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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...

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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DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley was a terrific event for us. The Qubell booth was crowded on all three days. We ran demos every 30 minutes with folks lining up to get a seat and usually standing around. It was great to meet and talk to over 500 people! My keynote was well received and so was Stan's joint presentation with RingCentral on Devops for BigData. I also participated in two Power Panels – ‘Women in Technology’ and ‘Why DevOps Is Even More Important than You Think,’ both featuring brilliant colleagues and moderators and it was a blast to be a part of.

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Got a plan for your move to the cloud? If you do, you’re in the minority. According to a recent study, a mere 31 percent of those planning a move to the cloud actually have a strategy for migrating data and applications. The rest don’t. To avoid the complexity and cost, we recommend heeding the following advice. It’s but a fraction of the endless recommendations we received from cloud experts who offered well-seasoned tips on what to do and not do when you begin planning to move workloads to the cloud.
I unintentionally watched all three hours of this video series in one sitting. The presenter hooked me and before I knew it, it was three hours later. It is a very fast paced tour of the security issues that can arise when using the Android platform. The tour is built around the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) top 10 Mobile Security Risks as a guideline.
The process of getting a successful mobile application deployed can be complex and daunting. Architecting, designing and developing natural user interfaces for touch and gesture on mobile devices is not the same as web and desktop UI design and development. Mobile devices are used in different contexts, and bring different personas to the table. Having web and desktop architecture, development, and UI design experience does not make you a qualified mobile architect, developer, or UI designer.
Depending on whom you listen to, the private cloud is either dead or on the cusp of a major market breakthrough. Some tech pundits argue this technology has already been replaced by more efficient public cloud offerings and businesses just need time to catch up, while others claim there's a bright future for private solutions. Research supports the latter – according to IDC, spending on hosted private cloud services should hit $24 billion by 2016. Why? Because there's real value in this model. Here's a look at five compelling advantages of the private cloud. It's Not On-Premises (Necessarily...
A BriefingsDirect discussion centers on learning new best practices for managing the rapidly changing needs around identity and access management. Any modern business has been dealing with identity and access management (IAM) from day one. But now, with more critical elements of business extending beyond the enterprise, access control complexity has been ramping up due to cloud, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD), and hybrid computing. And such greater complexity forms a major deterrent to secure, governed, and managed control over who and what can access your data and services -- and unde...
The IT infrastructure of modern businesses require a number of seemingly never-ending cycles to track assets. As these assets go through different stages of usefulness or functionality, IT teams must constantly manage the process, which takes them away from other more important tasks and saddles them with mundane contractual obligations, maintenance reviews, cost-analysis and procurement paperwork. What’s the alternative to opening your IT komodo to a myriad of vendor pitches and the scrutiny of the finance department? Obsolescence. No self-respecting IT person would allow their infrastructur...
The US Federal Communications Commission has recently reported that "theft of digital information has become the most commonly reported fraud, surpassing physical theft." Businesses can do a lot to protect themselves. The FCC issued a Tip Sheet for small businesses to promote employee security training, firewalls, securing of WiFis, and more. But for business operating in (or migrating to) cloud environments; data security, cloud computing security issues, and challenges take on new meanings and require new strategies.
Over the last decade, cloud computing has undeniably become a critical component of the modern enterprise. It has evolved past Software-as-a-Service for a select number of enterprise applications to encompassing entire business platforms, spanning various business devices and operating systems, and can virtually enable new ventures to pop up overnight. The state of cloud computing today is now a crowded field of vendors, providing anything and everything as-a-service – from security and management solutions for the cloud, to converged solutions and virtualization offerings, to public, privat...
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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