Click here to close now.

Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Roger Strukhoff, Lori MacVittie, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: SDN Journal

SDN Journal: Blog Post

On the Plasticity of Networks

The law and the network – both meant to be broken?

A good friend and business colleague once regaled me with his definition of a good corporate lawyer: “A good lawyer never says ‘no’; she says ‘here’s how’.” I thought this was an interesting and telling description – not because it conjured up creative interpretations of the law and loop-hole sleuthing corporate counsels – but that it imagined a seasoned practioner who understood the plasticity of her infrastructure (in this case the law) and the end goals of her client and therefore would often find innovative solutions that yielded business advantage. Plasticity in this context means that a seemingly rigid structure, like the law, can be deformed to meet a new need. Examples of this range from the mundane structuring of contracts to limit the downside of risky deals to the industry redefining methods of companies like Uber that challenge conventional practices and laws.

The law and the network – both meant to be broken?
A similar notion can be applied to networking infrastructure. It is often repeated that networking infrastructure is ‘rigid’ and ‘complex’. Other than just being evocative marketing terms, these words signify a level of resistance to adaption. Marketeering aside, business leaders are in fact expressing that what they want or need to do cannot be done – either feasibly, in a timely manner, or with an appropriate risk profile due to infrastructure obstacles. Every time connectivity needs change (think mainframe networks to multi-protocol client/server networks to IP routers/switches to remote access VPNs to high density data center switches, etc.) a new set of technologies, platforms, protocols, and ultimately infrastructure is put in place. For many years this may have been ok, and possibly even expected. Yet, for probably the past decade, the increasing pace of change of business needs and the continuous uncertainty of competitive environments have forced businesses to push harder on the aspects of their organization that prevent rapid change, that don’t exhibit plasticity.

SDN, the movement
Enter networking infrastructure, and more specifically SDN. While the canonical definition of SDN is accepted to be something about a decoupled control plane, there is also the notion of SDN the movement. This notion of SDN bears not an architectural definition, but rather embodies a user-led reaction to this lack of plasticity in their infrastructure. How are network engineers expected to say “here’s how” when their infrastructure requires generational shifts or years of standardization to catch up to yesterday’s demands? In many ways, SDN is nothing more than the desire of users to bring a level of adaptability to the uncertainty and change they experience in their business to the infrastructure.

Haven’t we heard this before?
Network plasticity is most likely not a new idea (either that or it’s naïve and unachievable.) Many a marketer has talked about the coming age of infrastructure that is fluid, dynamic, software-defined, change-ready, yada yada yada. Yet most of what is described by this fluid, dynamic, software-defined infrastructure is generally related to the shrinking, scaling, or movement of physical resources to match a desired processing need, ultimately to meet a utility cost objective. What network plasticity is about, however, is a more fundamental notion that connectivity needs will change ahead of generational or architecture product lifetimes, and that the answer cannot be to put the business needs on hold until the products catch up. What plasticity affords is a fundamental deformation of the primary design use-case into one that was a priori unforeseen – a set of carefully planned escape valves that prevent their operators from having to say, “no, we cannot.”

Will current networks bend and snap?
Many networks conceived for the world of client-server computing are being tested and stretched for the needs of highly distributed, edge-processing, no-central data store, scale-out applications. While the industry attempts to move the architectural needle forward with new encapsulations to remove restrictions of L3 boundaries, bigger buffers to accommodate the predominance of server-to-server flows, new chipsets, new interface technology, better Ethernet storage traffic handling, etc, it is still not assessing the fundamental desire to prevent the need for this catch-up game in the first place. At some point, applications will decide for themselves how they would like their various components to be connected and will be able to express policy, SLA, risk profiles, and other constraints and objectives that ultimately translate into a set of network behaviors and topologies. Will the underlying infrastructure be capable of handling the resulting permutations of requirements without deriving an exhaustive and limited set of supported behaviors? Will it be able to grow with the increasingly sophisticated demands of these applications to achieve what may previously have been thought to be unfeasible? This largely depends on how we as an industry approach plasticity as an inherent infrastructure trait – perhaps the only one that really matters anymore.

[Today’s fun fact: GE's Living Environment Concept House, aka the "Plastic House" in Pittsfield, MA (pictured here) was built using 45,000 lbs of various plastics throughout much of the construction including the roof, windows, siding, plumbing, foundation, electrical, and mechanical systems. I'm guessing its not BPA free.]

The post On the Plasticity of Networks appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Mat Mathews

Visionary solutions are built by visionary leaders. Plexxi co-founder and Vice President of Product Management Mat Mathews has spent 20 years in the networking industry observing, experimenting and ultimately honing his technology vision. The resulting product — a combination of traditional networking, software-defined networking and photonic switching — represents the best of Mat's career experiences. Prior to Plexxi, Mat held VP of Product Management roles at Arbor Networks and Crossbeam Systems. Mat began his career as a software engineer for Wellfleet Communications, building high speed Frame Relay Switches for the carrier market. Mat holds a Bachelors of Science in Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

@CloudExpo Stories
The speed of product development has increased massively in the past 10 years. At the same time our formal secure development and SDL methodologies have fallen behind. This forces product developers to choose between rapid release times and security. In his session at DevOps Summit, Michael Murray, Director of Cyber Security Consulting and Assessment at GE Healthcare, examined the problems and presented some solutions for moving security into the DevOps lifecycle to ensure that we get fast AND ...
Red Hat has launched the Red Hat Cloud Innovation Practice, a new global team of experts that will assist companies with more quickly on-ramping to the cloud. They will do this by providing solutions and services such as validated designs with reference architectures and agile methodology consulting, training, and support. The Red Hat Cloud Innovation Practice is born out of the integration of technology and engineering expertise gained through the company’s 2014 acquisitions of leading Ceph s...
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use c...
Docker is becoming very popular--we are seeing every major private and public cloud vendor racing to adopt it. It promises portability and interoperability, and is quickly becoming the currency of the Cloud. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bart Copeland, CEO of ActiveState, discussed why Docker is so important to the future of the cloud, but will also take a step back and show that Docker is actually only one piece of the puzzle. Copeland will outline the bigger picture of where Docker fits a...
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing ...
Software Defined Storage provides many benefits for customers including agility, flexibility, faster adoption of new technology and cost effectiveness. However, for IT organizations it can be challenging and complex to build your Enterprise Grade Storage from software. In his session at Cloud Expo, Paul Turner, CMO at Cloudian, looked at the new Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) market and how it is changing the storage world. Now Software Defined Storage companies can build Enterprise grade ...
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. ...
Hadoop as a Service (as offered by handful of niche vendors now) is a cloud computing solution that makes medium and large-scale data processing accessible, easy, fast and inexpensive. In his session at Big Data Expo, Kumar Ramamurthy, Vice President and Chief Technologist, EIM & Big Data, at Virtusa, will discuss how this is achieved by eliminating the operational challenges of running Hadoop, so one can focus on business growth. The fragmented Hadoop distribution world and various PaaS soluti...
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...
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The threat landscape of today is drastically different than just a few years ago. Attacks are much more organized and sophisticated. They are harder to detect and even harder to anticipate. In the foreseeable future it's going to get a whole lot harder. Everything you know today will change. Keeping up with this changing landscape is already a daunting task. Your organization needs to use the latest tools, methods and ex...
In his session at DevOps Summit, Tapabrata Pal, Director of Enterprise Architecture at Capital One, will tell a story about how Capital One has embraced Agile and DevOps Security practices across the Enterprise – driven by Enterprise Architecture; bringing in Development, Operations and Information Security organizations together. Capital Ones DevOpsSec practice is based upon three "pillars" – Shift-Left, Automate Everything, Dashboard Everything. Within about three years, from 100% waterfall, C...
Disruptive macro trends in technology are impacting and dramatically changing the "art of the possible" relative to supply chain management practices through the innovative use of IoT, cloud, machine learning and Big Data to enable connected ecosystems of engagement. Enterprise informatics can now move beyond point solutions that merely monitor the past and implement integrated enterprise fabrics that enable end-to-end supply chain visibility to improve customer service delivery and optimize sup...
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...
Docker has acquired software-defined networking (SDN) startup SocketPlane. SocketPlane, which was founded in Q4, 2014, with a vision of delivering Docker-native networking, has been an active participant in shaping the initial efforts around Docker’s open API for networking. The explicit focus of the SocketPlane team within Docker will be on collaborating with the partner community to complete a rich set of networking APIs that addresses the needs of application developers and network and system...
It’s been proven time and time again that in tech, diversity drives greater innovation, better team productivity and greater profits and market share. So what can we do in our DevOps teams to embrace diversity and help transform the culture of development and operations into a true “DevOps” team? In her session at DevOps Summit, Stefana Muller, Director, Product Management – Continuous Delivery at CA Technologies, will answer that question citing examples, showing how to create opportunities f...
Even as cloud and managed services grow increasingly central to business strategy and performance, challenges remain. The biggest sticking point for companies seeking to capitalize on the cloud is data security. Keeping data safe is an issue in any computing environment, and it has been a focus since the earliest days of the cloud revolution. Understandably so: a lot can go wrong when you allow valuable information to live outside the firewall. Recent revelations about government snooping, along...
FedRAMP is mandatory for government cloud deployments and businesses need to comply in order to provide services for federal engagements. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Abel Sussman, Director for Coalfire Public Sector practice, will review the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) process and provide advice on overcoming common compliance obstacles.
The cloud is now a fact of life but generating recurring revenues that are driven by solutions and services on a consumption model have been hard to implement, until now. In their session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, and Ian Khan, Global Strategic Positioning & Brand Manager at Solgenia, will discuss how a top European telco has leveraged the innovative recurring revenue generating capability of the consumption cloud to enable a unique cloud monetization mod...
Are your applications getting in the way of your business strategy? It’s time to rethink your IT approach. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Madhukar Kumar, Vice President, Product Management at Liaison Technologies, will discuss a new data-centric approach to IT that allows your data, not applications, to inform business strategy. By moving away from an application-centric IT model where data integration and analysis are subservient to the constraints of applications, your organization will b...
As organizations shift toward IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection &E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships, will disc...