Blog Posts in September 2015

Cumulus Linux Base Technologies

Dinesh Dutt started his part of the Data Center Fabrics Update webinar with “what is Cumulus Linux all about” and “what data center architectures does it support” and then quickly jumped into details about the base technologies used by Cumulus Linux: MLAG and IP routing.

Not surprisingly, the MLAG part generated tons of questions, and Dinesh answered all of them, even when he had to say “We don’t do that.”

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DHCP Details You Didn’t Know

If you’ve been a networking engineer (or a sysadmin) for a few years, you must be pretty familiar with DHCP and might think you know everything there is to know about this venerable protocol. So did I… until I read the article by Chris Marget in which he answers two interesting questions:

  • How does the DHCP server (or relay) send DHCP offer to the client that doesn’t have an IP address (and doesn’t respond to ARP)?
  • How does the DHCP client receive the DHCP responses if it doesn’t have an IP address?
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VSAN: As Always, Latency Is the Real Killer

When I wrote my stretched VSAN post, I thought VSAN uses asynchronous replication across WAN. Duncan Epping quickly pointed out that it uses synchronous replication, and I fixed the blog post.

The “What about latency?” question immediately arose somewhere in my subconscious, but before I could add that thought to the blog post, Anders Henke wrote a lengthy comment that totally captured what I was thinking, so I’m including it in its entirety:

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DLSP – QoS-Aware Routing Protocol on Software Gone Wild

When I asked “Are there any truly QoS-aware routing protocols out there?” in one of my SD-WAN posts, Marcelo Spohn from ADARA Networks quickly pointed out that they have one – Dynamic Link-State Routing Protocol.

He also claimed that DLSP has no scalability concerns – more than enough reasons to schedule an online chat, resulting in Episode 40 of Software Gone Wild. We didn’t go too deep this time, but you should get a nice overview of what DLSP is and how it works.

::: jump-link Enjoy the podcast :::

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Why It's Hard to Deploy SDN-Like Functionality Today

Whenever I talk about the various definitions of SDN (ending with the “SDN provides an abstraction layer”), old-timers sitting quickly realize that the SDN products that you can deploy in real life aren’t that different from what we did in the past – an SDN controller is often just an overhyped glorified network services orchestration system.

OK, so why didn’t we have that same functionality for the last 20 years?

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VXLAN Hardware Gateway Overview

One of my readers stumbled upon blog post from 2011 explaining the potential implementations of VXLAN hardware gateways, and asked me if that information is still relevant.

I knew that I’d included tons of information in the Data Center Fabrics and VXLAN Deep Dive webinars, but couldn’t find anything on the web, so I decided to fix that in 2015.

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Lego Bricks and Network Operating Systems

One of the comments I got on my Lego Bricks & BFT blog post was “well, how small should those modular Lego bricks be?

The only correct answer is “It should be Lego bricks all the way down” or (more formally) “Modularity is a concept that should be applied at every level of the architecture.

Today let’s focus on how much easier the life would be if we could take apart the network operating systems instead of just watching them as glued-together Death Stars.

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Use nProbe and ELK Stack to Build a Netflow Solution on Software Gone Wild

How do you capture all the flows entering or exiting a data center if your core Nexus 7000 switch cannot do it in hardware? You take an x86 server, load nProbe on it, and connect the nProbe to an analysis system built with ELK stack… at least that’s what Clay Curtis did (and documented in a blog post).

Obviously I wanted to know more about his solution and invited him to the Software Gone Wild podcast. In Episode 39 we discussed:

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How Complex Is Your Data Center?

Sometimes it seems like the networking vendors try to (A) create solutions in search of problems, (B) boil the ocean, (C) solve the scalability problems of Google or Amazon instead of focusing on real-life scenarios or (D) all of the above.

Bryan Stiekes from HP decided to do a step in the right direction: let’s ask the customers how complex their data centers really are. He created a data center complexity survey and promised to share the results with me (and you), so please do spend a few minutes of your time filling it in. Thank you!

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Private and Public Clouds, and the Mistakes You Can Make

A few days ago I had a nice chat with Christoph Jaggi about private and public clouds, and the mistakes you can make when building a private cloud – the topics we’ll be discussing in the Designing Infrastructure for Private Clouds workshop @ Data Center Day in Berne in mid-September.

The German version of our talk has been published on Inside-IT; those of you not fluent in German will find the English version below.

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