|By Derick Winkworth||
|August 6, 2014 06:00 AM EDT||
In networking, workflows are awfully complicated. There are many workflows, and the exact nature of each depends on a number of variables. What task comes next is often dependent on the outcome of the previous task, and there is a large amount of data to navigate sometimes to complete a workflow. Nevertheless, there plenty of opportunity to identify and automate common tasks and segments of workflows. Once we’ve identified these, we need to ask ourselves, how exactly should we automate them?
“Encapsulation” means a vendor (possibly a third party vendor) has written software that accomplishes the same thing the workflow does, but usually not the in the same linear way a customer would do it. Sub-components within an encapsulation have well-designed interfaces for the purpose of accomplishing the goal. The encapsulation would likely be written in Java or C. In networking, encapsulated workflows are usually specific to a vendor’s product and often lack flexibility and features. Encapsulated workflows will manifest as products or product features.
Consider the following workflow:
Figure 1 shows a simplified packet walkthrough for a device. Here, in the course of evaluating what is happening to a packet passing through this device, we have discovered a filter policy applied to the ingress interface. This policy has two terms, and each of these terms references an access-list. A network engineer would need to evaluate this filter policy to determine if it is doing something to the packets of interest. The thing is, policy languages have a great deal of expressiveness and grammar. They are also proprietary. After the filter policy is evaluated, this workflow follows the forwarding pipeline to the egress interface. If you are an expereinced network engineer, you will know that there are other elements in the pipeline that should be checked for any given network device. However, there is enormous variation in the structure of the pipeline from one platform to the next. Therefore, this is a great candidate for discrete encapsulation.* There are more effective ways of achieving the goal of a packet walkthrough than the way a network engineer must do it now (particularly for SDN products), and vendors know their platforms and policy idioms best.
*Discrete means it’s a workflow with a beginning and an end. It can be manually invoked by a user, and runs for a finite amount of time, reaching some conclusion.
A workflow automation, on the other hand, consists of sub-components that are “glued together.” These components were not built especially for automation, and the interfaces between these components were not designed for any particular workflow. Automations can be developed by the customer, and very frequently discrete automations are employed by network engineers. A great example here would be a script to configure the login banner on some number of devices. These automations are written in “softer” languages like Python or Perl.
There is a clear need for Continuous Automation in networking. Plexxi’s own DSE, now an integral part of the OpenStack Congress project, attempts to address this need. As the name implies, Continuous means it’s an on-going process. In the case of the Congress, it is a modular, event/data driven system. In an environment where there are a plethora of protocols and APIs, each with their own idiosyncracies, this kind of automation makes sense. Particularly in the context of an open-source community.
Curiously, some workflows may best be addressed by a combination of automation types. For instance, if a customer wanted to know what was going on in the network relative to a particular application, that workflow automation could use the packet walkthrough encapsulation of a vendor combined with an automation tool like the DSE to harvest network meta-data from external systems about application endpoints. This could yield a network map of the application’s endpoints along with visual indicators of issues in the network that could be impacting to the application. In this way, the network engineer could quickly and accurately gauge the health of the network in the context of an application versus engaging in a tedious and error-prone search “by hand.”
Customers, vendors, and open source communities should work togethor to make networking better. Identifying common workflows and determing the best way to automate them is a good first step. This will require vendors to think differently about how they develop their products, with their user’s needs in mind first. Traditionally, just getting a network feature to work and interoperate was the goal, but now we must consider how this feature fits into common workflows performed by network engineers.
[Fun fact: Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family. In spite of this, Broccoli tastes good. When someone offers you cabbage, they are insulting you.]
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
Nov. 21, 2014 09:15 PM EST Reads: 988
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additional...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:45 PM EST Reads: 1,019
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,036
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,131
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 ...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,162
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 21, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,037
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
Nov. 21, 2014 06:45 PM EST Reads: 1,002
Verizon Enterprise Solutions is simplifying the cloud-purchasing experience for its clients, with the launch of Verizon Cloud Marketplace, a key foundational component of the company's robust ecosystem of enterprise-class technologies. The online storefront will initially feature pre-built cloud-based services from AppDynamics, Hitachi Data Systems, Juniper Networks, PfSense and Tervela. Available globally to enterprises using Verizon Cloud, Verizon Cloud Marketplace provides a one-stop shop fo...
Nov. 21, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,019
Software-driven innovation is becoming a primary approach to how businesses create and deliver new value to customers. A survey of 400 business and IT executives by the IBM Institute for Business Value showed businesses that are more effective at software delivery are also more profitable than their peers nearly 70 percent of the time (1). DevOps provides a way for businesses to remain competitive, applying lean and agile principles to software development to speed the delivery of software that ...
Nov. 20, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,336
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 20, 2014 10:30 PM EST Reads: 1,220
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
Nov. 20, 2014 09:00 PM EST Reads: 1,417
Infor has announced a new feature Infor CloudSuite™ Aerospace & Defense (A&D) to aid compliance with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The ITAR function will serve as a complementary function for new or existing Infor CloudSuite A&D customers, to facilitate compliance for Infor customers that are creating a US defense article or performing a US defense service and wish to benefit from cloud-services. The ITAR regulation serves to manage handling and access requirements for dat...
Nov. 20, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,265
What do a firewall and a fortress have in common? They are no longer strong enough to protect the valuables housed inside. Like the walls of an old fortress, the cracks in the firewall are allowing the bad guys to slip in - unannounced and unnoticed. By the time these thieves get in, the damage is already done and the network is already compromised. Intellectual property is easily slipped out the back door leaving no trace of forced entry. If we want to reign in on these cybercriminals, it's hig...
Nov. 20, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,122
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 20, 2014 04:45 PM EST Reads: 968
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. 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 - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to th...
Nov. 20, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,459
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...
Nov. 20, 2014 12:30 PM EST Reads: 1,695
Cochlear Limited, the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, has selected AppZero for easy migration of its Microsoft Windows Server 2003 applications, a major priority for IT organizations before Microsoft ends support on July 14, 2015. AppZero software enables server application migration from old operating systems to new platforms or clouds and has been proven to be ten times faster, more reliable and efficient than alternative approaches.
Nov. 20, 2014 10:24 AM EST Reads: 669
Fundamentally, SDN is still mostly about network plumbing. While plumbing may be useful to tinker with, what you can do with your plumbing is far more intriguing. A rigid interpretation of SDN confines it to Layers 2 and 3, and that's reasonable. But SDN opens opportunities for novel constructions in Layers 4 to 7 that solve real operational problems in data centers. "Data center," in fact, might become anachronistic - data is everywhere, constantly on the move, seemingly always overflowing. Net...
Nov. 20, 2014 07:30 AM EST Reads: 1,256
SYS-CON Media announced today the IBM, which offers the world’s deepest portfolio of technologies and expertise that are transforming the future of work, has launched ad campaigns on SYS-CON’s numerous online magazines such as Cloud Computing Journal, DevOps Journal, Virtualization Journal, and IoT Journal. IBM's campaigns focus on application testing, improving application development processes, common challenges in testing composite applications, continuous testing as part of the DevOps lifec...
Nov. 19, 2014 08:15 PM EST Reads: 1,464