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by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Cisco PIX Firewall End of Life (EOL) Notice

As you continue to review and improve your infrastructure security, the time to update firewall security has arrived. Cisco’s End of Life (EOL) announcement for the Cisco PIX Firewall products in early 2008 is now accompanied by an additional financial incentive.

Now through July 31st, 2009 you can trade in your Cisco PIX security appliance for a credit of up to $15,000* toward the purchase of a Cisco ASA 5500 Series Adaptive Security Appliance on eligible trade-in combinations.

The following details the time table under which the product’s lifecycle now falls.

Key Milestones


Date


External announcement
End of sales for platforms and bundles
End of sales for accessories
End of software maintenance releases
End of service contract renewals
End of support/end of life


Jan 28, 2008
July 28, 2008
Jan 27, 2009
July 28, 2009
Oct 23, 2012
July 27, 2013


Those currently utilizing the PIX OS versions 7.0/8.0 will recognize similarities between it and the operation of the ASA; however, a few of the advantages the ASA products provide include:

A few additional links you might find of interest:

Contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager to learn more.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Cisco NEXUS Family of Switches – The Network’s Take On Virtualization

Addressing Network Challenges of Virtualization

Server virtualization is a challenge to server and network administrators. As server virtualization is deployed, the edge of the network or access layer is automatically extended into the server itself as each hypervisor deployed contains one or more virtual switches. This extension not only multiplies the number of switches that need to be managed, but also moves control of the network edge from the network administrator to the server administrator. That change makes the server administrator responsible for network design, configuration, VLAN creation, application security, monitoring, and troubleshooting. Having these additional responsibilities at the server level, with visibility from the network administrator cut off, can increase the risk of accidental misconfiguration, network loop creation, security holes, and slow problem resolution in server virtualization environments. Cisco helps you address these challenges with a new network technology for server virtualization environments called Cisco VN-Link.

At the heart of Cisco VN-Link is a Cisco NX-OS feature called Port Profiles. Port Profiles are a collection of network attributes such as VLAN assignment, quality of service (QoS) metrics, access control list (ACL) configurations, and other network properties that would traditionally be applied to a given network interface. Unlike traditional network provisioning, which usually requires ports to be configured independently, Port Profiles can be deployed on a group of ports simultaneously.

Collaborative VM Deployment

In a virtual server environment, Port Profiles are distributed through API integration to each hypervisor, where they are made available to server administrators as Virtual Center Port Groups in the hypervisor’s VM management tool (VMware’s Virtual Center). To provision a new VM, the server administrator simply selects the correct Port Profile using Virtual Center and Cisco VN-Link automatically configures the network layer for proper network connectivity and policy.

With Cisco VN-Link technology, network administrators define network policy with the available network properties and server administrators select the appropriate Port Profile for the application they are deploying. Thus network administrators can provide consistent provisioning and management of the network while maintaining the server administrator’s flexibility to rapidly deploy VMs. In short, Cisco VN-Link provides you with the ability to define and deploy consistent network and security policy while preserving autonomy for the different functional groups in your organization (network, server, security, operations).


With Cisco VN-Link, network administrators have a consistent set of troubleshooting tools to quickly diagnose and resolve network-related issues in their server virtualization environments. They can also use the advanced diagnostic features of Cisco NX-OS. For example, Encapsulated Remote SPAN (ERSPAN) allows network administrators to mirror a VM’s traffic to a packet analyzer elsewhere in the network. This allows for detailed analysis of traffic between VMs inside a server, which would otherwise be invisible to the physical network. By combining basic and advanced troubleshooting tools with Cisco debugging facilities, Cisco NX-Link increases visibility into the virtual network access layer to help reduce potential application downtime. As server virtualization deployments continue to grow, server administrators face a challenging new management model and shifting technical responsibilities. The additional network-centric workload may add delays in application deployment and failure recovery. Cisco VN-Link brings the deployment and management of the network back to networking experts while at the same time creating a collaborative management model that meets the requirements server administrators to support rapid VM deployment.

Consistent Operation and Serviceability

Conclusion

Cisco VN-Link technology is available within the Cisco Nexus product line, including the software-based Nexus 1000V and the hardware based Nexus 5000 and 7000 series switches.

Contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager to learn more or discuss the benefits of implementing the Cisco Nexuss within your environment.

For More Information

Contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager to learn more or discuss the benefits of implementing the Cisco Nexuss within your environment.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

A Slacker in the Ranks? Search Engine Optimization

You have a web site, but is it working hard for you? Do you know how much of it is being used and by whom?

  • How many visits is my site receiving?
  • How many visitors are coming from search engines (e.g. Google) vs. directly or from other sites?
  • From which countries, states, and cities are they coming?
  • Which pages in my site are receiving the most attention? The least attention?

 

Many web site hosts offer statistics you can access to answer some of these questions — be aware that some include web crawler activity in their numbers, which skews the results. For crawler-free reporting and additional answers, there are other tools. One, which is free, is Google Analytics. It has a nice user interface.All you have to do is sign up and add a little script, which Google provides, to your common page footer. Analytics will then start collecting data and you can start viewing information. Once you build some history, you can get answers and then take steps to optimize your site for your offerings and your target market to make it work harder for you.Click here for a couple of quick, slacker-revealing things to try, as well as information about Keller Schroeder’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services. If you are not responsible for your organization’s web site, consider forwarding this article along.

Contact Ray Pritchett at (812) 474-6825 ext. 348 for assistance in setting up Google Analytics or optimizing your site for search engines.

We welcome the opportunity to work with you.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Celebrating 30 years with Thanks to Clients and United Way

Keller Schroeder’s annual Client Appreciation Event was also a birthday celebration this year, marking the firm’s 30 years of service to Evansville and tri-state area businesses with a special United Way emphasis as a way of giving back to the community.

Keller Schroeder invited the employees of its 300-plus clients to an annual cookout, which included food, fellowship, giveaways, and an opportunity to meet and learn from some of the firm’s software and hardware partner companies.  At this year’s event, held on October 3rd, Keller Schroeder’s clients were offered an extra incentive to attend.  In celebration of its 30 years in business, Keller Schroeder donated $30 to United Way of Southwestern Indiana for each of the 341 registered attendees, resulting in a total gift of over $10,000.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Project Management: Change Control

One of my favorite quotes is: “Nobody likes change but a wet baby!” How true…We all have some area of our life that we just do not want to change. As a project manager, we can like change or hate it, but one thing is for sure — we better manage it well. Managing change requests is a commonly mishandled area in the project lifecycle. Let’s take a look at some considerations.

Sometimes a project team member will forge ahead with changes to the scope of a project, large or small, wanting to “super-please” the change requester or a stakeholder. This is great until the project comes in late and over budget, with no documented change requests. No one likes working hard for weeks or months only to be under-appreciated because changes were not documented. So the next time you manage a project, coach your team to engage you to handle change requests or teach them how to handle the requests and report them to you.

TIP #1: Initiate change control
In addition to the actual request, document the date of the request, the requestor, and the priority and business considerations. Explain that the team will look at the request and that the request will be approved, postponed, or rejected by the stakeholders. And that they will be informed of the result.

To properly discuss a change order with stakeholders, you must determine the impact on such things as the schedule, resources (i.e. dollars), quality, and risk. For instance, you might say that Joe in Accounts Payable wants to add a report, which will cost $800 and will not impact the go live of the project. You will want to convey to the stakeholders the priority and business considerations gathered at the time of the request.

TIP #2: Have stakeholders approve or reject change requests
Stakeholders should make the decision. As a project manager, it is your job to equip them with the additional cost, change in schedule, etc., and then let them decide how they want to proceed.

TIP #3: Make a list of small items
When asked for multiple small changes (together or over a period of time), write them down and batch them together. Multiple small changes can wreak just as much havoc on schedule and budget as a large item, and yet they often are the culprit of overages because it is just one small change, then another, then another. Let the requestor(s) know that you are building a list of small changes that will not be overlooked, but avoid the temptation to address them immediately.

TIP #4: Include a change order log in your status reporting
I am an advocate of weekly status reporting to stakeholders for most projects. I include things like progress vs. plan (schedule and estimate), key items, and a change order log. The change order log should list each change requested, the date and who requested it, the estimated effort, and whether it has been approved or rejected, so that all stakeholders see the changes. This greatly reduces missed expectations at the end of the project, as well as that lousy feeling of being under appreciated.

Dan Ehrhart
V.P., Application Solutions

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Message in an eBottle – Email/Message Archiving Solution

Read the story of Donald Wylie (pdf).

As IT professionals investigate solutions to enable their companies’ message storage needs, litigation concerns, and compliance with increasing regulatory requirements; message archiving quickly becomes a topic of discussion. For many, the Barracuda Message Archiver has become their solution of choice. As a complete and affordable email archiving solution, it enables you to effectively index and preserve emails, enhance operational efficiencies and achieve regulatory compliance needs.

The four driving forces for message archiving include:

Storage Management – Not only is the volume of email messages continuing to increase, the average size of an email message is also becoming larger. Increased use of file attachments in email messages results in the average email ranging between 22KB and 350KB. The ability to adequately keep up with these increasing storage demands can be costly. Although storage solutions can provide short term resolutions, email archiving solutions provide a more resourceful way of handling the issue over a longer period.

Knowledge Management – Your email system contains an increasing amount of vital company intelligence, some of which may not be replicated anywhere else. If that email becomes unavailable, you run the risk of losing that intelligence. Email archiving solutions can provide management tools for storing and controlling access to an organizations knowledge base.

Litigation support – Any company in any industry is vulnerable to being implicated in lawsuits. Today’s litigation discovery can involve all parties and requires that all information relevant to the lawsuit be provided at the request of the court of law. Finding and producing such information can often cost more than the actual damages claimed in the lawsuit itself. The use of an email archiving solution can help mitigate many of those costs.

Compliance – The driving force behind the increased demand for email archiving solutions is compliance. The staggering number of regulations – some industry estimates are as many as 10,000 worldwide – requiring email retention and specific parameters regarding how and for how long email should be stored can be confusing for administrators.

The Barracuda Message Archiver is a complete email archiving solution that meets all four driving forces. It enables effective indexing of emails, enhances operational efficiencies and addresses regulatory compliance. It provides everything needed to comply with government regulations within an easily administered plug-and-play hardware solution. It can store and index all email for easy search and retrieval by both in-house personnel and third-party auditors. It receives automatic updates, similar to Barracuda’s SPAM and WEB filtering products, to its extensive library of virus and policy definitions enabling enhanced monitoring of corporate and compliance guidelines, email attached document file format updates, and security updates for the underlying platform.

To learn more about this appliance or to facilitate an evaluation unit, please contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager.

Barracuda Message Archiver FAQ
http://www.barracudanetworks.com/ns/products/archiver-faq.php

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Cisco NAC Controls My Sharona Network

As Network Security continues to play an important role within any company environment, as IT professionals, we continue to explore additional tools and mechanisms to enhance infrastructure security. One such product is the Cisco Network Admission Control (NAC) product set.

The Cisco NAC solution is a combination of three primary products including Cisco’s Clean Access Server (CAS), Clean Access Manager (CAM), and Clean Access Agent (CAA). In addition, other products such as the Cisco NAC Network Module for ISR model routers, the Cisco NAC Profiler, Cisco Access Control Server (ACS), and 3rd party product integration (eg. Microsoft’s Network Access Protection) can be deployed to further enhance the overall solution.

The concept behind the Cisco NAC solution is simple. Any device attempting to access a network is quaranteened until NAC enforces company policies regarding anti-virus, anti-spyware, and OS levels. Once determined to be compliant, the device is permitted access based upon the role assigned as part of the process either by user authentication, IP address MAC address, or other means. This can be deployed for wired devices (LAN or WAN), wireless devices, and remote access (VPN) connections.

The two primary methods of deployment are In-Band and Out-of-Band. This is specific to the Cisco CAS (Clean Access Server) placement and relevant to the type of connection for which it is designed to protect. In-Band (“in the path”) deployments are generally for wireless, remote access (VPN) and branch office connections; whereas the Out-of-Band deployments are typically more applicable to the single site campus LAN segment of the infrastructure. The combination of these two deployment methods create a dynamic and flexible solution for most environments.

For more information pertaining to the Cisco NAC solution and the products of which its comprised, you can visit Cisco’s website http://www.cisco.com/go/nac/ and contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager to discuss how your environment can benefit from a Cisco NAC solution.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Introducing our Microsoft SharePoint Blog

Are you faced with the challenges associated with propagating information to your remote workers or business partners? Does your organization struggle with organizing or finding valuable information? Are you tired of dealing with multiple versions of a document floating around in your organization? Are you in need of a corporate knowledge sharing and collaboration strategy? Maybe you should consider SharePoint, the most widely adopted portal and collaboration product on the market today.

Keller Schroeder is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with competencies in Advanced Infrastructure Solutions, Data Management Solutions, Custom Development Solutions and Information Worker Solutions. In addition to our years of experience with .NET, Office development and SQL Server, we are also your local SharePoint expert – having staff who have specialized in SharePoint since late 2005. Our SharePoint experts have recently created a blog to share some of our SharePoint insights. On our blog you will find information suited for SharePoint developers, administrators, power users and information workers. Our SharePoint blog is a great way to stay in touch with things we have recently done with SharePoint and to find information that is useful to your organization.

Please visit our SharePoint blog at the following URL: sharepointblog.www.kellerschroeder.com

Add the site to your favorites, sign-up for email updates or subscribe via your favorite RSS reader. Your comments are always welcome on our blog posts as well.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Going further, faster as a NetApp Gold Partner

NetApp’s dedication to the principles of simplicity, innovation, and customer success has made them one of the fastest-growing storage and data management providers today.  Keller Schroeder is pleased to announce an enhanced partnership with NetApp, by becoming a Gold Partner.  The NetApp product family is a key component of Keller Schroeder’s virtualization practice by allowing our clients to provision storage as fast as servers, guaranteeing 50% less storage in a virtualized environment than other storage offerings, and allowing almost instantaneous recovery of backed up data

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