Blog: Service-Oriented Management

By Erik Thoen |

Network management has been complicated for decades, so enterprises often dedicate large teams to operate their networks. In contrast, web-scale IT companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook have dramatically increased the ratio of servers per administrator from single digits to over 20,000 in a relatively short time! What have these cloud companies figured out that traditional networking companies haven’t? The disrupters successfully focused on services that mattered and redesigned their architecture from the ground up. 128 Technology was founded on similar principles; we’re fixing the Internet by rethinking routing. With a new approach of service-orientation, function consolidation, and session awareness, managing the network becomes easy.

Our service-oriented management approach is better understood in the context of the challenges of existing solutions:

  • Network complexity While basic protocols were defined decades ago, as each new networking challenge emerged a new overlay has been added. In some cases layers have been added to translate or orchestrate other layers! The complexity of these varied approaches and endless potential permutations makes management incredibly difficult.
  • Middlebox proliferation In a text book, networks are made-up of uniformly connected routers. In practice, networks also include numerous, special-purpose middleboxes, which add functions like firewalls, Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), network address translation (NAT), or load balancers. Each of these elements can be procured from diverse vendors and managed with different APIs. Unfortunately, to achieve uniform network-wide policy all of these different elements must be provisioned and monitored consistently, which is not simple.
  • Limited visibility Services are the reason that networks are deployed, but the existing paradigm isolates and obfuscates each function of the network. Every layer and middle box might provide some visibility into one limited domain, but a consistent, consolidated view is quite challenging, especially across diverse vendors. Today, often the solution for management visibility is yet another function, a network monitor, with operators spending almost as much on monitoring infrastructure as the network functions!

128 Technology is addressing network complexity head-on with our Secure Vector Routing architecture. Previously, we’ve detailed how our new architecture addresses the needs of tomorrow’s networks, but the approach also greatly simplifies how a network is managed because it introduces service-orientation, function consolidation, and session-awareness.

  • Service-Orientation – We’ve designed the 128 Technology Networking Platform (128T) from the ground-up to focus on what is most important: services. This service-centric approach is far more intuitive from a provisioning and administration perspective. Instead of mapping services through many networking layers to determine how to provision the network, our data model is based directly on services, tenants, and policies. The configuration of a session-oriented router directly includes the names of the services carried over the network, which provides both management simplicity and transparency.
  • Function Consolidation – A session-oriented router consolidates security, load balancing, and monitoring functions in a single network element. At the most basic level, fewer elements are easier to manage. Significantly, routing, load balancing, and security are inter-dependent, so a single, self-consistent configuration greatly reduces errors. Our architecture includes service federation between session-oriented routers, so consistency is automatically created network-wide.
  • Session-Awareness Every aspect of our router is based on sessions, from basic packet processing to policy definition, so 128T naturally generates data for session-awareness. Since these analytics are tied to the services that generate enterprise value, they provide tremendous management insight. We integrate this data directly into our management tools, so the administrator can monitor relevant service metrics, adjust configuration, and improve performance across the entire network.

Our disruptive architectural principles enable service-oriented management which produces key benefits. By focusing on services across all network functions, 128T provides consistent management of services, tenants, and policies ensuring dependable security. The simplicity of our data model and reduction in network complexity provide management agility to quickly deploy and integrate new, revenue-generating services. With fewer functions to manage and session analytics to quickly isolate problems, our solution reduces operational expenditures for enterprises. By rethinking routing, 128 Technology uniquely delivers service-oriented management, transforming network operations.

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