Guardians of the Galaxy, er, I Mean the Network

 

If you haven’t already heard, NetScout is sponsoring a documentary being created by director Werner Herzog called “The Connected World,” to be released next year. Here’s the description from NetScout’s YouTube page:

“Legendary director Werner Herzog investigates the connected world and the people who protect it in his upcoming documentary. From cyber-crime and service outages to technological advances in science, healthcare and retail, take a deeper look at how much our lives depend on staying connected and see just how big and yet fragile the Connected World has become.” –Werner Herzog

This is ostensibly in support of NetScout’s “Guardians of the Connected World” campaign, feeding speculation that this will be an infomercial for their service assurance and cyber security technology. While it is a bold marketing ploy, the fact that Herzog signed on to do the film gives this effort some credibility.

There is a risk that this will be just another apocalyptic look at what could happen; a documentary where “The Walking Dead” are we humans dazedly trying mto survive being untethered from technology and therefore life as we know it. I think this possibility has run through everyone’s mind at least once.

Yet it is heartening that both the description of the film and the trailer acknowledge the “people who protect” the connected world. In the trailer, Herzog takes a general approach by stating that, “All of us collectively have to become the guardians of this fragile new world.”

NetScout CMO Jim McNiel gets more specific, referring to “The group of educated, talented, dedicated people that have a shared vision…that guild of professionals and thinkers and explorers who help take us to the next level and do so with care.”

This makes me think that the documentary will give due credit to the network professionals and others who keep connectivity up and running. Too many people view the network – if they think of anything at all beyond the “Internet” or “cloud” – as a utility similar to electricity or water. We in the industry know better.

The film will rightly focus on the fragility of our infrastructure, as there is still much work to be done to secure us from physical and cyber terrorist threats. Indeed, according to McNiel in a LinkedIn post, Herzog declined to do the film until he learned of an Internet shutdown in Arizona caused by a CenturyLink fiber optic cable being vandalized.

The ability of network engineers and other IT professionals to learn and create and evolve is what gives us hope. Our CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu has written several blog posts about the growing concerns around BGP security vulnerabilities. SDN, the newest advancement in networking, may help us solve some of these issues.

This quote from a blog post by Brian Boyko – who by the way is parlaying his considerable talent and experience in tech marketing into a career in programming – perhaps sums it up best:

“Let’s face it – network engineering isn’t just about what you know, but also how you think. It is not just a specialized set of knowledge, but the application of that knowledge to achieve goals and the ability to analyze problems, synthesize solutions, and evaluate results.”

Let’s hope the movie conveys this as well.