lindsay

Author Archives: lindsay

SREcon, DevOpsDays and Seattle vs Sillicon Valley

I am the Product Manager for StackStorm. This gives me the opportunity to attend several industry events. This year I attended SREcon in San Francisco, and devopsdays Seattle. I found both events interesting, but also found them more different than I expected.

SREcon Americas

This year SREcon Americas was held in San Francisco, a nice walk along the Embarcadero from where I live. This is bliss compared to my regular daily tour of the Californian outdoor antique railway museum, aka Caltrain.

According to the organizers, SREcon is:

…a gathering of engineers who care deeply about site reliability, systems engineering, and working with complex distributed systems at scale

That was pretty much true to form. Two things stood out to me:

  • The number of smart people, working on interesting problems
  • The number of companies aggressively hiring in this space.

I had many interesting conversations at SREcon. We had a booth, so would briefly start describing what StackStorm is, but would very quickly move past that. Conversations often went “Oh yeah, we’ve built something along those lines in-house, because there was nothing on the market back when we needed it. But I wouldn’t do it again. How did you solve <insert knotty Continue reading

Savvius Insight and the use of Elastic

Last week Savvius announced upgraded versions of its Insight network visibility appliances. These have the usual performance and capacity increases you’d expect, and fill a nice gap in the market.

But the bit that was most interesting to me was the use of an on-board Elastic stack, with pre-built Kibana dashboards for visualizing network data, e.g.:

Savvius Insight Kibana Dashboard

Historically the only way we could realistically create these sorts of dashboards and systems was using Splunk. I’m a big fan of Splunk, but it has a problem: Cost. Especially if you’re trying to analyze large volumes of network data. You might be able to make Splunk pricing work for application data, but network data volumes are often just too large.

Savvius has previously included a Splunk forwarder, to make it easier to get data from their systems into Splunk. But Elastic has reached the point where Splunk is no longer needed. It’s viable for companies like Savvius to ship with a built-in Elastic stack setup.

There’s nothing stopping people centralizing the data either. You can modify the setup on the Insight appliance to send data to a central Elastic setup, and you can copy the Kibana dashboards, and create your own Continue reading

Savvius Insight and the use of Elastic

Last week Savvius announced upgraded versions of its Insight network visibility appliances. These have the usual performance and capacity increases you’d expect, and fill a nice gap in the market.

But the bit that was most interesting to me was the use of an on-board Elastic stack, with pre-built Kibana dashboards for visualizing network data, e.g.:

Savvius Insight Kibana Dashboard

Historically the only way we could realistically create these sorts of dashboards and systems was using Splunk. I’m a big fan of Splunk, but it has a problem: Cost. Especially if you’re trying to analyze large volumes of network data. You might be able to make Splunk pricing work for application data, but network data volumes are often just too large.

Savvius has previously included a Splunk forwarder, to make it easier to get data from their systems into Splunk. But Elastic has reached the point where Splunk is no longer needed. It’s viable for companies like Savvius to ship with a built-in Elastic stack setup.

There’s nothing stopping people centralizing the data either. You can modify the setup on the Insight appliance to send data to a central Elastic setup, and you can copy the Kibana dashboards, and create your own Continue reading

IPv6 Trends, SixXS Sunset and Project Planning

Native IPv6 availability continues to increase, leading to the sunset of SixXS services. But it looks like we don’t like starting any major IPv6 rollouts around Christmas/New Years, but instead start going into production from April onwards.

SixXS Sunset

In March 2017, the SixXS team announced that they are closing down all services in June 2017:

SixXS will be sunset in H1 2017. All services will be turned down on 2017-06-06, after which the SixXS project will be retired. Users will no longer be able to use their IPv6 tunnels or subnets after this date, and are required to obtain IPv6 connectivity elsewhere, primarily with their Internet service provider.

SixXS has provided a free IPv6 tunnel broker service for years, allowing people to get ‘native’ IPv6 connectivity even when their ISP didn’t offer it. A useful service in the early days of IPv6, when ISPs were dragging the chain.

But this is a Good Thing that it is now closing down. It’s closing down because their mission has been achieved, and people no longer require tunnel broker services. IPv6 is now widely available in many countries, and not just from niche ISPs. Mainstream ISPs such as Comcast in Continue reading

IPv6 Trends, SixXS Sunset and Project Planning

Native IPv6 availability continues to increase, leading to the sunset of SixXS services. But it looks like we don’t like starting any major IPv6 rollouts around Christmas/New Years, but instead start going into production from April onwards.

SixXS Sunset

In March 2017, the SixXS team announced that they are closing down all services in June 2017:

SixXS will be sunset in H1 2017. All services will be turned down on 2017-06-06, after which the SixXS project will be retired. Users will no longer be able to use their IPv6 tunnels or subnets after this date, and are required to obtain IPv6 connectivity elsewhere, primarily with their Internet service provider.

SixXS has provided a free IPv6 tunnel broker service for years, allowing people to get ‘native’ IPv6 connectivity even when their ISP didn’t offer it. A useful service in the early days of IPv6, when ISPs were dragging the chain.

But this is a Good Thing that it is now closing down. It’s closing down because their mission has been achieved, and people no longer require tunnel broker services. IPv6 is now widely available in many countries, and not just from niche ISPs. Mainstream ISPs such as Comcast in Continue reading

Website Migration Complete

I have completed migrating my website to GitHub Pages. URLs and RSS feed location should remain the same.

The only issue I’m aware of at the moment is with Disqus. I moved my Wordpress comments to Disqus prior to the switchover, but it looks like the comments are not showing up here. Hopefully will sort that out soon.

Let me know if you see any other issues.

Website Migration Complete

I have completed migrating my website to GitHub Pages. URLs and RSS feed location should remain the same.

The only issue I’m aware of at the moment is with Disqus. I moved my Wordpress comments to Disqus prior to the switchover, but it looks like the comments are not showing up here. Hopefully will sort that out soon.

Let me know if you see any other issues.

CCIE Renewed Again – Exam 400-101 v5.1

It came around again: CCIE renewal. Last time I renewed, I wasn’t sure if I should do it again. But I gave in, passed the CCIE R&S Written Exam, and moved one step closer to Emeritus. Turns out it wasn’t that bad, and I should not have put it off for so long.

Renewal Cycle

Cisco certifications below Expert level have a 3-year renewal cycle. You can renew your CCNA or CCNP certifications at any time by sitting an exam at the same level. Your 3-year cycle restarts from the day you pass that exam.

CCIE is a little different. A CCIE certification remains valid for two years from your lab date. You can sit any CCIE-level written exam to renew your CCIE certification. At that point your validity date gets extended for another two years - note that it is another two years based upon your lab date, not the date you passed your most recent re-cert exam.

If you don’t pass a written exam during the two-year period, your status goes to “Suspended.” You then have another 12 months to pass the exam, or you completely lose your CCIE status.

My renewal date was last Continue reading

Formatting Matters

Using proper formatting can make it much easier to read code and log samples. Yet so many people don’t bother putting proper formatting around blocks of text. Take some time to learn how to format text in common applications and forums, and make things easier for those trying to help you.

What’s easier to read?

This?

version: ‘2.0’

examples.mistral-yaql-st2kv-user-scope:
vars:
polo: unspecified
tasks:
task1:
action: std.noop
publish:
polo: < st2kv(‘marco’) %>
on-complete:
- fail: < $.polo != polo %>

Or this?

version: '2.0'

examples.mistral-yaql-st2kv-user-scope:
    vars:
        polo: unspecified
    tasks:
        task1:
            action: std.noop
            publish:
                polo: <% st2kv('marco') %>
            on-complete:
                - fail: <% $.polo != polo %>

Which one is easier to read? Which one lets you parse key information faster? Which one clearly shows file formatting and indentation? Obvious, right?

Yet far too often, I see people paste unformatted text into Slack, GitHub comments, and web forums. They dump huge blocks of unformatted, difficult to read code and logs. Even after repeated prompts to use proper formatting, they just dump big blocks of text.

The good thing is that it’s not that Continue reading

News at Last: It’s Extreme

We have news at last: Extreme Networks is acquiring Brocade’s Data Center Networking business. This includes the SLX, VDX and MLXe routing and switching product lines, Network Visibility and Analytics products, and most importantly, my team: StackStorm.

Extreme Networks has been around a long time - they were founded in 1996, the same year as Foundry, which was acquired by Brocade in 2008, and became my business unit. They’ve had ups and downs over the years, but business is going well right now. Their share price is up, and they have been on an acquisition spree recently, acquiring Zebra Wireless, and 3 weeks ago announcing their intention to acquire Avaya Networking.

This gives them all the pieces to provide end-to-end IP networking solutions, and gives them scale to compete.

The deal is expected to close 60 days after Broadcom completes its acquisition of Brocade, which is scheduled to happen by July 30. Until then we will continue to operate as separate businesses. We don’t know exactly what it will mean for my team, but given that network automation was explicitly mentioned in investor call, we should find a good home.

The legal nature of the company means that it Continue reading

No Dress Code? AHAHAHAHAHA

Dress codes are funny things. Everyone in Silicon Valley likes to make out they are super-relaxed, and you can wear whatever you like. “We don’t have a dress code.” But that’s not really true. There are still rules about what you can wear. People who say “we don’t care what you wear” very much do care if you wear the wrong thing.

Here’s some examples of dress codes from well-known Bay Area tech companies:

From Google:

What to wear: For most of our interviews, the dress code is casual, but your recruiter will let you know what’s most appropriate. When in doubt, be yourself and wear what makes you comfortable.

From Twitter:

What should I wear to my interview?

We have a very relaxed, welcoming, and fun environment. While we don’t have a strict dress code, we also wouldn’t recommend pajamas. Come comfortable…

At Facebook:

What is Facebook’s dress code? There isn’t one. Wear what you are comfortable in.

When I started work, I wore a suit every day. That changed over the years, based upon where I was working, and broader industry trends. These days it’s dress shirts, trousers, and nice shoes. I like to Continue reading

Brocade Update: No Update

This blog has been quiet since my last post in November 2016, covering the announcement that Broadcom is acquiring Brocade, and selling off my part of the business. That was over four months ago, and many of you will be wondering what’s happening. Unfortunately I have no real news: we still don’t know what’s happening.

Update: We now have news: It’s Extreme Networks

Originally we were unsure if the IP business would be sold in whole, or broken into parts. We can now see that it is being broken into parts: Arris is acquiring the Ruckus Wireless and ICX Switch business unit. That does not include my part of the business.

Broadcom is continuing to seek buyers for my business unit (Data Center IP, covering SLX, MLX and VDX product families, and of course StackStorm). They are also looking for buyers for the Software Business Unit (vRouter, SDN Controller, and vADC). There are no published timetables for when this process will be complete: it will be done when it’s done.

This means that I still don’t know what’s going to happen to me. My visa is tied to my employer. A change in Continue reading

Brocadecom

The news is public: Broadcom is acquiring Brocade, my employer. Official announcement here, and some (unofficial) commentary here. What’s happening, and what does it mean for me? There’s limits to what I can say - either because I don’t have the answers, or because it’s not public. But here’s a little bit of info for readers wondering what will happen to me.

Update: We now have news: It’s Extreme Networks

What’s Happening?

Broadcom has announced its intention to acquire Brocade for approximately $5.5 billion:

This morning we announced a definitive agreement under which Broadcom will acquire Brocade. Broadcom believes the SAN business is a strong complement to its portfolio of enterprise storage and networking solutions, and its intention is to continue to deliver the market-leading storage networking solutions and innovation for which Brocade is so well known.

When will this happen?

Closing of the transaction is presently expected in the second half of Broadcom’s fiscal year 2017, which ends in October 2017, and is subject to regulatory approvals in various jurisdictions, customary closing conditions as well as the approval of Brocade’s stockholders.

What about the IP business?

This is the tricky bit. Broadcom is well-known as a maker Continue reading

VRF-Aware SNMP on Brocade VDX

SNMP was not designed with VRFs in mind. Querying the routing table via SNMP did not take into account the idea of having multiple routing tables. But clearly it’s something people want to do, so some clever engineers figured out how to shoe-horn VRF contexts in. This week a customer asked me how to query the routing table for the non-default VRF on Brocade VDX switches. Here’s how to do it:

VRF Configuration

For this lab I have Loopback 1 in the default VRF, with an IP of 50.50.50.50/32. I’ve created another VRF called “internet”, and put Loopback 2 in that VRF, with IP 60.60.60.60/32. Now I have two different routing tables:

VDX6940-204063# sh run rb 1 int loop 1
rbridge-id 1
interface Loopback 1
no shutdown
ip address 50.50.50.50/32
!
!
VDX6940-204063# sh ip route
Total number of IP routes: 1
Type Codes - B:BGP D:Connected O:OSPF S:Static U:Unnumbered +:Leaked route; Cost - Dist/Metric
BGP Codes - i:iBGP e:eBGP
OSPF Codes -  Continue reading

Don’t Trust Hotel Currency Conversion

Experienced travelers will already know this, but it bears repeating: Don’t trust your hotel to perform currency conversions for credit card transactions. They will rip you off. Leave it to the credit card company.

A few months ago I stayed at a Sheraton hotel in Australia. They swiped my credit card when I checked in, and on check out they asked if I wished to pay with that same card. I did, so I didn’t need to swipe my card again. They sent me an invoice for approximately $265 AUD.

A few weeks later I was processing my expenses, and I realised I’d been charged over $300 NZD. With the exchange rate at the time, it should have been about $275. Looking closer, I realised that they had charged me in New Zealand dollars. They should have charged me in Australian dollars, and let my credit card company sort out the exchange rate.

What’s going on?

Some hotels offer you a choice of currency when paying your bill. This should be an option when you enter your PIN. Do not take this option. It is almost never a good idea. Your credit card company will charge you a fee for Continue reading

When the IPv6 Data Changes, so Should Your Opinion

Sky UK recently completed their rollout of IPv6. The uptake statistics are quite remarkable. If you think that people don’t have IPv6-capable devices, or that their home routers can’t handle IPv6…you really need to look at the data, and re-think your opinion.

APNIC has a long-running program collecting data on IPv6 client capability/preference by country and ASN. This graph shows the data for Great Britain:

ipv6_gb

So a year ago we had ~5% takeup, and now it’s 20-25%. And here’s the reason for that big jump from April this year - this graph shows the data for AS5607, BSkyB:

ipv6_bskyb

So > 80% of clients on the BSkyB network are IPv6-capable.

If someone tells you that people don’t have IPv6-capable devices, or routers: the data does not back that up. A few years ago that may have been true, but people don’t access the Internet using Windows XP desktops anymore: They use iOS and Android mobile devices. These have short replacement lifecycles, so people tend to be running newer versions. These are capable of using IPv6, and will prefer it if it is available.

The other related trend is that people have more wireless devices at home, and they have Continue reading