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Blog Posts in May 2020

Worth Reading: The Burning Bag of Dung

Loved the article from Philip Laplante about environmental antipatterns. I’ve seen plenty of founderitis and shoeless children in my life, but it was worshipping the golden calf that made me LOL:

In any environment where there is poor vision or leadership, it is often convenient to lay one’s hopes on a technology or a methodology about which little is known, thereby providing a hope for some miracle. Since no one really understands the technology, methodology, or practice, it is difficult to dismiss. This is an environmental antipattern because it is based on a collective suspension of disbelief and greed, which couldn’t be sustained by one or a few individuals embracing the ridiculous.

That paragraph totally describes the belief in the magical powers of long-distance vMotion, SDN (I published a whole book debunking its magical powers), building networks like Google does it, intent-based whatever, machine learning

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Updated: What is Cumulus Linux All About

Pete Lumbis started his Cumulus Linux 4.0 update with an overview of differences between Cumulus Linux on hardware switches and Cumulus VX, and continued with an in-depth list of ASIC families supported by Cumulus Linux.

You can watch his presentation, as well as the more in-depth overview of Cumulus Linux concepts by Dinesh Dutt, in the recently-updated What Is Cumulus Linux All About video.

You need Free Subscription to watch the video.
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Why Would You Need VXLAN Transport?

It’s amazing how sometimes people fond of sharing their opinions and buzzwords on various social media can’t answer simple questions. Today’s blog post is based on a true story… a “senior network architect” fully engaged in a recent hype cycle couldn’t answer a simple question:

Why exactly would you need VXLAN and EVPN?

We could spend a day (or a week) discussing the nuances of that simple question, but all I have at the moment is a single web page, so here we go…

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Webinars in June 2020

Here’s the final push before we hit the summer break at the end of June (and recover a bit from the relentless production of new content we had throughout the first half of 2020):

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BGP AS Numbers on MLAG Members

I got this question about the use of AS numbers on data center leaf switches participating in an MLAG cluster:

In the Leaf-and-Spine Fabric Architectures you made the recommendation to have the same AS number on all members of an MLAG cluster and run iBGP between them. In the Autonomous Systems and AS Numbers article you discuss the option of having different AS number per leaf. Which one should I use… and do I still need the EBGP peering between the leaf pair?

As always, there’s a bit of a gap between theory and practice ;), but let’s start with a leaf-and-spine fabric diagram illustrating both concepts:

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Feedback: Data Center for Networking Engineers

When I started designing Data Center Infrastructure for Networking Engineers webinar I wanted to create something that would allow someone fluent in networking but not in adjacent fields like servers or storage to grasp the fundamentals of data center technologies, from server virtualization and containers to data center fabrics and storage protocols.

Here’s what a network architect said about the webinar:

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Musings on IP Packet Reordering

During the Comparing Transparent Bridging and IP Routing part of How Networks Really Work webinar I said something along the lines of:

While packets should never be reordered in transit in transparent bridging, there’s no such guarantee in IP networks, and IP applications should tolerate out-of-order packets.

One of my regular readers who designs and builds networks supporting VoIP applications disagreed with that citing numerous real-life examples.

Of course he was right, but let’s get the facts straight first:

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Intent-Based Networking: Another Victim of Sturgeon's Law

A few days ago Greg Ferro published an interesting post claiming DHCP is an example of intent-based networking (a bit less tongue-in-cheek than my “so is OSPF configuration” rant from 2017). BTW, so is RADIUS or TACACS+ ;)

He got quickly “corrected” by Phil Gervasi who loosely relied on Gartner’s definition of Intent-Based Networking, and claimed that an intent-based networking system should have three major components:

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Smart NICs with Silvano Gai on Software Gone Wild

A while ago we discussed a software-focused view of Network Interface Cards (NICs) with Luke Gorrie, and a hardware-focused view of them with Or Gerlitz (Mellanox), Andy Gospodarek (Broadcom) and Jiri Pirko (Mellanox).

Why would anyone want to implement features in hardware and not in software, and what would be the best hardware implementation? We discussed these dilemmas with Silvano Gai in Episode 110 of Software Gone Wild podcast.

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Feedback from Another SD-WAN Fan

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I rarely get emails along the lines of “I deployed SD-WAN and it was the best thing we did in the last decade” (trust me, I would publish those if they’d come from a semi-trusted source).

What I usually get are sad experiences from people being exposed to vendor brainwashing or deployments that failed to meet expectations (but according to Systems Engineering Director working for an aggressive SD-WAN vendor that’s just because they didn’t do their research, and thus did everything wrong).

Here’s another story coming from Adrian Giacometti.

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Do We Need Bare Metal Servers in Public and Private Clouds?

Whenever I was comparing VMware NSX and Cisco ACI a few years ago (in late 2010s in case you’re reading this in a far-away future), someone would inevitably ask “and how would you connect a bare metal server to a VMware NSX environment?

While NSX-T has that capability since release 2.5 (more about that in a later blog post), let’s start with the big question: why would you need to?

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Feedback: How Networks Really Work

In early April 2020 I ran another live session in my How Networks Really Work webinar. It was supposed to be an easy one, explaining the concepts of packet forwarding and routing protocols… but of course I decided to cover most solutions we’ve encountered in the last 50 years, ranging from Virtual Circuits and Source Route Bridging to Segment Routing (which, when you think about it, is just slightly better SRB over IPv6), so I never got to routing protocols.

That webinar was supposed to be an introductory one, but of course I got pulled down all sorts of rabbit trails, and even as I was explaining interesting stuff I realized a beginner would have a really hard time following along… but then I silently gave up. Obviously I’m not meant to create introduction-to-something material.

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What If... There Would Be an Easy Way to Run Your Network

Imagine a life where you would be able to…

  • Find all interfaces that have VRRP configured but no useful VRRP neighbor;
  • Find all OSPF adjacencies that should be up but are not;
  • Get an alert every time the default IP route is lost;
  • Find all MTU mismatches in your network;
  • List all VXLAN-to-VLAN mappings across your data center, and find if two different VLANs map into the same VXLAN VNI;
  • Compare IP routes in your data center to those you had yesterday;
  • Verify that IP routing tables on all spine switches contain the same prefixes;
  • Do the same comparison before and after a software upgrade;
  • Identify changes in IP routing tables or ARP tables that happened between yesterday evening and this morning;

… and be able to do all that in a multi-vendor environment without writing tons of Ansible playbooks or Python code.

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Interesting: Hugo with Docsy and AWS Amplify

Mat Jovanovic decided to follow my lead and migrate his blog from Blogger to Hugo, using Docsy theme, AWS Amplify as the CI/CD pipeline, and AWS S3 as the hosting platform.

Nice job… but he did way more than that - he documented the whole process, including tool selection, setup, and Blogger migration.

Thank you Mat! Every time I see someone publishing blog posts about open-source tools on Medium I’ll send them a link to your blog (with a comment “this is how you should blog about open-source solutions").

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Video: Internet Has More than One Administrator

It’s amazing how many people assume that The Internet is a thing, whereas in reality it’s a mishmash of interconnected independent operators running mostly on goodwill, misplaced trust in other people’s competence, and (sometimes) pure dumb luck.

I described a few consequences of this sad reality in the Internet Has More than One Administrator video (part of How Networks Really Work webinar), and Nick Buraglio and Elisa Jasinska provided even more details in their Surviving the Internet Default-Free Zone webinar.

You need Free Subscription to watch the video, and the Standard Subscription to watch the Surviving in the Internet Default-Free Zone webinar.
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Example: Deploy a Web Server in AWS

The third hands-on exercise in our Networking in Public Cloud Deployments online course asks the students to deploy a web server in a public cloud of their choice using infrastructure-as-code principles.

Not surprisingly, Erik Auerswald created another fantastic writeup when solving that exercise, including exploring the problem space, detailed description of his Terraform-based solution, and testing procedures. Enjoy!

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AWS Networking 101

There was an obvious invisible elephant in the virtual Cloud Field Day 7 (CFD7v) event I attended in late April 2020. Most everyone was talking about AWS, how their stuff runs on AWS, how it integrates with AWS, or how it will help others leapfrog AWS (yeah, sure…).

Although you REALLY SHOULD watch my AWS Networking webinar (or something equivalent) to understand what problems vendors like VMWare or Pensando are facing or solving, I’m pretty sure a lot of people think they can get away with CliffsNotes version of it, so here they are ;)

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Explore: BGP in Data Center Fabrics

Got mentioned in this tweet a while ago:

Watching @ApstraInc youtube stream regarding BGP in the DC with @doyleassoc and @jtantsura.Maybe BGP is getting bigger and bigger traction from big enterprise data centers but I still see an IGP being used frequently. I am eager to have @ioshints opinion on that hot subject.

Maybe I’ve missed some breaking news, but assuming I haven’t my opinion on that subject hasn’t changed.

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