Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dealing with Change in the Data Center - Getting to Network as a Service

We are continuing on a long transition from the physical data center to the virtual data center. Resources that were wholly physical are being virtualized. Resources that were static are now dynamic. This trend started with server virtualization and has expanded to network virtualization. With the move to virtualization you have made progress in gaining better utilization your physical resources. You are using fewer physical servers but they are larger and denser. There are more virtual machines and more network ports to connect them. This has created an exponential growth in the number of interactions that you must make on the network to get everything connected and communicating. The challenge is in the time it takes to get work done. Let’s look at some tools that Juniper provides to make your life easier.

Zero Touch Provisioning
Your first step is to get the equipment up and running. Juniper provides a zero touch provisioning tool that lets you do this using standard configurations for the switches and a DHCP server to assign an IP address and things like that. It’s used by the networking team. It handles routine tasks that are typically done once. With ZTP highly repetitive routing tasks that took hours can be reduced to minutes.

Network Device Automation
Once your equipment is up and running you need to monitor it and ensure that it operates effectively.  Junos scripting can be used to respond to automate network management tasks. For event automation it instructs Junos of actions to take in response to events. It gathers relevant troubleshooting information and correlate events from the first leading indicators. It can automate event responses with a set of actions. The benefits are to automate time-of-day configuration changes, speed time-to-resolve to reduce the downtime and cost of events, automate response to leading indicators to minimize the impact of events.

IT Workflow Automation
What if you want to do push out configurations in mass or do changes in mass to your network equipment? In talking with our customers we found that the server or devops teams use their own tools. A popular one is from Puppet Labs called Puppet Master. This is an IT workflow automation tool that is used to provision servers. It is an extensible tool. You can write code to it and create new services. So we figured why not create code to do the simple network configuration tasks and let the network team off load them on the server team. This way the server team doesn’t have to write a ticket to the network team. They just use Puppet to do the routine things like create a VLAN and assign a port to it. All of this is done from a common console. The scripts can be verified by the network team. They server team just does the things that are assigned to them. They don’t need to know the operating system. Everything is abstracted to the conceptual level. You can push these configurations changes out to the servers and the network any time you like to provision your equipment.

Managing Physical and Virtual
With the increasing use of server virtualization switching has become virtualized. A large number of data centers today are using virtual switches to connect physical networks to virtual resources. These switches are deployed on the hypervisors. While this benefits network services it creates a dilemma for the IT teams with respect to who will manage these switches as well as how the changes in these switches will be coordinated with changes in the physical switch. If you are a Juniper shop and you use VMware we have a tool for this. Junos Space Virtual Control provides the solution. Integrating with vSphere network administrator can manage both the physical and virtual switch. Changes to the configuration on the virtual network can be synchronized with the physical switch. So as VMs moves the configuration changes can be made automatically. In addition Virtual Control clearly delineates the roles and responsibilities between the server and network administrators.

Cloud Computing and OpenStack
Turning up virtual servers and their related services has been a time consuming manual process, but this is changing. OpenStack is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or cloud computing platform that is managed by the OpenStack Foundation. The technology consists of a series of interrelated projects that control large pools of processing, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter. They are all managed through a dashboard that gives administrators control while empowering users to provision resources through a self service web interface. Organizations can use OpenStack to automate network services on Juniper equipment. Juniper has integrated our switching equipment with the OpenStack Networking module called Quantum which is a pluggable, scalable and API-driven system for managing networks. It can be used by administrators to automate infrastructure in a cloud services model, giving users self service control of their network resources.

SDN and Openflow
Software Defined Networking has become a catch phrase these days, so you will need to look at the use cases and see what works for you. One aspect of SDN is OpenFlow, which is a networking protocol for communicating from a controller to the network devices. The promise of OpenFlow is to enable on-demand deployment of innovative routing and switching services that tune the network to benefit applications.  With the OpenFlow controller you can program network flows on these devices. Juniper demonstrated support for OpenFlow as well as a number of other related protocols on our MX routers at Interop. In the demo we showed how you can create bandwidth on demand to support applications such as a streaming video.  This model provides a centralized point of control and a standards-based way to control switches without having to touch each individual network device. There is more to be done in this area and I’ll be providing an update when the time comes.

Virtual Overlay Networks
An emerging technology is the virtual overlay network. It is designed to support web scale applications that are highly distributed and are natively virtualized. Web scale applications are intelligent and can actively manage their processes and instances and will utilize resources in the network as needed. As a result they are mobile with workloads moving about the network. When deploying these applications you need a way to manage the connections between various components of the application and a way to ensure performance. With a virtual overlay network you can manage your application connectivity and monitor performance without having to touch the configuration of the underlying network hardware. Juniper announced our solution JunosV Contrail at Interop, Las Vegas in May. Contrail gives you a central point of management for virtualized applications. It scales by using a distributed control plane. It connects to virtual end points using standard L3 VPN tunnels and uses the BGP protocol for signaling. It is all Layer 3 and all standards based so you can manage your applications using proven technology.

Getting to Network as a Service
The end goal is to get to network a service. Making the network agile will enable you to deploy private and hybrid cloud services easily. The network will be virtualized to support your distributed applications. Network virtualization will enable pooling and sharing of resources. It will be self-servicing, and can be expanded or contracted as needed, and be federated among datacenters. It we be secure, and policy-driven, and have seamless interoperability through integration with open cloud orchestration. For more information see, the Simplified Operations page.

Join Juniper at the Puppet Conference
Juniper will be at the Puppet Conference at the Fairmont in San Francisco on August 21 – 23. Come and visit our booth and see demos of our OpenStack plugin for the EX9200 as well as Puppet for Junos and join our session with Jeremy Schulman "Puppet Enterprise for the Network" on Friday, August 23, at 11:10 am in the Crystal Room.For more information see this flyer, Simplify Your Data Center.


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