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Agility, SDN and Service Frameworks
It's that time in the SDN hype cycle where people are beginning to lay out a more solid vision of what it means to them

It's that time in the SDN hype cycle where people are beginning to lay out a more solid vision of what it means to them. Themes are beginning to emerge on the foundations laid by ONF that include the necessary separation of control and data (forwarding) planes, but some are still missing critical components - the ones that enable agility of the business, not just the network.

Juniper's Bob Muglia recently published a post called "Decoding SDN" that expounds upon Juniper's vision of SDN. It's a well written lengthy piece that's definitely worth a read if you not only want to understand Juniper's strategy but if you want to gain a bit more insight into how SDN is being approached.

One thing that jumped out at me was Bob's "Four Planes of Networking". Generally speaking it was an excellent distillation of the SDN concept. But something was missing, in my opinion. It did not adequately encapsulate the notion of how or where SDN enables one of its most important purported benefits: agility.

Let's review the basic definition of agility, shall we?

a·gil·i·ty

1.the power of moving quickly and easily; nimbleness: exercises demanding agility.

A fairly nebulous definition and Bob's description of the four planes of networking certainly can be construed to fulfill the requirements of agility. After all, merely separating control from data (forwarding) plane combined with a standardized management plane enables a fair amount of agility in the network, certainly more than what existed before the concept of SDN began disrupting the entire networking community.

But agility isn't just about being able to rapidly change forwarding tables, it's about being able to respond to operational and business conditions. It's about being able to implement new functionality, if necessary, that enables innovative business ideas to be realized in the network, which almost always must deliver that business idea to customers, employees, or partners.

What I found missing from Bob's discussion was programmability of the network, that is, not just the ability to programmatically modify configuration, but to programmatically modify the behavior (and thus the delivery mechanisms) of the network.

Bob's diagram and explanation (shortened for brevity):

The Four Planes of Networking

Inside every networking and security device – every switch, router, and firewall - you can separate the software into four layers or planes.  As we move to SDN, these planes need to be clearly understood and cleanly separated.  This is absolutely essential in order to build the next generation, highly scalable network.

networkplanes.jpg
Forwarding.
The bottom plane, Forwarding, does the heavy lifting of sending the network packets on their way.


Control. If the Forwarding plane is the brawn of the network, Control is the brains.  The Control plane understands the network topology and makes the decisions on where the flow of network traffic should go.


Services. Sometimes network traffic requires more processing and for this, the Services plane does the job.  Not all networking devices have a Services plane – you won’t find this plane in a simple switch.  But for many routers and all firewalls, the Services plane does the deep thinking, performing the complex operations on networking data that cannot be accomplished by the Forwarding hardware.  Services are the place where firewalls stop the bad guys and parental controls are enforced.


Management. Like all computers, network devices need to be configured, or managed.  The Management plane provides the basic instructions of how the network device should interact with the rest of the network.

 

http://forums.juniper.net/t5/The-New-Network/Decoding-SDN/ba-p/174651

I hope Bob does not take it amiss if I modify and expand upon his network plane diagram.

First, I think management should not be portrayed as part of the network planes. It's not part of the network - not really - nor should it be. The separation of management from network plane as a matter of technical architecture and implementation is well-established as a best practice to ensure continued access to devices that have failed or are overwhelmed. I don't think Bob's intention was to imply the management plane was coupled to the network plane in such a manner, but diagrams using an east or west-bound management placement tend to disseminate the actual separation a bit better, so I've moved it off to the side and broadened it to ensure it covers not only control but services as well.

Which is the next layer I think needs some expansion.

A SERVICE FRAMEWORK

One of the core premises of SDN is the ability to programmatically extend the functionality of the "network" through plug-ins, add-ons, or applications - whatever you want to call them, they're the same thing - I'm going to refer to them as services as I think Bob took the right approach with the service nomenclature. But rather than use the all encompassing "services" I think we should view that layer as a service framework, upon which new services can be deployed - whether through plug-ins or a direct programmatic interface or through a less coupled API. However it occurs, a set of base network services are available in the framework that can be extended. That's where additional value is added, where new network functionality is deployed, and what makes it possible to use the same network "equipment" to deploy a variety of functions. The same "equipment" should be distilled down to a common set of networking services but be able to support firewall services on one, application acceleration on another, and load balancing on yet another.

This concept draws from the idea of a platform in the development world. Developers do not write their own network stacks, or even application-transport (HTTP) stacks. They develop functionality atop a common framework that enables them to modify behavior such that a highly secure, banking application can be deployed on the same common platform as a completely open picture sharing application. The platform is deployed, managed, configured and operated in the same way but the applications, ah, the applications have very different profiles.

The same concept must be applied to the network and to SDN-enabled solutions. It's not enough to provide separation of control and forwarding to enable agility. To enable true agility requires the inclusion of a services platform capable of extending functionality without introducing additional operational overhead into the core "stack".

There's a lot more in Bob's discussion, including an interesting view of "SDN Chaining" which I will not get into here because this is long enough that your coffee is likely cold by now. Suffice it to say it's an interesting read and I find valuable nuggets in his discussion and think such posts are necessary to start really figuring out where this SDN thing is going to go.

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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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..."
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@CloudExpo Blogs
The term DevOps is not well defined, and you'd be hard pressed to get the same definition of "DevOps" from everyone you ask in your enterprise. Developers in your organization may equate DevOps with a specific approach to software builds and the use of popular tools such as Chef, Puppet, Jenkins, Git, and Docker. IT management might see DevOps as a continuation of existing processes with an emphasis on faster time to market and lightweight release procedures. Without a common definition of the term you'll have teams arguing over what is DevOps and what is not DevOps. If your software relea...
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Application experience aficionados take note: you have choices now. No longer are you constrained to just HTTP/1 with a side option of WebSockets or SPDY. HTTP/2 is also an option, one that like its SPDY predecessor brings with it several enticing benefits but is not without obstacles.

In fact, it is those obstacles that may hold back adoption according to IDG research, "Making the Journey to HTTP/2".  In the re...

This is my first blog post at AppDynamics, and I have to say that it’s great to be aboard. It’s been a hectic first couple of weeks, but the energy, enthusiasm and friendliness of everyone I have met has made me very excited about 2015! AppDynamics has a market leading APM and analytics platform but it also takes great people to make a great company – and AppDynamics has a wealth of talent! So to start my blogging life at AppDynamics I want to focus on something that is a red-hot buzzword in IT at the moment – DevOps! For the last couple of years, every conference I attended and nearly every ...
It’s become easy to monitor applications that are deployed on hundreds of servers – thanks to the advances in application performance management tools. But the more data you collect the harder it is to visualize the health state in a way that a single dashboard tells you both the overall status as well as the problematic component. Eugene Turetsky (Dynatrace) and Stephan Levesque (SSQ Financial Group) shared their solution for monitoring large IT infrastructures that contain several hundred components that support SSQ’s most-critical applications running on a variety of technology stacks incl...
A large US insurance carrier, based in the Midwest, has improved its applications’ lifecycle to make enterprise mobility a must-have business strength. This five-part series of penetrating discussions on the latest in enterprise mobility explores advancements in applications design and deployment technologies across the full spectrum of edge devices and operating environments. Our next innovation interview focuses on how a large US insurance carrier, based in the Midwest, has improved its applications’ lifecycle to make enterprise mobility a must-have business strength.
Immutable infrastructure, which I think is more appropriately called disposable infrastructure, has been enjoying a reinvigorated life with the success of Dockers and containerization over the past year. Too, DevOps has played a role in resurrecting the notion of disposable infrastructure with its association with automation and the use of templates to automate everything from the acquisition to configuration to provisioning of, well, just about everything in the application data path.
Creating global change that is actually good for the entire world is a mammoth task. With a population of almost 7 Billion people as of 2015, the planet is taking a toll with surviving the brunt of keeping the works going. What role can Cloud Computing play in making it easier for all of us?
Without question, the rise in cyberleaks, nation-state cyber terrorism and the beach of consumer data across multiple industry domains has led to a heightened awareness of the enterprise and personal responsibilities associated with cybersecurity. The consumerization of IT and the adoption of cloud, mobile and social media by enterprise organizations is opening a new threat landscape and new threat vectors. Everyone is affected and everyone is talking about it, from senior executives to teenagers.
The cloud has transformed how we think about software quality. Instead of preventing failures, we must focus on automatic recovery from failure. In other words, resilience trumps traditional quality measures. Continuous delivery models further squeeze traditional notions of quality. Remember the venerable project management Iron Triangle? Among time, scope, and cost, you can only fix two or quality will suffer. Only in today's DevOps world, continuous testing, integration, and deployment upend the time metric, the DevOps cadence reinvents project scope, and cost metrics expand past software ...
One important differentiator between what passed for digital back in the dot-com days and today’s notion of digital is the role mobile plays. Yes, this company had a mobile site, and they had what the AVP claimed was a “mobile first” plan for their web content, but as yet they had yet to roll out any responsive design. In the final analysis, their digital effort up to this point boiled down to little more than better brochureware, a la 1990s web redesigns. But more significantly, what was entirely missing from their digital achievements (although the AVP did indicate that it was a roadmap i...
Network visibility and access to real-time data surrounding your infrastructure is pretty important, don’t you think? With Boundary, users can identify problems quickly, and ensure their applications and supporting infrastructure are running smoothly and at peak efficiency. We are happy to announce that our integration with Boundary, providers of IT monitoring for DevOps teams, is now available. Getting the Boundary integration up and running is as easy as copying and pasting an API key, which can be found in your VictorOps admin interface. Just click on the Integrations tab and choose ‘Bou...
CIOs are increasingly concerned about cloud security. And they should be: with the recent outbreak of visible breaches at high-profile organizations like Target, Anthem, and others, and the subsequent damage they cause, corporations are scrambling to make sure their cloud applications, whether on private, public, or hybrid clouds, are safe. But cloud security is complex. With ephemeral applications and services springing up around multiple data centers, with dozens or hundreds of independent microservices each with their own access mechanisms, with the widespread adoption of virtualization an...
Then I’ve received an LinkedIn email from this woman stating that she had a business proposition for me, and if I was interested, she was ready to explain. She also provided her email that ended in outlook.com. I checked her LinkedIn profile again. Looked legit. She even had a Twitter account with recent tweets in two languages. I responded that I was ready to hear about this business proposition. Next day I’ve received a long email from her explaining how she had a private client named Lewis Fain who initially deposited €19M in their bank and she helped him to grow the wealth to €22M, but...
Do you like the idea of Agile software development, but you don’t think it’s a fit at your organization? Perhaps your enterprise is too rigidly hierarchical, or maybe your projects are too large and complex for Agile? Think again. Agile is well on its way to becoming the standard approach for developing software, even for immense, complex applications for enterprise use. Just ask the United States federal government. That’s the news from this week’s Agile in Government: Mutual Adaptation conference, put on by The Association for Enterprise Information (AFEI), a government IT-focused nonp...
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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