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Category: QoS

Mythbusting: NFV Data Center Fabric Buffering Requirements

Every now and then I stumble upon an article or a comment explaining how Network Function Virtualization (NFV) introduces new data center fabric buffering requirements. Here’s a recent example:

For Telco/carrier Cloud environments, where NFVs (which are much slower than hardware SGW) get used a lot, latency is higher with a lot of jitter due to the nature of software and the varying link speeds, so DC-level near-zero buffer is not applicable.

It seems to me we’re dealing with another myth. Starting with the basics:

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Packet Bursts in Data Center Fabrics

When I wrote about the (non)impact of switching latency, I was (also) thinking about packet bursts jamming core data center fabric links when I mentioned the elephants in the room… but when I started writing about them, I realized they might be yet another red herring (together with the supposed need for large buffers in data center switches).

Here’s how it looks like from my ignorant perspective when considering a simple leaf-and-spine network like the one in the following diagram. Please feel free to set me straight, I honestly can’t figure out where I went astray.

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Repost: Using MP-TCP to Utilize Unequal Links

In the Does Unequal-Cost Multipathing Make Sense blog post I wrote (paraphrased):

The trick to successful utilization of unequal uplinks is to use them wisely […] It’s how multipath TCP (MP-TCP) could be used for latency-critical applications like Siri.

Minh Ha quickly pointed out (some) limitations of MP-TCP and as is usually the case, his comment was too valuable to be left as a small print at the bottom of a blog post.

Intuitively I don’t necessarily agree with all of his conclusions, but don’t know enough to have a qualified opinion.
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Can We Trust Server DSCP Marking?

A reader of my blog sent me this question:

Do you think we can trust DSCP marking on servers (whether on DC or elsewhere - Windows or Linux )?

As they say “not as far as you can throw them”.

Does that mean that the network should do application recognition and marking on the ingress network node? Absolutely not, although the switch- and router vendors adore the idea of solving all problems on their boxes.

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Fruit Drops and Packet Drops

Urban legends claim that Sir Isaac Newton started thinking about gravity when an apple dropped on his head. Regardless of its origins, his theory successfully predicted planetary motions and helped us get people to the moon… there was just this slight problem with Mercury’s precession.

Likewise, his laws of motion worked wonderfully until someone started crashing very small objects together at very high speeds, or decided to see what happens when you give electrons two slits to go through.

Then there was the tiny problem of light traveling at the same speed in all directions… even on objects moving in different directions.

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Switch Buffer Sizes and Fermi Estimates

In my quest to understand how much buffer space we really need in high-speed switches I encountered an interesting phenomenon: we no longer have the gut feeling of what makes sense, sometimes going as far as assuming that 16 MB (or 32MB) of buffer space per 10GE/25GE data center ToR switch is another $vendor shenanigan focused on cutting cost. Time for another set of Fermi estimates.

Let’s take a recent data center switch using Trident II+ chipset and having 16 MB of buffer space (source: awesome packet buffers page by Jim Warner). Most of switches using this chipset have 48 10GE ports and 4-6 uplinks (40GE or 100GE).

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To Drop or To Delay, That’s the Question on Software Gone Wild

A while ago I decided it's time to figure out whether it's better to drop or to delay TCP packets, and quickly figured out you get 12 opinions (usually with no real arguments supporting them) if you ask 10 people. Fortunately, I know someone who deals with TCP performance for living, and Juho Snellman was kind enough to agree to record another podcast.

Update 2017-03-31: Added More information section
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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.

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