What’s My Password? Managing Technology in Today’s Connected World
I think it is safe to assume that all of us have asked ourselves the same question, “which password did I use for this?” The growth rate of the internet, popular websites, social media and all the systems used to administer computer networks is almost impossible to manage efficiently. This reminds me of watching my high school custodian go through his hundreds of keys to figure out which one opened that door. The technology world is not getting much simpler and is expanding with connected devices like thermostats, door bells, light bulbs, refrigerators…you name it. I am sure you have also asked yourself how you manage it all.
I want to take us on an adventure to reminisce how things were circa 1990s – bear with me. Imagine with me as I travel to Chicago. After buying that plane ticket, I would go to the airport and head straight to that airline ticketing counter and wait in line (such an atrocity). After getting that paper boarding pass and checking bags, I would head to my gate. It’s hard to remember but at this point we would keep our shoes on since we didn’t have the TSA in the 90s. On my way to the gate, I realize I need something to do on the plane. I stop and grab a magazine. Finally, I get to my gate and board the plane. I take out my Disc-man (remember, the one with SHOCK PROTECTION) and my jacket filled with CDs and start flipping through my albums. I take out a few of my rechargeable AA batteries and start playing my first CD, Kris Kross (always made me wonder if the clothes on backward was an accident). I finally land and need to call my mommy to tell her I made it OK. I head to the pay phone bank (yup, pay to make a call) and let her know things are alright. I go get my bags then head to the rental car counter and wait in line again (sigh). I have an agent walk me to my rental car and then pull out a map to figure out where I am going. I finally reach my hotel and then go to the hotel counter to check in and you guessed it, wait in line. I get to my room and think about how all that line waiting has made me hungry. I go down to the concierge and ask for a good place to eat and get directions. I get back in my car and drive over to the restaurant downtown where I need coins for a parking meter. I sit down in the restaurant and think to myself, whomever figures out how to manage that entire process is going to be huge – like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone defending his house.
Flash forward to today. Macaulay Culkin really only had a moment, I admit, but that movie is a Christmas classic. And guess what, my entire Chicago trip is now managed and controlled by one little hand held toy – my smart phone. Think about it; most things can be done with that silly little device that has more processing power than Apollo 11 when it landed on the moon in the 60’s. In the palm of my hand! Why is it that consumer based products are so simplified yet enterprise and corporate networks are so cumbersome to manage? I want to have my cake and eat it too (I always thought that expression to be stupid but I digress.)
The point I am trying to make is most products on the market abide to rigorous standards that are agreed upon in the industry. Picking one vendor over another only truly matters in how it is managed. Most enterprise grade products will give you what you need in terms of performance. The true difference is the management platform. Fumbling around between various systems to configure firewalls, switching, wireless, voice, security cameras, servers and infinite other things, is only adding to the infinite list of usernames and passwords I have to remember. It’s exactly like Marv and Harry trying to rob the McCallister house (OK, maybe not exactly but close).
Before buying that upgraded wireless or security camera system, think about how it integrates and how it can be managed. If I was troubleshooting a problem on a network that I maintain, I want a way to have 100% visibility into what is going on and a single place to manage it. Like traveling to Chicago, give me a way to manage my network in one place. Don’t leave me Home Alone (see what I did there.)
Larry Woods is veteran of the industry and is currently exploiting his ninja-like IT skills as a Consulting Systems Engineer at Cisco Meraki. He is well versed when it comes to all things routing, switching, wireless and security. Larry enjoys the challenges of solution design, development and deployment.