To SD-WAN or Not to SD-WAN — and How?

Pete Welcher has been seeing a lot of competing SD-WAN solutions, including a lot from presentations at past Networking Field Day events. He runs down how to determine if these solutions are ideal for your operations. First, if you’re heavily investing in a lot of Cisco routers, just use IWAN. But for organizations with equipment coming to end of life or need ease of deployment without much more needed than routing and QoS, SD-WAN is worth a look. Make sure to read Pete’s piece for all the details.

SD-WAN Series Part 4: Viptela

In another installment of her excellent video series on SD-WAN, Eyvonne Sharp posted another video, this time looking a Viptela. She’s used this in a production environment, so the video goes into some interesting detail. She also breaks down the difference between SD-WAN with a WAN optimization background and those with a routing background, like Viptela.

Viptela: SD-WAN for Enterprise

Peter Welcher wrote a piece on what he saw from Viptela from November’s Networking Field Day. Unlike other SD-WAN vendors specifically targeting service providers, Viptela is squarely focused on the enterprise. Peter seemed really impressed not just by Viptela’s robust routing capabilities, but also their security. Their solution easily allows for rekeying, and includes tamper proofing. If someone gets a hold of an edge device, they won’t be able to use it to backdoor into your network. Seems like a lot of really well thought out solutions!

OpenFlow – Basic Concepts and Theory

In this post, David Varnum goes over some of the fundamental concepts of OpenFlow. He goes as far back as to distinguish the control plane from the data plane. David then goes into great detail about OpenFlow’s design and features. What inspired this deep dive into OpenFlow? At Networking Field Day in November, David saw a presentation from NEC on their ProgrammableFlow controller, a SDN product that uses the OpenFlow protocol. David found it “wildly impressive”, and wanted to get a better understanding of the protocol.

Ixia Vision ONE – Tap the Planet

Tony Mattke wrote up his review for Ixia’s Vision ONE solution, which he saw at Networking Field Day in November. Ixia may have a long history in the load testing market, but for Tony, they represent a new entry into the network packet broker market. Vision ONE is Ixia’s solution to the problem of not knowing if you monitoring tools are accurately capturing network traffic. Tony really liked that this all can be configured within a simple UI, calling it “an easy to use toolset with some seriously capability”. Sounds impressive!

Forward Networks – A forward approach to formal verification

Tony Mattke reviews what he saw from Forward Networks at Networking Field Day in November. It’s been a little bit since their presentation, but Tony is still excited when thinking about the implications of formally verifying a network. He wants to see it in testing in the real world before passing final judgement, but the capabilities as described at NFD “should be making you drool”.

SD-WAN from VeloCloud

Peter Welcher reviews what he saw from VeloCloud at Networking Field Day in November. He came away impressed with the company. In a space that’s increasingly crowded by players with a legacy in WAN optimization, VeloCloud distinguishes itself. Peter was particularly impressed by their support for service chaining and partnerships with virtualized firewall vendors. Overall, Peter sees what VeloCloud is doing as proof that SD-WAN has carved out a definite use case in the enterprise.

NFD13: SolarWinds Presents Its New NetPath Tool

I don’t want to put words into Peter Welcher’s mouth. But in his post about SolarWinds’ NetPath tool, he straight up says, “[i]t turns out, I was very impressed with the new NetPath tool!” Not a lot of room for ambiguity there! SolarWinds presented at Networking Field Day this past November, and spent the entire session going over NetPath. Peter really enjoyed the presentation, not just for what NetPath could do, but also learning the journey SolarWinds took to refine and develop the tool.

See in the Fog with Ixia CloudLens

David Varnum draws a great analogy. In a lot of ways, flying through cloud and managing cloud infrastructure and applications are similar. Both don’t seem to bad to navigate from the outside, but once inside, you lose perspective. This requires both a pilot and systems engineer to have precise instrumentation to properly navigate where they want to go. With Ixia’s CloudLens, David sees someone finally providing that instrumentation.

Apstra’s Ethereal Network State

Apstra has a really interesting idea. What if you could design your network based on what you wanted to do with it? Instead of chaffing with the constraints of vendors and hardware, Apstra provides an abstraction layer to allow you to do this. Ethan Banks saw their presentation at Networking Field Day. He wrangled with the idea that Apstra is simply providing configuration management. But instead, they are providing a solution that takes a look at the network as a whole, something network engineers rarely can do. Instead, you state what you want to do with the network, and the Apstra Operating System tells you how to make that happens. It then knows the intent of the network, and is able to heal and remediate to keep that intent in place. Ethan thinks they’re entering into a crowded market, but that kind of model could really allow them to stand out.

NFD13: Forward Networks Comes Out of Stealth to Impress

Peter Welcher reviews what he saw from Forward Networks once they came out of stealth. Peter seemed impressed with how Forward is able to put together a database model of network configurations that can be searched and indexed independent of actually operating on the network. This can then be used for fast troubleshooting, as well as testing configurations to make sure they’re operating within a desired state. Overall, Peter sees this as a way to not spread you senior enterprise talent too thin. While there isn’t any automated remediation backed in, the powerful forecasting tools they present make it possible to better utilize talent in your organization.

Generating Maps of Your Traffic

For a network engineer, it sometimes feels impossible to avoid traceroute. Tim Miller thinks it can be a valuable tool to see where traffic is getting dropped, but it’s not without its issues. He’s highlighted some other solutions in previous posts, but the one he’s looking at today is SolarWinds. Their NetPath tool has gone from a lab toy to an official feature of their Network Performance Monitor solution in a little under a year. Tim finds it a really impressive tool. Even though it requires Windows-based polling appliances in a network, a Linux guy like Tim can still be tempted. It gives historical information layer on top of what you would find with a traceroute, and adds multipathing. Overall, Tim sees this as a very practical tool to help disentangle issues in increasingly complex networks.

On Network Blindness

Notable beard accomplisher and Apstra systems engineer Derick Winkworth shares some thoughts about network blindness. He compares it to face blindness, where people can see all the individual components, but cannot recognize them together. In much the same way, many network engineers build automation into their systems, without recognizing what the purpose of that network is, suffer from that same kind of affliction. Apstra developed with Apstra Operating System in response to this. It provides an abstraction over hardware to create networks with intentionality. The benefit of this is that it allows you to built a network around what you want to do, not change your behaviors based on the network. Derick gets into the nuts in bolts in the piece, but conceptually, its a refreshing take.

If you enjoy the piece, make sure to check out all of Apstra’s videos from Networking Field Day.

Ixia Works Out Its Network Trust Issues

Rich Stroffolino looks at what Ixia presented at Networking Field Day last month. Their product portfolio is pretty packed, but focused around network visibility. The presentation have Rich a new appreciation for the problem. Ixia has a comprehensive system of network probes and packet brokers to ensure zero-packet loss for monitoring solutions. Overall it’s an impressive offering.

Capture, Filter, See – Ixia Vision ONE

Ixia is a company some may not associate with network packet brokers, but that changed when they acquired Anue Systems in 2012. Ethan Banks wrote up his impressions on this based on what he saw at Networking Field Day in November. He seemed particularly impressed by their Ixia Vision ONE visibility tool. Sure it has all the features you could want, but for Ethan the most important part was that it was easy to get working right away. With the increasing complexity of networks, raw capability simply isn’t enough. Ixia differentiates itself with it’s ease of use here.

Enterprise Focused SD-WAN with Viptela

Rich Stroffolino looks at what Viptela presented at Networking Field Day last month. Overall, he found there approach interesting. Instead of being service provider focused for SD-WAN, Viptela designed their solution specifically for the enterprise. This allows them to address a lot of business needs directly. One of these is for multi-tenant locations, where SD-WAN can separate traffic without having to install a whole separate infrastructure. Overall, the approach opened up Rich’s ideas of what SD-WAN can do.

Trust But Verify: Lossless End-To-End Visibility from Ixia

Phil Gervasi looked at Ixia’s “Trust But Verify” approach to network monitoring. It’s an interesting approach, most other solutions simply assume that network traffic is being received by monitoring tools. Ixia goes beyond this. Instead of relying on SPAN ports, which drop traffic when a switch is overloaded, they use a series of packet brokers and network taps to make sure lossless data is being received by your monitoring solution. That’s right, Ixia proposes to not lose a single packet in doing this. That’s a tall order, check out Phil’s piece to see how Ixia is pulling it off.

Forward Thinkers, Forward Networks

Rob Coote shares his impressions from what he saw with Forward Networks at Networking Field Day last month. He really highlights how Forward’s software modeling of network performance could impact, not just the performance of the network, but the worth routines of network engineers. By effectively giving you a network lab to tinker with in software, their solution theoretically eliminates the “wait-and-see” approach to changes in a network. Rob really hopes they are able to move their solution beyond just monitoring to remediation. But he makes a really great point on the very human impact Forward Networks could have.

The Quest for Verification with Forward Networks

Forward Networks gave a presentation fresh out of stealth mode at Networking Field Day, and it certainly made an impression with Rich Stroffolino. He outlines how the company is doing their network monitoring. They model all possible places a packet can go on a network in a constantly updating software model. This allows you to not only react when problems occur, but also for better planning and provisioning, since you can model traffic very accurately in the software model. We’ll wait to see how their solution gets deployed in an actual enterprise, but on a theoretical level it’s fascinating.

Forward Networks – go ahead, break it

Amy Arnold laments the plight of the network engineer. The agonize over network design, try to come up with every conceivable failover scenario, and then deal with the consequences. Some have the aid of a lab to help test their configuration, most don’t. That’s why what Forward Networks presented at Networking Field Day was so interesting. It allows for you to model over your network in software, and then break it in every conceivable way. Forward’s model shows every a packet can possibly go, allowing the engineer to see exactly how a scenario will play out. She was justifiably concerned about how their product will be priced going forward, but otherwise it seems like a valuable tool in the engineer’s arsenal.