Welcome!

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."

Latest Stories
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, 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.
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
"WineSOFT is a software company making proxy server software, which is widely used in the telecommunication industry or the content delivery networks or e-commerce," explained Jonathan Ahn, COO of WineSOFT, 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.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
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 ...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
Sanjeev Sharma Joins June 5-7, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @Cloud Expo 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.
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve f...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
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...