Infoblox Promises Tapestry, Open Source Network Complexity Tool

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How complex is your network? The Tapestry tool can tell you

Networking control company Infoblox has announced Tapestry, an open source software tool that measures how complex a network is, with a view to simplifying infrastructure and cutting costs.

The tool uses maths to measure the network complexity index (NCI) in terms of network end points and the business logic that relates them. Developed by Infoblox CTO Stu Bailey and Professor Robert Grossman of the University of Chicago, it is being released in October through FlowForwarding.org, an open source community focused on software defined networking (SDN) – and for Infoblox and its customers, it’s a test of the SDN waters.

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I feel the earth move…

“Complexity is overwhelming the value of networks as they scale,” Bailey told TechWeekEurope. While those involved in networks tend to talk about the numbers of ports and pipes, users want to understand the complexity in terms of end user devices, and functions that have migrated to the network, as a basis for strategic discussion.

Bailey stressed that Tapestry is not a sales tool for Infoblox. He and Grossman – who previously worked together at the National Center for Data Mining – have written a paper on network complexity  and Bailey believes the Bailey-Grossman equation could be applied to complexity in other systems besides networks.

As well as offering a useful tool, Infoblox is dabbling its toes in SDN with Tapestry, Bailey said: “It’s our canary in a coalmine”. The software is compatible with pretty much any hardware, and runs on an open source SDN control plane defined by FlowForwarding.org, called Loom.

Loom itself is a potentially disruptive network approach – it can be deployed on commodity “white box” network switches built from programmable Ethernet processors. These can be run alongside existing enterprise networks without disrupting them – though it’s an embodiment of a commodity network approach which some expect to displace  existing hardware-centric network vendors such as Cisco and Juniper, whose support for SDN is sometimes limited.

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