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Net Field Day – Day 2

by Jeremy L. Gaddis on September 28, 2010 · 2 comments

in Events

This post covers day two of the Gestalt IT Net Field Day event in San Jose on September 16th and 17, 2010. Be sure and see my article on day one!

Day 2

Net Field Day crew - Photo by Stephen Foskett

Day 2 found us heading to Sunnyvale bright and early to meet up with Abner Germanow and Dan Backman at Juniper Networks. They got the obligatory marketing out of the way at the beginning and then jumped into the technical details. We were provided a great overview of their edge, core, and datacenter offerings. They were comparing many of their products to those of other vendors which, I think, helped a lot of us understand where each particular model would “fit in” to our networks.

There was a lot of discussion on their datacenter switching/high-availability offerings, including Virtual Chassis Technology.

There were a number of things they didn’t want to talk about when we asked about them, and I can somewhat understand that.

Brandon Carroll said:

One topic that was mentioned but quickly dismissed was the Firewall that works into a Virtualized Platform. I don’t think we were supposed to ask about it and I know they didn’t want to talk about it.

At the end of the session, we were given a tour of their lab (you can’t go wrong there!). We saw everything from their low-end offerings up to MX960s and T1600s (and even a few Nexus switches and a CRS-1). Many of us took lots of photos in the lab — mine can be viewed in my Flickr stream.

Note: As Brandon also mentioned, Juniper has written a number of “Day One” books that are freely available for download. These guides are designed to quickly get an experienced network engineer up to speed on Juniper’s products. I made use of them when I was participating in the Fast Track Program preparing for the JNCIA-ER examination.

Disclosure: Juniper gave us a 4GB USB drive with a number of PDFs, some stickers, and I also scored a print copy of “JunOS High Availability”.

After Juniper, we got to hear Doug Gourlay deep dive into Arista’s offerings. He caught my attention right off the bat talking about how their products run the Arista Extensible Operating System, which is built on top of Linux (there’s also a freely available virtualized version, vEOS, that you should check out). The flexibility one gains by running switches built on top of Linux is impressive. Think of all the networking tools available that you can run on a Linux box, and then realize that you can run them directly on your switches — how awesome is that!? Obviously, the switch isn’t the place to run most of them but wouldn’t it be nice to directly run a quick tcpdump on a switch 1/100/1000 miles away instead of trying to screw with setting up an RSPAN session?

As someone with a strong UNIX background, I appreciate this functionality. If I can write some scripts to make my life easier, I’ll do it everytime. There is a tremendous amount of potential with a platform such as this.

Another thing that I thought was really cool about Arista was that a TDR is built-in. This isn’t your typical TDR, though! They’ve added a lot of logic to it to be able to provide you with details on what is happening. For example, if the TDR shows open at 50 feet, then the analysis may be that the cable is unplugged at the server side. This type of analysis, delivered via SNMP traps, syslog, etc. can be useful in quickly diagnosing a problem and getting the appropriate people lined up who can address the issue. Terry was impressed by the TDR as well.

VM Tracer. Check it out, seriously.

Doug’s presentation was one of the best we saw at Net Field Day, if not THE best. One of the things on my “to-do” list is to get vEOS up and running and spend some time working with it. I was truly impressed. Thanks Doug for the truly awesome presentation!

Xsigo was the last sponsor to present to us. Xsigo was a completely new company to me and while I understood the basics of most of what they talked about, a lot of it was over my head (again, not a bad thing!). It seemed to make sense, but I don’t know enough of storage and data consolidation and virtual I/O and all that jazz to make an informed opinion. Some of the delegates clearly knew and understood what they were talking about, so I’ll leave the analysis of Xsigo up to them.

stretch posted a nice little summary:

Xsigo’s I/O director offers an interesting approach to networking virtualized servers. In contrast to a virtual switch installed on the VM host like Cisco’s Nexus 1000V, Xsigo aggregates the virtual connections of many VMs into a single centralized box, and presents them to the upstream network as physical Ethernet and Fibre Channel interfaces. The I/O director acts essentially as a packet-level multiplexer, although traffic can also be switched from one VM to another directly within the aggregator. This seems to be a very appealing design, both in overall reduction of cabling and ease of integration and demarcation with the network infrastructure.

Day 2 wrap-up

With Xsigo’s session done, Net Field Day was officially over. A few of the delegates had to catch flights back home Friday evening, while the rest of us got to enjoy a wonderful Italian dinner at Antonella’s. Afterwards, many of us gathered in the hotel bar to wind down, have a drink or two, and enjoy some relaxed conversation and share a few jokes.

Net Field Day crew - Photo by Stephen Foskett

After they finally ran me off, I retired to my room to get some rest before my flight home Saturday. The first Net Field Day was a wrap.

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