Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Shelly Palmer, Elizabeth White, Richard Hale

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

Service Chaining and Unintended Consequences

Service chaining in a nutshell is basically orchestration of network services

Service chaining is a popular term today to describe a process in the network that's been done in the land of application integration for a long time. Service chaining in a nutshell is basically orchestration of network services. This concept is being put forth as the way future data center networks will be designed and execute in the future.

Its unintended consequence is, of course, that chaining can have a profound impact on performance, particularly when (or if) those chains extend across providers.

Let's consider an existing service chaining example that's challenging for SSL in terms of performance.

The Rest of the "SSL Performance" Story

Now, we're all aware that SSL handshaking introduces latency. It has to because in addition to the already time-consuming process of performing cryptographic functions, it requires additional round trips between the client (browser) and server (or intermediate network proxy acting as the endpoint, such as a load balancer or ADC) to exchange the information needed to encrypt and decrypt subsequent communication.

But that's not all it needs to do. The certificate offered up by the server-side device is increasingly suspect thanks to a variety of incidents in which basically forged certificates were used to impersonate a site and trick the user into believing the site was safe. As the SSL Everywhere movement continues to grow, so has the decision by browsers to properly validate certificates by querying an OCSP (Online Certificate Status Protocol) responder as to the status of the certificate (this is increasingly favored over the use of CRL (Certificate Revocation Lists) to address certain shortcomings of the technology).

What this means is that during the SSL handshake, the client makes a request to an OCSP responder. It's an additional service in the connection chain that adds time to the "load" process. Thus, it needs to be as fast as possible because it's counted in the "load time" for a page, if not technically then from the perspective of the user which, as we all know, is what really counts.

So the browser makes a request to the responder. It does this by choosing a responder from a list of those that support the CA (Certificate Authority, the issuer of the certificate in question). While there are a large number of global CAs, the actual number of global CAs for SSL is fairly small. Thus the responder is almost certainly very large and likely to see billions of requests a day, from around the globe. This "link in the chain" is increasingly important to the overall performance experienced by the end-user. Its impact on mobile users, in particular, is worthy of note given the impact of mobile networks and constrained device capabilities, as noted by Mike Belshe, one of the folks who helped create the SPDY protocol (emphasis mine):

But this process is pretty costly, especially on mobile networks. For my own service, I just did a quick trace over 3G:

  • DNS (1334ms)
  • TCP handshake (240ms)
  • SSL handshake (376ms)
  • Follow certificate chain (1011ms) — server should have bundled this.
  • DNS to CA (300ms)
  • TCP to CA (407ms)
  • OCSP to CA #1 (598ms) — StartSSL CA uses connection close on each!
  • TCP to CA #2 (317ms)
  • OCSP to CA #2 (444ms)
  • Finish SSL handshake (1270ms)

-- Rethinking SSL for Mobile Apps

The emphasized portions of the transaction indicate those related to the certificate verification process being carried out by the browser as a security precaution. Over a non-mobile network, one would expect the performance to improve, but the impact on "regular" browsers should not be underestimated, either. Early last year Adam Langley noted this and proposed to disable OSCP validation in Chrome: .

The median time for a successful OCSP check is ~300ms and the mean is nearly a second. This delays page loading and discourages sites from using HTTPS. They are also a privacy concern because the CA learns the IP address of users and which sites they're visiting.

On this basis, we're currently planning on disabling online revocation checks in a future version of Chrome.

http://www.imperialviolet.org/2012/02/05/crlsets.html

I'll save the security-related arguments for another time, but suffice to say that the impact of service chaining on performance in the case of SSL and certificate validation is significant enough at times to be noticed.

Key Takeaway

Now certainly service chaining in other contexts, say in the data center network, would not experience the same magnitude of delay based purely on the fact that we're talking about LAN speeds rather than what often end up being inter- or cross-continental communications. Still, the very real impact of service chaining, particularly when such chains are comprised of a long string of services, should not be ignored or underestimated. Such chains introduce  additional latency, often in the form of unnecessary, duplicated functions as well as the possibility of failure. Load and utilization monitoring and scaling strategies of individual (dependent) services is a vital to the overall success of any architecture which employs an orchestrated (chained) services strategy.

And while technologies like SDN and cloud offer corrective action in the face of failure, it should be noted that such corrections tend to be reactions to failure. That means at least one user experiences a failure before a correction is made. In some cases that failure will go unnoticed except for a lengthier response time, but the key takeaway there is that it is noticeable.

And when it comes to web application performance, noticeable degradations are not something the business or operations, for that matter, likes to see. Not even for a single user.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
"We are a well-established player in the application life cycle management market and we also have a very strong version control product," stated Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet,, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
We all know the latest numbers: Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. We're rapidly approaching a data production of 40 zettabytes a day – more than we can every physically store, and exabytes and yottabytes are just around the corner. For many that’s a good sign, as data has been proven to equal money – IF it’s ingested, integrated, and analyzed fast enough. Without real-ti...
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
Early adopters of IoT viewed it mainly as a different term for machine-to-machine connectivity or M2M. This is understandable since a prerequisite for any IoT solution is the ability to collect and aggregate device data, which is most often presented in a dashboard. The problem is that viewing data in a dashboard requires a human to interpret the results and take manual action, which doesn’t scale to the needs of IoT.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verizon will acquire Yahoo's operating business for approximately $4.83 billion in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments. Yahoo informs, connects and entertains a global audience of more than 1 billion monthly active users** -- including 600 million monthly active mobile users*** through its search, communications and digital content products. Yahoo also co...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...