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Blog Posts in August 2018

Traditional Leaf-and-Spine Fabric Versus Cisco ACI

One of my subscribers wondered whether it would make sense to build a traditional leaf-and-spine fabric or go for Cisco ACI. He started his email with:

One option is a "standalone" Spine/Leaf VXLAN-with EVPN deployment based on Nexus equipment. This approach could probably be accompanied by some kind of automation like Ansible to ease operation/maintenance of the network.

This is what I would do these days if the customer feels comfortable investing at least the minimum amount of work into an automation solution. Having simpler technology + well-understood automation solution is (in my biased opinion) better than having a complex black box.

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Interview: Benefits of Network Automation (Part 2)

As promised, here’s the second part of my Benefits of Network Automation interview with Christoph Jaggi published in German on Inside-IT last Friday (part 1 is here).

What are some of the challenges?

The biggest challenge everyone faces when starting the network automation is the snowflake nature of most enterprise networks and the million one-off exceptions we had to make in the past to cope with badly-designed applications or unrealistic user requirements. Remember: you cannot automate what you cannot describe in enough details.

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Updated: Networking Modules in Building Next-Generation Data Centers Online Course

We migrated the self-study materials for the network infrastructure and services module of the Building Next-Generation Data Centers online course into the new format, and split the largest module of the course into manageable chunks: data center fabrics 101, designing leaf-and-spine fabrics, overlay virtual networking, IPv6 and network services.

Feedback on the new format is obviously highly welcome. Thank you!

Security Aspects of SD-WAN Solutions

Christoph Jaggi, the author of Transport and Network Security Primer and Ethernet Encryption webinars published a high-level introductory article in Inside-IT online magazine describing security deficiencies of SD-WAN solutions based on the work he did analyzing them for a large multinational corporation.

As the topic might be interesting to a wider audience, I asked him to translate the article into English. Here it is…

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Reality Check: Self-Driving Networks

I stumbled upon an article with an interesting title (and worth reading): To Make Self-Driving Cars Safe, We Also Need Better Roads and Infrastructure… and thought about the claims along the lines of “if they managed to solve the self-driving cars challenge, it’s realistic to expect self-driving networks” made in Self-Driving Networks podcast episode. Turns out the self-driving cars problem is far far away from being solved.

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Upcoming Webinars and Events: Autumn 2018

The summer break is over, and we’ve already scheduled a half-dozen events and webinars in August and September:

We’ll run an event or webinar in almost every single week in September:

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Worth Reading: The Cargo Cult of Google Tools

Tom Hollingsworth published a great blog post summarizing Cloud Field Day presentation by Ben Sigelman.

TL&DR: You’re not Google, you don’t have their problems, and so you’re probably not a good match for their tools.

While this shouldn’t come as a surprise to regular readers of my blog (here’s what I wrote on the topic in 2016), it’s refreshing to see it spelled out so eloquently (and by an ex-Googler).

GitOps in Networking

This blog post was initially sent to the subscribers of my SDN and Network Automation mailing list. Subscribe here.

Tom Limoncelli published a must-read article in ACM Queue describing GitOps – the idea of using Pull Requests together with CI/CD pipeline to give your users the ability to request changes to infrastructure configuration.

Using GitOps in networking is nothing new – Leslie Carr talked about this concept almost three years ago @ RIPE 71, and I described some of the workflows you could use in Network Automation 101 webinar.

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Updated: First Set of Building Next-Generation Data Centers Self-Study Materials

When I started the Building Next-Generation Data Centers online course, I didn’t have the automated infrastructure to support it, so I had to go with the next best solution: a reasonably-flexible Content Management System, and Mediawiki turned out to be a pretty good option.

In the meantime, we developed a full-blown course support system, included guided self-paced study (available with most ipSpace.net online course), and progress tracking. It was time to migrate the data center material into the same format.

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Another Benefit of Open-Source Networking Software

You probably know my opinion on nerd knobs and the resulting complexity, but sometimes you desperately need something to get the job done.

In traditional vendor-driven networking world, you might be able to persuade your vendor to implement the knob (you think) you need in 3 years by making it a mandatory requirement for a $10M purchase order. In open-source world you implement the knob, write the unit tests, and submit a pull request.

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