Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

SDN Journal: Blog Post

Complexity Kills Networks

Over 20 years of networking have created an astounding amount of capabilities

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]

The post Complexity Kills Networks 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.

Latest Stories
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, S...
The speed of software changes in growing and large scale rapid-paced DevOps environments presents a challenge for continuous testing. Many organizations struggle to get this right. Practices that work for small scale continuous testing may not be sufficient as the requirements grow. In his session at DevOps Summit, Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect of DevOps continuous test solutions at Spirent Communications, explained the best practices of continuous testing at high scale, which is rele...
Container technology is sending shock waves through the world of cloud computing. Heralded as the 'next big thing,' containers provide software owners a consistent way to package their software and dependencies while infrastructure operators benefit from a standard way to deploy and run them. Containers present new challenges for tracking usage due to their dynamic nature. They can also be deployed to bare metal, virtual machines and various cloud platforms. How do software owners track the usag...
"Alert Logic is a managed security service provider that basically deploys technologies, but we support those technologies with the people and process behind it," stated Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
"ProfitBricks was founded in 2010 and we are the painless cloud - and we are also the Infrastructure as a Service 2.0 company," noted Achim Weiss, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of ProfitBricks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Puppet Labs has announced the next major update to its flagship product: Puppet Enterprise 2015.2. This release includes new features providing DevOps teams with clarity, simplicity and additional management capabilities, including an all-new user interface, an interactive graph for visualizing infrastructure code, a new unified agent and broader infrastructure support.
"We specialize in testing. DevOps is all about continuous delivery and accelerating the delivery pipeline and there is no continuous delivery without testing," noted Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect at Spirent Communications, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
In a recent research, analyst firm IDC found that the average cost of a critical application failure is $500,000 to $1 million per hour and the average total cost of unplanned application downtime is $1.25 billion to $2.5 billion per year for Fortune 1000 companies. In addition to the findings on the cost of the downtime, the research also highlighted best practices for development, testing, application support, infrastructure, and operations teams.
In their session at 17th Cloud Expo, Hal Schwartz, CEO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), and Chuck Paolillo, CTO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), provide a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. In his role as CEO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), Hal Schwartz provides leadership and direction for the company.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobi...
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit f...
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
"We have been in business for 21 years and have been building many enterprise solutions, all IT plumbing - server, storage, interconnects," stated Alex Gorbachev, President of Intelligent Systems Services, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Chuck Piluso presented a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. Prior to Secure Infrastructure and Services, Mr. Piluso founded North American Telecommunication Corporation, a facilities-based Competitive Local Exchange Carrier licensed by the Public Service Commission in 10 states, serving as the company's chairman and president from 1997 to 2000. Between 1990 and 1997, Mr. Piluso served as chairman & founder of International Te...
With SaaS use rampant across organizations, how can IT departments track company data and maintain security? More and more departments are commissioning their own solutions and bypassing IT. A cloud environment is amorphous and powerful, allowing you to set up solutions for all of your user needs: document sharing and collaboration, mobile access, e-mail, even industry-specific applications. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Shawn Mills, President and a founder of Green House Data, discussed h...