Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Esmeralda Swartz, Roger Strukhoff, Michelle Drolet, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: SDN Journal

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

F5 Application Layer SDN: Now with Extreme Programmability

As you move up the network stack, you move from directing packets to managing flows

"If you look at the standard SDN model, [Layer 4-7 services] are applications that can basically run on the [SDN] controller platform. But that's not the only way to do them. We'll hear about different approaches. Network services for SDN are going to be a big story in 2013."

-- Brad Casemore, "Networking outlook: Controllers, Layer 4-7 will roil SDN 2013 market" [emphasis mine]

Since SDN became the darling du jour of the networking industry, there's been a lot of head nodding and ancillary mention of L4-7 services eventually becoming part of the overall fabric. What there hasn't been is a lot of discussion on the challenges inherent in bringing those services to bear in what has become the de facto standard model: a centralized controller responsible for directing the flow of packets throughout the network.

That's challenging, because as you move up the network stack there's a natural evolution that occurs. You move from directing packets to managing flows, and managing flows requires a completely different set of features. That's because the closer to layer 7 you get, the more stateful the network necessarily must become. It can no longer act on individual packets; it must aggregate those packets and it must do it often - far more often than is presupposed when working at layer 2 and 3 of the network stack.

John Giacomoni said it well when he explained in a recent post, "Beyond SDN Fabric: Complex problems require L7+ SDN technologies":

“To implement even basic load balancing with OpenFlow the majority of packets, and all ACKs in particular, need to be forwarded to the controller so session flow state can be accurately tracked.”

Consider that in a router, about 1 in every 1 million packets needs to be forwarded to the controller. In a switch, that ratio is on the order of 1 in every 1 billion. For TCP that ratio drops to a mere 1 out of every 10 packets. If you climb a bit higher in the network stack to layer 7, you might as well consider every packet a candidate to be forwarded on to the controller.

The SDN model upon which most solutions today are based work on the assumption that most packets don't need to be examined by the controller. Thus they are able to scale and maintain wire speed while adding agility and programmability to the lower layers of the network.

A different model is required for Application Layer SDN to ensure agility and performance can be maintained while gaining the benefits of application intelligence and programmability. The SDN Network Fabric (layer 2-3) operates on the premise of centralized control and execution. The SDN Application Services Fabric (layer 4-7) must operate on the premise of centralized control and decentralized execution in order to scale without sacrificing the many benefits of stateful network devices enjoyed by current models of network architecture such as security-related functions, fault tolerance and isolation, and performance enhancing services.

Extreme Programmability: Enter LineRate Systems

As SDN matures, its focus will continue to move up the network stack, toward the application layers. The programmable, scalable services at the application layer comprising the Application Services Fabric are necessary to fully realize the benefits of SDN and software-defined data centers, particularly in environments where network function virtualization (NFV) is adopted as a strategy to achieve maximum agility. Network function virtualization requires not only the improved performance of today’s modern x86 hardware platforms, but software capable of scaling on demand while maintaining optimal performance and offering a high-degree of programmability for superior software defined control over the network.

Programmability is required for reducing operational costs through automation and centralized control, but it is also needed to enable customers to develop innovative, application-specific services that work in concert with SDN architectures. Critical to the success of these architectures are security, acceleration, optimization, and routing services at the application layers that are able to meet modern expectations of flexibility, scale, and performance.

LineRate brings a programmable, scalable platform to the Application Layer SDN table. Its platform is not only capable of scaling on demand and meeting performance expectations on commoditized x86 hardware, but it is highly programmable. In fact it is designed specifically to be programmed to execute purpose-built business and operational logic at high speeds. It's a proxy-based architecture, similar to that of F5 BIG-IP, and offers what I can only describe as "extreme programmability" as its core capability. Rather than insert lightweight rules into the data plane as is the operating procedure for SDN L2-3 fabrics, LineRate SDN Services act as independently operating service nodes that maintain the scaling properties expected of SDN solutions and of modern high-availability architectures, i.e. unlike the centralized SDN controller architecture, a decentralized execution model is fault tolerant even when maintaining state, a requirement for the Application Services Fabric.

As networks continue to become commoditized, it is the application layer services in an SDN that will provide organizations with the competitive advantage they need. A programmable data path is required for organizations desiring to roll their own services and it must be scalable and fast; organizations are unwilling (and rightfully so) to sacrifice performance. LineRate Systems offers such a platform and its addition to the F5 portfolio expands F5's continued leadership in application layer networking in both traditional and Application Layer SDN architectures.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Cloud Expo Breaking News
Cloud scalability and performance should be at the heart of every successful Internet venture. The infrastructure needs to be resilient, flexible, and fast – it’s best not to get caught thinking about architecture until the middle of an emergency, when it's too late. In his interactive, no-holds-barred session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will dive into how to design and build-out the right cloud infrastructure.
Cloud backup and recovery services are critical to safeguarding an organization’s data and ensuring business continuity when technical failures and outages occur. With so many choices, how do you find the right provider for your specific needs? In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Daniel Jacobson, Technology Manager at BUMI, will outline the key factors including backup configurations, proactive monitoring, data restoration, disaster recovery drills, security, compliance and data center resources. Aside from the technical considerations, the secret sauce in identifying the best vendor is the level of focus, expertise and specialization of their engineering team and support group, and how they monitor your day-to-day backups, provide recommendations, and guide you through restores when necessary.
More and more enterprises today are doing business by opening up their data and applications through APIs. Though forward-thinking and strategic, exposing APIs also increases the surface area for potential attack by hackers. To benefit from APIs while staying secure, enterprises and security architects need to continue to develop a deep understanding about API security and how it differs from traditional web application security or mobile application security. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will walk you through the various aspects of how an API could be potentially exploited. He will discuss the necessary best practices to secure your data and enterprise applications while continue continuing to support your business’s digital initiatives.
The revolution that happened in the server universe over the past 15 years has resulted in an eco-system that is more open, more democratically innovative and produced better results in technically challenging dimensions like scale. The underpinnings of the revolution were common hardware, standards based APIs (ex. POSIX) and a strict adherence to layering and isolation between applications, daemons and kernel drivers/modules which allowed multiple types of development happen in parallel without hindering others. Put simply, today's server model is built on a consistent x86 platform with few surprises in its core components. A kernel abstracts away the platform, so that applications and daemons are decoupled from the hardware. In contrast, networking equipment is still stuck in the mainframe era. Today, networking equipment is a single appliance, including hardware, OS, applications and user interface come as a monolithic entity from a single vendor. Switching between different vendor'...
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. What about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver on new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for application developers and slow performance for end users. Further, as data sizes grow into the Big Data realm, this problem is exacerbated and becomes even more difficult to address. A seemingly simple schema change can take hours (or more) to perform, and as requirements evolve the disconnect between existing data structures and actual needs diverge.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SherWeb, a long-time leading provider of cloud services and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. A worldwide hosted services leader ranking in the prestigious North American Deloitte Technology Fast 500TM, and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, SherWeb provides competitive cloud solutions to businesses and partners around the world. Founded in 1998, SherWeb is a privately owned company headquartered in Quebec, Canada. Its service portfolio includes Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Dynamics CRM and more.
The world of cloud and application development is not just for the hardened developer these days. In their session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, and Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will pull back the curtain of the architecture of a fun demo application purpose-built for the cloud. They will focus on demonstrating how they leveraged compute, storage, messaging, and other cloud elements hosted at SoftLayer to lower the effort and difficulty of putting together a useful application. This will be an active demonstration and review of simple command-line tools and resources, so don’t be afraid if you are not a seasoned developer.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BUMI, a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Manhattan-based BUMI (Backup My Info!) is a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery. Founded in 2002, the company’s Here, There and Everywhere data backup and recovery solutions are utilized by more than 500 businesses. BUMI clients include professional service organizations such as banking, financial, insurance, accounting, hedge funds and law firms. The company is known for its relentless passion for customer service and support, and has won numerous awards, including Customer Service Provider of the Year and 10 Best Companies to Work For.
Chief Security Officers (CSO), CIOs and IT Directors are all concerned with providing a secure environment from which their business can innovate and customers can safely consume without the fear of Distributed Denial of Service attacks. To be successful in today's hyper-connected world, the enterprise needs to leverage the capabilities of the web and be ready to innovate without fear of DDoS attacks, concerns about application security and other threats. Organizations face great risk from increasingly frequent and sophisticated attempts to render web properties unavailable, and steal intellectual property or personally identifiable information. Layered security best practices extend security beyond the data center, delivering DDoS protection and maintaining site performance in the face of fast-changing threats.
From data center to cloud to the network. In his session at 3rd SDDC Expo, Raul Martynek, CEO of Net Access, will identify the challenges facing both data center providers and enterprise IT as they relate to cross-platform automation. He will then provide insight into designing, building, securing and managing the technology as an integrated service offering. Topics covered include: High-density data center design Network (and SDN) integration and automation Cloud (and hosting) infrastructure considerations Monitoring and security Management approaches Self-service and automation
In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, David Holmes, Vice President at OutSystems, will demonstrate the immense power that lives at the intersection of mobile apps and cloud application platforms. Attendees will participate in a live demonstration – an enterprise mobile app will be built and changed before their eyes – on their own devices. David Holmes brings over 20 years of high-tech marketing leadership to OutSystems. Prior to joining OutSystems, he was VP of Global Marketing for Damballa, a leading provider of network security solutions. Previously, he was SVP of Global Marketing for Jacada where his branding and positioning expertise helped drive the company from start-up days to a $55 million initial public offering on Nasdaq.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 14th Cloud Expo, Marc Jones, Vice President of Product Innovation for SoftLayer, will explain how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
Are you interested in accelerating innovation, simplifying deployments, reducing complexity, and lowering development costs? The cloud is changing the face of application development and deployment, with enterprise-grade infrastructure and platform services making it possible for you to build and rapidly scale enterprise applications. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Gene Eun, Sr. Director, Oracle Cloud at Oracle, will discuss the latest solutions and strategies for application developers and enterprise IT organizations to leverage Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) to build and deploy modern business applications in the cloud.
Hybrid cloud refers to the federation of a public and private cloud environment for the purpose of extending the elastic and flexibility of compute, storage and network capabilities, in an on-demand, pay-as-you go basis. The hybrid approach allows a business to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness that a public cloud computing environment offers without exposing mission-critical applications and data to third-party vulnerabilities. Hybrid cloud environments involve complex management challenges. First, organizations struggle to maintain control over the resources that lie outside of their managed IT scope. They also need greater infrastructure visibility to help reduce maintenance costs and ensure that their company data and resources are properly handled and secured.
As more applications and services move "to the cloud" (public or on-premise), cloud environments are increasingly adopting and building out traditional enterprise features. This in turn is enabling and encouraging cloud adoption from enterprise users. In many ways the definition is blurring as features like continuous operation, geo-distribution or on-demand capacity become the norm. At NuoDB we're involved in both building enterprise software and using enterprise cloud capabilities. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc., will cover experiences from building, deploying and using enterprise services and suggest some ways to approach moving enterprise applications into a cloud model.