Nines are not enough

How many 9’s is your network? How about your service provider’s? Now, to ask the not-so-obvious question—why do you care? Does the number of 9’s actually describe the reliability of the network? According to Jeffery Mogul and John Wilkes, nines are not enough. The question is—while this paper was written for commercial relationships and cloud providers, is it something you can apply to running your own network? Let’s dive into the meat of the paper and find out.

While 5 9’s is normally given as a form of Service Level Agreement (SLA), there are two other measures of reliability a network operator needs to consider—the Service Level Objective (SLO), and the Service Level Indicator (SLI).

The Hedge Podcast Episode 19: Optional Security is not Optional

Brian Trammell joins Alvaro Retana and Russ White to discuss his IETF draft Optional Security Is Not An Option, and why optional security is very difficult to deploy in practice. Brian blogs at and also writes at APNIC.

The History of Programmable Control Planes

On this episode of the History of Networking, organized through the Association of Computing Machinery, Jennifer Rexford joins Donald Sharp and Russ White to discuss the history of programmable control planes. Dr. Rexford is the Gordon Y. S. Wu Professor in Engineering at Princeton University in New Jersey.

Knowing Where to Look

If you haven’t found the tradeoffs, you haven’t looked hard enough. Something I say rather often—as Eyvonne would say, a “Russism.” Fair enough, and it’s easy enough to say “if you haven’t found the tradeoffs, you haven’t looked hard enough,” but what does it mean, exactly? How do you apply this to the everyday world of designing, deploying, operating, and troubleshooting networks?

Humans tend to extremes in their thoughts. In many cases, we end up considering everything a zero-sum game, where any gain on the part of someone else means an immediate and opposite loss on my part. In others, we end up thinking we are going to get a free lunch. The reality is there is no such thing as a free lunch, and while there are situations that are a zero-sum game, not all situations are. What we need is a way to “cut the middle” to realistically appraise each situation and realistically decide what the tradeoffs might be.

The Hedge Podcast Episode 18: Programming Fundamentals for Network Engineers

Network engineers do not need to become full-time coders to succeed—but some coding skills are really useful. In this episode of the Hedge, David Barrosso (you can find David’s github repositories here), Phill Simmonds, and Russ White discuss which programming skills are useful for network engineers.

Is it Money, Flexibility, or… ??

Raise your hand if you think moving to platform as a service or infrastructure as a service is all about saving money. Raise it if you think moving to “the cloud” is all about increasing business agility and flexibility.

Put your hand down. You’re wrong.

Let’s be honest. For the last twenty years we network engineers have specialized in building extremely complex systems and formulating the excuses required when things don’t go right. We’ve specialized in saying “yes” to every requirement (or even wish) because we think that by saying “yes” we will become indispensable. Rather than building platforms on which the business can operate, we’ve built artisanal, complex, pets that must be handled carefully lest they turn into beasts that devour time and money. You know, like the person who tries to replicate store-bought chips by purchasing expensive fryers and potatoes, and ends up just making a mess out of the kitchen?