Purpose-Built Clouds

I just came across a news article titled “GE preps industrial-strength cloud of its own“. At first glance, I figured here we go again, yet another company building its own cloud and boasting that it is the best solution for you the consumer. But then as the page loaded and I read the tag-line/summary, I actually got a little more intrigued.

“Today’s clouds aren’t optimized for heavy-duty industrial applications, says GE. Which is why it’s building a cloud of its own.”

Now this got me thinking… this isn’t your usual press release of yet another company going about how we are building our own cloud for our products; well actually it is, but it has a twist to it. GE are actually claiming that they will be building this cloud for the purpose of serving (specifically) industrial applications/systems.

So on Tuesday, GE is formally announcing Predix Cloud which it is building specifically to handle the types of data generated by jet engines, MRI scanners, power generation equipment, and other heavy-duty gear…

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Wrapping My Mind Around MPLS VPNs

I was introduced to the concept of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) quite a while back, I can’t even remember when that was; I must have been in my teens then. I am strictly speaking about remote-access VPNs, such as PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, and OpenVPN. I was enamored by the idea that a device on a remote network can connect remotely to a local gateway and appear as though they were actually on the local network. The first idea that came to mind (back then) was a VoIP-based application where you can be in one place, yet appear to be calling from a totally different place.

Shortly after, and as my intrigue developed in the subject, I began to consider what it would be like for an entity/company to be dispersed across multiple locations, and yet still be able to connect them to one another with such a type of technology, which then led to the question of who would be the server, and who would be a client, and why. The solution didn’t make sense (or I just didn’t find it logistically efficient) and thought that I want something more along the lines of a site-to-site VPN, without necessarily having a client and a server, but rather two sites connecting to one another, appearing as one unified network. That’s when I came across IPsec (minus the L2TP part) and its capability to implement such a topology.

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A Network Implementation Gone South

We were at the outset of entering the market, providing IT consulting and system integration services, when we were approached by this start-up incubator, claiming that they were having issues with internet connectivity at their premises, and that they had future plans which they wanted to be ready for when the time comes.

This start-up incubator hosts a wide array of workshops and events in support of the local entrepreneurship efforts. Upon first being exposed to the institution’s network topology, how they got there, and where they planned to go, we definitely had our work cut out for us. The client, at the time, had a number of internet connections, from a number of sources, each of varying throughputs, latency, and overall performance (sounds promising already, right???).

Unfortunately though, and as is the case with most clients today (and probably always) funds were limited, so we had to make do with as little expenditure as possible. So we began to scavenge the premise for whatever hardware we could get our hands on. We finally came out with a single half-decent PC, and a wired network infrastructure that seemed sufficient for the time-being.

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Beginning my Journey to Becoming a CCIE

A year ago (July 2014) I was in a Barnes & Noble, and I came across the Cisco Press ICND1 and ICND2 certification guides for the Cisco Certified Enterprise Network Technician (CCENT) and the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) in the routing and switching domain. I was well aware of the fact that my network knowledge was relatively advanced, but I came to realize that I didn’t have much market recognizable accreditation to support such a claim. Also I couldn’t rely on my job title either, as it was a rather generic job title at the time. At that moment I decided to set myself on this journey to get myself on the Cisco certification track, for a couple of reasons. First, it would provide a market recognizable accreditation standard of my true technical knowledge, and second, it was about time that I had done a full review of all the knowledge that I supposedly had, as well as fill in the gaps where needed. Now, 11 months later, I am at a new frontier in the IT world, having gone deep into the theory and the practice of full IT infrastructure. After starting studying, I found myself going into more and more detail of different fields, and not just the Cisco curriculum. Today I am proud to say that I stand to hold the following certifications, after starting my journey last July.

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The Missing Link

Not too long ago, I was contacted by a friend in need of some technical advice; he was looking to hire a new IT manager for his company as his previous manager was leaving. As he’s not a technical person, he wasn’t sure what the required skills and knowledge would be for such a position – other than the general manager attributes. So I embarked on this journey to help him out and as I did, it got me thinking of a number of issues.

Image Source: Chief Mobility Officer
Image Source: Chief Mobility Officer

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