Extreme is Bringing Purple Rain from the Cloud

During Networking Field Day 21 Aerohive, I mean Extreme, presented on their new “Cloud Driven End to End Enterprise” using ExtremeCloud IQ, formerly HiveManager. After the acquisition of AeroHive by Extreme there had been lots of speculation in the wireless community on what was going to happen with the product. The most obvious conjecture was the reason Extreme made the purchase was for the cloud technology that AeroHive already had, but how would they fold it into the mix with their other offerings?

Abby Strong (@wifi_princess on Twitter) started us off with a quick introduction into The New Extreme and the vision of the company. As Abby started us down the path we got some quick stats around the new technology users in the world, including the 5.1 billion mobile users and USD$2 trillion dollars being spent on digital transformation which was explained more. Digital Transformation is one of the hot marketing buzzwords in the industry at the moment, but what is it exactly? According to Abby, “Digital Transformation is the idea of technology and policy coming together to create a new experience.” This is what Extreme has been focusing on, but how? Extreme is doing this via their Autonomous Network, using automation, insights, infrastructure and an ecosystem all wrapped in machine learning, AI and security.

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The concept behind this is using the insights and information Extreme has gathered and looking at issues that arise in the network and being able to recommend if it is a possible driver issue, a recommended code upgrade to fix a network issue and so on. This is a really cool concept around automation and insights which is where most companies are trying to get in the industry and from what was shown at NFD20 in February and then again at NFD21, I think they are almost there with their expanded portfolio of solutions in Applications, Switching, Routing and Wireless and open ecosystem and open source. Check out more on those solutions and more about Extreme at https://www.extremenetworks.com/products/.

Next Extreme brought us into their 3rd generation cloud solution, ExtremeCloud IQ and showing their roadmap towards the 4th generation cloud.

The ExtremeCloud IQ Architecture was presented by Shyam Pullela and Gregor Vučajnk (@GregorVucajnk on Twitter) with a demo of the system.

The architecture is still the previous Aerohive design, however, without ever really digging into the product I was impressed with how they have done the back-end cloud. Currently Extreme is using AWS to host their infrastructure, but we were assured it was not dependent on AWS but could be run on any cloud provider. The setup is interesting as they have multiple regional data centers connecting back to a global data center. This provides resiliency built-in to the system, the ability to run in any country in which a public cloud can run and to collect the analytics and ML/AI data globally and not just from regional areas. With the architecture the ExtremeCloud IQ can also be run in different formats, public cloud, private cloud and on-prem to provide the customers with flexibility. From a basic cloud architecture standpoint, there is nothing crazy or specific Extreme is doing with the setup. The key to how they have done it comes into the scalability that has been designed into the system. Using a simple architecture makes it easy for Extreme to just add compute power to the back-end to scale it for large organizations.

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With these regional data centers in use, the ExtremeCloud IQ is processing data to the tune of 3.389 PETABYTES per day and an astounding number of devices and clients to help with the ML/AI decision-making that the infrastructure is handling. These stats were mind-blowing to me and really shows the power of what Extreme has been building, especially around the Aerohive acquisition.

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All of this data gets fed into the cloud dashboard as we see with the majority of other vendors. The client analytics is very reminiscent of the dashboards we see from Cisco, Aruba, Mist, etc., there is nothing too different in this regard with the exception of only getting 30 days of data, with no longer options available at this point in time. This is not a major hit against the technology, only that there is no way to correlate data longer than a one month period.

One of the differences that I see in the system is the lower number of false-positive issues that may be flagged by the system. Using the ML that is built into the CloudIQ is the ability to see anomalies and not present them as a possible bad user session. This is something that can cause headaches, especially in a wireless system with users entering and leaving areas with applications running. I will get deeper into these capabilities in an upcoming post.

The team that was on-camera also did not back down from some interesting and hard questions surrounding the roadmaps of the products, where things are and announcements that were made within 24 hours of the presentation being delivered.

All-in-all the solutions and products I am seeing from Extreme and very positive, they seem to have begun the integration of AeroHive nicely and I am excited to see where they go with the big purple cloud.

 

Networking Field Day 20 Recap – Juniper is Hedging Their Bets

During Networking Field Day 20 that just wrapped on February 15, 2019, there was a most unexpected presentation from Juniper around automation and some things they are doing to hedge their bets on where the industry is moving over the next several years.

 

Mike Bushong (@mbushong) took the stage first for the team and laid out Juniper’s vision of where the industry is headed and gave warning to some of us old guys, either evolve your skills and be ready to leave CLI behind or you will be left behind. Automation is not a buzzword in our industry any longer, it is the here and the now. If you are looking into automation, looking to understand or learn automation, or even just try to understand what automation means you are already behind. As Mike points out in his Networking Field Day 20 talk, Juniper has lead the way in automation for quite some time but we are now at a tipping point where CLIs are are going to be a thing of the past very soon. Mike also made something very clear during his intro that had a few of us in the room scratching our heads, the tools Juniper is putting out are open to the public, not all are Juniper specific and they are getting no monetary vlaue back from them it is for a greater cuase to us all. A fundamental shift in the industry the needs to take place. And I truly must agree with Mike on this, we as engineers have to start getting better at this or we will be left behind.

Next Raunak Tibrewal (@raunaktib) took the mic over and introduced us to Juniper’s new EngNet site and portal. EngNet is built around 3 bases that help an engineer to prepare for and learn automation, Learn, Build, Explore. One of the things I was impressed with is this was built with community in mind. Juniper has a dedicated Slack channel for community support as well as J-Net to make this a very collaborative and open learning experience. I connected to the EngNet site and was really pleasantly surprised with the content, how it was laid out and was really shocked at the amount of content available. Right up front you can signup for the Slack channel, but then as you continue down there is a nice roadmap to get you going on things no matter what you level might be. Obviously a lot of this content is around Junos OS, but there is some vendor agnostic lessons as well. I think two fo the coolest features are the Automation Exchange which have readily available Ansible playbooks, NAPALM scripts and other goodies which are all sotable and searchable by either Type, Market Segement, Network Role and Operational Process. The final piece that brings this all together is the Learn area in which you can followed Assisted Learning via different options or follow the Self-Learning track. Most everything within EngNet is free, but there are some items that you get a free trial for 60-Days or so and then will need to pay for. All-in-all this is a great place to start if you are looking to get into Junos OS or just to learn through some open labs and even just see what others have done for automation.

The final presentation came from Matt Oswalt (@mierdin) who unveiled the Juniper NRE Labs platform. Matt started by building off what we had already heard from Mike about sutomation today in our industry is not a production-side problem but a consumption-side problem. The tools are there, the technology is there, but the people are not consuming them. To try and help solve this consumption problem, Juniper has released their NRE Labs  which is a “Community Platform for learning and teaching automation and Network Reliability Engineering”. Basically they have put out a totally free (you do not even need to supply an email address), broswer-based platform to learn vendor-neutral automation using tools such as YAML, Python, REST APIs, Git, Linux and so on. It starts with fundamentals if you are just getting your feet wet in autmation or coding. Then there are tools availabel to try our like Salt or NAPALM or Ansible. All of this runs natively in the borwser with no need to download anything. The lessons are customizable based on your current strengths or weaknesses which then bases the tasks on your current knowledge level and provides a roadmap for learning with links. One of the collest things Matt and the team have done is to enable the use of Jupyter notebooks in the learning. Basically this enables you to have a Python interpreter running real-time so you can see the output in your browser window as you run the code. There is so much that has been done by the team on this. I would suggest to go check it out and see for yourself the greatness that is there.

What Juniper has been working on to enable the users to actually consume the tools and automation that is out in the industry is really amazing, especially the fact in the case of NRE Labs, they are not looking to monetize from it. This huge in my opinion and in the long-run could actually help Juniper based on their product set and strong autmation reliance on their products.

 

Check out the presentations from Networking Field Day 20 here.