Working in the cloud is the way to go nowadays. As many will promise, cloud services are always up and always working. That puts heavy demands on the hardware and even heavier on the software that is used to keep the network running. And you know what, I think that software has just become too complicated to keep things stable.

The virtual machine is not something new. I was giving demonstrations showing virtual machines that could be moved freely between different servers running in the same rack over a decade ago. Even then we could move the virtual machine from one server to another, without anybody noticing a thing. These days we want to move virtual machines between data centers, not racks – and we want to move whole data centers around at the click of a mouse button, without our cloud service being down for even a millisecond. We want everything connected and up and running all the time. The network has to be virtualized, meaning new ways of building data center networks are introduced, and they are in need of new protocols, procedures and concepts. Every new requirement is being crammed into the network software!

These days ethernet switches are basically all the same: they all work with the same chip set. It is the software that makes the difference. But this software is extended rapidly with new features necessary for running the cloud – and you have to keep up with updating your software versions or you might be at risk for attacks or breaches of your network. So you have to update software that keeps growing ever more complicated quickly, creating instability. It is a Catch 22: use less complicated software and have a stable network without the features, or use the newest, more complicated software that you have to upgrade all the time in order not to be at risk of instability of your network.

It’s good to take a step back and look at the actual requirements instead of jumping on the buzzword bandwagon. Creating redundancy creates a necessity for a more complicated network, which in turn creates more downtime. Of course we don’t want to be called old-fashioned – but sometimes the easier the solution, the better. Don’t run code that you don’t need. Taking it easy is the way out of the network software’s Catch 22!