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Rethinking the Network

Marten Terpstra

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Top Stories by Marten Terpstra

I am sure our work environment is not all that different from many others. There are large whiteboards everywhere and you cannot find a meeting room that does not have circles, lines and squares drawn on them. Some of our favorite bloggers have written blogs about network drawing tools and aids. Probably not restricted to just networking folks, but we certainly love to visualize the things we do. Out of all the customers I have visited, the amount of them where one of us did not end up on a whiteboard can probably be counted on one hand. It is not surprising that we are drawn to diagrams of the networks we have created. We build our network one device at a time, then use network links to connect the next and on we go until our network is complete. Which of course it never is. To track how we have connected all our devices we need diagrams. They tell us what device... (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)

Open Compute, Open Switch API and Open Network Install Environment

Much has been published about the Open Compute Project. Initiated by Facebook, it has become an industry effort focused on standardization of many parts and components in the datacenter. Initially focused on racks, power and server design, it has also added storage and now networking to its fold. Its goal is fairly straightforward: “how can we design the most efficient compute infrastructure possible”, a direct quote from its web site. The focus of OCP has been mostly around hardware designs and specifications. If you look at the networking arm of OCP, you find several Top of Rack... (more)

Resiliency in Controller-Based Network Architectures

Last week Ivan Pepelnjak wrote an article about the failure domains of controller based network architectures. At the core of SDN solutions is the concept of a controller, which in most cases lives outside the network devices themselves. A controller as a central entity controlling the network (hence its name) provides very significant values and capabilities to the network. We have talked about these in this blog many times. Centralized Control When introducing a centralized entity into any inherently distributed system, the architecture of such a system needs to carefully consi... (more)

Different Shades of Invisible

We love analogies. No matter what the topic, analogies are a great way to explain something in a different context to make a specific point with a frame of reference that may be more familiar to those we are making a point to. There is one that seems to come back over and over again in our industry, the one that compares the network to the power grid, network connections to power plugs.  I had not heard it for a while but at Interop last week, I heard it used twice in booth demonstrations as part of plug and play pitches. And I really do not like that analogy. The comparison to ... (more)