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Blink: You’re Too Slow

December 11, 2012 at 8:04 am PST

When playing in the high speed switching game -- timing is everything.  Timing ‘sets the pace’ for visibility to established the ‘where and when,’ correlation across a broad computing environment plus compliance and digital forensics with precision time stamps.  Every element of the data center requires accurate timing at a level that leaves no room for error.

Speed is the other, more celebrated, if not obvious requirement, for the high speed switching game.  Speed that is measured in increments requiring some new additions to my vocabulary.

When looking at the ways in which we measure speed and regulate time throughout the network, I was of course familiar with NTP or Network Time Protocol.   NTP provides millisecond timing…which, crazy enough…is WAY TOO SLOW for this high speed market.   Now being from the South, I may blink a little slower than other people but I read that the average time it takes to blink an eye…is 300 to 400 milliseconds!  A millisecond is a thousandth of a second.  That is considered slow?

Turns out ‘micro-second’ level detail is our next consideration.  A microsecond is equal to one millionth (10−6 or 1/1,000,000) of a second. One microsecond is to one second as one second is to 11.54 days. To keep our blinking example alive: 350,000 microseconds.  Still too slow.

Next unit of measure?  The Nanosecond. A nanosecond is one billionth of a second.  One nanosecond is to one second as one second is to 31.7 years.  Time to blink is just silly at this point.

At one point in time I used to think higher speeds were attainable with higher degrees of bandwidth.  This may be why the idea of ‘low latency’ seems so counter-intuitive. As you hopefully understand at this point, there are limitations to how fast data can move and that real gains in this area can only be achieved through gains in efficiency -- in other words, the elimination (as much as possible) of latency.

For ethernet, speed really is about latency.  Ethernet switch latency is defined as the time it takes for a switch to forward a packet from its ingress port to its egress port. The lower the latency, the faster the device can transmit packets to its final destination.  Also important within this ‘need for speed’ is avoiding packet loss. The magic is in within the balancing act: speed and accuracy that challenge our understanding of traditional physics.

Cisco’s latest entrant to the world of high speed trading brings us the Nexus 3548.  A slim 48 port line rate switch with latency as low as 190 nanoseconds. It includes a Warp switch port analyzer (SPAN) feature that facilitates the efficient delivery of stock market data to financial trading servers in as littles as 50 nanoseconds and multiple other tweaks we uncover in this 1 hour deep dive into the fastest switch on the market. The first new member of the 2nd generation Nexus 3000 family.   (We featured the first generation Nexus 3000 series in April 2011)

This is a great show -- it moves fast!

Segment Outline:

  •  - Robb & Jimmy Ray with Keys to the Show
  •  - Berna Devrim introduces us to Cisco Algo Boost and the Nexus 3548
  •  - Will Ochandarena gives us a hardware show and tell
  •  - Jacob Rapp walks us through a few live simulations
  •  - Chih-Tsung, ASIC designer walks us through the custom silicon

 

Further Reading:

- Nexus 3548 Press Release

 

Cisco Blogs

Jacob Rapp:  Benchmarking at Ultra-Low Latency

Gabriel Dixon: The Algo Boost Series

Dave Malik: Cisco Innovation provides Competitive Advantage

 

 

 

 

 

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Pushing the Presentation Envelope

December 10, 2012 at 7:49 am PST
The TechWiseTV Fundamentals series continues to enjoy a great run -- this concept of character animation and tight scripting we started with back in the early TrustSec and EnergyWise days, is still a complete joy to work on. We have learned a ton about getting the scripts tighter, writing to support visuals, how to stay technical and not try to say too much AND all the work that goes into storyboarding the visuals, working with artists and motion graphic experts.  There was an element, however, we had never considered before -- in my mind perhaps because I thought it was furthest from our capability.
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The Wireless Challenge at Petco Park

December 7, 2012 at 10:17 am PST
It was way back at Interop in Las Vegas this year where one of our PR guys, Ben Stricker, asked if I would be interested in the tour of Petco Park coming up as part of CiscoLive in San Diego.  I said ‘yeah!’ for a number of hopefully obvious reasons and then volunteered to have our team shoot footage of the event.  We planned and worked back and forth as the event got closer and I had been working on a storyline that focused on the amazing things that MLB Advanced Media was doing with their streaming media empire.
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IPS in the Data Center Workshop

November 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm PST

I pulled some workshop hosting duty trying to fill Jimmy Ray’s big orange shoes this morning. The subject is a great one -- Intrusion Prevention in the Data Center with an incredibly sharp engineer, Stijn Vanveerdeghem.  Stijn is one of those crazy smart security guys down in Austin, TX as he works with a bunch of old friends from the team of IDS experts we have there.

So much emphasis on the data center these days for obvious reasons and it makes sense that anytime we consolidate something valuable -- there is going to be an increase in creativity for how to get to it when your not supposed to.

We do these workshops as part of our TechWiseTV shows for their interactivity and the difference in the depth we can achieve.  A number of references were made as to other resources, shows we have done as well as published papers and studies.  I have included all the links we brought up below.

If you missed Stijn’s presentation or would like to go back and take better notes -- you can get to it at the same link you used to originally register OR I also highly recommend you bookmark ciscoworkshops.com

 

TechWiseTV Episodes referenced:

TWTV120 -- Defending the Data Center

Couple of notable segments within this show worth looking at here:

Clustering Technology with the 5585X

IPS 4500 Series

Episode 15, Firewall Reinvention with the ASA CX, is a good show throughout -- only one segment I will call out as a favorite however, a Master Class Jimmy Ray did on ‘Forensic Analysis.’ The differences between network device versus traditional computer forensics and network forensics best practices, why routers and firewalls aren’t the smoking gun, and how the Cisco Router Analysis Tool can help with your networking.

Fundamentals of IPS

Fundamentals of High End Firewalls

Couple of good pointers Scott Simkin lays out in his support of our workshop today -- thank you Scott.

The 2012 Verizon Data Breach Report (pdf)

Performance of the Cisco IPS 4300 and 4500 (Whitepaper, .PDF)

Global Correlation on Cisco IPS Sensors (Whitepaper, PDF)

IPS Tech Tips – Protecting Industrial Environments:

Cisco IPS Go page: http://cisco.com/go/ips

Thanks for watching!

Robb

@robbboyd

 

 

 

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Protect Data Centers with Cisco IPS: TechWiseTV Webinar

Data Centers are going through a rapid evolution due to industry trends of virtualization, cloud computing and bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives, putting an even greater strain on IT resources to secure the data, applications and access critical to the success of the business. Today’s data center must be secure and resilient to keep the enterprise running at maximum productivity; protecting its profitability and reputation.

The modern enterprise runs a wide array of commercial and customized applications, and the data within those applications is exactly what attackers are targeting. Those critical applications and servers within the data center continue to be the subject of targeted attacks and sophisticated malware. The 2012 Verizon Data Breach Report highlights that attacks against servers accounted for 94% of all data compromised last year. Strong security controls and visibility measures must be implemented to protect the integrity of the enterprise data center.

Click below to watch a Cisco TechwiseTV Workshop on protecting today’s data center using Cisco Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS).

http://www.cisco.com/go/semreg/urls/105149/2/000071953

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