Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Trevor Parsons, Peter Dyer, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java, Linux, Virtualization, Cloud Expo, 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
Over the past year, Datical has had amazing success with our flagship product, Datical DB. We’ve seen multiple visionary, sector-leading companies select Datical DB to drive their Application Schema changes. Now that the number has grown rapidly over the past year, we can begin to see patterns in why customers choose Datical DB. One of them turns out to be pretty emblematic of our other customers. So, let's examine the reasons why they chose to adopt Datical DB.
At 15th Cloud Expo, Shrikant Pattathil, Executive Vice President at Harbinger Systems, demos a video delivery platform that helps you do interactive videos. He discusses how Harbinger is accomplishing it in the cloud world, the problems they faced and the choices they made to get around these problems.
Want to enable self-service provisioning of application environments in minutes that mirror production? Can you automatically provide rich data with code-level detail back to the developers when issues occur in production? In his session at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how to accomplish this and more utilizing technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio online, and Application Insights in this demo-heavy session.
Log data provides the most granular view into what is happening across your systems, applications, and end users. Logs can show you where the issues are in real-time, and provide a historical trending view over time. Logs give you the whole picture. Logentries, a log management and analytics service built for the cloud, has announced a new integration with Slack, the team communication platform, to enable real-time system and application monitoring. Users of both services can now receive real-...
Entuity®, a provider of enterprise-class network management solutions, today announced that it solidifies its position as a market leader through global enterprise customer acquisitions and a refined channel strategy. In 2014, Entuity increased new license revenues in EMEA by over 75 percent, and LATAM by over 125 percent as customers embraced Entuity for its highly automated solution and unified architecture. Entuity’s refined channel strategy focuses on even deeper strategic alignment with ke...
CloudBees, Inc., has announced a $23.5 million financing round, led by longtime CloudBees investor Lightspeed Venture Partners. Existing investors Matrix Partners, Verizon Ventures and Blue Cloud Ventures also participated in the round. The latest funding announcement follows earlier rounds of $4 million, $10.5 million and $10.8 million, bringing the total investment in CloudBees to just under $50 million since the company’s inception in 2010. Previous venture investment rounds were led by Ma...
We are all here because we are sold on the transformative promise of The Cloud. But what good is all of this ephemeral, on-demand infrastructure if your usage doesn't actually improve the agility and speed of your business? How must Operations adapt in order to avoid stifling your Cloud initiative? In his session at DevOps Summit, Damon Edwards, co-founder and managing partner of the DTO Solutions, will highlight the successful organizational, process, and tooling patterns of high-performing c...
“The year of the cloud – we have no idea when it's really happening but we think it's happening now. For those technology providers like Zentera that are helping enterprises move to the cloud - it's been fun to watch," noted Mike Loftus, VP Product Management and Marketing at Zentera Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the ...
"ElasticBox is an enterprise company that makes it very easy for developers and IT ops to collaborate to develop, build and deploy applications on any cloud - private, public or hybrid," stated Monish Sharma, VP of Customer Success at ElasticBox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Agility is top of mind for Cloud/Service providers and Enterprises alike. Policy Driven Data Center provides a policy model for application deployment by decoupling application needs from the underlying infrastructure primitives. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, David Klebanov, a Technical Solutions Architect with Cisco Systems, discussed how it differentiates from the software-defined top-down control by offering a declarative approach to allow faster and simpler application deployment. Davi...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Cloud Technology Partners on Wednesday announced it has been recognized by the Modern Infrastructure Impact Awards as one of the Best Amazon Web Services (AWS) Consulting Partners. Selected by the editors of TechTarget's SearchDataCenter.com, and by votes from customers and strategic channel partners, the companies acknowledged by the Modern Infrastructure Impact Awards represent the top providers of cloud consulting services for AWS including application migration, application development, inf...
“Will Jaya is a direct source for server integration and storage solutions. If you are looking for any specific configurations for a project we can help you configure based on your needs and requirements," explained Netty Goya, CEO of Will Jaya, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
“We help people build clusters, in the classical sense of the cluster. We help people put a full stack on top of every single one of those machines. We do the full bare metal install," explained Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, John Meza, Product Engineer at Esri, showed how Esri products hook into Hadoop cluster to allow you to do spatial analysis on the spatial data within your cluster, and he demonstrated rendering from a data center with ArcGIS Pro, a new product that has a brand new rendering engine.
"Blue Box has been around for 10-11 years, and last year we launched Blue Box Cloud. We like the term 'Private Cloud as a Service' because we think that embodies what we are launching as a product - it's a managed hosted private cloud," explained Giles Frith, Vice President of Customer Operations at Blue Box, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin,...
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your onlin...