Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Cameron Van Orman, Jason Bloomberg, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Training Wheels and Protective Gear By @PlexxiInc | @CloudExpo [#SDN]

This balancing act is part of what as made networking as complex as it has become

Throughout the development cycle of new features and functions for any network platform (or probably most other products not targeted at the mass market consumer) this one question will always come up: should we protect the user of our product from doing this? And “this” is always something that would allow the user of the product to really mess things up if not done right. As a product management organization you almost have to take a philosophical stand when it comes to these questions.

Protect the user
Sure enough, the question came up last week as part of the development of one our features. When putting the finishing touches on a feature that allows very direct control over some of the fundamental portions of what creates a Plexxi fabric, our QA team (very appropriately) raised the concern: if the user does this, bad things can happen, should we not allow the user to change this portion of the feature?

This balancing act is part of what as made networking as complex as it has become. As an industry we have been extremely flexible in what we have exposed to our users. We have given access to portions of our products that 99.9% of customers will never need, but unfortunately because of that 0.1% every networking product has tons of these little tweaks and knobs that could wreak havoc if used the wrong way.

We take a lot of pride in creating a network solution that is simple to use, simple to interact with, but extremely powerful under the hood. Direct access to all that power will lead to not only giving the customer a powerful weapon, but also the ammunition to use it. And like handling any weapon, you can really hurt yourself if you are not careful. Which comes back to the question at hand, how many safety valves do you put in place to make sure the user cannot hurt themselves?

The reason why
Some of these controls are buried fairly deep inside our products. They are meant for true power users and for the support teams of the vendors. And even beyond the support teams, there are tools and tricks inside our products that only the engineering teams know about, hidden even beyond the knowledge of support teams. Several years ago (in a previous job), we had a customer with a complex problem. Traffic was inconsistently forwarded and the belief was that there were communication problems between line cards and the main CPU card that would create inconsistant tables (the biggest challenge for any chassis based system).

Of course our development teams had tools embedded in the code to carefully examine and manipulate the tables and communications between these cards. Not exposed to a regular user, because they were potentially dangerous. And we proved that they were. During the execution of the command by one of my developers, he made a small typo in one of the arguments and boom went the switch. Crash and reboot. Customer very upset (for good reason, this was a production network), executive management very upset (also for good reason) and worse, the problem disappeared without us collecting the information we needed to attempt to fix it.

Different Answers for Different Tools
There is a difference between debug tools that allow engineers to look deep inside the switch versus common features that may have significant service consequences if not in expert hands. No matter how hard we try, the first category will continue to exist. As vendors we will bring portions of these tools to the user or support visible spectrum, but at the same time we will create new ones buried deep.

The latter category though is one where I favor a less protective approach. There are many ways by which you can completely disrupt your network service. Most of the services your network provide have been created with your own hands through provisioning and configuration and can therefore be disrupted by those same actions. When we create features and functions that are potentially dangerous, it is on us the vendor to make sure it is properly documented and explained. This way when you do make that mistake (and it will happen) we can refer to that 4 letter “read the documentation” response.

Off come the training wheels
When it comes to user configurable features and functions, every single one of them has the potential to disrupt service when used the wrong way. We as vendors should not shy away from giving you all the tools you need to create (and destroy) the service you need. And I do not believe anyone wants to step through one “Are you sure (Y/N)?” after another. Of course we need to make creating services easier for you. If you are a frequent reader of our blogs you know that is what we stand for. But we should not take away features because we are afraid you can shoot yourself in the foot. Any time in the past where we opted to give you a gun but keep the bullets behind a locked door, we have found someone that legitimately explained that he or she needed the bullets to solve their specific problem. And we unlocked the door.

There are ways to teach someone how to ride a bike without providing permanent training wheels. Documentation (for those few that read it), workflow based provisioning and configuration and solid default behaviors with predictable results can steer you clear of the dangers we have provided. And when you do fall off the bike and hurt your knee or elbow, well, you are less likely to try that maneuver again next time. That is how most of us learn. Including those developers that crash a customer production switch during a debug session. For every one of those “oops” moments there will be many where those hidden gems may have saved your network from disaster. Just like there is one customer for whom having the bullets makes the difference between a working service and one that just limps along.

[Today's fun fact: You burn more calories sleeping than watching TV. I enjoy combining the two, especially during some of the last few Thursday night NFL games.]

The post Training Wheels and Protective Gear appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Marten Terpstra

Marten Terpstra is a Product Management Director at Plexxi Inc. Marten has extensive knowledge of the architecture, design, deployment and management of enterprise and carrier networks.

@CloudExpo Stories
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
Many companies start their journey to the cloud in the DevOps environment, where software engineers want self-service access to the custom tools and frameworks they need. Machine learning technology can help IT departments keep up with these demands. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-Founder, CTO and Board Member at ZeroStack, will discuss the use of machine learning for automating provisioning of DevOps resources, taking the burden off IT teams.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cedexis will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cedexis is the leader in data-driven enterprise global traffic management. Whether optimizing traffic through datacenters, clouds, CDNs, or any combination, Cedexis solutions drive quality and cost-effectiveness.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...
IBM helps FinTechs and financial services companies build and monetize cognitive-enabled financial services apps quickly and at scale. Hosted on IBM Bluemix, IBM’s platform builds in customer insights, regulatory compliance analytics and security to help reduce development time and testing. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Lennart Frantzell, a Developer Advocate with IBM, will discuss how these tools simplify the time-consuming tasks of selection, mapping and data integration, allowing devel...
Cloud-based disaster recovery is critical to any production environment and is a high priority for many enterprise organizations today. Nearly 40% of organizations have had to execute their BCDR plan due to a service disruption in the past two years. Zerto on IBM Cloud offer VMware and Microsoft customers simple, automated recovery of on-premise VMware and Microsoft workloads to IBM Cloud data centers.
Why Federal cloud? What is in Federal Clouds and integrations? This session will identify the process and the FedRAMP initiative. But is it sufficient? What is the remedy for keeping abreast of cutting-edge technology? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rasananda Behera will examine the proposed solutions: Private or public or hybrid cloud Responsible governing bodies How can we accomplish?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Daiya Industry specializes in orthotic support systems and assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles in order to contribute to an extended healthy life expectancy. For more information, please visit https://www.daiyak...
Today traditional IT approaches leverage well-architected compute/networking domains to control what applications can access what data, and how. DevOps includes rapid application development/deployment leveraging concepts like containerization, third-party sourced applications and databases. Such applications need access to production data for its test and iteration cycles. Data Security? That sounds like a roadblock to DevOps vs. protecting the crown jewels to those in IT.
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, paneli...