Category: Solution

Beauty vs. the Beast!

SD WAN’s impact on network monitoring

SD WAN providers claim that application performance can improve by up to forty times when migrated to SD WAN technologies…  That’s a phenomenal statistic! But how true is it? How did this number roll up to the marketing department to lure you into clicking the “Subscribe to SD-WAN” button?

Strategy guru Peter Drucker once said: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” So these claims imply there being some form of measurement to back up the statistic. This also means that the initial concern is having the visibility to actually measure performance, before being able to improve on it.

Recently at the Interop ITX in Las Vegas, one of the breakfast briefings was hosted by the IDC. The topic was “Intelligent Automation of Networks” and, more specifically, the rise of “intent based networking.”

IDC claim that network visibility is critical for all companies looking to digitally transform or improve their cloud architecture deployment. Those facing pressure to support a massively complex infrastructure should start by taking a good, hard look at their network monitoring capabilities.

It’s not just about monitoring a massively complex infrastructure to ensure a better user experience, but also to baseline the current user experience to ensure that user experience actually does improve. Migration for the sake of trying to resolve user perceived problems may not yield the desired user satisfaction, increased productivity or operational saving.

Many years ago, Sintrex was at the forefront of monitoring client experience while enterprises were migrating from private WANs to service provider MPLS networks. It was essential to baseline existing service levels so that new service levels could be compared. It’s not much different now. To retain control, organisations need to retain visibility.

A couple of other predictions made by the IDC include:

  • In the near term (6-to-12 months), monitoring for SD-WAN links and specific SaaS services will see the greatest levels of investment.
  • Over the 12 to 24 month period, enterprises will invest in and integrate new network performance monitoring capabilities with existing application performance management platforms.

Sintrex Executive, Ludwig Myburgh asserts that “from a Sintrex perspective SD Networks do not have a major impact on our monitoring paradigm. Devices will still have IP addresses, with management capabilities, interconnected via Subnets and perform similar networking services. “

“The configuration and changes applied dynamically to these devices is where there is a major change to the traditional WAN paradigm. To monitor, store, check for compliance, track changes etc. we see ourselves playing a major role. Vendors are exposing the information via API’s and particularly RESTful API’s.”

“This is where Sintrex will interconnect and collate information, store in the CMDB and bring into a consolidated warehouse to provide holistic IT intelligence.”

“From a Fault, Performance and Flow perspective there are no major changes as most of the information is still available via SNMP and NetFlow for the network based platforms and WMI for the Windows environment.”

This article was published in partnership with Sintrex.


Partner update – ExtraHop introduces reveal (X)

ExtraHop Introduces Reveal(x) to Expose Attacks on Critical Assets and Automate Investigations

New Security Analytics Product Discovers and Contextualizes all Network Transactions to Surface High Risk Anomalies and Cut Investigation Time from Days to Minutes

SEATTLE – January 30, 2018 – ExtraHop, the leader in analytics for security and performance management, today announced the general availability of ExtraHop Reveal(x). This new security analytics product builds on enterprise-proven anomaly detection powered by wire data, giving security teams much-needed insight into what’s happening within the enterprise while automating the detection and investigation of threats. By analyzing all network interactions for abnormal behavior and identifying critical assets in the environment, Reveal(x) focuses analysts’ attention on the most important risks and streamlines response to limit exposure.

An Industry in Transition…

Security teams face a convergence of factors that complicate operations and decrease visibility. Hybrid and multi-cloud architectures increase agility but reduce operational control. Encryption is vital but disguises both benign and malicious activities. At the same time, businesses are shifting the emphasis from physical control points like endpoints and firewalls to logical perimeters such as trusted domains, privileged users, IoT, cloud, microservices, and containers. A new source of insight is required for modern architectures, one that provides empirical evidence to help analysts triage and investigate threats with confidence and timeliness.

“Attack surfaces are expanding and the sophistication of attackers is increasing. There simply aren’t enough talented security professionals to keep up,” said Jesse Rothstein, CTO and co-founder, ExtraHop. “Reveal(x) provides security teams with increased scrutiny of critical assets, detection of suspicious and anomalous behaviors, and workflows for both automated and streamlined investigation. We enable practitioners to do more with less by getting smarter about the data they already have.”

A Better Approach, A More Efficient Workflow

Reveal(x) addresses the gaps in security programs by harnessing wire data, which encompasses all information contained in application transactions. It auto-discovers, classifies, and prioritizes all devices, clients, and applications on the network and employs machine learning to deliver high-fidelity insights immediately. Anomalies are directly correlated with the attack chain and highlight hard-to-detect activities, including:

  • Internal reconnaissance — scans for open ports and active hosts, brute force attacks, attempted logins, and unusual access patterns.
  • Lateral movement — relocation from an original entry point, privilege escalation, and ransomware spread.
  • Command and control traffic — communications between a compromised host within the network and the targeted asset or an external host.
  • Exfiltration — large file transfers, unusual read/write patterns, and unusual application and user activity from an asset either directly or via a stopover host.

In a single unified system, Reveal(x) guides analysts to review relationships between these malicious activities and related evidence that informs disposition: the exhibited behavior, baselined measurements, transaction details, and assets involved. Live Activity Maps show communications in real time and can also replay transactions to illuminate the incident’s timing and scope. Detailed forensic evidence is just a click away, enabling immediate root cause determination using individual packets.

What Customers Are Saying

“When you work in a business dealing with the nation’s leading insurance companies, there is a lot of pressure to get it right. We rely on ExtraHop to provide us with the visibility needed to investigate performance and security issues,” said Chris Wenger, Senior Manager of Network & Telecommunication Systems at Mitchell International. “With ExtraHop in our IT environment, we can more easily monitor all of the communications coming into our network, including use of insecure protocols. These insights enable my team to better secure our environment. ExtraHop has been that extra layer of security for us.”

What Analysts Are Saying

“In security, your intelligence is only as good as the data source from which it’s derived,” said Eric Ogren, Senior Analyst at 451 Research. “The network is an ideal place to identify active computing devices and call out threats as they attempt to probe and communicate. ExtraHop Reveal(x) balances real-time critical asset insights with machine learning-based network traffic analytics to create visibility that will help security teams stay one step ahead of security incidents for those assets that matter most.”

What Partners Are Saying

“There are no silver bullets when it comes to identifying and managing risk within a business information security program. It’s a multidimensional problem that requires reliable sources of insight and best-of-breed technology,” said Tim O’Brien, Director of Security Operations at Trace3. “We are excited to integrate the power of ExtraHop Reveal(x) enterprise visibility and machine learning into our world-class security practice, helping our customers identify and address threats before they affect the business.”

For more information on ExtraHop Reveal(x), check out these additional resources:

Product Availability

ExtraHop Reveal(x) is available now in North America via ExtraHop’s value-added resellers for an annual subscription.

About ExtraHop

ExtraHop is the first place IT turns for insights that transform and secure the digital enterprise. By applying real-time analytics and machine learning to all digital interactions on the network, ExtraHop delivers instant and accurate insights that help IT improve security, performance, and the digital experience. Just ask the hundreds of global ExtraHop customers, including Sony, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Adobe, and Google.


It geeks hate operational monotony: why you should adjust your sails

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Jimmy Dean

25 years ago…
Change in IT happened so often that the only constant was upgrading technology: from XT to AT workstations, from thick Ethernet cabling to thin Ethernet, from Token Ring topologies to Bus topologies and from binding IPX to TCP/IP protocols on NICs.  Techs were techs – having a variety of technical skills; from writing little DOS menus to re-cabling a building with your own RG-58 cabling tools, while explaining the difference between a floppy and a stiffy to a new user. The IT team was “The IT Team” – no specialists. Some just knew a little more than others. Everything seems to be project driven and operational issues were small issues that had to be resolved along the way as part of the ‘project’.

As time progressed…
Some technologies became adopted standards as implemented by most organisations, like star topology reticulation and TCP/IP. Techs started to specialise and businesses started looking for specific skills in the market to address certain technology needs.  Desktop support engineers faced the irate users while network engineers fiddled with routing protocols that could halt a company’s business operations with a small typo on a subnet mask.

The bigger the company infrastructures grew, the more controls and processes were implemented.  And the one thing that Techs hate is exactly that: the monotony of “more of the same”. Techs want change – new toys, upgrades, new features, and exciting bells and whistles. Businesses, on the other hand, want stability, productivity, uptime, less change, no outages, ease of use, etc.

Understandably, even when things go wrong, Techs would rather be working on new projects and new technology than trying to figure out what is now causing the storm in the cloud. With the evolution of systems and applications, Techs have been saved! Today, there are systems available that can pinpoint issues in any IT environment for a quick resolution, but here’s the curveball…. These systems too, need to be maintained. Which brings us back to the modern expectation of specialisation (internal resources are very rarely specialised in external systems) and operational monotony (which, as we stressed, Techies through the ages simply “love”!)

The solution…
It is quite simple. As quoted above – you need to accept the reality and adjust your sails! A third, independent party like Sintrex specialises in a variety of tools and systems and for us, it is not monotonous, but exciting! Our services come with a variety of additional benefits. It is important to remember, despite systems that “pin point issues in any IT environment for quick resolution”- if you cannot see it or have not loaded it for monitoring, then you cannot monitor it! And without monitoring, there can be no quick resolution, only frustrated Techs and increased pressure from business.

Come chat to us at the MyBroadband Conference on 26 October. We would love to explain how we can assist in adjusting your sails, to set you on the course for success!


Sintrex deploys automated testing to provide end-to-end service solutions

Sintrex, an Infrastructure Management Company based in South Africa, believes in quality service delivery and is passionate about the innovative pursuit of excellence in providing end-to-end IT solutions and services.

To help ensure this quality, they have worked hard to deploy automated testing to the Sintelligent modules they use to deliver their services to clients.

How Sintrex automated testing works

Automated testing makes use of a testing framework consisting of Jenkins and Selenium that allows test cases to be run unassisted anytime of the day or night to ensure functionality is working as expected.  ­­­

Sintrex’s automated software framework allows them to test changes made to their code base at regular intervals and allows them to do so with minimal assistance from testing team members.

By eliminating the need for a person to do the testing, it allows them to run these tests nightly and helps them to identify any issues caused by code changes almost as quickly as they happen.

The road ahead

As their test automation framework matures, Sintrex will be in a position to rely on their automation processes with enough confidence to release versions of the modules more frequently.

“Unlike solutions where the software sits in a central location and is accessed by multiples of clients, our software is deployed at each of our clients and used to provide the services we offer to that particular client,” says Gregory Hooper the Quality Assurance Manager.

This adds logistical challenges to their upgrade process, as each release must be deployed in an individual change control slot at each of their clients.

This means that, although there will be benefits in being able to deliver releases more frequently, Sintrex still need to work to find the sweet spot of regular intervals to deploy.

Through the deployment of automation testing, Sintrex is now able to offer their IT management solutions in even more accurate and relevant.

This gives you improved real-time infrastructure and service level information that is constantly available and will enable easy identification of service level lapses and minimised time of problem resolution.

To get insight into your business applications, IT infrastructure, or user network usage patterns, with Sintrex automated testing, please visit the Sintrex website.


The right way to transform your IT infrastructure


Modern businesses have extensive global networks, multiple service providers and utilise various technologies across a range of platforms.

However, monitoring and reacting to downtime or threats across these platforms can be strenuous and time-consuming without a solution in place.

In effect, this places your company’s corporate image in jeopardy when productivity decreases and customer service deteriorate.

When there is downtime, data needs to be secure and IT infrastructure management has to be faster, more agile, more easily scalable and cost-efficient.

Sintrex helps to manage complex environments to ensure maximum efficiency and consistent service to your end users.

Sintrex’s Infrastructure Management solutions also assist in protecting your business against downtime and threats which can result in lasting financial loss, brand damage, legal liabilities, and other extremely unpleasant consequences.

Infrastructure Management Services is essential to help automate, manage, and align your company’s IT resources and has become a must-have with the proliferation of virtualization and cloud technology.

Automation reduces the time it takes to perform a wide range of functions, making it possible to manage servers, storage and networks in converged infrastructures from a centralised location.

Sintrex services allow you to improve the stability, reliability and availability of the IT infrastructure and application services while constantly improving on performance levels and management of your IT investment.

It will also empower you to proactively identify any areas that are vulnerable and identify potential problems to prevent future downtime and disruption to end users.

As a local company, Sintrex’s team is highly familiar with challenges affecting South Africans, and their experience in a wide range of industries enables them to deliver custom results.


Meet the local company that’s transforming IT Infrastructure Management in SA


The company has a strong internship programme that currently sees 80% of its interns joining its team full-time.

Mclachlan argued that South African companies need to be at the forefront of developing young people and creating jobs.

Keeping revenue local empowers companies investing in the future of South Africa to mature their products, drive innovation and ultimately create employment opportunities.

For its efforts to driving local job creation, Sintrex has been recognised by the IDC and DTI.

What Sintrex offers

The company offers its clients accurate, real time data and ensures that a desired level of performance is achieved and maintained in all IT assets throughout the business.

While many products and services in the local IT sector are based on imported products, Sintrex is dedicated to providing local solutions.

By listening to and adapting services to each client’s unique needs, Sintrex offers a complete end-to-end service built on the following four service pillars:

  • Sintrex Infrastructure Management:
  • Sintrex Asset Management:
  • Sintrex Application Management:
  • Sintrex SLA Management:

Addressing these four service pillars results in a comprehensive IT management solution designed to enhance the customers experience of their IT.

The personal touch

Yet what really sets Sintrex apart is the motivated, credible and attentive team that seem to become part of the client’s extended family.

Through a culture of excellence, partnership and fun, Sintrex also attracts and empowers staff with an inspirational work experience, world class software and globally renowned suppliers and partners.

“Sintrex delivers great results because it mentors a great team,” said Keith Mclachlan, CEO at Sintrex.

“With a culture of open participation, results a driven through great collaboration between departments allowing a shared passion for IT solutions to bring the staff together productively.”

Employees at Sintrex are able to deliver top quality services and solutions to their clients, helping to secure and enhance their IT reputations.


Make your IT work smarter, not harder

As a leader in IT Infrastructure Management, Sintrex has earned a reputation for world-class end-to-end solutions with a personal touch.

While many products and services in the local IT sector are based on imported products, Sintrex provides local solutions.

By listening to and adapting services to each client’s unique needs, Sintrex offers a complete end-to-end service, with accurate, real-time data that ensures a desired level of performance is achieved and maintained in all IT assets throughout the business.

This service is built on the following four service pillars, which work to form a comprehensive IT management solution designed to enhance the customer’s experience of their IT:

  • Sintrex Infrastructure Management: This allows you to become a long-term partner in the accurate and efficient management of their IT infrastructure.
  • Sintrex Asset Management: Sintrex delivers real-time information on your assets to ensure the business is operating at maximum efficiency.
  • Sintrex Application Management: Sintrex strives to proactively detect and diagnose application performance problems to maintain a superior level of service for the business by monitoring and managing the performance and availability of software applications.
  • Sintrex SLA Management: Sintrex Service-level management provides for continual identification, monitoring and review of the levels of IT services specified in the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) the business has with multiple 3rd party suppliers and service providers.

What really sets Sintrex apart, however, is the motivated, credible and attentive team.

Through a culture of excellence, partnership and fun, Sintrex attracts and empowers staff with an inspirational work experience, world class software and globally renowned partners.

“Sintrex delivers great results because it mentors a great team,” said Keith Mclachlan, CEO at Sintrex.

A shared passion for client focused IT visibility solutions, brings the staff together, productively.”

Mclachlan contends that South African companies need to be at the forefront of developing young people and creating jobs.

Keeping revenue local empowers companies investing in the future of South Africa to mature their products, drive innovation and ultimately create employment opportunities.

Sintrex has a strong internship programme that currently sees 80% of its interns joining its team full-time.