HP vs. Juniper vs. Cisco vs. Avaya: Review Roundup for Ethernet Switches

This week we present a Review Roundup of the latest reviews of ethernet switches from the IT Central Station community. To see full product comparisons on IT Central Station:

Read what our real users have to say about the solutions they are using:Ethernet Switches- Cisco vs Avaya vs Juniper vs HP

HP – “Some valuable features include cost per Gigabit Port, Layer 3 Capability, POE SupportBy reducing the need for an in-line power source over Ethernet using injectors for small devices, we are able to power wireless access points. Additionally, cameras, and telephones from a single device. ROI is 350% due to stability in the product, low power use, and administrative requirements such as down time.” Read the full HP review.

Avaya “One of the reasons we selected this product was the per port cost ratio as it is very low while compared to other similar products. The device can be remotely managed using various remote management protocols like SNMP, RMON, and HTTP etc. We did face problems while finding the right connecting cable for administering the device, but once the device is on the network it can be easily managed. We also found the web interface for managing the device, to be very useful.” Read the full review here.

Cisco – “EA Cisco Network Structure consisted of 3 Layers (Core, Distribution & Access). We used the FWSM (Firewall Services Module) to route the traffic and as a gateway to get to the WAN. As a result, we were able to collapse the Core Layer into the Distribution Layer with a few blade modules (FWSM, SUP & Ethernet).” Read the full review here.

Juniper vs. Cisco “I prefer Juniper for the following reasons: Cleaner separation of data plane from control plane, hierarchical config design and easier rollback; I think there are less bugs/vulnerabilities in Junos vs IOS. ” Read the full review.

Visit IT Central Station to read more Ethernet Switch reviews including HP, Avaya, Cisco, NETGEAR, D-Link, Brocade and many more. You can also look at helpful comparison pages like Cisco vs. Juniper, Brocade vs. Netgear to help your research!

Review Roundup Wireless LAN: HP vs. Cisco vs. Aerohive vs. Aruba

This week’s review roundup features a fast growing category – Wireless LAN. These solutions comprise part of networking solutions and IT Central Station has many new reviews of real users sharing their experiences with the solutions they are using. To see the full comparisons, check out IT Central Station:

Cisco Wireless vs. HP Wireless

Aerohive vs. Aruba

Here are a few helpful excerpts:download

HP Wireless – “The main reason I chose to implement the HP WLC was due to the limitations of our previous Sonicwall WLC not being able to have layer three provisioning. I would say that feature is the most valuable. Improvements to My Organization: With our old wireless network, we had to put controllers at every location to have wireless access. This product allowed us to have one controller at our central location and still provide wireless to our outlying clinics.” Read the full review here.

Aruba Wireless – “The scalability is the key here. We operate in a multi-vendor environment, running proprietary and open source software as well as pretty much every OS in it. We have to be able to adjust features as we need them throughout the WLAN. Improvements to My Organization: WLAN is one of the major functions that allows employee movement without re-doing cabling etc. Room for Improvement: I haven’t encountered an area for improvement and am quite satisfied with the product.” Read the full review here.

Aerohive Wireless – “Easily make changes to the WLAN via the online portal rather than through a hardware controller. Reducing time spent by our team to make changes as when required. Room for Improvement: I personally think the user interface could do with touching up but that’s being overly critical as I can’t think of anything hardware related that requires improvement.” Read the full review here.

Cisco Wireless – “Right now more than 90% of our employees connect on wireless only. That minimizes a huge CapEx on LAN infrastructure. Users can connect from any of the offices of banglalink. Roaming is the biggest advantage we have got so far. For security purposes, certificate based authentication ensures that only banglalink employees can connect to those SSID. Room for Improvement: Reporting and Active Passive Failover on Controller.” Read the full review here.

You can read other reviews of Juniper, Avaya, and more. You can also see side by side comparisons for a useful research tool: For example, Aerohive vs. Avaya or Cisco vs. Juniper.




Wall Street Journal Reports Unified Communications Gaining Traction

wsj_steve5Now that some of the dust has settled on what most enterprises want—a single system that integrates phone calls, messaging, document sharing and video conferences—a Wall Street Journal reporter, Joel Schectman, reports on Unified Communications finally gaining traction. We were impressed!

Look what he found people saying to back his claim:

  • UC adoption “was flat for years but we are seeing an upswing as companies are taking the plunge and using more UC collaboration tools beyond just basic IM,” said Philipp Karcher, an analyst with Forrester Research

    Unified Communications Traction

    Traction in Action

  • Improved interoperability between Microsoft and Cisco helped Jim Thomas, director of IT for Pella Corp. . . “Two to three years ago, it was extremely difficult to actually make the Cisco products talk to Microsoft,” Mr. Thomas said.
  • Michael Smith, Cisco’s senior director of marketing for collaboration applications, says better integration with Microsoft is something “our customers have demanded.”
  • Alan Bourassa, CIO of Secaucus-N.J., based limo service EmpireCLS, says the current version of Lync, which he put in place nine months ago, reduces the “administrative complexity” of bypassing a conventional phone system.

Here’s the full WSJ article: Unified Communications Is Gaining Traction

Gain traction in your buying decision or help others who can gain from your experience.

Get onboard at IT Central Station. Follow the vendors, contribute to the reviews, and just gain traction being a part of what the WSJ calls the “Yelp for CIOs.” Here’s a look at some current reviews on IT Central Station for:

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Are You Surprised by Who’s Kicking Butt on Social Media?

B2B Customers

B2B Customer Kicking Butt

[If you clicked here, probably not]
One of the hottest social media trends is now for B2B customers. Barry Levin at the CMSWwire has a nice run down of this recent news from Forrester: Forrester Report: The Social Media Habits of B2B Customers.

We fetched this key take-away from Barry’s post:

All business customers can be reached by social channels, and 98% of business decision-makers also read blogs, watch videos or listen to podcasts. “It’s no longer a question of whether you should use social, but how,” the report said. Just as B2B marketers target their customers for different stages of their customer lifecycle, so they now must factor in how social media is used in those stages.

He also points out that five years ago, discussing social media as a strategy for B2B made people side-eyed with skepticism.

Do you remember when someone on the marketing team said, “We just need a better white paper!”  Well, you need that too but most enterprise vendors are now asking the question in real executive-level meetings, “How are we doing on social media?” B2B customers are just using it—like crazy. Look at this graphic from the Forrester Survey:

Forrester_ReportForrester Logo

Guess who get’s mentioned in the post?  IT Central Station alongside Cisco and SAP communities!

Forrester notes that the most popular social communities tend to be niche ones focused on specific objectives, such as IT Central Station, Cisco Communities or SAP Community Network  and similar vendor-support forums or brand-related communities.

The Yelp-ification of the Enterprise

In this article by Influitive, 11 Business Technology Review Sites Where Your Advocates Can Praise You, our Station Master says:

“We’re 100% focused on the enterprise to meet the unique needs of enterprise buyers,” says Russell Rothstein, CEO of IT Central Station. ”Our visitors can be assured that the products they find in IT Central Station are ‘enterprise-class’ and high quality.”

The Wall Street Journal calls IT Central Station the “Yelp for CIOs.” Whether you’re a vendor finding out what folks are saying about your products or you’re a real user—peers helping peers in online social media is where you can kick butt finding the exact details you might need to make a crucial decision for your organization.

Take a peek here to do this now:

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Quality Center   Enterprise Routers   QualityStage   VMware ESXi    Oracle Data Mining

After you read one, write one, and then comment on two—reviews that is!

IDC on B2B Social Marketing and Crowdsourcing

Leading analyst firms now pay more attention to the impact of crowdsourced reviews and social media marketing on B2B, tech-buying processes. Earlier in the year, Forrester cited our innovative crowdsourcing model, and yesterday IDC tackled the subject. IDC_Logo

A new article on the IDC website by Christine Dover, Research Director for Enterprise Applications and Digital Commerce at IDC, covers the impact of community sites such as IT Central Station where you can do your research before jumping into a more formal sales cycle with a vendor representative.

As Christine points out in her new post, we’re all familiar more than ever with Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, and other sites for information on restaurants, hotels, contractor services, and more in our personal lives.

What’s happening in the B2B world? The same thing. She highlights Proformative Exchange, focused on the CFO, and IT Central Station, focused on IT products.

Here are a few things she likes about IT Central Station:

  • Reviewers are validated based on their LinkedIn profile to ensure that they are a qualified to provide a review (meaning they are in an IT or professional role at a company using the product and not an employee of the software vendor). You will see consultants providing reviews of products they have implemented.
  • Reviews include links to other reviews written by the reviewer (always helpful to me when validating a credible resource), as well as the ability to add comments, identify the review as helpful or not, and so on.
  • Searching is easy by products, vendors, or categories. The standard searches always start with the most popular (meaning most often reviewed), but the search bar is accessible for specific searches. Plus you can click on the product categories and vendor names to see expanded lists.
  • Because CMOs are controlling more IT spend at many organizations, product categories such as e-commerce, lead management, enterprise social software, customer data analysis, and web analytics are available to help them find relevant products and services.

Here’s her advice to others:

  • Buyers – these sites provide useful information from your peers, so add them to your pool of resources when looking for a new product or service. If you can, and some companies don’t allow their employees to do this, add a review.
  • Software Companies – review your product information on the site and make sure it is current.  Consider encouraging your customers to provide a review. If there is a negative review, consider it an opportunity to engage with the customer and correct a problem or fix a misperception.
  • Analysts and Media – these are great tools to hear from customers who are actually using the products. These sites provide an invaluable research tool.

Read her complete post on the IDC website: Crowdsourcing and Social B2B Marketing for CFOs and CIOs: Proformative Exchange and IT Central Station

If you’re looking for enterprise-level software like business intelligence tools, check out these vendor pages and reviews. Write a comment, start a review and get involved in what the Wall Street Journal calls “The Yelp for Enterprise Tech.”


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Quality Center   Enterprise Routers   QualityStage   VMware ESXi    Oracle Data Mining



CIO.com—8 Tips and Questions for Choosing Software Vendors

In a recent post for IT Central Station’s Executive Interview Series with Diane Schwarz, we took an in-depth look at specific tech buying decisions for a specific industry. Now let’s take a look at the results of a survey of executives from a variety of industries by CIO.com.CIO.com

CIO.com asked dozens of IT executives for some answers about how to choose a software vendor.

They summarized the survey in a recent post on CIO.com and provided these eight suggested questions to ask yourselves when searching for an enterprise-level software vendor who best fits your needs.

  1. Figure out what it is you really need
  2. Check the software provider’s credentials and certificates
  3. What do other customers have to say? [Here at IT Central Station!]
  4. Can it scale?
  5. Check for hidden or additional fees.
  6. Who gets custody of your data in the case of divorce?
  7. Take a test drive.
  8. Agree to key performance indicators (KPIs) before signing a contract.

For more details about each question from CIO.com, click here.

4 More Questions to Ask Software Vendors from CIO.com

Will the software integrate easily with our existing systems? The last thing you want to find out after you have spent a lot of time and money on new software is that it doesn’t work with your legacy systems, especially when you thought it would.

How easy is it to set up and train users? “Most vendors will provide training,” notes Barbara Ware, Marketing Director, Bravepoint, a provider of business solutions. “Make sure it’s included with the implementation costs.”

How will you support me after the sale? “Do your homework and make sure the vendor has been around a while,” says Ware.

How are updates and upgrades managed? “Updates should be cloud-based for ease of installation,” says Ware. And they should not disrupt business

Check out what others are saying about these vendors and solutions on IT Central Station:


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Quality Center   Enterprise Routers   QualityStage   VMware ESXi    Oracle Data Mining



Interview with Greg Thompson—VP of Enterprise Security at Scotiabank

Our Executive Interview Series this week features an interview with Greg Thompson conducted by the InfoSec Institute. Greg Thompson has his work cut out for him as Scotiabank’s highest level security professional. Thompson, vice president of enterprise security services at the Toronto, Ontario-based entity, oversees a team responsible for ensuring that hackers, cyber terrorists, and hacktivists don’t get bragging rights at the company’s expense.

Executive Interview SeriesThompson earned his CISSP accreditation from (ISC)² in December 2001 and received the Financial Services CISO of the Year award from SC Magazine readers in 2011. The InfoSec Institute recently touched base with Thompson to get his take on a number of issues of interest to the industry in this interview:

What positions in the IS space are currently in demand?

(Thompson) From a banking security perspective, we have a very global presence and we have a global footprint in terms of our security team. We cover everything from security operations, which include logical access management to firewall management to antivirus, intrusion detection/prevention—all that operational stuff—along with governance and some of the back office or support functions as well. And I manage a very broad team in that regards. I would say that . . . the things that I’m hoping to see more of are people who can work with large amounts of data.

There’s a lot of discussion right now in the industry about the needs of what is being called a data scientist function that would report into a security office. These people aren’t necessarily security professionals or trained security professionals; they’re more on the mathematics side and people who can help us deal with the large amounts of data that are generated by the security products [courtesy of] our external gateway appliances. So data scientists are people who can help us manage this large amount of data. These folks would hopefully be able to help us decipher the story that is hidden amongst that data. So we’ve got events coming at us from our intrusion prevention systems. We have antivirus events that are happening. We have firewall events at our gateways. We have logical access events generated through our active directory or some of our application controls. When you tie all of that data together, it has the potential to tell you a really interesting story in terms of what threats might be active in your environment. I see a need for that skill set to augment what we’re already doing in information security, and that’s kind of at a high level. The demand for every other domain within information security remains. Of course I’m representing the (ISC)² board of directors, and I happen to be a CISSP myself. I can tell you that demand across all of the domains remains strong in terms of the skills sets that we need in our profession.

What hard skills are in demand?

I see them all. I think the hard skills around being able to look at application code and work with our application developers is really key. I need people that have an application security background. I need people that understand how our networks hang together. I need people that understand the platforms that we work with—and I’m talking about operating systems, middleware and databases. All of these aspects require a certain level of knowledge to be able to harden those environments. Certainly skills related to broader IT operations are very, very important. Gone are the days where the security team can be the cowboys running around and playing with firewalls and fighting hackers when in reality a lot of security teams like mine manage very large, complex operations. So people that come into our profession from a broader IT operations perspective are really valuable because they help provide some of that IT operations discipline that is starting to become more mature in information security. So I want it all. I want skill sets that have a bit of everything from a hard skills perspective.

What soft skills are most in demand?

I look for people that have experience working on teams. A team environment is very important. It provides this basis of being able to work with others, being able to communicate and recognizing how teams operate—that’s only when I’m talking about new recruits. Once those new recruits start to take hold and mature as professionals, what we start to look for are [those] who can strategically influence positive outcomes. In security, we often find ourselves in an advisory role . . . So the ability to tell a compelling story, the ability to garner support for initiatives becomes very, very important. And as you move up through the food chain in our profession, the ability to articulate ideas in a way that’s compelling, not only to your counterparts in IT, but to the business leaders, is very important. Businesses understand the concepts of risk. Businesses understand that taking risks are necessary to do business. So when you talk in terms of risk as you move through this profession, it becomes very, very important. It provides that basis by which you can communicate with a common language.

What technologies are most in demand these days?

We’re seeing a huge demand for cloud-based technologies. The nimbleness that the cloud provides, the potential for huge cost savings and the sheer convenience of what certain cloud offerings provide really put pressure on security programs to be able to respond to that and provide the guidance and support that these business lines need to move to the cloud securely. When I talk about technology and I jump to cloud, what I’m really talking about is—what are the enabling technologies that we can use for the cloud? So I’m thinking outbound network gateway, encryption technologies . . .When we talk technologies, we really need to start talking about the technologies that help us protect data—full stop. The discussions that are starting to happen now all start to circle around the fact that, more and more, we’ve lost control of the networks that our users connect to us on, we’ve lost control of the endpoints that they use to connect to us, which puts pressure on security of the data itself. It also puts a bunch of pressure on the ability to authenticate users who are connecting to that. You have to implement technologies that strengthen authentication and certainly strengthen the security around the data stores themselves so that you can more confidently embrace the technologies that our users are already using.

For which technologies is there a decline in demand?

Technologies such as signature-based antivirus. While they may not be losing demand at the moment, their effectiveness is declining. And this is acknowledged by the antivirus vendors themselves. In fact, McAfee recently purchased a product called Solidcore, which provides an alternative to signature-based antivirus [solutions]. It’s a whitelisting technology. There seems to be a general acknowledgement amongst security professionals that there’s diminishing value on signature-based antivirus technologies, in other words technologies that blacklist threats. The sheer volume of the threats out there and the size of the signature files that are required to be maintained is becoming unsustainable.

Who was the last security person you hired and what set that candidate apart from the pack?

The people that I’m involved with in hiring are generally a little more senior. I look for a number of things when I hire a person. Of course I look for credentials. I want to make sure that person has the training as a foundation to their security background. I certainly want someone who can fit into the team. I look for somebody who has breadth of experience. Our profession is actually not that old when you compare it to other IT disciplines. So often what we’ll find is we have other security professionals that actually cut their teeth somewhere else in IT. Often it’s networks or it’s logical access control or it’s the military. But that breadth of knowledge becomes very key to us especially when we’re dealing with non-security entities within IT. The ability to understand where they’re coming from becomes very important. I want people to come to me with passion. I want people that have some substance to them—there’s something behind their resume that is intriguing.

How has your department grown or changed and how do you expect it to change in the future?

My department name is Enterprise Security Services. I supply security services for the bank globally and we operate in over 50 countries. I think we’re up to about 55 right now. I manage [the following units] . . . Security Governance and Compliance, Technical Security Services, Customer Protection, Business Continuity, IT Forensics and Research & Projects. I have about 68 full-time staff and about another 10 contract staff. In the next few years, we’re certainly going to need to grow in terms of staff. Keep in mind as well that Scotia has grown through acquisition, so as the bank grows so does the workload for my team. We try to grow somewhat in proportion to that, although we benefit from having the economies of scale. So oftentimes when we acquire an entity in Latin America or in the Caribbean or somewhere, if they have an IT shop and folks doing security, we’ll often absorb those security [staff] and create capacity on those teams.

Without naming specifics, what are the biggest security threats?

I can tell you what we’re dealing with right now. All the banks are dealing with distributed denial of service attempts . . . In terms of our biggest threats, certainly denial of service is very top of mind today. With mobility, we are seeing a rise in mobile malware, specifically on the Android side. But when you compare it with the . . . more traditional PC- or Mac-based browser threat, it’s nowhere near as big yet. There’s lots of hype, though. Hackers, cyber terrorists and hacktivists all have different motivations, but they often use the same techniques and the same attacks and provide the same disruptions of service . . . As a bank, one of our main adversaries is organized crime . . . Cyber crime is a huge focus of ours. And we’re seeing a lot of cross-channel crime where you see coordinated social engineering attacks against contact centers which are designed to steal credentials and other information which can then be used to [get] data used to steal money from online banking customers.

Considering all of the challenges you face managing a global team, what is the hardest part of your job or what keeps you up at night?

I was at a conference several years ago and there was a fellow named Steve Katz. He was one of the very first CISOs; he was with Citibank. He was saying that he was giving a presentation one time and he was asked, ‘With all this stuff happening, how do you sleep at night?’ His answer was he sleeps like a baby—he’s up every two hours crying. Our adversaries do not have to be successful the majority of the time to be considered successful. In other words, they can lob millions of attacks at us, be successful on a couple of those attempts and be seen as rock stars in their underground communities. We have the exact opposite challenge where we can be successful 99.99% of the time, but if we miss one thing, we’re in the press. What keeps me up at night is—I don’t want to be dragged through the press for something that was clearly avoidable. I don’t want my bank to be implicated in something that could have been avoided. Touch wood, Scotiabank has, through good luck and lots of work, managed to have a very strong track record in that regard.

What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?

That’s an easy answer. What I love about information security is the fact that we touch every aspect of IT. We touch every aspect of how our bank does business. Banks in particular rely on information technology to deal with everything and so I could come in the office on Monday and deal with a lot of network items; the next day I might be dealing with mainframe issues; the day after that it could be a Windows platform issue; the day after that it could be a business process issue that results in something that we must take action on. So the sheer variety of the things that we deal with on a day-to-day basis keeps the job fresh . . . Our adversaries are hugely innovative. We have some very, very intelligent well-organized, well-funded adversaries who kind of keep us on our toes.

Which certifications and degrees, if any, do you see as important for hiring and career advancement?

Obviously, if you’re in information security, the gold standard remains the CISSP. There are a number of other credentials that are highly credible. Our friends over at ISACA have very good credentials like the CISA for the audit profession and a few years ago they implemented a new credential called the CISM . . . In terms of post-secondary, Computer Science is a big plus, but it’s not a showstopper for me, personally. We see a lot of young, smart, innovative people coming out of programs that you wouldn’t expect. I had a guy working with me a couple of years ago whose background was Philosophy. He had such an interesting perspective on problem-solving. The traditional Engineering, Computer Sciences are all good. They’re great to have. But they’re not, to me, a showstopper. In terms of career advancement, a track record of continuous learning is really what I look to see. Have people invested in themselves? Have they kept current and relevant? Have they taken on roles that have challenged them? So, for me, that track record of continuous learning, whether that is through formal training or education or job development, I really put a lot of stock in that.

What would you tell a high school student interested in studying information security or information technology in college?

First of all, I would tell them that our job is not CSI. A lot of high school students have glamorized the world of hacking and they look at television programs, such as CSI, which oversimplify how computer systems hang together and how real security-based computer work occurs. It may not be as glamorous as what they see. But the field is growing; it pays well. There’s a huge future in information security . . . If you come out of university or any post-secondary institution with an information skill set, you then become a highly valuable asset to whichever aspect of IT or business you find yourself because you’ve got that base of security knowledge to work from.

What security sites do you visit?

I’ve actually set up a Google page. You can [add] the Google gadgets. I look at the usual such as Krebs, Secunia, a lot of the vulnerability sites. I certainly read things like Wired magazine. I read Engadget. At my level, one of the sites that give me the best early warning that I’m going to get a call from an executive is the Wall Street Journal. The executives at the bank read the Wall Street Journal. I hit the tech section every morning when I’m having my coffee just to see what’s happening out there.

What is the last security book or magazine that you read?

I read Save the Database, Save the World by John Ottman. John Ottman was the president of Application Security Inc. at the time. He actually asked me to read it and provide him with a book review, so I did so. There are at least two books by an author named Misha Glenny, one is called Dark Market. It’s about the underground ATM skimming market that is based out of Eastern Europe. It’s not fiction; it’s real life. This reporter was able to infiltrate these underground gangs and provided a really compelling account of this underground skimming device market.

Who is your favorite fictional hacker?

My favorite hacking story is War Games. Matthew Broderick played a kid who hacked the national defense system in the U.S.

Take a look at these security products on IT Central Station to get more involved in the tech-buying revolution!

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Norton 360        BigFix              Forefront    Adaptive Security Appliance