TMCnet Feature
October 19, 2021

A Remote Out-of-Band Network Solution That Doesn't Depend on Your Network

It’s no secret that as our world moves more and more into the digital space, demand for information technology professionals and IT software systems has grown exponentially to accommodate our new virtual economy. According to an October 13, 2021, Computer World article, “overall growth in IT positions comes even as the highly infectious delta variant of COVID-19 continued to hinder overall job growth.” CNBC predicts that Information Security Analyst will be one of the most in demand professions heading into the next decade. Why? As our lives are more and more dependent on this giant digital spiderweb enterprise network systems and the internet, everything from our health information and banking records to our finances, interpersonal relationships and information databases are vulnerable to network outages, security breaches and data that is lost to the ether.

But where does the IT professional and automation, artificial intelligence and IT monitoring software begin? And can the two co-exist and even synergistically create large networks that are pretty close to bullet proof?

We had the opportunity to sit down with the team from Uplogix (News - Alert), a premium out-of-band, IT automation platform that deploys remotely, in real time, and is favored by, both, large government agencies and enterprise networks within the private sector whose job is to manage sensitive information across top universities, healthcare conglomerates, key financial systems, widely used lifestyle platforms and entertainment companies.

How does Uplogix fill in the blanks where other enterprise network management solutions fall short? 

The key is in approach. Traditional network management solutions rely on the network itself to mange the network. This means the applications are typically deployed in the network operations center (NOC (News - Alert)) and connect over the network to utilize SNMP to poll remote network infrastructure to push changes or determine device health. When there are issues with the infrastructure or the network is down, these solutions are useless when admins need them the most.

Uplogix deploys in the rack with network gear like routers, switches, firewalls and servers and connects over the console port the same way an admin would connect their laptop when they go to troubleshoot a problem. The difference is Uplogix utilizes this connection to continuously monitor device (the console or management connection also doesn’t tax the device or the network) for issues, and, when there are issues, Uplogix can reliably automate initial troubleshooting steps using the same runbook procedures followed by an admin.

How was Uplogix intelligence developed, and what need does it fill, logistically and financially? 

Uplogix was founded over 15 years ago on the concept of automating network management by using the console port. Currently deploying on our fifth hardware generation and v6 of our software, Uplogix makes management of remote enterprise networks more reliable, cost effective and secure.

Network admins spend a majority of their time fixing routine issues. By removing the network from the management path and providing a reliable connection, not only does Uplogix automate routine issues, but provides a secure remote connection and capabilities for admins to use on more complicated issues. This saves on “windshield time” and troubleshooting because admins have the same access remotely as they would if they traveled to the site with the issue. Plus, they can start their recovery work knowing exactly where the problem is.

What is the most pressing issue that enterprise networks face in 2021? How does Uplogix address this issue? 

Time, an increasing variety of devices to support, ever-increasing need for security, increasing user demands… there is no single issue for enterprise networks. IT professionals face a daily juggle to meet the current needs of their organization, deliver new innovations and security, and provide the same experience wherever employees are working.

Uplogix can give network admins time back in their busy day by automating routine tasks that take time and effort, as well as remove opportunities for human error (the most common cause of downtime). As a secure gateway to network infrastructure, Uplogix helps lock down access to gear, alert admins when there are issues, and provide rapid rollback to previous configurations if changes are made to devices – whether malicious or accidental.

When an enterprise network, whether private or public sector, experiences a glitch, how does Uplogix address the issue? 

Since Uplogix is continuously monitoring the network infrastructure, issues are spotted within seconds and automated triage steps follow the same runbook as an admin. The difference is that admins typically first field complaints from angry users about the Internet being slow or apps being down before starting to troubleshoot an issue that could result from an error in the network, but also issues with the service provider or even the user themselves.

From its deployment in the rack, Uplogix can identify exactly where the issue is and begin recovery. If automated recovery doesn’t solve the problem, alerts can be generated, and connections made for remote admins to work on the issue. If the problem can’t be fixed remotely, say a device has just “died” and must be replaced, Uplogix can simplify the process by automatically pushing the previous configuration to the new device. This speeds up the process as well as lowers the technical skill requirements for an onsite tech to replace a device.

How can Uplogix potentially be adapted to benefit smaller networks that accommodate medium sized companies and organizations? 

IT groups that get the most out of their Uplogix deployments often have widely distributed networks supported by small teams or have teams that are split up by network functionality. They are teams with a focus on network management of enterprise-class infrastructure. It all comes down to how important the network is to the organization, and our deployments range from a few sites to well over a thousand.

For people who do not know, what does remote, out of band mean? 

Out-of-band means a connection that’s not the primary network. At Uplogix we use the term in a couple of ways. First, connecting directly to managed devices over the console port is an out-of-band connection since it’s not the traditional method of polling over the network. We also provide an out-of-band link for remote access to managed gear. This is a modular option and can be a phone line, a cellular modem (both high speed LTE (News - Alert) connections or slower, but highly reliable CAT-M1 modems that can get a signal in locations like basements), fiber connection, or even an Iridium satellite connection for connectivity anywhere on the planet. Since it’s modular, our customers can deploy the option that makes the most sense for each location while utilizing the same management platform.

How does Uplogix technology work within the landscape of the IT profession and the industry's job viability? 

Uplogix has customers in a wide variety of verticals from federal (both DoD and civilian), financial, energy, healthcare. IT professionals use Uplogix to solve network issues that anyone running an enterprise network must deal with. We’ve had a number of admins that have used Uplogix at one workplace and moved to another only to bring in Uplogix to solve issues at their new job.

What is the future of IT management for enterprise networks? And what is the future of automated, remote, out of band enterprise network management? 

The future for enterprise networks can only lead to organizations continuing to rely on them more and more, in every phase of their business. Whether it’s for speedy and reliable connections to cloud-based applications that are core for business operations or for data-heavy IoT deployments driving efficiencies and automation in warehouses and manufacturing floors, the network connects it all.

With this much information moving over the network impacting every facet of business, high level security isn’t just for defense or finance applications. EVERY business is in the network security business.

Uplogix will continue to support network infrastructure, both traditional physical devices as well as virtual devices. With virtual network devices deployed on a server, out-of-band management becomes even more critical because all the eggs (the network devices) are in one basket (the server running network function virtualization). In these cases, Uplogix serves the same roles for device management (configuration changes, secure access, continuous monitoring) as well providing remote baseboard management for the server itself.

The future for networks looks busy and that means reliable automation is the only way for IT teams to make time for innovation.

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