Thursday, May 11, 2017

Video: Data Center Boom in Ireland


Will the data center boom accelerate in Ireland?

Ireland is already home to the largest concentration of major cloud providers in Europe. In recent months, we have seen Irish data center expansions from AWS, Google, Facebook, Equinix and Microsoft.  New next-gen transatlantic cables have landed on the Emerald isle.

With Brexit uncertaintly in the air, will even more data center operators move to Ireland?  In this video, Paraic Hayes, Vice President of IDA Ireland, says the government is extremely active to support the expansion of this activity with the goal of making Ireland the data capital of Europe.



Facebook dreams of better network connectivity platforms – Part 2

Preamble

Facebook has a stated goal of reducing the cost of network connectivity by an order of magnitude. To achieve this its labs are playing with millimetre wave wireless, free-space optics and drones in the stratosphere.

Project Aquila takes flight

At this year's F8 conference, Facebook gave an update on the Aquila drone aircraft, which is being assembled in California's Mojave Desert. The Aquila project is cool - pretty much everything about this initiative, from its name to its sleek design, has an aura about it that says 'this is cool', who wouldn't want to be developing a solar-powered drone with the wingspan of a Boeing 737. Using millimetre wave technology onboard Aquila, Facebook has achieved data transmission speeds of up to 36 Gbit/s over a 13 km distance; and using free-space optical links from the aircraft has achieved speeds of 80 Gbit/s over 13 km.

Several media sources reported a technical set-back last year (rumours of a cracked frame) but those are in the past or perhaps not relevant any more. At F8, Facebook said Aquila has progressed and is now ready for field testing. However, here again, one element that seems to be missing is the business case. Just where is this aircraft going to fly and who will pay for it?

As described by Facebook, Aquila will serve regions of the planet with poor or no Internet access. Apparently, this would not include the oceans and seas, nor the polar regions, where such an aircraft might have to hover for months or years before serving even one customer. Satellites already cover much of our planet’s surface and for extremely remote locations this is likely to remain the only option for Internet access. New generations of satellites, include medium earth orbit (MEO) constellations, are coming with improved latency and throughput. So Facebook's Aquila must aim to be better than the satellites.

The aircraft is designed to soar and circle at altitudes up 90,000 feet during the day, slowly descending to 60,000 by the end of the night. The backhaul presumably will be a free-space laser to a ground station below. At such a height, Aquila would be above the weather and above the jet stream. During the day, with an unobscured view of the sun, it would recharge the batteries needed to keep flying at night.

Apart from satellites, the alternative architecture for serving such regions would be conventional base stations mounted on tall masts and connected via fibre, microwave or satellite links. Many vendors are already offering solar-powered versions of these base stations, and there are plenty of case studies of how they have been used successfully in part of Africa, and the advantages over a high-flying drone are obvious: mature technology, fixed towers and known costs, no possibility of dangerous or embarrassing crashes.

One could imagine that the Facebook approach might bring new Internet access possibilities to areas such as the Sahara, the Atacama, over islands in the Indonesian archipelago. But is not clear if Aquila’s onboard radios would be powerful enough to penetrate dense forests, such as in the Amazon or Congo. So, if the best deployment scenario is a desert or island with some humans but insufficient Internet access, why is satellite service not a viable option? The likely answer again is economics. Perhaps the populations living in these regions simply have not had the money to purchase enough smartphones or laptops to make it worthwhile for a carrier to bring service.

A further consideration worth noting is that it may be difficult for an American company to secure permission to have a fleet of drone aircraft circling permanently over a sovereign nation. Intuitively, many people would not feel comfortable with a U.S. drone circling overhead, even if it were delivering faster social media.

Designing a communications platform for emergency deployments

Facebook's connectivity lab is also interested in disaster preparedness. At the F8 keynote, it unveiled Tether-tenna, a helicopter-drone that carries a base station and is connected via fibre and a cable with high-voltage power to a mooring station. The system is designed for rapid deployment after a natural disaster and could provide mobile communications over a wide area. But is it a complex technology that provides minimal benefits (certainly not an order of magnitude) over existing solutions?

The closest equivalent in the real world is the cellular-on-wheels (COWs) segment, which is now commonly used by most mobile operators for extending or amplifying their coverage during special events such as outdoor concerts and football matches. A typical COW is really just a base station mounted on a truck or trailer. After being hauled to the desired location, the units can be put into operation in a matter of minutes, using on-board batteries, diesel generators or attachment to the electrical grid. The units often have telescoping masts that extend 4-5 metres in height.

In comparison to a COW, Facebook's Tether-tenna heli-drone will have a height advantage, perhaps 100 metres over the competitors, enabling it to extend coverage over a greater range. However, the downsides are quite apparent too. Base station weight restrictions on the heli-drone, which also must carry the weight of the tether, will be more limiting than on a mast, and this means that the Tether-tenna will not provide the density of coverage possible via a COW, thereby limiting its potential use cases.

In addition, a crashing heli-drone could do a lot of damage to people or property on the ground, and wind would be a major factor, as would lightning strikes. There is also the possibility of collisions with other drones, airplanes or birds. Therefore ensuring safety might require a human operator to be present when the drone is flying, and insurance costs inevitably would be higher than any of the many varieties of COWs that are already in service.

AT&T has a more elegant name for this gear, preferring to call them Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs). During the recent Coachella 2017 music festival in California, AT&T deployed four COLTs equipped with high-capacity drum set antennae, which offer 30x the capacity of a traditional, single-beam antenna. AT&T reported that the COLTs were instrumental in handling the 40 Tbit/s of data that traversed its network during the multi-day event - the equivalent of 113 million selfies. Data traffic from Coachella was up 37% over last year, according to AT&T. Would a heli-drone make sense for a week-long event such as this?  Probably not, but it's still a cool concept.

All of this raises the question: is a potential business case even considered before a development project gets funded at Facebook?

In conclusion, Facebook is a young company with a big ambition to connect the unconnected. Company execs talk about a ten-year plan to advance its technologies, so they have the time and money to play with multiple approaches that could make a difference. A business case for these three projects may not be apparent now but they could evolve into something serendipitously.

Calix and Radisys Partner on Residential CORD

Radisys and Calix announced the delivery of an end-to-end cloud edge solution based on commercially available systems and software that is compliant with the Residential Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (R-CORD) architecture, designed to enable SDN, NFV and the cloud model in the access network.

The integrated turnkey access solution for R-CORD combines the CORD open software and hardware building blocks with Radisys' OCP-based DCEngine platform and the carrier-grade Calix AXOS E9-2 Intelligent Edge System, featuring the recently announced AXOS OFx Connector with the open source vOLT-HA integration software and 10 Gbit/s PON converged fibre access (NG-PON2 and XGS-PON).

Deployment of the converged cloud edge solution into the last mile network is intended to allow service providers to accelerate new service introduction while also maintaining quality of experience for subscribers.

The company's noted that the shift to a subscriber-driven network, combined with device proliferation and bandwidth intensive applications, is driving changes in access network design. In this environment, open software-controlled infrastructure can enable service providers to increase agility and reduce costs, as well as speed new service introduction.

It was noted that trials of the R-CORD solution running on the Radisys OCP-based DCEngine hyperscale platform, integrated with Calix's AXOS E9-2 edge system are underway with multiple Tier-one service providers.

For the field trials, Calix is providing the physical optical termination system, with the Radisys DCEngine 16U integrated rack, based on the OCP-compliant CG-OpenRack-19 specification, providing the multi-rack level network functions virtualisation (NFVi) and container-based infrastructure for hosting thousands of virtualised network functions (VNFs) and applications under open software-defined networking control.

Regarding the joint solution, Shane Eleniak, VP of systems products at Calix, said, "The Calix/Radisys R-CORD POD takes advantage of the flexibility and modular architecture of the AXOS E9-2 Intelligent Edge System, AXOS OFx Connector and vOLT-HA integration software… the combination of Radisys' CORD expertise and the componentised architecture, native NetConf/Yang interfaces and anySDN flexibility of the AXOS platform has delivered the first commercially available R-CORD POD solution, bringing the promise of SDN into the access network".


M-CORD Innovations: Transforming Central Offices for 5G


M-CORD takes the best ideas from the pivotal Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (CORD) and adapts them for next generation mobile networks. CORD combines NFV, SDN, and the elasticity of commodity clouds and M-CORD adds the latest innovations in mobility, including for the radio access network (RAN), core, and services. This video, hosted by Joseph Sulistyo, Senior Director of Open Networking Solutions at Radisys, provides a broad overview...


Coriant trials disaggregated 100/150/200G with Telefónica Germany

Coriant completed a network trial with Telefónica Germany that featured disaggregated 100, 150 and 200 Gbit/s transmission over live fibre links in the existing 10 Gbit/s DWDM dispersion compensated network.

The recently completed trial with Telefonica Germany involved the Coriant Groove G30 network disaggregation platform and demonstrated the ability to cost-efficiently increase the performance of deployed optical infrastructure using advanced disaggregated optical transmission and open networking capabilities.

The alien wavelength trial was implemented over three separate live links in Telefónica's existing 10 Gbit/s DWDM transmission network spanning distances of 1,070 km, 630 km and 290 km, with connectivity to key network sites including Düsseldorf and Frankfurt.

Supporting interoperability with Telefónica's existing 10 Gbit/s optical line system, the Coriant Groove solution achieved disaggregated 100 Gbit/s transport across all three links, 150 Gbit/s over the 630 km and 290 km links, and 200 Gbit/s capacity over the 290 km connection.

Coriant stated that following the successful trial, in mid-2017 it plans to work with Telefónica Germany to conduct further alien wavelength testing on the operator's 100 Gbit/s national backbone network in Germany utilising the disaggregated Coriant Groove G30 muxponder solution.




  • In 2015, Telefónica Germany deployed the Coriant 8600 Smart Router Series and 8000 Intelligent Network Manager (INM) to upgrade its mobile backhaul network and support the integration of the O2 and E-Plus network infrastructures.

Cisco to Acquire MindMeld for AI Expertise

Cisco agreed to acquire MindMeld, a start-up based in San Franciso that is developing a conversational platform based on natural language understanding (NLU). The deal was valued at $125 million in cash and assumed equity awards. The acquisition is expected to close in Cisco's fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017.

The MindMeld platform can be used for building intelligent conversational interfaces for companies to interact with their customers across almost any device or application. MindMeld is able to ingest customer data and create a highly accurate and customized natural language model, tailored to each company’s industry and requirements. MindMeld also delivers a dialog manager that enables a computer to respond to user requests through chat and voice applications in a human-like fashion.

MindMeld was founded in 2011 by Tim Tuttle, a former AI researcher from MIT and Bell Labs,

http://www.mindmeld.com

ADTRAN demos ITU G.fast 212 MHz and coordinated DTA

ADTRAN has announced that it is conducting what is believed to be the first public demonstration of the ITU-T's two most recent G.fast advances, specifically 212 MHz and coordinated dynamic time allocation (cDTA), at the G.fast Summit 2017 in Paris.

ADTRAN noted that the latest G.fast advances are intended to enable the delivery of symmetric gigabit services over a single copper pair, mitigating the need to bond multiple pairs of copper wire and allowing service providers to extend business-class gigabit services over the existing wiring.

At the G.fast Summit ADTRAN is demonstrating its new 212 MHz G.fast standard, which doubles the usable spectrum and enables the delivery of gigabit rates over a single copper pair and offering an alternative to the use of fibre. ADTRAN has also extended its reverse power feature set to the new solution, simplifying sourcing of local power.

Together, the new capabilities are claimed to enable service providers to accelerate gigabit and ultra-fast broadband service deployments by an estimated 12 to 18 months and reduce costs by up to one third per subscriber. The technology is also intended to offer a competitive alternative to DOCSIS 3.1.

ADTRAN noted that it first demonstrated DTA over coax technology at G.fast Summit 2016, with cDTA the second generation technology. The cDTA function can improve G.fast upstream performance by a factor of four- to five-fold by dynamically balancing upstream and downstream performance to match residential traffic patterns in real-time. Unlike DTA, cDTA extends the applications of the feature to existing phone wiring in residential and commercial premises.

Designed to form a key part of the ADTRAN MOSAIC Open Software Defined Access platform, operators adopting the new solutions can ensure that the G.fast access elements in their network are prepared for the transition to SDN in the future.


Aqua Comms appoints Chief Networks Officer and CFO

Aqua Comms DAC, operator of Ireland's first dedicated subsea optical network that interconnects New York, Dublin and London, has announced the appointment of two new members to its leadership team, namely Andy Hudson as Chief Networks Officer and Kevin Foley as Chief Financial Officer.

Andy Hudson

Aqua Comms' new Chief Networks Officer, Andy Hudson, is a telecoms industry veteran with extensive experience in managing mobile, fixed and subsea operations. Most recently, he served as COO of the Bermuda Telephone Company, a subsidiary of Digicel, where he had operational responsibility for network planning and engineering, service delivery, maintenance, and data centre and facility management.

Kevin Foley

Mr. Foley, the company's new Chief Financial Officer, has wide experience in the telecom industry, including in board level and executive leadership roles with companies in the carrier, interconnect, Internet, mobile, voice and TV sectors.

Before joining Aqua Comms, Kevin Foley served as CFO with Cable & Wireless Barbados (Flow), a Liberty Global company. He was also a board member of Cable & Wireless Communications Insurance and served in C-level positions at Cable & Wireless including CFO, Cayman Islands, and finance director of carrier services.

Aqua Comms noted that the additions to its leadership team follow a period of growth since the launch of the America-Europe Connect (AEConnect) trans-Atlantic cable system in January 2016. The company recently conducted tests of new transmission technologies designed to expand the systems total available capacity.

In addition, Aqua Comms is developing CeltixConnect-2, a diverse subsea cable system across the Irish Sea from Dublin to Manchester, with connectivity to the Isle of Man. CeltixConnect-2 is a resilient system designed to complement its existing CeltixConnect-1 cable. The new cable system will use advanced technology to support high transmission capabilities, including 8QAM and 16QAM. The company stated that survey work for CeltixConnect-2 is due to start in the next quarter.

Aqua Comms stated that it is also in the preliminary stages of development of North Sea Connect, which will provide a high capacity subsea link across the North Sea from the north east UK to Denmark. Additionally, Aqua Comms plans to expand connectivity to AEConnect at its PoP at 1025Connect in Westbury, New York, and to increase its footprint via new service capabilities in Ashburn, Virginia and at NJFX, a carrier-neutral colocation facility in Wall, New Jersey.

Versa Networks expands its SD-WAN Offering

Versa Networks announced a significant expansion of its software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities from SD-WAN to software-defined branch (SD-Branch).

The Versa Cloud IP Platform now enables large enterprises and service providers to virtualise and software-define the branch and WAN to help reduce complexity and increase IT agility.

Versa has enhanced the capabilities of the Versa Cloud IP Platform to enable customers to software-define a range of IP services across the branch office and WAN, including:

1.         The ability to host third-party virtual network functions (VNFs), allowing migration to SD-WAN while simplifying lifecycle management and maintaining existing functions at the branch.

2.         Integrated WiFi and Ethernet switching software support to help simplify infrastructure and management.

3.         Embedded LTE for streamlined and more resilient deployments.

4.         Multi-vector malware security.

For enterprise applications, Versa Cloud IP Platform combines network and security capabilities to provide a suite of Layer 3 to 7 IP services that are based on a cloud-native, multi-tenant software platform. The ability to host third-party VNFs with service chaining facilitates deployment where enterprises wish to maintain functionality provided by other vendors.

In addition, managed service providers can employ the Versa Cloud platform to offer a portfolio of managed services that combine MPLS, broadband Internet and mobile (3G/4G) network services with a Software-Defined Branch (SD-Branch), SD-WAN, Software-Defined Security (SD-Security) or Software-Defined Router (SD-Router).

Datos IO raises investment from Cisco and NetApp

Datos IO, a start-up developing application-centric data management technology for cloud environments, announced that Cisco Investments and NetApp have become strategic investors in the company.

Datos IO stated that it plans to use the proceeds of this investment to develop its application-centric technology that is designed to provide customers with enhanced backup storage efficiency and enable data management services at a granular level. The solution allows enterprises to protect and move traditional and third platform applications, whether on-premise, between public clouds or in multi-cloud environments.

The company noted that as enterprises transition to operating IT across multi-cloud infrastructure and deploying applications in private, public or hybrid cloud environments, it aims to simplify the protection and management of data across clouds while eliminating the complexity of multi-cloud environments for use cases such as backup and recovery, test/dev, cloud on-ramping, archival and analytics.

Datos IO was co-founded in 2014 by Tarun Thakur, CEO and Prasenjit Sarkar, CTO to develop a cloud-first, application-centric approach to data management for both traditional and third platform applications deployed on-premises or on multi-cloud infrastructure. As part of its solution, the company has created a range of technologies using its advanced CODR architecture: Datos IO raised $12.5 million in Series A funding in September 2015.

Datos IO stated that while traditional data protection solutions protect applications at a VM-level or a storage LUN-level, its technology eliminates dependencies on VM or LUN constructs, so enabling application-centric data management. This approach allows enhanced backup storage efficiency, data management services at a granular level and enables customers to intelligently move their applications in public cloud or multi cloud environments.

The company noted that one year after the release of its flagship RecoverX product, it has announced customers including Ayla Networks, Barracuda Networks and Fortune 500 enterprise customers.

Datos is based in San Jose, California.

See also