My Networking Beliefs

Someone wrote me and asked “Greg, What do you believe is the future of Networking”. Here is my (mostly) humorous response.


VRRP. CARP. Open Standards and royalties on LC Connectors

In which I look at CARP vs VRRP, the nature of open standards and closed source fibre optic connectors that you pay royalties on, but you probably don’t know about.

Merchant Silicon and Vendor Software – The Hype in 2012

The thing about merchant silicon is how far it has penetrated the network vendors. In fact, it’s getting difficult switches that don’t have the same Network Processor inside as any other vendor. Networking hardware is looking like servers hardware – glue some chips and then market the heck out of your pretty colours.

Can Fibre Optic Ethernet Cables Be Longer Than The Standard ?

Short Answer is “It depends, but usually yes.” Long answer follows with a discussion of launch power, receiver sensitivity, and cable losses.

Dear Network Santa, For Christmas can I have ……

I’m sitting on Santa’s knee, and telling him how good I’ve and been and what I would like for Christmas.

When you say it like that, it’s kind of creepy.

ipspace openflow webinar 20111118

Webinar on SDN & OpenFlow – Sponsored by Big Switch – Open Attendance

I’m pleased to announce that Big Switch have agreed to sponsor SDN & OpenFlow Webinar on February 7th, 2012 and that the event will be free and open to anyone to attend.

Are you a Network Architect or Designer ? Are you responsible for strategy, long term vision, or simply keeping track of upcoming technologies ? If so, you will need to know more about OpenFlow and Software Defined Networking and how it impacts the future of Networking in software and hardware.

And now, thanks to sponsorship from BigSwitch Networks, anyone can attend.

Ipspace openflow webinar 20111204

EtherealMind’s Fashion Tips for Network Engineering Men

Just because you don’t speak to “customers” or “the public” it’s still necessary to look like you are a professional and take pride in your work.

Poster: The Eight Levels of Vendor Acceptance

The answer that you get from your vendor is never a __YES__ , or, not directly. This handy guide is the eight levels of vendor acceptance where answers

Switch Fabrics: Fabric Arbitration and Buffers

In the article, “What Is the Definition of a Switch Fabric ?” on Switch Fabrics I looked at how a Crossbar switching fabric allow for concurrent circuit forwarding and how this is used to build a fabric. In most cases, frames would be received and forwarded from an input to an output, as show in […]

Poster – Cisco VPN Client Licensing

I’m more than annoyed about paying for IPsec VPN client licensing. Uncle John screws up the company and now we have to pay for it. This calls for a poster.

Network Evolution and Hierarchy of Needs

I’ve often pondered the stages of Network Deployment and Integration within companies – how they progress from the one stage of network complexity to the next. And if you work at enough different organisations you realise that they all companies operate in similar ways, and have similar adoption of Networking. From an IT infrastructure perspective, most organisations use the same basic service models.

In a sense, networking provides the human equivalent of the nervous system which allows the myriad corporate organs to communicate, signal and co-operate. This, of course, leads to consideration of the psychological perception of Networking.

In a recent blog, Alvaro Retana from HP (co-author of a number of outstanding textbooks including Cisco Press with Russ White and some others that are not vendor specific and Cisco CCAr/CCDE etc) wrote a blog post that is similar to something in my “to finish” list where he takes the Maslows Hierarchy of Needs and adapts it to how Networks are part of the corporate Hierarchy of Needs.

Juniper QFabric – My Speculations

Ivan has blogged about how he thinks Juniper QFabric works Speculation: This is How I Would Build a QFabric, while I agree in terms of the software elements ( at least, they look like good guesses to me), I would like to discuss more about the hardware:

There are three components in a QFabric kit list :

  • Interconnect
  • Edge Switch
  • Manager

Juniper Junosphere – Missed Opportunity for Enterprise Market

Juniper announced their Junosphere emulator recently and have been smugly telling everyone how wonderful it is. Except it isn’t. Here is my take FWIW.

OpenFlow – Why it can cross the adoption gap

OpenFlow is project coming out of Stanford University that offers a new way of using software to manage networks. The term “Software Defined Networking” sums it up. The question is whether OpenFlow will become mainstream. While Ivan at IOSHINTS isn’t so sure, I’m a bit more bullish. Here’s why.

The Drivers

There are a number of key aspects of OpenFlow that may help to cross the adoption gap.

University Deployment

The first is University networks are a perfect fit for this technology. Matt Davy from Indiana University has 4000 wireless access points and over 3000 switches in a single network – and managing the configurations on this network is a signifcant challenge. They see OpenFlow as a way to apply configuration more consistently to devices _anywhere_ in the network.

And the educational kudos that a University can get from adding it to the CompSci PhD and master students means that more Universities are likely to jump on board.

Note that OpenFlow can work alongside existing networks, it’s not a complete

In my experience, technologies that Universities adopt and deploy tend to move into the Enterprise. Enterprise networks are reluctant to adopt new technologies, but something that has been proven in Universities can offer a level of comfort, provided that the gains from the technology are significantly valuable to their business.

Mobile Carriers

As protocol, TCP/IP isn’t very good at being billed. There isn’t any accounting data or extensions that assist telephone companies to charge by the packet. OpenFlow offers a framework that has opportunities for control, management and chargeback of data.

Pushing Network OS Architecture with Arista EOS

I’m delivering a webinar with Arista Network on their EOS architecture where we take a long, detailed and nerdy look at their software architecture with some of their top developers.

HP A10500 FlexiCampus – Action Pics

I wanted take a quick look at the guts of the A10500 switch because its got some interesting features. And since no one else in the press even looked at the box, I feel it’s necessary to do some nerd action photos with the line cards.

HP Interop Annoucements – The Flexi Strategy

HP Networking had some announcements today at InterOp. It was a big media event with cameras, live broadcasts, and some interesting industry figures are in the room. Here’s my take on the strategy, I’ll post some more on the actual product announcements in a separate post.

Cisco IOU: What can Cisco do for Testing, Validation & the IPv6 challenge ?

Wendell Odom has asked the question “If Cisco Would Give Us Anything for Learning/Testing..”. Here is my response.

Cisco Learning Network Announces Lab Access based on IOS on Linux

Cisco Learning Network will announce their Cisco Learning Labs today, which offers a full remote lab of networking equipment targeted students in authorised Cisco training.

Cisco SecureX – Nothing but Empty Words ?

Apparently SecureX is “Context Aware Enforcement”. It’s also Cisco’s current security strategy ( is that three or four in the last three years ? ). So it’s something we should probably be aware of. Right ?

I’m coming up with nothing.

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