Cohesive Blog

This week we’re happy to welcome Barton Nicholls to the Cohesive Networks team.


Barton Nicholls is our new Boston-based Solutions Architect. Barton will jump right in to helping Cohesive Networks customers, from testing out proof of concepts for new customers to helping existing customers troubleshoot VNS3 deployments.   “All of my interactions with the folks at Cohesive Networks have been great” said Barton. “I have a lot of respect for the people here. It was an easy decision to join Cohesive.”

Barton came to us from SimpliSafe, where he was a DevOps Engineer. But we got to know Barton through his work at both Cengage Learning and Pega Systems.  As someone who’s been on the buy side, the operations teams, and product support teams of numerous technologies Barton has an excellent ability to cut through the complexity to find a solution.

Plus, Barton’s already contributed to our knowledge base. Barton helped ghost write the recent multicast blog and FAQ article.

multicast with vns3

“I think there’s a convergence of necessary skills in the security field and in the DevOps field” said Barton. “People who do DevOps are starting to see that they should think about security, and people that do security work realize they should understand DevOps a lot better.”

We are very glad to have Barton on board at Cohesive. Not only does Barton add a vast knowledge of DevOps and public cloud platforms, his Boston location helps us stay in sync with our East Coast customers. Barton is also an active member of the Boston DevOps community. Check out Barton’s Boston DevOps talk on using Spinnaker to improve visibility into the continuous delivery process with his SimpliSafe colleague Ed Rousseau (

Barton is looking forward to getting deeper into the technology of network security.  “I feel it’s an area of my skill set that could be strengthened” Barton told me. “I see working at Cohesive as an opportunity to build out that area of my knowledge while helping bridge the worlds of security and DevOps for our customers’ projects.”

Here’s a many successful customer projects, Barton!


Some fun facts about Barton, in no particular order:

Favorite snack: cheese and crackers

Childhood nickname: none!

Favorite TV show: way too many. Lately, the best has been Luther.

Do you play any instruments?  Guitar, specifically my Fender Stratocaster

Any technical certifications? MCSE for Windows NT 4.0


Get in touch with Barton on Twitter (@barton_nicholls), LinkedIn, or email Cohesive Networks. If you’re in Boston, find Barton at a Boston-Devops meetup. 




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AWS reInvent Rewind Chicago recap

Yesterday, the AWS Chicago user group started the New Year off right with Amazon’s re:Invent rewind event. Amazon hosted and organized in their new Chicago offices.

An hour long keynote from the famous Jeff Barr started the afternoon off. Mr. Barr sped through all the major product announcements and features from the reInvent keynotes, and even some of the new changes that didn’t make the cut for the big stage. Snowball and the semi-truck full of data named Snowmobile were a bulk of the news, with an illustration in Legos.

Jeff Barr at AWS Chicago - Margaret Valtierra

I’m glad Jeff Barr went though other recent announcements as well – namely the new Ohio, Canada, and London regions. With the flood of announcements at reInvent this year, I missed a few products and new integrations.  There were price reductions for S3 services, Lightsail for virtual private servers in AWS, burstable-performance instances in the t2 family, DDoS protection service AWS Shield, and AWS X-ray.  Check out the AWS site for reInvent videos, podcasts, and highlights. And as always, read Jeff Barr’s excellent blog for news and in-depth tours of features.

One thing I missed during reInvent was the IPv6 support for EC2 instances, starting in the new Ohio region. Along with the longer instance IDs, the IPv6 support should help with the explosive growth in AWS usage. On a similar note, our long time customers will probably be interested to know that AWS users can now migrate unassociated Elastic IP Addresses from EC2-Classic to EC2-VPC and back. It can potentially help people upgrading those ancient VNS3 instances to the latest and greatest 3.5.2 and 4.0.4 versions out now.

Breakout groups – the future of AWS?

After the keynotes, the event split into a few different sessions. We had the tough choices of deciding between topics like Serverless, AWS Lambda, IoT, and microservices on ECS. Judging from how full the rooms were, Serverless was the most popular choice.

At the end of the afternoon, my favorite part were the lighting talks. 4 different Amazon Solution Architects (SAs) presented on what they clearly knew about and wanted to talk about. Some were repeats from talks at reInvent, which was great for me since I didn’t get to check out many sessions while holding down the Cohesive Networks booth. I really enjoyed that the lightning talks were done by Chicago-based SAs.

The first talk, and one of my favorites, was on how to incorporate Lex into products. It was a reInvent repeat, and our SA did both a run though of slides and a live app demo of Flixter, a movie finding bot that could adapt to real-time showtime data, multiple input questions, and changing the request for tickets.

The other great talk was the final lightning talk. Jeremy Cowen, a Chicago SA, demo’d the Simple Beer Service. The service uses IoT inputs to measure the sound, activity and flow of an office kegerator. If there are several beer pours and a lot of noise around the kegerator, SBS operators can find out if there’s an office party in progress without having to leave his or her desk!

Simple Beer Service - photo by Margaret Valtierra


Now we just need Jeremy to come demo it on our office kegerator next.  Check out Simple Beer Service on GitHub here.

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Prediction: Cohesive Networks – Enterprise Security: It Will Get Worse Before it Gets Better

For those the buy side of enterprises and organizations trying to solve the huge security issues facing us: it will get worse before it gets better. Choosing, creating, and maintaining security solutions are going to be very hard for the foreseeable future.

Choosing a Security Vendor Will be More Difficult

Deciding what security technology your organization needs today requires you to answer more who/what/when questions than ever before. The market fragmentation and rapid expansion in practically every IT vendor category means there are more players and more technologies to choose from. Only a few years ago, organizations could pick between 2 or 3 relational databases and 3 or 4 app servers. Now there are more than 6 different database types, and app servers can be anything from fully managed cloud infrastructure to a complete DIY component set.

Security is one of the categories that will continue to explode in 2017. Choosing security vendors and deciding how vendors and technologies stack up will be even more difficult in the short term. Teams involved in just keeping the buyer organization up-to-date on the solutions, services, and vendors in the market are getting overwhelmed. In fact, what we are calling ‘stack proliferation’, or the over choice in the market, is the big problem on the front end of the selection process. Yes, in the coming years there will be an inevitable industry consolidation.

The market consolidation and the test of time will eventually help IT security buyers pick the best vendors. So what can organizations do in the meantime? The easiest answer is to ignore marketing glitz and analytical reports and just try technologies in your enterprise. A proof of concept in a dev/test cloud environment can quickly sort out the implications of your vendor or technology choice.

Looking forward 6 months, maintaining the security solutions already in place will be another huge challenge. With the “stack proliferation” from vendors and solutions, there are more complex network issues to face as well.

Will you decide to buy each encrypted service or a service to encrypt the network? How do you find the weakest link in the chain in a hybrid network?

When IT teams have to encrypt 5-10 different endpoints, it simply increases the odds that there will be 5-10 weak endpoints. More endpoints equal higher odds that they are not all equally secure and future teams won’t be able to update and track each component.

A more ‘general approach’ is the best solution to maintaining the complex security inside an organization.

For example, an organization is using containers in a third party environment like Heroku. The platform is relatively undifferentiated. With a general approach to all-inclusive security, the security team can at least guarantee their containers are running inside a secure network.

Next year, the ‘general approach’ to security also avoids the “cat in the hat” problem – security inside of networks, inside of other networks with more security layers. One secure network to cover them all is better than services running independently and potentially counteracting each other.

So while teams are planning ahead for 2017, why jump through more hoops? Why not create private, encrypted networks to pull everything together?

Read the full article here

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