Network Activity Monitoring on Steroids
I attended Networkshop in Exeter, UK earlier this week, a conference attended by primarily network and security administrators working in UK and Irish universities. Exeter is not that easy to get to from Galway, but it was well worth the trouble.
We made some of our first sales in this sector, it has been very rewarding for many reasons, the people are very technical, direct, know what they want and not afraid to tell you. It has also been an unbelievable testing ground for our software, huge networks, loads of traffic, flows and users, very diverse and at high rates. Almost impossible to replicate, survive here and you can be pretty confident in your software in any environment.
I have also met a lot of great people and made many friends. I easily remember one of my first demonstrations in the UK, with Heriot-Watt university over 7 years ago. As well as my laptop, I used to truck around with a mini PC running our LANGuardian software in a box with a handle, bit like Will Smith in that movie ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’! During this demo, I booted up the PC, connected it to my laptop with a crossover cable, and starting running the reports.
All was going very well, lots of discussion, but after 10 minutes, nothing, hard disk crashed. I’d say I had a pretty red face after checking cables rebooting everything or trying to, but still nothing. Anyway, told them the truth and all worked well in the end. Heriot-Watt was our first Scottish customer and still are today.
Every product manager should attend conference like Networkshop, even if just to sit at the table during dinner and listen. You will hear stories about security incidents, bandwidth, wireless, data loss, DMCA notices, SPAM and of course the students. Fantastic data to come back to the office with and use to try and improve products and help address their pains.
One of the big trends I noticed at this year’s conference was the number of times I heard the word visibility. I’m sure the huge growth in numbers of mobile devices on the network is a factor and it is not just one device per student any more. Also, due the number/types of apps available, video, music, etc, these devices are really pushing the wireless infrastructure to the limits, with respect to the number connections and of course bandwidth. The ‘Millennials‘ are making their mark and when they move into the workplace they are demanding the same kind of access and flexibility. Some universities now even allow students to rent devices, laptops, iPads on a daily basis.
Now we really have BIG DATA, devices everywhere generating loads of traffic and logs, it is becoming very difficult to see the wood from the tress and find that smoking gun, that final piece of proof or evidence you need.
I was really delighted to hear our customers say how much they like our LANGuardian, used it regularly, to drill down and try to get the right level of visibility. I have always like that word, I still hear engineers say they want more visibility, deeper insight into what is happening at the core of their network. When there is an incident, getting the right visibility and getting it immediately is essential. Visibility can also help prevent the incident and save a lot of stress.
Then I came back to the office yesterday and saw the following quote we had just got from a user in Canada who had downloaded our trial and installed it on his network
“Your solution is like SolarWinds® but on steroids. It is amazing what kind of granularity you provide and how easy it is to get the information needed.”
What a way to end a fantastic week, could not have said it better myself.