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Infoblox's Tapestry open-source tool sizes up network complexity

Next month, a free tool created by Infoblox could help IT departments get a better grasp of the growing complexity of their network.
Written by Toby Wolpe, Contributor

Network-automation firm Infoblox is releasing an open-source tool designed to generate an accurate picture of a network's complexity.

The Tapestry tool, based on an equation devised by Infoblox founder and CTO Stuart Bailey and University of Chicago Professor Robert Grossman, is to be released next month as a free download from FlowForwarding.org, the open-source community that promotes software-defined networking (SDN) based on the OpenFlow protocol.

According to Infoblox, the tool can run on most computers and generates a network complexity index (NCI) number based on "endpoint interaction data from network-wide control systems such as DNS".

By monitoring NCI data over time, CIOs can understand changes in the complexity of their network and plan resources accordingly, the company said.

The Bailey-Grossman formula takes the number of endpoints on a network and looks at their interactions when performing certain functions. Traditional approaches count network infrastructure devices, such as routers, and map the connecting wires.

"It's becoming clear that complexity rather than bandwidth is the barrier to network growth," Bailey said in a statement.

"Discussions about network complexity focus on the tangle of wires and boxes, rather than the relationship of business processes to an increasingly large, dynamic, and shared global IT infrastructure."

Infoblox said the Tapestry SDN app should be compatible with most IT networks. It runs on a free, open-source SDN control plane from FlowForwarding.org called Loom, which controls low-cost SDN white boxes, to collect the NCI data.

According to the company, these white boxes can be deployed in front of a network’s DNS servers without disrupting infrastructure or operations.

Tapestry should also help IT departments assess the benefits of shifting to SDN, as well as gain experience of the technology, Infoblox said.

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