Hercules slaying the Hydra

Conquering The Three-Headed Hydra: Compute, Storage, & Networking

Hercules slaying the HydraIn Greek mythology, there was a nasty serpent-like monster with many heads that terrorized nearby villages. This monster was created by the Greek goddess Hera to destroy her enemy, Hercules.

The beast was invulnerable as long as one head remained. But, as Hercules discovered, when he cut off one head, more heads grew back. In order to slay the monster, he had to cut off each head and cauterize the neck to prevent another from growing back.

This mythological tale confirms that sometimes, in order to solve difficult problems, we need to come up with extraordinary solutions.

Ask any IT manager or administrator, and they will agree that networking topology has become a highly complex and multi-layered monster. Compute, storage, and networking technologies — and for the most part, the disciplines behind them — are complex and different. Yet when working together, these diverse capabilities can provide huge business advantages.

Achieving these advantages requires technology specialists from multiple disciplines to bring together discrete systems and networks. While the resulting data and applications with detailed reports are highly prized by business analysts, the underpinnings of the systems and networks that create, house, and transport them are complicated, difficult to control, inflexible and expensive.

IT personnel wage battle against their own Hydra in managing the complexities with data center and network technologies. Hercules used a sword, sickle, club, and flaming arrows to conquer his monster. IT managers are using virtualization, the cloud, and automation to overcome theirs. IT departments could certainly benefit from centralized, programmable control over network traffic without requiring physical access to networking devices. Many are discovering new architectures for building data centers and networks, separating and abstracting system and network elements using OpenFlow and other alternatives like Software defined networking (SDN).

SDN decouples the systems that make decisions about where traffic is sent, from the systems that forward traffic to the destination. Decoupling control from network hardware devices to hypervisors and eliminating the need to touch the devices moves that control to centralized software management. This new technology promises to simplify networking and unlock network management constraints. Network managers, as well as others in the application delivery supply chain will be able to control network elements to optimize delivery of their applications.

Hercules slew the multi-headed Hydra by decoupling the heads from its body, thus bringing the beast under his control.  IT departments are looking to overcome their multi-layered ‘monster’ by enabling a holistic approach to improving compute, storage and networking infrastructure by decoupling a hardware-centric approach to managing the network, to a more flexible, hypervisor-centric management approach.

About the author
Marc Goodman