13 Jan

Network Resilience Starts With Opengear Smart Out-of-Band

The way that most enterprises do business has drastically changed in the past few months. However, one aspect for success that has remained constant is the need for continuous uptime. In fact, Network Resilience has never been more important. This concept begins with the idea that every organisation needs secure, always on remote access to their critical devices.

IoT initiatives, the rise of connectivity and the ongoing migration to the cloud has caused every industry to become more virtualised. Add in the increase of employees working from home and the difficulty of traveling to remote locations, and the network becomes more dispersed and more challenging to manage. These all create more vulnerabilities which can increase the likelihood of an outage. Opengear, the leader in Network Resilience, conducted an independent research study of 500 senior IT decision makers. In it, more than half stated that they had four outages in a year. It also stated, that nearly one third, had lost more than $1 million in the past year due to network outages – a cost that most enterprises can’t afford.

What are some outage causes? Human error, cyber-attacks and environmental conditions are a few factors. However, one of the most common causes is the vulnerability of the primary network’s last mile. All of the network traffic for an office, branch or remote site are funneled through single links. The amount of data that can be transmitted to an enterprises’ ISP is based on the links’ bandwidth. This bottle neck can lead to network congestion, leaving an organisation exposed to cyber-attacks and human error which can lead to an outage, causing downtime.

Any amount of downtime can have a significant impact on customer experience, revenue and business operations. To avoid this, many enterprises choose to use an Out-of-Band management solution.

In-Band and Out-of-Band
Before we get into why an organisation would want to use Out-of-Band, let’s talk about network management overall. There are two primary ways to manage a network, In-Band and Out-of-Band.

In-Band Management is when devices are managed through protocols like a telnet or SSH connection to a router or by using some kind of SNMP based tools. Data, production and management traffic use the same path for communicating various elements, so for most enterprises this approach isn’t enough. When an outage does occur and you don’t have an alternative path to the primary network, you’ll get locked out of the management plane. This increases security vulnerabilities and makes sure that none of your devices can be reached.

Out-of-Band management with Opengear is very simple. It gives you another way to securely connect to remote equipment when an outage occurs. Acting as an alternative or secondary access path, when paired with Failover to Cellular, enterprises have enough bandwidth to identify the issue and remediate it – all without interrupting normal business operations or having to step on-site. This means no truck rolls, no late runs to a remote site. This has always been a need for organisations of all types. However, as deployments for distributed, remote sites increase and with current travel restrictions, Out-of-Band is a necessity for network engineers.

The Network Resilience Platform
Opengear’s Network Resilience Platform provides always on, secure access for Day One provisioning, every day device management and when the primary network goes down. The platform includes Smart OOBTM Console Servers, and NetOps Console Servers which are centrally orchestrated through Lighthouse Management Software. Placing a console server at every location creates an independent management plane where engineers can access the network at all times. Using standard NetOps tools such as Docker containers and a Python runtime environment, these appliances can also be used to automate repetitive processes and add a layer of intelligence to the network.

Organisations Who Use Opengear’s Network Resilience Platform
Who can use Opengear’s Network Resilience Platform? Anyone can. Right now, over 75% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Opengear – as well as thousands of global Public & Private Sector organisations.

What challenges can be solved by deploying an Opengear Smart Out-of-Band solution?

  • Ensure Remote connectivity
  • Reduce systems outages
  • Cyber-security attacks
  • Address disaster recovery
  • Reduce downtime
  • Provision new or reconfigure existing sites
  • Enable Secure remote access
  • Complete network refreshes
  • Ensure Business continuity
  • Meet Service Level Agreements
  • Overcome Site access/travel bans
  • Reduce Response times – mean time to repair
  • Meet security & compliance requirements
  • Add to SD-WAN deployments
  • Manage more IT with less resources
  • Remediate Network & IT team staffing shortages

Out-of-Band is the network for network engineers. When an outage occurs, it’ll keep you and your enterprise running. Opengear’s solutions are here for your Day One Provisioning needs, every day management and when the network goes down.
So the question is, how can Opengear help you and your network needs?

To learn more about Opengear products, contact us today.

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12 Aug

Partnership announcement

Belkin Cybersecurity is pleased to announce a partnership with MB Technology. MB Technology is focussed on a wide range of IT Infrastructure products and are the great partner to support Belkin Cybersecurity in the UK market.

Belkin Cybersecurity is currently launching a brand new, innovative secure KVM portfolio based on the latest Common Criteria Profile, PP4.0. Through this partnership we can continue to meet the increased demand of Secure KVM solutions in defence, police, intel agencies, finance and utilities.

Belkin’s National Account Manager CyberSecurity, Farooq Ahmed says “MB Technology brings a wealth of experience to the networking arena. Their organisational set up allows them to be pro-active towards the broad customer base that they serve, and we feel that their can-do mentality complements the Belkin drive to win in this space.”

Learn more about Belkin Secure Solutions here

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30 Mar

Staying Undefeated by Downtime Case Study

For i3D.Net, the leading provider of high-performance hosting and global infrastructure services, network resilience is a necessity. With thousands of servers spread across the world, they required a Smart Out-of-Band solution to maintain its complex operation.

Deploying Opengear solutions have allowed them to stay one step ahead of any pending network failures. Providing agility and reliability, they are able to maintain their high standards as they expand their global locations.

To learn more about how Opengear keeps i3D.Net undefeated by downtime, read the case study

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11 Mar

Don’t be left hanging when it comes to delivering IT products

As a Vertiv Distributor, we guarantee rapid responses on all orders and updates along with comprehensive run-rate stock levels.

Our fully technically-trained team will help solve your infrastructure issues and ensure rapid responses to get your business back up and running.

We can help you specify a solution whether it be a PDU, UPS, Rack, KVM Switch or Console Server.



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25 Jan

Build your edge with Vertiv’s Mix & Match promotion








Whether your customers need a full infrastructure refresh, remote monitoring capabilities or more capacity at edge sites to handle new demands, as a Vertiv Distributor Partner, we are on hand to help.

With Vertiv’s Mix & Match promotion you can build your customers’ edge solution – and save up to 45%!

Deliver best-in-class solutions with Vertiv today!

Learn more


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20 Jul

Can your customer not get on-site?

Ensure Business Continuity At All Times

When the network’s down, everything can come to a complete halt. Communications, operations and business might no longer be able to function while you’re trying to remediate an issue that could be occurring hundreds of miles away.

Travel restrictions have made it more difficult than ever to get on-site quickly or to get there at all.

Help your customers ensure operations can continue to run smoothly while they troubleshoot with Smart Out-of-Band by Opengear.
Opengear solutions run on a secure independent network plane, essentially providing you the ability to diagnose and remediate the issue without impacting normal operations.
If the network goes down, what’s their plan?
Learn more: https://opengear.com/solution/smart-out-band-management
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15 Jun

Ensuring Uptime In Education

Distributed campuses and new digital initiatives pose constant challenges to network engineering teams managing education networks remotely. The constant addition of bandwidth-intensive applications and the integration of distance learning due to the global pandemic has placed a strain on the network. Increasing the likelihood of an outage and with limited technical staff at each location, any type of disruption would place learning at a complete standstill.

To ensure educational processes remain running smoothly, productivity is maintained and recovery costs are kept at a minimum, these institutions need a network safeguard.

Opengear’s proven solutions ensure always-on network resilience and maximum uptime for educational institutions.

Click here to learn more

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24 Apr

6 Benefits of Coloured PDUs

Austin Hughes InfraPower Coloured Power Distribution Units (PDUs)

  1. Simplify PDU Identification
    The use of coloured PDUs at the rack level allows quick and simple identification for  Technicians and Engineers, reducing human error whilst working in racks/cabinets. e.g. being able to identify the PDUs as red / blue rather than describing location removes ambiguity.
  2. Differentiation of Power Feeds
    Utilising coloured PDUs enables differentiation of the Primary and Redundant (A & B) power feeds within the rack. Usually 2 or 4 PDUs per rack depending on density.
  3. Consistent Power Chain
    In addition to allowing the differentiation of power feeds within the rack, these colours can match existing power chains within the data centre for further continuity. E.g. generators, UPS, power distribution racks
  4. Pale Colours for Light Saving
    Chose lighter coloured PDUs and racks (such as White) for helping reduce the amount of light required. PDUs will also be more visible within the rack. Using ‘pale/light colours’ is  recommended in the ‘EU Code of Conduct on Data Centre Energy Efficiency (V8.1.0)
  5. Space Saving Dual Feed PDUs
    An alternative to multiple PDUs in a single rack to differentiate power feeds is to utilise dual feed PDUs whereby two PDUs are housed in one chassis. Saving you rack space and IP address costs.
  6. Coloured Power Cables
    Coloured power cords provide a simple way to enhance cable management and visualise power sources further. Available in a variety of colours and cord lengths to suit your requirements.
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21 Apr

5 tips for protecting your data when working remotely

As the number of remote workers continuously rises, ensuring data protection can prove challenging. Organisations have the added pressure of maintaining business continuity whilst adhering to data protection regulations. Strain is added for those dealing with highly sensitive information shared within a large organisation or with third parties. How can organisations protect data from  attacks and human error, as well as manage access to confidential information?

Here are iStorage’s five tips:

1) Keep a safe back up of sensitive information – protect against ransomware
All important files should be regularly and securely backed up. Backing up valuable data onto a PIN-authenticated, hardware encrypted USB flash drive or HDD/SSD ensures business continuity in the event of a hard drive crash, lost or stolen computer and ransomware attack.

Using an encrypted drive for backing up data is essential. For ultimate protection, the selected drive should preferably have an on-device crypto-chip offering real-time AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption with a FIPS PUB 197 validated encryption algorithm. As a result, if the encrypted device, such as a USB flash drive or hard disk drive, is lost or stolen, it will not result in a data breach and the exposure of confidential client or company data.

2) Transport files securely

Securely carry work home with you using a PIN protected, encrypted USB flash drive or HDD/SSD. In the worst-case scenario of the drive getting lost or stolen when employees transport files or work out of the office, an encrypted drive as described above will allow organisations to avoid the risk of their data being compromised.

Moreover, if the drives are only accessible by entering a unique 7-15-digit PIN, it will prevent unauthorised access to the data stored on the drive. Another feature worth considering is brute force limitation. If the PIN is entered incorrectly a designated number of times, all data previously stored in the drive is deleted and the drive is reset.

When power to the USB port is turned off, or if the drive is unplugged from the host device or after a predetermined period of inactivity, the drive should automatically lock to prevent unauthorised access. Using a drive that can also be configured as read only (write protect) will ensure the data is not modified and means viruses cannot be brought into the company infrastructure.

3) Encrypt data stored in the cloud

The cloud is often the preferred option for remote working. However, cloud security is a common major concern, meaning most businesses will hesitate to store any highly confidential information in the cloud. Is there a way around this issue?

To ensure data privacy when faced with common threats, such as DDoS and malware attacks, data must be encrypted in transit and at rest. Data encryption  renders stored and transmitted data unreadable and unusable in the event of theft or inadvertent data leakage.

Encryption cannot be dependent on the cloud service provider (CSP). With serverside encryption, the encryption key is stored in the cloud and thus accessible to hackers and cloud staff. It is therefore best for organisations to individually encrypt data stored in the public cloud. The user needs full and secure control of the encryption key in order to ensure the data is kept confidential even if the cloud account is hacked. Having your own key management system will not only give you more control of encryption keys but it’s also more convenient for those using a multi-cloud solution.

An ideal solution to control the encryption key is to quite literally remove it from the cloud and physically store the encrypted encryption key within a PINauthenticated USB module, such as the iStorage cloudAshur. The module will not store any data. Rather, it will act as a key to encrypt data and access any data in the cloud. It can thus be used to securely encrypt confidential data stored in the cloud, on a local computer or network drive, sent via email or sent using a file sharing service.

4) Ensure authorised access to data

Using specific software, such as iStorage KeyWriter, all critical security parameters between the primary encryption module and as many secondary encryption modules as required can be copied, including the randomly generated encryption key and all PINs. Only those with a copy of the encryption key will be able to decrypt the shared data. This allows for secure and instant collaboration in the cloud between authorised users, regardless of location.

Businesses need a clear procedure that all staff follow to uphold adherence to data protection regulations, even more so with the rise of remote workers. Multi-factor authentication is a highly recommended best practice for data protection compliance. If a hacker obtains the cloud user’s credentials, the breach will go unnoticed to the cloud service provider as it won’t be able to decipher
between a legitimate user from an attacker. On the other hand, the cloudAshur encryption module increases security measures to an unprecedented five-factor authentication, as the encryption key is kept away from the cloud.

5) Manage access to data remotely

Handing authorised staff an encryption module, such as the cloudAshur, will contribute to reducing the risk of data loss due to human error. Still, this does not entirely eliminate the possibility of such an occurrence. For example, an individual may lose the encryption module or be dismissed and keep the device. This is where central management is needed.

Those responsible for cloud and data security in the organisation should be able to monitor file activity, set geo-fencing and time fencing restrictions, encrypt file names and disable users’ access to the data remotely. This will go a long way in eliminating security risks in the cloud and help managers have full visibility and administration of sensitive data and user access.

These measures will contribute to maintaining business continuity, upholding compliance to data protection regulations and eliminating any complexity of remote working.

iStorage assist organisations with remote workers to: (1) safely transport and back up data using our datAshur or diskAshur range, and (2) securely share and manage data in the cloud using our cloudAshur solution.

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10 Mar

Understanding the difference between resilience and redundancy to ensure uptime and business continuity

The distinction between network resilience and network redundancy may remain puzzling for many businesses, but the importance of understanding such differences is absolutely essential. While a resilient network may contain some redundancy, a redundant system isn’t always resilient to a competent standard.
Redundancy is a process through which alternate or additional instances of network devices, utilities and equipment are installed within the network infrastructure
and other elements such as backup generators, or alternate cooling circuits are brought in to support the smooth operation of the network.

Typically, a redundant network duplicates critical elements and devices that keep the network running, so that if one path fails, another can be used. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t solve the problem of business continuity – far from it. After all, if there’s a primary network failure or something goes wrong with any piece of equipment other than the redundant elements, the network remains down.

Just adding switches or routers won’t resolve this issue. If an engineer cuts through a cable, the network may go down no matter how much duplicate equipment is in place. Redundancy can often be expensive too. Unsurprisingly, organisations often baulk at spending large sums on data connections that will be idle most of the time.

Maximising uptime with resilience

If a business is serious about maximising network uptime, it has to go beyond redundant equipment. That’s where end to end resilience is so important. Resilience is all about recovering quickly to ensure that the company is operating normally soon after a network outage. Part of this is knowing there’s a problem in the first place. Many organisations today face issues in being able to quickly identify and remediate reliability or resilience issues. Again, redundancy on its own won’t deliver this awareness, but resilience can. Take a large organisation with a Network Operations Centre. They may have lots of offices around the world with attendant time zone issues. As a result, they may struggle to learn that an outage has even occurred because they’re not proactively notified if something goes offline. Even when they are aware, it may be difficult to understand which piece of equipment, at which location, has a problem if no one is onsite to physically check.

Dealing with outages

True network resilience is not just about providing resilience to a single piece of equipment, whether that be a router or core switch, for example. In a global economy, it’s important that any such solution can plug into all of the equipment at any data centre or edge site, map it and establish what’s online and offline at any given time.

This enables a system reboot to be quickly carried out remotely. And if that doesn’t work, it might well be that an issue with a software update that’s the root of the problem. With the latest smart out-of-band (OOB) management devices this can be readily addressed because an image of the core equipment and its configuration can be retained, and the device quickly rebuilt remotely without the need for an engineer visit. In the event of an outage, therefore, it’s possible to deliver network resilience via failover to cellular, while the original fault is remotely addressed, enabling business continuity even while the primary network is down. Building in resilience through the OOB approach is expensive, but it’s money well spent. You might use this alternate access path infrequently but when you need it, you really need it. Moreover, resilience is typically far cheaper than having to buy in large volumes of redundant equipment, for example. This is increasingly the case as the deployment of edge locations increases. An organisation may be able to afford redundancy at a core data centre, powering multiple businesses and processes, but that same redundancy can’t be built into every single data rack or data closet at a small remote location.

Maintaining continuity
So, network redundancy can help businesses mitigate the risk of unplanned outages and help ensure business continuity, but it doesn’t necessarily bring resilience. Simply implementing redundant equipment will never ensure that a business can get its full network ecosystem from core to edge up and running normally again quickly. Ultimately, it’s having that resilience in place that’s key to businesses. After all, networks are the fundamental backbone to the success of organisations today, and many businesses will benefit from bringing network resilience into the heart of their approach from the very outset.

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