Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Rishi Bhargava, Liz McMillan, Shelly Palmer

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
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
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...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps 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. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device.
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, explained how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, 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 opportuni...
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
“delaPlex Software provides software outsourcing services. We have a hybrid model where we have onshore developers and project managers that we can place anywhere in the U.S. or in Europe,” explained Manish Sachdeva, CEO at delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
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.