preload
Jun 08

Construction Containers (source: Hans).

Originally published on June 1st, 2017 by Brian Anderson of O’Reilly

I recently sat down with Lee Calcote, head of technology strategy at SolarWinds, to talk about the benefits of container networks. Here are some highlights from our chat.

What is container networking? How are people deploying container networks?

Much of what container networking is today revolves around core Linux network technologies, whether that be iptables for port-forwarding, firewalling and network address translation, or ipvs for load-balancing and service abstraction (virtual IP addressing). These battle-tested technologies are old friends of systems engineers, who have leveraged these kernel capabilities as they’ve built container engines and orchestrators.

To date, container networking has largely been focused on simple network services like connectivity, IP addressing (IPAM), (domain) name services, and load-balancing. Beyond connectivity, most higher-level network services—like quality of service (QoS), virtual private networking, security policy (complex and dynamic firewalling), and topology optimization—are still emerging. So far, connectivity has largely equated to use of Linux bridges and network overlays, with VXLAN being a popular protocol. These common choices are in the face of a style of networking that’s arguably more straightforward in its approach: layer 3 networking.

Continue reading »

Tagged with:
Apr 25

“It’s a great time to be in Information Technology.” While this is a true statement, not everyone clearly understands why (or perhaps, has the fortitude to make it so). In the face of a massive movement to public cloud—by 2020, 92% of world’s workloads will be in cloud—68% in public and 32% in private[1]—many in IT feel their value in the workplace eroding along with their identity. This feeling doesn’t need to be reality. Businesses are changing the way they operate and are transforming to leverage information technology more strategically. IT has a real opportunity to lead this transformation, not let the transformation happen to them.

Continue reading »

Mar 11

Ship with tug (source: tpsdave via Pixabay).

Cloud-native applications are designed to draw upon the performance, scalability, and reliability benefits of distributed systems. Unfortunately, distributed systems often come at the cost of added complexity. As individual components of your application are distributed across networks, and those networks have communication gaps or experience degraded performance, your distributed application components need to continue to function independently.

To avoid inconsistencies in application state, distributed systems should be designed with an understanding that components will fail. Nowhere is this more prominent than in the network. Consequently, at their core, distributed systems rely heavily on load balancing—the distribution of requests across two or more systems—in order to be resilient in the face of network disruption and horizontally scale as system load fluctuates. Continue reading »

Tagged with:
Sep 16

glen-canyon

Originally published on The New Stack on Sept. 4th, 2016.

There are two proposed standards for configuring network interfaces for Linux containers: the container network model (CNM) and the container network interface (CNI). Networking is complex, and there are many ways to deliver functionality. Arguments can be made as to which one is easier to adopt than the next, or which one is less tethered to their benefactor’s technology.

When evaluating any technology, some important considerations are community adoption and support. Some perspectives have been formed on which model has a lower barrier to entry. Finding the right metrics to determine the velocity of a project is tricky. Plugin vendors also need to consider the relative ease by which plugins may be written for either of these two models. Continue reading »

Tagged with:
Sep 14

container-rope

Originally published on The New Stack on Sept. 4th, 2016.

While many gravitate toward network overlays as a popular approach to addressing container networking across hosts, the functions and types of container networking vary greatly and are worth better understanding as you consider the right type for your environment. Some types are container engine-agnostic, and others are locked into a specific vendor or engine. Some focus on simplicity, while others on breadth of functionality or on being IPv6-friendly and multicast-capable. Which one is right for you depends on your application needs, performance requirements, workload placement (private or public cloud), etc. Let’s review the more commonly available types of container networking.

There are various ways in which container-to-container and container-to-host connectivity are provided. This article focuses primarily on a breakdown of current container networking types, including:

  • None
  • Bridge
  • Overlay
  • Underlay

Continue reading »

Tagged with:
Jul 31

Headquartered in what has become my hometown, SolarWinds shares a campus with AMD in the southwestern corner of Austin. The majority of the existing, product suite is comprised of componentized, enterprise-architected, Windows-oriented network, systems, security, database management software. Many (not all) of these offerings were from one of ~18 acquisitions, with the latest (LogicNow) in early June of this year. These acquisitions include three SaaS offerings, LibratoPapertrail and Pingdom, giving SolarWinds continuous-delivery known-how and a splash of DevOps culture. Continue reading »

Tagged with:
Jan 08

Herein lies a comparison of two similar, embedded network configuration management protocols: Cisco’s Web Services Management Agent (WSMA) and NETCONF. This comparative analysis is broken down into different functional categories, each containing a category winner (based on my own opinion). This analysis is taken from a Cisco device-centric perspective.

Continue reading »

Tagged with: