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Vendor Price Variation on 40 Gigabit SFP Modules – It’s Nuts

In a recent project, I noted an astonishing difference in price of the optical and copper cabling assemblies associated with 10Gigabit Networking. I conclude that some companies are including a “license fee” in the cost of these components and making the overall cost harder to determine.

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What Makes Network Appliances Fast ?

The performance of appliances is complex topic. There are four broad aspects of the dedicated hardware to provide the higher performance and three reasons why vendors like selling appliances instead of software VMs. I cover them here.

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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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Please Stop Talking About Google & Amazon Infrastructure. It’s Irrelevant

People seems love hearing about big technology companies like Google and Amazon for inspiration and ideas about infrastructure and operations. This is a bad idea. Lets say that you like baking your own bread and you want to improve your technique. Where do you go ? Lets abuse some metaphors in Small, Medium and Factory-sized IT.

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Network Diagrams: Choosing Better and Free Fonts

Making diagrams aesthetically appealing with visual impact is better documentation. Choosing the correct fonts on network diagrams will improve your network diagrams significantly. Here is some work on how to choose a good font and some recommendations on the best free fonts for your machine.

◎ 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 !

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Overlay Networking & VXLAN Means MPLS in the Data Centre is Dead

Overlay networking has been around for a year or so now and the ideas behind it are well established. It was about 3/4 weeks ago while researching VTEP functionality in Dell and Arista switches that I realised I could build manually configured tunnels with VXLAN and get the same results as an EoMPLS x-connect with almost zero effort. More importantly, I don’t have to pay for expensive hardware that has MPLS functions or pay again for software licenses to upgrade with MPLS features.

Cloud Ethernet Forum – Because Ethernet needs to look like Frame Relay

Where do you want Ethernet ? Everywhere apparently.

I’m at a conference about “Cloud Ethernet Forum” and subsidiary operation of the Metro Ethernet Forum that seems to want to invent a new Ethernet. The fundamental premise of the is that customers need/want/demand/must have more Ethernet in the WAN.

Why ? Because Ethernet is better for data centre managers.

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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 […]

Worklife: Delivering the Design, Management Competency & Agile Projects

Quick extract

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SDN White Paper Nuage Networks VSP – Delivers SDN in a Big Way

I wrote a white paper for Nuage Networks that is the first Packet Pushers White Paper. Nuage Networks have announced their version of SDN and I think it’s solid vision of what Software Defined Networking will become over the next couple of years – tunnel fabrics, software network agents in the server with load balancing and routing capabilities and controller/application software that can manage multiple data centres and their WAN networks.

Jump in and take a read.

OpenCompute Servers and the Impact on Networking

i’ve writer about OpenCompute hardware standards a few times. Today has seen a few announcements that make me think networking could be about to change significantly. In this post on Gigaom, Rackspace is planning to build their own servers based on OpenCompute standard: Rackspace is contracting with Wistron and Quanta, two server manufacturers that also […]

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◎ What’s Happening Inside an Ethernet Switch ? ( Or Network Switches for Virtualization People )

I was going to call this article “Ethernet Switches for Virtualisation Engineers” but, really, everyone should have some understanding of the internals of an Ethernet switch. But particularly I want to focus on how multicast and broadcasts are handled in a high speed, low latency environment like a Data Centre Network.

It’s vital to understand that latency is critical to your application performance. It is common for a single transaction to take hundreds of round trips so a small increase in latency on each round trip has a large impact on the perceived performance. The client will send a chunk of data and wait for acknowledgement. Even setting up the TCP connection takes a few round trip – remember that TCP sessions are setup, and each data transfer is confirmed.

A modern network switch will have latency around 10 microseconds. The Cisco Nexus 7000 is about 8 microseconds & Brocade VDX 8770 claims less than 4 microseconds. There are many reasons why a switch can be faster or slower but I’ll look at a specific example

Remember, the latency interval is the time taken to receive a packet, decode the address, lookup the forwarding table, switch the packet (and copy it if needed) and transmit out of an Ethernet interface. That’s really fast processing. How does an Ethernet switch do this ?

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Screencast: Knowledge Management in Technology – Part 3

Network Engineers have to manage a lot of information. Products, technologies, textbooks, study notes and research material as well as new protocols and features. Just simple tasks like keeping product manuals handy for 40 or 50 products is a real problem. How do you keep the information organised, referenced, accessible and useful ? Your employer […]

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Screencast: Knowledge Management in Technology – Part 2

Network Engineers have to manage a lot of information. Products, technologies, textbooks, study notes and research material as well as new protocols and features. Just simple tasks like keeping product manuals handy for 40 or 50 products is a real problem. How do you keep the information organised, referenced, accessible and useful ? Your employer […]

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Screencast: Knowledge Management in Technology – Part 1

Network Engineers have to manage a lot of information. Products, technologies, textbooks, study notes and research material as well as new protocols and features. Just simple tasks like keeping product manuals handy for 40 or 50 products is a real problem. How do you keep the information organised, referenced, accessible and useful ?

This three part screencast is about how I manage all the “inputs” so I don’t feel lost in information after many, many people asked.

Response: High Density WiFi design recommendations: WLAN Ramblings

I think the writer is Timothy Dennehey, but this looks like a “keeper” for the times when you get involved with a high density WiFi design A project that has been consuming a lot of my time these days is how to deploy high density Wi-Fi in indoor and outdoor arenas and other high capacity […]

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Northbound API, Southbound API, East/North – LAN Navigation in an OpenFlow World and an SDN Compass

Have been receiving email with questions on OpenFlow/SDN and looking for a definition blog post that explains how East/West and North/South LAN design can work with Northbound/Southbound APIs

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Rant: Our Vendor Partners Dont Have an SDN Vision

There is an old saying “A man with his eyes fixed on Heaven doesn’t see where he is going”. It’s an almost perfect description of how the major vendors are bringing Software Defined Networking to the market.

The consistent message from all the vendors and especially the Cisco, Juniper and Brocade is that there are “no use cases for SDN”. In the last three months, this has been a constantly repeated statement both publicly and privately. This beggars belief that vendors can’t see immediate needs that deliver long term gains.

I suspect that the root of this problem is the big companies want to solve big problems. And by solving big problems they figure that they can make big revenue. Alright, I get that. It’s understandable that large organisations need a constant revenue stream to feed the insatiable maws of their shareholders. However, the vendors re also missing the most real and immediate problem of networking today. Simply, Networking is too hard.

Vendors haven’t developed tools that keep the complexity of networking under control. Complexity can be reduced to this: “I don’t have big problems, I have lots of small problems.” You can have debates about addressing complexity and how to attack it, but it nearly always boils down to this: start small.

11 Things About Using A Transparent or Layer 2 Firewall ?

You can deploy some modern firewalls in Layer 2 mode such that they are transpart

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