Category Archives for "Russ White"

Reaction: Open Source

As long-standing contributor to open standards, and someone trying to become more involved in the open source world (I really need to find an extra ten hours a day!), I am always thinking about these ecosystems, and how the relate to the network engineering world. This article on RedisDB, and in particular this quote, caught my attention—

There’s a longstanding myth in the open-source world that projects are driven by a community of contributors, but in reality, paid developers contribute the bulk of the code in most modern open-source projects, as Puppet founder Luke Kanies explained in our story earlier this year. That money has to come from somewhere.

The point of the article is a lot of companies that support open source projects, like RedisDB, are moving to a more closed source solutions to survive. The cloud providers are called out as a source of a lot of problems in this article, as they consume a lot of open source software, but do not really spend a lot of time or effort in supporting it. Open source, in this situation, becomes a sort of tragedy of the commons, where everyone things someone else is going to do the Continue reading

The only thing constant is change

Several things of note for the near future.

As of today, I have moved into a role at Juniper networks. You will probably hear more about what I am working on over time, both here and there, and probably other places as well.

I hope to be changing platforms from WordPress to Craft in the spring; work is currently underway. This will likely mean some things about the design of this site will change; others will remain the same. Content wise, I am going to continue highlighting interesting research, soft skills, and networking technologies, but I will be trying to focus a bit more on disaggregation in all of these areas, rather than just floating around all over the place.

More as 2019 develops.

Research: Legal Barriers to RPKI Deployment

Much like most other problems in technology, securing the reachability (routing) information in the internet core as much or more of a people problem than it is a technology problem. While BGP security can never be perfect (in an imperfect world, the quest for perfection is often the cause of a good solution’s failure), there are several solutions which could be used to provide the information network operators need to determine if they can trust a particular piece of routing information or not. For instance, graph overlays for path validation, or the RPKI system for origin validation. Solving the technical problem, however, only carries us a small way towards “solving the problem.”

One of the many ramifications of deploying a new system—one we do not often think about from a purely technology perspective—is the legal ramifications. Assume, for a moment, that some authority were to publicly validate that some address, such as 2001:db8:3e8:1210::/64, belongs to a particular entity, say bigbank, and that the AS number of this same entity is 65000. On receiving an update from a BGP peer, if you note the route to x:1210::/64 ends in AS 65000, you might think you are safe in using this Continue reading

Whither Network Engineering? (Part 3)

In the previous two parts of this series, I have looked at the reasons I think the networking ecosystem is bound to change and why I think disaggregation is going to play a major role in that change. If I am right about the changes happening, what will become of network engineers? The bifurcation of knowledge, combined with the kinds of networks and companies noted in the previous posts in this series, point the way. There will, I think, be three distinct careers where the current “network engineer” currently exists on the operational side:

  1. Moving up the stack, towards business, the more management role. This will be captured primarily by the companies that operate in market verticals deep and narrow enough to survive without a strong focus on data, and hence can survive a transition to black box, fully integrated solutions. This position will largely be focused on deploying, integrating, and automating vertically integrated, vendor-driven systems and managing vendor relationships.
  2. Moving up the stack, towards software and business, the disaggregated network engineering role (I don’t have a better name for this presently). This will be in support of companies that value data to the point of focusing on its management Continue reading

Whither Network Engineering? (Part 2)

In the first post of this series at the turn of 2019, I considered the forces I think will cause network engineering to radically change. What about the timing of these changes? I hear a lot of people say” “this stuff isn’t coming for twenty years or more, so don’t worry about it… there is plenty of time to adapt.” This optimism seems completely misplaced to me. Markets and ideas are like that old house you pass all the time—you know the one. No-one has maintained it for years, but it is so … solid. It was built out of the best timber, by people who knew what they were doing. The foundation is deep, and it has lasted all these years.

Then one day you pass a heap of wood on the side of the road and realize—this is that old house that seemed so solid just a few days ago. Sometime in the night, that house that was so solid collapsed. The outer shell was covering up a lot of inner rot. Kuhn, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, argues this is the way ideas always go. They appear to be solid one day, and then Continue reading

Whither Network Engineering? (Part 1)

An article on successful writers who end up driving delivery trucks. My current reading in epistemology for an upcoming PhD seminar. An article on the bifurcation of network engineering skills. Several conversations on various slacks I participate in. What do these things have in common? Just this:

What is to become of network engineering?

While it seems obvious network engineering is changing, it is not so easy to say how it is changing, and how network engineers can survive those changes. To better understand these things, it is good to back up and take in a larger view. A good place to start is to think about how networks are built today.

Networks today are built using an appliance and circuit model. To build a network, an “engineer” (we can argue over the meaning of that word) tries to gauge how much traffic needs to be moved between different points in the business’ geographical space, and then tries to understand the shape of that traffic. Is it layer 2, or layer 3? Which application needs priority over some other application?

Once this set of requirements is drawn up, a long discussion over the right appliances and circuits to purchase to Continue reading

Merry Christmas!

We are now at the 22nd of December, and it is time to take a break to spend time with family and friends (as well as prepping up a lot of work for next year). From my family to yours, we wish you the merriest of Christmas’, and a very happy new year.

Remember, at this time of year, “He who made the blind men see, and the lame men walk,” as Tiny Tim would say.

A bit of retrospect from 2018, and prospect for 2019…

  • I posted 295 items (not including worth reading) here on Rule11 in 2018.
  • Rule11 had more than 128,000 views in 2018.
  • I am shifting roles in the new year; you can expect to see more on this in early January.
  • I am planning to move rule11 off WordPress in 2019; I am trying to find a developer to help me do the initial work to move to either Ghost or Craft, but have not had any luck in finding someone to kick start the process.

As Marley might say: “Look to see me no more, and expect the first post in the new year…”

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