Lost in Translation…in Italy

Posted in security, silva, mobile, travel, train by psilva on March 26th, 2015

I've been travelling recently. To places and fields that have limited to no mobile connectivity and this can be a challenge when a challenge arises.

Immediately following Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this month, my family embarked on a multi-week European vacation. After spending a couple more days in Spain, we jumped on the rail to Paris for a couple days and then on to Rome for 10 days. The Eiffel Tower along with 'I see London, I see France, I see Daddy's....' request was our daughter's and Italy was something we've wanted to do for a while. During the train ride - which was fantastic - we saw vineyards, castles, the Alps, old bunkers and tons of scenery you never get on an airplane. It's almost like eavesdropping on these remote lives as you pass by at 187 mph while they hang their clothes to dry or tend to their fields. Yes, mobile connectivity was very spotty but it was not a big deal since we were enjoying the views and had no reason to 'connect.' I even turned the phone off at various times just for the peace.

In the major cities like Paris and Rome and of you have roaming of course, you're able to connect to one of the available 3G mobile networks within that country. While not LTE, you get decent connectivity and can accomplish many of the mobile tasks that have become commonplace - email, maps, navigation, browsing and so forth. Incidentally, if you want to learn how LTE Roaming works, check out this video we did at MWC15. It is when you venture out, Griswold style, when you can get into trouble.

While in Rome, we visited many of the typical tourism destinations like The Coliseum, Pantheon, Vatican, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and others. It seemed like our entire trip was going exactly as planned and we were having a wonderful time. That is, until the day we left Rome to return to Barcelona for our flight home. The real adventure was about to begin - like the last 20 minutes of a movie when you think everything is wrapped up and that last big crisis hits.

We bought, what we thought, were rail tickets from Rome back to Barcelona. They were less expensive than our inbound rail, which for some reason, didn't fire off the warning bells but we thought that since it was direct, it should be fine. We get on the train and have a nice semi-private area to stretch out and relax on the trip back. As we start the journey, everything seems great - the scenery, the company and we packed some good snacks for the ride. The conductor came through, verified our tickets and we felt like we could unwind. After a little while, we can see the Mediterranean Sea but it is on the wrong side of the train. A little concerned, I asked a uniformed staff if this was the train to Barcelona and was assured that it was. OK, maybe we go South for a few stops but turn around and head North. Seemed reasonable.

We arrive at the Pompei station and get to see Mt. Vesuvius but at this point, we start to get concerned. I find the rail staff for a second time and again asked if this is the train to Barcelona. Even adding that we're going South and wondered if it turns and goes North (up & around, etc.) at some point. Again I'm told that we are going to Barcelona. More time passes and as we get further South, connectivity gets spotty. As it goes in and out, I search, 'does the train from Rome to Barcelona go under the Mediterranean Sea?' There is the English Channel Chunnel so maybe this does the same thing? Nope. Now I'm panicked.

I find yet a third staff member and ask where are we going. It is at that point I learn that we are not headed for Barcelona Spain but Barcellona (Pozzo di Gotto) Italy. We're supposed to be on our return home flight from Spain in less than 36 hours and we're heading for Sicily. He says there is an airport in Catania and we might be able to get a flight to Barcelona. But with no connectivity, we can't see what is available and didn't want to risk arriving with no flights. I ask when is the next train back to Rome...at least get back there. We're told to get off at the next stop, San Giovanni, and we might be able to catch the overnight. Frantically, we grab our stuff, jump off and look around. Pretty grim. After a couple ups and downs of stairs with our bags, we finally make it to the ticket window. I explain that we want to go to Barcelona and the agent tells us, we just missed the train. I pull out a mobile translator and again attempt to communicate. I get frustrated, the agent gets frustrated and we're stuck. I grab a piece of paper and write SPAIN on it and his eyes finally light up but there is no path from where we are to Barcelona. It's 18:00 hours and we have less than 24 hours to reach Spain.

While a crowd gathers behind us, we ask about a train to Milan. Luckily, there is one and it leaves in 30 minutes. We'll take it! It's an overnight and we don't arrive in Milan until 11am the next day. Down to 20 hours before our plane leaves for to LAX. Hopefully we can get on a Milan to Barcelona flight but without connectivity, there's no way of knowing. We get on the train and I start crying - not so much because we're lost in a foreign country but the relief we're finally going in the right direction. Since we can't determine our next steps, the only thing to do is attempt to rest in this little 3 bunk room. The conductors on this route helped as much they could and told us that this happens to people almost every other month. We're not alone but we're nowhere near a solution.

We finally get to Milan and immediately jump in a cab to take the 45 minute/90Euro ride to the airport. We also have some 3G connectivity and at least see there are a few flights to Barcelona but also rely on the cab driver to point us in the right direction. In addition, the connectivity is so spotty on the way that trying to book a flight becomes impossible. At the airport we find the ticket window and buy some of the last remaining tickets for the last flight to Barcelona that day. After not bathing or sleeping for two days, I still felt relieved. We just might make it. As an eerie aside, just the day before our flight path went over the same location as the crashed Germanwings plane. Our jaws dropped when we learned of the tragedy.

We land in Barcelona with 12 hours to spare. Get to our hotel, eat, shower and collapse for a few hours. Not taking any chances, we head out early, make our flight and am grateful to finally be home to tell this story. I learned a lot about geography, mobile connectivity, communication, security, and about myself. We've become so dependent on connectivity and it seems that we've become one with our mobile devices but when there is no signal and they can't help in a crisis, paper, pencils and people still matter. While harrowing, it was an amazing adventure and a fitting end to our wonderful trip.

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MWC 2015 – That’s a Wrap!

Posted in f5, silva, video, mobile, mwc by psilva on March 5th, 2015

Peter Silva wraps it up from Mobile World Congress 2015. Thanks to you for watching and thanks to our guests this week including Frank Yue, Jonathan George, Peter Nas, Ron Carovano, Richard Duncan, Misbah Mahmoodi and a very special Mahalo to F5 CEO John McAdam! Certainly a personal and professional highlight interviewing John. Also thanks to Lars, Michelle and Jonathan for their camera work – appreciate their help. Reporting from Barcelona!

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MWC 2015 – The Mobile Revolution with F5 CEO John McAdam

Posted in f5, silva, video, mobile, mwc by psilva on March 4th, 2015

John McAdam, F5 President & CEO talks about what the mobile revolution means to F5. John discusses how mobile technology is driving innovation, why the need for intelligent application traffic management is critical, how F5 is in the sweet spot for the explosion of mobile data traffic and why Mobile World Congress is attracts so many executives from around the world. If you only watch one #MWC15 video, this is it!

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MWC 2015 – Enhancing Subscriber’s Quality of Experience (feat Mahmoodi)

Posted in f5, silva, video, mwc by psilva on March 4th, 2015

Misbah Mahmoodi, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, does a great job explaining the service provider challenges with the exponential growth in data usage from a subscriber point of view. For mobile operators, one of the worst things that subscribers can experience on the network is when they begin to stream their favorite video, and instead of the video playing, they see that spinning wheel. Misbah talks about how service providers can gain insights into the type of services and applications subscribers are using, allowing them to plan for network capacity ensuring that they have optimal network resource utilization to handle peak demands. With F5 Policy Enforcement Manager, service providers can implement policies for specific applications to reduce network congestion.

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MWC 2015 – TCP Opt for Service Providers (feat Yue)

Posted in f5, silva, video, optimization, tpc by psilva on March 4th, 2015

Frank Yue, Sr. Technical Marketing Manager, visits again to talk about the unique challenges service providers face in managing mobile data traffic. As more devices are generating more traffic, congestion can create bottlenecks on a carrier’s network. Service providers need to manage and properly deliver that traffic efficiently to subscribers. Frank explains that TCP was not really designed for today’s networks but F5 can certainly help in optimizing TCP traffic in the SGi Network for a better subscriber experience.

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MWC 2015 - SDN Demystified (feat Duncan)

Posted in f5, sdn by psilva on March 3rd, 2015

With an industry full of TLAs (three letter acronyms) Richard Duncan, Sr. Manager Systems Engineering, gives a wonderful explanation of SDN using the universal TV remote example. In this fun interview, Richard demystifies SDN and explains how SDN allows organizations to select best of breed technologies and the SDN overlay allows those components to seamlessly work together just like when you push ‘Watch DVD’ on the universal remote…it turns on the Toshiba monitor, the Sony DVD and the Denon receiver to allow the user to simply click one button and have everything work together. After watching this video, anyone can relate to SDN.

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MWC 2015 – Getting Work Done on the Go (feat Carovano)

Posted in Uncategorized by psilva on March 3rd, 2015

Ron Carovano, Manager, Business Development, joins us from the F5 kiosk in the AirWatch Connect booth at #MWC15. Always a fun and informative guest, Ron fills us in on the F5/AirWatch partnership and how our joint solution helps an employee with their brand new personal mobile device connect to business applications. Out of the box to productivity with granular control and true enterprise mobility management for the mobile workforce.

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MWC 2015 – How LTE Roaming Works (feat Nas)

Posted in f5, lte, roaming by psilva on March 3rd, 2015

Peter Nas, Sr. Solution Architect, explains what happens when the many MWC attendees from all over the world arrive in Barcelona and need to connect their mobile devices to a carrier network. Peter does a great job walking us through what happens when a mobile device connects to a foreign network and how F5’s Signaling Delivery Controller (SDC) helps route the user and the data roaming traffic back to the home carrier.

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MWC 2015 – Threats to Mobile Carrier Networks (feat George)

Posted in security, f5, silva, video, DoS attack, mobile, malware, infrastructure, dns by psilva on March 2nd, 2015

Jonathan George, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, talks about the various threats that can occur on a carrier network. Mobile devices are becoming a hot target for malicious attacks and users may not be aware that they have potentially become part of a botnet. And it is not just mobile devices, as IoT grows, your refrigerator could potentially participate in a DDoS attack. Jonathan focuses on some of the DNS solutions available that can help mitigate DNS DDoS attacks and malicious communications on a service provider network.

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MWC 2015 – NFV for Service Providers (feat Yue)

Posted in f5, silva, mobile, infrastructure, nfv, sdn, service provider by psilva on March 2nd, 2015

Frank Yue, Sr. Technical Marketing Manager, discusses Network Function Virtualization and how service providers are deploying it within their infrastructures. Frank talks about the relation to SDN, the functionality it provides SP’s, the NFV components, the importance within a carrier network and how F5 helps steer and scale the huge growth in mobile traffic.

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