Thursday, July 22, 2010

Riverbed Broadens its Scope with Virtualized WAN Optimization

Riverbed Technology released a virtualized version of its Steelhead wide area network (WAN) optimization appliance, enabling enterprises to extend the benefits of WAN optimization to new locations without needing a physical Riverbed appliance. Riverbed's Virtual Steelhead works in conjunction with VMware's vSphere Platform.

Riverbed said its Virtual Steelhead offers the same WAN optimization performance metrics and features as its appliance, but can be deployed in a wider range of environments that may have specialized requirements, such as ruggedized environments or environments with space limitations, as well as data centers that have been heavily virtualized.

Riverbed claims WAN application performance boosts of up to 100X for its Steelhead line. The new virtualized version uses resources in the virtualized computing environment at the client end. The Steelhead software functionality runs in a virtual machine in the equipment already available at the client end. For instance, for military field operations, a ruggedized virtualized server may already be part of the deployed equipment, so the WAN optimization functionality is better run in a virtualized machine on the hardened server rather than as an additional appliance.

Additionally, service providers and systems integrators that deliver managed services based on Riverbed WAN optimization now have the option to deliver a virtualized solution without having to put an additional physical box in the customer location, making provisioning easier and allowing customers to more cost-effectively reap the benefits of application acceleration and IT consolidation with a flexible pay-as-you-grow model.

"Our server infrastructure is 80% virtualized today. The option to extend virtualization to a WAN optimization solution based on Riverbed's best-of-breed Steelhead appliance will enable our continued effort to reduce our IT hardware footprint. Virtual Steelhead is built on a proven WAN optimization solution. Virtualization is an innovative way to handle consolidation, cost-control measures, and even green initiatives," said Searl Tate, director of engineering at Paul Hastings, a global law firm.

Virtual Steelhead is expected to be generally available in Q3 2010.

ShoreTel Step Up with Release 11 of UC Platform

ShoreTel continues to shine with Release 11 of its unified communications system, adding such features as a companion iPhone app and a distributed database for scaling enterprise VoIP deployments. Additional instances of the ShoreTel 11 database can be installed at remote sites, helping to alleviate potential performance bottlenecks and eliminate single points of failure.

The ShoreTel Communicator client is now available for the Web and for the iPhone, allowing users to manage communications from Macintosh computers and iPhones, along with BlackBerry and other popular devices.

ShoreTel 11 offers extended legacy PBX integration capabilities with expanded QSIG support, making it easier for customers to leverage existing investments and migrate to ShoreTel's all IP-based UC capabilities over time.

In addition, the company released ShoreTel Contact Center 6, adding new capabilities that make it easier to integrate contact center activities with existing core business processes.

New real time APIs and event feeds open up the flow of contact center data to other applications, helping call centers improve responsiveness and improve flexibility. Increased scalability and high availability features also provide a robust foundation and flexible geographic footprint for large call centers. As with all previous ShoreTel releases, ShoreTel Contact Center 6 is available as a free upgrade for current customers with a ShoreTel support contract, as part of ShoreTel's standard support service.

Sigma Designs Introduces Chipset for Low-Cost MS Mediaroom STB

Sigma Designs introduced a low-cost Microsoft Mediaroom compatible set top box platform based on its second generation SMP8652 media processor SoC (system-on-chip).

Sigma Designs has completed integration with Mediaroom client software and are anticipated to begin deployment with leading carriers in the second half of 2010.

Sigma's single chip implementation features a 500-Mhz MIPS host CPU, a second processor called the IPU for offloading burdensome real-time tasks, and a third processor dedicated to managing security functions. Its advanced decoder engines support high definition video decoding of H.264 (MPEG-4 part 10), Windows Media® Video 9, VC-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 (part 2), the new AVS standard, and can support up to 16 independent streams on screen in different formats. High-performance graphics acceleration, multi-standard audio decoding, and advanced display processing capabilities round out its multimedia core. Powerful content security is ensured through a dedicated secure processor, on-chip flash memory, and a range of digital rights management (DRM) engines for high-speed payload decryption. Additional functions include 32-bit DDR-2 memory controller, dual Gigabit Ethernet controller, dual USB 2.0 controller, NAND flash controller, and SATA controller enable a single-chip solution for most set top boxes.

The company confirmed that multiple Mediaroom OEMs are currently designing new set top boxes based around the SMP8652 for low-cost applications such as additional rooms in the home.
Additionally, OEMs are also moving ahead with implementations of the SMP8654, another Mediaroom platform from Sigma offering even higher performance within the same family of devices. The first to market will be Tatung, with its recently approved SMP8652-based set top boxes.

Microsoft's Mediaroom platform is currently delivering services to an estimated 5 million subscribers worldwide.

"A key part of our Mediaroom marketing strategy is to continually drive down costs in our ecosystem while ensuring delivery of the full-featured, high quality viewing experience that consumers demand," said Steve Koepp, senior manager, business development of Microsoft's Media Platform Business. "As a key ecosystem partner, Sigma Designs is helping to advance this goal, enabling ever more cost-efficient set top box designs to help further accelerate the availability and reach of world-class TV services powered by Mediaroom."

AT&T U-verse Achieves First Billion-Dollar Revenue Quarter

In Q2 2010, AT&T achieved its first ever billion-dollar revenue quarter for its U-verse services.

During Q2, AT&T had 209,000 U-verse TV subscriber net additions to drive the U-verse TV subscriber total to 2.5 million, up by more than 900,000 over the past year. More than 75 percent of U-verse TV customers choose a triple- or quad-play of integrated U-verse TV, Internet, home phone and/or wireless services. The average revenue per user (ARPU) for U-verse triple-play customers was nearly $160 a month, up 13.8 percent year over year and 6.8 percent from the first quarter of 2010.

AT&T Adds Nearly 900,000 Connected Devices in Q2

AT&T added about 900,000 connected devices to its network in Q2 2010, bring the total number of connected devices to nearly 6.7 million. This includes both emerging consumer devices and machine-to-machine devices.

AT&T has certified more than 850 specialty devices - such as eReaders, netbooks, digital photo frames, personal navigation devices, home security monitoring and smart grid devices - for use on its wireless network.

In addition, responding to the growing demand for emerging device solutions in the enterprise market, AT&T recently formed the Advanced Enterprise Mobility Solutions Group. Created in May 2010, this group delivers advanced mobile applications and solutions for both traditional and emerging devices to businesses, governments and organizations of all sizes.

In addition, AT&T has announced plans this year to support several new devices. Those new emerging device categories include:

Healthcare: AT&T will provide the nationwide network connection for Vitality GlowCaps, intelligent pill caps designed to help patients take medications regularly through a series of reminders, including light, sound, text message and phone call alerts if the cap is not opened as scheduled. The AT&T connected pill caps are expected in market in the coming months.

Tracking: AT&T is providing the wireless connection for a pallet tracking device managed by American Security Logistics. The connected responder is placed in a shipping pallet and can be tracked by GPS, which helps feed information to a service bureau across AT&T's nationwide network. The responder will eventually extend to other devices, including those used to track pets and Alzheimer's patients.

Tablets: OpenPeak, a leading provider of multimedia touch-screen devices and device management platforms, has selected AT&T as the wireless carrier for its upcoming OpenTablet multipurpose computing tablet. The tablet, expected in late 2010, will combine communications, entertainment and home management capabilities. The device will feature AT&T mobile broadband connectivity.

Ericsson Cites Operator Caution, Component Shortages & Bottlenecks

Ericsson's sales for Q2 2010 were down -8% year-over-year but up 6% sequentially, reaching SEK 48.0 billion compared to SEK 52.1 billion a year earlier. Gross margin, excluding restructuring, improved slightly sequentially and improved year-over-year to 39% (36%) due to business mix and efficiency gains. However, Ericsson said operators in a number of developing markets remain cautious in their network upgrade plans..

Cost reduction activities have reduced Ericsson's operating expenses, but the company incurred costs in integrating the recently acquired CDMA and GSM businesses from Nortel, as well as incurring higher investments in certain R&D areas and growing number of 4G/LTE trials.

"Operators showed a continued good demand for mobile broadband driven by smartphone and laptop usage. Sales were however impacted by continued industry component shortages and supply chain bottlenecks. We estimate that this
had a negative impact on our sales in the quarter by SEK 3-4 b," stated Hans Vestberg, President and CEO of Ericsson.

Some highlights for the quarter.


  • Networks' sales in the quarter declined by -12% year-over-year. Voice related sales, such as 2G access
    and circuit switched core continued to decline.

  • Increased mobile broadband sales (3G), including radio, backhaul and packet core, partly offset this impact. CDMA continued to develop favorably. Similar to the first quarter segment sales were negatively impacted by continued component shortages and supply chain bottlenecks.

  • The strong data traffic uptake is creating transmission bottlenecks and demand for microwave based backhaul solutions was strong in the quarter.

  • EBITA margin in the quarter increased year-over-year to 17% (14%) despite lower sales, positively impacted
    by continued efficiency gains and business mix with a high proportion of network expansions.

Global Services

  • Global Services sales were flat year-over-year, but increased 11% sequentially. Global services sales
    account for some 42% of total Group sales.

  • Professional Services sales increased 5% year-over-year and in local currencies growth amounted to 9%
    year-over-year. Managed Services sales in the quarter increased by 23% year-over-year.

  • Network Rollout sales decreased -12% year-over-year.

  • The year-over-year slow-down in growth in Global Services sales is primarily an effect of lower network
    rollout activity driven by fewer turnkey projects, continued component shortages and supply chain

  • There is a continued good demand for services targeting the operational efficiency of operators,
    such as managed services, systems integration and consulting. Operators also show growing interest in
    network optimization services, driven by mobile broadband build out, as well as revenue assurance
    services. Services related to 2G voice sales developed unfavorably also this quarter.

  • During the quarter, nine managed services contracts were signed of which six were extensions or
    expansions of existing customer agreements.


  • Multimedia sales in the quarter decreased by -27% year-over-year due to continued weak demand for
    revenue management solutions in regions India, Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. Sales grew 5%
    sequentially, driven by TV and Multimedia Brokering.

  • The TV business continued to show good development with strong demand for compression technology.

Ericsson reported mixed results geographically, with some regions growing quickly and others decreasing.

  • North America sales increased 128% year-over-year and 37% sequentially. The strong mobile data growth was further spurred by the launch of smartphones by all leading carriers. In the quarter, Ericsson started volume deliveries of 4G/LTE.

  • Latin America sales decreased -12% year-over-year and grew 6% sequentially. Operator consolidation is
    ongoing in the region. Lower cost smartphones has created continuous growth in mobile broadband usage,
    pushing operators for investments in networks and services.

  • Northern Europe and Central Asia sales decreased by -7% year-over-year and increased
    16% sequentially. Sales of mobile network infrastructure increased sequentially, mainly driven
    by major 2G expansions and 3G build-outs in the Eastern part of the region.

  • Western and Central Europe sales decreased -19% year-over-year and -16% sequentially due to cautious operator investments in parts of the region. Development in the region showed large variations, parts of Western Europe developed favorably while Central Europe in general was slow. Services represented two thirds of the sales in the
    quarter, and operators' focus on efficiency continued to drive a strong interest in exploring business models
    such as network sharing and network transformations leading to opportunities both in services and networks.

  • Mediterranean sales decreased -17% year-over-year and increased 11% sequentially. Operator investments
    in Spain and Greece were low due to overall economic environment.

  • Middle East sales decreased -20% year-over-year and by -4% sequentially. Services sales showed a
    continued growth in the quarter driven by demand for managed services. Services represented 46% of the
    business in the region this quarter.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa sales decreased by -19% year-over-year and increased 22% sequentially. The region
    continued to be impacted by the global economic downturn with a tight credit environment. Operator
    consolidation is also taking place in the region, which temporarily reduced investments. Mobile subscriptions
    are developing positively with net additions for both voice and broadband services. New mobile licenses
    are being selected in certain countries.

  • India sales decreased -63% year-over-year and -41% sequentially due to cautious operator investments in
    the lead up to the 3G auctions as well as the ongoing government initiated security clearance process. The
    decline in business volumes mainly affected mobile infrastructure sales while recurring services business
    maintained its good development.

  • China and North East Asia sales decreased -36% year-over-year and by -7% sequentially. The year-over-
    year decline is related to timing of roll-out for 3G/WCDMA in mainland China. In 2009 a majority of
    network rollouts took place during the first half of the year.

  • South East Asia and Oceania sales decreased -36% year-over-year and increased 4% sequentially. Sales
    of network equipment were weaker overall due to cautious investment in a number of markets.