Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Derek Weeks, Mark Ross-Smith, Carmen Gonzalez, Aruna Ravichandran, Jim Hansen

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
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it m...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet and...
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
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.
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
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 o...
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, discussed the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
"LinearHub provides smart video conferencing, which is the Roundee service, and we archive all the video conferences and we also provide the transcript," stated Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of LinearHub, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
"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...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.