Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Trevor Parsons, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Marten Terpstra, Michael Jannery

Blog Feed Post

Why Contextual Data Locality Matters

Big Data is quickly overtaking SDN as a key phrase in today’s networking lingo. And overused already as it may be, it actually has a lot more meaning and definition compared to SDN. Big Data solutions are designed to work on lots of data as the name suggests. Of course they have been around forever, talk to any large bank, credit card company, airline or logistics company and all of them have had applications running on extremely large databases and data sets forever. But this is the new Big Data, the one inspired by Hadoop, MapReduce and friends. High performance compute clusters specifically created to analyze large amounts of data and reduce it to a form and quantity that human brains can use in decision making.

What makes today’s Big Data solutions different than its more traditional large database based applications, beyond the sheer datasets being analyzed, is the distributed nature of the analysis. Big Data solutions are designed to run across 100s or even 1000s of servers, each with multiple CPU cores to chew on the data. Traditional large database applications tend to be more localized with fewer applications and servers accessing the data, allowing for more tightly custom integrated solutions, the likes of which Oracle and friends are experts at.

Big Data Flashback

In the late 80s I started my career working as a network engineer for a high energy physics research institute. Working closely with the folks at CERN in Geneva, these physicists were (at the time, and probably still) masters of creating very large datasets. Every time an experiment was run, Tbytes of data (probably Pbytes by now) were generated by thousands of sensors along the tunnel or ring particles were passed through to collide.

The Big Data solution at the time was primitive, but not all that much different than today. The large datasets were manually broken into manageable pieces, something that would fit on a tape or disk. These datasets were then hand copied onto a compute server or super computer and the analysis application would churn through it to find specific data, correlate events and simply reduce the data to something smaller and meaningful. This would then create a new dataset, which would be combined, chopped up again, and the process repeated itself until they arrived at data that was consumable for humans to create new theories from, or provide a piece of proof of an existing theory.

During that first job, the IT group spend an enormous amount of time moving data around. A lot of it manual: tapes and disks were constantly being copied onto the appropriate compute server. The data had to be local to have any chance of analyzing the data. Between tapes, local disks and the network, the local disks were the only storage with appropriate speed to have a hope of finalizing the data reductions. And even then it would not be unusual to have a rather powerful (for the time) Apollo workstation run for several weeks on a single data set.

Back to the here and now

Forward the clock to now. The above description is really not that different from how Hadoop MapReduce works. Start with a big data set, chop it into pieces, replicate the data, compute on the data close to physical locality of the data. Then send results to Reducers, combine the results, then perhaps repeat again to get to human interpretable results.

As fast as we believe the network is within 10GbE access ports, it is still commonly the most restrictive component in the compute, distributed storage and network trio. Compute power increments have far outpaced network speed increments and even memory speed increments. We have many more cycles available to compute, but have not been able to get the data into these CPUs with the same increments. As a result, storage solutions are becoming increasingly distributed, closer to the compute power that needs it.

It’s a natural thought to have the data close to where it needs to be processed, close enough that the effort of retrieving it does not impact the overall completion of the task that uses that data. If I am writing a research paper that takes several hours to complete, I do not mind having to wait a second here or there for the right web sites to load. I would mind if I had to get into my car and drive to the library to look something up, drive back home to work on my paper, and keep doing that. The relationship between time and effort to get data has to become negligible compared to the time and effort required to complete the task.

Locality and growth

This type of contextual locality is extremely hard to manage in a dynamic and growing environment. How do you make sure that the right data remains contextually close to where it is needed when servers and VMs may not be physically close? They may not be in the same rack for the same application or customer, they may not even be in the same pod or datacenter. Storage is relatively cheap, but replication for closeness can very quickly lead to a data distribution complexity that is unmanageable in environments where its not a single orchestrated big data solution.

To solve this problem you need help from your network. You need to be able to create locality on the fly. Things that are not physically close need to be made virtually close, but with the characteristics of physical locality. And in network terms these are of course measured in the usual staples of latency and bandwidth. This is when you want to articulate relationships between the data and the applications that need that data and create virtual closeness that resembles the physical. This may mean dedicated paths through multiple switches to avoid congestion that will dramatically impact latency. These same paths can provide direct physical connectivity through dynamically engineered optical paths between application and storage, or simply appropriate prioritization of traffic along these paths. Without having to worry explicitly where the application is or where the storage is.

Physics will always stand in the way of what we really want or need, but that does not mean we use that same physics with a bit of math to create solutions that manage the complexity of creating dynamic locality. Locality is important. More pronounced in Big Data solutions, but even at a smaller scale it is important within the context of the compute effort on that data.

[Today's fun fact: Lake Superior is the world's largest lake. With that kind of naming accuracy we would like to hire the person that named the lake as our VP of Naming and Terminology]

The post Why Contextual Data Locality Matters 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
IBM has announced a new strategic technology services agreement with Anthem, Inc., a health benefits company in the U.S. IBM has been selected to provide operational services for Anthem's mainframe and data center server and storage infrastructure for the next five years. Among the benefits of the relationship, Anthem has the ability to leverage IBM Cloud solutions that will help increase the ease, availability and speed of adding infrastructure to support new business requirements.
Vormetric on Wednesday announced the results of its 2015 Insider Threat Report (ITR), conducted online on their behalf by Harris Poll and in conjunction with analyst firm Ovum in fall 2014 among 818 IT decision makers in various countries, including 408 in the United States. The report details striking findings around how U.S. and international enterprises perceive security threats, the types of employees considered most dangerous, environments at the greatest risk for data loss and the steps or...
Companies today struggle to manage the types and volume of data their customers and employees generate and use every day. With billions of requests daily, operational consistency can be elusive. In his session at Big Data Expo, Dave McCrory, CTO at Basho Technologies, will explore how a distributed systems solution, such as NoSQL, can give organizations the consistency and availability necessary to succeed with on-demand data, offering high availability at massive scale.
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your o...
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps become...
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial C...
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by minin...
“DevOps is really about the business. The business is under pressure today, competitively in the marketplace to respond to the expectations of the customer. The business is driving IT and the problem is that IT isn't responding fast enough," explained Mark Levy, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Serena Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"SOASTA built the concept of cloud testing in 2008. It's grown from rather meager beginnings to where now we are provisioning hundreds of thousands of servers on a daily basis on behalf of customers around the world to test their applications," explained Tom Lounibos, CEO of SOASTA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ActiveState, the leading independent Cloud Foundry and Docker-based PaaS provider, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. ActiveState believes that enterprises gain a competitive advantage when they are able to quickly create, deploy and efficiently manage software solutions that immediately create business value, but they face many challenges that ...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, ...
SYS-CON Media announced that Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow, has launched a new ad campaign in Cloud Computing Journal. The ad campaign, a webcast titled 'Is Your Data Center Ready for the Application Economy?', focuses on the latest data center networking technologies, including SDN or ACI, and how customers are using SDN and ACI in their organizations to achieve business agility. The Cisco webcast is available on-demand.
Datapipe has acquired GoGrid, a provider of multi-cloud solutions for Big Data deployments. GoGrid’s proprietary orchestration and automation technologies provide 1-Button deployment for Big Data solutions that speed creation and results of new cloud projects. “GoGrid has made it easy for companies to stand up Big Data solutions quickly,” said Robb Allen, CEO, Datapipe. “Datapipe customers will achieve significant value from the speed at which we can now create new Big Data projects in the clou...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what th...
Security can create serious friction for DevOps processes. We've come up with an approach to alleviate the friction and provide security value to DevOps teams. In her session at DevOps Summit, Shannon Lietz, Senior Manager of DevSecOps at Intuit, will discuss how DevSecOps got started and how it has evolved. Shannon Lietz has over two decades of experience pursuing next generation security solutions. She is currently the DevSecOps Leader for Intuit where she is responsible for setting and driv...
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science f...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness,...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. ...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.