Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Evelyn de Souza, Liz McMillan, Greg Ness, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java, Linux, Virtualization, Cloud Expo, Security

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

SDN Prerequisite: Stateful vs Stateless

Things you need to know before diving into SDN...

We've talked before about the bifurcation of the network, which is driven as much by the evolution of network services from "nice to have" to "critical" as it is by emerging architectures. The demarcation line in the network stack has traditionally been - and remains - between layers 3 and 4 in the OSI model. The reason for this is that there is a transition as you move from layer 3 to layer 4 from stateless networking to stateful networking.

bifurcated-network-stateful-statelessThis is important to emerging architectures like SDN because this characteristic determines what level of participation in the data path is required.

Stateless networking requires very little participation. It's limited to evaluating network protocol frames and headers for the purpose of determining where to forward any given packet. The information extracted from the packet is not saved; it is not compared to previous packets.This is why it's stateless, because no information regarding the state of the communication is retained. It is evaluated and the packet is forwarded out the appropriate port based on what's in the FIB (Forwarding Information Base) or what's more commonly referred to as the "forwarding table."

Stateful networking, which begins at layer 4, retains certain information extracting from frames and packets and, as you move up the stack, from the application layer. It does this because protocols like TCP are connection-oriented and try to maintain guaranteed delivery. This is achieved through the use of sequence numbers in the TCP headers that, when out of order or lost cause the network to retransmit the packets.

There is state associated with TCP, i.e. "I have received packet 1 and am waiting for packet 2 in this connection." This is readily seen in the use of ACKnowledgment packets associated with TCP. There is a pre-designated flow associated with TCP that depends on the state of the end-points involved in the connection.

tcp-conversation-2

When a networking service operating at layer 4 or higher is inserted into this communication flow, it must also maintain the connection state. This is particularly true of staple stateful services such as security and load balancing, which rely on state to provide stateful failover services (i.e., without simply dropping connections) or to detect attacks based on state, such as SYN floods.

The higher a network service operates in the network stack, the more participation is required. For example, application routing based on HTTP headers (the URI, the hostname, cookie values, etc... ) rely on the ability of an intermediate network device maintaining state as well as extracting data from within the payload of a message (which is not the same as a packet). A message might actually require 2 or 3 or more packets, as data transferred by modern web applications is often larger than the network MTU of 1500 bytes. This means the intermediate device operating at the application layer must be stateful, as it must act as the end point for the connection in order gather all the packets that make up a message before it can extract the data and then execute its policies. This is why we also emphasize that layer 2-3 is "fixed" and layer 4-7 is "variable."

Networking protocols at layer 2-3 are governed by standards that clearly define the layout of Ethernet frames and IP packets. Devices operating at those layers have highly optimized algorithms for extracting the information needed from frames and packet headers in order to determine how to forward the packet. TCP affords the same luxury at layer 4, but as networking moves up the stack the exactly location of information necessary to make a forwarding decision become highly variable.

Even with a clearly defined protocol like HTTP, there is a wide variation in where certain data might be in the header. This is because not all headers are required and unlike Ethernet and IP and even TCP, where options may not be specified, there is still room reserved for those values. HTTP does not require that space be reserved for optional headers. They are simply left out, which can dramatically change the location (and thus the method of extraction by the intermediate device) of the data necessary to formulate a forwarding decision.

Say you had a form to fill out and, depending on the answer to question 2 you might go on to question 3 or skip to question 8. If that form were layer 2 or 3, each question would be clearly numbered. Skipping to question 8 would be quick and easy. But if that form were layer 7, the questions are not labeled, and to get to question 8 you have to count each of the questions manually. That's the difference between "fixed" and "variable". It's why compute resource requirements are more important to layer 7 than they are to layer 2 or 3.

Why this matters to SDN

This matters a great deal to SDN architectures because of how it impacts the control-data plane separation architecture. Stateless networking is perfectly suited to an architecture that places responsibility for making forwarding decisions on a centralized controller because the frequency with which those decisions must be made is relatively low. Conversely, stateful networking requires more participation and more frequent decisions as well as requiring the maintenance of state for each and every connection. This has serious implications for the controller in such a model, as it forces issues of controller scalability and resource requirements into the equation as the controller more actively participates (and stores more information) with stateful networking than it does with stateless networking.

This is not to say that SDN architecture is incompatible with higher order network services. It just means that the SDN solution you choose for stateless networking will almost certain not be the same SDN solution you choose for stateful networking. That means it's important to investigate solutions that address both of your "networks" with an eye toward integration and interoperability.

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.

@CloudExpo Stories
Cloud has become an extension of today’s enterprise and the traditional perimeter has long disappeared. Increasing business requirements for agility and flexibility make the cloud-extended enterprise ideal for a workforce that works anywhere, anytime and any place. This is especially true as organizations are increasingly made up of third-party resources, partners and suppliers compared to just employees. However, traditional security models are not equipped to deal with the fluid nature of da...
If cloud computing benefits are so clear, why have so few enterprises migrated their mission-critical apps? The answer is often inertia and FUD. No one ever got fired for not moving to the cloud - not yet. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Michael Hoch, SVP, Cloud Advisory Service at Virtustream, discussed the six key steps to justify and execute your MCA cloud migration.
Eighty-five percent of companies store information in some sort of unstructured manner. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Fronczak, Product Manager at Solgenia, discussed their enterprise content management solution, which was created to help companies organize and take control of their digital assets.
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo – to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – is now accepting Hackathon proposals. Hackathon sponsorship benefits include general brand exposure and increasing engagement with the developer ecosystem. At Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley, IBM held the Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held the DevOps Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo fl...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to th...
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
SYS-CON Media announced that Centrify, a provider of unified identity management across cloud, mobile and data center environments that delivers single sign-on (SSO) for users and a simplified identity infrastructure for IT, has launched an ad campaign on Cloud Computing Journal. The ads focus on security: how an organization can successfully control privilege for all of the organization’s identities to mitigate identity-related risk without slowing down the business, and how Centrify provides ...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
There's Big Data, then there's really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big D...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
Fundamentally, SDN is still mostly about network plumbing. While plumbing may be useful to tinker with, what you can do with your plumbing is far more intriguing. A rigid interpretation of SDN confines it to Layers 2 and 3, and that's reasonable. But SDN opens opportunities for novel constructions in Layers 4 to 7 that solve real operational problems in data centers. "Data center," in fact, might become anachronistic - data is everywhere, constantly on the move, seemingly always overflowing. Net...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from ha...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...