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Rethinking the Network

Marten Terpstra

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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)

The Philosophy of Network-as-a-Service By @MartenT1999 [#Cloud]

In the world of Anything-as-a-Service (I will leave the acronym to your imagination), Network-as-a-Service is not a new term. In fact, it even has its own wikipedia page which will tell you it has been used for many years now, well before the current set of service related terms in IT have become popular. Like most high tech industries, we get somewhat carried away when we have some new terminology and quickly overuse and overload them, watering them down to be meaningless or at least highly confusing. But when you cut through the clutter a bit, the as-a-Service terminology most... (more)

The Next Network Transformation: We Have Only Just Begun By @MartenT1999

Whenever we get to the end of a year we have this tendency to reflect on what has happened in the past year and how we can improve in the coming year. It’s natural to use the change of calendar year as a point in time to think back, even though practically speaking it is usually the most chaotic time of the year between shopping, family and year and quarter end at work. Almost every industry will go through waves of change and transformation. Real change and transformation is driven by powerful market forces of demand coupled with technology leaps that allow an escape from increme... (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)

Stateless Transport Tunneling (STT) Meets the Network

Last week I walked through the packet formats for VXLAN and NVGRE specifically focused on ways by which the overlay packets provide information to the physical network that help the physical network. Some of the initial extreme thoughts that the overlay and physical network can and should be completely ignorant of each other have softened more recently and more pragmatic thoughts of collaborating layers are being articulated. At Plexxi we have often mentioned that we believe the physical network and the overlay need to be closely orchestrated to get the most benefit out of the to... (more)