Rethinking the Network

Marten Terpstra

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Top Stories by Marten Terpstra

Many years ago Gartner introduced their technology Hype Cycle, which maps visibility against maturity for new technology. The Hype Cycle in essence states that many new technologies get a large amount of visibility early in their maturity cycle. The visibility and enthusiasm drops significantly when reality sets in: technologies early in their maturity cycle will have low adoption rates. The vast majority of customers of technology are conservative in their choices, especially if this new technology is not (yet) fundamental to this customer’s business. I call it common sense reality, Garter calls it the Trough of Disillusionment, fine. It is that realization that the technology may have lots of promises, but isn’t ready to be consumed. That is where the real work starts, maturing the technology, driving solutions and use cases, creating the economic viability of the... (more)

Network Design in a Virtual World

We get quite caught up in high level architectures at times. It is good to read some posts that focus on design and implementation and the practicality of taking higher level architectures to reality. Two of Ivan’s posts caught my eye this week. In the first, he discusses the difference in how application and network folks look at the deployment of tiered applications and what that means for the security between them. In the second, he asks a question that our entire industry has under delivered on for more than a decade: why can’t we have plug-n-play networking? They may appear ... (more)

Network Services, Abstracted and Consumable

Perhaps not as popular as its brothers and sisters I, P and S, Network-As-A-Service or NaaS has slowly started to appear in industry press, articles and presentations. While sometimes associated with a hypervisor based overlay solution, its definition is not very clear, which is not at all surprising. Our industry does not do too well in defining new terms. I ran across this presentation from Usenix 2012 that details a NaaS solution that adds a software forwarding engine to switches and routers that provide specific services for some well known cloud computing workloads. I have ... (more)

Attention: Overlay Tunnel Construction Ahead

A while ago I wrote a few articles describing the various tunnel protocols used for network virtualization between vSwitches on servers, and between vSwitches and physical network gateways. These are the mechanisms that construct overlay networks on top of a physical network. VMWare uses STT as the tunneling mechanism between vSwitches on servers and VXLAN to communicate with gateways to the non virtualized world. NVGRE is used mostly by Microsoft, and is an extension to GRE tunneling that has been around for a while. Each one of these mechanisms have their pros and cons. They ... (more)

Scripting Is Automation, But Automation Is Not Scripting

Last week Greg Ferro (@etherealmind) wrote this article about his experience with scripting as a method for network automation, with the ultimate conclusion that scripting does not scale. Early in my career I managed a small network that grew to be a IP over X.25 hub of Europe for a few years providing many countries with their first Internet connectivity. Scripts were everywhere, small ones to grab stats and create pretty graphs, others that continuously checked the status of links and would send emails when things went wrong. While it is hard to argue with Greg’s complaints per... (more)