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Book Release: Tips on Using Visio To Make Network Diagrams

I’ve unearthed and updated a guide to creating network diagrams in Visio. I wrote the first versions in 2010 using a custom software and finally worked out how to export the data. If you ever wanted to

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VCE chooses Cisco ACI as SDN Strategy Instead of VMware NSX

I doubt that anyone bought a Vblock because it was a market leading networking strategy. I’ve been a supporter of VCE but today I’m doubtful that choosing Cisco ACI is good strategy for their customers. My view is that most customers buy VCE Vblocks as a VMware platform. What VCE offers is a services package of fully supported storage, compute and networking that removes customer risk around VMware deployments while reselling EMC & Cisco hardware.

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Cheap Network Equipment Makes a Better Data Centre

TL:DR A recent project bought a low cost network for the data centre. It cost less one-third of the the market leader & half the cost of a well known merchant silicon vendors. As a result, it is planned to last for two, maybe three years before it will be replaced. From this project I learned that “fast & cheap networking” could make a big impact on new data centre designs and business attitudes. Plus it was much more satisfying as a professional project. I’m now wondering – is networking too expensive ?

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Net Neutrality and Net Reality

Recently, Dave at DavesBlog made some rather startling observations that Verizon is throttling Netflix traffic, backed up by a comment from some low level help desk staffer that this is true. The technical capability of a person who performs front line technical support is usually set at a low level to match what most customers need. Taking a casual comment as “truth” is wildly unreasonable. Here is more on the reality of net neutrality.

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Blessay: Categorising SDN Network Solutions and Architectures for Understanding

I’ve been digging deeper into the SDN architectures over the last few days and there may be a pattern starting to emerge. I’m currently figuring that there are four broad classes of SDN technology that you can fairly neatly classify the current products from vendors. I’m classifying SDN Solutions into three categories of Micro, Centi and Kilo as well as classifying physical devices for SDN systems into three classes of Breve, Medius and Magnus.(Yeah, OK, I’m not good at names.)

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Blessay: Is the Data Centre “One Network” or “Connected Smaller Networks”

Most people refer to the “Data Centre Network” as though it was a single network. In practice, data centres have a number of individual networks. Each network is specifically designed for a specific purpose and function. A typical data centre network design has about five individual networks that connect together to form the “data centre network” which many people fail to recognise. I’ll define these networks and then look at the future of data centre networks with overlays. What seems clear, today, is that networking will provide different networks for different use cases and the customer will decide.

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◎My Cloud Computing Car Story

I was eating the last of my toast as I sat down into the driver seat of my “CloudCar”. Customer visit at 09:30am. As I slipped my smartphone into the cradle, the dashboard screen came to life and opened the NavSat app with an error message that my maps were out of date and would I like to download the latest files. “Why not”, I thought ? I confirmed and the download started. Except that the data plan on the onboard 4G LTE connection had reached it’s data cap. The kids had been watching video on the way to the beach and used it up. So I confirmed the purchase of some extra bandwidth (I chose the middle plan because I always do), went back to the NavSat and restarted the updates.

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◎ Debating Whether Network Engineers Need to Learn Programming

The rise of Software Defined Networking has led to a steady stream of emails from network engineers asking whether they need to learn to programming in the future. After consideration, I currently think that the answer is mostly no but some percentage of networking people will gain and use specific programming skills for good business outcomes. You need to decide where you want to be.

◎ Are We At Peak Networking Pricing ? What Will Commoditisation Deliver ?

Many people are predicting that networking will become a heavily commoditised with cheap white box hardware in the next few years. But I don’t believe commoditisation will happen the way that most people expect. So in this article I’m working through different ideas and concepts on product pricing and perceived value of networking as a whole. I would welcome discussion on this, I’m not completely confident that I’ve got my ideas locked down here. See you in the comments !

A Tunnel Fabric is an Abstraction of the Physical Network - Click for Larger

◎ Blessay: Overlay Networking Simplicity is Abstraction, Coupling and Integration

Lots of talk about simplicity recently and the fact that networking is too complicated and inflexible. There are a number of choices that you deliver simplicity in Overlay Networks. Least Functionality  - One choice is to reduce the network to most minimal and least functionality. But we tried that with L2 ECMP protocols like TRILL […]

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8 Things I Have Learned From 20 Years of Data Networking

As I approach the end of the calendar year & prepare for a holiday break, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned and done this year. Of course, this also leads to what I need to learn next year.I’m making a number of changes to my career next year and as part of my planning process I wrote a list of eight things I think I’ve learned in the last 20 years.

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Blessay: Public Clouds Wont Be Big in 2014, Private Clouds Will – A Contrarian View

It’s becoming clear that 2014 is going to see a significant push and adoption on Private Cloud supported by marketing and technology from incumbent vendors who are starting to lose substantial revenue. Public cloud companies don’t spend with Cisco, IBM, HP or other recognised manufacturers and it’s time for them to defend their turf and stop the revenue bleeding away.

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◎ Tech Notes: Arista AgilePorts – Building 40Gigabit DCI with 10GbE ports

Stumbled over “AgilePorts” feature in Arista products this week: Arista’s AgilePorts technology enables the combination of four 10GbE SFP+ interfaces into a single 40GbE interface leveraging the parallel lane technology present in the 40GBASE-CR4 and 40GBASE-SR4standards. With AgilePorts, each 10GbE interface emulates one of the four parallel lanes, which are then driven by a 40GbE […]

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◎ How Many Standards Are There in Networking ?

Let me ask you a question about IETF and standards. How many do you think there are ? Many thousands or a few thousands ? Maybe a few hundred ? Today there are more than 7000 RFCs. RFC is short “Request for Comments” but less than 96 RFCs are actually fully approved standards.

Musing On the VMware “versus” Cisco Thing

The VMware versus Cisco thing is overstated. It’s easy to conflate issues with all the excitement. The reality is that many customers have Cisco networks and will use VMware. They want Cisco & VMware to be partners. Customer first is corporate policy at both of these companies therefore Cisco & VMware will be partners. VMware has a software defined […]

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◎ So You Dont Like Overlay Networking

If you don’t like Overlay Networking, it’s probably worth remembering that all of the alternatives solutions have failed to gain acceptance. Early alternative standards like Edge Virtual Bridging/VEB/802.1Qbg and VEPA/802.1BR have achieved only minor adoption for specific use cases such as blade server networking and fancy NICs.

Replacing Spanning Tree with TRILL for scalable & reliable L2 ECMP has not seen significant adoption. In part due to cost of software licensing but also because of the long delay in new hardware to support the TRILL protocols. The fact that major vendors have delivered proprietary versions is yet another drag on adoption. The IEEE wasn’t able to get it’s standards finished in a reasonable amount of time ( as usual ) and Shortest Path Bridging is struggling to find mindshare.

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◎ Home Office Furniture – Chair, Lights & Audio Are Vital

It’s becoming more acceptable for people to work from home. I’m finding that it’s even expected that working at home will be more productive than being in an office (what a turnaround that is!).Now that I think about it, my last three employers over the last eighteen months did not offer me a desk at all (I sat at whatever desk was free or a hot desk area).

Which leads to thoughts of what sort of furnishing should a home office have ? Plus Ethan & I have been discussing the topic in the last month or so.

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◎ Musing: Cisco Live Orlando 2013 Epilogue

I find that I’m reflecting on a memorable Cisco Live while grinding on the post-prandial activities like email and deadlines.

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Integrating Overlay Networking and the Physical Network

The next topic of a technology discussion to consider is whether the overlay network needs to be integrated, in some way, with the physical network. To recap, an overlay network uses modern tunnelling protocols to connect software Network Agents in Hypervisors or Operating Systems. Today, these Network Agents are little more than “robot patch panels” (you probably call them vSwitch’s) but in the near future these agents will be complete networking devices performing switching, routing & filtering inside your server.

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◎ Introduction to How Overlay Networking and Tunnel Fabrics Work

In this blog post I’ll make an attempt to summarise Overlay Networking in a couple of paragraphs to act as reference for upcoming blog posts that discuss the nature of Tunnel Fabrics in Physical Network environments. It also has pictures.

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