Wednesday, March 13, 2013

VMware Focuses on Software-Defined Data Centers and Hybrid Cloud Services

VMware outlined its top three growth priorities:

Redefining Infrastructure -- The Software-Defined Data Center 
VMware is aiming to extend virtualization to all areas of the data center – network, security, storage and management. Specifically, the company will merge its VMware vCloud Networking and Security product line with the Nicira Network Virtualization Platform (NVP) into a single product family based on a common technology foundation, to be named VMware NSX.

VMware NSX will extend network virtualization across VMware and non-VMware hypervisors and cloud management systems, as well as any underlying networking hardware.  Additionally, VMware NSX will provide an open framework for the integration of ecosystem services for networking and security. VMware said its intention here is to allow customers to accelerate application deployment, lower both capital and operational costs and transform network operations in a non-disruptive manner. VMware NSX is expected to launch in the second half of 2013.

Delivering the Hybrid Cloud 
VMware plans to extend the software-defined data center with a hybrid cloud service offering that will allow its customers to reap the benefits of the public cloud without changing their existing applications while using a common management, orchestration, networking and security model.

A new VMware vCloud Hybrid Service is expected to launch later this year through the company's existing channels and partner ecosystem.  VMware has created a new Hybrid Cloud Services business unit, to be headed by Bill Fathers, who joins VMwarefrom Savvis, where he most recently served as President overseeing sales, marketing, product development, global operations and all corporate functions in North America, Europe and Asia.

Empowering the Multi-Device Era 
A newly released VMware Horizon Suite for workforce mobility uses virtualization to transform silos of data, applications and desktops into centralized IT services that can be provisioned, managed and delivered to end-users on the devices of their choice.  The product was introduced last month.

Networks to Get Smarter and Faster in 2013 and Beyond

By Greg Huff, Chief Technology Officer at LSI 

Architects and managers of networks of all types – enterprise, storage and mobile – are struggling under the formidable pressure of massive data growth. To accelerate performance amid this data deluge, they have two options: the traditional brute force approach of deploying systems beefed up with more general-purpose processors, or turning to systems with intelligent silicon powered by purpose-built hardware accelerators integrated with multi-core processors.

Adding more and faster general-purpose processors to routers, switches and other networking equipment can improve performance but adds to system costs and power demands while doing little to address latency, a major cause of performance problems in networks. By contrast, smart silicon minimizes or eliminates performance choke points by reducing latency for specific processing tasks. In 2013 and beyond, design engineers will increasingly deploy smart silicon to achieve the benefits of its order of magnitude higher performance and greater efficiencies in cost and power.

Enterprise Networks

In the past, Moore’s Law was sufficient to keep pace with increasing computing and networking workloads. Hardware and software largely advanced in lockstep: as processor performance increased, more sophisticated features could be added in software. These parallel improvements made it possible to create more abstracted software, enabling much higher functionality to be built more quickly and with less programming effort. Today, however, these layers of abstraction are making it difficult to perform more complex tasks with adequate performance.

General-purpose processors, regardless of their core count and clock rate, are too slow for functions such as classification, cryptographic security and traffic management that must operate deep inside each and every packet. What’s more, these specialized functions must often be performed sequentially, restricting the opportunity to process them in parallel in multiple cores. By contrast, these and other specialized types of processing are ideal applications for smart silicon, and it is increasingly common to have multiple intelligent acceleration engines integrated with multiple cores in specialized System-on-Chip (SoC) communications processors.

The number of function-specific acceleration engines available continues to grow, and shrinking geometries now make it possible to integrate more engines onto a single SoC. It is even possible to integrate a system vendor’s unique intellectual property as a custom acceleration engine within an SoC. Taken together, these advances make it possible to replace multiple SoCs with a single SoC to enable faster, smaller, more power-efficient networking architectures.

Storage Networks

The biggest bottleneck in data centers today is caused by the five orders of magnitude difference in I/O latency between main memory in servers (100 nanoseconds) and traditional hard disk drives (10 milliseconds). Latency to external storage area networks (SANs) and network-attached storage (NAS) is even higher because of the intervening network and performance restrictions resulting when a single resource services multiple, simultaneous requests sequentially in deep queues. 

Caching content to memory in a server or in a SAN on a Dynamic RAM (DRAM) cache appliance is a proven technique for reducing latency and thereby improving application-level performance. But today, because the amount of memory possible in a server or cache appliance (measured in gigabytes) is only a small fraction of the capacity of even a single disk drive (measured in terabytes), the performance gains achievable from  traditional caching are insufficient to deal with the data deluge.

Advances in NAND flash memory and flash storage processors, combined with more intelligent caching algorithms, break through the traditional caching scalability barrier to make caching an effective, powerful and cost-efficient way to accelerate application performance going forward. Solid state storage is ideal for caching as it offers far lower latency than hard disk drives with comparable capacity. Besides delivering higher application performance, caching enables virtualized servers to perform more work, cost-effectively, with the same number of software licenses.

Solid state storage typically produces the highest performance gains when the flash cache is placed directly in the server on the PCIe® bus. Intelligent caching software is used to place hot, or most frequently accessed, data in low-latency flash storage. The hot data is accessible quickly and deterministically under any workload since there is no external connection, no intervening network to a SAN or NAS and no possibility of associated traffic congestion and delay. Exciting to those charged with managing or analyzing massive data inflows, some flash cache acceleration cards now support multiple terabytes of solid state storage, enabling the storage of entire databases or other datasets as hot data.

Mobile Networks

Traffic volume in mobile networks is doubling every year, driven mostly by the explosion of video applications. Per-user access bandwidth is also increasing rapidly as we move from 3G to LTE and LTE-Advanced.  This will in turn lead to the advent of even more graphics-intensive, bandwidth-hungry applications.

Base stations must rapidly evolve to manage rising network loads. In the infrastructure multiple radios are now being used in cloud-like distributed antenna systems and network topologies are flattening. Operators are planning to deliver advanced quality of service with location-based services and application-aware billing. As in the enterprise, increasingly handling these complex, real-time tasks is only feasible by adding acceleration engines built into smart silicon.

To deliver higher 4G data speeds reliably to a growing number of mobile devices, access networks need more, and smaller, cells and this drives the need for the deployment of SoCs in base stations. Reducing component count with SoCs has another important advantage: lower power consumption. From the edge to the core, power consumption is now a critical factor in all network infrastructures.

The use System-on-Chip ICs with multiple cores and multiple acceleration engines will be essential in 3G and 4G mobile networks.

Enterprise networks, datacenter storage architectures and mobile network infrastructures are in the midst of rapid, complex change. The best and possibly only way to efficiently and cost-effectively address these changes and harness the opportunities of the data deluge is by adopting smart silicon solutions that are emerging in many forms to meet the challenges of next-generation networks.

About the Author 

Greg Huff is Chief Technology Officer at LSI. In this capacity, he is responsible for shaping the future growth strategy of LSI products within the storage and networking markets.  Huff joined the company in May 2011 from HP, where he was vice president and chief technology officer of the company’s Industry Standard Server business. In that position, he was responsible for the technical strategy of HP’s ProLiant servers, BladeSystem family products and its infrastructure software business. Prior to that, he served as research and development director for the HP Superdome product family.  Huff earned a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University and an MBA from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University.  

Cisco Evolves its Integrated Services Router for L4-7

Cisco announced a new Integrated Services Router with Application Experience (ISR-AX), which converges routing, security technologies, and application-level services into a single-box solution for branch offices. The idea is to build on Layer 2 and 3 converged network services with Layer 4 through 7 application services in the enterprise edge router.

The new Cisco ISR-AX solution includes:
  • Cisco 3900-AX, 2900-AX or 1900-AX ISR, based on Cisco's ISR G2 router
  • Cisco security license, including VPN, firewall and intrusion prevention
  • Cisco Services-Ready Engine or maximum RAM
  • Products are configurable for additional network services, computation or storage
All Cisco 3900-AX, 2900-AX and 1900-AX products are currently available. Cisco will extend the AX router family to the Cisco 800 ISR, Cisco ASR1000 and Cisco CSR1000V Series, providing application services for the teleworker, network edge, data center and cloud.

"Because all traffic goes through the router, it offers a streamlined approach for scaling application services to ensure a high quality of experience across the network," said Rob Soderbery, senior vice president, Cisco Enterprise Networking Group (ENG). "With Cisco ISR-AX, Cisco is redefining the role of the router as the application delivery platform and providing our customers with a more affordable solution they can easily deploy across their network."

Mandiant: Discovery of Cyber Intrusions Typically Take Months

Cyber attackers typically spend an estimated 243 days on a victim’s network before they are discovered, according to the 4th annual cybersecurity report from Mandiant, the a security consulting firm that was recently in the news for its expose of Chinese hacking groups. Mandiant's report highlights incident response best practices including a discussion of technical indicators of advanced threats.

Some of the report’s highlights include:

  • Nearly two-thirds of organizations learn they are breached from an external source.
  • Targeted attacks continue to evade preventive defenses, but organizations are getting better at discovering them on their own. Still, a full 63 percent of victims were made aware they had been breached by an external organization such as law enforcement.
  • The typical advanced attack goes unnoticed for nearly eight months.
  • Attackers are increasingly using outsourced service providers as a means to gain access to their victims.
  • As companies continue to outsource business processes such as finance, accounting, HR, and procurement, advanced attack groups are increasingly taking advantage of those relationships to gain access to the organizations.
  • Attackers are using comprehensive network reconnaissance to help them navigate victims’ networks faster and more effectively.
  • Attackers are frequently stealing data related to network infrastructure, processing methodologies, and system administration guides to gather the reconnaissance data they need to more quickly exploit network and system misconfigurations.
  • Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attackers continue to target industries that are strategic to their growth and will return until their mission is complete.
  • Mandiant observed a relationship between the strategic priorities of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the operations of PRC state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and data stolen through cyber intrusions from a wide variety of clients and industries. Of the top three industries repeatedly targeted, aerospace topped the list, followed by energy, oil and gas, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Once a Target, Always a Target
  • Organizations are being targeted by more than one attack group, sometimes in succession. In 2012, 38% of targets were attacked again once the original incident was remediated. Of the total cases Mandiant investigated in 2012, attackers lodged more than one thousand attempts to regain entry to former victims.

A full copy of the report is online.

Oracle to Acquire Nimbula for IaaS Software

Oracle agreed to acquire Nimbula, a provider of private cloud infrastructure management software. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Nimbula, which is based in Redwood City, California, was founded by the team that developed the Amazon EC2 public cloud service, including Chris Pinkham and Willem van Biljon. The company is focused on blending EC2-like scale, agility and efficiency with private infrastructure customization and control Nimbula Director, Nimbula’s flagship product, combines the public cloud with the control, security and trust of advanced data centers. It is positioned as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) software for building self-service public, private, and hybrid clouds.

Oracle said Nimbula's product is complementary to its own cloud solutions.  The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2013.

  • Investors in Nimbula have included Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital.

Oclaro Intros New Add/Drop Platform

Oclaro introduced a new Add/Drop Routing Platform for next-generation multi-degree, colorless, directionless, contentionless, and flexible-grid (CDC-Flex) ROADM networks.

The new Oclaro platform integrates switching, arrayed amplification, as well as advanced control and monitoring.  It can be used in a line-card, a managed subsystem or a super module.  

Oclaro said its new Add/Drop Routing Platform makes significant gains in density and cost efficiency. Key platform components include:
  • Highly-integrated cost- and space-efficient amplified multi-cast switches with variable optical attenuation (VOA) functionality for colorless, directionless, contentionless and flexible-spectrum add/drop routing in multi-degree ROADM architectures.
  • Advanced arrayed optical amplifier implementations leveraging Oclaro's industry leading 980nm pump portfolio that now also includes Oclaro's uncooled dual-chip pumps. These pumps offer valuable power reduction and enable cost-effective high-density solutions.
  • Multi-port flexible-grid optical channel monitor (OCM) that rapidly measures channel powers and frequencies of 8 DWDM input ports with the accuracy needed for flexible-grid network solutions. The OCM offers enhanced flexibility and incorporates advanced features such as port or channel dwelling and prioritization for signal analysis.
  • Embedded control features to provide fast transient management and advanced signal processing capabilities to support the network intelligence required by next generation network solutions while also meeting customer's stringent space and power constraints.  
"The flexibility of the Add/Drop Routing Platform enables customers to specify customized subsystems that can meet their cost, density and time-to-market requirements while giving them the freedom to create truly differentiated network solutions," said Per Hansen, Vice President of Product Marketing, Optical Networks Solutions, Oclaro, Inc.  "Leveraging Oclaro's recognized strengths in vertical integration combined with a broad set of optical networking components and subsystems, this new platform essentially assembles leading-edge functionalities into a highly-integrated and compact platform solution."

Infinera Powers CyrusOne's Texas Internet Exchange

Infinera is partnering with CyrusOne on its Texas Internet Exchange (IX), the first statewide IX in the United States.

The IX network, powered by the Infinera DTN, will provide cloud-based services between CyrusOne’s major facilities and third-party carrier hotels in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, as well as to customer data center locations. The CyrusOne Texas IX is expected to launch by the end of March 2013.

“The deployment of Infinera’s Digital Optical Network provides us with a robust platform for high-speed cloud-based services that will ensure service flexibility, minimize bandwidth costs, simplify network operations, and consolidate network architecture. In addition, the Infinera solution reduces latency for active-active disaster recovery requirements,” said Josh Snowhorn, vice president and general manager of interconnection at CyrusOne. “Infinera is one of the most respected optical telecommunications suppliers in the world. To provide this level of technology and support demonstrates our level of dedication to the CyrusOne Texas IX platform.”

Infinera's DTN platform, embedded with the company's Bandwidth Virtualization technology, allows optical capacity to be deployed as and when needed, without lengthy lead times or complex optical engineering. Powered by Infinera’s intelligent Generalized Multi-Protocol Label Switching (GMPLS) software allows CyrusOne to quickly and easily provision bandwidth circuits.

Silver Spring Soars 29% in First Day of Trading

Shares in Silver Spring Networks (NYSE: SSNI) rose 29.41% in their first day of public trading to close at $22.00.

Silver Spring Networks supplies a networking platform for energy utilities. The company is based in Redwood City, California.

Dell Proposes SDN Working Committee in Object Management Group

Dell is proposing a Software-Defined Networking (SDN) standardization working committee within the Object Management Group (OMG).

The OMG develops enterprise integration standards for a wide range of technologies.

"Networks are the last bastion of unvirtualized computing infrastructure," said Dr. Richard Soley, Chairman and CEO of OMG. "The growing interest in software-defined networks needs to be met as early as possible with flexible, transparent, powerful standards that help the industry grow rapidly and allow interoperable and portable solutions, and give customers real choice. OMG welcomes Dell as a Contributing member and looks forward to their leadership in this new activity."

"We are extremely excited to join OMG and further Dell's commitment to open standards through our participation," said Tom Burns, general manager of Dell Networking. "We have a history of working with open standards and open source groups including the OMG, Open Networking Foundation, the Open Compute Project, OpenStack and many others to enable ecosystem development and growth, and customer choice for IT and data center applications and technologies. These communities give customers value because contributions from member companies are advanced based on merit and openness of the contribution. We look forward to furthering that value with OMG, and with companies that join this new working group as OMG advances the SDN concept."

Fujitsu Intros High-Speed, 28nm CMOS Converters

Fujitsu announced the first in a new family of 8-bit, power-efficient, 28nm CMOS analog-to-digital converters (ADC) addresses the need for large-scale global deployment of single-wavelength, 100Gbps optical transport systems, and provides a solution for future short-range optical and backplane interconnects.

Fujitsu's 28nm ADC supports sampling rates from 55 to 70 GSa/s (billions of samples per second) with scalable analog bandwidth.

Fujitsu cited a number of additional appliations, including inter- and intra-datacenter optical links for 100Gbps Ethernet, as well as high-speed electrical interconnects across PCB or backplane channels.

Ericsson Wins Managed Services Deal in Africa

Atlantique Telecom, part of The Etisalat Group, awarded a five year multi-country managed services contract to Ericsson to manage its entire mobile networks. The contract covers network operations, field maintenance, network optimization and spare parts management for Etisalat' s multivendor mobile networks, including access, core and transmission, as well as value added services.  Ericsson said up to 10 million subscribers stand to benefit from improved network quality.

Atlantique Telecom operates in Benin, Central Africa Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Niger and Togo.

Lars Lindén, Head of Ericsson in region sub-Saharan Africa says, "Managed services is a proven business model to support operators in growth mode and it is one of the most dynamic areas in our industry. Our work together will support Atlantique Telecom in defining a new generation of operators in Africa."

New Multi-Source Agreement for 40 Gbps XLMD2 Miniature Pluggable Transceivers

Five leading optical component manufacturers including LAPIS Semiconductor, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Oclaro, Renesas Electronics and Sumitomo Electric Industries, reached agreement on new common specifications for transmitter optical sub-assemblies (TOSAs) and receiver optical sub-assemblies (ROSAs). These specifications are based on the 40 Gbps serial Multi-Source Agreement (XLMD2-MSA) for 40 Gbps pluggable transceiver modules such as the CFP MSA.

The companies said the new, thin, miniature TOSAs and ROSAs are essential for downsizing the pluggable transceiver modules.

Kuwait's Wataniya Upgrades with Ericsson

Wataniya Telecom, Kuwait's leading mobile telecommunications operator, selected Ericsson to upgrade its radio access network.

Under the new contract, which represents the largest Ericsson has signed to date in Kuwait, the company will upgrade Wataniya Telecom's existing 2G and 3G networks, as well as adding WCDMA/HSPA capability on 900MHz and LTE capability on the 1800MHz band.  Ericsson will also provide optimization services, O&M support services, spare parts management, customer support and training.

Oclaro's Pump Lasers Will Reduce Footprint by 2X

Oclaro announced a dual-chip, uncooled 500mW pump laser for ROADMs that features the new industry-standard 10-pin MSA butterfly advanced package format that delivers a smaller footprint compared to conventional 14-pin packages. The new Oclaro dual-chip uncooled pump is designed for amplifier arrays, multi-stage and mid-stage access amplifiers, ROADM on blade and amplifier based line cards.

The new design will bring a 2X reduction in footprint while delivering 60 percent lower power consumption, enabling power efficient add/drop arrayed amplifiers targeted at 4 or 8-degree CDC-Flex node architectures.

"By developing a dual-chip uncooled pump laser, Oclaro is expanding its current leadership position in the pump laser market where the company has shipped more than 500,000 units externally in the last 3 years alone," said Robert Blum, Director of Product Marketing for the Oclaro Photonic Components Business Unit.  

Oclaro expects to be sampling the dual-chip uncooled pump in the third quarter of CY2013.