Friday, 04 September 2020 11:45

Gigamon and network visbility

George Tsoukas - you can't manage what you can't see George Tsoukas - you can't manage what you can't see

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant upsurge in the number of people working from home. Many of them will never return to their offices. The world has changed.

Video conferencing software like Zoom has grown strongly, and many other vendors are also finding increased demand for their services. Security has become more important as corporate networks have vastly more endpoints, and any supplier with products or services for the distributed workplace is seeing increasing demand for its products.

One such supplier is US network traffic monitoring vendor Gigamon. It has developed a range of tools including a Savings Calculator to help its users quantify potential savings from deploying effective network monitoring and analytics.

The Gigamon ‘Visibility and Analytics Fabric’ sits between an organisation’s network and any monitoring, management or security tools it has deployed. The company has partnered with most major security and network management vendors and does not compete directly with any of them. Rather, Gigamon provides an extra layer of monitoring that streamlines and optimises traffic flowing to multiple tools, potentially saving a significant amount of money along the way.

“There’s a real need for increased network visibility for security purposes,” says Gigamon’s Australian Country Manager George Tsoukas. “More people than ever before are using private networks to access corporate systems. Pretty much everything outside of the organisation is carried over a public network. It is outside corporate control and every user is a potential hotspot.”

“Gigamon can look at all data traversing a network, from in-house to cloud to remote private networks to public networks. If corporations can’t see this stuff they can’t manage it. Security follows from visibility.”

In 2018 Gigamon acquired network visibility startup IceBrg, and has since used its technology to launch ThreatInsight, a cloud native SaaS based security service which analyses network traffic to provide early detection of anomalies and potential threats or malicious activity on the network. It is now a major component of the Gigamon product set.

“ThreatInsight and our other visibility products interface with most other network security tools,” explains Tsoukas. “Its primary function is to inspect network traffic, and then notify users around that inspection capability. We can provide much more information on what’s traversing the network and, more importantly, provide early alerts for any anomalies.”

Gigamon’s biggest customers, globally and in Australia, are telcos. Many telcos are now looking at 5G deployments, which puts an even greater dependency on knowing what is traversing networks in a mobile environment.

Gigamon is also strong in government and finance. The company has a team of seven people in Australia, working with partners and large end users to help them implement its products. The times suit it, says Tsoukas.

“A major reason many organisations will continue with remote working is that more companies are realising the working from home can be more productive,” he says. “Face-to-face meetings can take up a lot of time when we take into account the logistics involved in getting to the meeting.”

“Most companies are finding that teleconferencing can be efficient because it is easier to organise and business discussions takes centre stage.  This is going to be the new normal.”

“This new world will have a few key characteristics,” says Tsoukas. “Cost optimisation will be even more important. It will be even more important to do things efficiently, so the performance and security of companies networks is vital.”

“Organizations typically feed entire data sets into various monitoring and security tool, and yet, most of their tools don’t need and sometimes can’t handle all the that data. This causes inefficiencies and bloated costs.

“Gigamon’s Visibility Fabric will take the data feed and work out which parts of it needs to go to which tools. We partner with them all and we know what data they need. We send data only to the tools that need that particular data set.

“So instead of each tool paying for the whole dataset, a business pays only to receive a subset of the data they need, once. They might get three years more out of their existing license because Gigamon has reduced that data set down by 10% to 30%, or they might by much less tool capacity and storage.

“That is very much our focus at the moment. It’s about return on investment and cost optimisation. It’s really resonating because so many people are feeding so much data into so many tools to make sure they’ve got their finger on the pulse.”

Gigamon was founded in 2004 in Silicon Valley. It went public in 2013 and returned to private hands in 2018 when it was acquired by private equity firm Elliott Management Corporation.

Gigamon has developed a ‘New Tomorrow’ strategy to address the post-COVID world. It revolves around helping its partners and customers to better manage and secure what it calls the ‘fluid workplace’ based around a dynamic and hybrid corporate network.

“Most organizations had digital transformation initiatives under way before COVID,” explains Tsoukas. “But the organisations which will come out of it stronger will be those that double-down on these initiatives, or even re-imagine their business built on new digital platforms.

“Digital transformation initiatives are inherently cloud-based, because the cloud enables the fastest deployment of new applications and digital services. But to deliver the richest functionality and customer experience these cloud-based apps often span physical, virtual, cloud and multi-cloud platforms.

“Gigamon provides complete network data visibility across physical, virtual and cloud environments, providing a holistic view of a business’ infrastructure. ThreatInsight is also able to inspect traffic across these hybrid environment. Moving forward into the New Tomorrow, complete visibility and security analytics across an increasingly cloud environment will be paramount.”

Tsoukas says corporate networks are under greater risk than ever and an organisation’s ability to detect and respond to these threats is dependent on the visibility that they have across a rapidly changing infrastructure and growing attack surface.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson sadly passed away in Jan 2021 and a much valued senior associate editor at iTWire. He was one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is the author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’He was in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism. Graeme will be sadly missed by the iTWire Family, Readers, Customers and PR firms.

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