Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, John Walsh, Sven Olav Lund, Simon Hill

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

SDN Journal: Blog Post

Network Services, Abstracted and Consumable

The network has traditionally been very static and simplistic in its offerings

Perhaps not as popular as its brothers and sisters I, P and S, Network-As-A-Service or NaaS has slowly started to appear in industry press, articles and presentations. While sometimes associated with a hypervisor based overlay solution, its definition is not very clear, which is not at all surprising. Our industry does not do too well in defining new terms. I ran across this presentation from Usenix 2012 that details a NaaS solution that adds a software forwarding engine to switches and routers that provide specific services for some well known cloud computing workloads.

I have some serious reservations about the specific implementation of the network services provided in this presentation, but the overall thoughts of specific network services delivered to applications and workloads resonates well with me. Unless this is your first visit to our blog, your reaction is probably “duh, this is what Affinity Networking is all about”. Of course it is.

The network has traditionally been very static and simplistic in its offerings. The vast majority of networks runs with an extremely small set of network services. Find me a network that uses more than some basic QoS based on queueing strategies, IP Multicast (and many understandingly avoid it as much as they can), and perhaps some VRFs and we will probably agree that that is an exception rather than a rule. And I deliberately exclude the actual underlying technologies to accomplish this, those don’t change the service, just enable it.

And it is not that networks are not capable of providing other services. Most hardware used is extremely capable of doing so much more, and in many cases even the configuration of that hardware is available. Extremely elaborate protocols exist to manage additional services, with new ones being developed constantly. And you can find paper after paper that show that specific network services can greatly improve the overall solution performance. Many of these examples are based on big data type solutions, but I am pretty sure that that translate into just about every solution that has a significant dependence on the network.

So why then do we not have a much richer set of network services available to the consumer of the networks?

There are probably multiple answers, but one that keeps bubbling to the top each time we look at this is one of abstraction. In simple terms, we have not made network services easy to create, easy to maintain, easy to debug, and most importantly, we have not made network services easy to consume. We talk about devops and the fact that the creation, debugging and maintenance of complex network services inside the core of a network is not at all trivial. Per the examples above, getting end to end QoS (consistent queuing really) in place seems like a simple task but is not. And that is technology that has been around for well over a decade. Configuring each and every switch to ensure it has the same queueing configuration and behaviors, adjust drop rates and queue lengths based on where a switch fits into the network and define what applications should fit into which queue is complex not because of the topic itself, but because of the amount of touch points, the amount of configuration steps, and the switch by switch, hop by hop mechanisms by which we deploy it. This is where devops will start.

But you also have to look at it from other side. In the first few slides of the above mentioned presentation, the presenter shows that the network engineer and the application engineer have wildly different views of the network. As they should. The application engineer should not need to know any of the ins and outs of the network and its behavior. He or she should be presented with an entity that provides connectivity, and a set of network services it offers. And it should be trivial to attach itself to any of these services without having to understand network terms. An application engineer should not need to know that DSCP bits need to be set to get a certain priority behavior. Or having to request from the network folks that a set of IP or ethernet endpoints require a lossless connectivity and must therefore be placed onto network paths that support PFC and QCN to enable RDMA over Ethernet or even FCoE.

These types of services need to become extremely easy to consume. The architect of a very large private cloud described his ideal model by which applications (and he supports thousands of them) would consume network services. He envisioned an application registration model (through a portal for instance) where application developers could express in extremely simple non network terms what their application needed. Connectivity between components X and Y. The use of specific memory systems that have been predefined to use RDMA over Ethernet (and thus require lossless connectivity). This application consists of N components that need PCI compliance and therefore need to be separated from the rest of the applications. You name it, application behavior in terms that are as far away from the actual implementation of the tools used to enable that service in the network.

There is lots of work to do on both ends of this consumable network service model. For the network engineer it needs to become much easy to enable these network services in a controllable and maintainable manner. Easy to design, easy to deploy, easy to debug and maintain. For the application engineer, it needs to become easy to consume these network services. Simple and scalable registration and request mechanisms without a lot of network terminology. My post office comparison from a few weeks ago was perhaps very simplistic, but you have to admit, using the USPS is pretty simple. You walk up to the counter, there is a menu of shipment options, each with a price and an expected result, you pick what you want, they charge you for it and off your package goes. And you don’t really worry or care too much how, just that it’s being delivered in accordance with the service you paid for….

[Today's fun fact: Stewardesses is the longest common word that is typed with only the left hand. As a result it has been banished in favor of flight attendant.]

The post Network Services, Abstracted and Consumable appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Marten Terpstra

Marten Terpstra is a Product Management Director at Plexxi Inc. Marten has extensive knowledge of the architecture, design, deployment and management of enterprise and carrier networks.

@CloudExpo Stories
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Data scientists must access high-performance computing resources across a wide-area network. To achieve cloud-based HPC visualization, researchers must transfer datasets and visualization results efficiently. HPC clusters now compute GPU-accelerated visualization in the cloud cluster. To efficiently display results remotely, a high-performance, low-latency protocol transfers the display from the cluster to a remote desktop. Further, tools to easily mount remote datasets and efficiently transfer...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...