Rethinking the Network

Michael Bushong

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Top Stories by Michael Bushong

Amazon is indisputably the biggest name in cloud service providers. They have built up a strong market presence primarily on the argument that access to cheap compute and storage resources is attractive to companies looking to shed IT costs as they move from on-premises solutions to the cloud. But after the initial push for cheap resources, how will this market develop? Is cheap really cheap? Amazon has cut prices to their cloud offering more than 40 times since introducing the service in 2006. The way this gets translated in press circles is that cloud services pricing is approaching some floor. But is that true? In October 2013, Ben Kepes over at Forbes wrote an interesting article that included a discussion of AWS pricing. In the article, he quotes some work done by Profitbricks that shows AWS pricing relative to Moore’s Law. The article is here, and the image f... (more)

Silicon: Merchant vs. Outsourced

If you talk to folks in the networking industry about switching hardware, you probably don't get more than a few sentences in before you hear the words merchant silicon, typically followed closely by commodity hardware. There is some confusion in the dialogue about these topics, and I think it stems from a lack of clarity around why this matters and how silicon development actually works. Let's start with why merchant silicon matters. When people talk about merchant silicon, most of the time they fail to really clearly specify what it is they want. There are basically two reasons... (more)

Elephants Need Affinities

Perhaps somewhat lost in a ridiculously hyper week of datacenter announcements last week was this article from some of the network minds at VMware. The article describes a division of flow types in datacenter environments (they probably exist elsewhere too but probably less pronounced). Elephant flows are those flows that are long lived between sets of applications and are responsible for the majority of traffic exchanged in a data center network. Their counterparts, mice flows, are very short-lived, bursty flows that are responsible for the bulk of the total flows. The challen... (more)

Network Operating Systems and White Box Switching

The white box switching movement appears to be gaining some momentum. For some, it is a fait accompli that hardware and software will be meaningfully separated, allowing users to procure each independently in a model that more closely resembles what happens on the server side. The fires are fueled by projects like Facebook’s Open Compute Project, an effort to open source compute reference platforms. I don’t actually want to debate the merits of a decoupled hardware/software model. The strategic implications are far more interesting, and how that might shape vendor activity over ... (more)

Plexxi Pulse – Looking Back and Ahead

As we embrace 2014, it’s important to focus on emerging trends to predict any industry changes this year and in the coming years. Mike Bushong reviewed 2013 on the Plexxi blog and noted important events that will likely carry into this year, including how 2013 initiated SDN deployments and marked the year Cisco moved beyond networking. We will see what happens in 2014, but it is crucial to reflect before looking ahead. In our Plexxi video of the week, Dan Backman explains optics integration with electrical mediums like Ethernet, and how this transition from optical to electrical ... (more)