SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Janakiram MSV, Carmen Gonzalez

Blog Feed Post

“INTEGRATED” – YOU KEEP USING THAT WORD, I DO NOT THINK IT MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS

http://www.plexxi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PrincessBride-Integrate... 330w, http://www.plexxi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PrincessBride-Integrate... 414w, http://www.plexxi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PrincessBride-Integrate... 620w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Vendors, especially networking vendors, keep using the term “integrated” to imply that they work with other parts of the IT infrastructure ecosystem, generally the cloud management platform (i.e. VMware, OpenStack, Nutanix Prism). However, every vendor seems to have a different idea of what “integrated” actually means and the implications on the overall data center. So, let’s take a look at what we at Plexxi  consider a proper integration to be and why the nuances matter.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Before diving into the varying degrees of ”integrated-ness” a data center network platform can sport, let’s think about this from the customer perspective.

Customers trying to build a private (on-premise) cloud infrastructure generally want to get to the same level of experience for management and usability for their users that they would get if they used a Public Cloud service such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform. These Public Cloud platforms focus on the interface that allows the users to create, deploy, manage, and troubleshoot the resources necessary to deliver applications, versus the individual management and operational tasks associated with the individual resource domain. This means, a user can create/ modify/delete/expand their virtual machines or other “software-defined” compute constructs that have the storage and networking capabilities needed to allow the user to create an application. This contrasts to how a typical Enterprise IT infrastructure approach might create a server/compute, storage, and networking operational environment that is managed distinctly from each other with little relation to the overall application requirements.

Public Cloud providers have been able to provide this level of user experience mainly by creating a highly-integrated infrastructure environment where the “software-defined” aspects of compute, storage, and network infrastructure all talk to each other via APIs, exchanging data about their own systems state, health, and capabilities. In order for customers to successfully build these types of environments on-premises, they need to ensure that their building blocks for compute, storage, and networking have this level of ability to integrate. Sounds easy enough to duplicate, right? Not really. A lot of the larger Public Cloud companies build their own custom software to create this level of integration across the three SDI stacks, an option that is not feasible for all companies.

For the rest of the world, the network plays a special role since it is responsible for gluing together the compute and the storage resources in a way that matters to the applications. This puts the network at the center of a good Private Cloud strategy, and an especially important role in the area of integration. With this in mind, let’s look at what the network can provide and how it can help drive a better overall Private Cloud experience.

WHAT COMPRISES THE DEFINITION OF “INTEGRATED”?

Networking vendors make a variety of claims with respect to their level of ”integrated-ness” in the IT infrastructure ecosystem.  But integration has a number of facets that comprise a true integrated system. There are at least 3 levels of integration that should be understood – Bootstrap, Lifecycle, and Converged Management:

http://www.plexxi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Integrated-768x406.png 768w, http://www.plexxi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Integrated-1024x541.png 1024w, http://www.plexxi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Integrated-330x174.png 330w, http://www.plexxi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Integrated-736x389.png 736w, http://www.plexxi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Integrated-414x219.png 414w, http://www.plexxi.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Integrated.png 1027w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

  • Bootstrap
    Bootstrap integration allows the “day 0” problem to not be a complete “chicken and the egg” situation. Since a modern network relies on software for the control plane, and software relies on compute/storageinfrastructure to run, and compute/storage (at least the SD-type) infrastructure relies on a network to build itself into a working cluster, we have a complete circle of dependencies. There are various improvements to installations and bootstrapping that can be made by various integrated compute/storage offerings, and those improvements are drastically better when the network is also bootstrapped simultaneously. This means that whatever software is needed to operate the network is installed with initial working parameters coincident with the compute/storage installation.There are very few examples of integrated bootstrapping in the industry outside of pre-engineered converged systems. However, this is changing. As customers expect more ease-of-use, they are forcing vendors to provide easier installation for their components and to work together with other vendors to provide single installation and bootstrapping mechanisms that resolve the common chicken and the egg issues.
  • Lifecycle
    “Lifecycle” refers to the various phases a particular resource might go through. For example, a virtual machine needs to be created, modified or moved, and eventually destroyed. For storage a given data store might need to have similar type events and may also need to be “rebuilt” or “re-silvered” if the underlying drive system is changed. Increasingly, higher-speed “NVMe” based memory systems are being used as the underlying storage mechanism which can have explicit end-to-end lossless requirements for packet transport. The network needs to understand ALL of these events and situations to provide a fully integrated environment.For many events, the network simply needs to provide the right connectivity to a new entity creation or change the connectivity based on a move. A common example of this is how a new VM can automatically get its port and VLAN configuration when it is created or have it updated when it is moved. But there are other events that also require the network to respond in more complex ways. For example, a data store that is built from an SDI-based distributed cluster might need to ensure that the infra-cluster meta-data traffic is fully isolated and secured for the cluster to operate well. Or, imagine the user needs to evacuate an entire rack of VMs to upgrade the physical hardware. Here the network will be required to provide the addition of temporary bandwidth to ensure that the evacuation can finish as quickly as possible.Ultimately, we have lifecycle needs for compute and storage entities, and for each of those we have 2 broad types of integration needs – auto-configuration of network for connectivity purposes, and dynamic network response to events that need network resources such as bandwidth, low latency, or dedicated network paths.Most networking vendors, if they do any lifecycle integration, focus only on compute event, and typically only provide VLAN auto-configuration for new VMs or dynamic updates as VMs move. As discussed above, this is only a small set of the overall lifecycle that should be considered.
  • Converged Management
    Ultimately customers building Private Clouds should have as few management consoles required as possible, also known as Single-Pane of Glass Management. Many of the leading cloud management platforms provide the ability to create specific third-party plug-ins to allow the other systems to be managed from that platform. A fully integrated network should provide as much management integration into that platform as possible. This should not stop at the “read-only” viewing of network information, but extend into full operational control of the system.Since ultimately the cloud administrator or operator is responsible for the entire infrastructure, the focus on converged management should be their chosen management platform. This puts the onus on the network solution to “export” its visibility and configuration capabilities easily into third-party platforms.Many network vendors that claim integration provide only network CLI-based visibility. This “integration” takes VM level information (such as name and MAC address) and correlates it with network information (MAC address location such as physical port). This type of integration then allows the network administrator to view where a given VM is located, typically by typing a CLI command into the network console. While this type of integration provides some contextual value for a network administrator, it does not do anything for a cloud administrator trying to manage a complete infrastructure.

SO, IS IT REALLY “INTEGRATED”?

To achieve a true on-premise cloud, integration needs to evolve. It needs to be fully bi-directional information exchange, and it needs to cover all three layers of integrated networking requirements:

  • Bootstrap:
    • Integrated Day 0 Installation and Process
  • Lifecycle:
    • Compute Events → Network Auto-Configuration
    • Compute Events → Network Dynamic Response
    • Storage Events → Network Auto-Configuration
    • Storage Events → Network Dynamic Response
  • Converged Management:
    • Integrated Visibility (in Cloud Management Platform)
    • Integrated Configuration (in Cloud Management Platform)

Most vendors really only focus on network auto-configuration for compute events. Ultimately, as the vendors realize that enterprises need better than that, they will start to work together to provide a more complete solution across the various compute, storage, and networking software-defined stacks.

When evaluating vendors for your own enterprise data center, be sure to look for network vendors that are leading that discussion with their compute and storage partners. Ask the tough questions and dig deep into their definition of “integrated”. You may discover it does not necessarily mean what they think it means, or what you need.

The post “INTEGRATED” – YOU KEEP USING THAT WORD, I DO NOT THINK IT MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Mat Mathews

Visionary solutions are built by visionary leaders. Plexxi co-founder and Vice President of Product Management Mat Mathews has spent 20 years in the networking industry observing, experimenting and ultimately honing his technology vision. The resulting product — a combination of traditional networking, software-defined networking and photonic switching — represents the best of Mat's career experiences. Prior to Plexxi, Mat held VP of Product Management roles at Arbor Networks and Crossbeam Systems. Mat began his career as a software engineer for Wellfleet Communications, building high speed Frame Relay Switches for the carrier market. Mat holds a Bachelors of Science in Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Latest Stories
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a technology designed to make DevOps easier and allow developers to focus on application development. The PaaS takes care of provisioning, scaling, HA, and other cloud management aspects. Apache Stratos is a PaaS codebase developed in Apache and designed to create a highly productive developer environment while also supporting powerful deployment options. Integration with the Docker platform, CoreOS Linux distribution, and Kubernetes container management system ...
Because Linkerd is a transparent proxy that runs alongside your application, there are no code changes required. It even comes with Prometheus to store the metrics for you and pre-built Grafana dashboards to show exactly what is important for your services - success rate, latency, and throughput. In this session, we'll explain what Linkerd provides for you, demo the installation of Linkerd on Kubernetes and debug a real world problem. We will also dig into what functionality you can build on ...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It's clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Th...
After years of investments and acquisitions, CloudBlue was created with the goal of building the world's only hyperscale digital platform with an increasingly infinite ecosystem and proven go-to-market services. The result? An unmatched platform that helps customers streamline cloud operations, save time and money, and revolutionize their businesses overnight. Today, the platform operates in more than 45 countries and powers more than 200 of the world's largest cloud marketplaces, managing mo...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio a...
Containerized software is riding a wave of growth, according to latest RightScale survey. At Sematext we see this growth trend via our Docker monitoring adoption and via Sematext Docker Agent popularity on Docker Hub, where it crossed 1M+ pulls line. This rapid rise of containers now makes Docker the top DevOps tool among those included in RightScale survey. Overall Docker adoption surged to 35 percent, while Kubernetes adoption doubled, going from 7% in 2016 to 14% percent.
Technology has changed tremendously in the last 20 years. From onion architectures to APIs to microservices to cloud and containers, the technology artifacts shipped by teams has changed. And that's not all - roles have changed too. Functional silos have been replaced by cross-functional teams, the skill sets people need to have has been redefined and the tools and approaches for how software is developed and delivered has transformed. When we move from highly defined rigid roles and systems to ...
Even if your IT and support staff are well versed in agility and cloud technologies, it can be an uphill battle to establish a DevOps style culture - one where continuous improvement of both products and service delivery is expected and respected and all departments work together throughout a client or service engagement. As a service-oriented provider of cloud and data center technology, Green House Data sought to create more of a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, from our helpd...
Docker and Kubernetes are key elements of modern cloud native deployment automations. After building your microservices, common practice is to create docker images and create YAML files to automate the deployment with Docker and Kubernetes. Writing these YAMLs, Dockerfile descriptors are really painful and error prone.Ballerina is a new cloud-native programing language which understands the architecture around it - the compiler is environment aware of microservices directly deployable into infra...
The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential. DevOpsSUMMIT at CloudEXPO expands the DevOps community, enable a wide sharing of knowledge, and educate delegates and technology providers alike.
Public clouds dominate IT conversations but the next phase of cloud evolutions are "multi" hybrid cloud environments. The winners in the cloud services industry will be those organizations that understand how to leverage these technologies as complete service solutions for specific customer verticals. In turn, both business and IT actors throughout the enterprise will need to increase their engagement with multi-cloud deployments today while planning a technology strategy that will constitute a ...
The platform combines the strengths of Singtel's extensive, intelligent network capabilities with Microsoft's cloud expertise to create a unique solution that sets new standards for IoT applications," said Mr Diomedes Kastanis, Head of IoT at Singtel. "Our solution provides speed, transparency and flexibility, paving the way for a more pervasive use of IoT to accelerate enterprises' digitalisation efforts. AI-powered intelligent connectivity over Microsoft Azure will be the fastest connected pat...
While more companies are now leveraging the cloud to increase their level of data protection and management, there are still many wondering “why?” The answer: the cloud actually brings substantial advancements to the data protection and management table that simply aren’t possible without it. The easiest advantage to envision? Unlimited scalability. If a data protection tool is properly designed, the capacity should automatically expand to meet any customer’s needs. The second advantage: the ...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
As you know, enterprise IT conversation over the past year have often centered upon the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. In fact, Kubernetes has emerged as the key technology -- and even primary platform -- of cloud migrations for a wide variety of organizations. Kubernetes is critical to forward-looking enterprises that continue to push their IT infrastructures toward maximum functionality, scalability, and flexibility. As they do so, IT professionals are also embr...