VAR’s and IT Business Transformation


By Justin Fields - November 19, 2018

            The year was 2007.  Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17 in Super bowl XLI (41), The Sopranos series finale aired on HBO (the infamous “cut to black” ending), Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron’s HR record with his 756th home run and Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple announces the iPhone – changing mobile computing forever!  
           
Before this evolutionary changing event, mobile phones saw minimal transformation from its early inception in 1973. The visionaries of this time foresaw wireless communication products that would be small enough to use anywhere.  By the early 80’s, the infrastructure to support cellular devices was still in its infancy and only a few mobile phones we in the market.  The DynaTAC 8000X mobile phone was launched in 1983 on the first US 1G network by Ameritech.  It cost $100m to develop and took over 10 years to reach the market.  The lifecycle of mobile devices / cellular phone took years from conception to market.  Each year, the infrastructure and devices became better and more available.


Fast forward to today.  There are more than 7.19 billion mobile devices in the world.  The rapid change of this technology is difficult to keep up with.  In previous years, the lifecycle of the product took so long that it was easier for organization to set a vision for how the product was going to be used, implemented and supported.  Now, that life cycle has rapidly decreased on time.  Organizations are consuming technology at a slower pace than that technology is changing.   There is now a need for rapid adoption of technology.

Technology Adoption of the Past:


Rapid Technology Adoption of Today:


As each organization has a vision.  Technology within that organization should have a vision.  How is technology changing the way consumers view and purchase your product or services? How are your employees utilizing technology to become more efficient in their daily activities?  How is your organization deploying technology to fully recognize the benefits of that technology?
As IT business consultants, we are responsible for helping organization achieve their technology vision… and if they don’t have one, we need to be the ones assisting them in creating that vision. 
The technology business economy of today isn’t that of large dollar hardware purchases followed with professional services to implement.  Consumption economics shows that organizations are spending dollars in a different manner.

Technology Adoption of the Past:

Technology Consumption Today:

Technology is changing at a rapid pace and the way organizations are consuming technology is changing. What are we doing as consultants to assist organizations in this rapid evolution of technology? 

The simple answer is business consulting, IT business consulting to be more specific.  As technology is changing, so is the value added reseller (VAR).  The evolution of the VAR is seeing more transformation now than they had ever seen before.  VAR’s in the late 90’s and early into the 2000’s capitalized on their customers need to build massive infrastructures, obtaining multiple million-dollar deals in one fail swoop.  This trend has significantly decreased over the past 10 years with the introduction of “the cloud.”

Cloud organizations such as AWS, AZURE and Google are again, changing how organizations are consuming technology.  Companies now have the ability to offload their infrastructures to these cloud providers and eliminate their IT staff… in theory. The simple reality of this concept is that only a few business verticals allow for a true “all in” cloud concept.  Most organization need to look at a hybrid-cloud approach to fulfil their business needs.  Going back to the VAR concept, VAR’s are evolving into the IT business consulting space to help these organizations move pieces of their infrastructure into the cloud.

The most successful VAR’s are not just selling products to their customers, they are partnering with them to understand their business and what problems their businesses have.  We now need to understand the detailed functions of business units and understand how they consume technology and guide them down the path to achieve their business goals and vision.     

Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric stated this concept well, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”   VAR’s will continue to evolve and become more strategic with the business to achieve their vision.









 
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Cisco Meraki Proactive Switch Replacement

Cisco Meraki MS210-48P, MS210-48FP, MS225-48LP & MS225-48FP

By Crystal Johnston - August 27, 2018

The Cisco Meraki MS210-48P, MS210-48FP, MS225-48LP & MS225-48FP have been detected to have fan component issues that are limiting the long-term reliability of the switches. Cisco is providing a proactive replacement solution for all switches that have been affected by this defect. It is being recommended that these switches are to be replaced as soon as possible with newly redesigned switches. 

In early October 2018, Cisco Meraki will be proactively replacing units that have experienced issues with new units. Starting August 27, 2018, you will be able to order replacement switches within the Dashboard. To request your replacement unit, or to determine if you are eligible for a replacement unit, please click here. If you have units that qualify, select "MS225/MS210-48LP/FP proactive replacement". This will initiate the replacement request.
 
If you would like to learn more on replacing the Cisco Meraki switches, have further questions, or would like to know more about the replacement process, please visit MS225/MS210-48LP/FP Proactive Replacement or contact us at 303.991.2224, support@247networks.com or visit us online at 247networks.com 
 
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Webex Version WBS33

Time Zone Bug Fix

By Crystal Johnston - August 16, 2018

As you may have noticed, the newest version of Webex (WBS33), has a bit of a time zone bug attached. When setting up a Webex within the new version, it will not update your current time zone, an any invite sent out will not provide the correct time zone. There is an easy fix to this bug and we would like to walk you through how to correct it within Webex

When you first login, you will notice that the platform has changed, the “work around” for this bug will be within the “Classic View” option.



(As a side note, once you are in “Classic View”, you can change back to “Modern View” at any time by clicking the top right.)

By updating to “Classic View”, the time zones automatically update and will be correct in future. Keep in mind, that if you transfer back to “Modern View,” there is a chance the bug will return and all invites could have incorrect timezone information.
If you are unsure which version of Webex you are using, go to “Webex Support” within your home screen of “Classic View”.  On the left side, expand “Support” and then click on “About”. This will provide you the current version of Webex that you are utilizing.

If you have any questions regarding your Webex experience or need any further information on other needs, please do not hesitate to contact us at 303-991-2224, email hello@247networks.com or visit us at 247networks.com

 
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It's upgrade time: Do I pick Cisco ASA (5500) or FirePower Appliances?


By Liam Keegan - May 17, 2018

At 24/7 Networks, we get a lot of questions about Cisco's strategy regarding the legacy Cisco ASA appliances and the new FirePower 2100, 4100 and 9300-series appliances. Customers have been asking, "I have to upgrade - which one do I choose?" Not sure which is the best for your organization? Let me provide you some pros and cons of both options.
But first, a bit of history. 
In the beginning, there was the ubiquitous Cisco ASA (Adaptive Security Appliance). This was the de-facto standard for Layer 3 and 4 firewalls. VPN remote access, it was all done on this platform. However, security changed - instead of ports and protocols, firewalls needed to look at applications and behavior. Other vendors released their Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW), and Cisco had to catch up.
So, what does Cisco do? July of 2013, Cisco spent $2.3 billion for SourceFire, a preeminent manufacturer of Next Generation Firewalls. Since then, Cisco has spent millions integrating the SourceFire purchase with their existing ASA firewalls. The SourceFire firewall is commonly referred to as FirePower.
For the last few years, if you had a Cisco ASA 5500-X series firewall, you could run a virtualized instance of FirePower right on your ASA as a separate instance. You still had to manage the ASA, then manage the FirePower. Two interfaces were never great, so the security team at Cisco merged the functionality of the ASA with the NGFW capabilities of the FirePower. This new image is called FirePower Threat Defense, or FTD for short.
FTD does NOT have feature parity with the ASA. For the basic functionality, you're fine, but if you do complex remote access VPN policies (like DAP), that feature isn't included with FTD. They're working on it, but it's not a 1:1 replacement - you need to do a bit of due diligence.
On to today....
If you have a Cisco ASA 5500-X appliance, you can either run the legacy ASA image (plus a FirePower virtual NGFW), or now you have the option to convert your 5500-X to FTD. I wouldn't say that customers have been chomping at the bit to make this change, since everyone is familiar with ASA and doing upgrades for the sake of upgrades isn't high on anyone's list.
In the last year, Cisco has released the successor product line to the ASA 5500-X. The next-gen product lines are the Cisco FirePower 2100, 4100 and 9100 appliances. They are MUCH faster, have considerably more interfaces and scalability, and are at a much better price-per-gig price point. 
Here's an old vs. new chart on list price on the ASA and FPR appliances:
  • ASA 5525: $8,995 - 650 Mbps
  • ASA 5545: $17,995 - 1 Gbps
  • ASA 5555: $24,995 - 1.25 Gbps
 
  • FPR 2110: $10,995 - 2 Gbps
  • FPR 2120: $19,995 - 3 Gbps
  • FPR 2130: $29,995 - 4.75 Gbps
  • FPR 2140: $69,995 - 8.5 Gbps
For most mid-market customers, the 2110 is going to be the sweet spot. You get 2x the performance at 1/2 the cost. It's a no-brainer to pick the newer product line.
But read on… There’s a catch!
On the new FirePower appliances, you can run ASA or FTD images. It's very flexible. But, if you run ASA, you can ONLY run ASA - no NGFW capabilities. If you want NGFW - and you do - you must run an FTD image. Because you're switching to FTD, you need to make sure the capacities you need are in the product line.
TL;DR:
  •  The new Cisco 2100/4100/9300 appliances have more capacity/bang for the buck than the old ASA 5500-X appliances.
  •  The Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) software image that's available on the 5500-X and new 2100/4100/9300 appliances doesn't have all the features that the legacy ASA code has.
  •  If you want NGFW capabilities on the new 2100/4100/9300 appliances, you must run an FTD image. You can still run ASA code on the 2100/4100/9300 platform, without the NGFW feature.
If you need an evaluation of your current ASA platform and what it'd take to migrate to FTD, please feel free to contact us!
(Here are the part numbers referenced in the price chart above: ASA5525-K9,ASA5545-K9,ASA5555-K9,FPR2110,FPR2120,FPR2130,FPR2140)
 
 
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Would this malware have fooled you?

Anyone can be a victim!

By Liam Keegan - March 13, 2018

I was doing a random Google search and came across this web page (URL withheld, because, well because.):
Malware 24/7 networks image
Immediately after this, I get a pop up box:
Malware 24/7 networks image
Well, I immediately went to my sandbox virtual machine (one that gets wiped clean after it gets swine flu) and tried it out:
And just like that: boom, file downloading. Then *boom*, the malware was blocked by our Cisco SourceFire Advanced Malware Protection. #winning!
Malware 24/7 networks image
This attack vector is particularly good. You see a page of gibberish, get a prompt and install a file with an official looking popover, complete with the Google logo.
I really think that this is the insurmountable security problem that we (the collective we) need to work towards solving. In everyone's crazy day, moving from one tab to another, multitasking with 8000 parallel tasks, who would notice that an install button popped up to the front and an installer downloaded to a task bar?
I work in network security, and it took my pea-brain a tick or two to raise the red flag.For people that aren't looking out for this, this is how stuff gets through. In this case, our firewalls blocked it, but if a bad actor was trying to spear-phish someone with custom malware or a very targeted malicious app, it could be game-over. These attacks are everywhere, and it is more important now than ever to be on the lookout for such attacks.
I think one of the non-technical answers to these problems is user education. Information out there is good, but they don't teach users to "spot the bad". Nothing can block 100% of the technical risk, but if we have employees that are always on the lookout for these types of attacks, then the awesome technical products can round out a solid defense.
At 24/7 Networks, one of the things that we do is share these types of attacks internally (via email and Cisco Spark), and provide a quick narrative about how it's out to get us. While that doesn't solve everything, it's a really good way to make sure our user base is educated about what's coming in via email and arriving through the web.
If you take away one thing from this article, it's don't ever click on anything. Ever. And set your PC on fire. That was a joke. Please don't set your PC on fire.
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