Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Amit Gupta, Mehdi Daoudi, Ravi Rajamiyer

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

Containers Expo Blog: Blog Feed Post

Elephants Need Affinities

The challenge is one of managing elephant and mice flows on top of a single network infrastructure

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 challenge is one of managing elephant and mice flows on top of a single network infrastructure. The goal ultimately is to reduce interference between the two types, and between themselves, to get to optimal use of the available bandwidth and fairness for all. It's not a trivial problem. Mice are plentiful by definition, and really hard to detect: they are gone before you may have a chance to react. Elephant flows are easier to find with sFlow/netflow like mechanisms, and they usually hang around long enough to react to. I will argue however that most elephant flows can (and should) be declared as such by an application ahead of time.

There has actually been quite a lot of research done on the recognition and then proper treatment of elephant flows. If you have a few minutes, google away and you will find research papers from many impressive organizations, going back 10 years or more. It is hard to solve any problem that consists mostly of outliers. Trying to design a one size fits all solution will always target and therefore benefit the average the most. And unfortunately neither elephants nor mice are average. Mike Bushong has discussed the problem with aggregates in this blog post this summer.

Of course (partial) solutions have been brought to the elephant and mice problem, some of them with decent success. The Network Heresy article has the solutions bucketed into 4 categories:

  1. queue elephants and mice separately

  2. route elephants and mice differently (adaptive for elephants, ECMP for mice)

  3. chop elephants into pieces so they become mice

  4. physically separate elephants from mice

#1 and #3 are the most commonly used solutions, but the solutions live in separate spaces. #1 is a network categorization, marking, QoS and queueing solution. It requires the elephant flows to be known either to the network, or appropriately marked by the application that owns the flow. Trusting application markings has always been challenging, so it usually ends up being explicitly recognized by the network and queued separately from the mice. #3 is an application based solution. It requires the application understanding what type of flows it generates, and deliberately avoid elephant flows. We do not believe we should push limitations of the network into the design of applications.

The Plexxi way to properly handle elephants and mice would be through a combination of 2 and 4, actually separate them logically (routing/forwarding) and even physically (dedicated network links). As I mentioned above, we believe that in a data center environment, the needs of conversations need to be explicitly expressed. Applications are known entities, their communication needs need to be engineered, not left to chance. Throwing applications on a heavily overbuilt any to any network and hope for the best is not network engineering. And given the amount of research done on elephants and mice alone suggests the network needs to do things differently. In a Plexxi network, logical and physical forwarding topologies will be calculated taking into consideration Affinities that define elephants.

There are several points the authors of the article make that I can fully stand behind:

  • ".. Often elephants can be determined a priori without actually trying to infer them from network effects." - Exactly our point, and we have Affinities to declare them as such.

  • "... identification of elephants should be decoupled from the physical hardware and signaled over a standard interface." - Absolutely. Measurement and flow feedback should support user and policy based declaration of elephant flows.

  • "... for modern overlays. flow-level information, and QoS markings are all available in the outer header and are directly visible to the underlay physical fabric." - Totally agreed and we would like to take that even further (again at no surprise if you have been reading our musings). The overlay and underlay need to work closely together to provide the best possible communication solution

Ultimately elephants and mice are only one of many types of network problems that should be resolved by the network solution, not by the magic of the network engineer diving deep into the bag of hand crafted tricks some hardware and software solutions give them, but through proper orchestration at a much more abstract level that ties together the need of the application to the service the network provides for that. And an overlay infrastructure in between does not change that, it may provide extra knowledge and power to orchestrate the conversations so that mice and elephants do not have to be afraid of each other (which of course is a myth, but alas).

[Today's dual fun fact: An elephant sleeps an average of 2 hours during a 24 hour period. And they have poor eyesight.]

To read more on this topic, check out:

The post Elephants need Affinities appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."

@ThingsExpo Stories
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...
Real IoT production deployments running at scale are collecting sensor data from hundreds / thousands / millions of devices. The goal is to take business-critical actions on the real-time data and find insights from stored datasets. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Walicki, Watson IoT Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud, will provide a fast-paced developer journey that follows the IoT sensor data from generation, to edge gateway, to edge analytics, to encryption, to the IBM Bluemix cloud, to Wa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Daiya Industry specializes in orthotic support systems and assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles in order to contribute to an extended healthy life expectancy. For more information, please visit https://www.daiyak...
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Corporation is a company developing, manufacturing and marketing high quality and wide variety of industrial computers and interface modules such as PCIs and PCI express. For more information, visit http://www.i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusic will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Fusic Co. provides mocks as virtual IoT devices. You can customize mocks, and get any amount of data at any time in your test. For more information, visit https://fusic.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...