Imagine describing at a high level without too many details what you needed the network to be, and then the network being created to meet that need. That’s my definition of orchestration, one that I suspect could be argued. That’s how I choose to see it, though — networking orchestration translates a business need into an architectural reality. How does it do this? Using some form of automation. Automation is the tool upon which orchestration exerts its will.
Orchestrated networks don’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, in practice, networks are part of a larger IT stack that is being orchestrated. Orchestration events tend to be application-centric, where there are many infrastructure elements that must be provisioning in a coordinated fashion to bring a service online. Compute, storage, memory, security, network, virtualization, monitoring, and so on — all pieces of an IT orchestra that must play together to create a unified, tuneful melody.
Let the arguing begin. Tell me in the comments how I got this description of orchestration wrong.
Do I Need An Orchestrated Network?
Do you have an orchestrated IT infrastructure? Then, yes, you need an orchestrated network. When bringing up applications in an orchestrated manner, a chief aim is speed and efficiency. How quickly can that application be completely functional? Ideally, that’s happening in minutes or seconds, and not in days or weeks. Waiting for the networking team to provision the network when the rest of the IT stack has already been provisioned means network operations is a productivity bottleneck.
Orchestration often happens as an overlay. That is, there is a static, simple, boring underlay network that rarely is touched. You’d recognize it most likely as an L3 fabric. On top of that boring underlay is an overlay, most likely payloads encapsulated in VXLAN between tunnel endpoints across the L3 fabric. When an orchestrated application is brought online, the VXLAN components are orchestrated as well. The VXLAN tunnel endpoints could be in a softswitches on hosts, or in hardware VTEPs in switches, assuming such scale and throughput is required where the VXLAN encaps and decaps should be offloaded from the host CPUs.
Now, this is just a typical scenario where orchestrated shops go, but it’s far from the only scenario. There are other orchestration platforms, more focused on the network, that can take a business intent and convert it into a network reality without necessarily requiring tight integration with a larger orchestration process.
Future Of Networking At Interop ITX 2017: Orchestration
At the Future of Networking Summit, a two day event held at InteropITX in Las Vegas May 15-16, 2017, the Packet Pushers plus some ringers we’re bringing in from the industry, will be discussing orchestration. We’ll also be hitting topics such as automation, software defined WAN, and telemetry. We’re going to share with you the bleeding edge of networking technology, projecting how that tech, as well as tech that hasn’t hit the market yet, will impact real-world networking in the next 1, 5, and 10 years.
Many of you tell us that the topics we cover on our podcast network are too far afield to be interesting — that you’re mired in a world of managing switches, creating VLANs, updating firewall ACLs by hand, and so on. Fair enough, but those things aren’t the future. The Future of Networking Summit is a forum to discuss what’s changing and why — to expand your horizons, and give you and your business direction as you evaluate what technology makes sense to adopt during the next budget cycle.
We’d like to see you in Las Vegas, so register at InteropITX.com. Use promo code PACKETPUSHERS, and the swell conference manager types in the suits will give you 20% off.