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ZK Research - a proud sponsor of AI World 2017. See you there!

AI World Conference & Expo · Boston, MA · December 11-13, 2017

Featured Report:

August 2017 - Prepared by Zeus Kerravala

Digital transformation has become a top mandate for almost every IT and business leader. The ZK Research 2017 IT Priorities Survey found that 84% of businesses currently have a digital transformation initiative in progress (Exhibit 1). In the digital era, competitive advantage is no longer determined by which company has the best products or even the best people. Market leadership is based on an organization’s ability to analyze information, gain insights and make fast decisions to capitalize on market transitions.


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Apstra’s intent-based AOS 2.0 delivers agility across
physical/virtual networks so they look like one.

Intent-based systems have been all the rage since Cisco announced its “Network Intuitive” solution earlier this year. For Cisco customers, its solution is certainly interesting. But what about businesses that want an alternative to Cisco? Or companies that want to run a multi-vendor environment?

Over a year before Cisco’s launch, a start-up called Apstra shipped the closed-loop, intent-based solution. It was designed to be multi-vendor in nature with support for Cisco but also Arista, Juniper, HP and others, including white box. Apstra operates as an overlay to networks built on any of the leading vendors to deliver intent-based networking in heterogeneous environments.

This week, Apstra announced the next release of its software, AOS 2.0, which addresses the gap that exists between physical underlay and virtual overlay networks, including VXLAN. I’ve discussed this topic with many network professionals, and there is a high degree of interest in using network virtualization, but the lack of visibility between the underlay and overlay is a huge deterrent. Without an understanding of the relationship between the two, network managers are faced with managing two separate networks — the physical network and virtual overlay.

Also, with this model, troubleshooting becomes extremely difficult as the virtual network is one big blind spot. Any application problems that occur in the overlay is, for all intents and purposes, invisible to the engineers running the physical network. The lack of visibility also creates security problems because malware or other malicious traffic could spread like wildfire across the overlay and be hidden from the security tools attached to the physical network. There’s an expression that you can’t secure or manage what you can’t see, and that’s certainly true for overlay networks today.

Bringing the two environments together using traditional management models like CLI would be like trying to compute all the algorithms in an autonomous vehicle manually. People can’t work fast enough to process huge volumes of data, analyze it and take action on the insights to make it practical. That is why the task is turned over to machine learning systems. Similarly, with a network, trying to maintain the intent of a network is hard enough to do with a single network. Bring in the virtual overlay, and all the dependencies and the task would be so monumentally difficult that it’s practically impossible, even for the largest network teams.

Apstra’s AOS 2.0 facilitates management of physical and virtual networks

Apstra’s intent-based operations works off a closed-loop model where the intent is continuously validated. Virtual overlays introduce VXLAN segments that are used in conjunction with VLANs to segment virtual machines and containers in data centers at a more granular level. When these resources are put in motion and spun up and down dynamically, it becomes very difficult to maintain specific policies, such as “all workloads in VLAN1 are to be assigned to a specific VXLAN segment.” Intent-based solutions continually gather data and automate the re-configuration.

Also, Apstra’s AOS self-documents, repairs itself, and can maintain security. The term “intent-based security” is often bandied about, but that’s more the effect of being able to understand, create and maintain policies in highly dynamic environments.

This latest release of AOS automates the full lifecycle of VXLAN-based, layer two network operations within, but also across racks, which is crucial today because east-west traffic flows are dominating data centers. The growth in east-west is driving the need to migrate from legacy, multi-tier layer two networks to more dynamic and scalable, layer three leaf-spine architectures with an agile layer two overlay. Doing this with legacy configuration methodologies, such as scripting or CLI infusion, would require extensive application testing and possibly modification to account for the changes. Apstra’s closed loop increases agility, so the transition to leaf-spine can be made without any modifications at the application layer.

In a world where digital transformation is running amok, the infrastructure teams, including network operations, must find a way to respond to line-of-business requests faster. Intent-based networks reduce the amount of downtime caused by human error (still the largest cause) and cut operational expenses. They also increase network agility.

Digital businesses need to move with speed, but they are only as agile as the least-agile IT component. And that today is the network. Apstra’s AOS 2.0 now delivers agility across the physical – virtual boundary, so now it looks like a single network instead of two distinct ones.

Digital Healthcare Trends:

According to researchers, physicians will be able to triage a patient’s status and their need to be seen by monitoring the data generated by wearable devices and analyzed by an Artificial Intelligent (AI) system. Fo example, many patients may go to their doctor and have a high blood pressure at that visit prompting the doctor to monitor the blood pressure more closely. This has become common practice but has proven to be very difficult to get the patient to be compliant in performing this task. The reasons for this may include, the patient forgetting to take or document the blood pressure or a lack of education of the process. Monitoring a patient’s vital signs can be a critical part of the plan of care but it’s often a struggle to get patients to do it.

In office visits aren’t always the right answer, as a patient will often get “white coat syndrome” at the doctor. For example, the stress of being at the doctor can cause a patient to have abnormally high blood pressure so this must be considered. Because of this, a physician may ask the patient to go home and keep track of their vital signs but has been proven to be ineffective in the past for the reasons listed above.

[keep reading…]

Notes From the Field:

For those who haven’t seen it, there’s a lot to love about the newest phone from Samsung. Whether it’s the new Infinity Display that seems to go on forever, the DEX docking station that turns your phone into a desktop computer, the incredible Virtual Reality experience, or the rapid wireless charging that replenishes your phone’s battery in minutes, it’s easy to see why the Samsung Galaxy S8 and 8+ will be two of the hottest devices this year.

I’ve admittedly had occasional dalliances with Samsung, yet I always come back to the Apple iPhone. While the rumors associated with the iPhone 8 sound incredible, It’s hard to argue with the growing belief that Samsung, with the Galaxy S8, has finally leapfrogged Apple— offering the best mobile phone on the market. In fact, after evaluating the Samsung Galaxy S8, Zach Epstein from BGR wrote that while he’s waiting for the iPhone 8 to be released, “Using my iPhone for the next 6 months is really going to suck.” (Click here for the full article).

Why do people stay with the iPhone instead of upgrading to a superior phone?

[keep reading…]

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