|By Michael Bushong||
|April 2, 2014 06:00 AM EDT||
What role does the concept of a “network fabric” play in the march towards commoditization of networking? Well, let’s discuss!
The Whole Shebang
There can be no doubt that an organization’s relationship to networking is to the aggregate thing they call “the network.” When there are issues, non-network folks say wonderfully vague things like “The network is dropping packets!” or “I can’t login… must be the network.” This intuition, to think about the network as a whole, rather than as a collection of systems, is right: Collectively, the network is supposed to produce desirable aggregate behavior.
This is an important clue as to how networking will evolve in the future. SDN is a step in this direction. Intelligent software will undoubtedly coordinate the actions of the underlying constituent systems, on behalf of an operator or an application, to achieve some policy goals. This software need not exist solely in the form of a network controller. Indeed, here at Plexxi, our switches can coordinate on their own to achieve aggregate behavior. This is why you can stand up a Plexxi network, and pass traffic, without the need for a centralized controller.
A network fabric should have the goal of managing network workloads according to a higher-level policy. However, many fabrics do not do this. They may have some desirable fabric features, but for edge policies operators must still log into individual devices to achieve their goals. This, of course, is the fundamental problem of networking that SDN hopes to solve: Let intelligent software perform these menial tasks, and let the organization, or the operator, express network-wide policy to the software.
The Value of the Network
What is the value of the network? Fundamentally, the network has one feature that matters: paths. The job the network, first and foremost, is to facilitate the movement of data between it’s edges. The more paths a network has, the better. We even see this in leaf-and-
Administrative, control, voice, video, bulk, and garbage are just some of the workload types requiring different treatment in the network. When you have fewer paths in the network, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage workload conflict that arises when multiple types of traffic converge on an egress interface. Quality-of-Service has always represented a sort of white flag of surrender before conflict even occurs, and let’s be honest, it’s been an absolute nightmare to manage on the ground. Aggregate flow characteristics change throughout the day (burstiness, packet size distribution, differing workload types), making static policies difficult to implement. The best you can hope for is a policy that represents the lowest-common denominator compromise.
Even when you have multiple paths in the network, it’s virtually impossible to manage and move differing workload types. How frustrating it has been that spanning-tree cut the usable bandwidth down drastically in the data center. Even if we could use it, how to move only some workloads? Imagine doing this when you have multiple types of workloads just within HTTP! Transferring files, web traffic, API calls for automation systems… all in the same encapsulation.
QoS is obviously the product of legacy network thinking: Fewer paths and indiscriminate workload placement, resulting from the erroneous belief that universal reachability for packets is the primary goal of the network. Build just enough paths to be redundant, put the routes in… and hope for the best. Are we done being amazed that we can make packets go yet? Can’t we do better than making a sequel to “The Hangover” because we can ping? Aren’t we tired of failing to deal with the complexity of networking as a whole? Then let’s stop using legacy stuff to accomplish our goals.
The value of the network goes up as more paths are added. However, the old way of workload placement in the network, as well as the old way of handling workload conflict, just isn’t going to be manageable by hand. Adding value to the network should be as simple as adding paths, and adding paths should actually be simple both physically and logically. A commodity network means lots of paths, which are the primary value of the network to begin with. It also means intelligent software that manages the many types of workloads on the network by distributing them across those paths. That same software will present an intuitive policy interface to humans who just want “the network” to work.
Where does that leave the current trend of some companies seeking to commoditize on legacy networking? Well, like cloud, it would seem that many folks are banking on the idea that IT is done evolving. Including networking! Obviously, this is not the case. What we are experiencing right now is the “big crunch” of IT. If the mainframe represented some primordial IT state that exploded into the constituent pieces of the IT universe, like the big bang of tech, then the data center of the future represents the big crunch of these pieces. Lots of intermediate layers will disappear, from the guest OS of a VM, to maybe even the IP protocol! Will linux-based switches and routers with a subset of legacy network features really have a role here? Perhaps in the short-term, but not for long.
Intuitive network fabrics are the true start down the path of commoditization, making the real value of the network directly and easily manageable.
[Fun fact: One time, I drove a bulldozer into a pond. People get really mad when you do that. Also, it makes the bulldozer inoperable. Hmmm... if only there had been a "path" around the pond.]
Edge Hosting has announced a partnership with and the availability of CloudFlare, a web application firewall, CDN and DDoS mitigation service. “This partnership enhances Edge Hosting’s world class, perimeter layer, application (layer 7) defensive mechanism,” said Mark Houpt, Edge Hosting CISO. “The goal was to enable a new layer of customer controlled defense and compliance through the application of DDoS filters and mitigations, the web application firewall (WAF) feature and the added benefit ...
Jun. 27, 2016 12:19 PM EDT
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Jun. 27, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 755
Presidio Receives @EMCcorp Partner Services Quality Award | @ThingsExpo @Presidio #IoT #DigitalTransformation
Presidio has received the 2015 EMC Partner Services Quality Award from EMC Corporation for achieving outstanding service excellence and customer satisfaction as measured by the EMC Partner Services Quality (PSQ) program. Presidio was also honored as the 2015 EMC Americas Marketing Excellence Partner of the Year and 2015 Mid-Market East Partner of the Year. The EMC PSQ program is a project-specific survey program designed for partners with Service Partner designations to solicit customer feedbac...
Jun. 27, 2016 11:55 AM EDT
You are moving to the Cloud. The question is not if, it’s when. Now that your competitors are in the cloud and lapping you, your “when” better hurry up and get here. But saying and doing are two different things. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Robert Reeves, CTO of Datical, explained how DevOps can be your onramp to the cloud. By adopting simple, platform independent DevOps strategies, you can accelerate your move to the cloud. Spoiler Alert: He also makes sure you don’t...
Jun. 27, 2016 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 954
Creating replica copies to tolerate a certain number of failures is easy, but very expensive at cloud-scale. Conventional RAID has lower overhead, but it is limited in the number of failures it can tolerate. And the management is like herding cats (overseeing capacity, rebuilds, migrations, and degraded performance). Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the HGST Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, discusse...
Jun. 27, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 895
University of Colorado Athletics has selected FORTRUST, Colorado’s only Tier III Gold certified data center, as their official data center and colocation services provider, FORTRUST announced today. A nationally recognized and prominent collegiate athletics program, CU provides a high quality and comprehensive student-athlete experience. The program sponsors 17 varsity teams and in their history, the Colorado Buffaloes have collected an impressive 28 national championships. Maintaining uptime...
Jun. 27, 2016 10:59 AM EDT Reads: 247
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
Jun. 27, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 998
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Jun. 27, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 827
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jun. 27, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,062
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
Jun. 27, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 978
The pace of innovation, vendor lock-in, production sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and managing risk… In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, discussed how CIOs are challenged finding the balance of finding the right tools, technology and operational model that serves the business the best. He also discussed how clouds, open source software and infrastructure solutions have benefits but also drawbacks and how workload and operational portability between vendors ...
Jun. 27, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 871
The initial debate is over: Any enterprise with a serious commitment to IT is migrating to the cloud. But things are not so simple. There is a complex mix of on-premises, colocated, and public-cloud deployments. In this power panel at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships at Commvault; Dave Landa, Chief Operating Officer at kintone; William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interou...
Jun. 27, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 817
Your business relies on your applications and your employees to stay in business. Whether you develop apps or manage business critical apps that help fuel your business, what happens when users experience sluggish performance? You and all technical teams across the organization – application, network, operations, among others, as well as, those outside the organization, like ISPs and third-party providers – are called in to solve the problem.
Jun. 27, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 707
"SpeedyCloud's specialty lies in providing cloud services - we provide IaaS for Internet and enterprises companies," explained Hao Yu, CEO and co-founder of SpeedyCloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jun. 27, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 842
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Jun. 27, 2016 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 994
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
Jun. 27, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 716
SaaS companies can greatly expand revenue potential by pushing beyond their own borders. The challenge is how to do this without degrading service quality. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Adam Rogers, Managing Director at Anexia, discussed how IaaS providers with a global presence and both virtual and dedicated infrastructure can help companies expand their service footprint with low “go-to-market” costs.
Jun. 27, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 880
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Jun. 26, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,307
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Jun. 26, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,214
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Jun. 26, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,268