|By Marten Terpstra||
|January 16, 2014 12:45 PM EST||
There have been many articles describing overlay networks in the past few quarters. It's a relatively straightforward concept, not far removed from some of the older VPN technologies very popular a while ago. The actual transport of packets is probably the simplest, it is the control plane that is much harder to construct and therefore explain. It is therefore also that the control plane in overlay networks has seen the most innovation and change, and is likely to change some more in standard and proprietary ways in the next little while. A perfect example is the use of IP Multicast for unknown, multicast and broadcast traffic as defined in the latest IETF draft for VXLAN, but controller implementations try and avoid IP Multicast as part of the necessary data path. Which will continue to lead to changes in the control plane for learning, distribution of destinations, etc.
A Plexxi solution provides an optimized L1, L2 and L3 network. With the advent of overlay networks, the relationship and interaction between the physical, L2 and L3 network and the overlay infrastructure is important to understand. We strongly believe the control and data planes should be interconnected and coordinated/orchestrated. In this and next week’s blog, I will describe some key touch points of the two at the data plane: entropy as a mechanism to discern flow like information and the role and capabilities of a hardware gateway.
I looked at VXLAN, NVGRE and STT as the major overlay encapsulations. VXLAN and STT are very much driven by VMWare, with STT used as the tunnel encapsulation between vSwitch based VXLAN Tunnel End Points (VTEP), VXLAN used as the tunnel encapsulation to external entities like gateways. NVGRE of course is the tunnel protocol of choice for Microsoft’s overlay solution and very similar to to previous GRE based encapsulations. All encapsulations are IP based, allowing the tunnels to be transported across a basic IP infrastructure (with the above mentioned note for IP Multicast). VXLAN and NVGRE are packet based mechanisms, each original packet ends up being encapsulated into a new packet.
VXLAN is build on top of UDP. As shown below, an encapsulated ethernet packet has 54 bytes of new header information added (assuming it is being transported again over ethernet). The first 18 bytes contain the ethernet header containing the MAC address of the source VTEP and its next IP destination, most likely the next IP router/switch. This header changes at each IP hop. The next 20 bytes contain the IP header. The protocol is set to 17 for UDP. The source IP address is that of the originating VTEP, the destination IP address that of the destination VTEP. The IP header is followed by 8 bytes of UDP header containing source UDP port, destination UDP port (4789) and the usual UDP length and checksum fields. While formatted in a normal way, the UDP source port is used in a special way to create “entropy”, explained in more detail below.
A VXLAN Encapsulated Ethernet Packet
Following the UDP header is the actual 8 byte VXLAN header. Just about all fields except the 24 bit VXLAN Network Identifier (VNI) are reserved and set to zero. The VNI is key, it determines which VXLAN the original packet belongs to. When the destination VTEP receives this packet and decapsulates it, it will use this to find the right table to use for MAC address lookups of the original packet to get it to its destination. Only the original packets (shown with Ethernet headers above) follows the VXLAN header. For every packet sent out by a VM, VXLAN adds 54 bytes of new tunnel headers between the source and destination VTEP. Intermediate systems do all their forwarding based on this new header: ethernet switches will use the Outer Ethernet header, IP routers will use the Outer IPv4 header to route this packet towards its destination. Each IP router will replace the Outer Ethernet header with a new one representing itself as the source, and the next IP router as the destination.
NVGRE packets look very similar to VXLAN packets. The initial Outer Ethernet header is the same as VXLAN, representing the source tunnel endpoint and the first IP router as the source and destination. The next 20 bytes of IP header are also similar to VXLAN, except that the protocol is 47 for GRE. NVGRE encodes the Virtualized LAN (Virtual Subnet ID or VSID in NVGRE terms) inside the GRE header, using 24 bits of the original GRE Key field to represent the VSID, leaving 8 bits for a FlowID field, which serves a similar entropy function as the UDP source port for VXLAN, explain further below. The VSID in NVGRE and VNI in VXLAN represent the overlay virtual network ID for each of the technologies. Following the GRE header, the original (Ethernet) packet. NVGRE added 46 bytes of new header information to existing packets.
A NVGRE Encapsulated Ethernet Packet
As I mentioned in last week’s blog, a tunnel endpoint is an aggregation point and as a result, all of the individual flows that are put into a specific VTEP to VTEP tunnel go through the transport network based on the new headers that have been added. Many networks rely on some form of L2 or L3 ECMP to use all available bandwidth between any two points on the network, spine and leaf networks being the prime example of an absolute dependency on a very well functioning ECMP to perform at its best. Without discussing the virtues of ECMP again, tunneled packets need something in the new header that allows an hash calculation to make use of multiple ECMP paths. With pretty much all of the L2 and L3 header identical (except for the VNI or VSID) for all traffic between two tunnel endpoints, the creators of these encapsulations have been creative in encoding entropy in these new headers so that hash calculations for these headers can be used to place traffic onto multiple equal cost paths.
For VXLAN, this entropy is encoded in the UDP source port field. With only a single UDP VXLAN connection between any two endpoints allowed (and necessary), the source port is essentially irrelevant and can be used to mark a packet with a hash calculation result that in effect acts as a flow identifier for the inner packet. Except that it is not unique. The VXLAN spec does not specify exactly how to calculate this hash value, but its generally assumed that specific portions of the inner packet L2, L3 and/or L4 header are used to calculate this hash. The originating VTEP calculates this, puts it in the new UDP header as the source port, and it remains there unmodified until it arrives at the receiving VTEP. Intermediate systems that calculate hashes for L2 or L3 ECMP balancing typically use UDP ports as part of their calculation and as a result, different inner packet flows will result in different placement onto ECMP links. As mentioned, intermediate routers or switches that transport the VXLAN packet do not modify the UDP source port, they only use its value in their ECMP calculation.
NVGRE is fairly similar. GRE packets have no TCP or UDP header, and as a result network hardware typically has the ability to recognize these packets as GRE and use the 32-bit GRE key field as an information source in their ECMP calculations. GRE tunnel endpoints encode inner packet flows with individual (but not necessarily unique) key values, and as a result, intermediate network systems will calculate different hash results to place these inner packet flows onto multiple ECMP links. NVGRE has taken 24 of these bits to encode the VSID, but has left 8 bits to create this entropy at the tunnel endpoint, the field has been renamed FlowID. The VSID and FlowID combined will be used to calculate hashes for ECMP link placement. A possible challenge is that for networks that have many many flows inside a VSID between two specific NVGRE endpoints, the 8 bits worth of differentiation may not create a “normal” ECMP distribution.
While the packet formats have been constructed to ensure that the “normal” tools of entropy can be used for ECMP and LAG by existing switching hardware, the latest hardware platforms have the ability to look well beyond the outer headers. Many bits and pieces of the new headers can be examined and decisions can be made on them. While specific switching ASICs will have slightly different tools, the latest generations of them have he ability to look at VNI and VSID even when not acting as a gateway, and packet modification or forwarding decisions can be made on their value. Inner MAC and IP headers can also be examined and acted on, with a bit more complexity. Switching ASICs are built to have quick access to the most important fields to make decisions on, access to less common fields is there, but requires some manual construction by those that program the ASIC (the networking vendors).
When the switching platform is configured to be a gateway to provide bridging functions between regular VLANs and the tunneled VXLAN or NVGRE infrastructure, the ASIC has access to the entire original packet, since it actively encapsulates or decapsulates the original packet. That gives the switch decision choices very similar to a vSwitch, but at a smaller scale. More detail on the gateway function and STT next week.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 12, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 446
Microservices are a type of software architecture where large applications are made up of small, self-contained units working together through APIs that are not dependent on a specific language. Each service has a limited scope, concentrates on a specific task and is highly independent. This setup allows IT managers and developers to build systems in a modular way. In his book, “Building Microservices,” Sam Newman said microservices are small, focused components built to do a single thing very w...
Feb. 12, 2016 02:00 PM EST
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 12, 2016 01:00 PM EST Reads: 224
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
Feb. 12, 2016 12:30 PM EST Reads: 104
CIOs and those charged with running IT Operations are challenged to deliver secure, audited, and reliable compute environments for the applications and data for the business. Behind the scenes these tasks are often accomplished by following onerous time-consuming processes and often the management of these environments and processes will be outsourced to multiple IT service providers. In addition, the division of work is often siloed into traditional "towers" that are not well integrated for cro...
Feb. 12, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 497
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 12, 2016 11:45 AM EST Reads: 448
In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
Feb. 12, 2016 11:30 AM EST Reads: 299
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
Feb. 12, 2016 11:15 AM EST Reads: 263
SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
Feb. 12, 2016 11:15 AM EST Reads: 433
Microservices are all the rage right now — and the industry is still learning, experimenting, and developing patterns, for successfully designing, deploying and managing Microservices in the real world. Are you considering jumping on the Microservices-wagon? Do Microservices make sense for your particular use case? What are some of the “gotchas” you should be aware of? This morning on #c9d9 we had experts from popular chat app Kik, SMB SaaS platform Yodle and hosted CI solution Semaphore sha...
Feb. 12, 2016 09:16 AM EST
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
Feb. 12, 2016 09:00 AM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Feb. 12, 2016 06:00 AM EST Reads: 253
The (re?)emergence of Microservices was especially prominent in this week’s news. What are they good for? do they make sense for your application? should you take the plunge? and what do Microservices mean for your DevOps and Continuous Delivery efforts? Continue reading for more on Microservices, containers, DevOps culture, and more top news from the past week. As always, stay tuned to all the news coming from@ElectricCloud on DevOps and Continuous Delivery throughout the week and retweet/favo...
Feb. 12, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 238
How is your DevOps transformation coming along? How do you measure Agility? Reliability? Efficiency? Quality? Success?! How do you optimize your processes? This morning on #c9d9 we talked about some of the metrics that matter for the different stakeholders throughout the software delivery pipeline. Our panelists shared their best practices.
Feb. 12, 2016 04:00 AM EST Reads: 119
In a previous article, I demonstrated how to effectively and efficiently install the Dynatrace Application Monitoring solution using Ansible. In this post, I am going to explain how to achieve the same results using Chef with our official dynatrace cookbook available on GitHub and on the Chef Supermarket. In the following hands-on tutorial, we’ll also apply what we see as good practice on working with and extending our deployment automation blueprints to suit your needs.
Feb. 12, 2016 04:00 AM EST
Sensors and effectors of IoT are solving problems in new ways, but small businesses have been slow to join the quantified world. They’ll need information from IoT using applications as varied as the businesses themselves. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Meike, Distinguished Engineer, Director of Technology Innovation at Intuit, showed how IoT manufacturers can use open standards, public APIs and custom apps to enable the Quantified Small Business. He used a Raspberry Pi to connect sensors...
Feb. 12, 2016 03:45 AM EST Reads: 360
Let’s face it, embracing new storage technologies, capabilities and upgrading to new hardware often adds complexity and increases costs. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Seth Oxenhorn, Vice President of Business Development & Alliances at FalconStor, will discuss how a truly heterogeneous software-defined storage approach can add value to legacy platforms and heterogeneous environments. The result reduces complexity, significantly lowers cost, and provides IT organizations with improved effi...
Feb. 12, 2016 03:45 AM EST Reads: 270
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 12, 2016 02:30 AM EST Reads: 231
Father business cycles and digital consumers are forcing enterprises to respond faster to customer needs and competitive demands. Successful integration of DevOps and Agile development will be key for business success in today’s digital economy. In his session at DevOps Summit, Pradeep Prabhu, Co-Founder & CEO of Cloudmunch, covered the critical practices that enterprises should consider to seamlessly integrate Agile and DevOps processes, barriers to implementing this in the enterprise, and pr...
Feb. 12, 2016 02:00 AM EST Reads: 445
If we look at slow, traditional IT and jump to the conclusion that just because we found its issues intractable before, that necessarily means we will again, then it’s time for a rethink. As a matter of fact, the world of IT has changed over the last ten years or so. We’ve been experiencing unprecedented innovation across the board – innovation in technology as well as in how people organize and accomplish tasks. Let’s take a look at three differences between today’s modern, digital context...
Feb. 12, 2016 01:45 AM EST Reads: 241