Whoever controls the infrastructure… by Terry Slattery
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Whoever controls the infrastructure…

The quote has been made in the past "Whoever controls the skies controls the land."* I think that an equivalent quote in today's network environment is:

Whoever controls the infrastructure controls the business.

Let me explain why.

We've seen in the last few years an explosion of the use of virtual systems. The limitations of buying hardware for each server were removed and we can now have tens of virtual server instances running on 4-core processors.** The number of systems to be managed are exploding as a result. With this is an increase in the infrastructure required to support these systems, with the Cisco Nexus and Arista 7100 as examples of datacenter switches that implement 10G interfaces to support the high-throughput communications requirements typical of such environments.

The ability to identify where a given application resides, where a compromised computer is connected into the network, where packet loss is occurring, or identifying the origin of a failure has become increasingly important. Controlling the infrastructure either helps or hinders the smooth operation of the business. If the infrastructure isn't working properly, the applications upon which the business depends will not work; therefore, the business stops.

A spanning tree loop that spans data centers can take out an entire business operation. An incorrectly injected default route, or a bad static route can similarly create black hole routing that prevents access to key business resources. A compromised computer attacks other computers within the organization, stopping normal business transactions. These can all be mitigated with proper infrastructure design, operation, and monitoring.

So it is no surprise to me that Infoblox acquired Netcordia this week. Infoblox is already the best-known DHCP/DNS/IPAM*** product on the market. They have a unique architecture that allows easy administration of many servers to provide these key network functions. The Infoblox servers are great appliance-based systems that simplify the management of IP Address infrastructure.

NetMRI is also an appliance-based system and is a great addition to the Infoblox product line. I'm looking forward to how they integrate the two products. NetMRI has some of the best network discovery mechanisms in the market and using it to help populate the Infoblox IPAM is a natural first step. It would be pretty cool to be able to click on an address in Infoblox and have it query NetMRI to find out where the device is connected into the network, reporting the switch port, default router(s), and any known information about the device.

I'm sure that the smart folks at Infoblox and at Netcordia will get together to come up with some other more interesting and useful functions that help to control and monitor the infrastructure that provides control of the business.


About tslattery
Terry Slattery, CCIE #1026, is a senior network engineer with decades of experience in the internetworking industry. Prior to joining Chesapeake NetCraftsmen as a full time consultant, Terry was the founder and CTO of Netcordia, and inventor of NetMRI, a suite of network management products. Terry started Netcordia as a consulting company in 2000 and transitioned to a network management product company in 2003. During the consulting days, he used his network design and implementation skills to lead a team in the design and implementation of a high availability network at a brokerage clearing house. Terry is the former President and founder of Chesapeake Computer Consultants, Inc., a networking and computer systems training and consulting company. He co-invented and patented the vLab(tm) internet-based remote lab system. He is co-author of the McGraw Hill text Advanced IP Routing in Cisco Networks. Terry led the team that developed the current Cisco IOS user interface under contract to Cisco Systems. Terry is experienced in the design and installation of large TCP/IP based networks and is a successful network protocol instructor. He is the second Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) #1026 and the first outside of Cisco. He enjoys membership on the Vanderbilt University Engineering School’s Industrial Advisory Board and the IEEE.

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