Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blueprint: Tips for Avoiding a Data Center Blizzard

by Jeff Klaus, General Manager of DCM Solutions, Intel

We're in the depth of winter and, yes, the snow can be delightful… until you have to move your car or walk a half block on icy streets. Inside the datacenter, the IT Wonderland might lack snowflakes but everyday activities are even more challenging year round. Instead of snowdrifts and ice, tech teams are faced with mountains of data.

So what are the datacenter equivalents of snowplows, shovels, and hard physical labor? The right management tools and strategies are essential for clearing data paths and allowing information to move freely and without disruption.

This winter, Intel gives a shout-out to the unsung datacenter heroes, and offers some advice about how to effectively avoid being buried under an avalanche of data. The latest tools and datacenter management methodologies can help technology teams overcome the hazardous conditions that might otherwise freeze up business processes.

Tip #1: Take Inventory

Just as the winter holiday season puts a strain on family budgets, the current economic conditions continue to put budget pressures on the datacenter. Expectations, however, remain high. Management expects to see costs go down while users want service improvements. IT and datacenter managers are being asked to do more with less.

The budget pressures make it important to fully assess and utilize the in-place datacenter management resources. IT can start with the foundational server and PDU hardware in the datacenter. Modern equipment vendors build in features that facilitate very cost-effective monitoring and management. For example, servers can be polled to gather real-time temperature and power consumption readings.

Middleware solutions are available to take care of collecting, aggregating, displaying, and logging this information, and when combined with a management dashboard can give datacenter managers insights into the energy and temperature patterns under various workloads.

Since the energy and temperature data is already available at the hardware level, introducing the right tools to leverage the information is a practical step that can pay for itself in the form of energy savings and the ability to spot problems such as temperature spikes so that proactive steps can be taken before equipment is damaged or services are interrupted.

Tip #2: Replace Worn-Out Equipment

While a snow shovel can last for years, datacenter resources are continually being enhanced, changed, and updated. IT needs tools that can allow them to keep up with requests and very efficiently deploy and configure software at a rapid pace.

Virtualization and cloud architectures, which evolved in response to the highly dynamic nature of the datacenter, have recently been applied to some of the most vital datacenter management tools. Traditional hardware keyboard, video, and mouse (KVM) solutions for remotely troubleshooting and supporting desktop systems are being replaced with all-software and virtualized KVM platforms. This means that datacenter managers can quickly resolve update issues and easily monitor software status across a large, dynamic infrastructure without having to continually manage and update KVM hardware.

Tip #3: Plan Ahead

It might not snow everyday, even in Alaska or Antarctica. In the datacenter, however, data grows everyday. A study by IDC, in fact, found that data is expected to double in size every two years, culminating in 44 zettabytes by 2020. An effective datacenter plan depends on accurate projections of data growth and the required server expansion for supporting that growth.

The same tools that were previously mentioned for monitoring and analyzing energy and temperature patterns in the datacenter can help IT and datacenter architects better understand workload trends. Besides providing insights about growth trends, the tools promote a holistic approach for lowering the overall power budget for the datacenter and enable datacenter teams to operate within defined energy budget limits. Since many large datacenters already operate near the limits of the local utility companies, energy management has become mission critical for any fast-growing datacenter.

Tip #4: Stay Cool

Holiday shopping can be a budget buster, and the credit card bills can be quite a shock in January. In the datacenter, rising energy costs and green initiatives similarly strain energy budgets. Seasonal demands, which peak in both summer and the depths of winter, can mean more short-term outages and big storms that can force operations over to a disaster recovery site.

With the right energy management tools, datacenter and facilities teams can come together to maximize the overall energy efficiency for the datacenter and the environmental conditions solutions (humidity control, cooling, etc.). For example, holistic energy management solutions can identify ghost servers, those systems that are idle and yet still consuming power. Hot spots can be located and workloads shifted such that less cooling is required and equipment life extended. The average datacenter experiences between 15 to 20 percent savings on overall energy costs with the introduction of an energy management solution.

Tip #5: Reading the Signs of the Times

During a blizzard, the local authorities direct the snowplows, police, and rescue teams to keep everyone safe. Signs and flashing lights remind everyone of the rules. In the datacenter, the walls may not be plastered with the rules, but government regulations and compliance guidelines are woven into the vital day-to-day business processes.

Based on historical trends, regulations will continue to increase and datacenter managers should not expect any decrease in terms of required compliance-related efforts. Public awareness about energy resources and the related environment impact surrounding energy exploration and production also encourage regulators.

Fortunately, the energy management tools and approaches that help improve efficiencies and lower costs also enable overall visibility and historical logging that supports audits and other compliance-related activities.

When “politically correct” behavior and cost savings go hand in hand, momentum builds quickly. This effect is both driving demand for and promoting great advances in energy management technology, which bodes well for datacenter managers since positive results always depend on having the right tools. And when it comes to IT Wonderlands, energy management can be the equivalent of the whole toolshed.

About the Author

Jeff Klaus is the general manager of Data Center Manager (DCM) Solutions, at Intel Corporation, where he has managed technology groups for more than 14 years. Klaus’s team is pioneering power- and thermal-management middleware, which is sold through an ecosystem of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software companies and server OEMs. A graduate of Boston College, Klaus also holds an MBA from Boston University.

About Intel

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) is a world leader in computing innovation. The company designs and builds the essential technologies that serve as the foundation for the world's computing devices. As a leader in corporate responsibility and sustainability, Intel also manufactures the world's first commercially available "conflict-free" microprocessors.

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AT&T Repositions as Revenue Stream to Shift

AT&T expects a significant shift in its revenue stream from consumer mobile to business services, TV, broadband and international projects. In its quarterly earnings report, AT&T said its recent acquisitions in Mexico and its pending acquisition of DIRECTV will diversify the company and expand its range.

“Over the last year, we’ve made several moves to significantly transform our business for the future” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “Our transactions with DIRECTV and Mexican wireless companies Iusacell and Nextel Mexico will make us a very different company. We’ll be unique in the industry because we’ll be able to offer integrated capabilities across a diversified base of services, customers, geographies and technology platforms. After we close DIRECTV, our largest revenue stream will come from business-related accounts, followed by U.S. TV and broadband, U.S. consumer mobility and then international mobility and TV.

“We ended the year substantially complete with our Project VIP network initiative and with most of our postpaid smartphone customers off of device subsidy plans. As a result, our full-year performance saw record-low postpaid customer churn and best-ever wireless service margins – all in a highly competitive wireless market.”

On the financial front, AT&T reported Q4 2014 revenue of $34.4 billion, up 3.8 percent versus the year-earlier period and up 4.5 percent when adjusting for the sale of Connecticut wireline properties. Due to non-cash charges, loss of $0.77 per share in the fourth quarter compared to $1.31 diluted EPS in the year-ago quarter. Excluding significant items, EPS was $0.55 versus $0.53 a year ago, up 3.8 percent.

Some highlights for the quarter:


  • Total wireless revenues were up 7.7 percent year over year to $19.9 billion. 
  • Fourth-quarter wireless operating expenses totaled $16.6 billion, up 14.8 percent versus the year-earlier quarter, largely due to higher equipment costs from record gross adds and upgrades and costs associated with the company’s acquisition of Leap Wireless. 
  • Wireless operating income was $3.2 billion, down 18.1 percent year over year largely due to increased volumes and Leap integration costs. Fourth-quarter 2014 service revenue comparisons included impacts from strong customer adoption of Mobile Share Value plans, partially offset by increased revenues from Leap.
  • The continued adoption of AT&T Next and Mobile Share Value plans is reflected in a year-over-year reduction in postpaid service ARPU (average revenues per user). Phone-only postpaid ARPU decreased 10.7 percent versus the year-earlier quarter. Phone-only postpaid ARPU with AT&T Next monthly billings decreased 4.1 percent year over year, but increased 0.4 percent sequentially. The strong adoption of Mobile Share Value plans also is impacting service revenues. 
  • AT&T posted a fourth-quarter net increase in total wireless subscribers of 1.9 million, led by gains in postpaid and connected devices. 
  • AT&T added 854,000 postpaid subscribers, up both year over year and sequentially. 
  • Connected device net adds were 1,296,000, including about 800,000 connected cars. 
  • At the end of the quarter, 83 percent, or 56.8 million, of AT&T's postpaid phone subscribers had smartphones, up from 77 percent, or 51.9 million, a year earlier. AT&T’s ARPU for smartphones is about twice that of non-smartphone subscribers. 
  • At the end of the fourth quarter, 75 percent of AT&T’s postpaid smartphone customers had an LTE-capable device.
  • At the end of the fourth quarter, half of Mobile Share accounts had 10 gigabyte or larger data plans, up from 27 percent in the year-ago quarter. 


  • Total fourth-quarter wireline revenues were $14.6 billion, down 1.0 percent versus the year-earlier quarter and down slightly versus the third quarter of 2014. 
  • Total revenues from business customers were $8.6 billion, down 2.8 percent versus the year-earlier quarter. When adjusting for the sale of the company’s Connecticut wireline properties, total revenues declined 1.8 percent year over year. 
  • Overall, declines in legacy products were partially offset by continued double-digit growth in strategic business services. Revenues from these services, the next-generation capabilities that lead AT&T's most advanced business solutions — including VPNs, Ethernet, cloud, hosting, IP conferencing, VoIP, MIS over Ethernet, U-verse and security services — grew 13.8 percent versus the year-earlier quarter and grew 14.3 when adjusting for the sale of Connecticut wireline properties. These services represent an annualized revenue stream of more than $10 billion and were nearly 30 percent of wireline business revenues in the fourth quarter. During the quarter, the company also added 31,000 U-verse high speed broadband business subscribers.
  • Revenues from residential customers totaled $5.6 billion, an increase of 0.1 percent versus the fourth quarter a year ago. When adjusted for the sale of the Connecticut wireline operations, revenue growth was 2.4 percent. Continued strong growth in consumer IP data services in the fourth quarter more than offset lower revenues from legacy voice and data products. 
  • U-verse, which includes high speed Internet, TV and Voice over IP, now represents 67 percent of wireline consumer revenues, up from 57 percent in the year-earlier quarter. Adjusted consumer U-verse revenues grew 21.1 percent year over year. 
  • U-verse high speed Internet had a fourth-quarter net gain of 405,000 subscribers, for a total of 12.2 million. 
  • U-verse TV added 73,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter for nearly 6 million in service at the end of the fourth quarter after adjusting for the sale of the Connecticut operations. 


Google Fiber Expands to Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Raleigh

Google announced plans to bring its fiber access service to 18 cities in the south-eastern U.S. across four new metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham.

The company said its next steps will be to to work with these cities to create a detailed map for deploying thousands of miles of fiber, using existing infrastructure such as utility poles and underground conduit.

Google Fiber is currently live in Kansas City, Provo and Austin. Google also noted that it is continuing to explore bringing fiber to five additional metro areas—Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose.


Ericsson's Fourth Quarter Sales Decline 2% YoY

Ericsson reported 4Q 2014 sales of SEK 68.0 (67.0) b., a growth of 1% YoY and 18% QoQ, but down 2% YoY when adjusted for currency exchanges. The sales growth YoY was mainly driven by the Middle East, Europe and Asia, offset by sales decline in North America. Operating income in the fourth quarter improved YoY, primarily driven by higher software sales and efficiency enhancements.

Some highlights from the company's quarterly report:

  • Mobile broadband sales increased both YoY and QoQ thanks to existing contracts in mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, India and parts of Europe. In mainland China the majority of the business in the quarter was related to the continued LTE deployments. 
  • Sales in North America were mainly driven by operator investments in capacity and quality enhancements also this quarter, although at a slower pace. 
  • In North America, consumer demand and mobile data traffic growth continues to be strong in North America, but Ericsson anticipates the North American mobile broadband business to remain slow in the short-term.
  • Global Services showed stable growth with momentum for professional services driven by managed services and systems integration sales. During the quarter, 17 new managed services contracts were signed, including a pan-India contract.
  • Ericsson ended 2014 with 116,000 employees, up from 112,000 at the end of 2013.


F5 Tunes its BIG-IQ for Agile App Delivery and Cisco APIC

The newest version of F5 Networks' BIG-IQ intelligent management framework promises deeper collaboration between the network operations center and DevOps teams by centrally managing application delivery and by employing role-based access control (RBAC).

BIG-IQ offers both an innovative UI and RESTful APIs to centrally manage F5 BIG-IP devices and to control F5’s Local Traffic Manager, Advanced Firewall Manager, and Application Security Manager solutions. BIG-IQ’s use of iApps templates orchestrates Software Defined Application Services, both locally and in public and private clouds to increase business agility while eliminating many of the risks associated with managing point solutions individually. BIG-IQ provides a single point of integration between solutions from F5 and technologies from Cisco, VMware, Microsoft, and OpenStack.

Key capabilities include:

  • Manage Application Delivery Services: Role-based central management of application delivery functions across the network to increase agility with software-defined orchestration of application services.
  • Orchestrate Application Delivery in the Cloud: Enhanced connectivity and partner integration with expanded orchestration and management of cloud platforms via third-party developers, as well as improved customer experience via workflows and integrations.
  • Manage BIG-IP Devices: Manage physical and virtual BIG-IP devices and virtual edition licensing from a single pane of glass.
  • Manage Security: Centralizes security policy deployment, administration, and management, thereby simplifying firewall policy management and enabling stronger security.
  • Reduce Risk: Safer change management through simplified configuration and the removal of many of the administrative touch-points across multiple devices.
F5 BIG-IQ orchestration updates will also be available through the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC).

“F5 Synthesis and Cisco ACI can deliver industry-first integration with BIG-IP appliances and the BIG-IQ orchestration system. Cisco ACI and F5 joint solutions offer customers a choice depending on their preferences, operational models, and business needs. Customers can manage F5 BIG-IP appliances and Virtual Editions directly from the Cisco APIC controller for automated L4–7 service insertion and stitching,” said Soni Jiandani, SVP, Marketing, Cisco. “Joint F5 and Cisco customers will be able to integrate APIC with BIG-IQ for dynamic creation of APIC plug-ins based on existing iApps and iRules® configurations in their environments. Together, Cisco ACI and the F5 portfolio deliver true, rich application deployments while preserving customers’ L4–7 operational models, guaranteeing multi-tenancy and scale.”


Overture Adds Carrier Ethernet VNF and Service Intelligence

Overture Networks introduced its Ensemble Carrier Ethernet (ECE) Virtual Network Function (VNF) -- the first such hardware-agnostic Carrier Ethernet VNF, delivering the same Carrier Ethernet 2.0 functionality of a physical Ethernet Access Device without being tied to proprietary, purpose built hardware.

Overture said its ECE VNF software can run on any Intel-based server. For hardened environments, the Overture 65vSE can host the ECE and multiple other VNFs. This hardware-agnostic approach provides service providers with the ability to instantly deploy new, on-demand applications in a CO, data center, or customer premise, simplifying operations and driving new service innovation. As a software-based solution, the ECE VNF can easily scale services as needed, with line-rate performance up to 10GigE. It also enables an optimized NFV model where the virtual network functions can be placed wherever the service provider chooses; the service edge, a central location, or both.

“Our customers clearly want to transition their networks into agile, automated, open environments that will drive dramatic costs reductions and accelerate their service delivery,” said Mike Aquino, president and CEO, Overture “the introduction of the industry’s first true Carrier Ethernet Virtual Network Function is a milestone achievement in the advancement of NFV from the lab to field trials.  It demonstrates our commitment to an evolving open ecosystem which ultimately helps our customers maximize both capital and operational efficiencies, while accelerating the pace of new revenue-generating.”

ECE joins the company’s already released Ensemble Service Orchestrator (ESO) and Ensemble Network Controller (ENC), as part of Overture's growing Ensemble Open Services Architecture portfolio.

Overture is also introducing its Ensemble Service Intelligence (ESI), which leverages big data technologies and applies advanced analytics in an open system to provide actionable intelligence for service orchestration. ESI stores and correlates data from virtual and physical network components, as well as from existing performance management, EMS and other management systems. ESI enhances automated orchestration across a multi-vendor NFV environment with features such as service lifecycle management, policy-based auto-scaling and multi-level service verification and diagnostics. It comes with an initial suite of service intelligence applications that provide full service lifecycle history, as well as the capability to monitor network VNF performance to ensure customer SLAs are met.

Overture said its new ESI provides a simplified way to achieve OSS integration by bridging NFV with legacy systems, while its open architecture allows further application development.


Crehan: Multiple Technologies Drive Stronger Server Networking Upgrade Cycle

The availability of multiple new data-center Ethernet speeds will lead to a much stronger server networking upgrade cycle than seen over the past decade, according to a new Server-Class Adapter & LAN-on-Motherboard (LOM) Long-Range Forecast Report from Crehan Research.

The firm expects that the impending arrival of 25 gigabit Ethernet (GbE), 50GbE and 100GbE products, in combination with existing 10GbE and 40GbE products, will result in more than two-thirds of total networking ports migrating to high-speed Ethernet within three years (see accompanying figure).

“Over the past decade or so, the data center has seen many significant changes, and it is no longer a one-size-fits-all market,” said Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research. “Consequently, we are seeing solutions that are highly optimized for the needs of specific customer segments, whether it be a fully vertically integrated system for a converged enterprise network or a bare-bones disaggregated system for a massively scalable cloud service provider,” he said. “As a result, the market is currently looking for more targeted Ethernet networking solutions.”

The report predicts that the many various high-speed Ethernet options will coexist for some time, each benefitting from the demands of a specific market segment. For example:
  • 25GbE is expected to see a strong initial ramp from deployments by cloud titans such as Google and Microsoft, an area of the market where 10GbE server networking is currently prevalent. 
  • 10GbE should see its third, and biggest, adoption phase as the mainstream enterprise market upgrades its mostly 1GBASE-T server and server access infrastructure to 10GBASE-T.
  • 40GbE is starting to ramp significantly, benefitting from a current window of opportunity as the most attractively priced data center Ethernet speed from a bandwidth perspective. 

In both its 3Q14 Server-Class Adapter & LAN-on-Motherboard (LOM) Long-Range Forecast and its 3Q14 Data Center Switch reports, Crehan Research highlighted the dramatic uptake in 40GbE data center adoption, noting that networking bandwidth demands were so strong in some market verticals that these customers could not wait to evaluate impending 25GbE and 50GbE options.

Dell'Oro: Cloud Data Centers to Comprise Almost 50% of Server Unit Shipments by 2018

Cloud data centers are expected to comprise almost 50 percent of server unit shipments by 2018, according to a new report by Dell'Oro Group. Server unit shipments are expected to continue to grow, albeit at a low single digit CAGR for the 2014-2019 period.

“The increase in the number of connected devices as well as the number of workloads processed by data centers will continue to drive demand for physical servers, although virtualization trends will dampen growth rates,” said Sameh Boujelbene, Director at Dell’Oro Group.  “Although server shipments will continue to grow, the deployment location for these servers is definitely changing. Cloud economics—including server prices, resiliency, scalability, and product lifespan—along with enhancements in cloud security are promoting migration of workloads across servers, and are accelerating Cloud adoption,” stated Boujelbene.

The report indicates that high-density servers, based on either Intel’s X86 or ARM processors will drive the majority of growth in unit shipments during the forecast period. The analysis also discusses the various Ethernet network connectivity options for each server form factor for Cloud vs. Enterprise/Premises deployments, and reveals that a minimum of eight port speeds are expected to co-exist for server access over the next five years.


Juniper Reports Q4 Revenue of $1.1 Billion, Lower Overhead

Juniper Networks reported Q4 2014 net revenues of $1,102 million, down 14% year-over-year and down 2% sequentially (normalized for Junos Pulse sale: decrease of 11% year-over-year and a sequential increase of 1%).

During the quarter, the Company recorded an estimated $850 million non-cash goodwill impairment charge related to its security reporting unit. As a result, the company recorded a GAAP net loss of $769.6 million. Excluding this impairment charge, net income would have been $80.4 million or $0.19 per share for the fourth quarter of 2014, inclusive of a $0.07 impact from restructuring and other charges, a $0.04 benefit from the renewal of the R&D tax credit and a $0.05 benefit from the gain on the sale of Junos Pulse.

Juniper’s operating margin for the fourth quarter of 2014 excluding the non-cash goodwill impairment decreased to 13.5% on a GAAP basis, including a $29 million impact from restructuring and other charges. Excluding these items the GAAP operating margin for Q4 2014 would have been 16.1%, an increase from 15.3% in both the third quarter of 2014 and the fourth quarter of 2013.

“2014 was a year of change for Juniper and I’m pleased with the solid progress we made as we successfully streamlined our organization, reduced costs, increased capital returns to our shareholders and sharpened our focus on the fastest growing segments of the market,” said Rami Rahim, chief executive officer at Juniper Networks. “While we recognize that we have more work to do to realize Juniper’s full potential, we’re energized as we enter 2015. Our customers and partners across our key verticals view network innovation as fundamental to their business, and with a strong innovation pipeline, we are confident in Juniper’s future and see substantial opportunities to grow and deliver value in the long term.”


TM Forum Appoints Peter Sany as CEO

TM Forum has appointed Peter Sany as its new president and CEO, succeeding Bill Ahlstrom, who served as interim president and CEO since November 2013.

Sany currently serves on TM Forum’s Board of Directors.  He previously was Chief Information Technology Officer at Swiss Life, Group CIO at Deutsche Telekom, Corporate CIO at pharmaceuticals company Novartis and a senior global executive at IBM. Peter has also served on a number of non-executive boards, including those of Swiss Post, Unitel Mongolia and Datalynx, a supplier of certified cloud computing services.


Artesyn Intros 2-Slot 40G ATCA Platform

Artesyn Embedded Technologies introduced its Centellis 2100, a two-slot 40G AdvancedTCA (ATCA) system platform designed to support the latest high performance payload blades.

The unit offers power and cooling support for up to 400 W per slot and up to 500 W in a single slot configuration.  It is designed for data intensive, central office and enterprise networking applications such as distributed networking functions, IMS/IPTV subsystems, 4G wireless applications, and edge networking and routing. The 3U 19 inch small form factor chassis enables reuse of existing, larger scale ATCA hardware and software elements providing a significant reduction in development cost and reducing time-to-market for deployments. The Centellis 2100 features redundant DC or AC power input modules, allowing customers to integrate the system platform into redundant or non-redundant power configurations.