Why Packet Flow Switches Should Be Like Social Media

pfs social
Brian Philips

No travel this week, so I’ve been getting caught up and up to date in all my social media venues and online content.  In doing so, I watched the premier of a new show called Living Biblically, long story, but interest stems from a family connection by marriage and the show was quite entertaining – that last part is in case a family member is reading this.  A premise on the show was that people’s obsession with smart phones was akin to “worshiping false idols.”  Well, that got me thinking, what are people doing staring into these small peep holes into the swarming ooze of personal opinions and attempts by every person on the planet to be the star of their own reality show?  Why social media APPs use of course!

Every application out there comes with its own set of “filters” what you want to see and so often what you don’t want to see.  Sometimes you are even provided with some over-arching stats based on your filters.  Consider the whole “#” hash-tag phenomenon about what is trending, but more importantly, what is trending in the topics you are interested in.  IF these filters were not there, you would need to be heavily medicated in a facility and becoming a drain on society!

Anyway, what does this all have to do with my premise that Packet Flow-based switches should be like social media?  Well, how about EVERYTHING?  Let’ start with the fact that packet-based data is the richest single data source to tap for information for any application for any device.  There are very few applications anymore that don’t need to talk to something.  An application and what it runs on might need to talk end users, or another device like service for DNS or authentication, or other devices like IoT or robots.   Inside that communications there is so much raw detail and from that representative meta-data.  This data represents Latency and Delay measurements as well as volume of data and counts of transactions by type of transaction and even positive versus negative transaction responses.  Names of users and geographic associations can be determined.  Nefarious activity can be determined and cyber campaigns methods identified.  Big data implications are massive.

The challenge, this data source is volumetrically massive and vast.  So, ones need to “Filter” or Subscribe to what is interesting to them.  Sometimes even that needs to be further summarized for them into what is “trending.”

That is the job of modern day Packet Flow aggregation and distribution switch. 

  • Many sources of information need to be combined.
  • Exact duplicates of information need to be removed.
  • I only need to need to watch the 2017 Super Bowl collapse of Atlanta just one time. Same goes for baby eating their first birthday cake and your dog behaving badly.  Not reposts from everybody and their brother.
  • Extraneous information like exactly who has reposted this information and from where needs to be removed.
  • I am sure there is some bid data value relative to psychological profiles about who reposts certain things. I couldn’t care less.
  • This one is a little harder to figure out so I will just provide that I was thinking about stripping VLAN tags and other extraneous information applied to packet headers.
  • Sometimes certain sources of information get priority over others.
  • Any pet or baby photos from my far flung family rate high with me.
  • Closely followed by photos of old trucks & fishing.
  • High entertainment value is applied by me for matriarch and patriarchal family members attempting to use and respond to social media as well.
  • The above are related to filtering for specific application traffic to send to specialized tools and individuals concerned with traffic related to those APPS.
  • Clean data then needs to be made available to multitude of consumers.
  • Consumers then decide how they want this information.
  • Some want summarized volume metrics and counts.
  • "Looks like heroin to me Gene" from the movie FLETCH - except I mean NetFlow and not Heroin.
  • Some want just first couple of lines or tags then decide if they are going to invest 30 seconds to read the information. 
  • Seem familiar to slicing your packets?
  • Some only want things of interesting or different than normal. 
  • The whole process needs to work in reverse too when you only want to post once and have all your bosses covered across the social media blabber-verse.
  • Often this leads to need of forming an opinion first before you repost?
  • I like this tool chaining in the packet flow pantheon of features.
  • Why is there such a dependency on hardware in this space?

So here is where I make my case.  Social media is not hard, if you know what you are doing.  There are a lot of advanced features like sharing my location and choosing an avatar for which I still need to consult sub-30 year old professionals for assistance.  But, by in large I can find what and who and I am looking for and “subscribe” or ask to be “friends” with.

How many of us have found that a far more challenging task with packet flow technology vendors over the last several years?  For me, most do not meet the Ease of Use culture under pinning the social media application world.  Doing anything intelligent at all seems to require a programming or scripting skill most don’t grasp or desire to learn and each feature seems to have some hardware dependency that requires additional devices and hauling of data back and FORTH between functions.  So many of us find ourselves being squeezed out of features and ease of use by feature justification and price discussions which lead to decisions often being way above our pay grade.

There is also the fact that most Social Media is free if you are willing to suffer advertisements targeting your demographic.  Speak aloud the name of your favorite divinity followed by a loud Mom like sigh at this point.

Now consider that probably all of us are experiencing a drive to cost reduction that has led us to virtualization, then the cloud, and also to Software as a Service functions.  Do we relegate ourselves to looking at different Social Media apps and websites to get all the data we need?  What if you have to pay to see your own data, just because your company has decided to move it to the cloud.  Can you even see your data and the metrics derived from it the same way in the cloud as in your private or hosted data centers?

Shouldn’t packet flow technology be portable and the same across platforms?  Shouldn’t it be easy to see what is there, attach to what you want, filter and present the information in how you want it?  What about the results of inspection and analysis of information being available across all your social media venues?

Anyway, my ultimate realization is that we are in need of a Smart Data Core.  Somewhere it is easy and convenient to use a common set of data sources and data points rather than have a dozen of interpretations from different data sets through different tools and portals.  All that other data is good too, but as supporting data to that which is derived from packet level data.

I’m so proud of myself in making this comparison I am off already looking for more fun ways to compare technology trends to other social media and gaming phenomenon!  Can you guess what I am picking on next that is compared to dating sites?

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