|By Marten Terpstra||
|May 2, 2014 11:15 AM EDT||
In reviewing some opportunities for Plexxi this week, I was reminded that we have made things very hard on ourselves. Through no one’s fault but our own we have created monsters of networks that are impossible to maintain, debug, diagnose and understand.
I have been lucky in my career. Most of it has been in an R&D organization for a large network vendor, but always in positions where I was close to customers, close to customer networks, and of course with that comes the “close to customer networks that are not working well”. And while there are always exceptions, in most of these troublesome networks, the sheer complexity of the network contributed significantly to the problem at hand, even if the end result was a bug.
Finding and fixing issues in networks is often one of these activities where you spent almost half your time understanding the network and its intricacies, a quarter of the time debugging and diagnosing the actual problem, and a last quarter producing, testing and implementing the solution. And so often the problem is hidden in the understanding of the network. An additional link that was not documented. A spanning tree config that was slightly different on one switch. A LAG with slightly different LACP timers. One vendor’s version of MLAG behaving just slightly different than another. And the guy that configured it no longer works here.
Whether it is a support person hunting for a problem, or a sales engineer trying to propose a new design or product, the process always almost starts with pictures. Network diagrams are the most powerful thing we produce. They are also the most misleading piece of information we produce because without fail they are wrong. Or missing something that is really important for that one specific item you are chasing. Network engineers and architects love to draw, our world exists of boxes, circles and lines between them. The challenge is that a 2 dimensional representation of a network is always going to be abstracted and therefore will always miss something. A network diagram that articulates the overall architecture and design of a network is absolutely key and with a clean sheet of paper we always start out with something that is sensible, easy to understand and typically simple. And then weeks, months and even years of incremental needs and requirements start eating away at the clean design.
Over 20 years of networking have created an astounding amount of capabilities. What we have taught our switches and routers to do is really amazing, and our packet forwarding chip vendors have done an equally outstanding job keeping up pushing these capabilities into hardware. And lots of these capabilities slowly make it into your network, chipping away at what was the “perfect” architecture. In the end, we are configuring individual devices with endless amounts of functions. Functions that should be so simple you should not have to configure them by hand.
We all know that ethernet networks need to be loop free. It should be dreadfully simple to instruct your devices to “make it so”. Except that we have at least five ways to ensure it is loop free. And then only for a specific portion of the network. We all know VoIP traffic should get preferred treatment over regular internet or other traffic. But in the end we configure complicated access lists and mappings to DSCP values that then map into queues that then have to be hand crafted into a scheduling mechanism we believe does not mess up the original voice traffic we cared about, or the other important traffic. We know routers needs to exchange subnet information for reachability. But we end up with rather complicated protocols that have endless options, some apply globally, some to interfaces, some need filtering, some need adjusted timers, you name it.
Your equipment vendor will tell you that there will be bugs. A switch or router is no different than a regular application, there are millions of lines of code and bug free code does not exist. We as vendors need to help the network architect, manager and operator. We have to make it much easier to implement the functionality you require. You can help yourself by uncluttering your network as a regular activity. Think back to those pristine network diagrams you created before the network was installed. Instead of adjusting the diagram to represent reality, perhaps it is worth spending some time adjusting the network back to the diagram.
[Today's fun fact: there is an actual website where you can submit network diagrams to be rated by the viewing public. Really. http://www.ratemynetworkdiagram.com]
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jul. 24, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,870
Early adopters of IoT viewed it mainly as a different term for machine-to-machine connectivity or M2M. This is understandable since a prerequisite for any IoT solution is the ability to collect and aggregate device data, which is most often presented in a dashboard. The problem is that viewing data in a dashboard requires a human to interpret the results and take manual action, which doesn’t scale to the needs of IoT.
Jul. 24, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,847
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it’s important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. “Fly two mistakes high” is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee...
Jul. 24, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,309
Continuous testing helps bridge the gap between developing quickly and maintaining high quality products. But to implement continuous testing, CTOs must take a strategic approach to building a testing infrastructure and toolset that empowers their team to move fast. Download our guide to laying the groundwork for a scalable continuous testing strategy.
Jul. 24, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,835
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,785
"We provide DevOps solutions. We also partner with some key players in the DevOps space and we use the technology that we partner with to engineer custom solutions for different organizations," stated Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,570
Much of IT terminology is often misused and misapplied. Modernization and transformation are two such terms. They are often used interchangeably even though they mean different things and have very different connotations. Indeed, it is somewhat safe to assume that in IT any transformative effort is likely to also have a modernizing effect, and thus, we can see these as levels of improvement efforts. However, many businesses are being led to believe if they don’t transform now they risk becoming ...
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,089
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,289
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,007
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addres...
Jul. 24, 2016 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 883
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
Jul. 24, 2016 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,126
Aspose.Total for .NET is the most complete package of all file format APIs for .NET as offered by Aspose. It empowers developers to create, edit, render, print and convert between a wide range of popular document formats within any .NET, C#, ASP.NET and VB.NET applications. Aspose compiles all .NET APIs on a daily basis to ensure that it contains the most up to date versions of each of Aspose .NET APIs. If a new .NET API or a new version of existing APIs is released during the subscription peri...
Jul. 24, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 564
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Jul. 24, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,062
As companies gain momentum, the need to maintain high quality products can outstrip their development team’s bandwidth for QA. Building out a large QA team (whether in-house or outsourced) can slow down development and significantly increases costs. This eBook takes QA profiles from 5 companies who successfully scaled up production without building a large QA team and includes: What to consider when choosing CI/CD tools How culture and communication can make or break implementation
Jul. 24, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,507
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
Jul. 24, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 814