Cisco ASA and AnyConnect

Tim Deem, Sr. Network Consultant

Cisco Systems recently made two significant announcements at Cisco Live! Milan.  The first included new models of the Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA), and the second included changes in the AnyConnect Client with respect to new names and ordering methods.

New ASA Models
The new models of the ASA provide substantially improved throughput and the FirePower services within purchased bundles.

CISCO ASA5506-X:   Similar to the 5505 model in its footprint, but with 5 times the throughput  (750Mbps), and as a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), ships with FirePower services and built-in administration.

5506W-X:
  Mirrors 5506-X features, with a built-in 702 AP (802.11n).

Although the improved performance and FirePower inclusion is greatly anticipated, one disappointment is the lack of Power over Ethernet (PoE) and its absence from the roadmap on these units. Two additional models were also mentioned, but aren’t due to be available until later in Cisco’s calendar year.  Details on the 5508-X (higher performance model) and the 5506H-X (ruggedized model) will be forthcoming.

 

Cisco AnyConnect Change
The announcement at Cisco Live! Milan was followed by the End of Support (EOS) alert issued March 14, 2015 declaring the EOS for Cisco AnyConnect version 3.x.  As of this alert, the following are now in effect:
Cisco Any Connect

  • Software maintenance will not be available for the stated software versions [3.x] beyond March 1, 2016.
  • OS Platform updates for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux will not be available for the stated software versions [3.x] beyond July 31, 2015.

The new Cisco AnyConnect SSL-based client solution is acquired by purchasing the licensing for AnyConnect Plus (which mirrors the old Essentials license in features and functionality) or AnyConnect APEX (which mirrors the old Premium license).  If, however, you’ve purchased the original AnyConnect Essentials or Premium licensing prior to March 2nd 2015, there are migration licenses which can be acquired at a reduced cost.

 

For more information regarding the new ASA models or the AnyConnect licensing, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.


Spotlight On…

Jesse Drew

Employee Owner: Jessee Drew

 

Jessee has over 19 years of experience in small to large businesses, government, and healthcare industries.  In his previous role as a Senior Systems Engineer he architected, designed and deployed the physical-to-virtual consolidation of 200 physical servers for local government. He has designed and migrated standalone physical direct-attached storage to enterprise-class tiered storage on several different NAS and SAN products via ISCSI and Fibre Channel. He was responsible for design, implementation, and maintenance of Dell & HP servers, Cisco UCS blade servers, HP EVA storage systems, and NetApp FAS/V series storage systems. In addition, he has designed and implemented several backup and replication solutions using NetApp SnapProtect, SnapMirror, SnapVault, and Symantec Backup Exec. He has designed and deployed physical, standalone Exchange services and multi-server Virtual Exchange environments. He also designed and implemented Microsoft domain services, including new deployments, migrations, and consolidation tasks from disparate Windows domains to a consolidated Windows domain.  Jessee has performed many different physical and virtual migration scenarios of both hardware and storage and continues to develop the needed skills to support our customers needs.

Jessee’s certifications: VMware Certified Professional (VCP) on vSphere 4 (VCP4),  Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer on Windows Server 2003,  Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA): Messaging on Windows Server 2003,  Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) on Windows Server 2003,  Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP),  Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) on Novell 3.12,  Certified Novell Administrator (CNA) on Novell 3.12

Jessee has been married to his wife Lynn for 25 years. They have a daughter, Jasmine. In his spare time, Jessee enjoys taking motorcycle road trips, playing golf, and spending time outdoors.

Contact the Keller Schroeder Account Team to learn more about Jessee and how you can leverage his experience and skills to benefit your organization.


TechSpot Recap : Cisco Intercloud & Peak 10 Disaster Recovery

Carissa Montgomery, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Steve Kevin Cisco
The kickoff to our 2015 TechSpot series of lunch-and-learn events took place on Thursday, February 26th. The event was also the first held at our new TechSpot location, ITT Technical Institute in Newburgh, IN. The informative session featured presentations from our vendor partners Cisco and Peak 10.

Cisco Systems Engineer Kevin Flook discussed the company’s Intercloud Fabric, a highly secure, open, and flexible solution that gives users complete freedom in workload placement based on business needs.
Kevin’s presentation included details such as Cisco’s Intercloud Kevin PresentingFabric vision, an overview of its architecture, and case studies highlighting the technology’s true business value.

John and Mike Peak 10
Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from Mike Meyer, Systems Engineer from Peak 10. Mike discussed the latest in Peak 10’s Disaster Recovery. Topics featured in Mike’s presentation included Business Continuity versus Disaster Recovery, a Disaster Recovery plan using the Cisco PPDIOO Chart, challenges associated with traditional disaster recovery implementations, and cloud-based disaster recovery using Peak 10’s Mike PresentingDRaaS.

Clients were also treated to a free lunch, a free gift, and the opportunity to win great prizes. Becky Hills from Ivy Tech, Allen Tate from the Ohio Township Public Library System, and Cathy Finch from Raben Tire all took home Amazon Fire Sticks. Abram Devonshire from Flanders Electric won our Grand Prize, a $100 VISA Gift Card.

 


Measuring Adoption

Rob Wilson, Business Unit Director – Application Solutions

Tape measure 2We all know it is important to measure return on investment (ROI) when implementing a new solution. Solution ‘x’ saved ‘y’ dollars by requiring ‘z’ fewer hours from employees ‘a’ and ‘b.’ But what about those projects where the cost savings are less quantifiable? How do you measure the success of a project, for example, whose sole purpose is to streamline communication? Or what about a project aimed at improving customer satisfaction? When there is not a direct impact on the bottom line, how will you know if your project succeeded? You measure the outcomes.

Before you can measure the outcomes, you need to identify them, and determine the appropriate metrics to measure. A recent software adoption course I attended suggested using a format such as this to position your initiatives:

Business Scenario: Flexible Payment Options

Use case:

As a…

I want to…

So that…

That means I need…

Associated Business Value:

Ability to pay online

Business Owner

Provide a way for my customers to pay their bills online

My customers experience the convenience of conducting business with us

To provide a secure payment page

– Customer satisfaction

– Improved cash flow

– Fewer delinquent payments

While I appreciate the spirit of this exercise, it would be better if it were more objective. Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, suggests an approach that is based more on the scientific method. According to sciencebuddies.org, the steps of the scientific method are:

  • Ask a question
  • Do background research
  • Construct a hypothesis
  • Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment
  • Analyze your data and draw a conclusion
  • Communicate your results

A simpler, more scientific way of articulating your objectives and measuring their adoption may go like this:

We believe that our customers would appreciate a more convenient way to pay their bills.
We will test this by creating an online form for customers to pay their bills on our web site.
We will know we have succeeded if 25% or more of our customers have paid 3 bills online within a year of launching the feature.

How you come up with that final statement is a topic for another day. You will get better at analytics with experience. I will say that measuring adoption over time is key, so do not get too disappointed if early adoption is slow, or too elated if your early numbers are through the roof. Your metrics should have some factor of time involved when measuring adoption. This brings me to the next point: how do you present your findings? You should not need a degree in reading log files to measure adoption. A better approach would be to build your objectives and outcomes right into the application itself, and display them on an administrative dashboard. In this case, a chart showing the trending in online payments – particularly by repeat customers – would be most effective.

Let us consider another example. Suppose your objective is to improve communication of your company policies with your employees. Emailing a policy to your staff would be difficult to track. Emailing a link to a policy on your intranet would be a step up – if you do not mind parsing log files. Ideally, however, you would email a link to your policy where it sits on SharePoint or some other platform, and with a little custom code, SharePoint can log a list of everyone who has read each policy (even a particular version of a policy). Creating some quick views would allow you to view metrics and provide the tools you need to nudge holdouts on key policies.

Policy-Example

In summary, if you want to measure the success of a software initiative, you should determine the desired outcome, decide how you will measure it, and agree upon which results will show you have succeeded. Restate your value hypothesis on a scorecard on an admin dashboard, and track the results over time. I trust you will find that a focus on adoption such as this will greatly improve your decision-making over time – including knowing what features are important to your audience and justifying what projects should be implemented. If you would like help getting started, contact us for a consultation on software adoption strategies.

Contact your Account Manager at Keller Schroeder for more information about our Applications Solutions Group  and how it might benefit your organization.


The Leadership Pipeline – Taking an Honest Look

Dan Ehrhart,  Vice President – Applications Solutions Group

PGC_Pipeline_Data2

Whether you are an executive or a frontline manager, regularly assessing and investing in your “leadership pipeline” in an intentional way is important for the health of your organization. You often cannot move up, move on, or retire in good conscience without a successor. If there is no one to replace you in your current role, you might be passed over for a promotion.

At Keller Schroeder, we annually review our succession plans, identify holes and development areas, and make appropriate adjustments. We have historically invested more time and attention toward the top of the organization, but are getting better at looking more deeply at all levels of leadership. We strive to identify and develop prospective leaders as soon as they demonstrate an interest and propensity for influencing others and growing professionally.

Acquiring and keeping good people is vital in IT, where demand exceeds supply. From my experience, younger generations are more apt to want to develop into technical masters than to manage and lead as compared to my generation. A healthy mix is critical for us and probably for you as well. Some will want to develop into leaders, so let’s give them opportunities.

As a leader you may be carrying an inordinate load. If so, that is added incentive for you to equip those you lead who want to grow. Improve your delegation skills if needed. Take time to invest in them. The added short-term pain it might add to your load pays long-term dividends. John C. Maxwell’s Equipping 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know is a good primer on equipping leaders, and is the source of much of the following.

Qualities to look for in selecting someone to equip include: character, positive attitude, self-discipline, people skills, communication skills, and commitment. When possible, strive to select someone to equip who is committed vs. simply interested, as they will be more likely to stay around.

As the equipper, strive to:

    1. Model, mentor, and empower, without being a control freak
    2. Clear obstacles and create new opportunities for growth
    3. Give responsibility, authority, and accountability
    4. Teach servant leadership
    5. Create a climate where the person being equipped doesn’t fear making a mistake or being accountable (i.e., mistakes are expected as part of the learning process)

When practical, have the person being equipped train another person, since the best way to learn something is to teach it.

I encourage you to take a look at your leadership pipeline and consider some next steps to improve it. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, only to look up and find yourself far from your desired path after months or years of plodding ahead. For more information on leadership pipelines, head to your search engine of choice. You will find much material, for example, The Leadership Pipeline : How to Build the Leadership Powered Company by Charan, Drotter, and Noel.

In the words of Peter Drucker, “No executive has ever suffered because his people were strong and effective.”