Rethinking the Network

Marten Terpstra

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Top Stories by Marten Terpstra

It is human nature to try and relate new information and new ways of doing things to something that we know, something we are familiar with. Often when we talk about the way we fit traffic onto a Plexxi mesh network, the reaction is “I know what you mean, you are doing traffic engineering like we (used to) do in MPLS”. The response to that is usually “kinda, but not really”. In the most basic meaning, everything that has to do with the placement of traffic onto links, routing and forwarding choices being programmed, etc., would be part of Traffic Engineering. But like too many words and phrases in our networking dictionary, traffic engineering has taken on a very specific meaning, very much related to the way traffic is mapped onto MPLS and like networks. For us, its a bit different. We build ethernet and IP networks that use packet by packet forwarding rules and w... (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)

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)

Pay Attention to Big Data By @MartenT1999 | @BigDataExpo [#BigData]

Network Engineers, Pay Attention to Big Data You have probably realized we are having a Big Data kind of week here at the Plexxi blog. And for good reason. The amount of development and change in this big bucket of applications we conveniently label “Big Data”, is astonishing. Walking around at Hadoopworld in New York last week, I initially felt somewhat lost as a “networking guy”. But that feeling of “not belonging” is only superficial, the network has a tremendously important role in these applications. The challenge is that many “networking” folks don’t quite understand or r... (more)

Overlay Entropy

There have been many articles describing overlay networks in the past few quarters. It's a relatively straightforward concept, not far removed from some of the older VPN technologies very popular a while ago. The actual transport of packets is probably the simplest, it is the control plane that is much harder to construct and therefore explain. It is therefore also that the control plane in overlay networks has seen the most innovation and change, and is likely to change some more in standard and proprietary ways in the next little while. A perfect example is the use of IP Multic... (more)