Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Momentum Builds for Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP)

The Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) Project, which unites two major open networking and orchestration projects, AT&T's open source ECOMP and the Open Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O), opened its code for community collaboration. The ONAP code base is production-ready and in use. Developers are invited to access it at

ONAP also announced new Platinum member Reliance Jio; Silver members Ciena, Microsoft, New H3C Technologies Co., Ltd. and Wind River; and Associate member Open Networking Foundation.

The ONAP Governing Board members have elected the following individuals to serve in key roles:

  • Chair: Chris Rice, Senior Vice President of AT&T Labs
  • President: Yachen Wang, Deputy Director of the Network Technology Department at China Mobile Research Institute
  • Treasurer: Vincent Danno, Director Wireline Standards of the Innovation Technical & Marketing at Orange corporate

“We’re excited to see how developers and others in the industry contribute to the ONAP code,” said Chris Rice, ONAP Chair and Senior Vice President, AT&T Labs. “Today is an important day for ONAP and open networking. Collaboration is key in open source projects and we’re looking forward to the community’s efforts to harden the production-ready code.”

Yachen Wang, ONAP President and Deputy Director of the Network Technology Department at China Mobile Research Institute, commented: “On behalf of ONAP members, I would like to welcome the new members to the team. We anticipate close collaboration that will further the automation of SDN and NFV networks, and will enable all the community to take advantage of the best architectural components and implementation from ONAP.”

OPNFV Hits a Milestone - the Blue Danube Release

The OPNFV Project, an open source project that was launched two and a half years ago to facilitate the development and evolution of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) components, announced its fourth platform release - Danube.

“Danube represents an evolutionary turning point for OPNFV,” said Heather Kirksey, director, OPNFV. “It brings together full next-gen networking stacks in an open, collaborative environment. By harnessing work with upstream communities into an open, iterative testing and deployment domain, we’re delivering the capabilities that truly enable NFV, and that is very powerful.”

Key enhancements available in OPNFV Danube include:

  • Foundational support and introduction of capabilities for MANO: Integration between NFV Infrastructure/Virtual Infrastructure Manager (NFVI/VIM) with Open-Orchestration (Open-O) platform (now ONAP); instrumentation of NFVI network telemetry to support Service Assurance and other use cases; multi-domain template support (Domino project); and translation features between YANG and Tosca modeling languages (Parser project).         
  • Enhanced DevOps automation and testing methodologies bring a fully integrated CI/CD pipeline, the creation of Lab-as-a-Service (LaaS) to enable dynamic provisioning of lab resources, the introduction of stress testing into the OPNFV test suite, and a Common Dashboard that provides a consistent view of the testing ecosystem.
  • Focus on NFV performance including acceleration of the data plane via integration for all Layer 2 and Layer 3 forwarding (FastDataStacks project), and continued enhancements to OVS-DPDK and KVM. The release also sees a renewed focus on performance test project activities through virtual switch testing (VSPERF project), root cause analysis for platform performance issues (Bottlenecks projects), initial compute subsystem performance testing to lay the groundwork for Benchmarking As a Service (QTIP project), and storage subsystem performance testing (Storperf project).    
  • Key NFV architectural enhancements, including the ability to dynamically enable and configure network control through integration with OpenStack Gluon and increased reliability and test cases that support multi-site and High Availability (HA) work.
  • Feature enrichment and hardening in core NFVI/VIM functionality such as IPv6, Service Function Chaining (SFC), L2 and L3 Virtual Private Network (VPN), fault management and analysis, and a continued commitment to support multiple hardware architectures, as well as traditional hardware OEMs, whitebox, and open source hardware through collaboration with the Open Compute Project.

“We’re seeing the culmination of over two years’ of collaborative work from across the community really come together with the release of OPNFV Danube,” said Tapio Tallgren, lead software architect in Mobile Networks Architecture & Technology, Nokia, and chair of the OPNFV Technical Steering Committee (TSC). “Things like real foundational support for MANO, OPNFV’s sophisticated testing, and DevOps and CI/CD model propel the project into a more robust industry platform for advanced open source NFV.”

The next OPNFV release, labelled ‘Euphrates,’ will include even more vigorous features and capabilities.

MEF Demos LSO Analytics using PNDA

MEF demonstrated a reference implementation of LSO (Lifecycle Services Orchestration) analytics using Platform for Network Data Analytics (PNDA), a Linux Foundation project. PNDA aims to eliminate complexity by integrating, scaling and managing a rich set of open data processing technologies and by providing an end-to- end platform for deploying analytics applications and services.

MEF worked within its OpenLSO Analytics initiative to demonstrate both open source and closed source versions of MEF members’ LSO products integrated with PNDA. This reference implementation illustrates how big data analytics (BDA) can be used within the MEF LSO Framework to intelligently automate network resources in real-time and proactively deliver service assurance for demanding applications in complex networking environments.

“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with The Linux Foundation to advance LSO analytics,” said Pascal Menezes, CTO, MEF. “A key goal of LSO is to enable service providers to transition from a silo-structured BSS/OSS approach toward end-to- end orchestration that unleashes tremendous agility and service velocity. BDA is essential to this vision, enabling rapid operational and business insight that can be used to drive behavioral changes in the network to dynamically optimize the customer experience.”

“The Linux Foundation is pleased to share a common vision with MEF on the critical role that open source big data analytics can play in accelerating the transition to more agile, assured, and orchestrated services,” said Marc Cohn, VP of Network Strategy, The Linux Foundation.

PNDA was first demonstrated in connection with MEF’s OpenLSO Analytics project during the MEF16 LSO Hackathon in November 2016, with PNDA providing performance analytics for services provisioned by LSO. The demo illustrated how PNDA makes it possible to bring together multiple datasets which previously would have been in separate silos, add service context from LSO, then enable rapid prototyping and development of analytics applications.

See video:

What's Next for SDN? Cisco's Dave Ward

So what's next for SDN? Cisco's Dave Ward gives us a perspective in 2 minutes.

 See video:

Seaborn and Grupo Werthein to build Argentina-Brazil Subsea Cable

Seaborn Networks, an independent developer-owner-operator of submarine cable systems, and Grupo Werthein, a major Argentine investment holding company with significant holdings in the telecommunications sector, announced a binding agreement for the construction of a new subsea optical cable system, named ARBR, connecting Argentina with Brazil.

The new ARBR cable system will additionally provide onward connectivity via Seabras-1, which is currently under construction, to enable a direct route between Argentina and the U.S. The ARBR system will be jointly developed and owned by Seabras Group, an affiliate of Seabras, and Werthein.

Seabras is the sole owner of the Seabras-1 submarine cable system between New York and Sao Paulo in Brazil, which was developed and is operated and owned by Seaborn Networks, in partnership with funds managed and/or advised by Partners Group, a global private markets investment manager.

Seabras noted that it has sold capacity on Seabras-1 to a variety of large and small telecommunications companies and other customers, both via indefeasible rights of use (IRUs) and on short-term lease agreements. As with Seabras-1, Seaborn will act as the operator of the ARBR system. Seabras stated that together the ARBR and Seabras-1 cables represent a total project value of more than $575 million.

The ARBR cable will be a four-fibre pair system with and will offer an initial maximum design capacity of 48 Tbit/s. The system has a scheduled completion date in the second half of 2018. The ARBR cable system's Brazil landing will be located in the existing Seabras-1 cable landing station in Praia Grande, Brazil, enabling direct onward connectivity to New York over Seabras-1. The Argentina landing for the new cable is expected to be in or near Las Toninas, to the south of Buenos Aires.

In December 2016, Seaborn announced the introduction of SeaSpeed, offering low latency point-to-point connectivity between Carteret, New Jersey and São Paulo in Brazil and connecting key financial centres in North and South America. The Seabras-1 cable system has a committed ready-for-service date of June 2017.

Global Capacity Launches SD-WAN with VeloCloud

Global Capacity, a major connectivity-as-a-service provider, has announced a partnership with VeloCloud Networks, the Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN company, to enable the delivery of managed SD-WAN services.

The partnership with VeloCloud is part of Global Capacity's initiative to expand its global enterprise networking portfolio with new software defined services that can offer enhanced flexibility, performance and reliability.

Global Capacity's SD-WAN services are designed to provide an improved network service by addressing common WAN problems that businesses face when implementing and managing complex hybrid WAN architectures. The company cited enterprise network issues including difficulty in load sharing traffic across a mix of access connections, complex, static and manual network configurations that inhibit mapping to business requirements and lack of application visibility and control over connections.

Global Capacity's SD-WAN services are designed to allow businesses to efficiently route data across their WAN via: enabling selection of the appropriate access types based on the performance needs of individual locations and applications; defining the policies to automatically prioritise traffic; and enabling more efficient use of bandwidth to enhance performance and the overall user experience.

Working with VeloCloud Global Capacity has developed a managed SD-WAN service that unifies network management across disparate network technologies, including Ethernet, MPLS, broadband and LTE, whether these are on the Global Capacity network, a competing network or a combination of the two. This is designed to enable a more agile and responsive hybrid WAN solution and to offer a simplified path for migration from an existing network architecture.

In January, Global Capacity launched the Ethernet Multi-Cloud Connect service, a virtual network service based on its One Marketplace software-defined network platform that allows enterprises to build multiple cloud services from a single port to access hybrid and multi-cloud solutions across multiple locations.

The Ethernet Multi-Cloud Connect service employs an interconnection architecture with software orchestration to simplify multi-cloud connectivity and improve service performance. The solution enables businesses to connect to cloud locations or select from a list of interconnected One Marketplace Cloud destinations, including AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and twenty cloud providers on the Equinix Cloud Exchange.\

China Telco Data for Feb 2017 and Market Update - Part 1

China subscription data by operator for February 2017

The following data for mobile customers was reported on March 20th for the previous month of February (millions of subscribers):

                                                Total subs.;     added Feb;      4G subs.;         added Feb

China Mobile:                        853.698;             2.519;              558.603;               6.395

China Unicom:                       265.624;            0.536;              116.113;                 5.58
China Telecom:                      218.520;             1.750;              131.710;               4.980
Total:                                    1,337.842;             4.805;              806.426;             16.959


China Mobile's share of total mobile subscriptions in China at the end of February was 63.81%, but its share of new Chinese mobile subscribers added in February was only 52.42%, so its overall mobile share dropped in February though, bearing in mind additions were only 0.36% of the January 2017 base, not by very much.
China Mobile's share of total 4G subscriptions at the end of February of 69.27% was 5.46 points higher than its share of total mobile subscriptions, but its share of net 4G additions during the month was only 37.71%, and given net 4G adds in February were 2.15% of the January 2017 4G subscription base, that did have a meaningful impact, reducing Mobile's 4G share of 69.94% at the end of January by 0.67 points.

If that rate of share attrition continued through 2017 then China Mobile's 4G share would end up at about the same share that it has of total subscriptions.

Fixed broadband subscribers for February (millions):

                                                Total subs;      added Fe.;       Total 2016;     Feb vs trend.

China Mobile:             83.270;                        2.691;              22.595;            Above average

China Unicom:           76.232;                        0.860;              2.906;              Above average

China Telecom:          124.850;                      0.820;              10.590;             Average

Total:                          284.352;                      4.371;              36.091;             Above average

(NB: it appears China Unicom may have made an adjustment to its historical numbers, or OND made a small error, but the above numbers are up to date.)

Recent major announcements related to the Chinese market or players

Huawei acquires 16.83% share in Indonesia's seventh largest mobile operator

On March 14thHuawei announced that, as part of a debt restructuring operation by publicly-quoted Indonesian CDMA technology-based fixed wireless operator Bakrie Telecom, a subsidiary of Indonesia's Bakrie conglomerate currently valued at IDR 1.84 trillion ($138 million) and serving 12 million customers, Huawei had taken a 16.83% market share of the company. This is the country's seventh largest mobile operator with a market share of around 3.5% of the 350 million Indonesian wireless subscriptions market.

(NB: rather than implying diversification by Huawei, it seems more likely that its $23 million local investment is purely tactical.)

Oppo to open new RMB 2bn R&D centre in Dongguan

On March 16th Digitimes Research noted a Chinese-language Southern (Nanfang) Daily report that China-based smartphone vendor Oppo (the world's fourth largest smartphone vendor by units and hot on the tail of No. 3 Huawei) was expected to begin construction of a new R&D centre, costing RMB 2 billion ($289.29 million), in Changan Town, Dongguan, Guangdong province at the end of 2017. The facility will include a testing centre, software development centre and a mobile network R&D centre, and is due to be ready in 2019. 

(NB: Oppo has recently been growing significantly faster globally than Huawei and notably in Q4 2016, in an Indian market of 25.8 million smartphone units, according to IDC took fourth place with an 8.6% market share, behind Samsung (25.1%), Xiaomi (10.7%) and  Lenovo (9.9%), but well ahead of Huawei.)

Vivo to open RMB 2bn production unit in Changan 

According to the same source as above, the fifth largest smartphone company by units shipped, Vivo, which is chasing Oppo as Oppo is chasing Huawei, plans to spend RMB 2bn, also in Changan City, on a new production base with annual production capacity of 90 million handsets, also due to be ready for commercial production in 2019 (in India in Q4, Vivo had a 7.6% market share, close behind Oppo and well ahead of Huawei).

IBM with cloud partnership in China with 21 ViaNet signs new cloud deal with Wanda 

On March 21st IBM, which according to the company's CEO, Virginia Rometty, gets 22% of its annual sales from Asia Pacific, including China, and already has a cloud partnership with Chinese data centre specialist 21 ViaNet, signed an agreement to form a joint Chinese cloud development company (Wanda Cloud Company) with the recently created Wanda Internet Technology Group, a subsidiary of China's Wanda Group. Wanda is a RMB 255 billion sales level Chinese and increasingly international conglomerate, founded by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin that specialises in property development, luxury hotels, cinemas, and is well known domestically for its local landmark Wanda Plazas mixed retail and residential developments in over 100 Chinese cities.

This is a somewhat experimental pairing given that the Wanda Group's primary current focus is on international expansion in property development and cultural activities such as film-making, cinemas and sports sponsorship. According to Wanda's website, by 2020 it aims to become a world-class multinational corporation with assets of $200 billion, market capitalisation of $200 billion, revenue of $100 billion and net profits of $10 billion. Wanda's Internet subsidiary was created in October 2016 by spinning out several businesses from Wanda's finance group, which operates payment services and data centres. The new operation has a stated ambition to become an IoT player. The new company will be competing with the cloud activities of China's existing Internet giants Alibaba, TenCent and Baidu, and other cloud players including partnerships with Amazon and Microsoft. The advantage to IBM is perhaps that it will be initially at least the dominant partner in the new company. There has not been much news about IBM's arrangement with 21 Vianet, (announced in 2012 and extended for a further three years in October 2015), which operates in 30 Chinese cities, but possibly is not as aggressive or ambitious for expansion as IBM might wish. 21 Vianet also has an agreement with Microsoft which may not suit IBM.

Have expectations of five-nines reliability diminished?

On the evening of March 8th, AT&T experienced a widespread outage of 911 emergency calling service for mobile customers across a significant portion of the U.S. Some callers were simply unable to reach an emergency operator. Media reports suggested the outage impacted at least 14 states and Washington DC, while AT&T Mobility confirmed that service interruptions prevented callers from reaching 911 emergency centres, but did not disclose the extent of the problem or the cause.

During the course of the outage, which lasted several hours, FCC chairman Ajit Pai reached out directly to Randall Stephenson, AT&T's CEO and took to Twitter to express his alarm at the situation. The FCC has since launched an investigation to track down the root cause of the outage. Until the report is published, it is not known which systems failed, whether the issue cascaded from one facility to the next, how quickly the problem was detected, or how the network recovered.

AT&T is not the only major U.S. carrier in the news for 911 connectivity trouble. Another major story concerns 911 'ghost' calls from T-Mobile subscribers in the Dallas area. The alarming situation, as reported by The Washington Post, has meant the T-mobile users have been placed on hold for extended periods of time. At one point in March, 442 callers in Dallas reportedly were placed on hold for an average of 38 minutes. The technical fault in the city's 911 centre is being blamed for the death of at least two people. Worse, the problem apparently has happened before, perhaps dating back several months, and there has not been a sufficient effort to fix it. Whether the faulty equipment is untimely found to be in the city’s emergency response centre, in the carrier network, or with some interface between the two, the ultimate result is that public has been placed in danger by diminished networking standards.

For big public cloud providers, recent months have not been great for reliability

On February 28th, Amazon Web Services suffered a widespread outage with its S3 web-based storage system. The anomaly involved 'high error rates' with S3 in U.S.-EAST-1, which brought down many high visibility web sites including Business Insider, Quora, Slack and others. While other S3 regions were not impacted, the number of websites now relying on AWS infrastructure is remarkably high and rising. In fact, calculates that 165,344 websites and 137,396 unique domains are now running on AWS S3. On the positive side, Amazon publishes up-to-the-minute information on service availability worldwide. The company is also quite responsive in posting technical updates as the service is being restored. Rather than waiting months for a fault-finding report, AWS has posted technical assessments within hours of resolution. For this latest S3 outage, the blame was attributed to a human error, specifically an S3 team member using an established playbook executed a command to remove a small number of servers for one of the S3 subsystems that is used by the S3 billing process. The command had unintended consequences. A full restart was required, resulting in hours of downtime for customers, many of whom had real-time, mission-critical applications.

Meanwhile, on March 16th Microsoft Azure experienced a storage incident that disrupted services in 26 of the public cloud’s 28 regions. The disruption has since been characterised as two separate incidents - the first having a global impact and the second being confined to its U.S. east region. In September, Azure experienced a different sort of DNS error that impacted many of its cloud services worldwide for several hours.

None of the outages cited above appear to have been caused by malicious intent, which is of course a prime concern for network reliability, especially given that DDoS attacks continue to grow in size and sophistication. For instance, the October 2016 Mirai botnet attack on Dyn's DNS infrastructure reportedly involved tens of millions of discrete IP addresses from IoT devices.

Are capex budgets sufficient for maintaining five-nines?

For decades, the expectation has been that emergency calls would always get connected, even on Mother's Day, when traffic volumes spike to the highest levels of the year, or if key equipment were to fail. Five-nines (99.999%) reliability translates as system downtime of less than 5.26 minutes per year, and the standard was achieved and maintained through excellence in engineering and in management; many aspired to six-nines reliability, the equivalent of 31.5 seconds of downtime per year.

AT&T is currently undergoing a historic transformation to a virtualised network architecture, and the company talks about its Network 3.0 cloud-centric vision as a guiding force for itself and the rest of the telecom industry. Earlier this month, AT&T stated that it has already converted 34% of its network functionality to SDN and is on the way to 75% by 2020. The network virtualisation goal for year-end 2017 is 55%. It is unclear if or when the 911 connectivity systems will become part of this transformation.

One of the touted benefits of new virtualised system is rapid and easy fail-over. There should be better than 1-to-1 redundancy by using pods of generic x86-based systems rather than the closed, purpose-built legacy systems. On the other hand, every component of the traditional systems was designed for high-availability.

One question that perhaps the FCC investigation will address is whether sufficient capex is being dedicated to maintaining the legacy systems until the new architecture is fully deployed and proven to be equally reliable. Last summer, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) reached out to regulators in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, DC, arguing that Verizon has been under-investing in its copper access network since at least 2008. The complaint alleged that Verizon's spending on its Fios fibre infrastructure came at the expense of maintenance for its aging copper networks, which still serve some 8 million customers, and for whom the company still has a statutory obligation to provide safe and reliable service.

Public cloud providers have no such regulatory requirements to achieve five-nines, but they do maintain service level agreements with their customers. Hour-long outages are quite costly, and competitive pressures are even more costly. In the future, as billions of devices come online, such as self-driving cars, delivery drones in flight, in-home medical equipment, the need for always-on networking will be more acute than ever.

Ericsson Conducts 5G Demo in Indonesia

Ericsson announced it has completed what it believes is the first demonstration of 5G technology in Indonesia that featured its 5G test bed, 5G New Radio (NR) and use cases such as operation of a motion-sensing robotic arm and live 4K video streaming.

Ericsson stated that the demonstration achieved a peak downlink speed of 5.74 Gbit/s, with latency as low as 3 milliseconds (ms). Ericsson's 5G test bed includes the functionality required for pre-commercial trials and includes support for 5G capabilities such as beam forming and tracking, multi-user MIMO, multi-site transmission, ultra-lean design and dynamic TDD.

The demonstration in Indonesia specifically showed the capabilities of 5G via the operation of a motion-sensing robot arm that could be controlled in real time using hand and finger motions. Ericsson also demonstrated support for 4K video streaming, with 4K content delivered from a server to a radio base station and relayed to 5G user equipment for display on a 4K TV screen.

Ericsson noted that smooth playback of 4K video requires a minimum download speed of 15 Mbit/s, meaning that with 5G a single network cell could potentially support 4K video playback for hundreds of simultaneous users.

In January, Ericsson announced demonstrations of 5G technology during a trial carried out in partnership with Orange in France and, for the first time, at an event in Thailand.

In collaboration with Orange, Ericsson demonstrated wireless communication delivering peak data rates of over 10 Gbit/s utilising key elements of it 5G technology.

In Thailand, Ericsson conducted what it claimed as the first live 5G end-to-end demonstration in the country using its 5G test bed and 5G-ready core as part of efforts to support the Digital Thailand vision. The event in Thailand featured a live 5G technology demonstration and highlighted capabilities including a peak throughput of 5.7 Gbit/s and latency of 3 ms.

Regarding the latest demonstration, Bapak Rudiantara, Minister of Communications and IT, Republic of Indonesia, said, "The focus of ICT development is to accelerate broadband roll-out to all regions in Indonesia (and) create a healthy ICT ecosystem… accelerating digitalisation (is) high on the agenda in Indonesia… to realise the government's NAWACITA vision to address nine key areas and transform the country".