Author Archives: Peter

Mininet weathermap

Mininet dashboard is a real-time dashboard displaying traffic information from Mininet virtual networks. The screen capture demonstrates the real-time network weather map capability that was recently added to the dashboard. The torus topology is displayed and link widths are updated every second to reflect traffic. In this example a large flow between switches s1x1 and s3x3 is routed via s1x3.

The network was created using the following Mininet command:
sudo mn --custom=sflow-rt/extras/ --link tc,bw=10 \
--topo torus,3,3 --switch ovsbr,stp=1 --test iperf
In the screen capture above you can clearly see the large flow traversing switches, s4, s3, s2, s1, s9, s13, and s15 in a tree topology. The network was created using the following command:
sudo mn --custom sflow-rt/extras/ --link tc,bw=10 \
--topo tree,depth=4,fanout=2 --test iperf
The screen capture above shows a large flow traversing switches s1, s2, s3, and s4 in a linear topology. The network was created using the following command:
sudo mn --custom sflow-rt/extras/ --link tc,bw=10 \
--topo linear,4 --test iperf
It's also easy to create Custom Topologies. The following command creates the example custom topology,, that ships with Mininet:
sudo mn --custom ~/mininet/custom/,sflow-rt/extras/  Continue reading

OCP Summit 2018

Network telemetry was a popular topic at the recent OCP U.S. Summit 2018 in San Jose, California, with an entire afternoon track of the two day conference devoted to the subject. Videos of the talks should soon be posted on the conference web site.

The following articles on this blog cover related topics:
In addition, there were a couple of live sFlow telemetry demonstration in the conference exhibit hall.
The first was a demonstration of leaf and spine fabric visibility using white box switches running the open source Linux Foundation OpenSwitch network operating system. OpenSwitch describes how the open source Host sFlow agent enables standard sFlow instrumentation in merchant silicon based white box switches using OpenSwitch Control Plane Services (CPS), which in turn programs the silicon using the OCP Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI).

The rack in the booth contains a two spine, five leaf network. Each of the switches in the network Continue reading

Prometheus and Grafana

Prometheus is an open source time series database optimized to collect large numbers of metrics from cloud infrastructure. This article will explore how industry standard sFlow telemetry streaming supported by network devices and Host sFlow agents (Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, AIX, Solaris, Docker, Systemd, Hyper-V, KVM, Nutanix AHV, Xen) can be integrated with Prometheus.

The diagram above shows the elements of the solution: sFlow telemetry streams from hosts and switches to an instance of sFlow-RT. The sFlow-RT analytics software converts the raw measurements into metrics that are accessible through a REST API.

The following prometheus.php script mediates between the Prometheus metrics export protocol and the sFlow-RT REST API.  HTTP queries from Prometheus are translated into calls to the sFlow-RT REST API and JSON responses are converted into Prometheus metrics.
header('Content-Type: text/plain');
if(isset($_GET['labels'])) {
$keys = htmlspecialchars($_GET["labels"]);
$vals = htmlspecialchars($_GET["values"]);
if(isset($keys)) {
$cols = $keys.','.$vals;
} else {
$cols = $vals;
$key_arr = explode(",",$keys);
$result = file_get_contents('http://localhost:8008/table/ALL/'.$cols.'/json');
$obj = json_decode($result,true);
foreach ($obj as $row) {
foreach ($row as $cell) {
if(!isset($labels)) {
$labels = 'agent="'.$cell['agent'].'",datasource="'.$cell['dataSource'].'"';
$name = $cell['metricName'];
$val = $cell['metricValue'];
if(in_array($name,$key_arr)) {
$labels .= Continue reading


OpenSwitch is a Linux Foundation project providing an open source white box control plane running on a standard Linux distribution. The diagram above shows the OpenSwitch architecture.

This article describes how to enable industry standard sFlow telemetry using the open source Host sFlow agent. The Host sFlow agent uses Control Plane Services (CPS) to configure sFlow instrumentation in the hardware and gather metrics. CPS in turn uses the Open Compute Project (OCP) Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) as a vendor independent method of configuring the hardware. Hardware support for sFlow is a standard feature supported by Network Processing Unit (NPU) vendors (Barefoot, Broadcom, Cavium, Innovium, Intel, Marvell, Mellanox, etc.) and vendor neutral sFlow configuration is part of the SAI.

Installing and configuring Host sFlow agent

Installing the software is simple. Log into the switch and type the following commands:
wget --no-check-certificate
sudo dpkg -i hsflowd-opx_2.0.17-1_amd64.deb
The sFlow agent requires very little configuration, automatically monitoring all switch ports using the following default settings:

Link SpeedSampling RatePolling Continue reading

Intranet DDoS attacks

As on a Darkling Plain: Network Survival in an Age of Pervasive DDoS talk by Steinthor Bjarnason at the recent NANOG 71 conference. The talk discusses the threat that the proliferation of network connected devices in enterprises create when they are used to launch denial of service attacks. Last year's Mirai attacks are described, demonstrating the threat posed by mixed mode attacks where a compromised host is used to infect large numbers devices on the corporate network.
The first slide from the talk shows a denial attack launched against an external target, launched from infected video surveillance cameras scattered throughout the the enterprise network. The large volume of traffic fills up external WAN link and overwhelms stateful firewalls.
The second slide shows an attack targeting critical internal services that can have been identified by reconnaissance from the compromised devices. In addition, scanning activity associated with reconnaissance for additional devices can itself overload internal resources and cause outages.

In both cases, most of the critical activity occurs behind the corporate firewall, making it extremely challenging to detect and mitigate these threats.

The talk discusses a number of techniques that service providers use to secure their networks that enterprises will need to adopt Continue reading

RESTful control of Cumulus Linux ACLs

The diagram above shows how the Cumulus Linux 3.4 HTTP API can be extended to include the functionality described in REST API for Cumulus Linux ACLs. Fast programmatic control of Cumulus Linux ACLs addresses a number of interesting use cases, including: DDoS mitigationElephant flow marking, and Triggered remote packet capture using filtered ERSPAN.

The Github pphaal/acl_server project INSTALL page describes how to install the acl_server daemon and configure the NGINX web server front end for the Cumulus Linux REST API to include the acl_server functions. The integration ensures that the same access controls configured for the REST API apply to the acl_server functions, which appear under the /acl/ path.

The following examples demonstrate the REST API.

Create an ACL

curl -X PUT -H 'Content-Type:application/json' --data '["[iptables]","-A FORWARD --in-interface swp+ -d -p udp --sport 53 -j DROP"]' -k -u 'cumulus:CumulusLinux!'
ACLs are sent as a JSON encoded array of strings. Each string will be written as a line in a file stored under /etc/cumulus/acl/policy.d/ - See Cumulus Linux: Netfilter - ACLs. For example, the rule above will be written to the file 50rest-ddos1.rules with the following Continue reading

Real-time WiFi heat map

Real-time Wifi-Traffic Heatmap (source code GitHub: cod3monk/showfloor-heatmap) displays real-time WiFi traffic from SC17 (The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis, November 12-17, 2017). Click on the link to see live data.

The Cisco Wireless access points in the conference network don't currently support sFlow, however, the access points are connected to Juniper EX switches which stream sFlow telemetry to an instance of sFlow-RT analytics software that provides real-time usage metrics for the heat map.

Wireless describes the additional visibility delivered by sFlow capable wireless access points, including: air time, channel, retransmissions, receive / transmit speeds, power, signal to noise ratio, etc. With sFlow enabled wireless access points, additional information could be layered on the heat map. The web site lists network products and vendors that support the sFlow standard.

Arista EOS CloudVision

Arista EOS® CloudVision® provides a centralized point of visibility, configuration and control for Arista devices. The CloudVision controller is available as a virtual machine or physical appliance.

Fabric Visibility on Arista EOS Central describes how to use industry standard sFlow instrumentation in Arista switches to deliver real-time flow analytics. This article describes the steps needed to integrate flow analytics into CloudVision.

Log into the CloudVision node and run the following script as root:
# Install Fabric View on CloudVision Portal (CVP)

VER=`wget -qO -`
rpm --nodeps -ivh sflow-rt-$VER.noarch.rpm
/usr/local/sflow-rt/ sflow-rt fabric-view

ln -s /cvpi/jdk/bin/java /usr/bin/java

sed -i '/^# http.hostname=/s/^# //' /usr/local/sflow-rt/conf.d/sflow-rt.conf
echo "http.html.redirect=./app/fabric-view/html/" >> /usr/local/sflow-rt/conf.d/sflow-rt.conf

cat <<EOT > /etc/nginx/conf.d/locations/sflow-rt.https.conf
location /sflow-rt/ {
auth_request /aeris/auth;
proxy_buffering off;
proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For \$proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Prefix /sflow-rt/;
proxy_set_header Host \$host;
proxy_pass http://localhost:8008/;
proxy_redirect ~^http://[^/]+(/.+)\$ /sflow-rt\$1;

systemctl restart nginx.service

firewall-cmd --zone public --add-port=6343/udp --permanent
firewall-cmd --reload

systemctl enable sflow-rt.service
systemctl start sflow-rt.service

chmod +x

echo "configure and run"
Edit the script to Continue reading

Real-time visibility and control of campus networks

Many of the examples on this blog describe network visibility driven control of data center networks. However, campus networks face many similar challenges and the availability of industry standard sFlow telemetry and RESTful control APIs in campus switches make it possible to apply feedback control.

HPE Aruba has an extensive selection of campus switches that combine programmatic control via a REST API with hardware sFlow support:
  • Aruba 2530 
  • Aruba 2540 
  • Aruba 2620
  • Aruba 2930F
  • Aruba 2930M
  • Aruba 3810
  • Aruba 5400R
  • Aruba 8400
 This article presents an example of implementing quota controls using HPE Aruba switches.
Typically, a small number of hosts are responsible for the majority of traffic on the network: identifying those hosts, and applying controls to their traffic to prevent them from unfairly dominating, ensures fair access to all users.

Peer-to-peer protocols (P2P) pose some unique challenges:
  • P2P protocols make use of very large numbers of connections in order to quickly transfer data. The large number of connections allows a P2P user to obtain a disproportionate amount of network bandwidth; even a small number of P2P users (less than 0.5% of users) can consume over 90% of the network bandwidth.
  • P2P protocols (and users) are very good Continue reading

Flow Trend

The open source sflow-rt/flow-trend project displays a real-time trend chart of network traffic that updates every second. Defining Flows describes how to break out traffic by different traffic attributes, including: addresses, ports, VLANs, protocols, countries, DNS names, etc.
docker run -p 6343:6343/udp -p 8008:8008 sflow/flow-trend
The simplest way to run the software is using the docker. Configure network devices to send standard sFlow telemetry to Flow Trend. Access the web user interface on port 8008.

Real-time traffic visualization using Netflix Vizceral

The open source sflow-rt/vizceral project demonstrates how real-time sFlow network telemetry can be presented using Netflix Vizceral. The central dot represents the Internet (all non-local addresses). The surrounding dots represents addresses grouped into sites, data centers, buildings etc. The animated particle flows represent packet flows with colors indicating packet type: TCP/UDP shown in blue, ICMP shown in yellow, and all other traffic in red.
Click on a node to zoom in to show packets flowing up and down the protocol stack. Press the ESC key to unzoom.

The simplest way to run the software is to use the pre-built Docker image:
docker run -p 6343:6343/udp -p 8008:8008 sflow/vizceral
The Docker image also contains demo data based on Netflix's public cloud infrastructure:
docker run -e "RTPROP=-Dviz.demo=yes" -p 8008:8008 sflow/vizceral
In this case, the detailed view shows messages flowing between microservices running in the Amazon public cloud. Similar visibility could be obtained by deploying Host sFlow agents with associated modules for web and application servers and modifying sflow/vizceral to present the application transaction flows. In private data centers, sFlow support in load balancers  (F5, A10) provides visibility into interactions between application tiers. See Microservices for more information on Continue reading

Troubleshooting connectivity problems in leaf and spine fabrics

Introducing data center fabric, the next-generation Facebook data center network describes the benefits of moving to a leaf and spine network architecture. The diagram shows how the leaf and spine architecture creates many paths between each pair of hosts. Multiple paths increase available bandwidth and resilience against the loss of a link or a switch. While most networks don't have the scale requirements of Facebook, smaller scale leaf and spine designs deliver high bandwidth, low latency, networking to support cloud workloads (e.g. vSphere, OpenStack, Docker, Hadoop, etc.).

Unlike traditional hierarchical network designs, where a small number of links can be monitored to provide visibility, a leaf and spine network has no special links or switches where running CLI commands or attaching a probe would provide visibility. Even if it were possible to attach probes, the effective bandwidth of a leaf and spine network can be as high as a Petabit/second, well beyond the capabilities of current generation monitoring tools.

Fortunately, industry standard sFlow monitoring technology is built into the commodity switch hardware used to build leaf and spine networks. Enabling sFlow telemetry on all the switches in the network provides centralized, real-time, visibility into network traffic.
Fabric View Continue reading

Cumulus Linux 3.4 REST API

The latest Cumulus Linux 3.4 release include a REST API. This article will demonstrate how the REST API can be used to automatically deploy traffic controls based on real-time sFlow telemetry. DDoS mitigation with Cumulus Linux describes how sFlow-RT can detect Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks in real-time and deploy automated controls.

The following ddos.js script is modified to use the REST API to send Network Command Line Utility - NCLU commands to add and remove ACLs, see Installing and Managing ACL Rules with NCLU:
var user = "cumulus";
var password = "CumulusLinux!";
var thresh = 10000;
var block_minutes = 1;


setThreshold('attack',{metric:'udp_target', value:thresh, byFlow:true, timeout:10});

function restCmds(agent,cmds) {
for(var i = 0; i < cmds.length; i++) {
let msg = {cmd:cmds[i]};

var controls = {};
var id = 0;
setEventHandler(function(evt) {
var key = evt.agent + ',' + evt.flowKey;
if(controls[key]) return;

var ifname = metric(evt.agent,evt.dataSource+".ifname")[0].metricValue;
if(!ifname) return;

var now = (new Date()).getTime();
var name = 'ddos'+id++;
var [ip,port] = evt.flowKey.split(',');
var cmds = [
'add acl ipv4 '+name+' drop udp source-ip any source-port '+port+' dest-ip '+ip+' dest-port any',
Continue reading

Linux 4.11 kernel extends packet sampling support

Linux 4.11 on Linux Kernel Newbies describes the features added in the April 30, 2017 release. Of particular interest is the new netlink sampling channel:
Introduce psample, a general way for kernel modules to sample packets, without being tied to any specific subsystem. This netlink channel can be used by tc, iptables, etc. and allow to standardize packet sampling in the kernel commit
The psample netlink channel delivers sampled packet headers along with associated metadata from the Linux kernel to user space. The psample fields map directly into sFlow Version 5 sampled_header export structures:

netlink psamplesFlowDescription
PSAMPLE_ATTR_IIFINDEXinputInterface packet was received on.
PSAMPLE_ATTR_OIFINDEXoutputInterface packet was sent on.
PSAMPLE_ATTR_SAMPLE_GROUPdata sourceThe location within network device that generated packet sample.
PSAMPLE_ATTR_GROUP_SEQdropsNumber of times that the sFlow agent detected that a packet marked to be sampled was dropped due to lack of resources. Agent calculates drops by tracking discontinuities in PSAMPLE_ATTR_GROUP_SEQ
PSAMPLE_ATTR_SAMPLE_RATEsampling_rateThe Sampling Rate specifies the ratio of packets observed at the Data Source to the samples generated. For example a sampling rate of 100 specifies that, on Continue reading

Arista eAPI

The sFlow and eAPI features of EOS (Extensible Operating System) are standard across the full range of Arista Networks switches. This article demonstrates how the real-time visibility provided by sFlow telemetry can be combined with the programmatic control of eAPI to automatically adapt the network to changing traffic conditions.

In the diagram, the sFlow-RT analytics engine receives streaming sFlow telemetry, provides real-time network-wide visibility, and automatically applies controls using eAPI to optimize forwarding, block denial of service attacks, or capture suspicious traffic.

Arista eAPI 101 describes the JSON RPC interface for programmatic control of Arista switches. The following eapi.js script shows how eAPI requests can be made using sFlow-RT's JavaScript API:
function runCmds(proto, agent, usr, pwd, cmds) {
var req = {
var url = (proto || 'http')+'://'+agent+'/command-api';
var resp = http(url,'post','application/json',JSON.stringify(req),usr,pwd);
if(!resp) throw "no response";
resp = JSON.parse(resp);
if(resp.error) throw resp.error.message;
return resp.result;
The following test.js script demonstrates the eAPI functionality with a basic show request:
var result = runCmds('http','','admin','arista',['show hostname']);
Starting sFlow-RT:
env "RTPROP=-Dscript.file=test.js" ./
Running the script generates the following output:
2017-07-10T14:00:06-0700  Continue reading

Real-time DDoS mitigation using sFlow and BGP FlowSpec

Remotely Triggered Black Hole (RTBH) Routing describes how native BGP support in the sFlow-RT real-time sFlow analytics engine can be used to blackhole traffic in order to mitigate a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. Black hole routing is effective, but there is significant potential for collateral damage since ALL traffic to the IP address targeted by the attack is dropped.

The BGP FlowSpec extension (RFC 5575: Dissemination of Flow Specification Rules) provides a method of transmitting traffic filters that selectively block the attack traffic while allowing normal traffic to pass. BGP FlowSpec support has recently been added to sFlow-RT and this article demonstrates the new capability.

This demonstration uses the test network described in Remotely Triggered Black Hole (RTBH) Routing. The network was constructed using free components: VirtualBox, Cumulus VX, and Ubuntu LinuxBGP FlowSpec on white box switch describes how to implement basic FlowSpec support on Cumulus Linux.

The following flowspec.js sFlow-RT script detects and blocks UDP-Based Amplification attacks:
var router = '';
var id = '';
var as = 65141;
var thresh = 1000;
var block_minutes = 1;


setThreshold('attack',{metric:'udp_target', value:thresh, byFlow:true});


var Continue reading

BGP FlowSpec on white box switch

BGP FlowSpec is a method of distributing access control lists (ACLs) using the BGP protocol. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) mitigation is an important use case for the technology, allowing a targeted network to push filters to their upstream provider to selectively remove the attack traffic.

Unfortunately, FlowSpec is currently only available on high end routing devices and so experimenting with the technology is expensive. Looking for an alternative, Cumulus Linux is an open Linux platform that allows users to install Linux packages and develop their own software.

This article describes a proof of concept implementation of basic FlowSpec functionality using ExaBGP installed on a free Cumulus VX virtual machine.  The same solution can be run on inexpensive commodity white box hardware to deliver terabit traffic filtering in a production network.

First, install latest version of ExaBGP on the Cumulus Linux switch:
curl -L | tar zx
Now define the handler,, that will convert BGP FlowSpec updates into standard Linux netfilter/iptables entries used by Cumulus Linux to specify hardware ACLs (see Netfilter - ACLs):

import json
import re
from os import listdir,remove
from os.path import isfile
from Continue reading

Remotely Triggered Black Hole (RTBH) Routing

The screen shot demonstrates real-time distributed denial of service (DDoS) mitigation. Automatic mitigation was disabled for the first simulated attack (shown on the left of the chart).  The attack reaches a sustained packet rate of 1000 packets per second for a period of 60 seconds. Next, automatic mitigation was enabled and a second attack launched. This time, as soon as the traffic crosses the threshold (the horizontal red line), a BGP remote trigger message is sent to router, which immediately drops the traffic.
The diagram shows the test setup. The network was built out of freely available components: CumulusVX switches and Ubuntu 16.04 servers running under VirtualBox.

The following configuration is installed on the ce-router:
router bgp 65140
bgp router-id
neighbor remote-as 65140
neighbor port 1179
neighbor remote-as 65141
address-family ipv4 unicast
neighbor allowas-in
neighbor route-map blackhole-in in
ip community-list standard blackhole permit 65535:666
route-map blackhole-in permit 20
match community blackhole
match ip address prefix-len 32
set ip next-hop
The ce-router peers with the upstream service provider router ( Continue reading

Arista EOS telemetry

Arista EOS switches support industry standard sFlow telemetry, enabling hardware instrumentation supported by merchant silicon to export hardware interface counters and flow data. The latest release of the open source Host sFlow agent has been ported to EOS, augmenting the telemetry with standard host CPU, memory, and disk IO metrics.

Linux as a Switch Operating System: Five Lessons Learned identifies benefits of using Linux as the basis for EOS. In this context, the Linux operating system made it easy to port the Host sFlow agent, use standard Linux package management (RPM Package Manager), and gather metrics using standard Linux APIs. A new eAPI module automatically synchronizes the Host sFlow daemon with the EOS sFlow configuration.

The following sflowtool output shows the additional metrics contributed by a Host sFlow agent installed on an Arista switch:
startDatagram =================================
datagramSize 704
unixSecondsUTC 1490843418
datagramVersion 5
agentSubId 100000
packetSequenceNo 714
sysUpTime 0
samplesInPacket 1
startSample ----------------------
sampleType_tag 0:2
sampleSequenceNo 714
sourceId 2:1
counterBlock_tag 0:2001
counterBlock_tag 0:2010
udpInDatagrams 1459
udpNoPorts 16
udpInErrors 0
udpOutDatagrams 4765
udpRcvbufErrors 0
udpSndbufErrors 0
udpInCsumErrors 0
counterBlock_tag 0:2009
tcpRtoAlgorithm 1
tcpRtoMin 200
tcpRtoMax 120000
tcpMaxConn 4294967295
tcpActiveOpens 102
Continue reading


Maximum Performance from Acropolis Hypervisor and Open vSwitch describes the network architecture within a Nutanix converged infrastructure appliance - see diagram above. This article will explore how the Host sFlow agent can be deployed to enable sFlow instrumentation in the Open vSwitch (OVS)  and deliver streaming network and system telemetry from nodes in a Nutanix cluster.
This article is based on a single hardware node running Nutanix Community Edition (CE), built following the instruction in Part I: How to setup a three-node NUC Nutanix CE cluster. If you don't have hardware readily available, the article, 6 Nested Virtualization Resources To Get You Started With Community Edition, describes how to run Nutanix CE as a virtual machine.
The sFlow standard is widely supported by network equipment vendors, which combined with sFlow from each Nutanix appliance, delivers end to end visibility in the Nutanix cluster. The following screen captures from the free sFlowTrend tool are representative examples of the data available from the Nutanix appliance.
The Network > Top N chart displays the top flows traversing OVS. In this case an HTTP connection is responsible for most of the traffic. Inter-VM and external traffic flows traverse OVS and are efficiently Continue reading