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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)

Brainrules: a Different Kind of Attachment

I don't read nearly as much as I should. On plane rides I tend to grab a Vince Flynn, James Patterson or David Baldacci, they are usually enough to entertain me on the way there and back. One of the more interesting books I have read in recent years that does not include murderers, spies and explosions, is "Brainrules" by John Medina. A rather good leadership seminar at my previous employer had this on its reading list, and I tore through it. John Medina is a molecular biologist and in his book he describes how our brain works by breaking it down into several areas, each describin... (more)

Multisite Fabrics: Distance Does Not Have to Be a Challenge

Not entirely unexpected, the optical capabilities in our switch have provoked questions from customers and potential customers on whether the Plexxi solution could be used to create campus, metro or even long distance multi site fabrics. The answer to that question is a resounding yes, and with the newly introduced switch 2 platform, some of the connectivity options added to that platform make it extremely flexible to do just that. The whole topic of Data Center Interconnects tends to attract strong supporters and strong opponents at the same time. In a world without constraints... (more)

Fabric Engineering Is More than Traffic Engineering

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 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)