Related Topics: SDN Journal, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

Abstracting vs Ignoring

The primary goal of abstraction is to break something down into its most essential elements

There’s a running meme in networking that has caught a lot of momentum with SDN: abstraction. Just about every vendor these days has bold ambitions to abstract out the complexity. There are APIs, abstraction layers, and architectural shims that all aim to hide complexity from the user. But what does that really mean?

The primary goal of abstraction is to break something down into its most essential elements. You then expose only those parts that require end-user participation (think: configuration knobs, for example). Ideally, a small set of relatively well-understood parameters can then move the mass of hulking machinery underneath. The complexity? It is hidden, cleverly abstracted away from the user.

This leads to an interesting question: which bits need to be exposed to the end user?

The question seems innocuous enough. But the answer depends an awful lot on your context.

Networking has long been a management-through-precision proposition. That is to say that network behavior is determined by correctly setting a bunch of configuration knobs. The problem is at its absolute most horrible when specifying edge policy. So acute is our collective need for control that we have developed entire businesses around merely demonstrating proficiency in the knobs themselves.

The subtle point about abstraction is that by reducing networking to only the most critical characteristics, you are actually taking away some of the power from a user base that has defined their careers by their knowledge of said details. On the other extreme, you have an entire class of companies for whom the network is just not that interesting. At the limit, these companies simply want the network to work. That this currently requires an army of specialists with total command over thousands of widgets is more necessary evil than desired outcome.

So what do we do?

In some ways, we need to fight our own instincts. Our need for absolute control is our own doing. We have taken a largely incremental approach to networking for more than a couple of decades now. We have layered functionality on top of functionality, using configuration to incrementally enable each piece. The thought of things working across the whole of the network is a scary proposition, so we have grown accustomed to piecemeal deployments. And change has become so difficult that you don’t dare do anything unless you absolutely have to.

But despite all of this, where are we headed now?

We want to code our way out of the problem. We want to add another complex system on top of an already complex—and crumbling—system. Consider that SDN is largely an organic reaction to the failure of vendors to make networks that are manageable. Building another management layer on top of the existing failed infrastructure might hide the complexity, but it doesn’t remove the source of the underlying infrastructure rot. Without cutting away that rot, we are really just punting the problem into the future.

None of this is meant to suggest that APIs and programmability are not important. For a certain class of user, they are extremely powerful. But not every user has or event wants the kind of sophistication that goes with this type of approach. And fewer still have a solid enough foundation from which to build.

How do I know? We celebrate programmability while swapping stories of companies relying on screen scraping. How is that latter class of networking professionals going to make the leap?

The answer is actually simple: they won’t.

This creates an interesting market dynamic. The number of companies who are actively pushing the envelope is relatively small. Sure, there are lots of people who are constantly evaluating new technologies, but if you measure actual deployments, the business tilts heavily to the less sexy, less risky networks of yesteryear. For every SDN trial that nets a couple of devices in some deal and generates a snazzy press release, there is a pile of uncontested deals that get closed with the incumbent vendors.

Why? Because things barely work the way they are, and adding more capability on top of existing stuff isn’t actually the need for most people.

There is an enormous opportunity for companies that provide a solution to the underlying infrastructure rot. The billions of dollars spent on networks that users wish they could just ignore are mostly in play. The vendors pursuing those dollars need to make sure they keep their eye on the ball. The shiny object that is abstraction and programmability will undoubtedly be important, but pursuing that at the expense of fixing the underlying network is chasing an opportunity that might very well forever be just on the horizon. Over time, the obvious end game here is that both things needs to happen. Abstraction and underlying correction are both required.

While it might be the CTOs and CIOs at the largest enterprises and carriers that drive overarching requirements, the middle and lower tiers of the market consume an awful lot. Interestingly enough, that business is somehow lost in all the noise. To make a difference here, networking doesn’t need to be more abstract; it just needs to be a whole lot more instinctive.

[Today’s fun fact: 100% of all lottery winners gain weight. Seriously, how does anyone know this is a fact?]

The post Abstracting vs Ignoring 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
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,...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Kevin Jackson joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized cloud computing expert and Founder/Author of the award winning "Cloud Musings" blog. Mr. Jackson has also been recognized as a "Top 100 Cybersecurity Influencer and Brand" by Onalytica (2015), a Huffington Post "Top 100 Cloud Computing Experts on Twitter" (2013) and a "Top 50 C...
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.
Daniel Jones is CTO of EngineerBetter, helping enterprises deliver value faster. Previously he was an IT consultant, indie video games developer, head of web development in the finance sector, and an award-winning martial artist. Continuous Delivery makes it possible to exploit findings of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to increase the productivity and happiness of our teams.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory? In her Day 2 Keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Aruna Ravichandran, VP, DevOps Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies, was jo...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, 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.
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Evan Kirstel is an internationally recognized thought leader and social media influencer in IoT (#1 in 2017), Cloud, Data Security (2016), Health Tech (#9 in 2017), Digital Health (#6 in 2016), B2B Marketing (#5 in 2015), AI, Smart Home, Digital (2017), IIoT (#1 in 2017) and Telecom/Wireless/5G. His connections are a "Who's Who" in these technologies, He is in the top 10 most mentioned/re-tweeted by CMOs and CIOs (2016) and have been recently named 5th most influential B2B marketeer in the US. H...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.