Rethinking the Network

Marten Terpstra

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Top Stories by Marten Terpstra

Throughout the development cycle of new features and functions for any network platform (or probably most other products not targeted at the mass market consumer) this one question will always come up: should we protect the user of our product from doing this? And “this” is always something that would allow the user of the product to really mess things up if not done right. As a product management organization you almost have to take a philosophical stand when it comes to these questions. Protect the user Sure enough, the question came up last week as part of the development of one our features. When putting the finishing touches on a feature that allows very direct control over some of the fundamental portions of what creates a Plexxi fabric, our QA team (very appropriately) raised the concern: if the user does this, bad things can happen, should we not allow the us... (more)

The Network as a Complex Distributed System By @MartenT1999 | @CloudExpo

Through http://blog.ipspace.net I landed on this article on acm.org discussing the complexity of distributed systems. Through some good examples, George Neville-Neil makes it clear that creating and scaling distributed systems is very complex and “any one that tells you it is easy is either drunk or lying, and possibly both”. Networks are of course inherently distributed systems. Most everyone that has managed a good sized network before knows that like the example in the article, minor changes in traffic or connectivity can have huge implications on the overall performance of a... (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)

Plexxi’s View: Data Path Performance of Leaf-Spine Datacenter Fabrics

While doing some competitive analysis, I read this paper that was presented at the 21st Symposium on High Performance Interconnects. The paper discusses the data path performance of spine and leaf networks and was written by Insieme Networks’ Mohammad Alizadeh and CTO Tom Edsall. Mohammad has co-authored several research papers on fabrics and networks, all very worthwhile reading. The paper describes findings from a leaf and spine simulation, focused on the impact of buffer space, fabric link capacity and oversubscription to the overall traffic load. The paper describes how the ... (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)