Welcome!

Apache Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Christopher Harrold, Janakiram MSV

Blog Feed Post

Commodity Network Fabrics

What role does the concept of a “network fabric” play in the march towards commoditization of networking?  Well, let’s discuss!

The Whole Shebang

There can be no doubt that an organization’s relationship to networking is to the aggregate thing they call “the network.”  When there are issues, non-network folks say wonderfully vague things like “The network is dropping packets!” or “I can’t login… must be the network.”  This intuition, to think about the network as a whole, rather than as a collection of systems, is right:  Collectively, the network is supposed to produce desirable aggregate behavior.

This is an important clue as to how networking will evolve in the future.  SDN is a step in this direction.  Intelligent software will undoubtedly coordinate the actions of the underlying constituent systems, on behalf of an operator or an application, to achieve some policy goals.  This software need not exist solely in the form of a network controller.  Indeed, here at Plexxi, our switches can coordinate on their own to achieve aggregate behavior.  This is why you can stand up a Plexxi network, and pass traffic, without the need for a centralized controller.

A network fabric should have the goal of managing network workloads according to a higher-level policy.  However, many fabrics do not do this.  They may have some desirable fabric features, but for edge policies operators must still log into individual devices to achieve their goals.  This, of course, is the fundamental problem of networking that SDN hopes to solve:  Let intelligent software perform these menial tasks, and let the organization, or the operator, express network-wide policy to the software.

The Value of the Network

What is the value of the network?  Fundamentally, the network has one feature that matters: paths.  The job the network, first and foremost, is to facilitate the movement of data between it’s edges.  The more paths a network has, the better.  We even see this in leaf-and-bufferspine designs.

Administrative, control, voice, video, bulk, and garbage are just some of the workload types requiring different treatment in the network.  When you have fewer paths in the network, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage workload conflict that arises when multiple types of traffic converge on an egress interface.  Quality-of-Service has always represented a sort of white flag of surrender before conflict even occurs, and let’s be honest, it’s been an absolute nightmare to manage on the ground.  Aggregate flow characteristics change throughout the day (burstiness, packet size distribution, differing workload types), making static policies difficult to implement.  The best you can hope for is a policy that represents the lowest-common denominator compromise.

Even when you have multiple paths in the network, it’s virtually impossible to manage and move differing workload types.  How frustrating it has been that spanning-tree cut the usable bandwidth down drastically in the data center.  Even if we could use it, how to move only some workloads?  Imagine doing this when you have multiple types of workloads just within HTTP!  Transferring files, web traffic, API calls for automation systems… all in the same encapsulation.

QoS is obviously the product of legacy network thinking:  Fewer paths and indiscriminate workload placement, resulting from the erroneous belief that universal reachability for packets is the primary goal of the network.  Build just enough paths to be redundant, put the routes in… and hope for the best.  Are we done being amazed that we can make packets go yet?  Can’t we do better than making a sequel to “The Hangover” because we can ping?  Aren’t we tired of failing to deal with the complexity of networking as a whole?  Then let’s stop using legacy stuff to accomplish our goals.

Network Commodifabricization

The value of the network goes up as more paths are added.  However, the old way of workload placement in the network, as well as the old way of handling workload conflict, just isn’t going to be manageable by hand.  Adding value to the network should be as simple as adding paths, and adding paths should actually be simple both physically and logically.  A commodity network means lots of paths, which are the primary value of the network to begin with.  It also means intelligent software that manages the many types of workloads on the network by distributing them across those paths.  That same software will present an intuitive policy interface to humans who just want “the network” to work.

Where does that leave the current trend of some companies seeking to commoditize on legacy networking?  Well, like cloud, it would seem that many folks are banking on the idea that IT is done evolving.  Including networking!  Obviously, this is not the case.  What we are experiencing right now is the “big crunch” of IT.  If the mainframe represented some primordial IT state that exploded into the constituent pieces of the IT universe, like the big bang of tech, then the data center of the future represents the big crunch of these pieces.  Lots of intermediate layers will disappear, from the guest OS of a VM, to maybe even the IP protocol!  Will linux-based switches and routers with a subset of legacy network features really have a role here?  Perhaps in the short-term, but not for long.

Intuitive network fabrics are the true start down the path of commoditization, making the real value of the network directly and easily manageable.

[Fun fact:  One time, I drove a bulldozer into a pond.  People get really mad when you do that.  Also, it makes the bulldozer inoperable.  Hmmm... if only there had been a "path" around the pond.]

 

The post Commodity Network Fabrics 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."

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, will discuss how given the magnitude of today's applicati...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of hybrid cloud enablement solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere Systems was created by file systems experts determined to reinvent storage by changing the way enterprises thought about and bought storage resources. With decades of experience behind the company’s founders, Avere got its ...
Amazon is pursuing new markets and disrupting industries at an incredible pace. Almost every industry seems to be in its crosshairs. Companies and industries that once thought they were safe are now worried about being “Amazoned.”. The new watch word should be “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” In his session 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Kocher, a co-founder of Grey Heron, will address questions such as: What new areas is Amazon disrupting? How are they doing this? Where are they likely to go? What are th...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SkyScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SkyScale is a world-class provider of cloud-based, ultra-fast multi-GPU hardware platforms for lease to customers desiring the fastest performance available as a service anywhere in the world. SkyScale builds, configures, and manages dedicated systems strategically located in maximum-security...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...