Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Mamoon Yunus, Lisa Calkins

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

SDN Journal: Blog Post

Aggregation Is Good. Aggregation Is Bad.

The vast majority of networking equipment is driven by specialized hardware

For as long as I remember networking has struggled with the balance between aggregated and individual traffic flows. Following the abilities of the technology components we use, we have been forced to aggregate, only to be allowed to de-aggregate or skip aggregation when technology caught up or surpassed the needs of today.

The vast majority of networking equipment is driven by specialized hardware. For datacenter switches, speed and port density are driving the requirements and physics and our technology capabilities create trade-offs that ultimately lead to some form of aggregation. Higher speed and more ports are traded off against memory, table space and functionality. These trade-offs will always exist, no matter what we are trying to build. Networking based in servers will have oodles of memory and table space to do very specific things for many many flows, making it extremely flexible, but those same servers cannot touch the packet processing speeds of the specialized packet processing hardware from Broadcom, Intel or Marvell, or the custom ASICs from Cisco, Juniper, or most anyone else.

funnelSo like it or not, we will want to do more than our hardware is capable of and as a result, we create aggregation points in the network where we lump a bunch of flows together into an aggregate flow and start making decisions on those. Nothing new, even good ole IP forwarding is doing so on an aggregate set of flows, it only makes decisions for all flows destined to a specific IP address.

Network tunnels are the most obvious examples of aggregation, their purpose is to hide information from intermediate networking equipment. In some cases we hide it to keep our table sizes under control, in some cases we hide it because we do not want the intermediate equipment to be able to see what we are transporting (IPSec, SSL, etc). And while sometimes the intermediate systems can see everything that is there, managing the complexity of that visibility simply becomes too expensive. This is why networks that are entirely managed and controlled per flow do not really exist at any reasonable scale, and probably never will.

For the exact same reason we aggregate, we lose the ability to act on specifics. When our tables are not large enough to track each and every flow, we can only make decisions based on what we have decided to keep in common. When talking about tunnels, the tunnel endpoints put new headers onto the original packets and intermediate systems can only act (with minor exceptions) on the information provided in these new headers. The original detail is still there and often visible to the intermediate system, but the intermediate system does not have the capacity to act on the sheer volume of that detail.

And there is the struggle. If I have more information, I can make better decisions. But when I aggregate because I cannot handle that extra information (due to sheer size or management complexity), my decisions by definition become more coarse and as a result, less accurate. But we want it all. We want the power to make decisions based on the most specific information we can, but want to aggregate for operational simplicity or because our hardware dictates. And this is where we get creative and start to turn what used to be black and white into gray.

There is nothing wrong with attempting to act on specifics for aggregate flows, but in so many cases its done as an afterthought and becomes hard to manage, control or specify. Some of the techniques we use are fairly clean, like taking the DSCP values from a packet and replicating it in the outer header of that same packet in a tunnel. Others are far more obscure like calculating some hash function on a packet header and using it as the UDP source port for the VXLAN encapsulated version of that packet. In even others, the original internals may be completely invisible to intermediate systems. STT for instance re-uses the format of TCP packets for its own purpose, but as a side effect of using it as a streaming-like protocol is that the original packet headers may not actually be in an IP packet on the wire. The STT header provides for a 64 bit Context-ID that can be used to take some bits of information from the original packet, but that STT header only appears in the first of what could be many individual packets that are re-assembled in the receiving NIC. Over the Christmas break I spent some time looking at each of the overlay formats and the tools modern day packet processors give you to act on these headers. I will share some of this in this forum next week.

Ultimately, overlay networks are creating a renewed emphasis on the choices between aggregation and individuality. Designed specifically to allow for more complex and scaled networks that hide a lot of the details from the dedicated network hardware, it comes with the price of less granular decisions by that hardware, which can certainly lead to less than optimal use of the available network.

[Today's fun fact: In the Netherlands, there is a 40% higher chance of homeowner insurance claims on the home owner's birthday. Those are some good parties.]

The post Aggregation is Good. Aggregation is Bad. appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Marten Terpstra

Marten Terpstra is a Product Management Director at Plexxi Inc. Marten has extensive knowledge of the architecture, design, deployment and management of enterprise and carrier networks.

@ThingsExpo Stories
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...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. Jack Norris reviews best practices to show how companies develop, deploy, and dynamically update these applications and how this data-first...
Intelligent Automation is now one of the key business imperatives for CIOs and CISOs impacting all areas of business today. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Boeggeman, VP Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, will talk about how business value is created and delivered through intelligent automation to today’s enterprises. The open ecosystem platform approach toward Intelligent Automation that Ayehu delivers to the market is core to enabling the creation of the self-driving enterprise.
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Consumers increasingly expect their electronic "things" to be connected to smart phones, tablets and the Internet. When that thing happens to be a medical device, the risks and benefits of connectivity must be carefully weighed. Once the decision is made that connecting the device is beneficial, medical device manufacturers must design their products to maintain patient safety and prevent compromised personal health information in the face of cybersecurity threats. In his session at @ThingsExpo...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
Because IoT devices are deployed in mission-critical environments more than ever before, it’s increasingly imperative they be truly smart. IoT sensors simply stockpiling data isn’t useful. IoT must be artificially and naturally intelligent in order to provide more value In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Engineering System Architect at Greenwave Systems, will discuss how IoT artificial intelligence (AI) can be carried out via edge analytics and machine learning techn...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, discussed new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of security i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
From 2013, NTT Communications has been providing cPaaS service, SkyWay. Its customer’s expectations for leveraging WebRTC technology are not only typical real-time communication use cases such as Web conference, remote education, but also IoT use cases such as remote camera monitoring, smart-glass, and robotic. Because of this, NTT Communications has numerous IoT business use-cases that its customers are developing on top of PaaS. WebRTC will lead IoT businesses to be more innovative and address...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast t...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
Recently, IoT seems emerging as a solution vehicle for data analytics on real-world scenarios from setting a room temperature setting to predicting a component failure of an aircraft. Compared with developing an application or deploying a cloud service, is an IoT solution unique? If so, how? How does a typical IoT solution architecture consist? And what are the essential components and how are they relevant to each other? How does the security play out? What are the best practices in formulating...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Elastifile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Elastifile Cloud File System (ECFS) is software-defined data infrastructure designed for seamless and efficient management of dynamic workloads across heterogeneous environments. Elastifile provides the architecture needed to optimize your hybrid cloud environment, by facilitating efficient...