The Bits Must Flow -or- (Net)Working Through the Abstractions

A presentation at THAT Conference, WI 2023 in in Wisconsin Dells, WI, USA by fen aldrich

As with all modern computing, the network stack has gotten increasingly abstracted away as we move to cloud services and cloud native infrastructure, but underneath it all, we’re still trying to accomplish the same things as always, get data from one system to another as quickly and efficiently as possible without interruption or eavesdropping. Starting with the classic interview question, “What happens when you try to access a website from your computer?” this talk reviews the modern complexity of the internet and reminds us about how some functional routing, switching and firewall knowledge can help us untangle the modern messes generated by layers of abstraction. We’ll start with some things like, “what about before I even get an IP address” and end up talking about BGP, the routing protocol that runs the internet. You’ll leave with a better understanding of what’s actually happening after you apply your chosen network settings to your cluster or hyperscaler, and a better framework for understanding how your cloud native applications and services are communicating across the web.