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Network command-line interface to remain part of the mix

Bloggers explore the future of network command-line interface versus APIs, Veriflow's network verification tool and hyper-converged infrastructure performance metrics.

Ivan Pepelnjak, blogging in ipSpace, waded into the debate over the future of the network command-line interface, or CLI. Pepelnjak criticized the idea that the network command-line interface is on its last legs. In his view, much of the debate is stoked by startups trying to sell different automation and management approaches. Yet, Pepelnjak conceded, there is a very big difference between Linux CLI and the "arcane stuff you get on network devices."

Rather than eliminate network command-line interfaces, he said the ultimate goal should be automating as much network infrastructure as possible. He recommended an amalgamation of approaches, encompassing a GUI for casual users, an API for upstream software -- say, for orchestration -- and a CLI for advanced users to make their own modifications.

To ease complexity and prevent dangerous faults, Pepelnjak suggested crafting Ansible playbooks wrapped in bash, Python or Perl scripts and making them executable with inv or in larger Python systems. Network automation teams need to pay careful attention when they determine what needs to be done and the best tool kit for the job.

Explore more of Pepelnjak's thoughts on network command-line interfaces.

Intent and network verification

Peter Welcher, an architect and contributor to NetCraftsmen, wrote about Veriflow, one of a number of new vendors focusing on intent-based networking. Veriflow, Welcher wrote, offers vendor-agnostic software that verifies implementations, enabling users to ensure the network complies with business intent. According to Welcher, the challenge is conveying the right intent, and Veriflow's ability to perform this low-level checking is what makes it stand out.

Veriflow's platform collects configuration data, along with data plane information, time-stamped to gauge the state of the network. The vendor also offers an API to automate intent rule creation. In Welcher's view, the benefit of the product comes from its ability to understand and work with different network topologies and device configurations, potentially boosting the capabilities of a network without retooling it with new hardware or software.

"This is something I don't hear in 'networking people should code' discussions: The best use of your time may be supplementing existing tools, not building tools from scratch," Welcher said.

Read more of Welcher's thoughts on Veriflow.

Evaluating hyper-converged infrastructure performance

Jack Poller, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., explored the best approaches to evaluating hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). ESG research indicated that organizations are now comfortable enough to deploy HCI as their primary infrastructure, housing tier-one applications. In ESG's view, the three key criteria to consider before adopting HCI are speed, scalability and stability.

To evaluate HCI, Poller recommended using lightweight workload generators such as IOmeter, FIO, Diskspd or VDbench to simulate business application behavior, from databases to emails. HammerDB, Swingbench and SLOB are higher-level workload generators that can simulate tasks such as data mining or virtual desktop infrastructures -- simulated using Login VSI.

Additionally, Poller said, with the release of TPCx-HCI from the Transaction Processing Performance Council, users can now benefit from tools designed to evaluate the performance of HCI systems. "This simplifies and standardizes the process of submitting and publishing industry-audited results and should shorten the time to the first publicly available benchmark results," Poller said.

Dig deeper into Poller's thoughts on HCI.

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