|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.]
The 3rd International Internet of @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 its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Nov. 28, 2014 05:00 PM EST Reads: 1,307
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionalit...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,433
"We help companies that are using a lot of Software as a Service. We help companies manage and gain visibility into what people are using inside the company and decide to secure them or use standards to lock down or to embrace the adoption of SaaS inside the company," explained Scott Kriz, Co-founder and CEO of Bitium, 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.
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,469
Some developers believe that monitoring is a function of the operations team. Some operations teams firmly believe that monitoring the systems they maintain is sufficient to run the business successfully. Most of them are wrong. The complexity of today's applications have gone far and beyond the capabilities of "traditional" system-level monitoring tools and approaches and requires much broader knowledge of business and applications as a whole. The goal of DevOps is to connect all aspects of app...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,240
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. 27, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,831
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
Nov. 27, 2014 05:00 PM EST Reads: 1,403
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.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,244
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,301
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,304
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water,...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,374
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. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,710
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,382
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,522
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and asse...
Nov. 27, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,714
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,330
SYS-CON Media announced that Centrify, a provider of unified identity management across cloud, mobile and data center environments that delivers single sign-on (SSO) for users and a simplified identity infrastructure for IT, has launched an ad campaign on Cloud Computing Journal. The ads focus on security: how an organization can successfully control privilege for all of the organization’s identities to mitigate identity-related risk without slowing down the business, and how Centrify provides ...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,359
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,268
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, 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.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:15 AM EST Reads: 1,324
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device exp...
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,294
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,569