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The Limits of Cloud: Gratuitous ARP and Failover
Understanding the limitations of cloud will better enable a successful migration strategy

Cloud is great at many things. At other things, not so much. Understanding the limitations of cloud will better enable a successful migration strategy.

One of the truisms of technology is that takes a few years of adoption before folks really start figuring out what it excels at – and conversely what it doesn't. That's generally because early adoption is focused on lab-style experimentation that rarely extends beyond basic needs.

It's when adoption reaches critical mass and folks start trying to use the technology to implement more advanced architectures that the "gotchas" start to be discovered.

Cloud is no exception.

whatclouddoesrightandwrong

 

A few of the things we've learned over the past years of adoption is that cloud is always on, it's simple to manage, and it makes applications and infrastructure services easy to scale.

Some of the things we're learning now is that cloud isn't so great at supporting application mobility, monitoring of deployed services and at providing advanced networking capabilities.

The reason that last part is so important is that a variety of enterprise-class capabilities we've come to rely upon are ultimately enabled by some of the advanced networking techniques cloud simply does not support.

Take gratuitous ARP, for example. Most cloud providers do not allow or support this feature which ultimately means an inability to take advantage of higher-level functions traditionally taken for granted in the enterprise – like failover.

GRATUITOUS ARP and ITS IMPLICATIONS

For those unfamiliar with gratuitous ARP let's get you familiar with it quickly. A gratuitous ARP is an unsolicited ARP request made by a network element (host, switch, device, etc… ) to resolve its own IP address. The source and destination IP address are identical to the source IP address assigned to the network element. The destination MAC is a broadcast address. Gratuitous ARP is used for a variety of reasons. For example, if there is an ARP reply to the request, it means there exists an IP conflict. When a system first boots up, it will often send a gratuitous ARP to indicate it is "up" and available. And finally, it is used as the basis for load balancing failover. To ensure availability of load balancing services, two load balancers will share an IP address (often referred to as a floating IP). Upstream devices recognize the "primary" device by means of a simple ARP entry associating the floating IP with the active device. If the active device fails, the secondary immediately notices (due to heartbeat monitoring between the two) and will send out a gratuitous ARP indicating it is now associated with the IP address and won't the rest of the network please send subsequent traffic to it rather than the failed primary. VRRP and HSRP may also use gratuitous ARP to implement router failover.   how-failure-lb-works

Most cloud environments do not allow broadcast traffic of this nature. After all, it's practically guaranteed that you are sharing a network segment with other tenants, and thus broadcasting traffic could certainly disrupt other tenant's traffic. Additionally, as security minded folks will be eager to remind us, it is fairly well-established that the default for accepting gratuitous ARPs on the network should be "don't do it".

The astute observer will realize the reason for this; there is no security, no ability to verify, no authentication, nothing. A network element configured to accept gratuitous ARPs does so at the risk of being tricked into trusting, explicitly, every gratuitous ARP – even those that may be attempting to fool the network into believing it is a device it is not supposed to be.

That, in essence, is ARP poisoning, and it's one of the security risks associated with the use of gratuitous ARP. Granted, someone needs to be physically on the network to pull this off, but in a cloud environment that's not nearly as difficult as it might be on a locked down corporate network. Gratuitous ARP can further be used to execute denial of service, man in the middle and MAC flooding attacks. None of which have particularly pleasant outcomes, especially in a cloud environment where such attacks would be against shared infrastructure, potentially impacting many tenants.

Thus cloud providers are understandably leery about allowing network elements to willy-nilly announce their own IP addresses.

That said, most enterprise-class network elements have implemented protections against these attacks precisely because of the reliance on gratuitous ARP for various infrastructure services. Most of these protections use a technique that will tentatively accept a gratuitous ARP, but not enter it in its ARP cache unless it has a valid IP-to-MAC mapping, as defined by the device configuration. Validation can take the form of matching against DHCP-assigned addresses or existence in a trusted database.

Obviously these techniques would put an undue burden on a cloud provider's network given that any IP address on a network segment might be assigned to a very large set of MAC addresses.

Simply put, gratuitous ARP is not cloud-friendly, and thus it is you will be hard pressed to find a cloud provider that supports it.

What does that mean?

That means, ultimately, that failover mechanisms in the cloud cannot be based on traditional techniques unless a means to replicate gratuitous ARP functionality without its negative implications can be designed.

Which means, unfortunately, that traditional failover architectures – even using enterprise-class load balancers in cloud environments – cannot really be implemented today. What that means for IT preparing to migrate business critical applications and services to cloud environments is a careful review of their requirements and of the cloud environment's capabilities to determine whether availability and uptime goals can – or cannot – be met using a combination of cloud and traditional load balancing services.

Read the original blog entry...

About 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.

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


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In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

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In this "Cloud Trends" Power Panel at the 10th International Cloud Expo, moderated by Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan, Karen Padir, EVP of Products & Engineering at EnterpriseDB, and Aaron Hollobaugh, VP of Marketing & Communications at Hostway Corporation, map the hottest areas of cloud computing right now, and share real-world examples of offerings that are generating value. ... (more)

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[June 11-14, 2012]

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Introducing Big Data Expo
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There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Get a jump on that rapidly evolving trend at Big Data Expo, which we are introducing in June at
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Testimonials
Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
SVP, Global Infrastructure Management, CSS Corp.
 
With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
PETE MALCOLM
CEO, Abiquo
 
We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
MARY BASS
Director of Marketing, UnivaUD
 
Cloud Expo helps focus the debate on the critical issues at hand in effect connecting main street with the next frontier."

GREG O’CONNOR
President & CEO, Appzero


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Senior Technologists including CIOs, CTOs, VPs of technology, IT directors and managers, network and storage managers, network engineers, enterprise architects, communications and networking specialists, directors of infrastructure Business Executives including CEOs, CMOs, CIOs, presidents, VPs, directors, business development; product and purchasing managers.


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@CloudExpo Blogs
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Enterprise IT shops have long struggled with the dual challenges of homogeneity and heterogeneity. Homogeneous environments clearly had appeal: single-vendor shops would gain the benefits of working with one point of contact, and perhaps the various applications and infrastructure components would work together as advertised – or perhaps not.
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As the Internet continues its rapid expansion, is it high time to move the world's data centers to Iceland? A place that can offer 100% renewable energy at a fixed, long-term power cost. At first glance it may seem an unusual proposition and difficult to imagine a Silicon Valley icon like Google moving/consolidating all their data centers to such a remote area. But it's a move that may make the most strategic sense. In many ways, Iceland makes for an ideal location for the data centers of the future. The first compelling argument is Iceland's year-round cooler climate, which easily accommoda...
While SAP is globally renowned as a provider of enterprise management software, the name is hardly ever associated with the spooky world of intelligence. That is one reason why I jumped at the opportunity to talk with SAP executives responsible for the company’s work in that clandestine marketplace. SAP National Security Services, Inc.™ (SAP NS2™) is an independent U.S. subsidiary of the company and offers a full suite of SAP enterprise applications, analytics, database, cyber security, cloud, and mobility software solutions. These offerings, however, are endowed with specialized levels of ...
In “Thinking Like a Data Scientist – Part I”, we examined the challenges for getting the business users to think like data scientists when contemplating where and how to leverage big data to drive business value. We introduced a “Thinking Like a Data Scientist” process that starts with identifying and understanding the organization’s top-level strategic business initiatives, then uses a “Strategic Nouns” technique to create potential business questions that were descriptive, predictive or in nature.
What winning sales organizations do to separate themselves from the competition by creating market advantage through improved user experiences and better information services. The next BriefingsDirect thought-leader interview focuses on what winning sales organizations do to separate themselves from the competition by creating market advantage through improved user experiences and better information services.
Major product cycle changes tend to come around roughly every five years or so. The technology industry is fond of labeling these movements as paradigm shifts, but we’ve all heard too many of those things referenced, so let’s not go there. Looking back over the last decade and the emergence of touch, our appetite for richer controls is never long satisfied. As soon as one finger touch arrived we wanted two-finger touch. Pinch and zoom wasn’t far behind and multi-user touch soon followed.
It is critical to let the usage of cloud collaboration grow over time instead of migration in a swoop. This will give your employees sufficient time to evolve while ensuring your company is on the right path forward. A recent study published by Markets and Markets predicts the collaboration tools market to more than double between now and 2018. In 2014, the market for collaboration software tools was valued at around $10.5 billion. By 2018, this market is expected to reach a size of more than $21 billion. That is a staggering compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15%.
The launch of the Shopify IPO on the NYSE is a leap forward and a testimony tothe high quality of the Canadian technology sector. In its first trading day, Shopify was oversubscribed by 51% As a solution-focused company, for us it’s a day of pride and tribulations to see a fellow technology company launching a successful IPO on one of the world’s greatest trading desks, Shopify, that started with humble beginnings, is one of the latest IPO’s to hit the market that is both tech, and Canadian. As a Canadian company Shopifys IPO success is a testimony to Canada being a breeding ground for world-...
With the advent of micro-services, the application design paradigm has undergone a major shift. The days of developing monolithic applications are over. We are bringing in the principles (read SOA) hereto the preserve of applications or system integration space into the application development world. Since the micro-services are consumed within the application, the need of ESB is not there. There is no message transformation or mediations required. But service discovery and load balancing of service instance still need to be done, new tools have come up (e.g. Netflix Eureka) There is no ...
In order to deliver on the promise of DevOps and hit continuous release targets for even the largest, most complex and integrated applications, companies need solutions that provide the same flexibility for data as for code bases, the same automation and repeatability for data as for configurations. They need Data as a Service. DaaS solutions offer a single, integrated platform that serves up faithful copies of source data as easily as codes or configurations, and have sophisticated features to enable collaboration, project agility, and strong governance.
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Past SYS-CON Events
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2011west.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcexpo
2011east.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2010west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualization
2010west.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2010.
sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcomputingexpo
2010east.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo East
virtualizationconference
2010east.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
2009west.sys-con.com
    GovIT Expo
govitexpo.com
 
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2009.sys-con.com
 

Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
"More and better leads than ever expected! I have 4-6 follow ups personally."
  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
  –Simon Crosby
CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
  –David Linthicum
CTO
Brick Group