Apstra: The Intent-Driven Cure for Network Blindness

Apstra, Incorporated isn’t focused on new features, more advanced silicon, or some new widget. Instead, they’re offering a different way to look at networking. Apstra offers an early form of intent-driven networking that abstracts network programmability and allows network engineers to configure intent rather than device features. We expect the network to behave in a specific way, so we configure our intent accordingly. I was very excited to meet the Apstra team at Networking Field Day 13, and they didn’t disappoint.

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SD-WAN with VeloCloud at Networking Field Day 13

It looks like we’re going to have some SD-WAN goodness next week at Networking Field Day 13. I love the technology itself because of the real-world use case and practical benefits a good SD-WAN solution can offer.  Many of the SDN-labeled offerings out there are still a little immature, but adding intelligence to the WAN edge is something that is already being adopted wholeheartedly in even small enterprises.

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Intent-Driven Networking with Apstra at Networking Field Day 13

In a couple weeks I’ll be headed to sunny San Jose for Networking Field Day 13. If you’re not familiar with Networking Field Day and other Field Day events, check out their website, YouTube channel, Twitter feed, and LinkedIn page. Tech Field Day does a great job bringing technology influencers, bloggers, and craft beer enthusiasts together with some of the biggest and newest names in the tech industry.

I’m particularly interested in Apstra’s presentation on Thursday afternoon. I recently wrote an article about intent-driven networking, something of particular interest to me, so I’m really interested to hear what they have to say about their platform, the Apstra Operating System, or AOS.

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In Between You and Reality is Your Language

The networking community loves bad grammar. We love correcting mistakes and making silly jokes about it on social media. I appreciate how many of my online friends have rallied around such faux pas as the infamous premise/premises conundrum, and it warms my heart when half of my Twitter circle gently and lovingly corrects a poor, misguided engineer who tries to make a word plural by adding an apostrophe and an ‘s’. This is all a part of the geeky culture to which we all belong, but how important is grammar really?

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Network Automation: Another Tool in the Toolbox

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed a few tweets and blog posts regarding the immaturity of network automation methods and the danger in utilizing those methods in production networks. Though I agree that processes always have room to mature and that wiggling wires in a production environment always poses some risk, I believe this new emerging narrative in social media makes several assumptions that aren’t necessarily true.

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Routing at the Access Layer

Network devices have become so powerful that concern over hardware resources have all but disappeared. Modern routers, switches and firewalls can handle much more than their predecessors, and network designs are changing as a result. Network designs are shifting from the classic three-tiered model of a switched access layer and routed distribution and core layers to a completely routed design. Read the rest of the article at TechTarget’s SearchNetworking site.

 

Fate Sharing in the Network Core

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Network engineers like redundancy. It’s not that we just want double of everything – we want the networks we design and manage to be super fast, super smart, and super resilient. In the LAN and in the data center we’ve been logically joining network switches using technologies such as Cisco StackWise, the Virtual Switching System and Virtual Port Channels with fabric extenders in order to consolidate control and data plane activities and provide greater fault tolerance, easier management and multichassis etherchannel for path redundancy. These are great benefits, but they can be reaped only by proper design. Otherwise, an engineer may introduce more risk into the network rather than make it more resilient.

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Information Security: Something Doesn’t Add Up

My experience leads me to think that information security is, in actual practice, more a matter of reacting to something bad that happened in the news shaking up the C-level enough to do something. But I don’t think the solemn promises of tighter security and subsequent actions match up. I may not be able to spot a tell like Patrick Jane, but something doesn’t seem right.

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We Work with People Just as Much as we Work with Packets

Being a good network engineer requires a strong technical skill set. In fact there’s an entire industry devoted to technical training in networking technologies. We know that persistent technical training is necessary to keep pace with constant changes in technology, so I’m sure we agree that technical proficiency is important for the network engineer. If you don’t have a deep understanding of how VPN technology works, you’ll have a very difficult time troubleshooting a site-to-site VPN without the help of some [unnamed] technical assistance center. But is that all that’s required for a successful career in networking?

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