Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Jignesh Solanki, Destiny Bertucci, Daniel Gordon

Blog Feed Post

Networking lessons from high-performance car racing

If you take a high-performance racing class, one of the first things you will experience is a ride around the track in a vehicle that seems ill-equipped for racing. Some classes might take you around the course in an average car like a Kia, while others might be a bit more dramatic and get all the students into the back of an old van. The point of this first exercise is to show you that vehicles are far more capable than the average driver expects.

The punch line of this first lesson in racing is that if you think you are pushing your car to the limits when you approach 100mph or take a turn a little hard, you don’t really understand what your car can do. And if you want to be a performance racer, you need to get a lot more comfortable as you get out closer to the extremes.

The point here is less about the car and more about human psychology. Without knowing what the limits are, most of us behave conservatively. The fear of calamity is real, and it is enough to keep us operating well within the perceived constraints of the system. Whenever we experience something a little outside the edges of what we are used to, we recoil a bit.

Comfort levels and networking

Now imagine this in the context of SDN. One of the core aspects of SDN is the presence of some sort of central control. Whether that is a completely-centralized controller or a distributed application providing some form of system control, the fact that it is at least logically central means that it has a global view of the network as a resource.

This is useful because a global view of the resource allows the controller to do intelligent things with network workloads. For example, workloads can be balanced to optimize overall network performance. Or maybe the controller fans traffic out over more available paths, which could drive up fabric utilization.

The challenge

This actually creates a challenge.

Architects and operators are used to running their networks within some constraints. Things like capacity planning take into account total resources. Processes are built around these limits. Even things like purchasing decisions consider the operating assumptions.

Within these constraints, networks are built. And then they are monitored. We look at things like queuing and buffering to get a feel for how traffic is moving across the network. We get accustomed to how counters ought to look. In essence, we familiarize ourselves with the operating parameters of our network.

But what if those limitations were not really the limitations?

If, for example, intelligent load balancing and more sophisticated workload management allowed you to get more out of your network than you were used to, would you feel comfortable extending the operating limits that confine you today?

Intellectually, the answer is likely yes, but there is an education process that has to happen here. Most people are consumers—not producers—of information. The reason best practices are so powerful is that they allow the majority of people to leverage the learnings of the nominally smaller set of people willing to experiment and figure things out.

And because networking is notoriously complex, the dependence on this information is even higher than in other disciplines. It actually keeps most of us from really knowing what our networks are capable of. Not unlike would-be performance drivers, we don’t fully understand what we can do with our network. We operate either well below the limits, or occasionally we do something reckless that results in something disastrous.

Creating familiarity

Either case is really derived from the same issue: an unfamiliarity of where we ought to be.

Getting to familiarity requires a re-examination of how we think about monitoring. When you are driving a car, how do you know where the limit is? It’s not just feeling uncomfortable as the wheel shakes; you need to know the point at which the back side actually slides out from under you on a curve.

In networking parlance, this means we need to be looking at more than just counters and bits per second. We need to know the point at which the network slides out from under us. And in the case where we are making better use of more paths through SDN, we need to be looking at more than just hot links. We will eventually want to know how traffic gets balanced across all available links, and how that impacts application workloads.

Essentially, we are fast approaching an era where monitoring, planning, and troubleshooting are going to rely on more than simple counters. SDN represents more than just a new architecture. It brings with it the ability to do some pretty clever things. But those clever things will push us beyond our comfort zone. For people for whom performance is not important, maybe it’s ok to stay trapped behind a veil of lowered expectations.

But if SDN is really going to breed a new kind of performance networker, it means that we will collectively have to become a lot more familiar with our cars. The results might be life-changing… or at least network-changing

[Today’s fun fact: Running links between sites at 99% utilization is possible. Imagine if you didn’t have to be Google to do it.]

The post Networking lessons from high-performance car racing appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."

@CloudExpo Stories
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory? In her Day 2 Keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Aruna Ravichandran, VP, DevOps Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies, was jo...
"Storpool does only block-level storage so we do one thing extremely well. The growth in data is what drives the move to software-defined technologies in general and software-defined storage," explained Boyan Ivanov, CEO and co-founder at StorPool, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
As Marc Andreessen says software is eating the world. Everything is rapidly moving toward being software-defined – from our phones and cars through our washing machines to the datacenter. However, there are larger challenges when implementing software defined on a larger scale - when building software defined infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Boyan Ivanov, CEO of StorPool, provided some practical insights on what, how and why when implementing "software-defined" in the datacent...
Blockchain. A day doesn’t seem to go by without seeing articles and discussions about the technology. According to PwC executive Seamus Cushley, approximately $1.4B has been invested in blockchain just last year. In Gartner’s recent hype cycle for emerging technologies, blockchain is approaching the peak. It is considered by Gartner as one of the ‘Key platform-enabling technologies to track.’ While there is a lot of ‘hype vs reality’ discussions going on, there is no arguing that blockchain is b...
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across business networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost as well as advance trade. Are you curious about how Blockchain is built for business? In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, discussed the b...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable?Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, answered these questions and demonstrated techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances and co...
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, whic...
The use of containers by developers -- and now increasingly IT operators -- has grown from infatuation to deep and abiding love. But as with any long-term affair, the honeymoon soon leads to needing to live well together ... and maybe even getting some relationship help along the way. And so it goes with container orchestration and automation solutions, which are rapidly emerging as the means to maintain the bliss between rapid container adoption and broad container use among multiple cloud host...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure. The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating...
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
The need for greater agility and scalability necessitated the digital transformation in the form of following equation: monolithic to microservices to serverless architecture (FaaS). To keep up with the cut-throat competition, the organisations need to update their technology stack to make software development their differentiating factor. Thus microservices architecture emerged as a potential method to provide development teams with greater flexibility and other advantages, such as the abili...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
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 ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"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...