the size of a dictionary. It contains a cheap microphone array, a thermal sensor, a Raspberry Pi and an Intel Movidius 2 neural computing engine. The idea is to use AI at the edge to classify audio samples and identify the number of people in a room at any given time.

Since the system can distinguish coughing from other types of non-speech audio, correlating coughing with the size of a given crowd could give a useful index of how many people are likely to be experiencing flu-like symptoms.

A test run between December 2018 and July 2019 saw FluSense installed in four waiting rooms at UMass’ University Health Services clinic, and the researchers said that they were able to “strongly” correlate the system’s results with clinical testing for influenza and other illnesses with similar symptoms.

And bigger plans for FluSense are afoot, according to the paper’s lead author, Ph.D student Forsad Al Hossain and his co-author and adviser, assistant professor Tauhidur Rahman.

“[C]urrently we are planning to deploy the FluSense system in several large public spaces (e.g., large cafeteria, classroom, dormitories, gymnasium, auditorium) to capture syndromic signals from a broad range of people who live in a certain town or city,” they said. “We are also looking for funding to run a large-scale multi-city trial. In the meantime, we are also diversifying our sensing capability by extending FluSense’s capability to capture more syndromic signals (e.g., recently we added sneeze sensing capability to FluSense). We definitely see a significant level of commercialization potential in this line of research.”

FluSense is particularly interesting from a technical perspective because all of the meaningful processing work is done locally, via the Intel neural computing engine and Raspberry Pi. Symptom information is sent wirelessly to the lab for collation, of course, but the heavy lifting is accomplished at the edge. Al Hossain and Rahman were quick to emphasize that the device doesn’t collect personally identifiable information – the emphasis is on aggregating data in a given setting, rather than identifying sickness in any single patient – and everything it does collect is heavily encrypted, making it a minimal privacy concern.

The key point of FluSense, according to the researchers, is to think of it as a health surveillance tool, rather than a piece of diagnostic equipment. Al Hossain and Rahman said that it has several important advantages over other health surveillance techniques, particularly those based on Internet tracking, like Google Flu Trend and Twitter.

“FluSense is not easily influenced by public health campaigns or advertisements. Also, the contactless nature of this sensor is ideal to capture syndromic signals passively from different geographical locations and different socioeconomic groups (including underprivileged who may not have access to healthcare and may not go to a doctor/clinic,” they said.

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Linux firewall basics with ufw

The ufw (uncomplicated firewall) represents a serious simplification to iptables and, in the years that it’s been available, has become the default firewall on systems such as Ubuntu and Debian. And, yes, ufw is surprisingly uncomplicated – a boon for newer admins who might otherwise have to invest a lot of time to get up to speed on firewall management.

GUIs are available for ufw (like gufw), but ufw commands are generally issued on the command line. This post examines some commands for using ufw and looks into how it works.

First, one quick way to see how ufw is configured is to look at its configuration file – /etc/default/ufw. In the command below, we display the settings, using grep to suppress the display of both blank lines and comments (line starting with #).

$ grep -v '^#\|^$' /etc/default/ufw
IPV6=yes
DEFAULT_INPUT_POLICY="DROP"
DEFAULT_OUTPUT_POLICY="ACCEPT"
DEFAULT_FORWARD_POLICY="DROP"
DEFAULT_APPLICATION_POLICY="SKIP"
MANAGE_BUILTINS=no
IPT_SYSCTL=/etc/ufw/sysctl.conf
IPT_MODULES="nf_conntrack_ftp nf_nat_ftp nf_conntrack_netbios_ns"

As you can see, the default policy is to drop input and allow output. Additional rules that allow the connections that you specifically want to be accept are configured separately.

The basic syntax for ufw commands might look like thee below, though this synopsis is not meant to imply that typing only “ufw” will get you further than a quick error telling you that arguments are required.

ufw [--dry-run] [options] [rule syntax]

The –dry-run option means that ufw won’t run the command you specify, but will show you the results that you would see if it did. It will, however, display the entire set of rules as they would exist if the change were made, so be prepared for more than a few lines of output.

To check the status of ufw, run a command like the following. Note that even this command requires use of sudo or use of the root account.

$ sudo ufw status
Status: active To Action From
-- ------ ----
22 ALLOW 192.168.0.0/24
9090 ALLOW Anywhere
9090 (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6)

Otherwise, you will see something like this:

$ ufw status
ERROR: You need to be root to run this script

Adding “verbose” provides a few additional details:

$ sudo ufw status verbose
Status: active
Logging: on (low)
Default: deny (incoming), allow (outgoing), disabled (routed)
New profiles: skip To Action From
-- ------ ----
22 ALLOW IN 192.168.0.0/24
9090 ALLOW IN Anywhere
9090 (v6) ALLOW IN Anywhere (v6)

You can easily allow and deny connections by port number with commands like these:

$ sudo ufw allow 80 <== allow http access
$ sudo ufw deny 25 <== deny smtp access

You can check out the /etc/services file to find the connections between port numbers and service names.

$ grep 80/ /etc/services
http 80/tcp www # WorldWideWeb HTTP
socks 1080/tcp # socks proxy server
socks 1080/udp
http-alt 8080/tcp webcache # WWW caching service
http-alt 8080/udp
amanda 10080/tcp # amanda backup services
amanda 10080/udp
canna 5680/tcp # cannaserver 

Alternately, you can use service names like in these commands.

$ sudo ufw allow http
Rule added
Rule added (v6)
$ sudo ufw allow https
Rule added
Rule added (v6)

After making changes, you should check the status again to see that those changes have been made:

$ sudo ufw status
Status: active To Action From
-- ------ ----
22 ALLOW 192.168.0.0/24
9090 ALLOW Anywhere
80/tcp ALLOW Anywhere <==
443/tcp ALLOW Anywhere <==
9090 (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6)
80/tcp (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6) <==
443/tcp (v6) ALLOW Anywhere (v6) <==

The rules that ufw follows are stored in the /etc/ufw directory. Note that you need root access to view these files and that each contains a large number of rules.

$ ls -ltr /etc/ufw
total 48
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1391 Aug 15 2017 sysctl.conf
-rw-r----- 1 root root 1004 Aug 17 2017 after.rules
-rw-r----- 1 root root 915 Aug 17 2017 after6.rules
-rw-r----- 1 root root 1130 Jan 5 2018 before.init
-rw-r----- 1 root root 1126 Jan 5 2018 after.init
-rw-r----- 1 root root 2537 Mar 25 2019 before.rules
-rw-r----- 1 root root 6700 Mar 25 2019 before6.rules
drwxr-xr-x 3 root root 4096 Nov 12 08:21 applications.d
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 313 Mar 18 17:30 ufw.conf
-rw-r----- 1 root root 1711 Mar 19 10:42 user.rules
-rw-r----- 1 root root 1530 Mar 19 10:42 user6.rules

The changes made earlier in this post (the addition of port 80 for http access and 443 for https (encrypted http) access will look like this in the user.rules and user6.rules files:

# grep " 80 " user*.rules
user6.rules:### tuple ### allow tcp 80 ::/0 any ::/0 in
user6.rules:-A ufw6-user-input -p tcp --dport 80 -j ACCEPT
user.rules:### tuple ### allow tcp 80 0.0.0.0/0 any 0.0.0.0/0 in
user.rules:-A ufw-user-input -p tcp --dport 80 -j ACCEPT
You have new mail in /var/mail/root
# grep 443 user*.rules
user6.rules:### tuple ### allow tcp 443 ::/0 any ::/0 in
user6.rules:-A ufw6-user-input -p tcp --dport 443 -j ACCEPT
user.rules:### tuple ### allow tcp 443 0.0.0.0/0 any 0.0.0.0/0 in
user.rules:-A ufw-user-input -p tcp --dport 443 -j ACCEPT

With ufw, you can also easily block connections from a system using a command like this:

$ sudo ufw deny from 208.176.0.50
Rule added

The status command will show the change:

$ sudo ufw status verbose
Status: active
Logging: on (low)
Default: deny (incoming), allow (outgoing), disabled (routed)
New profiles: skip To Action From
-- ------ ----
22 ALLOW IN 192.168.0.0/24
9090 ALLOW IN Anywhere
80/tcp ALLOW IN Anywhere
443/tcp ALLOW IN Anywhere
Anywhere DENY IN 208.176.0.50 <== new
9090 (v6) ALLOW IN Anywhere (v6)
80/tcp (v6) ALLOW IN Anywhere (v6)
443/tcp (v6) ALLOW IN Anywhere (v6)

All in all, ufw is both easy to configure and easy to understand.

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