Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Keeping an eye on Alibaba Cloud, Aliyun – Part 2

At its investor conference last week in Hangzhou, China, Alibaba's Aliyun cloud business unit disclosed plans to build out new data centres in lock step with the parent company's global e-commerce initiatives. The Asian economies are an area of focus. Another key principle in this overseas expansion is to form strategic partnerships, often the kind that the big U.S. public cloud players have been reluctant to pursue. By leveraging its core business-to-business ecommerce platform, Alibaba believes its cloud operations could attract many small to medium sized enterprises across Asia, particularly those seeking opportunities in China. Like with AWS, there is a focus on getting start-ups to move their operations into the cloud from the outset. For instance, Alibaba is looking to support Indonesia's 1,000 Start-ups Movement initiative, which was launched last year with the aim of nurturing 1,000 ventures by the year 2020.

Simon Hu, SVP of Alibaba Group and president of Alibaba Cloud, commented, "I believe Alibaba Cloud, as the only global cloud services provider originating from Asia, is uniquely positioned with cultural and contextual advantages to provide innovative data intelligence and computing capabilities to customers in this region. Establishing data centres in India and Indonesia will further strengthen our position in the region and across the globe".

Equinix accelerates connectivity into Aliyun

Earlier this month. Aliyun and Equinix, the global interconnection and data centre company, announced a collaboration to provide enterprises with direct, scalable access to Alibaba Cloud via the Equinix Cloud Exchange at its Hong Kong, Silicon Valley, Sydney and Washington DC International Business Exchange (IBX) data centres, with Frankfurt and London due to be added shortly. With the addition of direct access to Alibaba Cloud on Equinix Cloud Exchange in markets across Asia Pacific, EMEA and the Americas, Equinix can offer private access to Alibaba Cloud in five markets. Equinix noted that it previously offered access in its Singapore IBX. Alibaba Cloud is also a colocation customer in Dubai with Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (known as du). The deal could expand to other locations. Equinix operates 179 data centres in 44 markets worldwide.

India, Indonesia and Malaysia

Also this month, Aliyun announced plans to establish new data centres in Mumbai, India and Jakarta, Indonesia. Both facilities are expected to open during the current fiscal year, ending March 2018. Aliyun recently announced a data centre in Malaysia. The company said each of the new Asian data centres will offer a full suite of services, providing the flexibility for enterprises and organisations to build their entire IT infrastructure for business on Alibaba Cloud or run mission-critical and core applications on it. This brings the total number of Alibaba Cloud data centres to 17 worldwide, including mainland China, Australia, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S.

In India, Alibaba Cloud is working with Global Cloud Xchange (GCX), a subsidiary of Reliance Communications, to directly access Alibaba Cloud Express Connect via GCX's CLOUD X Fusion. In addition, Alibaba Cloud has established a global partnership with Tata Communications to provide direct access to Alibaba Cloud Express Connect via Tata Communications' IZO Private Connect service. In Malaysia, Alibaba signed an MoU with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia's digital economy development agency and the Hangzhou Municipal Government to connect the first e-hubs in the two countries under its Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP). The MoU seeks to build infrastructure for seamless cross-border e-commerce trade between Malaysia and China. In addition, Aliyun will take part in the Malaysia Multimedia Super Corridor initiatives, with a planned data centre in Malaysia later this year and certification program for local tech talents, to help local SMEs to succeed in the digital age through technology such as big data and Internet of Things (IoT). Aliyun has also been operating a data centre in Singapore since August 2015.

Big plans for Pakistan

In May, Alibaba signed a memorandum with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan to support ecommerce development of SMEs and financial services. The goal here is for Alibaba and Ant Financial to foster growth of worldwide exports of products by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Pakistan through ecommerce. The project is supported at the highest levels of the Pakistan government, with Alibaba Group's executive chairman, Jack Ma and prime minister Nawaz Sharif witnessed the signing of the MoU. Aliyun has not built or even announced plans for a data centre in Pakistan, but this would be a logical next step. The nearest already announced Aliyun data centre would be in Mumbai, which is not a viable option for political reasons.

Under its One Belt, One Road initiative, the government of China is heavily involved in building critical infrastructure in Pakistan. For instance, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which was announced in 2015, includes the construction of a new deep-water international commercial port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea in the Pakistan Province of Baluchistan. There are also upgrades to the electrical grid, highway system and airports. If Aliyun were to build a hyperscale cloud data centre in Pakistan, we would expect further upgrades to the telecom infrastructure, including perhaps large capacity terrestrial fibre cables serving the length of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The full-service cloud pitch

While Aliyun continues to add to its portfolio of cloud services, often at a cadence remarkably similar to AWS, the parent company sees a bigger picture. Aliyun's mission is to move from Infrastructure-as-a-Service to Application-enhanced Cloud as a Service as rapidly as possible. There are a lot of Alibaba services under this umbrella, including:


  • Retail Cloud – Alibaba's Taobao.com and TMall application; Aliyun customers will list their products here.
  • Digital Marketing Cloud - Alimama.com, the online marketing service powered by data from Alibaba's core operations, providing customers visibility amongst Alibaba's base of buyers.
  • Logistics Cloud - Cai Niao for moving products to customers across China.
  • Digital Media Cloud - YouKu, the so-called YouTube of China, a video sharing platform and CDN that would be of interest to Aliyun customers as well.
  • Financial Services Cloud - Ant Financial, formerly known as AliPay, services include online payment processing, credit reporting, private banking and wealth management.
  • Customer Service Cloud – TIMI.
  • CityBrain – the company's SmartCity initiative, which aims to leverage AI and cloud scale to municipal traffic management, online utility management and city hall services.
  • Tailored Industry Solutions - Aliyun is working on pre-packaged and customised services for manufacturers, financial companies and hospitals.
Aliyun’s global data centres are also expected to play a role in the delivery of products sold on the Alibaba marketplaces to consumers in local markets. For instance, Alibaba is launching an AliExpress service for cross-border, direct-to-consumer retail from select Chinese manufacturers. AliExpress initially is focusing on buyers in the U.S., Russia, Spain, France, Brazil and the UK. The company claims 60 million active buyers over the past year. A similar Lazada shopping service is launching in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. All this activity is to meet company goal of growing the gross merchandise volume (GMV) transacted across Alibaba from an estimated $ 547 billion in 2017 to $1 trillion in 2020.

AT&T partners with Ericsson for 5G trial of DIRECTV NOW in Austin

AT&T, which last year completed what it claimed to be the first fixed wireless 5G business customer trial in Austin, has announced the launch of a second trial involving the use of millimetre wave (mmWave) technology to deliver high speed 5G network services to more locations in Austin, Texas.

AT&T's second trial is designed to provide an ultra-fast Internet connection to residential, small business and enterprise locations utilising Ericsson's 5G RAN and the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform. Trial participants will be able to stream premium live TV via DIRECTV NOW and access faster broadband services over a fixed wireless 5G connection.

AT&T believes that the trial will provide speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s using mmWave spectrum. It noted that earlier this year it successfully delivered DIRECTV NOW utilising mmWave technology at its Middletown lab in New Jersey, which was claimed to be the first time DIRECTV NOW had been delivered over a 5G connection.

The latest trial covers a variety of customers, such as residential, small business and enterprise, and by using DIRECTV NOW and other applications AT&T is seeking to gain further insights into mmWave performance characteristics and better understand the need for standards development.

The fixed wireless 5G trial in Austin is due to last for several months. AT&T will also continue 5G testing using its network testbeds. At the same time, the company will continue its research into the role of software-defined networks and experimenting with advanced virtualised-RAN core network capabilities during the year.


The operator stated that data traffic on its mobile network has increased by more than 250,000% since 2007, with video now constituting more than half of mobile data traffic. In addition, video traffic has risen by over 75% and smartphones were responsible for nearly 75% of data traffic carried in 2016.


MRV to be acquired by ADVA for $69 million

MRV Communications based in Chatswoth, California, a provider of advanced network solutions for data centres, service providers and enterprises, announced an agreement under which ADVA Optical Networking will acquire MRV via a tender offer of $10.00 per share for all its outstanding common stock.

The tender offer represents an aggregate purchase price of approximately $69 million. The transaction has been approved and unanimously recommended by both the board of directors of ADVA and that of MRV Communications.

ADVA expects that the proposed acquisition will further strengthen its portfolio of optical, Ethernet and software solutions and expand its customer base, particularly in non–European regions. In 2016, MRV recorded revenue of $80.3 million; for the most recent quarter ended March 31, 2017, MRV recorded revenue of $21.2 million, up 12.1% year on year, and net loss of $1.0 million, versus a net loss of $3.9 million a year earlier. MRV had cash and cash equivalents of $21.7 million and no debt.

For its first quarter ended on March 31, 2017, ADVA reported revenue of Euro 141.83 million, up 16.3% versus the first quarter of 2016, with net income of Euro 6.18 million, compared with a net loss of Euro 5,16 million in the 2016 first quarter.

ADVA noted that the acquisition of MRV, if completed, will mark its second significant acquisition in two years. In 2016, it acquired Overture Networks to expand its Carrier Ethernet portfolio and create a NFV product suite, named Ensemble. Earlier this year, Ensemble was selected by Verizon for its virtual uCPE solution.

The acquisition of MRV remains subject to customary closing conditions, including the tender of at least a majority of MRV's outstanding shares of common stock, and is expected to be completed in August or September of this year.

Regarding the transaction, Uli Dopfer, CFO of ADVA said, "The acquisition of MRV will… not only strengthens ADVA's cloud access portfolio, but also open the door to new customers… this acquisition will present many new business opportunities, especially for communication service providers seeking to explore the possibilities of virtualised network services".



  • MRV Communications was founded in 1988 by Prof. Shlomo Margalit and Dr. Zeev Rav-Noy. The company is headquartered in Chatsworth, California and has R&D centers in Chelmsford, MA, and Yokneam, Israel.

ABB acquires KEYMILE mission-critical communication business

ABB based in Switzerland, a supplier of electrification products, robotics, industrial automation and power grids, announced an agreement to acquire, on undisclosed terms, the mission-critical communication business of the KEYMILE Group to expand its communication networks portfolio.

The acquisition includes key products, software and service solutions, as well as research and development expertise that enhance ABB's digital offering, ABB Ability, adding high reliability communications technologies required for dynamic and complex digital electrical grids.

ABB noted that reliable information is key to accurate decision making in an increasingly automated world with extensive interconnected networks. More specifically, the operation of mission-critical systems such as electrical grids requires specialised communication networks with high performance and reliability.

The KEYMILE communication portfolio is designed to meet the demands of network operators for reliability, availability and cyber security. The company's mission-critical communication customer base includes operators of energy grids, railways, oil and gas pipelines, as well as public authorities. The 120 employees of the acquired business will join the Grid Automation business unit of ABB’s Power Grids division.

KEYMILE is headquartered in Hanover, Germany with a total of 350 staff worldwide. The company was founded in 2002 through a merger of three technology companies based in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. KEYMILE is a major manufacturer of mission-critical and broadband telecom solutions with installations spanning 100 countries. KEYMILE stated that following the sale of its mission-critical communications operation to ABB it will focus on delivering broadband systems, in particular optical technology.

KEYMILE products enable network operators to deliver voice and data services over FTTx network architectures via a portfolio of VDSL-/vectoring- and G.fast-solutions. The IP-MSAN MileGate platform enables simultaneous usage of Ethernet/IP and traditional TDM, as well as SDH-/PDH-technology, from a single network element. This helps enable the efficient migration of connection-oriented voice and data technology to packet-based networks.


The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of 2017.


Huawei deploys Butterfly Site in Bangladesh

Huawei announced that Banglalink, a major communications service provider in Bangladesh, has selected its Butterfly Site solutions to connect unserved citizens in rural areas.

Huawei stated that deployment of this solution helped Banglalink to cost-effectively extend its infrastructure to rural locations with not coverage and to address the issue of delivering services economically and profitably. The joint initiative by Huawei and Banglalink will help extend mobile broadband (MBB) coverage in Bangladesh and help the country to achieve the goal of creating an information-based economy.

Huawei's Butterfly Site solution is designed to allow service provider to address mobile service demand across large rural areas. Using two high-gain, 90-degree antennas and a high-power remote radio unit (RRU), a Butterfly site is designed to maintain coverage while utilising one sector less than a conventional three-site solution. The Butterfly Site solution is claimed to reduce the need for antennas and RRUs by around one third.

In addition, the compact size and lightweight design of the device enables on-pole mounting, while low power consumption allows the use of solar power to further simplify deployment and lower operating costs.

Banglalink and Huawei stated that they have completed Butterfly Site deployment in the suburbs of the capital city Dhaka. This deployment helped to verify the capabilities of the solution to support continuous networking and hybrid networking with three-sector sites. The site statistics data indicated that a reduction of up to 30% in equipment was possible in rural sites.

The Butterfly site solution is a part of Huawei's rural network offering that includes Macro nTnR for wide coverage, two-sector Butterfly Sites to enable cost-effective continuous coverage, and Simple Site, which combines on-pole installation and solar power to deliver local coverage in isolated sites.

Banglalink is a company of Telecom Ventures, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Global Telecom Holding, owned 51.9% by VEON (formerly VimpelCom).



  • Huawei announced in February that it had completed the first commercial deployment of Butterfly in Bangladesh. At the time, Huawei noted that the solution supports GSM, UMTS and concurrent GSM and UMTS services, as well as enabling evolution to LTE.
  • In its February announcement, Huawei stated that mobile broadband in Bangladesh was at an early stage, and that operators were preparing to accelerate their mobile broadband projects to expand and enhance coverage. It was estimated that approximately 70% of Bangladesh's 163 million population were living in rural areas, many without access to mobile broadband service.

Nokia appoints Gregory Lee, formerly at Samsung Electronics, to head Technologies

Nokia announced the appointment of Gregory Lee as president of Nokia Technologies, reporting to president and CEO Rajeev Suri, and as member of the group leadership team, effective immediately.

Mr. Lee has held a range of product, technology and marketing leadership roles over a career spanning nearly three decades to date.

Gregory Lee joins Nokia from Samsung Electronics, where he served for over 10 years, most recently as president and CEO of Samsung Electronics, North America, with a focus on driving growth, profitability and operational excellence. In this role, he led all of Samsung's businesses for North America, managing a portfolio of products including mobile phones and consumer electronics, as well as for new market segments such as digital health, virtual reality devices and digital content.

Prior to that, Mr. Lee served as Samsung's global chief marketing officer, and as president and CEO of Samsung Electronics Southeast Asia and president and CEO of Samsung Telecommunications America. Before joining Samsung, he led product development, sales and strategic initiatives for global consumer brands including Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg's and Procter & Gamble.

In his new role, Gregory Lee will be based in California. He is s graduate of the University of California at San Diego, where he gained a BSc in biochemistry,

Nokia stated that, with the appointment of Mr. Lee, its group leadership teams will, effective June 30, 2017, comprise the following members: Rajeev Suri (chairman), Basil Alwan, Hans-Juergen Bill, Kathrin Buvac, Ashish Chowdhary, Barry French, Bhaskar Gorti, Federico Guillén, Gregory Lee, Igor Leprince, Monika Maurer, Kristian Pullola, Marc Rouanne, Maria Varsellona and Marcus Weldon.

Commenting on the new appointment, Rajeev Suri, president and CEO of Nokia, said, "Gregory's passion for innovation and operational excellence, along with his proven ability to build and lead global consumer technology businesses, make him well suited to advance Nokia's efforts in virtual reality, digital health and beyond".



  • Nokia announced in March changes in its organisational structure and group leadership team (GLT), effective April 1, 2017. As part of the reorganisation, Nokia separated the Mobile Networks business group into two organisations, one focused on products and solutions, called Mobile Networks, and the other on services, called Global Services.
  • In addition, the company's chief innovation and operating officer (CIOO) organisation was split and moved to a newly-appointed COO organisation, innovation activities to its CTO and incubation to the chief strategy officer.
  • Leadership changes included Marc Rouanne, formerly CIOO, becoming president, Mobile Networks, Igor Leprince, formerly EVP, global services, as president, Global Services, Monika Maurer, formerly COO, Fixed Networks, becoming group COO, Marcus Weldon, formerly president of Nokia Bell Labs and CTO, retained those responsibilities and joined the GLT as a new member.




UCAR deploys ADVA FSP 3000 CloudConnect

ADVA Optical Networking announced that the University Corporation for Atmosphere Research (UCAR), based in Boulder, Colorado, has deployed its FSP 3000 CloudConnect data centre interconnect (DCI) solution to support ultra-high capacity connectivity to the Cheyenne supercomputer.

UCAR has deployed the ADVA DCI technology to enable the transport of scientific data over two 200 Gbit/s 16QAM connections between the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne, Wyoming and the Front Range GigaPop in Denver, Colorado. By providing greater flexibility and more capacity, the new network is designed to help UCAR expand educational opportunities and expand collaboration.

As a leading institution for atmosphere research, UCAR will leverage the new capabilities and enhanced efficiency provided by the ADVA solution to offer the scientific community enhanced access to computing and data analysis platforms. As a result, the over 100 universities and research centres within the UCAR consortium will gain improved access to the Cheyenne supercomputing centre to support their research programs.

The ADVA FSP 3000 CloudConnect platform is designed to enable UCAR to maximise throughput at the optical layer, as well as offering scalability for the future. The ADVA solution features advanced technology but is designed to be simple to use, thereby helping UCAR to reduce operational complexity and costs.

ADVA noted that the FSP 3000 CloudConnect solution is an open DCI platform, with no vendor lock-in or restrictions that can address the research centre's density, security and energy requirements.

Regarding the project, John Scherzinger, SVP, sales, North America at ADVA, noted, "ADVA has developed a close relationship with UCAR over many years… the FSP 3000 CloudConnect… DCI solution will deliver UCAR significant savings in terms of price, power and space".



  • ADVA recently announced that the Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center (PSNC) in Poland had deployed its FSP 3000 CloudConnect with QuadFlex 400Gbit/s technology into its PIONIER research network. The DCI solution supplied employs 16QAM modulation and provides a 96-channel network connecting supercomputing centres in Poznań and Warsaw.

Flash Networks teams with ZTE on NFV

Flash Networks, a provider of mobile Internet optimisation, security and engagement solutions, announced a new strategic partnership with ZTE to deliver NFV-based optimisation solutions to address the requirement for a holistic approach to virtualised services in the mobile core.

Flash Networks stated that collaboration at the R&D level enabled the integration of network optimisation into ZTE's virtualised EPC environment. The offering includes engagement services addressing subscriber QoE, security and mobile network monetisation. The companies expect that the partnership will provide new opportunities in the Chinese market and worldwide.

Flash Networks' optimisation solutions are designed to improve the user QoE and increase RAN spectral efficiency to help accelerate traffic across LTE network while reducing the volume of web and video traffic data. The network optimisation solution employs a multi-dimensional approach that is designed to deliver a measurable improvement in radio spectral efficiency to the mobile core.

The company stated that ZTE selected its optimisation solution following extensive testing in a multi-vendor environment, designed specifically to verify the interoperability of different configurations of hardware resource layers, virtual resource layers and virtualised network functions (VNF) layers.

Flash Networks is a major provider of virtual and physical optimisation solutions designed to enable operators to improve RAN spectral efficiency, enhance network speed, optimise delivery of video and web traffic, secure and engage subscribers and generate over-the-top revenue from mobile Internet services.

At MWC 2017, Flash Networks demonstrated how an unnamed North American operator had achieved a 16% increase in spectral efficiency in a live network using its vHarmony 8.0 optimisation solutions.

Flash Networks' vHarmony 8.0 is designed to improve the QoE and increase RAN spectral efficiency. The solution features radio connection and signalling optimisation to improve radio network performance by managing traffic flows at the core and content optimisation that is claimed to accelerate traffic on LTE networks by 50% and reduce web and video traffic data by 30%. It also provides business intelligence and analytics and monetisation and personalisation capabilities.

See also