Thursday, January 21, 2016

Blueprint: The Year of Actionable Data

by Rod Bagg, vice president of customer support at Nimble Storage

As more businesses strive to become data-driven, business leaders will rely heavily on IT teams to easily access, manage and leverage the value of that data in the coming year. In 2016, IT departments will become increasingly focused on keeping data secure and optimized in a way that not only keeps operations flowing, but delivers real value and positive results back to the enterprise.

Additionally, as seen with this year’s growth in the data-storage market, storage infrastructure, scalability and reliability will play a pivotal role in this focus on actionable data as they continue to drive growth and provide intelligence back to IT teams. In the following article, I’ve outlined the top data-focused trends that executives should keep top of mind for their organizations in 2016.

Data Transforms into Actionable Intelligence

CIOs heavily rely on operational intelligence when making strategic decisions. However, with the growing complexity of today’s data center, IT teams are often tied up managing a range of supporting applications, compute platforms, networking, storage and infrastructure. Given these many moving parts, businesses can no longer count on IT teams to gather and assess all of the massive amounts of data within organizations and derive useful actions. Instead, storage vendors who have deep knowledge of interactions across the entire infrastructure will need to take initiative in delivering intelligence to data-center teams. There will be no room for guesswork — prescriptive actions based on sound scientific data analysis will become the order of the day.

New Flash Capabilities Dominate Performance

In the last year, high-performing, flash-optimized storage solutions have become the standard for many in the space. We have now reached the point where performance in storage has been democratized, changing the way people will evaluate storage options as performance will no longer be the primary differentiating factor. Instead, as businesses increasingly generate and harness data, competitive edge will be determined by a solution’s ability to handle the mass amounts of data accumulated through various channels. This will shift the focus from performance to other capabilities such as the array’s reliability, data integrity, scalability, manageability and in-built data-protection.

The Internet of Things Weaves its Way into the Data Center

In 2016, we will see the Internet of Things (IoT) move beyond consumers and businesses and head straight to the heart of data centers. As part of this shift, infrastructure components deployed in the data center will evolve to become armed with thousands of sensors, generating immense amounts of data to support predictive analytics. Self-monitoring and self-optimizing data centers will become the norm, ultimately delivering cloud-like experiences even when customers have infrastructure on-premises or in managed service provider environments.

Data Scientists Strengthen IT Teams

With the complexity of today’s data centers and operations, IT teams face an overwhelming amount of data-related issues and failures. This is where we will see data scientists increasingly step in to help companies pinpoint the exact origin of those problems and design solutions through data analytics. By dissecting trillions of data points, data scientists are able to study the information to not only solve IT problems, but also extract strategic actions. This will make data scientists a key competitive advantage for enterprise IT teams as they face increasing workloads and intricate data infrastructures.

As volumes of data continue to rise and data science plays a more critical role in IT operations and infrastructure, 2016 will be the year of the intelligent, data-driven enterprise. This focus on actionable insight will not only drive productivity for IT teams, but also give CIOs and businesses the tools to finally unlock the real value of their data.

About the Author

Rod Bagg is the Vice President of Worldwide Customer Support at Nimble Storage and drives support automation and advanced data science initiatives. Rod joined Nimble in 2009 and designed and developed advanced remote support features within Nimble OS and went on to conceive and develop InfoSight, which is now recognized as a clear differentiator in the industry for advanced cloud-based Operational Analytics and Storage Life-cycle Management.

Prior to Nimble Storage, Rod served as Vice President of Engineering at Glassbeam, where he co-founded the Glassbeam data analytics Software-as-a-Service offering. Additionally, Rod has held senior management positions at Infloblox and at NetApp where he was responsible for product support, support automation and RAS initiatives. Rod has also held engineering management and development positions creating high-availability telephony platforms and systems.

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Docker Acquires Unikernel Systems, Extending Containerization Continuum

Docker has acquired Unikernel Systems, a start-up focused on unikernel development. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Unikernel Systems, which is based in Cambridge, UK, is comprised of pioneers from the Xen Project, the open-source virtualization platform. Unikernels are defined by the company as specialized, single-address-space machine images constructed by using library operating systems. The idea is to reduce complexity by compiling source code into a custom operating system that includes only the functionality required by the application logic.

“We are honored to have the Unikernel Systems team, with its incredible pedigree, join the Docker family,” said Solomon Hykes, founder and CTO of Docker. “Our shared vision to take transformative technology and make it accessible to a much wider audience has made the union a natural fit and it aligns with one of our core tenets to separate applications from infrastructure constraints. Through the Docker platform, unikernels will be on a ‘continuum’ with Linux and Windows containers, enabling users to create truly hybrid applications across all formats with a uniform workflow.”

“Similar to what Docker has done for Linux containers, by combining forces, we will be able to unlock the entire Docker ecosystem for use with unikernels, including orchestration and networking," stated Anil Madhavapeddy, co-founder and CTO of Unikernel Systems. "The integration with Docker tooling will accelerate the progress of unikernels and enable users to choose how they ‘containerize’ and manage their application - from the data center to the cloud to the Internet of Things.”

Verizon Chalks Up 3% Growth in Q4, IoT Revenues Growing

Verizon reported revenue of $34.3 billion for Q4 2015, a 3.2 percent increase compared with fourth-quarter 2014.  Earnings came in at $1.32 per share, or 89 cents per share on an adjusted basis (non-GAAP).

“In 2015, Verizon delivered strong and balanced results in a dynamic competitive environment while returning more than $13.5 billion to shareholders. At the same time, Verizon built and acquired next-generation network capabilities that position the company to be an innovator in the digital-first mobile world in 2016 and beyond,” said Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam.

New revenue streams from IoT are growing, with revenues of approximately $200 million in fourth-quarter 2015 and about $690 million for the full year. This is a year-over-year increase of 18 percent.

Some highlights from the quarterly report:


  • Total revenues were $23.7 billion in fourth-quarter 2015, up 1.2 percent compared with fourth-quarter 2014. Service revenues totaled $17.2 billion, down 5.6 percent year over year. Over the same period, equipment revenues increased to $5.4 billion, up from $4.2 billion, as more customers chose to buy new devices with installment pricing.
  • For the year, total revenues were $91.7 billion, a 4.6 percent increase compared with 2014.
  • Verizon Wireless reported 1.5 million retail postpaid net additions in fourth-quarter 2015 and 4.5 million for the full year. These net additions do not include any wholesale or IoT connections.
  • Customer retention remained high, with retail postpaid churn at a low 0.96 percent in fourth-quarter 2015, a year-over-year improvement of 18 basis points. Churn was also 0.96 percent for the year, an improvement of 8 basis points from full-year 2014.
  • Verizon added 906,000 4G smartphones to its postpaid customer base in fourth-quarter 2015. Postpaid phone net adds totaled 449,000 as net smartphone adds of 713,000 were partially offset by a net decline of basic phones. Tablet net adds totaled 960,000 in the quarter, and net prepaid devices declined by 157,000.
  • At year-end 2015, the company had 112.1 million retail connections, a 3.6 percent year-over-year increase, and 106.5 million retail postpaid connections, a 4.4 percent year-over-year increase.
  • 4G devices now constitute more than 79 percent of the retail postpaid connections base, with the LTE network handling approximately 90 percent of total wireless data traffic in fourth-quarter 2015. Overall traffic on LTE increased by approximately 60 percent in fourth-quarter 2015, compared with fourth-quarter 2014.
  • About 8.4 percent of Verizon’s retail postpaid base upgraded to a new device in fourth-quarter 2015. At year-end, there were 73 million smartphones in Verizon’s customer base.
  • Wireless capital investment totaled $3.3 billion in fourth-quarter 2015 and $11.7 billion for the year, up 11.5 percent from 2014. Verizon continues to expand capacity and optimize its network, as the company prepares to pilot 5G technology in 2016.

  • In fourth-quarter 2015, consumer revenues were $4.1 billion, an increase of 2.6 percent compared with fourth-quarter 2014. Fios revenues represented 80.4 percent of the total.
  • Comparing fourth-quarter 2015 with fourth-quarter 2014, total Fios revenues grew 6.8 percent, to $3.5 billion, and consumer Fios revenues grew 6.6 percent.
  • Verizon added 99,000 net new Fios internet connections and 20,000 net new Fios video connections in fourth-quarter 2015. Connections totaled 7.0 million for Fios internet and 5.8 million for Fios video at the end of 2015, representing year-over-year increases of 6.3 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
  • Fios internet penetration (subscribers as a percentage of potential subscribers) was 41.8 percent at the end of 2015, compared with 41.1 percent at the end of 2014. In the same periods, Fios video penetration was 35.3 percent, compared with 35.8 percent.
  • By year-end 2015, more than 70 percent of consumer Fios internet customers subscribed to data speeds of 50 megabits per second or higher. In addition, customer interest continues to grow for Custom TV, which represented about one-third of Fios video sales in fourth-quarter 2015.

ForeScout Secures $76 Million for Agentless Cybersecurity

ForeScout Technologies, which specializes in agentless cybersecurity, secured $76 million in additional late-stage funding.

ForeScout provides the ability to see and control the rapidly growing population of unsecured and dark devices. ForeScout CounterACT acts as "the glue that links together previously disparate solutions",  enriching over 70 security tools with its warehouse of device context enabling deliberate security orchestration across enterprise networks.

Now valued at $1 billion, ForeScout said it has tripled its valuation over the past 18 months while also surpassing $125 million in revenue in fiscal year 2015. The company has achieved in excess of 50 percent compounded annual growth rate since 2012, having grown at that scale while operating near cash flow neutral.

The new funding was led by Wellington Management Company LLP.

“It took 25 years for the world to get to 5 billion connected devices, but with the explosion of the IoT we’ll see around 30 billion by 2020—an entirely new approach to security is required,” said Michael DeCesare, ForeScout CEO & President. “Device proliferation and IoT deployments are easy entrances for cyber criminals if not detected and protected. With agentless visibility, intuitive automated controls and a commitment to integrating with leading security and IT management solutions, ForeScout is well-positioned to own the burgeoning IoT security market.”

IBM Acquires Ustream for Cloud-based Video Services

IBM has acquired Ustream, a provider of cloud-based live video streaming services for enterprises and broadcasters. The company streams live and on-demand video to about 80 million viewers per month for customers such as NASA, Samsung, Facebook, Nike and The Discovery Channel. Media reports valued the deal at around $130-150 million although financial terms were not disclosed.

Ustream, which is headquartered in San Francisco with a development office in Budapest, Hungary, and enables clients to create custom video apps to run video on any device and embed video into any application, securely and reliably. Clients can use the company’s real-time social sentiment analytics to gauge audience reactions to the live streaming content. IBM will integrate Ustream's development platform into Bluemix to allow clients to provide distinct video services to developers. In addition, the Ustream portfolio comprises several video solutions, including Ustream Demand, which enables marketers to collect and automate leads into marketing workflows and manage live and on-demand videos from a single dashboard; Ustream Align, which enables secure internal employee communications; and Ustream Pro Broadcasting which offers live video streaming at scale. The company has data centers in San Jose, Amsterdam and Tokyo.

Ustream joins the newly-formed IBM Cloud Video Services unit that combines assets from IBM's R&D labs and strategic acquisitions.  IBM said it is assembling transformational capabilities into the new Cloud Video Services unit to help clients across a wide range of industries integrate video into a strategic source of data. This includes media & entertainment, retail, education and government services. The unit combines assets from Ustream, as well as the recent acquisition of Clearleap. It will also create solutions that integrate technologies from other IBM investments, including Aspera and Cleversafe, as well as IBM R&D innovations.

“Video is the most powerful and emotional medium,” said Brad Hunstable, CEO, Ustream. “Increasingly it is becoming the favored form of communication, not just for entertainment, but also for business. We’ve built a video platform that is easy-to-use, yet incredibly scalable, secure and powerful and it is these qualities that made us an ideal addition to IBM’s portfolio.”

Verizon Joins the ONOS Project

Verizon has joined the ONOS project, the open source SDN Network Operating System (ONOS) for service providers and mission-critical networks and a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project.

"Verizon recognizes the potential of ONOS as an open source SDN platform and the service provider solutions it enables, as well as the promise it holds to transform the networking industry," said Brian Higgins, Vice President of Network Planning at Verizon. "By joining the partnership, we hope to advance open source SDN and NFV solutions based on ONOS and to help shape the future of this ecosystem."

Partners that are funding and contributing to ONOS include AT&T, NTT Communications, SK Telecom, China Unicom, Alcatel-Lucent, Ciena, Cisco, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Huawei, Intel, NEC and Verizon. Non-funding members who are collaborating and contributing to ONOS include ONF, Infoblox, SRI, Internet2, Happiest Minds, KISTI, KAIST, Kreonet, NAIM, CNIT, Black Duck, Create-Net, Criterion Networks, ETRI, ADARA Networks, ClearPath Networks, ECI, BUPT FNL, Radisys and the broader ONOS community.

ONOS Enters 5th Release for Carrier-Grade SDN

ONOS, the open source SDN networking operating system for Service Provider networks, released its fifth generation platform. "When we initially released ONOS, our goal was to provide a solid platform that would act as a base on which ON.Lab, its partners and the community could rapidly develop a number of SDN applications," said Thomas Vachuska, Chief Architect at ON.Lab's ONOS project. "ONOS' growing list of SDN and NFV use cases and solutions...

Ciena to Offer Hardened Version of ONOS Open-Source Software

Ciena announced plans for commercial version of the Open Networking Operating System (ONOS). Blue Planet ONOS will extend Ciena’s Blue Planet network orchestration software to enable highly-scalable, flow-based control of data center networks. Ciena said its hardened version of ONOS, to be marketed as Blue Planet ONOS, will give service providers the ability to take advantage of the cumulative software expertise of the open source community combined...

ONOS Project Joins Linux Foundation

The initiative to develop the Open source SDN Network Operating System (ONOS) will now be managed as a collaborative project under The Linux Foundation. The partnership will focus on creating disruptive SDN solutions featuring open source software platforms, white boxes, a range of network control and management applications and the ability to rapidly create and deploy innovative services. By becoming a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project, ONOS...

Instart Logic Raises $45 Million for Content Delivery Acceleration

Instart Logic, a start-up based in Palo Alto, California, raised $45 million in Series D funding for its application delivery solutions.

Instart Logic uses software-defined architecture to accelerate application delivery. The company's end-to-end platform combines machine learning for performance and security with a content delivery network (CDN) for application delivery, and is designed for DevOps and mobile-first applications.

The funding round was led by new investor Geodesic Capital and included other new investors, including the Stanford-StartX Fund and Harris Barton Asset Management, as well as existing investors including Hermes Growth Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Four Rivers Group, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Tenaya Capital. Additionally, the company announced a strategic investment from Telstra Venture.

Dell'Oro: 25 Gbps Spurs Cloud to Upgrade Data Center

Technology transitions will propel sales of the Ethernet Switch market over the next five years as 25 Gbps data center upgrades for cloud operators, according to a recently published report by Dell’Oro Group. Likewise, 2.5/5.0 Gbps technology will spur enterprises to upgrade campus networks.

“All areas of the Ethernet Switch market are undergoing significant transitions to next generation technologies that provide higher speeds and increased functionality during the next several years,” said Alan Weckel, Vice President at Dell’Oro Group.  “The Cloud is driving the data center through at least three major product cycles by 2020, starting right now with the migration towards 25 Gbps, and the magnitude of the Cloud will cause several records to be set in the Ethernet Switch market during each product cycle.  At the same time, Enterprise campus switching is moving away from 1 Gbps, toward 2.5/5.0 Gbps, to support higher bandwidth access points with security being a feature most customers are looking towards as they evaluate their upgrade path,” Weckel added.

The Ethernet Switch – Layer 2+3 5-Year Forecast Report also predicts the bulk of the revenue growth during the forecast period will come from 25 Gbps and 100 Gbps while both 10 Gbps and 40 Gbps will decline significantly.

Citrix Appoints New CEO - Kirill Tatarinov

Citrix announced the appointment of Kirill Tatarinov as President and CEO.

Kirill Tatarinov most recently served as Executive Vice President of the Microsoft Business Solutions Division (MBS) with responsibility for the Microsoft Dynamics business across development, sales, marketing, and operations. Prior to joining MBS in 2007, Mr. Tatarinov led the Management and Solutions Division at Microsoft, where he was in charge of the Microsoft Windows management technologies and products, including Microsoft System Center, as well as Windows Server solutions. Before joining Microsoft in 2002, Mr. Tatarinov was Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for BMC. Tatarinov earned a master’s degree in systems engineering from Moscow University of Transport Engineering and a master’s in business administration from Houston Baptist University.

Citrix's CEO Steps Down, Elliot Mgt. Exec Joins Board

Mark Templeton has decided to step down as president and CEO of Citrix Systems. He has served in that position since 1998. The Citrix Board has initiated a CEO search process and has retained Heidrick & Struggles to assist with the process of identifying and evaluating candidates.

Citrix also announced a cooperation agreement with Elliott Management Corporation, an investment firm whose affiliated funds own approximately 7.5 percent of the company’s common stock.  Elliott’s Jesse Cohn has been appointed to the Citrix board of directors to replace Asiff Hirji who has decided to step down from the company's board, effective immediately. In addition, as part of its continuing board evolution process, the company will commence a search for an additional independent board member, mutually agreeable to Citrix and Elliott, who will replace a current board member when appointed. In addition, Elliott and certain of its affiliates have agreed to customary standstill, voting and other provisions for a period of at least a year. Citrix has also formed an operations committee, which will work closely with the company’s management team on a comprehensive operational review focusing on improving Citrix’s margins, profitability and capital structure.