Optimal connectivity for virtualized Office 365 apps: Part 2

We reviewed how to apply Microsoft’s Office 365 Network Connectivity Principles when virtualizing Office 365 to ensure that workers at branch offices enjoy a great user experience. But I left you hanging on one very important Office 365 application: Microsoft Teams. So let’s explore how to best handle Teams audio-video traffic.

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Integration International Inc

Integration International, Inc. (i3) is an end to end Information technology solutions and professional services company having a services footprint across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. i3 has been consistently helping clients to transform business and IT operations with innovative ideas, best practices, and diverse technology expertise.

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Virtual Desktop Tools, Server Hypervisors

Network Virtualization: Gaining a Competitive Edge

Article | June 8, 2023

Network virtualization (NV) is the act of combining a network's physical hardware into a single virtual network. This is often accomplished by running several virtual guest computers in software containers on a single physical host system. Network virtualization is the gold standard for networking, and it is being adopted by enterprises of all kinds globally. By integrating their existing network gear into a single virtual network, enterprises can save operating expenses, automate network and security processes, and set the stage for future growth. Businesses can use virtualization to imitate many types of traditional hardware, including servers, storage devices, and network resources. Three Forces Driving Network Virtualization Demand for enterprise networks keeps rising, driven by higher end-user demands and the proliferation of devices and business software. Through network virtualization, IT businesses are gaining the ability to respond to evolving needs and match their networking capabilities with their virtualized storage and computing resources. According to a recent SDxCentral survey, 88% of respondents believe that adopting a network virtualization solution is "mission critical" and that it is necessary to assist IT in addressing the immediate requirements of flexibility, scalability, and cost savings (both OpEx and CapEx) in the data center. Speed Today, consider any business as an example. Everything depends on IT's capacity to assist business operations. When a company wants to 'surprise' its clients with a new app, launch a competitive offer, or pursue a fresh route to market, it requires immediate IT assistance. That implies IT must move considerably more swiftly, and networks must evolve at the rapid speed of a digitally enabled organization. Security According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, the average organization experiences two successful cyberattacks every week. Perimeter security is just insufficient to stem the flood, and network experts are called upon to provide a better solution. The new data center security approach will: Be software-based Use the micro-segmentation principle Adopt a Zero Trust (ZT) paradigm In an ideal world, there would be no difference between trustworthy and untrusted networks or sectors, but a ZT model necessitates a network virtualization technology that allows micro-segmentation. Flexibility Thanks to the emergence of server virtualization, applications are no longer linked to a specific physical server in a single location. Applications can now be replicated to eliminate a data center for disaster recovery, moved through one corporate data center to another, or slipped into a hybrid cloud environment. The problem is that network setup is hardware-dependent, and hardwired networking connections restrict them. Because networking services vary significantly from one data center to the next, as an in-house data center differs from a cloud, you must perform extensive personalization to make your applications work in different network environments—a significant barrier to app mobility and another compelling reason to utilize network virtualization. Closing Lines Network virtualization is indeed the future technology. These network virtualization platform characteristics benefit more companies as CIOs get more involved in organizational processes. As consumer demand for real-time solutions develops, businesses will be forced to explore network virtualization as the best way to take their networks to another level.

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Server Hypervisors

VMware NSX 3.2 Delivers New, Advanced Security Capabilities

Article | September 9, 2022

It’s an impactful release focused on significant NSX Security enhancements Putting a hard shell around a soft core is not a recipe for success in security, but somehow legacy security architectures for application protection have often looked exactly like that: a hard perimeter firewall layer for an application infrastructure that was fundamentally not built with security as a primary concern. VMware NSX Distributed Firewall pioneered the micro-segmentation concept for granular access controls for cloud applications with the initial launch of the product in 2013. The promise of Zero Trust security for applications, the simplicity of deployment of the solution, and the ease of achieving internal security objectives made NSX an instant success for security-sensitive customers. Our newest release — NSX-T 3.2 — establishes a new marker for securing application infrastructure by introducing significant new features to identify and respond to malware and ransomware attacks in the network, to enhance user identification and L7 application identification capabilities, and, at the same time, to simplify deployment of the product for our customers. Modern day security teams need to secure mission-critical infrastructure from both external and internal attacks. By providing unprecedented threat visibility leveraging IDS, NTA, and Network Detection and Response (NDR) capabilities along with granular controls leveraging L4-L7 Firewall, IPS, and Malware Prevention capabilities, NSX 3.2 delivers an incredible security solution for our customers“ Umesh Mahajan, SVP, GM (Networking and Security Business Unit) Distributed Advanced Threat Prevention (ATP) Attackers often use multiple sophisticated techniques to penetrate the network, move laterally within the network in a stealthy manner, and exfiltrate critical data at an appropriate time. Micro-segmentation solutions focused solely on access control can reduce the attack surface — but cannot provide the detection and prevention technologies needed to thwart modern attacks. NSX-T 3.2 introduces several new capabilities focused on detection and prevention of attacks inside the network. Of critical note is that these advanced security solutions do not need network taps, separate monitoring networks, or agents inside each and every workload. Distributed Malware Prevention Lastline’s highly reputed dynamic malware technology is now integrated with NSX Distributed Firewall to deliver an industry-first Distributed Malware Prevention solution. Leveraging the integration with Lastline, a Distributed Firewall embedded within the hypervisor kernel can now identify both “known malicious” as well as “zero day” malware Distributed Behavioral IDS Whereas earlier versions of NSX Distributed IDPS (Intrusion Detection and Prevention System) delivered primarily signature-based detection of intrusions, NSX 3.2 introduces “behavioral” intrusion detection capabilities as well. Even if specific IDS signatures are not triggered, this capability helps customers know whether a workload is seeing any behavioral anomalies, like DNS tunneling or beaconing, for example, that could be a cause for concern. Network Traffic Analysis (NTA) For customers interested in baselining network-wide behavior and identifying anomalous behavior at the aggregated network level, NSX-T 3.2 introduces Distributed Network Traffic Analysis (NTA). Network-wide anomalies like lateral movement, suspicious RDP traffic, and malicious interactions with the Active Directory server, for example, can alert security teams about attacks underway and help them take quick remediation actions. Network Detection and Response (NDR) Alert overload, and resulting fatigue, is a real challenge among security teams. Leveraging advanced AI/ML techniques, the NSX-T 3.2 Network Detection and Response solution consolidates security IOCs from different detection systems like IDS, NTA, malware detection. etc., to provide a ”campaign view” that shows specific attacks in play at that point in time. MITRE ATT&CK visualization helps customers see the specific stage in the kill chain of individual attacks, and the ”time sequence” view helps understand the sequence of events that contributed to the attack on the network. Key Firewall Enhancements While delivering new Advanced Threat Prevention capabilities is one key emphasis for the NSX-T 3.2 release, providing meaningful enhancements for core firewalling capabilities is an equally critical area of innovation. Distributed Firewall for VDS Switchports While NSX-T has thus far supported workloads connected to both overlay-based N-VDS switchports as well as VLAN-based switchports, customers had to move the VLAN switchports from VDS to N-VDS before a Distributed Firewall could be enforced. With NSX-T 3.2, native VLAN DVPGs are supported as-is, without having to move to N-VDS. Effectively, Distributed Security can be achieved in a completely seamless manner without having to modify any networking constructs. Distributed Firewall workflows in vCenter With NSX-T 3.2, we are introducing the ability to create and modify Distributed Firewall rules natively within vCenter. For small- to medium-sized VMware customers, this feature simplifies the user experience by eliminating the need to leverage a separate NSX Manager interface. Advanced User Identification for Distributed and Gateway Firewalls NSX supported user identity-based access control in earlier releases. With NSX-T 3.2, we’re introducing the ability to directly connect to Microsoft Active Directory to support user identity mapping. In addition, for customers who do not use Active Directory for user authentication, NSX also supports VMware vRealize LogInsight as an additional method to carry out user identity mapping. This feature enhancement is applicable for both NSX Distributed Firewall as well as NSX Gateway Firewall. Enhanced L7 Application Identification for Distributed and Gateway Firewalls NSX supported Layer-7 application identification-based access control in earlier releases. With NSX-T 3.2, we are enhancing the signature set to about 750 applications. While several perimeter firewall vendors claim a larger set of Layer-7 application signatures, they focus mostly on internet application identification (like Facebook, for example). Our focus with NSX at this time is on internal applications hosted by enterprises. This feature enhancement is applicable for both NSX Distributed Firewall as well as Gateway Firewalls. NSX Intelligence NSX Intelligence is geared towards delivering unprecedented visibility for all application traffic inside the network and enabling customers to create micro-segmentation policies to reduce the attack surface. It has a processing pipeline that de-dups, aggregates, and correlates East-West traffic to deliver in-depth visibility. Scalability enhancements for NSX Intelligence As application infrastructure grows rapidly, it is vital that one’s security analytics platform can grow with it. With the new release, we have rearchitected the application platform upon which NSX Intelligence runs — moving from a stand-alone appliance to a containerized micro-service architecture powered by Kubernetes. This architectural change future-proofs the Intelligence data lake and allows us to eventually scale out our solution to n-node Kubernetes clusters. Large Enterprise customers that need visibility for application traffic can confidently deploy NSX Intelligence and leverage the enhanced scale it supports. NSX Gateway Firewall While NSX Distributed Firewall focuses on east-west controls within the network, NSX Gateway Firewall is used for securing ingress and egress traffic into and out of a zone. Gateway Firewall Malware Detection NSX Gateway Firewall in the 3.2 release received significant Advanced Threat Detection capabilities. Gateway Firewall can now identify both known as well as zero-day malware ingressing or egressing the network. This new capability is based on the Gateway Firewall integration with Lastline’s highly reputed dynamic network sandbox technology. Gateway Firewall URL Filtering Internal users and applications reaching out to malicious websites is a huge security risk that must be addressed. In addition, enterprises need to limit internet access to comply with corporate internet usage policies. NSX Gateway Firewall in 3.2 introduces the capability to restrict access to internet sites. Access can be limited based on either the category the URL belongs to, or the “reputation” of the URL. The URL to category and reputation mapping is constantly updated by VMware so customer intent is enforced automatically even after many changes in the internet sites themselves.

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Virtual Desktop Tools, Server Hypervisors

Boosting Productivity with Kubernetes and Docker

Article | April 28, 2023

Learn setting up a Docker and Kubernetes environment with the right considerations and choose the best-suited software from ten leading tools, softwares and platforms for your business needs. Contents The blog discusses how Kubernetes and Docker can boost software development and deployment productivity. In addition, it covers the benefits of the role of Kubernetes in orchestrating containerized applications and best practices for implementing these technologies to improve efficiency and streamline workflows. Docker and Kubernetes are both essential containerization ecosystem utilities. Kubernetes, an excellent DevOps solution, manages and automates containers' deployment and scaling, along with operating across clusters of hosts, whereas Docker is used for creating and operating containers. The blog covers tips to consider while choosing tools/platforms. It further enlists ten platforms providing Kubernetes and Docker, featuring their offerings. 1. Considerations While Setting Up a Development Environment with Kubernetes and Docker 1.1 Fluid app delivery A platform for application development must provide development teams with high velocity. Two factors contribute to high velocity: rapid application delivery and brief development cycles. Application platforms must support build processes that start with source code. The platforms must also facilitate the repetitive deployment of applications on any remote staging instance. 1.2 Polyglot support Consistency is the defining characteristic of an application platform. On-demand, repetitive, and reproducible builds must be supported by the platform. Extending a consistent experience across all languages and frameworks elevates the platform experience. The platform must support a native build process and the ability to develop and customize this build process. 1.3 Baked-in security Containerized environments are secured in a significantly different manner than conventional applications. A fundamental best practice is to utilize binaries compiled with all necessary dependencies. The build procedure should also include a directive to eliminate unnecessary components for the application's operation. Setting up a zero-trust architecture between platform components that orchestrate deployments significantly improves the workloads' security posture. 1.4 Adjustable abstractions A platform with paved paths and the flexibility to accommodate the requirements of software engineering teams has a greater chance of success. Open-source platforms score highly in this regard, particularly those with modular architectures that allow the team to swap out parts as they adjust. 2.Top Tips to Consider While Choosing Tools and Platforms for Kubernetes and Docker 2.1 Production-Readiness Configuring Kubernetes or Docker can be complex and resource-intensive. A production-ready platform will ensure having the necessary fully automated features without the need for configuration. Security is an essential aspect of production readiness. Additionally, automation is critical, as production readiness requires that the solution manage all cluster management duties. Automated backup, recovery, and restore capabilities must be considered. Also, ensure the high availability, scalability, and self-healing of the cluster's platform. 2.2 Future-Readiness As the cloud and software evolve, a system's hosting location may affect its efficacy. The current trend is a multi-cloud strategy. Ensure that the platform can support abstracting from cloud or data center providers and building a shared infrastructure across clouds, cloud regions, and data centers, as well as assist in configuring them if required. According to a recent study, nearly one-third of organizations are already collaborating with four or more cloud service providers. (Source: Microsoft and 451 Research) 2.3 Ease of Administration Managing a Docker or Kubernetes cluster is complex and requires various skill sets. Kubernetes generates a lot of unprocessed data, which must be interpreted to comprehend what's happening with the cluster. Early detection and intervention are crucial to disaster prevention. Identifying a platform that eliminates the issue of analyzing raw data is essential. By incorporating automated intelligent monitoring and alerts, such solutions can provide critical status, error, event, and warning data to take appropriate action. 2.4 Assistance and Training As the organization begins to acquire Kubernetesor Docker skills, it is essential to have a vendor that can provide 24/7 support and training to ensure a seamless transition. Incorrect implementation will add a layer of complexity to infrastructure management. Leverage automation tools that offer the support needed to use Kubernetes and Docker without the management burden. 3. 10 Tools and Platforms Providing Kubernetes and Docker 3.1 Aqua Cloud Native Security Platform: Aqua Security provides the Aqua Cloud Native Security Platform, a comprehensive security solution designed to protect cloud-native applications and microservices. Aqua offers end-to-end security for applications operating on Docker Enterprise Edition (Community Edition), protecting the DevOps pipeline and production workloads with complete visibility and control. It provides end-to-end security across the entire application lifecycle, from development to production, for both containerized and serverless workloads. In addition, it automates prevention, detection, and response across the whole application lifecycle to secure the build, cloud infrastructure, and operating workloads, regardless of where they are deployed. 3.2 Weave Gitops Enterprise Weave GitOps Enterprise, a full-stack, developer-centric operating model for Kubernetes, creates and contributes to several open-source projects. Its products and services enable teams to design, build, and operate their Kubernetes platform at scale. Built by the creators of Flux and Flagger, Weave GitOps allows users to deploy and manage Kubernetes clusters and applications in the public or private cloud or their own data center. Weave GitOps Enterprise helps simplify Kubernetes with fully automated continuous delivery pipelines that roll out changes from development to staging and production. Weaveworks has used Kubernetes in production for over eight years and has developed that expertise into Weave GitOps Enterprise. 3.3 Mirantis Kubernetes Engine Mirantis provides the Mirantis Kubernetes Engine, a platform designed to help organizations deploy, manage, and scale their Kubernetes clusters. It includes features such as container orchestration, automated deployment, monitoring, and high availability, all designed to help organizations build and run their applications at scale. Mirantis Kubernetes Engine also includes a set of tools for managing the lifecycle of Kubernetes clusters, including cluster deployment, upgrades, and patching. It also has security scanning and policy enforcement features, as well as integration with other enterprise IT systems such as Active Directory and LDAP. 3.4 Portworx by Pure Storage Portworx's deep integration into Docker gives Portworx container data services benefits directly through the Docker Swarm scheduler. Swarm service creation brings the management capability of Portworx to the Docker persistent storage layer to avoid complex tasks such as increasing the storage pool without container downtime and problems like stuck EBS drives. Portworx is also a multi-cloud-ready Kubernetes storage and administration platform designed to simplify and streamline data management in Kubernetes. The platform abstracts the complexity of data storage in Kubernetes. Additionally, it serves as a software-defined layer that aggregates Kubernetes nodes' data storage into a virtual reservoir. 3.5 Platform9 Platform9 provides a powerful IDE for developers for simplified in-context views of pods, logs, events, and more. Both development and operations teams can access the information they need in an instant, secured through SSO and Kubernetes RBAC. The industry’s first SaaS-managed approach combined with a best-in-class support and customer success organization with a 99.9% consistent CSAT rating delivers production-ready K8s to organizations of any size. It provides services to deploy a cluster instantly, achieve GitOps faster, and take care of every aspect of cluster management, including remote monitoring, self-healing, automatic troubleshooting, and proactive issue resolution, around the clock. 3.6 Kubernetes Network Security Sysdig provides Kubernetes Network Security, a solution that offers cloud security from source to run. The product provides network security for Kubernetes environments by monitoring and blocking suspicious traffic in real time. It helps organizations protect their Kubernetes clusters against advanced threats and attacks. The product and Sysdig Secure offer Kubernetes Network Monitoring to investigate suspicious traffic and connection attempts, Kubernetes-Native Microsegmentation to enable microsegmentation without breaking the application, and Automated Network Policies to save time by automating Kubernetes network policies. 3.7 Kubernetes Operations Platform for Edge Rafay delivers a production-ready Kubernetes Operations Platform for Edge, streamlining ongoing operations for edge applications. It provides centralized multi-cluster management to deploy, manage, and upgrade all Kubernetes clusters from a single console across all edge nodes. In addition, it offers comprehensive lifecycle management, with which users can quickly and easily provision Kubernetes clusters at the edge, where cluster updates and upgrades are seamless with no downtime. Furthermore, the KMC for Edge quickly integrates with enterprise-class SSO solutions such as Okta, Ping One, and Azure AD, among others. Other features include standardized clusters and workflows, integration and automation, and centralized logging and monitoring. 3.8 Opcito Technologies Opcito provides simplified container management with efficient provisioning, deployment, scaling, and networking. Its application containerization expertise helps containerize existing and new applications and dependencies. Opcito is well-versed in leading container orchestration platforms like Docker Swarm and Kubernetes. While it helps choose the container platform that best suits specific application needs, it also helps with the end-to-end management of containers so clients can release applications faster and focus on innovation and business. The container management and orchestration services include: building secured microservices, Enterprise-scale Container Management and Orchestration, Orchestration, and Container Monitoring. 3.9 D2iQ Kubernetes Platform (DKP) D2iQ (DKP) enables enterprises to take advantage of all the benefits of cloud-native Kubernetes while laying the groundwork for intelligent cloud-native innovation by simplifying Kubernetes deployment and maintenance. It simplifies and automates the most difficult parts of an enterprise Kubernetes deployment across all infrastructures. DKP helps enterprises easily overcome operational barriers and set them up in minutes and hours rather than weeks and months. In addition, DKP simplifies Kubernetes management through automation using GitOps workflow, observability, application catalog, real-time cost management, and more. 3.10 Spektra Spektra, by Diamanti, a multi-cluster management solution for DevOps and production teams, provides centralized multi-cluster management, a single control plane to deliver everything needed to provision and manage the lifecycle of multiple clusters. Spektra is built to cater to business needs, from air-gapped on-prem deployments to hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures. It also enables stretching resources across different clusters within the tenant. Furthermore, it allows you to move workloads and their associated data from one cluster to another directly from its dashboard. Spektra integrates with lightweight directory access protocols (LDAP) and Active Directory (AD) to enable user authentication and streamline resource access. In addition, it offers application migration, data mobility, and reporting. 4. Conclusion It is evident that Kubernetes and Docker can significantly boost software development and deployment productivity. By adopting appropriate containerization platforms and leveraging Kubernetes for orchestration, organizations can streamline workflows, improve efficiency, and enhance the reliability of their applications. Furthermore, following the tips to choose the tools or platform carefully can further improve productivity.

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Virtualizing Broadband Networks: Q&A with Tom Cloonan and David Grubb

Article | June 11, 2020

The future of broadband networks is fast, pervasive, reliable, and increasingly, virtual. Dell’Oro predicts that virtual CMTS/CCAP revenue will grow from $90 million in 2019 to $418 million worldwide in 2024. While network virtualization is still in its earliest stages of deployment, many operators have begun building their strategy for virtualizing one or more components of their broadband networks.

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Spotlight

Integration International Inc

Integration International, Inc. (i3) is an end to end Information technology solutions and professional services company having a services footprint across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. i3 has been consistently helping clients to transform business and IT operations with innovative ideas, best practices, and diverse technology expertise.

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