From the Wires
FishNet Security Helps Kansas State University Launch Smart Grid Lab Focused on Software Defined Networking
Emerging Technology Complements Cloud and Virtualization Environments
By: Marketwire .
Jan. 24, 2013 10:23 AM
OVERLAND PARK, KS -- (Marketwire) -- 01/24/13 -- FishNet Security, North America's largest information security provider, announced today it will donate, integrate and manage software-defined networking (SDN) equipment at a new Smart Grid Lab at Kansas State University. The lab will be one of the first such facilities in the world to test the ways that SDN technology can be used to more efficiently manage, distribute, use and secure electrical power.
"FishNet Security is proud to be uniting with Kansas State University and several of our leading technology partners to learn how SDN technology can benefit electrical power grids," said Gary Fish, founder and CEO at FishNet Security. "SDN shows great promise in its ability to improve the control and security of electrical grids. We look forward to joining the university in researching ways to improve electrical systems in its new lab and eventually in real-world environments."
Power grid and network communication equipment will reside in the lab, which is being operated through the university's department of electrical and computer engineering. The initiative will support undergraduate and graduate student projects and will further opportunities for internships and future employment opportunities for Kansas State University students in the power field.
The increase in intelligent devices on power grids has increased communications traffic on electrical smart grids. This increase can create delays, security vulnerabilities and breaches, data losses, dropped packets, network overloads, equipment failures and subsequent power losses. SDN shows promise in countering these problems because of its ability to control traffic outside the typical "switch fabric" commonly used today.
"Kansas State University looks forward to working with FishNet Security and our other lab partners to see the role that SDN can play in improving our country's electrical grid," said Noel Schulz, the College of Engineering's associate dean for research at Kansas State University and the director of the Smart Grid Laboratory. "Another benefit is that our students will get to see first-hand how SDN might be used to deliver power in a more economical, secure and environmentally friendly way."
Software-defined networking is an emerging technology where software is used to control where switches send packets of information. Traditionally, firmware within switches has been used in this role. However, with SDN, traffic can be routed with software in an SDN controller separate from the network equipment. This "decoupling" in SDN technology is particularly advantageous to cloud computing because a network administrator can use a control console and routing tables to remotely direct traffic loads across multi-vendor networks, platforms, circuits and hardware.
The benefits of SDN include network simplification, automation, scalability and address mobility. However, one of the key challenges of SDN is the authentication, authorization and accounting of security. For example, anyone with access to an SDN controller should be authorized to create a route to direct packets of information through a network. Otherwise, there is a risk of successful network attacks inside and outside corporate firewalls without the implementation of security protocols. These attacks can lead to network overloads, a loss of data, compliance breaches, damaged equipment and a loss of privacy.
FishNet Security is heavily involved with the following major organizations interested in developing SDN standards and furthering the use of the technology: 1) the Open Networking Foundation; 2) all research universities focused on Web 2.0 (e.g., social networking sites, blogs, wikis and video-sharing sites); 3) the US Ignite Partnership, an independent organization focused on next-generation applications that can improve how Americans work, live, learn and play; and 4) SDNCentral, one of the leading and fastest-growing SDN industry community organizations in the world.
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