Wednesday, June 7, 2017

OpenDaylight Carbon Brings Support for Metro Ethernet, cable services

The OpenDaylight Project, delivering an open source platform for programmable, software-defined networks, has announced its sixth release, Carbon, featuring enhancements designed to better support metro Ethernet and cable operators, as well as Internet of Things (IoT) deployments.

OpenDaylight's latest release advances the platform's scalability and robustness with new capabilities to support multi-site deployments for geographic reach, application performance and fault tolerance. Southbound protocols OpenFlow and Netconf have been made more scalable and offer new features and administrative utilities have been enhanced.

Further new capabilities offered with the Carbon release include:

1.         Streamlined service function chaining via an integrated framework for NFV management, with integration work and new capabilities recently showcased as part of the proposed Nirvana Stack.*

2.         Support for a series of PCMM specifications and other capabilities required by cable operators, plus improvements that allow software applications and service orchestrators to configure and provision connectivity services in physical and virtual network elements, in particular Carrier Ethernet services as defined by MEF.

It was noted that the enhanced toolchains for OpenDaylight are being incorporated as core components of higher-level open source frameworks including ONAP, OPNFV and OpenStack, as well as in real-world implementations of designs from standards bodies such as the MEF. In addition, such combined stacks are being used by developers to explore new use cases, such as IoT.

The OpenDaylight project cited comments on the new Carbon release from companies including CenturyLink, China Mobile, Inocybe Technologies and Tencent.

CenturyLink noted that as it works to virtualise its network, SDN controllers provide key functionality, while diverse requirements in the network, data centres and central offices require flexibility from OpenDaylight and applications such as the Edge Access Controller.

Regarding OpenDaylight, Adam Dunstan, VP of SDN/NFV engineering at CenturyLink, commented, ".,.to achieve full network virtualisation, CenturyLink has created its own virtualised Broadband Network Gateway (vBNG) using open source components including OpenDaylight and OpenStack… it used OpenDaylight software to build the SDN access controller because of its flexibility to work with legacy operations support systems as well as newer orchestration platforms".

*          Nirvana Stack is a generic NFV solution stack proposed by AT&T in 2016 which consists of four key components: OpenStack, OpenDaylight, These components are integrated into a solution stack in OPNFV and designed to enable rapid development, composable architectures, and flexible solution design.

Three strategic moves by Equinix: Telecity, VZ data centers, subsea links

When one thinks of public Internet infrastructure companies that first names that come to mind are the top cloud providers, but Equinix is another one that really should be at the top of the list, not only for its impressive footprint of data centres worldwide but for its strategic moves build Platform Equinix, its vision of interconnected global facilities for cloud-enabled enterprises. The company's stated belief is that digital transformation is driven by cloud services, where compute, storage and networking are shifting to the edge.

The company now operates data centres, which it calls International Business Exchanges (IBX), in 41 markets across the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific. In addition to data centre colocation space for enterprises and service providers, Equinix has been adding direct Layer 2 connections to major cloud service providers. This cross connect service was first launched in 2013 and has been expanded in size and footprint since. In EMEA, for instance, Equinix reports that major Infrastructure-as-a-Service players such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM SoftLayer, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle on average have a presence across 15 markets in its data centres.

Background and a look at financials

Equinix is a public traded company (EQIX) based in Redwood City, California and with 6,200 employees worldwide. It reported 2016 revenue of $3.61 billion (including $400 million from Telecity properties and $149 million from Bit-isle), up 33% over 2015 revenue. Without the Telecity and Bit-isle revenue, the company delivered an organic and constant currency growth rate of around 14%. Net income for 2016 from continuing operations amounted to $114 million. The company is guiding for 10% growth in FY 2017. During 2016, capex amounted to $1.1 billion spread over 19 expansion projects. During April, Equinix announced new expansions in London, Paris and Sydney totalling $145 million of capex.

In December 2015, Equinix reorganised its operations into a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), a legal structure with tax advantages for companies operating principally as property owners with tenants paying rent for physical facilities.

A big M&A player

Significantly, Equinix has entered a new growth phase through very big ticket acquisitions. In January 2016, Equinix completed its acquisition of TelecityGroup plc, more than doubling its data centre capacity in Europe and fortifying its position as the largest retail colocation provider in the region. The deal was valued at approximately $3.8 billion (compromised of $1.7 billion in cash and the issuance of approximately 6.8 million shares of Equinix common stock valued at $2.1 billion). Specifically, Equinix added data centre facilities in Bulgaria, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Sweden and Turkey. Telecity also brings more than 1,000 net new customers to Equinix, including more than 200 network and mobility companies and more than 300 cloud and IT services companies.

To gain regulatory approval for the deal from the European Union, Equinix agreed to sell eight data centres in markets where it would otherwise have attained a monopolistic advantage. This involved a sale of facilities to Digital Realty Trust for $874 million. Post merger, Equinix operates a flagship data centre campus in London (Slough), which now encompasses more than 408,000 sq feet (38,000 sq metres) of net premium colocation space, interconnected by more than 1,000 diverse dark fibre links. The campus hosts more than 90 network service providers and provides access to a range of trans-Atlantic subsea cables, with latency of approximately 30 milliseconds to New York and 4 milliseconds to Frankfurt. The facility also houses LINX, one of the world's largest Internet Exchanges, and serves as a virtual financial centre for more than 170 financial services companies. Equinix estimates that a quarter of European equities trades flow through its premises. Taken together, this makes Equinix one of the busiest network nodes in the UK.

In February 2017, Equinix acquired IO UK's data centre operating business, also located in Slough, in close proximity to the existing campus. Financial terms were not disclosed. The facility is in its development phase. Equinix announced plans to rename the data centre LD10. The facility will add approximately 350 cabinets of sold capacity and a total colocation space of approximately 3,340 cabs once the facility is completely built out.

Equinix gained a big foothold in Europe in 2007 through its $2 billion acquisition of IXEurope and its facilities in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK.

On May 2nd, 2017, Equinix completed its acquisition of 29 data centres and their operations from Verizon Communications. The deal, which was first announced in December 2016, was valued at $3.6 billion in cash. Along with facilities spanning approximately 3 million gross sq feet of data centre space, the transaction includes over 1,000 customers, of which over 600 are net new to Equinix. The 29 data centres are located across 15 cities in North and Latin America, three markets of which are new to Equinix (Bogota, Culpepper and Houston), bringing Equinix's total global footprint to over 175 IBX data centres across 44 markets and approximately 17 million gross square feet.

The deal is significant for several reasons. First, it shows that Verizon would rather pursue its role as a carrier than as a colocation data centre operator. If Verizon finds it better not to own the building but to partner with Equinix, a carrier neutral colocation company, then perhaps other carriers will follow this reasoning. Operating the next wave of cloud exchange data centres is distinctly different business than being the carrier. Second, the key facilities mentioned above in Culpepper and Miami will open new doors and bring tremendous traffic volumes in the years ahead. Both are highly strategic squares on the global chess board. Third, the scale of the Equinix platform jumped up another quantum level.

Bringing subsea cables into the data centre

Earlier this week, Equinix announced a deal with Eastern Light, a Stockholm-based company that is building a series of new international optical cable routes in northern Europe, with a focus on selling dark fibre to operators as well as other customers with special requirements for controlling their own infrastructure. NSW (Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke) is Eastern Light's main supplier of its submarine cable system. Eastern Light is using Ciena's GeoMesh solutions as part of its dark fibre offering.

The Equinix deal with Eastern Light ensures that the cable will terminate in two Equinix IBX data centres - HE6 in Helsinki and SK2 in Stockholm - which are key interconnection points for the Nordics. The Sweden–Finland portion of the cable is scheduled for completion in autumn 2017.

Equinix argues that there are performance and cost advantages when subsea cable systems are linked to cloud and content ecosystems inside the same data centre, and the Eastern Light deal is by no means the first such project for Equinix. Recently, the company disclosed that it is maintaining 'significant momentum' as the interconnection partner for new submarine cable projects globally, including recently winning its fifteenth project.

One such high-profile project is the Monet submarine cable, which will deliver 60 Tbit/s of capacity between the U.S. and Brazil, owned by Algar Telecom (a Brazilian telecom company and ISP), Angola Cables, Antel (the Uruguayan telecom company) and Google, which is also the U.S. landing party for Monet. Construction of the system is underway and expected to be completed in 2017. In September 2016, Equinix announced that the Monet cable will terminate in the U.S. at its MI3 IBX data centre in Miami. In Brazil, Monet will land in Fortaleza and Praia Grande near São Paulo. Landing facilities in those markets are to be provided by Angola Cables in Fortaleza and Google in Praia Grande.

When this project was announced, Ihab Tarazi, CTO at Equinix, stated:

-    "As data traffic continues to grow, from Facebook videos and Instagram selfies to Office 365 sessions and IoT connected devices, there is an unprecedented surge in construction of new submarine cables that currently carry 99% of this and all Internet traffic between continents. The investors in these new submarine cable systems, which now include large cloud service providers and content companies, are finding that when these submarine cables terminate on land, Equinix data centres are the optimal location to connect these point to point submarine cables into a single location that directly connects to thousands of networks".

Other current submarine cable projects that Equinix is engaged with (announced publicly) include: Southern Cross Cable Network (California - Sydney); Aqua Comms (New York - London); Hibernia Express (New York - London); Cinia (Germany - Finland); Trident (Australia - Indonesia - Singapore); Globenet (Florida - Brazil); Asia Pacific Gateway (China - Hong Kong - Japan - South Korea - Malaysia - Taiwan - Thailand - Vietnam - Singapore); Hawaiki Cable Limited (U.S. – Australia – New Zealand); Gulf Bridge International (Middle East - Europe); FASTER (U.S. West Coast - Japan); and Seaborn Networks (New York - Sao Paulo).

Alibaba, AT&T, Baidu, Tencent adopt Barefoot forwarding plane

Barefoot Networks, a provider of advanced, high speed switching technology, announced significant market momentum driven by growing demand for its programmable forwarding plane technology.

Barefoot's 6.5 Tbit/s Tofino switch, which is claimed to be the fastest and P4-programmable switch chip, has been sampling to customers since the fourth quarter of 2016. The company noted that its technology is being adopted by large enterprises and telecommunications providers to increase network performance and efficiency through leveraging programmable forwarding plane technology.

Barefoot stated that it has recently worked with AT&T and SnapRoute to deliver what it believes is the first real-time path and latency visualisation. Utilising Tofino and In-band Network Telemetry (INT), AT&T was able to gain deep insight into the network down to packet-level for the first time to help to address bottlenecks caused by path or latency variation.

Barefoot noted it took 6 weeks to develop the visualisation capability before it was deployed into AT&T's production environment carrying live customer traffic over a Washington DC to San Francisco link.

In addition, major Internet companies Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent have used Tofino and P4 to address challenges in their networks. Barefoot noted that the demands of mega-scale data centres are growing to support new applications and services, while legacy fixed-function switching technology is not sufficiently flexible and so they are using Barefoot to develop custom forwarding planes. The companies are therefore able to adopt load balancing, DDoS protection and INT features without affecting performance.

Barefoot has also expanded its ecosystem via partnerships with equipment manufacturers based in Asia. To date, the company has announced go-to-market partnerships with Edgecore Networks, WNC, H3C, Ruijie and ZTE. These partnerships are designed to enable Barefoot to meet growing demand for programmable networking across a range of network environments.

  • Barefoot Networks, based in Palo Alto, California, exited stealth and unveiled its user-programmable Tofino switch chip in June last year. Founded in 2013, Barefoot is backed by investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital. The company has raised approximately $155 million in five funding rounds, most recently raising $23 million in November 2016 in a round led by Alibaba and Tencent.

Colt selects NEC/Netcracker OSS, Service Orchestration solutions

NEC and Netcracker Technology announced that UK-based Colt has selected their technology for its large-scale OSS transformation, designed to equip the service provider to deploy next generation of infrastructure including virtualisation.

Under the agreement, Colt will leverage Netcracker's next-generation OSS and Service Orchestration solution, which forms a part of NEC/Netcracker's Agile Virtualization Platform and Practice (AVP).

Netcracker's OSS and Service Orchestration solution is designed to enable Colt to optimise its physical network and monetise new investments. The Netcracker solutions will also allow Colt to prepare its infrastructure for the use of both physical and virtualised environments.

NEC/Netcracker's Service Orchestration solution will provide Colt with increased provisioning automation and help to speed the delivery of new services to customers, as well as remove the risk of provisioning errors resulting from manual processes. The solution will also provide Colt with greater visibility into the network and thereby enable enhanced support and improved services.

  • Recently, Colt announced newly optimised low-latency network routes linking stock exchanges in Tokyo and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, offering latency between Tokyo and Chicago as low as 121.07 ms between each endpoint after network optimisation. Colt noted at the time that it had also commenced optimisation of other key routes in the Asia Pacific region.
  • Colt also announced recently the expansion of its Colt IQ Network to Helsinki, a growing focus for data centre investments. By extending its existing Nordic network to Helsinki, Colt can provide new network routes, including 10 Tbit/s capacity to Stockholm and a 100 Gbit/s-enabled connection that closes its fibre ring from Finland to Germany, linking Helsinki to Warsaw and Berlin.
  • Colt is a global high bandwidth connectivity provider that delivers services to small, medium and large enterprises and wholesale carriers in nearly 30 countries in Europe, Asia and North America via its intelligent, cloud-integrated network, known as the Colt IQ Network. The Colt network connects over 700 data centres and over 24,500 on-net buildings.

Kalaam Telecom teams with Versa Networks on SD-WAN

Kalaam Telecom, describing itself as the second largest ISP serving the business market in Bahrain, announced a partnership with Versa Networks, a supplier of next-generation software-based networking and security solutions, to launch what is believed to be Bahrain's first Secured SD-WAN infrastructure designed to simplify and secure WAN/branch office networks.

Kalaam's next generation feature-rich Secured SD-WAN solution is intended to mitigate the challenges faced by enterprise customers relating to supporting cloud applications, management of branch locations and security. The Kalaam SD-WAN solution is designed to support application growth and enable network agility and simplified branch implementations for both on-premises and cloud-based applications.

As the main alternative licensed telecommunications provider based in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Kalaam Telecom, established in 2005, offers a range of voice, Internet, data and value added services and cloud solutions to business customers. The company addresses small and medium-sized business customers and corporations across a variety of industries in Bahrain.

  • In May, Versa Networks announced the expansion of its software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities from SD-WAN to software-defined branch (SD-Branch). The enhanced Versa Cloud IP Platform enables large enterprises and service providers to virtualise and software-define the entire branch and WAN to help reduce complexity and improve IT agility.

ABI survey finds 55% plan to use telcos for connectivity only

According to the latest Industry Survey: Transformative Technology Adoption and Attitudes – Implementers' Perspective of Telco and Cloud report from ABI Research, despite telecom operators' efforts to enter new enterprise markets and create new business opportunities, the B2B technology survey indicates that technology implementers predominantly see telcos as providers of connectivity, and not value-added, vertical specific services.

The ABI survey finds that 55% of implementer respondents expect to use telcos for connectivity alone, with 31% favouring a 'connectivity+' approach, presenting an opportunity for telcos to bundle value-added, vertical-specific services with connectivity. However, only 13% of survey respondents expect telcos to create new ecosystems for IoT, data-related, IT and cloud services.

ABI noted that connectivity+ involves bundling vertical-specific services on top of connectivity, allowing telcos to leverage existing assets such as data, devices management, applications and services management, security and analytics to add value for implementers.

The research firm stated that the survey also indicate that telcos cannot, and should not, attempt to compete with web-scale companies in cloud computing services.

Specifically, ABI finds that only 4% of implementers surveyed intend to utilise telcos for cloud computing services currently, and projects that this will decline to 1% over the next five years. However, the survey shows that 12% of respondents are currently using hybrid cloud, and forecasts that this will increase to 38% in the next five years as the industry recognises the growing importance of using more than private and public cloud services on a standalone basis.

Commenting on the survey, Dimitris Mavrakis, research director at ABI Research, said, "Verizon has done well to offload its cloud businesses and other Tier 1 telcos will follow… competing with web-scale companies in their own field is impossible for telcos… implementer requirements and telco strategies seem to be disparate for the moment, for example, telcos are focusing on the automotive vertical, but the survey indicates that the retail, government and logistics markets are very interested in telco services".

Calix develops 10G EPON leveraging AXOS

Calix, a provider of Subscriber Driven Intelligent Access solutions, announced that it is leveraging the AXOS platform to rapidly develop new solutions, and specifically has added 10 Gbit/s EPON to its AXOS eSeries systems.

Calix's new 10 Gbit/s EPON-enabled eSeries solution is designed to provide cable operators with an enhanced, higher capacity platform that can be integrated into customers' existing networks and service delivery models while also offering a migration path to SDN.

Based on AXOS, the company's software-defined access (SDA) platform, Calix used its agile development approach to leverage its layered, componentised and abstracted platform to create a flexible 10 Gbit/s EPON solution. Calix stated that it was able to develop the new solution from design to customer demonstration within 120 days.

The result is the development is the first in a range of AXOS 10 Gbit/s EPON systems integrating support for OLT, routing, IP policy and accounting functions to support the back-office environments of cable operators. Additionally, AXOS 10 Gbit/s EPON systems are designed to meet the range of cable operator form factor needs to support centralised, distributed or virtualised network deployments, as well as supporting SDN transformation plans.

Currently available on the AXOS E3-2 Intelligent PON node, Calix's new 10 Gbit/s EPON will also be added to the AXOS E7-2 Modular Access System and E9-2 Intelligent Edge System over the coming months to address different deployment density requirements.
The company noted that cable operators can leverage the AXOS Sandbox to significantly accelerate the introduction of 10 Gbit/s EPON systems into their networks. AXOS Sandbox, which is available for download, allows customers to begin the integration and testing of production software releases of the Calix AXOS systems in a virtual environment, without the need for Calix hardware.

Additionally, by combining Calix AXOS DPx and 10 Gbit/s EPON systems, cable operators can eliminate the need to modify workflows and operations as they transition to SDN. Based on NetConf interfaces and standards-based Yang models, Calix 10 Gbit/s EPON allows cable operators to adopt SDN to gain automated provisioning in a multi-vendor, multi-technology deployment.