Saturday, December 08, 2012

Solution is a state not a path

Networking is going through a identity crisis. Is it a special device or just a program on a commodity machine? The crux of the problem lies in a shift in the problem space where networkers spent all their time. The solution to a networking problem today is not the best path but the best state. In the early years this branch was taken by networkers because in those finding the best path in a graph was the solution to getting the applications (in those days printing, later email) to work. But today, a simple struts application has more action elements (routes) than a BGP table on internet. In other words, there are more paths a browser can take after it has landed on the web server than it had to take getting to the web server.

When state mangement and control is the problem, the solution is software. The paths are discovered and known what matters now is the learning on which ones for which application. This is what is causing the identity crisis for networkers which then manifests itself as SDN, Programmable Networks etc. Also the reason why the largest networking company flips flops between we are going to focus on networking to we want to be an IT company. Hope it does not do what freeport did - a copper company acquiring a O&G company.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

State Description Language

After almost a decade after WSDL - the service interface description language - was introduced, I think it is time for industry to create a state description language. Just like WSDL enabled communication of interface between the two points engaged in a conversation (or any other MEP), we need two infrastructure components inside a data center to communicate their state among one another. The end goal is autonomic data center where a component "learns" about the fellow components and reflects and adjusts its own state.

Application integration is easy today. Everybody has an API on which default information (useless) can be communicated. But to use this new found connection we need to develop languages that enable communication about data, state, intention etc. The whole movement to cloud has commoditized compute, storage to a point where $5/month can buy me more IT infrastructure than my university had when I was studying engineering...