Weekend Reads 041924

Huawei has released details of how it manages its own cloud with a dynamic traffic allocation system optimized by machine learning and developed in response to surging demand for its services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A jury has ordered Amazon Web Services to pay $525 million for infringing distributed data storage patents in a case brought by a technology outfit called Kove IO.

The BBC has just shared another video from its archives, this one showing a report about computer addicts from way back in 1983, when computers were just starting to find their way into the workplace and home.

Microsoft is currently testing a new way to showcase ads on the Windows 11 Start Menu, and it’s meant to encourage users to download more applications.

Google announced on Wednesday it will invest $1 billion in two submarine cables to create new routes between the US and Japan.

While writing about Git, I’ve noticed that a lot of folks struggle with Git’s error messages. I’ve had many years to get used to these error messages so it took me a really long time to understand why folks were confused.

If the prognosticators at IDC are correct, four years from now as 2028 is coming to a close, the service providers as a group will comprise more than two thirds of server and storage revenues for that year.

Alibaba Cloud has detailed the telemetry tool it uses to look out for glitches in customers’ virtual networks, and revealed it’s reduced the number of personnel dedicated to troubleshooting by 86 percent since developing the system.

We know Google search results are being hammered by the proliferation of AI garbage, and the web giant’s attempts to curb the growth of machine-generated drivel haven’t helped all that much.

Information and decision-making power now flowed straight to the top. Decades later when the first crop was felled, vast fortunes were made, tree by standardized tree. The clear-felled forests were replanted, with hopes of extending the boom.

New Course: Coding Skills for Network Engineers

This Friday, Marlon Bailey and I will be teaching a new four-hour class on coding skills for network engineers over on Safari Books Online through Pearson. From the course description:

Network engineers are increasingly expected to know how to perform basic coding, like building scripts to gather information and build or maintain an automation system. In larger organizations with full-time coders, network engineers are expected to effectively work with coders, on their own turf, to build and maintain network automation systems. All of these tasks require a basic knowledge of the structure and terminology of programming. There are a lot of courses that show you how to build your first program, or how to perform basic tasks using common programming languages—this course is different. This course will help you build a “mental map” of the software development space, gathering ideas and patterns learned across years into a simple-to-understand format. In this course you will learn data structures, program flow control, and—most importantly—how to structure software for efficiency and maintainability over the long haul.

For anyone who doesn’t know Marlon, you can find his LinkedIn profile here.

Register for the class here.

Weekend Reads 041224

Future AMD processors could feature domain-specific accelerators – even some created by third parties, according to senior execs at the chip shop.

We tolerate such things even though we understand these practices usually harm those who willingly engage in them. Consider it one price we pay for relative freedom. But what should we do when these practices destroy the lives of innocent bystanders?

Thread hijacking attacks. They happen when someone you know has their email account compromised, and you are suddenly dropped into an existing conversation between the sender and someone else.

The first thing to note about the rumored “Stargate” system that Microsoft is planning to build to support the computational needs of its large language model partner, OpenAI, is that the people doing the talking – reportedly OpenAI chief executive officer Sam Altman – are talking about a datacenter, not a supercomputer

Now we’re going to go much deeper into the layers that relate to the PHY, which is PCS, PMA, and Autonegotiation. First though, let’s review the objectives of 1000BASE-T.

macOS has been gaining the unwanted attention of more and more backdoor operators since late 2023. In February 2024, Bitdefender uncovered RustDoor, which was written in Rust and possibly has ties to the operators of a Windows ransomware.

The PCIe 7.0 spec is on track for release next year and, for many AI chip peddlers trying to push the limits of network fabrics and accelerator meshes, it can’t come soon enough

In this article, we report on our longitudinal research study (between 2020 and 2023) of such dangling resource abuse. Across 12 cloud platforms, we identified 20,904 hijacks that hosted malicious content. We detected hijacked domains in 219 Top-Level Domains (TLDs) and abuses on popular clouds.

Three imminent improvements to the Ethernet standard will make it a better alternative to host AI workloads, and that will see vendors back the tech as an alternative to Nvidia’s InfiniBand kit, which is set to dominate for the next two years.

Cloud native architecture is a game changer for security at scale. Whether used on-premises or in the cloud, capabilities to ease the management of IT assets are improving. And while there’s a long way to go in simplifying interfaces and reducing skill-set barriers – this too will come in time.

It’s a tantalizing idea: that the same routers bringing you the internet could also detect your movements. “It’s like this North Star for everything ambient sensing,” says Sam Yang, who runs the health-sensor startup Xandar Kardian. For a while, he says, “investors just flocked in.”

Arista Networks has offered a look at how it expects to roll out Ethernet technology that will underpin the networks required to handle the demands of AI-based workloads.

Architecture and Process

Driving through some rural areas east of where I live, I noticed a lot of collections of buildings strung together being used as homes. The process seems to start when someone takes a travel trailer, places it on blocks (a foundation of sorts) and builds a spacious deck just outside the door. Over time, the deck is covered, then screened, then walled, becoming a room.

Once the deck becomes a room, a new deck is built, and the process begins anew. At some point, the occupants decide they need a place to store some sort of equipment, so they build a shed. Later, the shed is connected to the deck, the whole thing becomes an extension of the living space, and a new shed is built.

These … interesting … places to live are homes to the people who live in them. They are often, I assume, even happy homes.

But they are not houses in the proper sense of the word. There is no unifying theme, no thought of how traffic should flow and how people should live. They are a lot like the paths crisscrossing a campus—built where the grass died.

Our networks are like these homes—they are not houses so much as historical records of every new idea and vendor marketing drive. There is no architecture, there are many architectures strung together with a set of tightly wound and closely followed processes.

We need to support some new application or service? Throw a new overlay on top. There was a massive failure last night? Let’s spend hours closely examining our process and find some way to prevent the failure by adding a few new steps.

We never ask if our goals are realistic because we don’t have any goal beyond: “Let’s solve this problem right now.” We never ask if there is some future goal might be better served by using this solution or that—the future will take care of itself.

Why do we fail to attend to architecture?

Architecture is hard, and we often fail to correctly anticipate the future. This perceives architecture as a detailed plan—but there’s no reason it should be. An architecture can be a rough, and slow-changing, outline of how the network is laid out, a set of services the network supports, and a set of technologies the network will use to support those services. An architecture recognizes and defines limits as well as capabilities.

Processes are comforting. When things fail, we can always take comfort in saying: “I followed the process!”

We live in a culture of now. All problems take two hours, two days, two weeks, or too long. There is no history, there is no future, there is only an ever-present now. If I cannot have it now, it is not worth having at all.

These problems are hard to solve because they are cultural rather than technical—and the network engineering world has a strong bias towards “don’t tell me how it works, tell me how to configure it.” We present this as a problem-solving mentality, even though it causes more problems than it solves.

We need to rebalance the way we think about architectures and processes—perhaps we would get better results by combining lightweight architectures with lightweight processes, instead of relying on heavy processes with no architecture to build maintainable networks and sustainable lives.

Hedge 221: Energy Aware Protocols

A lot of people are spending time thinking about how to make transport and control plane protocols more energy efficient. Is this effort worth it? What amount of power are we really like to save, and what downside potential is there in changing protocols to save energy? George Michaelson joins us from Australia to discuss energy awareness in protocols.




Hedge 220: The Cost of the Cloud

Cloud services are all the rage right now, but are they worth it? There are many aspects to the question, and the answer is almost always going to be “it depends.” Do you really need to spin up capacity more quickly than you can buy hardware and get it running? Do you really need to be able to spin capacity down without leaving any hardware behind? Is cloud really the best use of your team’s time and talent?

David Heinemeier Hansson joins Tom and Russ to talk about the economics and uses of cloud, and why his company has moved away from public cloud services.