Policy-Based Networking in Software

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Policy-Based Networking
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Policy-based networking requires profiles against which policies can be applied Don't make the mistake of thinking that only users are profiled, however Organizations, devices, and services are, as well Let's look at an example of how a policy needs a profile: if a Cisco QoS Policy Manager server is trying to decide which of two services video conferencing or distance learning should get the most bandwidth, that server would refer to the profiles of the two services Therefore, DEN defines profile schema for the gamut of network element types
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The Possible Superiors for UserProfile are Organization, OrganizationalUnit, and Group, which exist in the User Class Hierarchy portion of the DEN schema (the portion largely derived from X500) Note that these possible parent classes should not be confused with their profile equivalents For example, there is an Organization class as well as an OrganizationProfile class
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To support a policy, a DEN-compliant directory must either contain a policy, or must map to one in a cooperative directory via a relationship of some type To do this, the DEN information model specifies schema for the variety of policy types
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Here again, the Policy class is an abstract class put there only to let the NetworkingPolicy and DiffServPolicy classes exist A networking policy might be one that determines how to condition traffic according to per-hop behaviors DiffServ policies are used in QoS to differentiate service levels for example, to provide better end-to-end bandwidth levels for one application over another Naturally, policy-based networking is largely concerned with operating conditions as they exist from moment to moment, and the actions to take in the event such conditions arise A QoS policy might specify, for instance, that some action be taken if bandwidth utilization rises above a certain percentage perhaps to detour a certain class of user sessions to another route, or to shut them down altogether in order to maintain higher-priority sessions at guaranteed-throughput levels
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Policy Class Hierarchies
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The Policy class hierarchy illustrates interobject relationships A policy might have several rules on file, each for a particular predefined condition When the condition is sensed by the server, the associated action is triggered The server could be a QoS server, a RADIUS security server, and so on The point is that the relationships exist "side-to-side" so that policies can be applied to meet desired operating parameters To accomplish this, disparate directory services must be somehow integrated, and that is what DEN does Dozens of other DEN class hierarchies are specified, and we won't enumerate them here The hierarchies span the breadth of networking activity, including devices, components, network links, operating systems, routing protocols, applications, services, and more, down to the last nut and bolt For example, there's a class called Chassis that must contain such attributes as ChassisSlotLayout, MaxChassisSlotSpacing, NumberOfCardSlots, HeatGeneration, and other objects When the DEN spec writers aimed for fine-grained control, they really meant it! To view the hierarchies in detail, visit the DMTF Web site at http://wwwdmtforg
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DEN Implemented
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Active Directory is envisioned as a critical network resource that developers will want to tie into applications that would benefit from knowing the information it holds For example, a programmer writing an HR application might want to connect it to an Active Directory domain controller machine, for the purpose of tapping into the most up-to-date information on file for, say, employee cell-phone numbers Thus, a programming environment would be needed for exchanges with Active Directory With that in mind, Microsoft provides a number of tools for working with Active Directory Notable among them is Active Directory Services Interface (ADSI), an API that defines a directory service model and a set of interfaces to communicate with the AD ADSI, used in place of the networkspecific API calls, provides a single set of interfaces to communicate with any namespace that
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provides an ADSI implementation As a Microsoft product, ADSI naturally supports standard Component Object Model (COM) features ADSI has bindings to Visual Basic, Java, C, and C++ In addition, it enables administrators to automate such tasks as adding users and setting permissions on network resources And ADSI gives developers access to other directory services, such as LDAP and NDS ADSI installs with the Windows 2000 Resource Kit Figure 2-3 illustrates the ADSI Editor, a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in application Here you can see LDAP's heritage in the form of X500 mnemonics (CN for common name, OU for OrganizationalUnit, and so on) The right pane in Figure 2-3 happens to be open to the IPSec (IP Security) class hierarchy, with a number of IPSec object instances identified in the Name column Notice that there are multiple instances of the various IPSec objects
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Figure 2-3: The ADSI Editor snap-in gives developers an API for writing Active Directory hooks This chapter does not offer a DEN-specific example because (at this writing) DEN has yet to be implemented in Widows 2000 A future release of Windows 2000 will ship DEN classes in Active Directory Microsoft can't deliver these until the DEN spec is finalized, however, and until the vendors (especially Cisco) clarify what their extensions will look like We do know that there will be, for example, a class tree called Device spanning from the abstract ManagedSystemNetwork class How the Device structural class will be extended by the various network device makers, however, remains to be seen In Figure 2-4 you see the Active Directory Schema Manager, another MMC snap-in The example in Figure 2-4 is open to the Classes folder, with applicationProcess classes listed Looking at the tree on the right, notice the general look and feel of what we've been talking about in DEN The tree in the left-hand window lists the classes, and the right-hand pane lists its subclasses
Figure 2-4: Active Directory will eventually ship with a full set of DEN classes As DEN classes are delivered, the Active Directory Schema Manager is where developers will write programs to access Active Directory data on network infrastructure Doing so will become routine, as network resource management under policy-based networking evolves
Summary
DEN is often mistaken for a directory technology Rather, DEN is an architectural template intended for use by software engineers in designing directory products For example, the folks designing forthcoming versions of Active Directory are referring to the DEN specification Another misconception is that DEN is a superset of Active Directory, LDAP, or other directory technologies DEN isn't a superset of any existent specification As shown in this chapter, however, DEN incorporates LDAP for its communications infrastructure, and in so doing subsumes many X500 class hierarchies In addition, DEN separately incorporates CIM class hierarchies and extends several of them to work better with the particulars of network media and devices That's what DEN is: an extension of the LDAP and CIM architectures to encompass network infrastructure DEN's role is to bring infrastructure in as the third segment of the three-part equation to be solved by integrated directory services of the future It will be interesting to see how the DEN initiative plays out The initial crowd of 200 vendors signed on so far is certainly impressive, and the list is likely to grow But the big question is whether the level of implementation is deep enough to support true interoperability Industry vets remain skeptical, in view of vendors' manipulation of SNMP implementations on their respective devices in order to protect turf leaving customers in the lurch, stuck using network management systems with significant blind spots Yet there is much optimism for DEN Sponsors such as Cisco and Microsoft are sure to effect sufficient motivation to toe the architectural line DEN's payoff could be huge for vendors and users alike If disparate directories can exchange information at the level DEN has specified, users will see increased functionality and administrators will enjoy cheaper and more intelligent tools
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