Welcome!

Security Authors: Liz McMillan, Vincent Brasseur, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Gilad Parann-Nissany

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java, Linux, Virtualization, Cloud Expo, Security

SDN Journal: Blog Post

Network Services, Abstracted and Consumable

The network has traditionally been very static and simplistic in its offerings

Perhaps not as popular as its brothers and sisters I, P and S, Network-As-A-Service or NaaS has slowly started to appear in industry press, articles and presentations. While sometimes associated with a hypervisor based overlay solution, its definition is not very clear, which is not at all surprising. Our industry does not do too well in defining new terms. I ran across this presentation from Usenix 2012 that details a NaaS solution that adds a software forwarding engine to switches and routers that provide specific services for some well known cloud computing workloads.

I have some serious reservations about the specific implementation of the network services provided in this presentation, but the overall thoughts of specific network services delivered to applications and workloads resonates well with me. Unless this is your first visit to our blog, your reaction is probably “duh, this is what Affinity Networking is all about”. Of course it is.

The network has traditionally been very static and simplistic in its offerings. The vast majority of networks runs with an extremely small set of network services. Find me a network that uses more than some basic QoS based on queueing strategies, IP Multicast (and many understandingly avoid it as much as they can), and perhaps some VRFs and we will probably agree that that is an exception rather than a rule. And I deliberately exclude the actual underlying technologies to accomplish this, those don’t change the service, just enable it.

And it is not that networks are not capable of providing other services. Most hardware used is extremely capable of doing so much more, and in many cases even the configuration of that hardware is available. Extremely elaborate protocols exist to manage additional services, with new ones being developed constantly. And you can find paper after paper that show that specific network services can greatly improve the overall solution performance. Many of these examples are based on big data type solutions, but I am pretty sure that that translate into just about every solution that has a significant dependence on the network.

So why then do we not have a much richer set of network services available to the consumer of the networks?

There are probably multiple answers, but one that keeps bubbling to the top each time we look at this is one of abstraction. In simple terms, we have not made network services easy to create, easy to maintain, easy to debug, and most importantly, we have not made network services easy to consume. We talk about devops and the fact that the creation, debugging and maintenance of complex network services inside the core of a network is not at all trivial. Per the examples above, getting end to end QoS (consistent queuing really) in place seems like a simple task but is not. And that is technology that has been around for well over a decade. Configuring each and every switch to ensure it has the same queueing configuration and behaviors, adjust drop rates and queue lengths based on where a switch fits into the network and define what applications should fit into which queue is complex not because of the topic itself, but because of the amount of touch points, the amount of configuration steps, and the switch by switch, hop by hop mechanisms by which we deploy it. This is where devops will start.

But you also have to look at it from other side. In the first few slides of the above mentioned presentation, the presenter shows that the network engineer and the application engineer have wildly different views of the network. As they should. The application engineer should not need to know any of the ins and outs of the network and its behavior. He or she should be presented with an entity that provides connectivity, and a set of network services it offers. And it should be trivial to attach itself to any of these services without having to understand network terms. An application engineer should not need to know that DSCP bits need to be set to get a certain priority behavior. Or having to request from the network folks that a set of IP or ethernet endpoints require a lossless connectivity and must therefore be placed onto network paths that support PFC and QCN to enable RDMA over Ethernet or even FCoE.

These types of services need to become extremely easy to consume. The architect of a very large private cloud described his ideal model by which applications (and he supports thousands of them) would consume network services. He envisioned an application registration model (through a portal for instance) where application developers could express in extremely simple non network terms what their application needed. Connectivity between components X and Y. The use of specific memory systems that have been predefined to use RDMA over Ethernet (and thus require lossless connectivity). This application consists of N components that need PCI compliance and therefore need to be separated from the rest of the applications. You name it, application behavior in terms that are as far away from the actual implementation of the tools used to enable that service in the network.

There is lots of work to do on both ends of this consumable network service model. For the network engineer it needs to become much easy to enable these network services in a controllable and maintainable manner. Easy to design, easy to deploy, easy to debug and maintain. For the application engineer, it needs to become easy to consume these network services. Simple and scalable registration and request mechanisms without a lot of network terminology. My post office comparison from a few weeks ago was perhaps very simplistic, but you have to admit, using the USPS is pretty simple. You walk up to the counter, there is a menu of shipment options, each with a price and an expected result, you pick what you want, they charge you for it and off your package goes. And you don’t really worry or care too much how, just that it’s being delivered in accordance with the service you paid for….

[Today's fun fact: Stewardesses is the longest common word that is typed with only the left hand. As a result it has been banished in favor of flight attendant.]

The post Network Services, Abstracted and Consumable 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
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...