Back in the 90s I was involved with about 100 other people in a project to develop a new voice mail system – software, hardware and firmware. The hardware was a completely new design, and the software was about 70% new. Along the way we stumbled into something that improved our end quality in a way that can reasonably be described as stunning. What we discovered was how to ask questions in a way that brought important things that “everyone knows” (and are effectively hidden in plain sight) to the attention of those who can do something about it.
We fill our lives with things designed to make them easier… In many cases, these things we get to make our lives easier wind up making it more complex. Nowhere is this more apparent than in IT. We have so many choices of ways to create services, to deploy them, and to manage them. I’ve been extensively involved with high-availability work since 1998. One of my mantras in high-availability is “Complexity is the Enemy of Reliability” – and so it is. If you add parts to a thing, more things will fail – period. In high-availability, we add high-availability software – which makes it more complex, and hence less reliable. But we get something back instead – improved availability.
In this article, we talk in more detail about the Assimilation Project’s reliable UDP protocol, our decision to avoid session keys, factors influencing our initial choice of crypto libraries, and touch on key revocation. So, like before we’re looking forward to your comments on our design choices. Like before, grab your thinking cap, sit down with your crypto buddies and think hard about what we’ve done.
This article outlines our approach to keys and key management given our unique problems in a pragmatic and effective way. Although we will use crypto libraries with well-proven algorithms, we will use them in slightly unconventional ways. So, get your crypto buddies, grab a beverage (adult or otherwise), put on your thinking cap, and think hard about how we’re planning on approaching these challenges. Although I’ve tried to think all this through, I’m not a crypto expert – which is why I’m asking for your help.
We are proud to announce the latest in our series of releases of the Assimilation software which will culminate in an incredibly useful production release. This release is eminently suitable for trials in an environment where the caveats are acceptable. We have quite a few pre-built Ubuntu packages, and a few CentOS/RHEL packages – so go forth, download and subdue the galaxy!
I’m Alan Robertson, founder of Assimilation Systems Limited – this is my first blog post about the company. Let’s start this first post with a little history of the project and the company.
I founded the Assimilation Project back in 2010, as a result of thinking about a really big supercomputer (over 2 million cores) I was working with which had a very unusual networking architecture. It was a very cool and odd computer. Along the way, I puzzled over how one could effectively monitor it in the presence of this non-traditional networking topology – without using the built-in monitoring hardware (which would be like cheating). After a while, I realized I knew how to make monitoring on normal computers scale in a way that seemed really interesting. Being a techie at heart, I was really jazzed and decided I had to implement it…