Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, TJ Randall

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Training Wheels and Protective Gear By @PlexxiInc | @CloudExpo [#SDN]

This balancing act is part of what as made networking as complex as it has become

Throughout the development cycle of new features and functions for any network platform (or probably most other products not targeted at the mass market consumer) this one question will always come up: should we protect the user of our product from doing this? And “this” is always something that would allow the user of the product to really mess things up if not done right. As a product management organization you almost have to take a philosophical stand when it comes to these questions.

Protect the user
Sure enough, the question came up last week as part of the development of one our features. When putting the finishing touches on a feature that allows very direct control over some of the fundamental portions of what creates a Plexxi fabric, our QA team (very appropriately) raised the concern: if the user does this, bad things can happen, should we not allow the user to change this portion of the feature?

This balancing act is part of what as made networking as complex as it has become. As an industry we have been extremely flexible in what we have exposed to our users. We have given access to portions of our products that 99.9% of customers will never need, but unfortunately because of that 0.1% every networking product has tons of these little tweaks and knobs that could wreak havoc if used the wrong way.

We take a lot of pride in creating a network solution that is simple to use, simple to interact with, but extremely powerful under the hood. Direct access to all that power will lead to not only giving the customer a powerful weapon, but also the ammunition to use it. And like handling any weapon, you can really hurt yourself if you are not careful. Which comes back to the question at hand, how many safety valves do you put in place to make sure the user cannot hurt themselves?

The reason why
Some of these controls are buried fairly deep inside our products. They are meant for true power users and for the support teams of the vendors. And even beyond the support teams, there are tools and tricks inside our products that only the engineering teams know about, hidden even beyond the knowledge of support teams. Several years ago (in a previous job), we had a customer with a complex problem. Traffic was inconsistently forwarded and the belief was that there were communication problems between line cards and the main CPU card that would create inconsistant tables (the biggest challenge for any chassis based system).

Of course our development teams had tools embedded in the code to carefully examine and manipulate the tables and communications between these cards. Not exposed to a regular user, because they were potentially dangerous. And we proved that they were. During the execution of the command by one of my developers, he made a small typo in one of the arguments and boom went the switch. Crash and reboot. Customer very upset (for good reason, this was a production network), executive management very upset (also for good reason) and worse, the problem disappeared without us collecting the information we needed to attempt to fix it.

Different Answers for Different Tools
There is a difference between debug tools that allow engineers to look deep inside the switch versus common features that may have significant service consequences if not in expert hands. No matter how hard we try, the first category will continue to exist. As vendors we will bring portions of these tools to the user or support visible spectrum, but at the same time we will create new ones buried deep.

The latter category though is one where I favor a less protective approach. There are many ways by which you can completely disrupt your network service. Most of the services your network provide have been created with your own hands through provisioning and configuration and can therefore be disrupted by those same actions. When we create features and functions that are potentially dangerous, it is on us the vendor to make sure it is properly documented and explained. This way when you do make that mistake (and it will happen) we can refer to that 4 letter “read the documentation” response.

Off come the training wheels
When it comes to user configurable features and functions, every single one of them has the potential to disrupt service when used the wrong way. We as vendors should not shy away from giving you all the tools you need to create (and destroy) the service you need. And I do not believe anyone wants to step through one “Are you sure (Y/N)?” after another. Of course we need to make creating services easier for you. If you are a frequent reader of our blogs you know that is what we stand for. But we should not take away features because we are afraid you can shoot yourself in the foot. Any time in the past where we opted to give you a gun but keep the bullets behind a locked door, we have found someone that legitimately explained that he or she needed the bullets to solve their specific problem. And we unlocked the door.

There are ways to teach someone how to ride a bike without providing permanent training wheels. Documentation (for those few that read it), workflow based provisioning and configuration and solid default behaviors with predictable results can steer you clear of the dangers we have provided. And when you do fall off the bike and hurt your knee or elbow, well, you are less likely to try that maneuver again next time. That is how most of us learn. Including those developers that crash a customer production switch during a debug session. For every one of those “oops” moments there will be many where those hidden gems may have saved your network from disaster. Just like there is one customer for whom having the bullets makes the difference between a working service and one that just limps along.

[Today's fun fact: You burn more calories sleeping than watching TV. I enjoy combining the two, especially during some of the last few Thursday night NFL games.]

The post Training Wheels and Protective Gear appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Marten Terpstra

Marten Terpstra is a Product Management Director at Plexxi Inc. Marten has extensive knowledge of the architecture, design, deployment and management of enterprise and carrier networks.

@CloudExpo Stories
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
HyperConvergence came to market with the objective of being simple, flexible and to help drive down operating expenses. It reduced the footprint by bundling the compute/storage/network into one box. This brought a new set of challenges as the HyperConverged vendors are very focused on their own proprietary building blocks. If you want to scale in a certain way, let's say you identified a need for more storage and want to add a device that is not sold by the HyperConverged vendor, forget about it...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Sanjeev Sharma Joins November 11-13, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @CloudEXPO New York Faculty. Sanjeev Sharma is an internationally known DevOps and Cloud Transformation thought leader, technology executive, and author. Sanjeev's industry experience includes tenures as CTO, Technical Sales leader, and Cloud Architect leader. As an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Sanjeev is recognized at the highest levels of IBM's core of technical leaders.
As Cybric's Chief Technology Officer, Mike D. Kail is responsible for the strategic vision and technical direction of the platform. Prior to founding Cybric, Mike was Yahoo's CIO and SVP of Infrastructure, where he led the IT and Data Center functions for the company. He has more than 24 years of IT Operations experience with a focus on highly-scalable architectures.
JETRO showcased Japan Digital Transformation Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo® at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan. With the support of JETRO's dedicated staff, clients can incorporate their business; receive visa, immigration, and HR support; find dedicated office space; identify local government subsidies; get...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Dez Blanchfield joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Dez is a strategic leader in business and digital transformation with 25 years of experience in the IT and telecommunications industries developing strategies and implementing business initiatives. He has a breadth of expertise spanning technologies such as cloud computing, big data and analytics, cognitive computing, m...
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, added the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor analytic...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Michael Maximilien, better known as max or Dr. Max, is a computer scientist with IBM. At IBM Research Triangle Park, he was a principal engineer for the worldwide industry point-of-sale standard: JavaPOS. At IBM Research, some highlights include pioneering research on semantic Web services, mashups, and cloud computing, and platform-as-a-service. He joined the IBM Cloud Labs in 2014 and works closely with Pivotal Inc., to help make the Cloud Found the best PaaS.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
In a world where the internet rules all, where 94% of business buyers conduct online research, and where e-commerce sales are poised to fall between $427 billion and $443 billion by the end of this year, we think it's safe to say that your website is a vital part of your business strategy. Whether you're a B2B company, a local business, or an e-commerce site, digital presence is key to maintain in your drive towards success. Digital Performance will take priority in 2018 for the following reason...
I think DevOps is now a rambunctious teenager - it's starting to get a mind of its own, wanting to get its own things but it still needs some adult supervision," explained Thomas Hooker, VP of marketing at CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
What's the role of an IT self-service portal when you get to continuous delivery and Infrastructure as Code? This general session showed how to create the continuous delivery culture and eight accelerators for leading the change. Don Demcsak is a DevOps and Cloud Native Modernization Principal for Dell EMC based out of New Jersey. He is a former, long time, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, specializing in building and architecting Application Delivery Pipelines for hybrid legacy, and cloud ...