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Brocade and VCS… quite impressive

by Tony Mattke on November 16, 2011

Our second visit on day 2 of Network Field day was Brocade, who incidentally supplied us with a great lunch! We spent a little time going through the expected marketing presentation, fortunately they kept it short and to the point… Next up was another short presentation from Jon Hudson, aka @the_socialist, who started things out with a overview of Brocade and their core product line. Fortunately for us, Jon had done his homework and cropped his presentation down to the essentials which aided in keeping our short attention-span on focus. All of this lead up to the surprise they had waiting for us. A live Brocade VCS lab. Yes, you read that correctly. A full, hands on lab. Not a demo, not a video.

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Gigamon and the Great Pumpkin

by Tony Mattke on November 3, 2011

I could’ve just as easily called this article Gigamon… fixing problems you didn’t know about or Why Gigamon scares the crap out of me — but I wont, because they already did! But what I will say, is that Gigamon has become a very interesting product to me…

Gigamon’s product line-up mainly consists of optical fiber and electrical copper taps for network connections, and a series of aggregation taps with the capability to filter traffic being tapped and aggregated. Now, why do I find this interesting? Well, it all goes hand in hand with why your enterprise or ISP may be interested in their products…
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NEC and ProgrammableFlow Switching

by Tony Mattke on November 2, 2011

NEC is currently the only Vendor that is shipping an OpenFlow enabled product today. So naturally, their presentation led off with a message about what they’re bringing to the market. If you don’t know anything about OpenFlow, please read my previous post covering the OpenFlow Symposium.

Currently, NEC is shipping their OpenFlow implementation as ProgrammableFlow products which include a ProgrammableFlow Controller (PFC), and a ProgrammableFlow enabled switches. Unfortunately, I’m unable to find any documentation on these products as NEC’s actual website was written by someone who enjoys a difficult maze… (the only page I could find on ProgrammableFlow was here) But I digress. The PFC it’s self is just a Linux box with some custom software implementing the OpenFlow 1.0 standard. In addition to acting as part of your control plane, it can also do topology discovery via LLDP, and perform fault detection and possibly even repair. The graphical representation NEC gives you of your network with their controller software is rather nice, it’s not just a visualization of your netowrk, but it also provides end to end monitoring of each individual flow transported over the network. As for NEC’s ProgrammableFlow switch, it is a 48-port GigE switch with 4x 10Gb SFP+ uplink ports providing line rate multi-layer switching, and maintaining up to 160k OpenFlow “flows”. The switch itself can operate as a hybrid either allow you to control it via an OpenFlow controller, or operate as a traditional managed switch. NEC has also developed a vSwitch for Windows 8′s Hyper-V, this alone should prove to be rather interesting as NEC will hit the ground running on virtual switching with the new release of Windows Server 8.
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Network Field Day 2 — Comic Edition

by Tony Mattke on October 31, 2011

During the coarse of NFD2 I found an iPhone app called Halftone, and later, one named ComicStrip that allow you to add some fun effects and speech bubbles to your photos… So, I started in on some of the photos that I took during the trip. After putting a few of them on twitter they got some pretty good responses. Earlier today, I asked a couple people if I should put them all up on my blog as a collection, so here it is, all of the images I have created thus far. Some of them may not make much sense unless you were there, but I hope they’re humorous nonetheless. If you have any questions feel free to ask and I’ll try to explain…

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Cisco Systems Awesomesauce aka Full Tilt Boogie

by Tony Mattke on October 31, 2011

First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone from Cisco Systems for inviting us into the CCIC (Cisco Cloud Innovation Center), this was an amazing room to hold our discussions. We started off with a greeting from Omar Sultan who then brought our old friend Ron Fuller. Ron gave us a quick overview of Cisco’s Nexus lineup, and some of their current sales figures. Did you know they currently have 18,000 Nexus 7000s in the wild, and over 3,000,000 10GB ports? That alone is pretty amazing to me. During this time he gave us a run down of the F2, and Fab2 series cards for the Nexus 7000, which can provide 550Gbps per slot, 17.6Tbps per chassis, essentially doubling the bandwidth available in the series. He also made mention of the new M1L series cards which have increased memory, and the Nexus 2248tpe whose large buffers (32Mb) are optimized for large data and video. He also made mention of a Nexus feature called PONG, which does L2 traceroute. I’m curious how this differs from the MAC traceroute in the 6500 series. There was also mention of the new Nexus B22 for the HP C-class enclosure. Ron has also let slip that the Nexus line is actually powered by Awesomesauce, a grave error IMHO, as any company could now reverse engineer this sauce and begin to make their own…

Next Cisco brought up two representatives from some of Cisco’s recent acquisitions. Both of them, unsurprisingly, related to IaaS/Cloud based services, Linesider and NewScale. First up, was defining the problem that their solution solves. This was the first of many times we would go through this CIO pitch of “The Problem”. In many fewer words, this problem has been defined as the desire to provide automated provisioning of cloud services. After this was clear, we got back to the good stuff. They showed us a demo of the Cisco IT Elastic Infrastructure Services (CITEIS) software, which was rather impressive.
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The OpenFlow Symposium

by Tony Mattke on October 30, 2011

Well, here is the update that I promised you. I’ve spent the last few days with some of the top minds in Networking industry. One of the most exciting technologies being presented was OpenFlow which allows for a concept referred to as Software Defined Networking (SND). No matter who you are, or who you work for, this should be something interesting for you. OpenFlow could have real benefits from the Enterprise all the way up to large Service Providers networks, just imagine being able to move flows of traffic around on your network without disturbing other traffic headed to the same destination? Seriously, we will finally be able to control networks the same way people (users) think we’re able to now. But I’m seriously getting ahead of myself…

This post is already going to be long enough without me providing every last detail on what’s going on with OpenFlow development, so I’ve kept my comments to a bare minimum. Below I’ve included the days events in chronological order, (at least to the best of my memory) although Ivan has suggested watching them in a specific order. I’ve included PDFs of their slide decks where I can, but not everyone provided them. The day started off with an opening presentation from Stephen Foskett and Greg Ferro.

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Tech Field Day: OpenFlow Symposium

by Tony Mattke on October 26, 2011

What is OpenFlow?

OpenFlow is a proposed standard for exchanging flow data between controllers and networking devices. OpenFlow has the potential to move our networking control plane into the world of Software Defined Networking. But what does that mean for you?

The biggest advantage to having a SDN/OpenFlow enabled network is that you’re able to add plugins to your control plane from multiple vendors. Since it is an open standard, anyone can write modules to add control features for your network, allowing you the flexibility to use any of those to enhance your network.


Tech Field Day has done a great job bringing the top minds together, the line up looks something like this.

  • Guido Appenzeller Kyle Foster (Big Switch)
  • Curt Beckmann (Brocade)
  • David Meyer (Cisco)
  • Ed Crabbe (Google)
  • David Ward (Juniper)
  • Don Clark (NEC)
  • Samrat Ganguily (NEC)
  • Igor Gashinksy (Yahoo)

Watch the Stream


After the event, I hope to have some more interesting tidbits to update here as I will be taking some notes on the more interesting bits being discussed. But for now, be sure to check out the Packet Pusher’s blog for some great links and information on OpenFlow. Be on the lookout for an updated post hopefully later today.

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