Welcome!

Java Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Trevor Parsons, Jason Bloomberg

Related Topics: Virtualization

Virtualization: Blog Post

Types of Network Automation

In networking, workflows are awfully complicated

In networking, workflows are awfully complicated.  There are many workflows, and the exact nature of each depends on a number of variables.  What task comes next is often dependent on the outcome of the previous task, and there is a large amount of data to navigate sometimes to complete a workflow.  Nevertheless, there plenty of opportunity to identify and automate common tasks and segments of workflows.  Once we’ve identified these, we need to ask ourselves, how exactly should we automate them?

Encapsulation
“Encapsulation” means a vendor (possibly a third party vendor) has written software that accomplishes the same thing the workflow does, but usually not the in the same linear way a customer would do it.  Sub-components within an encapsulation have well-designed interfaces for the purpose of accomplishing the goal.  The encapsulation would likely be written in Java or C.  In networking, encapsulated workflows are usually specific to a vendor’s product and often lack flexibility and features.  Encapsulated workflows will manifest as products or product features.

Consider the following workflow:

Untitled Drawing

Figure 1 shows a simplified packet walkthrough for a device.  Here, in the course of evaluating what is happening to a packet passing through this device, we have discovered a filter policy applied to the ingress interface.  This policy has two terms, and each of these terms references an access-list.  A network engineer would need to evaluate this filter policy to determine if it is doing something to the packets of interest.  The thing is, policy languages have a great deal of expressiveness and grammar.  They are also proprietary.  After the filter policy is evaluated, this workflow follows the forwarding pipeline to the egress interface.  If you are an expereinced network engineer, you will know that there are other elements in the pipeline that should be checked for any given network device.  However, there is enormous variation in the structure of the pipeline from one platform to the next.  Therefore, this is a great candidate for discrete encapsulation.* There are more effective ways of achieving the goal of a packet walkthrough than the way a network engineer must do it now (particularly for SDN products), and vendors know their platforms and policy idioms best.

*Discrete means it’s a workflow with a beginning and an end.  It can be manually invoked by a user, and runs for a finite amount of time, reaching some conclusion.

Automation
A workflow automation, on the other hand, consists of sub-components that are “glued together.”  These components were not built especially for automation, and the interfaces between these components were not designed for any particular workflow.  Automations can be developed by the customer, and very frequently discrete automations are employed by network engineers.  A great example here would be a script to configure the login banner on some number of devices.  These automations are written in “softer” languages like Python or Perl.

There is a clear need for Continuous Automation in networking.  Plexxi’s own DSE, now an integral part of the OpenStack Congress project, attempts to address this need.  As the name implies, Continuous means it’s an on-going process.  In the case of the Congress, it is a modular, event/data driven system.  In an environment where there are a plethora of protocols and APIs, each with their own idiosyncracies, this kind of automation makes sense.  Particularly in the context of an open-source community.

Hybrid
Curiously, some workflows may best be addressed by a combination of automation types.  For instance, if a customer wanted to know what was going on in the network relative to a particular application, that workflow automation could use the packet walkthrough encapsulation of a vendor combined with an automation tool like the DSE to harvest network meta-data from external systems about application endpoints.  This could yield a network map of the application’s endpoints along with visual indicators of issues in the network that could be impacting to the application.  In this way, the network engineer could quickly and accurately gauge the health of the network in the context of an application versus engaging in a tedious and error-prone search “by hand.”

Conclusion
Customers, vendors, and open source communities should work togethor to make networking better.  Identifying common workflows and determing the best way to automate them is a good first step.  This will require vendors to think differently about how they develop their products, with their user’s needs in mind first.  Traditionally, just getting a network feature to work and interoperate was the goal, but now we must consider how this feature fits into common workflows performed by network engineers.

[Fun fact:  Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family.  In spite of this, Broccoli tastes good.  When someone offers you cabbage, they are insulting you.]

The post Types of Network Automation appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Derick Winkworth

Derick Winkworth has been a developer, network engineer, and IT architect in various verticals throughout his career.He is currently a Product Manager at Plexxi, Inc where he focuses on workflow automation and product UX.

@ThingsExpo Stories
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...
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 ...
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...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.