Thursday, May 18, 2017

Microsoft Builds Cloud Data Centers in Johannesburg and Cape Town

Microsoft announced plans to open cloud data centers in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa by next year.  These will be Microsoft's first data centers on the African continent.

The facilities will be used to deliver the Microsoft Cloud — including Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365.

This announcement brings us to 40 cloud regions around the world

Cisco reports Q3 revenue of $11.94bn, up 3.1%

Cisco reported financial results for its third quarter ended April 29, 2017, as follows:

1.         Revenue for the third quarter of fiscal 2017 of $11.94 billion, up 3.1% compared with $11.58 billion in the second quarter and down 0.5% from $12.00 billion in the third quarter of 2016.

2.         Gross profit for the third quarter of $7.52 billion, up 3.3% compared with $7.28 billion in the second quarter and down 2.6% from $7.72 billion in the third quarter of 2016.

3.         R&D expenditure for the third quarter of $1.51 billion, flat compared with $1.51 billion in the second quarter and down 7.4% versus $1.63 billion in the third quarter of 2016.

4.         SG&A expenditure for the third quarter of $2.71 billion, up 1.1% compared with $2.68 billion in the second quarter and down 10.0% from $3.01 billion in the third quarter of 2016.

5.         Total operating expenditure for the third quarter of $4.35 billion, down 0.7% compared with $4.38 billion in the second quarter and down 8.2% from $4.74 billion in the third quarter of 2016.

6.         On a GAAP basis, net income for the third quarter of fiscal 2017 of $2.51 billion, compared with net income of $2.35 billion in the second quarter and net income of $2.3.5 billion in the third quarter of 2016.

On a non-GAAP basis, net income for the third quarter of $3.03 billion, compared with net income of $2.86 billion in the second quarter and net income of $2.88 billion in the third quarter of 2016.

7.        Cash, cash equivalents and investments as of April 29, 2017 of $67.97 million, compared with $71.84 billion as January 28, 2017 and $65.76 billion as at July 30, 2016.

Additional results and notes

For the third quarter of fiscal 2017, Cisco reported cash flow from operating activities of $3.4 billion, compared with $3.8 billion in the second quarter and $3.1 billion in the third quarter of fiscal 2016.

In the third quarter of fiscal 2017, Cisco repurchased approximately 15 million shares of common stock under its stock repurchase program at an average price of $33.71 per share, for an aggregate purchase price of $0.5 billion. As of April 29, 2017, Cisco had repurchased and retired 4.7 billion shares of common stock at an average price of $21.21 per share for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $99.1 billion since the inception of the stock repurchase program.

  • Sales of Cisco's next-generation firewall portfolio grew 49%, with 6,000 new customers in the quarter, bringing the total customer base to over
  • 73,000.
  • Cisco's advanced threat portfolio delivered strong revenue growth of over 30%, as the company added 6,600 new customers, bringing the total number of AMP customers to over 35,000.
  • In its data center switching business, Cisco has a combined install base of over 20,000 customers who are using the portfolio to help them build, run, and manage their private and hybrid cloud environments.
  • Cisco's ACI portfolio grew 42%, as customers move to 100 gig and look to automate the network and increase network performance, visibility, and security. We added almost 1,200 new Nexus 9K customers in the quarter, bringing the total install base to 12,000.
  • APIC adoption continues to increase rapidly with over 380 new ACI customers in Q3, bringing the total to nearly 3,500.
  • Total product revenue was flat year-over-year. 

For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, Cisco expects revenue to be in the range of down by between 4% and 6% year on year versus $12.60 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Cisco Extends Layoffs to 1,100 More Positions

Cisco announced plans to increase the number of layoffs in its restructuring program by 1,100 additional postiions.

In August 2016, Cisco initially said it would eliminate 5,500 jobs to improve profitably.

The company issued a weaker than expected outlook for its fourth quarter, saying revenue is likely to fall 4-6% compared to a year earlier.

Comcast Business trials SD-WAN solution for mid-market/enterprise customers

Comcast Business announced that it is beta testing a new software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solution targeting mid-market and enterprise customers that combines gigabit connectivity with the flexibility of software-defined networks to provide capabilities including centralised network policy management and lower operating costs.

Comcast Business claims to be the first cable company to introduce a carrier-grade, SD-WAN platform designed for enterprises and multi-site businesses. For the new solution it has partnered with Versa Networks, a provider of next-generation, software-based networking and security technology. Leveraging the Versa Cloud IP Platform, Comcast is able to offer a secure turnkey service that improves operational efficiency for customers.

Comcast Business noted that the SD-WAN beta trial will continue during the summer, with a full market launch anticipated for later in the year.

Comcast Business added that it is currently rolling out Business Internet 1000, a DOCSIS 3.1-based gigabit Internet service for business customers, and plans to extend availability throughout its service areas. It also offers a range of multi-gigabit, fibre-based Ethernet services nationwide. The combination of SD-WAN capabilities with high-speed broadband and Ethernet services is designed to offer an advanced solution for mid-market and large enterprises investing in hybrid WAN services.

Versa Networks recently announced a significant expansion of its SDN capabilities to support software-defined branch (SD-Branch) as well as SD-WAN solutions. The Versa Cloud IP Platform has been enhanced to allow large enterprises and service providers to virtualise and software-define the branch and WAN to help reduce complexity and increase flexibility.

The enhanced Versa Cloud IP Platform offering enables customers to software-define IP services across the branch office and WAN and specifically offers features including support for third-party virtual network functions (VNFs), integrated WiFi and Ethernet switching support and embedded LTE.

Commenting on the new SD-WAN offering, Kevin O’Toole, SVP of product management at Comcast Business, said, "The SD-WAN solution pairs a carrier-grade, hosted SDN environment with widely available gigabit service… SD-WAN and gigabit bandwidth solutions herald a new generation of networking that provides the bandwidth, scalability, reliability and flexibility needed for cloud applications that are transforming business operations".

Equinix teams with Eastern Light to build Stockholm-Finland dark fibre route

Equinix, the global interconnection and data centre company, has announced it is working with Sweden-based independent dark fibre infrastructure provider Eastern Light to establish a new international optical cable route in northern Europe.

The new cable system is non-amplified and designed to allow customers to utilise the equipment of their choice over dark fibre. The cable system will connect from Stockholm, Sweden to Hanko, Helsinki and Kotka in Finland, along the route terminating in two Equinix International Business Exchange (IBX) data centres: HE6 in Helsinki and SK2 in Stockholm. The Equinix facilities serve as key interconnection points for the Nordics region and support the transmission of global Internet traffic in the region.

By connecting to Equinix data centres, Eastern Light and its dark fibre customers can leverage Equinix's established business ecosystems and interconnection platform, Platform Equinix, which provides access to the markets and ecosystems that support digital business worldwide.

Equinix noted that Stockholm-based Eastern Light is currently building a series of new international optical cable routes in northern Europe, with a focus on selling dark fibre to operators and other customers that require control over their own infrastructure.

Eastern Light's main supplier of submarine sea cable systems is NSW (Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke), and the new cable system has been optimised utilising Ciena's GeoMesh solutions as part of its dark fibre offering. The Sweden-Finland portion of the cable is scheduled for completion in the autumn of 2017.

The new Eastern Light cable integrates the cable landing station and interconnection hub within a single solution at Equinix's Helsinki and Stockholm data centres, eliminating the need for a beach cable landing station. This helps to reduce cost and complexity and enhance reliability, and will enable Eastern Light customers to scale bandwidth using advanced networking technologies such as SDN.

  • In March, Equinix announced the expanded availability of the Equinix Cloud Exchange, bringing the solution to three new markets, including Dublin, Milan and Stockholm. The solution offers direct, private access to multiple cloud providers for European businesses and enables global enterprises to orchestrate hybrid and multi-cloud solutions across multiple locations.

EXFO introduces Universal Virtual Sync software for network latency monitoring

EXFO, the specialist supplier of network test, monitoring and analytics solutions, launched Universal Virtual Sync, a software-based solution designed to enable communications service providers to accurately and cost-effectively measure network latency.

EXFO's new Universal Virtual Sync software tool provides real-time visibility into latency behaviour helps operators improve service quality instantly for applications such as video, VoIP and interactive services, and is also key to assuring the sub-millisecond latency performance necessary for C-RAN, 5G and NFV applications.

The company noted that latency, or delay, can be an issue for subscribers using interactive, real-time applications such as streaming and gaming, and can lead to churn if the quality of experience does not meet expectations. In addition, for service providers latency is difficult to manage and is different for upstream and downstream IP traffic.

These factors means that service providers require a solution that allows them to reliably measure unidirectional latency in order to identify the direction of degradations and the location of excessive or uncontrolled delay. The new EXFO Universal Virtual Sync solution is designed to enable service providers to address this need.

Regarding the new solution, Claudio Mazzuca, EXFO VP of systems and services, commented, "Customers are demanding more bandwidth, better coverage and predictable service performance… so service providers need a strategy for network latency management… EXFO's standards-compliant measurement algorithm is simple to deploy and there is no hardware to install, maintain or upgrade, which delivers capex and opex savings".

TE SubCom provides update on progress with Hawaiki cable system

Hawaiki Submarine Cable and TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity company that delivers undersea communications technology, have provided a further update on the project to deploy the 14,000 km Hawaiki trans-Pacific cable system that will link Australia and New Zealand to the mainland U.S. and Hawaii and American Samoa.

The partners have announced manufacturing progress, as well as ongoing advances with the installation permitting process in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S., stating that the Hawaiki cable system remains on schedule for completion by mid-2018.

Specifically, TE SubCom and Hawaiki Submarine Cable announced that:

1.         At SubCom’s Newington, New Hampshire facility, more than 13,000 km of cable for the Hawaiki system has been manufactured, together with more than 150 completed repeaters.

2.         Installation permits for Australia, New Zealand and Oregon are in process, and are progressing as expected in Hawaii.

3.         Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for the cable landing in Pacific City, Oregon has commenced and is due to be completed over the coming weeks.

4.         In Sydney, the construction of the land duct route is progressing, with more than half of the conduits installed, while HDD operations are scheduled to begin in June.

5.         The first cable load, including 7,000 km of cable, is scheduled to begin in June.

New Zealand's Hawaiki Cable announced in 2013 that it had awarded a turnkey supply and installation contract to TE SubCom to build the 14,000 km trans-Pacific cable linking Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii to the US west coast.

  • The Hawaiki cable system will support capacity of up to 10 Tbit/s per fibre pair on the Australia/New-Zealand to U.S. route, while a number of Pacific Islands along the route will be able to connect to the main trunk.  The wet plant equipment is based on 100 Gbit/s technology and designed to allow for future upgrades. The cable system will also feature SubCom's OADM branching unit technology to allow connection of multiple regional branches to the main cable.

CommScope introduces High Speed Migration platform for data centres

CommScope, a global provider of communications network infrastructure solutions, announced the introduction of a High Speed Migration platform, designed to help data centre managers as they seek to develop faster, more agile, high-density migration plans.

CommScope's High Speed Migration portfolio is designed for duplex and parallel applications and allows customers to adopt the best approach to deliver the data centre architecture to meet their specific requirement. The offering is also designed to support higher speeds and emerging applications without the need to replace existing infrastructure. CommScope also has a team of network architects who are familiar with customer's business needs and can provide insight into future data centre and technology trends.

The following CommScope solutions constitute the foundation for the initial phase of the High Speed Migration platform and are designed to provide support for current and future high speed applications:

1.         MPO connectivity options: 24-fibre connections that enable low initial cost duplex deployments with a single connection; 12-fibre solutions to support the expansion of legacy 12-fibre infrastructures; and 8-fibre to support QSFP technologies and addressing customers utilising the parallel optic configuration.

2.         Fibre optic panels: ultra- and high-density panels designed to simplify management of duplex and parallel ports for dynamic migration and flexibility.

3.         Ultra-low loss (ULL) performance: ULL pre-terminated components that enable longer link spans with increased connectivity options and support for attenuation-sensitive applications.

4.         LazrSPEED WideBand OM5: part of the flagship SYSTIMAX portfolio, recently designated OM5 by the ISO/IEC, the products enhance the ability of short-wavelength division multiplexing to provide a four-fold increase in usable bandwidth while maintaining backward compatibility with legacy multimode fibre.

5.         imVision: the automated infrastructure management system (AIM) that enables oversight and control of the SYSTIMAX physical network connectivity solutions.