A while ago Chris Young sent me a few questions about network management in the brave new SDN world. I never focused on network management, but I know a few people who do, including Terry Slattery and Matt Oswalt. Interop brought us all together, and we sat down one evening after the presentations to chat about the challenges of monitoring and managing SDN networks.
We started with easy things like comparing monitoring results from virtual and physical switches (and why they’ll never match and do we even care), and quickly diverted into all sorts of potential oscillations caused by overly-dynamic load balancing caused by flow label-based ECMP and flowlets.
Next on our hit list: lack of instrumentation in typical merchant silicon solutions, and will whitebox switching change that… not to mention the problem that scares every traditional networking engineer: the switch configuration in products like Cumulus Linux is spread across a dozen of files.
Speaking of whitebox switching: how many people will deploy whitebox switches without having a clue what they’re getting into? Chris Young shared interesting opinions on this topic.
We also had some crazy ideas, like people with actual operational experience writing open-source network management tools. Will we ever get there? Who knows, we just might.
Finally, no discussion would be complete without machine learning and big data.