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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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02 Mar

KVM & Consoles explained

As a Value Add Distributor, we want to give you the tools to be able to talk about the products we are offering with confidence to our customers and help you easily add them to your day to day opportunities and increase your deal size.

Here we explain exactly what Console & KVM’s are, what they do, along with features and benefits to your customer.

KVM (Keyboard Video Mouse) switches are used to access and control multiple IT devices from a single input keyboard, video monitor, and mouse, saving a great deal of time, space and power.

KVM over IP Switches are designed to enable remote access to servers across a LAN/WAN, the Internet or even ISDN/56K modem. KVM over IP devices also enable out of band management enabling remote power cycling and BIOS-level access to remote locations or within a datacentre.

There are two types of KVMs, each technology has its advantages.

Digital KVM

•    Easy to integrate with existing network infrastructure
•    User access without distance limitations
•    Multiple users can log in and gain concurrent access to collaborate on the same device
•    Unlimited expandability with a uniform, predictable cost per added switch

Analog KVM

•  Ultimate security of isolation from the WAN/Internet
•  Does no need any fixed IP addresses or router ports for deployment
•  Potential for more users to access different devices on one switch
•  Real-time (instantaneous) video and mouse response
•  Utmost video quality; faster support for high pixel resolutions & colour depth
•  Lower cost per port

Serial Console Server

Serial Console Servers provide secure, remote access to IT assets and console port management for serial-based servers and network appliances.

Sometimes referred to as a serial terminal server, provide datacentre managers secure remote management of Cisco routers, switches and firewalls, Solaris, Windows, Unix and Linux servers, PBXs or any device with a serial console port.

Serial Console Servers enable IT professionals and network operations centre personnel to easily perform secure remote datacentre management and out-of-band management of IT assets from anywhere in the world.

•    Manage IT assets from virtually anywhere even during system or network outages
•    Out of Band management to monitor & respond to globally distributed networks from a central location at any given time
•    Maximise uptime and continuity with real time notifications and access
•    Minimise system disruptions and mean time to repair (MTTR)
•    Save time and minimise cost with smart and consolidated management

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09 Jan

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25 Jul

A little interesting fact about where we are located…

Lowry Mill, was built in 1883 and is the only mill left standing out of seven in the district. Tens of thousands of local people passed through the doors in the manufacturing heydays, including some of our grandparents.

The mill is named after famous artist L.S. Lowry (1887-1976) who was born soon after the mill was brought into service and from the age of 25 lived a few hundred yards away at 117 Station Road.

The Mill, still retains its tall mill tower and is a Victorian masterpiece standing on 2.4 acres of land adjacent to the Borough Bowling Green. Following a multi-million investment programme, Lowry Mill is once again humming with the sound of workers 😁

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Funfacts #ThursdayThoughts #LSLowry

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11 Apr

Read the iStorage diskAshur PRO² Review

iStorage diskAshur PRO² was featured in a roundup of the Top USB drives to keep your data secure on https://www.techradar.com – the largest UK-based consumer technology news and reviews site.

“diskAshur’s products are some of the best secure drives on the market, and the diskAshur Pro is the company’s best external hard drive yet. The key selling point of the diskAshur Pro is its physical keypad that will only grant access to the data stored within upon entering a PIN number. Asides from the physical security (which extends to IP56 water and dust resistance and even a self-destruct feature), the diskAshur Pro also comes with some enviable encryption, sporting XTS-AES 256-bit real-time full disk hardware encryption and EDGE technology to offer even more levels of safety.”

To read the review click here

 

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09 Jul

Opengear Unveils New NetOps Automation Platform at Cisco Live

The vendor-neutral NetOps Automation platform – now available in beta – combines expanded capabilities of the award-winning Lighthouse 5 software with innovative NetOps modules, and the new OM2000 Operations Manager appliance

Opengear (www.opengear.com), a leading provider of solutions that deliver secure, resilient network access and automation to critical IT infrastructure, today announced its integrated NetOps Automation platform that will offer enterprises a full-featured network automation solution to significantly streamline network and infrastructure operations. Opengear is announced the beta availability of the solution at Cisco Live, Cisco’s annual IT and communications conference, held June 10-14 in Orlando, Florida.

As the popularity and adoption of NetOps evolves, its inherent network virtualization carries increased risk to data center infrastructure and heightens the need to correctly provision, configure, remediate, and automate distributed networks. With the NetOps Automation platform, Opengear builds on its industry leadership pioneering cellular-enabled out-of-band access, monitoring, and remediation to now provide secure, automated, and vendor-neutral network provisioning, remote configuration, and orchestration purpose-built for NetOps use cases.

The NetOps Automation platform leverages expanded capabilities within Opengear’s award-winning Lighthouse 5 centralized management system, and a growing array of NetOps module applications. It also introduces the new OM2000 Operations Manager, in combination with Opengear’s existing solutions for network resilience,

  • Opengear’s Lighthouse 5 centralized management software aggregates an organization’s entire out-of-band infrastructure, enabling local or remote users to quickly and securely access any connected console via an HTTPS web interface or SSH connection. Opengear’s remote management solutions provide Lighthouse 5 with this access, utilizing embedded cellular connectivity within Opengear’s Smart OOB™ and Failover to Cellular™ technologies to reach devices even when the main network connection is down.
  • The first of Opengear’s task-specific NetOps modules – the Secure Provisioning module that allows enterprises to provision infrastructure at remote sites through an automated process and without any need for on-site technicians – is available in beta today and is targeted for general release in September 2018. Other modules will follow.
  • The NetOps Automation platform utilizes a fully open architecture, including a Git-based file repository within Lighthouse 5, Ansible integration to provide orchestration and enable automated IT workflows, a RESTful API, Docker integration, and a Linux software base.
  • With the OM2000 Operations Manager, Opengear is introducing the first appliance specifically designed to address the unique challenges created by the evolution of NetOps practices. The central feature of the OM2000 is a cryptographic TPM chip that ensures security by detecting and preventing tampering with the hardware, firmware, software, configurations, or VPN keys. The OM2000 also allows teams to run applications on the appliance or on Lighthouse 5 using Docker containers, which make it easy to deploy and run applications at the network edge.

 

“The NetOps Automation platform is designed to give enterprises with large networks a clear, reliable, and secure way to achieve full network automation every single time, and avoid the need for experienced network staff at every location” said Marcio Saito, CTO, Opengear. “By combining Lighthouse 5, the OM2000 Operations Manager and our Secure Provisioning NetOps module, along with standard Opengear appliances, businesses can now ship critical hardware to locations with no IT staff or network connectivity. They can then connect to it via the embedded cellular connection, and manage automated provisioning that gets that site up and running with no further intervention required. We believe this will give many more organizations what they need to vastly simplify their network and infrastructure operations.

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28 Jun

Virtual1 select Opengear to deliver resiliency to its network operations

Opengear, a leading provider of solutions that deliver secure, resilient network access and automation to critical IT infrastructure, has announced that Virtual1, a major UK network services wholesaler has selected Opengear’s Smart OOB platform to provide remote console connectivity across its growing UK network.

With a network spanning 180 cities and towns across the UK, Virtual1 is fast becoming the UK’s leading Digital Service Provider. Working exclusively for the wholesale markets, Virtual1 operates an advanced platform delivering high capacity, low latency networking which is also privately connected to market-leading UC, SIP and Cloud solutions.
Reliability is a vital attribute as Rich Adam, head of architecture for Virtual1 explains: “Our network reaches around 75% of UK businesses and the criticality of network and internet access means that any outage or disruption can be incredibly damaging. As such, we take monitoring, proactive maintenance and rapid problem resolution incredibly seriously.”

With major data centres located in the UK’s largest cities, Virtual1 also maintains hundreds of additional sites housing core routing and switching technology.“We have traditionally used Cisco consoles server for remote management but our rapid growth required us to become more streamlined across areas such as cabling, space and power footprint,” explains Adam, “After looking at the market, Opengear offered us the best long-term option for out-of-band (OOB) connectivity – especially around flexibility.”

Working closely with Flow Communications, a highly regarded Opengear partner; Virtual1 has deployed a resilient OOB architecture that uses secondary DSL circuits and even traditional modems to provide a triple layer of resilient IP based accessibility to key switches, servers and PDUs across its network.

“Flow Communications provided everything from 32 port Opengear units at our main datacentres all the way down to 4 port models at smaller sites,” explains Adam. “In terms of day-to-day usage, alongside out-of-band console server, we also use the Opengear devices for port mirroring during diagnostic activities. Over the years, Opengear has proven incredibly reliable and robust when it has been called upon.”

The Virtual1 core network comprises over 350 routers and switches deployed nationwide providing service via Gigabit and 10Gb ports passing 7.5M premises, delivering a potential 15Tbps of capability. This infrastructure is supplemented with the 300th recently installed Opengear ACM7000 Remote Site Gateway appliance.

“We have consistently delivered industry leading services through our innovative architecture and partner centric approach,” says Adam, “and our investing in network management technologies such as Opengear is part of a long-term commitment to ensure that we continue to meet our customers’ expectation for the best price, performance and reliability.”
Alan Stewart Brown, VP sales EMEA for Opengear added, “Virtual1 is a fantastic example of a market leader that recognises the importance of always-on availability. Opengear is delighted that Virtual1 chose our technology to deliver the scalability and flexibility they need – whether it’s a major data centre or smallest remote site.”

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28 Jun

Smart Out of Band – Remote Access to critical devices any time, even when the network goes down

With Opengear’s Smart Out of Band Solutions, your customers can remote access to their critical devices any time, anywhere, even when the network goes down.

With Opengear’s Lighthouse Centralised Management Software, allows single pane of glass platform that enables engineers to seamlessly connect and manage all devices remotely.

Download the latest brochure here from Opengear

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