Thursday, July 21, 2016

ONOS Project and ONF Develop Leaf-Spine Fabric

The ONOS Project, which is the open source SDN Network Operating System (ONOS) for service providers and mission-critical networks and hosted by the Linux Foundation, and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) have collaborated to develop a leaf-spine fabric solution for data centers and service provider Central Offices.

The effort has resulted in the first L2/L3 leaf-spine fabric on bare-metal switching hardware that is built with SDN principles and open source software.

“Underlay and overlay fabrics represent important ONOS use cases,” said Guru Parulkar, executive director of ON.Lab. “ONOS Project, in partnership with ONF and several active ONOS collaborators, have delivered a highly flexible, economical and scalable solution as software defined data centers gain momentum. This is also a great example of collaboration between ONF and ON.Lab to create open source solutions for the industry.”

“This is an L2/L3 SDN fabric with state-of-the-art white box hardware and completely open source switch, controller and application software,” said Saurav Das, principal architect at the Open Networking Foundation. “No traditional networking protocols found in commercial solutions are used inside the fabric, which instead uses an integrated SDN-based solution. In the past, the promise of SDN has fallen short in delivering HA, scale and performance. The fabric control application design, together with ONOS, and the full use of modern merchant silicon ASICs solve all of these problems. In addition, the use of SDN affords a high degree of customizability for rapidly introducing newer features in the fabric. CORD’s usage of the fabric is an excellent example of such customization.”

Some highlights:

  • The fabric is built on Edgecore bare-metal hardware from the Open Compute Project (OCP) and switch software, including OCP’s Open Network Linux and Broadcom’s OpenFlow Data Plane Abstraction (OF-DPA) API. 
  • It leverages earlier work from ONF’s Atrium and SPRING-OPEN projects that implemented segment-routed networks using SDN.
  • It offers HA and scale support with multi-instance ONOS controller cluster (previous work was with single-controller)
  • vRouter for interfacing with traditional networks using BGP and/or OSPF
  • CORD’s vOLT for residential access network support
  • Support for IPv4 Multicast forwarding for residential IPTV streams in CORD
  • Integration with CORD’s XOS-based orchestration framework

Verizon Launches Virtual Network Services

Verizon Enterprise Solutions announced its launch of Virtual Network Services with the aim of transitioning its enterprise customers to a virtual infrastructure model, providing greater agility and on-demand resources.

The new services, which are underpinned by Verizon's open SDN and NFV architecture, will be available in the U.S. and internationally.  The virtualized services can be delivered across public, private and wireless networks from Verizon or other service providers, or a combination of multiple providers across multiple networks. The initial Virtual Network Service packages are: Security, WAN Optimization, and SD WAN services.

“The way in which network services are delivered is going through an unprecedented shift—the biggest we’ve seen since the broad adoption of MPLS,” said Shawn Hakl, vice president of networking and innovation, Verizon. “Today the network is transitioning to a virtualized model using similar technology that drove the disruption in the data center market. With our new solution set, enterprises will be able to balance agility, performance, cost and security necessitated by the growth of mobile-to-cloud applications and the Internet of Things.”

Verizon said its goal is to enable clients "to essentially operate a “living” network that can be changed quickly to address the number of company locations and users, bandwidth required by application, and application use by employee to enable a secure, high performance and efficient network."

Initial service release includes Cisco, Juniper Networks, Fortinet, Riverbed, Palo Alto Networks, and Viptela.

Verizon will offer three models to clients for deploying virtualized services including: premises-based universal customer premises equipment (CPE), cloud-based virtual CPE services (available Fall 2016) and hybrid services where clients can mix premises-based and cloud-based deployment models to meet their individual business and technical requirements.

AT&T Says DIRECTV Merger was a Hit

AT&T reported Q2 revenue of $40.5 billion, up more than 22% versus the year-earlier period largely due to the July 24, 2015 acquisition of DIRECTV. Compared with results for the second quarter of 2015, operating expenses were $34.0 billion versus $27.2 billion; operating income was $6.6 billion versus $5.8 billion; and operating income margin was 16.2% versus 17.5%.

Second-quarter net income attributable to AT&T totaled $3.4 billion, or $0.55 per diluted share, compared to $3.1 billion, or $0.59 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Adjusting for $0.17 of amortization, merger- and integration-related costs and other expenses, earnings per diluted share was $0.72 compared to an adjusted $0.70 in the year-ago quarter.

“One year after our acquisition of DIRECTV, the success of the integration has exceeded our expectations,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “Cost synergies are ahead of target, we’ve added nearly 1 million DIRECTV subscribers since the acquisition, and our new video streaming services are scheduled to roll out later this year. We plan to serve every segment of the video industry and offer customers their favorite content virtually wherever and whenever they want it."

Some highlights:

  • 2.1 million wireless net adds driven by connected devices, Mexico and Cricket
  • U.S. wireless postpaid churn of 0.97%, second-lowest ever
  • U.S. wireless operating margins expand; best-ever U.S. wireless EBITDA margins
  • 342,000 U.S. DIRECTV net adds; 38,000 global TV net adds
  • Nearly 1 million U.S. satellite net adds since acquisition of DIRECTV
  • 74,000 IP broadband net adds
  • Nearly 800,000 U.S.-branded smartphones added to subscriber base, more than offsetting a nearly 600,000 decline in U.S.-branded feature phone base
  • 185,000 U.S.-branded (postpaid and prepaid) phone net adds
  • 380 million North American 4G LTE POPs
  • Q2 revenues from business customers were $17.6 billion, down 0.5% versus the year-earlier quarter.
  • Revenues from strategic business services, including VPNs, Ethernet, cloud, hosting, IP conferencing, voice over IP, dedicated internet, U-verse and security services, grew by more than $200 million, or 8.4%, versus the year-earlier quarter and 9.0% when adjusting for foreign exchange pressure. These services represent an annualized revenue stream of more than $11 billion.
  • Second-quarter operating expenses were $13.4 billion, essentially stable versus the second quarter of 2015
  • Year-to-date cash from operations up 14.5%; year-to-date free cash flow up 11.6%
  • Full-year guidance on track to meet or exceed expectations

Is Microsoft on track to reach its stated goal of $20 billion in annual revenues from the cloud by FY2018?

The big message from Microsoft's quarterly results issued this week is that the Microsoft cloud is winning significant customer support and is now on a $12 billion annual run rate.  (Commercial cloud annualized revenue run rate is calculated by taking revenue in the final month of the quarter multiplied by twelve for Office 365 commercial, Azure, Dynamics Online, and other cloud properties.) This means Microsoft is catching up to Amazon and Azure could surpass AWS in revenue terms in the near future.  Nadella's stated ambition is for Microsoft to achieve $20 billion in commercial cloud revenue in FY18 -- and he believes the company is on track to doing so.

“This past year was pivotal in both our own transformation and in partnering with our customers who are navigating their own digital transformations,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “The Microsoft Cloud is seeing significant customer momentum and we’re well positioned to reach new opportunities in the year ahead.”

Here are some of the key metrics revealed this week:

·         Office consumer products and cloud services revenue grew 19% (up 18% in constant currency) with Office 365 consumer subscribers increasing to 23.1 million
·         Server products and cloud services revenue increased 5% (up 8% in constant currency) driven by double-digit annuity revenue growth
·         Azure revenue grew 102% (up 108% in constant currency) with Azure compute usage more than doubling year-over-year
·         Enterprise Mobility customers nearly doubled year-over-year to over 33,000, and the installed base grew nearly 2.5x year-over-year
·         70% of Office enterprise renewals are in the cloud. New Office 365 enterprise customers include Facebook, Hersey’s and Discovery Communications

·         The Intelligent Cloud segment delivered slightly more than $6.7 billion in revenue, growing 7% and 10% in constant currency. 

·         At least 60% of Fortune 1000 firms are now using at least three of Microsoft's cloud offerings

·         Microsoft now has 33,000 customers for its Enterprise Mobility Solution -- roughly double the number over the past year.

·         Nearly one third of customer virtual machines on Azure are now running Linux.

·         Office commercial products and cloud services revenue grew 5% (up 9% in constant currency) driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 54% (up 59% in constant currency)

·         Office consumer products and cloud services revenue grew 19% (up 18% in constant currency) with Office 365 consumer subscribers increasing to 23.1 million
Office commercial products and cloud services revenue grew 5% (up 9% in constant currency) driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 54% (up 59% in constant currency)

Globalization Remains a Key Advantage for Azure

Microsoft states that one of Azure key advantages it spans multiple jurisdiction, covering more countries and regions with local support than any other cloud provider. This enables Azure to support regulatory requirements with the maturity and experience that are simply lacking in the other quickly growing clouds.

For instance, Microsoft is the only big cloud provider that operates in China under Chinese law and in Germany under German law.  The company is currently at 26 global data center regions and has announced plans for 34 data centers, but whether this number continues to expand depends on continued cloud growth and the development of regulatory issues.

Regulatory trouble could hamper Microsoft’s top competitors, especially Google and Amazon.

While Microsoft says that it is in-step with global regulators, recent news reports suggest that Google will be facing increased scrutiny from the EU.  A report from CNBC this week stated the Google (Alphabet) could be subject to three separate anti-trust cases from the European Union, accusing the firm of using its dominant position in search, advertising, mapping and mobile OS to stifle competition. Charges have not yet been formally made, so the impact to Google financially and strategically is just speculation.  Likewise, for Amazon, which has moved so aggressive in online commerce across so many markets, the question of which cloud continues to grow the fastest with the widest range of services, may be obscured by other activities underway at the parent companies.

Performance Could Be Significant Differentiator

Recently, Cedexis, a San Francisco-based company providing Internet performance monitoring and optimization, released data company the end-user latency measurements for AWS, Azure, IBM Softlayer, Rackspace, and the Google Cloud Engine, as experienced from different regions across the continental United States. The data, which was collected in March and April of 2016, measured latency to specific cloud data centres.
The Cloud Latency results were reported as follows (best to worst in milliseconds):

Rackspace Cloud – ORD: 56.11

Azure Cloud – US North Central: 56.56

IBM Softlayer – Dallas: 56.89

Google Compute Engine – U: 58:33

Softlayer – Washington: 61.22

Azure Cloud – U.S. East: 62.22

IBM Softlayer – Houston: 62.33

Rackspace Cloud – DWF: 63.22

Rackspace Cloud – IAD: 63.56

AWS EC2 – US East (VA): 63.56

Azure Cloud – US West: 73:11

AWS EC2 – US West (CA): 75.44

AWS EC2 – US West (OR): 84.78

The Cedexis report shows that the Microsoft Azure facilities in general doing better than the pack, and in particular better than its closest market rival, AWS. The western US performed worse than other regions perhaps because of more congested peering points affecting all providers, according to Cedexis.
Nevertheless, performance and security are becoming important differentiators as the big clouds move into real-time service for IoT devices.

Newly Announced IoT deal with Boeing Points in the Right Direction

Microsoft has just scored a bit IoT with Boeing, which has just agreed to use the Azure IoT suite + Cortana for machine learning capabilities. On the partnership, Boeing will move its extensive digital toolset for its airline customers to the Azure cloud.  The companies said this will “improve commercial aviation by enhancing factors like predictive aircraft maintenance, fuel optimization, airline systems and the overall cabin passenger experience.”  Potentially, vast amounts of data from Boeing aircraft will be streamed into Azure data centers, where predictive algorithms will identify issues of concern to airlines and their passengers.

Just a week earlier, Microsoft and GE announced a partnership that will make GE’s Predix platform for the Industrial Internet available on the Microsoft Azure cloud. GE of course a major supplier of aircraft engines, and has advertised heavily to promote its idea of embedding sensors into its industrial products.  A year ago, GE first introduced its Predix Cloud -- a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) designed specifically for industrial data and analytics. This tie-up with Microsoft will provide Predix customers with scalable infrastructure, data sovereignty, hybrid capabilities, and advanced developer and data services. In addition, GE and Microsoft plan to integrate Predix with Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite along with Microsoft business applications, such as Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Power BI, in order to connect industrial data with business processes and analytics.

Microsoft has said that it is moving quickly to add intelligence and machine learning to the Office 365 product suite as well. If the company can bridge these same machine learning and Big Data analytics from Azure IoT to Office 365, then its relationship with the Fortune 1000 will become much more deeply embedded and increasing difficult for AWS to match given that Amazon lacks the Office suite to reach corporate works.

Distractions Could Be Costly

As always, with big corporations there can be big distractions.  In recent year, the Windows phone failure followed by the Nokia debacle proved quite costly to Microsoft.  With Nadella in charge, the company has hopefully moved beyond these distractions. But the recent $26 billion bet to acquire LinkedIn acquisition may take some time to demonstrate how it delivers an equivalent business value to the company.

Comcast to Offer Pre-paid TV and Internet Option

Comcast will begin offering pay-as-you-go TV and Internet service.

Xfinity Prepaid Services lets people sign-up for TV or Internet service and “refill” their subscription any time they would like for either seven or 30 days.

The TV and Internet services, which come without a credit check or contract, will be available later this year starting in Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Florida and Indiana and offered everywhere within the Comcast footprint by the end of 2017.

Plugfest Planned for 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet

The Ethernet Alliance and the NBASE-T Alliance announced plans to validate multi-vendor interoperability of 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet at a plugfest event scheduled for the week of October 10, 2016 at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) in Durham, NH. Both organizations will share post-event results of the interoperability testing performed, demonstrating the rapid maturation of 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet technologies and their deployment readiness. The Ethernet Alliance and NBASE-T Alliance will continue to develop market awareness and education as 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T technologies are deployed on a global basis.

IEEE P802.3bz defines 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T and offers a seamless upgrade to 1000BASE-T operation, which was introduced nearly 20 years ago. The new specification enables up to five times the speed with no changes in cabling infrastructure required, resulting in a better user experience. In addition, 2.5GbE and 5GbE are well suited to interconnect to the next generation of higher-speed wireless networks based on IEEE 802.11ac™.

“The availability of tested, interoperable equipment conforming to a single standard will drive future generations of advanced network performance and innovative new applications,” said John D’Ambrosia, chairman, Ethernet Alliance; and senior principal engineer, Huawei. “As IEEE prepares to ratify the IEEE P802.3bz™ 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T standard, our upcoming plugfest will help speed its global adoption and make the most of the expansive 1000BASE-T infrastructure that exists today. As the leading industry voice of Ethernet, our mission is to accelerate its deployment. This joint initiative with the NBASE-T Alliance is a natural progression of that goal.”

“Based on the strong ecosystem developed by the NBASE-T Alliance, and the rapid adoption of 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T technology, we are ready for the next phase of broad deployment,” said Peter Jones, chairman, NBASE-T Alliance; and principal engineer, Cisco. “The unparalleled benefits of 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet technology are enabling new capabilities throughout the industry and the upcoming plugfest will be a significant milestone to showcase this success. We look forward to the joint plugfest with the Ethernet Alliance to speed product deployment and move the industry forward.”

Salesforce to Acquire Coolan

Salesforce has agreed to acquire Coolan, a start-up based in San Mateo, California, that develops code for optimizing servers in large data centers.  Financial terms were not disclosed.

Coolan, which was founded by brothers Amir and Yoni Michael, is described as a hardware analytics solution.