Rethinking the Network

Marten Terpstra

Subscribe to Marten Terpstra: eMailAlertsEmail Alerts
Get Marten Terpstra: homepageHomepage mobileMobile rssRSS facebookFacebook twitterTwitter linkedinLinkedIn


Top Stories by Marten Terpstra

About 8 years ago at my previous employer we started a project related to Autonomic Networking. Autonomic Networking is modeled after Autonomic Computing, an IBM initiative from the early 2000s, targeted at creating self managing computing elements. The network version intends to create a framework by which network elements become largely self managed. It does so by defining discovery, awareness and analytics that build some sense of state. Once a network has a sense of its expected state, anything that alters that state can be reacted to following a set of defined or even learned rules. Autonomic Networking can be as simple as reacting to threshold alarms. In many of our network switches today, there are basic reactions to error conditions. Loop detection mechanisms shut off ports when a loop is detected. Specific error conditions may lead to pre-emptive switchov... (more)

Many Waze to Cambridge

I work mostly in Plexxi’s office in Nashua, NH. That is about a 12-minute commute for me, backroads only through two sleepy towns. Very convenient and a great improvement over my previous commute. Every now and again I make the trek out to our Cambridge office and it is painful. About 40 miles and around 45 minutes of mostly highway on a good day; early morning this is easily a 90-minute exercise, and finding myself on the road for two hours is not unusual. I am not very attached to a GPS, but whenever I travel a distance or know I am going to hit traffic, I turn on Waze on my p... (more)

Multisite Fabrics: Distance Does Not Have to Be a Challenge

Not entirely unexpected, the optical capabilities in our switch have provoked questions from customers and potential customers on whether the Plexxi solution could be used to create campus, metro or even long distance multi site fabrics. The answer to that question is a resounding yes, and with the newly introduced switch 2 platform, some of the connectivity options added to that platform make it extremely flexible to do just that. The whole topic of Data Center Interconnects tends to attract strong supporters and strong opponents at the same time. In a world without constraints... (more)

OpenFlow Evolution: Standardized Packet Processing Abstraction Is Hard

With the Open Network Summit 2014 about to start in Santa Clara next week, I realized I had not done much OpenFlow reading recently. It is no secret that Plexxi does not use OpenFlow as the API between our switches and controller due to restrictions in what OpenFlow can do (or in some cases could do when we needed to make architecture and design choices). When I saw the ONS announcement I thought it an opportune moment to sync myself to the latest and greatest in OpenFlow world. What started out as a mechanism to program flows into network switches and routers in a standard way ... (more)

Complexity Kills Networks

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 the... (more)