Cisco Meraki : Easy to Deploy Cloud-Based & Infrastructure Solutions

Keller Schroeder IT Engineer Mike SanfordMike Sanford – [Wireless Consultant]

Do you need to be able to bring a remote office up quickly without an on-site visit?  Do you want one place to monitor wired and wireless connectivity?  Are you looking for a cloud-based solution that can provide wireless access points, switches, firewalls as well as video cameras?  If you can answer “Yes” to any of those questions, Cisco Meraki has a solution for you.

MCisco Meraki Logoeraki was founded in 2006, gaining interest as a cloud provider of wireless services.  In 2012, it was purchased by Cisco and has since branched out into the other areas of IT infrastructure mentioned above.  Their focus is providing technology that is easy to deploy and manage.  Keller Schroeder has successfully deployed most of these Meraki hardware solutions, with the exception of the video camera solution which was released in the last quarter of 2016.

Cisco Meraki DashboardWhen connected to an internet ready network, Meraki devices “phone home” and are immediately configurable from the web based Meraki Dashboard.  The Dashboard offers a single pane of glass to configure devices as well as monitor devices for up/down time and keep an eye on end user traffic.  The Dashboard provides the ability to adjust allowed bandwidth utilization and whitelist or blacklist web traffic, giving you the ability to maximize your infrastructure and internet performance.  Traffic for each piece of hardware, network and end user device is tracked and displayed in easy to view, drill-down graphs.  Information such as user, total amount and percentage of usage, applications and sites visited are available.  This information can then be used to quickly throttle bandwidth hogs, or to limit internet access by type of site or by specific site.

Meraki also offers an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution called Systems Manager.  With Systems Manager, applications and network policy can be deployed to mobile and desktop devices.  Once the easy on-boarding process is complete, a device can be monitored for location, security posture and software inventory.  The devices can also be protected by enforcing encryption policies, network access control and there is a remote enterprise wipe feature.

To learn more about our cloud solutions including Meraki, or to ask about how Keller Schroeder can perform a wireless assessment of your environment, give us a call at 812-474-6825 or contact your Keller Schroeder Select Account Manager.


Proactively Analyze Your VMware Environment with Runecast

Keller Schroeder IT Engineer Chris HaynesChris Haynes[Senior Systems Consultant]

Is your VMware environment secure?  Has your environment been configured to best practices?  Are there any known VMware or hardware bugs out right now that may affect the hardware and VMware version you are running on?  Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to chase all that down manually?  Well now you don’t have to.Runecast Logo

Introducing Runecast software. Runecast is a Linux appliance that runs as a virtual machine that proactively analyzes your VMware environment and compares it to current VMware KBs, configuration best practices, and security hardening guidelines, and provides recommended remediation steps for any variances it finds.

It is easy to install & configure and even more intuitive to use.  You’re up and running and scanning your VMware environment in minutes, and the web interface presents simple dashboards to show your current status that you can drill down into for more details…

Runecast Dashboard

In a nutshell, here’s the services that Runecast provides:

  • Security hardening checks, direct from VMware’s vSphere Security Hardening Guide
  • Industry standard configuration best practice checks/validation
  • Log collection and analysis against known issues in VMware KBs

With Runecast software, you can eliminate the manual work involved to perform security hardening and best practice configuration checks.  You can schedule automated checks, get notifications for non-compliance issues, and filter out compliance checks that don’t apply to your company’s policies.  You can easily generate compliance reports and pass security audits.

You can prevent services outages by discovering potential issues in advance and fixing them proactively. Your VMware configurations and logs are continually being analyzed against all VMware Knowledge Base (KB) articles, which Runecast downloads the latest updates on a regular basis. You will receive alerts for known issues and recommendation on how to fix them or mitigate any risks.

You can purchase a permanent version of the Runecast software to run onsite, or you can pay a one-time assessment fee to perform a month long analyze & fix cycle if preferred.  If you want to know more, check out the 30-day trial at https://www.runecast.biz and/or give your Keller Schroeder Account Executive a call at 812-474-6825 and ask for a demo and pricing details.


The Evolving Use Cases for Wireless Networking

Ty Nixon[Network Consultant]

Since its official conception in 1997, the standardized group of technologies commonly known as Wi-Fi have greatly evolved to meet changing business needs and environmental demands.  The use cases for wireless networking have grown exponentially from the basic data services of the late 90’s.  Below is a list of needs that today’s wireless solutions commonly seek to fulfill.


Data Services

Just as with the original 802.11 standard, today’s current amendment of 802.11ac allows for data services.  However, the similarities end there.  Historically, perhaps the most significant hurdle with migrating data services to wireless technologies has been the severe limitations of wireless connectivity speeds, in comparison to speeds of wired devices.  The recent amendment of 802.11ac promises to significantly narrow the gap between the technologies.  The 802.11ac theoretical speeds of over 1Gbps dwarf the speeds of earlier amendments.  The vertical markets now being targeted by wireless technology manufacturers are virtually endless.


VoWIFI

Voice services over Wi-Fi (VoWIFI) have been brought to the forefront of the use cases for wireless over the past decade.  Aided by the adaptation of VOIP technologies, enterprises of all sizes can now offer support for mobile devices within a geographical area using unlicensed radio frequency bands.  IEEE and Wi-Fi Alliance publications have also provisioned means by which to integrate robust wired networking feature sets such as Quality-of-Service (QoS), Network Access Control, multicast routing support, and Power Save with these devices.  These advancements allow a fully-converged and collaborative network to extend beyond the wires.


Location-Based Services

Location-based services such as RFID, GPS, and asset tracking systems have been brought into the spotlight in many vertical markets.  These technologies allow real-time tracking, reporting, and analysis of wireless devices throughout a property or facility.  Manufacturing, distribution, and physical plant management groups now use technologies such as Wi-Fi to aid in obtaining the location of infrastructure and assets.  Many times, data generated from a wireless location service can be fed to other analytical applications, creating a more streamlined and meaningful business process.


Ptp and Backhaul

Though less common than other applications, the practice of leveraging Wi-Fi technologies for use as site-to-site links is a perfect fit for some business needs.  Often, such as when bridging between two physical locations, the cost of extending networks via wireless equipment proves to be far less than the cost of installing buried or aerial cabling.  With the advent of 802.11 amendments such as “n” and “ac”, speeds and resiliency equivalent to wired Ethernet can be achieved.


Overall, wireless technologies have never been more prevalent than they are today.  With recent amendments by the IEEE and the Wi-Fi Alliance, speeds of modern wireless networks often approach or surpass those of wired Ethernet.  Wireless technologies have also gained traction in environments with mobility and location needs.  Additionally, wireless technologies can offer resiliency and redundancy that meets or surpasses the redundancy seen on wired Ethernet networks, often at a fraction of the cost.

Keller Schroeder offers full solutions centered on wireless technologies from multiple manufacturers.  Our company also performs comprehensive pre-installation and post-installation site surveys, using industry-leading tool sets.  To learn more about how Keller Schroeder’s wireless offerings can help meet your business needs, contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.


Veeam + Azure: Cost Effective & Flexible Cloud Backup

Matt Barton – [Senior Consultant]

Ok… 3 Questions, 30 Seconds, 300 Words…. about your backup solution.  This shouldn’t take long.

 


Question 1 :   Do you have an off-site backup? 

Yes?  Great!

No?  Why Not?  Using Veeam & Azure, quickly and easily create a cloud off-site backup, that is cost efficient & scalable based on your needs. Configure Veeam to backup the most critical data for DR, or provide long-term retention using cost-effective cloud storage. Azure charges are based on actual used capacity.  Unlike other cloud offerings or on-premises equipment, this solution provides a true consumption model, allowing you to shrink or grow the amount of data being backed up to more effectively manage costs.


Question 2 :  Does it meet the 3-2-1 rule?

The “Golden Rule” of backup.  The 3-2-1 rule states having three copies of your data – 2 on different media, and 1 copy offsite. We highly recommend Veeam integrated snapshots on Nimble Storage, copied to a Cisco UCS backup appliance, & then copied off-site to Azure.


Question 3 :  Are you able to backup Office 365 data?

You need to securely backup Office 365 email data back to your environment for a variety of reasons; to follow the 3-2-1 Rule of backup, to facilitate eDiscovery, and to meet internal policies and compliance requirements. The most important reason being the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing you will be able to restore your users’ data when needed!

With Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365, you can retrieve Office 365 Exchange Online mailbox items (email, calendar, and contacts) from a cloud-based instance of Office 365 and uniquely back up this mailbox data into the same format that Microsoft Exchange uses natively — an archive database based on Extensible Storage Engine (ESE), also known as the Jet Blue database.


Interested in hearing more or want to schedule a Veeam & Azure Demo?  Reach out to your Keller Schroeder Account Manager today!


Keller Schroeder Names New Network Solutions Group Business Unit Director

ca-photo

Corey Ainscough
Network Solutions Group Director

 

Corey Ainscough has officially been promoted to Network Solutions Group Business Unit Director at Keller Schroeder. This announcement ends a year of transition for Corey from Service Delivery Manager into his new role. The NSG Business Unit Director position was previously held by Jeff Gorman, who became Keller Schroeder’s President on 1/1/17.

Corey has nearly 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field. Prior to his role as Service Delivery Manager, he spent 10 years as a Senior Systems Consultant with Keller Schroeder focusing on security architecture and implementation, as well as Microsoft server and messaging technologies. Among his many projects, Corey also served as the virtual CIO for a large financial institution and managed the IT transition during the divestiture of an international electronics and manufacturing corporation.

Of Corey, President Jeff Gorman said “Corey has been a well-respected employee owner at Keller Schroeder for ten years.  He has been actively involved in the operational aspects of the Network Solutions Group for several years and has been an integral part of that team’s growth.  His promotion into the role of Network Solutions Group Business Unit Director is well deserved and keeps that group positioned for continued growth and success.”

Corey lives in Newburgh, IN with his wife of eight years and two sons. In addition to enjoying time with his family, Corey is an avid cyclist and fitness enthusiast.

Please join us in congratulating Corey!


Data Center Capacity Planning

Chris Haynes[Senior Systems Consultant]

Capacity PlanningIs your data center infrastructure being used the way you intended it to? Are you in control of your organization’s IT data?  If your organization is like most, probably not as well as you would like to.

A good data center capacity planning strategy can help your business become more efficient, dynamic, and competitive, but few organizations dedicate resources to capacity management or give it any importance.  If it does exist, many times it is usually just to satisfy regulations or to check a box on a form.

The tendency of many IT departments is to play it safe by purchasing more server and storage capacity than needed, which means resources are being wasted at a time when IT departments are being asked to do even more with less.  On the flip side of the coin, some IT departments are not able to anticipate the growing IT demands of the business, and react to them in a timely manner, potentially resulting in lost business or costly reactionary purchases.

In order to proactively meet the demands of your organization’s needs, you need to develop data center capacity planning processes and procedures that will track and report on the following metrics:Capacity Planning 2

  • How much is being used?
  • Who is using it?
  • At what rate is it being used?
  • How much is left?
  • When will we run out of it?

Having the answers to these questions at any point in time allows your IT department to be proactive and take steps accordingly to stay ahead of the business’ needs.  Being able to project future needs allows your organization to budget and plan for data center growth and scalability in advance, which is almost always cheaper than unplanned emergency purchases.

Does your organization need help developing a data center capacity management strategy?  Please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager to see how we can help.


VMware AirWatch – Enterprise Mobility Management

KS Airwatch Logo

Chris Ross  – [Systems Engineer – Network Solutions Group]

Do you have a mobile workforce?  How are you controlling ghost IT and data leakage?  How are you providing corporate resources to help your mobile sales team?  Is that sales team able to leverage up to date data from the internal databases?  If you are struggling to answer any of these questions, AirWatch may be the solution for you.  By utilizing applications such as AirWatch Inbox, AirWatch Browser and AirWatch Container, complete control of data can be obtained while seamlessly providing internal corporate resources to a mobile workforce in a secure and safe manner.

Do you have an intranet website that your sales team is currently having to spend countless minutes laboring through VPN’s and multiple sign-ins just to access?  AirWatch Browser can present that intranet website in a seamless experience as if the user was browsing a normal internet page, no multiple sign-ins, no hassle of a ensuring correct VPN credentials.

Sending the latest monthly sales numbers from a behind the firewall SharePoint site?  AirWatch Container can link to that SharePoint site and give your mobile workforce a secure and controlled method of access.  All the while preventing data leakage on the mobile device by ensuring any controlled information stays inside AirWatch Container.KS Airwatch Container

As a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, VMware AirWatch is setting the stage for how Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) should look.  The mobile worker population continues to grow and is forecasted to reach over 1.3 billion in 2016 and with this growth requires new security and management concerns.  VMware AirWatch is positioned to be that solution by leading in both security functionality and features delivered to the mobile worker.  Below you can find a brief summary of the main AirWatch features.

Enterprise Mobility Management Platform

Container
VMware AirWatch Container provides complete separation of corporate and personal data on devices, securing corporate resources and maintaining employee privacy. AirWatch enables organizations to standardize enterprise security and data loss prevention strategies across mobile devices through our flexible approach to containerization.

Devices
VMware AirWatch Mobile Device Management enables you to gain visibility into the devices – including smartphones, tablets and laptops – connecting to your enterprise network, content and resources. Quickly enroll devices in your enterprise environment, update device settings over-the-air, and enforce security policies and compliance across your entire device fleet. Manage any mobile device type, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, rugged devices, printers and peripherals with support for multiple operating systems including Android, Apple IOS, BlackBerry, Chrome OS, Max OS and Windows across your organization.

Apps
VMware AirWatch Mobile Application Management enables you to manage internal, public and purchased apps across devices enrolled in your organization. Distribute, update, track and recommend apps with VMware AirWatch Catalog. Build custom business apps with the VMware AirWatch Software Development Kit or by following AirWatch-sponsored ACE documentation, or wrap existing internal apps for advanced security with VMware AirWatch App Wrapping.

Content
VMware AirWatch Mobile Content Management secures document distribution and promotes content collaboration anytime, anywhere with VMware AirWatch Content Locker. Access your corporate content in a secure container with advanced data loss prevention policies. Promote collaboration with editing, annotation and commenting capabilities for shared files.

Email
VMware AirWatch Mobile Email Management delivers comprehensive security for your corporate email infrastructure. With AirWatch, you can control which mobile devices access email, prevent data loss, encrypt sensitive data and enforce advanced compliance policies. Containerize email and provide a consistent user experience with VMware AirWatch Inbox, a secure email client.

Browsing
VMware AirWatch Browser is a secure browsing alternative to native browsers and provides organizations with the ability to configure customized settings to meet unique business and end-user needs. Define and enforce secure browsing policies for intranet sites without a device-level VPN. Enable secure browsing with whitelists and blacklists or kiosk mode.

Telecom
VMware AirWatch Telecom Management enables IT to easily monitor data, voice and roaming usage alongside devices from the admin console. With AirWatch, IT has insight into telecom usage to help save time, money and resources. Roaming restrictions, automated compliance enforcement and self-service options for end users simplify telecom management for IT.

These are only a few of the features that AirWatch can offer you.  If you would like to learn or ore to see a demo of AirWatch, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.

 


Windows Licensing Change – Processor to Core-Based

Dezarae Loewen -[Inside Product Manager & Microsoft Licensing Specialist]2015 Partner Logo

Microsoft is looking to release the newest version of Windows Server sometime in the second half of 2016. With this new significant product release, comes a change in not only the product but the licensing structure as well.  This article will take a look at a few of the new changes that Microsoft has made to Windows Server.

Windows Server 2016 will continue to come in both the Standard and Datacenter versions.  However, there now will be more differences between the two than just virtualization rights.  Datacenter will now include additional storage replication capabilities, a new network stack, and a new shielded virtual machines and host guardian service.

The major change with this new release is that the licensing moves to a per core model.  Windows Server 2016 will use a 2 core pack instead of the processor based model in Windows Server 2012. To license a physical server, all physical cores must be licensed with a minimum of 8 core licenses per physical processor.  The minimum cores per physical server is 16 cores.  Microsoft has stated that the price of the 16 core license of Windows Server 2016 will match the price of the 2 processor license of Windows Server 2012.  Those systems with up to 4 processors and up to 8 cores per processor should not see any change in cost from Windows 2012. However, pricing can get more expensive than the previous licensing model the higher the processor core count on each physical server.  This change to a per core license model does not do away with CAL requirements.  Windows CAL’s will still be required for each user and/or device accessing a licensed Windows Server.

2016 Server Licensing

With this expected release coming later this year, now is a great time to purchase Windows Server 2012 with software assurance.  By adding software assurance to your Windows purchase today, you will be guaranteed the right to a free license upgrade to Windows 2016 at its release. Once the software assurance term ends, the processor licenses will then be exchanged for a minimum of 8 two-core pack licenses or the actual number of physical cores in use.

For any additional questions, please contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information, including what Software Assurance and migration benefits your company is eligible for as well as how to purchase new licenses before these changes take effect.


Veeam Availability Suite v9 – Now Available!

Jessee Drew [Senior Consultant]

Veeam Availability Suite version 9 was officially released to the public on January 12th, 2016, after an early release in December to manufacturers and partners. Veeam Availability Suite combines the industry-leading backup, restore and replication capabilities of Veeam Backup & Replication with the advanced monitoring, reporting and capacity planning functionality of Veeam ONE. This article will focus on the new features available in Veeam Backup & Replication. Below is a list of some of the major new features in the latest software release.Veeam V9

  1. Scale-Out Backup Repository – Scale-Out Backup Repository is perhaps the most significant new feature of Veeam Backup & Replication v9 and will provide the greatest benefit to many businesses. This feature allows multiple disk repositories from any backup target supported by Veeam to be grouped into a single pool for maximum scale-out capabilities.  Backup targets can be Windows or Linux servers with local or direct attached storage, or even NAS or SAN storage volumes with compression and/or deduplication technologies.  Any of these various sources can now be combined into one big backup destination pool for Veeam backups.  This not only benefits scale-out for backups, but also allows new storage sources to be added and old storage sources to be removed on the fly over time, without disrupting backup operations. Also, the combination of multiple disk sources can dramatically improve backup performance.

  2. Per-VM Backup Chains – Per-VM backup chains will allow a single backup job, which in v8 was a single-threaded task, to become a multi-threaded task. For example, a backup job with 20 VMs can now create 20 threads on the underlying storage.  This will result in faster backup completion times by allowing each disk resource to reach its full performance level.  This feature in combination with the Scale-Out Repository feature will greatly improve backup performance.

  3. Stand-alone Console – The previous Veeam versions could only be managed by directly accessing the Veeam management server via RDP or console and opening the local client that was installed as part of the Veeam server installation. In the new Veeam Backup & Replication v9, there is now a separate stand-alone thick client that can be installed on any workstation or server, providing more convenient & secure access to Veeam management.

  4. Storage Snapshot Integration with EMC – Veeam Backup & Replication v9 has also added the ability to leverage storage based snapshots from EMC storage, just as it has done in previous versions with HP & NetApp storage. These storage snapshots can be accessed from “Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots”.  Just like Veeam’s other client specific Explorer utilities (Exchange, SQL, Oracle, etc.), the snapshot backups can be searched and item level data can be recovered directly from the Veeam Explorer GUI.

  5. Direct Backup from Network File System (NFS) – Veeam Backup & Replication v9 can now directly backup any NFS storage target attached to a vSphere ESXi host. This new version of Veeam will also support the NFS 4.1 protocol on vSphere 6. This is a great additional feature, as until now, only select vendor’s NFS storage targets were supported.

To learn more about these and other new features, please check out Veeam’s website at the following link: https://www.veeam.com or contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.


LogRhythm 7 – Next-Gen Security Threat Detection & Response

Brad Mathis[Senior Consultant, Information Security]LogRhythm Platform

 

LogRhythm, The Security Intelligence Company, recently unveiled LogRhythm 7, a major upgrade to their security intelligence and analytics platform.  With new and enhanced features and capabilities, LogRhythm continues to be a leader in the SIEM (Security Information & Event Management) space.

 

Chris Peterson, senior vice-president of products, CTO and co-founder at LogRhythm states, “The sophistication and resolve of today’s cyber adversaries continue to rise, as does the number of successful intrusions.” “The innovations in LogRhythm 7 empower IT security teams to detect, respond to and neutralize cyber intruders faster and more efficiently.”

 

LogRhythm DashboardWith LogRhythm’s HTML5 based dashboard, advanced security analytics and SmartResponse automation capabilities, and the ability to perform full-text unstructured search with the introduction of Elasticsearch, it is no surprise LogRhythm has been positioned as a Leader in Gartner’s SIEM Magic Quadrant report for four consecutive years.  LogRhythm scored highest in Gartner’s Critical Capabilities for Security Information and Event Management.

 

New features with LogRhythm 7 include:

  • Elasticsearch based indexing for expedited investigations
  • Architectural advancements for up to a 300 percent improvement in data indexing performance on a per-node basis
  • Real-time threat activity map
  • New Risk-Based scoring algorithms
  • Incident Response advancements
  • Extensions to the SmartResponse Automation framework, such as the ability to prevent malware outbreak with endpoint shutdown

For more information or to schedule a LogRhythm demonstration, contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.