Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Nokia Unveils its Next Gen IP Routing Engine

Nokia unveils its fourth generation network processing silicon for powering the first petabit-class core IP routers.

The new FP4 silicon, which comes six years after the preceding FP3 chipset was announced, offers 2.4 Tb/s half-duplex capacity, or 6X more capacity than the current generation 400 Gb/s FP3 chipset. The FP4 will support full terabit IP flows. All conventional routing capabilities are included. Deep classification capabilities include enhanced packet intelligence and control, policy controls, telemetry, and security.

The FP4 could be used to provide an in-field upgrade to Nokia’s current line of core routers and carrier switches. It will also be used to power a new family of 7750 SR-s series routers designed for single-node, cloud scale density. In terms of specs, the SR-s boasts a 144 Tb/s configuration supporting port densities of up to 144 future Terabit links, 288 400G ports, or 1,440 100GE ports. Absolute capacity could be double for a maximum of 288 Tb/s configuration. It runs the same software as the company’s widely-deployed systems.  The first 7750 SR-s boxes are already running in Nokia’s labs. First commercial shipments are expected in Q4.

Nokia is also introducing a chassis extension option to push its router into petabit territory. Without using the switching shelf concept employed in the multi-chassis designs of its competitors, Nokia is offering the means to integrate up to six of its 7750 SRS-s routers into a single system. This results in 576 Tb/s of capacity, enough for densities of up to 2,880 100GE ports or 720 400G ports.

Broadcom Brings Programmable Packet Processing to Trident 3 Switching Silicon

Broadcom unveiled a new generation of its widely-deployed Trident switching silicon for data center, enterprise, and service provider networks.

The new StrataXGS Trident 3 switch family, which is aimed at networks transitioning to high density 10/25/100G Ethernet, is manufactured in 16nm and designed to support fully programmable packet processing, while achieving significant cost and power efficiency. It builds on Broadcom's widely deployed StrataXGS Trident and Tomahawk switch products by offering fully programmable, line-rate switching. It supports new protocol parsing, processing, and editing for Service Function Chaining, Network Virtualization, and SDN. It offers programmable support for new switch instrumentation capabilities such as in-band and out-of-band network telemetry. The StrataXGS Trident 3 also retains complete functional compatibility to with StrataXGS Trident 2 and Trident 2+ based networks, which were widely adopted by network equipment manufacturers.

"The innovation in our StrataXGS Trident 3 Series is in delivering a fully programmable switching pipeline while maintaining backwards compatibility to the existing install base of StrataXGS Trident and Trident 2 based networks," said Ram Velaga, senior vice president and general manager, Switch Products at Broadcom. "Rather than a blank slate, our customers want a scalable, bulletproof network data plane that is reprogrammable to address future requirements, while continuing to aggressively drive down Ethernet cost and power. With Trident 3, we’ve uniquely delivered that solution. Our customers can leverage a single development to yield a complete line of programmable switching platforms, with the same rich feature set extending all the way from the service provider edge, to the data center, converged campus core, and wiring closet.”

Broadcom said the FleXGS architecture in Trident 3 comprises of new programmable parsing, lookup, and editing engines with associated reconfigurable databases. The engines are dimensioned and arrayed to maximize parallelism, performance, functional capacity and area/power efficiency to best address the diverse and concurrent needs of today’s evolving networks.  The pipeline can be programmed to handle software-defined network virtualization and service chaining protocols, including VXLAN, GPE, NSH, Geneve, MPLS, MPLS over GRE, MPLS over UDP, GUE, Identifier Locator Addressing (ILA) and PPPoE, among others.

StrataXGS Trident 3 Switch Series Key Features

  • High density 1/2.5/5/10/25/40/50/100GbE port connectivity using best-in-class integrated 10/25Gbps NRZ SerDes
  •  Example single-chip platforms and line cards include spine and converged campus core (32x100GbE), 25/100GbE Top-of Rack (48x25GbE + 8x100GbE) and 10/100GbE Top-of-Rack (48x10GbE + 6x100GbE) 
  • 32MB on-chip, 100% fully shared packet buffer delivers up to 8X higher network burst absorption and congestion avoidance compared to previous generations
  • Large, programmable on-chip forwarding databases for L2 switching, L3 routing, label switching, and overlay forwarding
  • 3X increased ACL scale to support evolving policy/security requirements
  • PCIe Gen3 x4 host CPU interface with on-chip accelerators improves control-plane update and boot performance by up to 5X
  • Programmable support for enhanced network telemetry, including per-packet timestamping, Flow Tracker, microburst detection, latency/drop monitor, Active-probe-based in-band network telemetry, and in-band OAM processing; integrated with open-source BroadView v2 telemetry agent and analytics software
  • Dynamic, State-Based Flow Distribution provides systematic and adaptive reduction in link congestion and traffic imbalances in large-scale Layer3/ECMP leaf-spine networks
  • Adaptive Routing for dynamic traffic engineering in non-Clos topologies
  • Full feature compatibility with previous generation Trident 2 and Trident 2+ devices

The first two members of the StrataXGS Trident 3 family are currently sampling: BCM56870 (3.2 Tbps) and BCM56873 (2.0 Tbps).

Openreach teams with Huawei to Demo 100G Broadband

BT company Openreach has launched what it claims is the first live demonstration of a 100 Gbit/s, 'hyperfast' broadband service at the BT R&D centre at Adastral Park in the UK.

The Openreach demonstration involved a standard residential FTTP connection with advanced transmission technology designed to enhance the broadband signal to enable increased capacity sufficient for streaming around 4,000 ultra HD-quality movies simultaneously. Developed jointly with its research partners Huawei, BT believes that the new broadband technology could be used to 'super-charge' speeds for business and consumer customers in the future.

Openreach stated that the demonstration utilised test equipment designed to replicate a fibre connection in a real-life setting with a single fibre carrying a 100 Gbit/s signal from exchange equipment over standard technology used in Openreach's existing FTTP network.

During the next phase of testing, Openreach and Huawei plan to use the high bandwidth achieved to help evolve the global PON standards and to move towards field trials of the technology as the industry matures.

Openreach noted that currently, around 92% of homes and businesses across the UK have access to broadband speeds of 30 Mbit/s and higher. The Openreach fibre network is available to 26.5 million homes and businesses, with more than 100 communications providers offering services over the company's wholesale fibre network. Openreach aims to make ultra-fast speeds available to up to 12 million premises by the end of 2020 employing a mixture of FTTP and technologies.

  • In October last year, Openreach and Huawei claimed they had become the first companies in Europe to trial new FTTP technology between the University of Suffolk, Ipswich Exchange, and the Adastral Park research centre, during which they achieved 40, 10 and 2.5 Gbit/s speeds delivered simultaneously over a single fibre

Equinix partners with China's Alibaba Cloud to expand cloud connectivity

Equinix, the global interconnection and data centre company, announced a collaboration with Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of China's Alibaba Group, to provide enterprises with direct, scalable access to Alibaba Cloud via the Equinix Cloud Exchange at its Hong Kong, Silicon Valley, Sydney and Washington DC International Business Exchange (IBX) data centres, with Frankfurt and London due to be added shortly.

Equinix noted that according to the U.S. International Trade Administration, the Chinese cloud market is forecast to grow 40% per year to 2020. Access to Alibaba Cloud is key for multinational customers seeking to expand cloud-based applications into the region. By offering multinationals secure, direct access to Alibaba Cloud, Equinix can provide connectivity to the suite of Alibaba cloud services, while Alibaba Cloud Express Connect provides access to its cloud network in mainland China.

With the addition of direct access to Alibaba Cloud on Equinix Cloud Exchange in markets across Asia Pacific, EMEA and the Americas, Equinix is able to offer private access to Alibaba Cloud in five markets. Equinix noted that it previously offered access in its Singapore IBX. Alibaba Cloud is also a colocation customer in Dubai with Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (known as du).

Alibaba Cloud provides a suite of global cloud computing services to support international customers' online businesses as well as Alibaba Group's own e-commerce ecosystem. Its international operations are headquartered in Singapore, with international teams based in Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, San Mateo, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.

Equinix operates 179 data centres in 44 markets worldwide. The Equinix Cloud Exchange offers direct private access to multiple cloud service providers and is available in 21 markets including: Amsterdam, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York, Osaka, Paris, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Washington DC and Zurich.

nbn demos 1 Gbps in DOCSIS 3.1 trials in Melbourne

Australia's nbn, which is rolling out a national broadband network, announced that it is preparing to introduce gigabit access speeds for eligible homes and businesses in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, as well as the Gold Coast in Queensland.

nbn noted that the announcement follows trials of DOCSIS 3.1 technology on its hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) network, which previously served to deliver Telstra's pay TV cable services.

The company stated that during lab trials of DOCSIS 3.1 technology conducted in Melbourne, it achieved downstream speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s, similar to the highest speed currently available to retail service providers using the nbn FTTP network. The trials delivered upstream speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s, which is more than double the current highest rate of 40 Mbit/s upload retail speed available via HFC retail services over the nbn network.

nbn noted that it will be amongst the first operators outside of the U.S. to commercially launch DOCSIS 3.1-based services as an upgrade for its HFC network, enabling the delivery of Gigabit and higher  downstream wholesale speeds over the network.

nbn is planning to conduct further lab testing of DOCSIS 3.1 technology in August, prior to launching field trials in December this year, with a commercial launch of DOCSIS 3.1 services expected in 2018.

  • Earlier this year, nbn announced that it had achieved gigabit transmission speeds during a fixed wireless technology demonstration conducted in Ballarat, Victoria. For the trial, nbn used 2.3 and 3.4 GHz spectrum as part of its effort to use a range of technology to meet both current and future bandwidth demands within its multi-technology mix (MTM) strategy. The fixed wireless demonstration achieved 1.1 Gbit/s downstream and 165 Mbit/s upstream speeds utilising carrier aggregation technology to combine seven carriers in the 3.4 GHz band and four carriers in the 2.3 GHz band. As part of the demonstration nbn also delivered trial peak downstream/upstream speeds of 400/55 Mbit/s, 250/50 Mbit/s and 100/40 Mbit/s using a range of carriers in the 2.3 and 3.4GHz spectrum bands. The trial involved technology partner Ericsson, NetComm Wireless and Qualcomm.
  • nbn also announced it had partnered with Nokia to trial NG-PON2 technology potentially able to support symmetrical speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s in FTTP networks. nbn noted at the time that NG-PON2 could also be used to enhance services in FTTB and fibre-to-the-kerb networks when combined with technology such as and XG.FAST, while also providing additional capacity over fibre supporting HFC and fixed wireless networks.
  • During trials in Melbourne, NG-PON2 delivered bandwidth of up to 102 Gbit/s in the lab, based on 40 Gbit/s symmetrical speed using TWDM-PON technology, 10 Gbit/s symmetrical on XGS-PON and a further 2.5 Gbit/s with current GPON technology.

Orange Digital Ventures launches EUR 50m investment in Africa

Global telco Orange announced it is strengthening its corporate venture strategy with the creation of a new Africa section within its program for investment in start-ups, Orange Digital Ventures.

As part of the initiative, the group is committing Euro 50 million of funding, corresponding to around half of the direct investments made via its new Orange Digital Ventures Africa program, with the other half devoted to indirect investments through specialised funding for Africa.

Orange Digital Ventures Africa will serve as Orange Group's investment vehicle for early-stage innovation projects in Africa in areas such as new connectivity, financial technology (fintech), the Internet of Things (IoT), energy and e-health. The program will target start-ups developing solutions to Africa's fundamental challenges while leveraging the operator's assets on the continent. Support will target start-ups based geographically in Africa and those based elsewhere but addressing African issues.

A dedicated team to be based in Dakar, Senegal will be set up to support the program in September this year to meet start-ups' requirements. Orange noted that the new initiative is a key part of its commitment in Africa, a growth area where currently nearly one in ten inhabitants is an Orange customer.

The latest initiative supports Orange's existing open innovation initiatives in Africa, which include the Orange Fabs in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Senegal and BIG in Jordan designed to facilitate partnerships with the start-ups. In addition, Orange maintains a network of partner incubators such as CTIC in Dakar, provides Orange APIs on the continent and offers the Orange Social Venture Prize recognising social entrepreneurs in Africa.

  • Earlier this year, Orange announced that, as a member of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and together with Facebook, it would launch the Orange Fab France Telecom Track accelerator, designed to support start-ups focused on network infrastructure development. Through the initiative, selected start-ups are mentored by Orange and provided with access to its global resources, as well as support from TIP Ecosystem Accelerator Centres (TEAC) and Facebook.

Lightwave Logic to participate in development of photonic systems roadmap

Lightwave Logic, a technology company focused on the development of photonic devices and non-linear optical polymer materials for high-speed data communications and telecommunications, announced that its CEO, Dr. Michael Lebby, is participating at the World Technology Mapping Forum in the Netherlands on June 14th.

The forum, which includes photonic industry and trade association members worldwide, is seeking to establish the first International Photonic Systems Roadmap. During the event, Lightwave Logic's Dr. Lebby will also participate in the fibre communications technical working group, with a focus on the evolution of photonic PIC technologies with respect to product volumes, specifications, cost, performance, power and functionality over the next decade.

The completed International Photonic Systems Roadmap is intended to focus attention on key technology platforms and the technical metrics that will constitute the foundation for PIC devices over the coming decade. Lightwave Logic noted that while the incumbent technology is indium phosphide (InP), new technologies such as silicon photonics (SiP), dielectric photonics (DP), and more recently the company's polymer photonics (PP) technology platform, are also being developed.

Lightwave Logic stated that the photonic systems roadmap is expected to review and outline the latest photonic platform testing, packaging, assembly and design processes, as well as substrates and PIC solutions.

The company stated that Dr. Lebby has been involved in a number of photonic roadmaps over the past two decades, contributing to the Optoelectronic Industry Development Association's (OIDA) first photonic roadmaps in the early 1990s. He also assisted the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) develop its roadmap in the late 1990s, and helped create integrated photonics roadmaps while heading OIDA in the 2000s.

Most recently, Dr. Lebby supported the University of Southern California's (USC) integrated photonics roadmap initiative as part of the integrated photonics competition on Manufacturing Institutes funded by federal government in 2015.

  • Previously, in May, Lightwave Logic unveiled a strategy at its annual meeting of shareholders designed to address the 100 Gbit/s market opportunity leveraging its all-organic 25 Gbit/s ridge waveguide modulator in a 4 channel architecture. It also revealed initial simulation results as part of preparations to address the 400 Gbit/s market via 50 Gbit/s ridge waveguide modulators.
  • At the event, the company outlined 25 GHz modulator data indicating the suitability of its devices for 25 Gbit/s applications, and noted it had entered into a contract with a packaging partner with experience in producing high-speed telecoms and data comms optoelectronic devices. The partner will package Lightwave's 25 Gbit/s modulators ahead of further evaluations by potential customers. Dr. Lebby also presented preliminary modelling and simulations of modulators that showed the potential to operate at 50 Gbit/s rates.

Dell'Oro reports 100G port shipments up 6x YoY in Q1

According to the recent Ethernet Switch - Data Center Quarterly Report by Dell’Oro Group, 25 and 100 Gbit/s switch port shipments increased to more than one million in the first quarter of 2017, with suppliers Arista, Cisco, and white box vendors leading the transitions to higher speeds.

Highlights from Dell'Oro's latest first quarter Ethernet switch, data centre report include:

1.         That 100 Gbit/s shipments surged in the quarter, increasing six-fold year on year.

2.         Vendors Arista, Cisco and the white box suppliers each achieved revenue of more than $100 million for 100 Gbit/s in the first quarter.

3.         Shipments of 25 Gbit/s ports are ramping on the switch side, primarily driven by Cisco, as enterprise customers focus on upgrading their switches ahead of the Intel Purely server refresh cycle that is expected in the second half of the year.

Regarding the report, Sameh Boujelbene, senior director at Dell'Oro Group, commented, "As supply constraints on 100 Gbit/s optical modules started to alleviate, demand for 100 Gbit/s switches is ramping up at the major cloud providers… however, (the market) is in the early stage of this migration and I expect demand to accelerate through the rest of the year, driven by the cloud, as well as telco service providers and enterprise deployments."

Profile of Orange, a global operation with big ambitions, slow, steady growth – Part 1

Orange S.A. is perhaps the global carrier with operations in the most diverse geographies and cultures. From its headquarters in Paris, Orange (formerly France Telecom) now serves 265.162,000 subscribers worldwide with mobile, broadband, fixed telephony, TV and a range of advanced enterprise services. The total number of subscribers was up 5.13% compared to the first quarter of 2016.

As an incumbent operator with historical roots tracing back to the semaphore long distance signalling system developed in 1792, Orange has substantial network in place, including 18,000 km of fibre optic cable in its home market of France. In 2015, Orange launched a Conquest initiative along with a strategic plan called Essentials2020. These refocused the company's efforts on ultra-high speed fixed and mobile networks, while expanding into new valued-added services such as mobile banking and dedicating itself to improving the customer experience. The company committed to a capital investment of over Euro 15 billion in its networks between 2015 and 2018, including Euro 4.5 billion in FTTH and Euro 5 billion in mobile. The goal is to triple its customers' average data speeds on fixed and mobile networks between 2014 and end 2018, and the fruits of this strategic planning are beginning to appear.

With the release of the company's financial results for the 1st quarter of 2017, Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange Group, commented:

-    "The first quarter confirms the improvement in the 2016 trend. Revenues are growing, driven by solid commercial performances, particularly in France, Spain and Poland. The strategy Orange has pursued over a number of quarters, centred on convergence around the home, the best connectivity in the market due to sustained investment, and an unparalleled customer experience, is bearing fruit. For the fourth consecutive quarter, adjusted EBITDA is growing, underpinning the objective for 2017 of delivering adjusted EBITDA higher than 2016 on a comparable basis. Lastly, Orange's diversification into financial services will move into a new phase in 2017. In Africa, Orange Money crossed the 30 million customer mark this quarter, growing by 74% in one year, while in France, the Orange Bank offer will be launched with Orange employees in mid-May and for the general public on 6 July 2017".

Below is a summary of the latest performance indicators:

•   Revenue up 0.8% in the 1st quarter to Euro 10.070 billion, after rising 1.0% in the 4th quarter of 2016 (on a comparable basis), led by the Europe zone and in particular by strong growth in Spain.

•   Group adjusted EBITDA of Euro 2.598 billion in the 1st quarter, an increase of 2.0% (Euro 50 million) on a comparable basis.

•   Group capex of Euro 1.493 billion in the 1st quarter, up 2.1% on a comparable basis, with capex up 1.4% in telecom activities to euro 1.484 billion, while the ratio of capex to revenue from telecom activities was 14.7% (up 0.1 percentage point year on year) and investment in fibre and very high-speed mobile (4G and 4G+) up in line with the goals of the Essentiels2020 strategic plan.

Orange Group Metrics

Total number of customers* (millions)
Mobile customers* (millions)
- of which contract customers (millions)
Fixed broadband customers (millions)
- of which FTTH customers (millions)
TV customers (millions)
Orange - French market**
Mobile services
Number of customers* (millions)
- of which contract customers (millions)
Fixed services
Number of broadband customers (millions)
Broadband market share at end of period (%)
Number of fixed line subscribers (millions)
Mobile services
Number of customers* (millions)
- of which contract customers (millions)
Total ARPU quarterly (euros)
Fixed services
Number of broadband customers (millions)
- of which FTTH customers (millions)
Number of TV customers (millions)
Broadband ARPU quarterly (euros)
Number of fixed line subscribers (millions)
Number of wholesale lines (millions)
Mobile services
Number of customers* (millions)
- of which contract customers (millions)
Number of MVNO customers (millions)
Fixed services
Number of broadband customers (millions)
- of which FTTH customers (millions)
Number of TV customers (millions)
Number of fixed lines (millions)
Mobile services
Number of customers* (millions)
- of which contract customers (millions)
Total ARPU quarterly (euros)
Number of MVNO customers (millions)
Fixed services
Number of broadband customers (millions)
- of which FTTH customers (millions)
Number of TV customers (thousands)
Broadband ARPU quarterly (euros)
*Excluding customers of MVNOs

** Customers from Orange France and Enterprise sector in France.

*** Company estimate.

**** Europe: Spain, Poland, Belgium & Luxembourg, and Central European Countries.

High-level perspective for its critical home market

While most of the world's major telecom carriers are pursuing a 'mobile first' strategy, Orange is taking a broader multi-pronged approach with mobile, fixed broadband (fibre), TV and satellite. In its vital home market of France, Orange actually lost subscribers over the past year. This the effect of a mature market where mobile penetration rates are well over the 100% mark. ARPU also declined slightly. Even in its home market, Orange was relatively slow to roll out its 4G LTE network, at least compared to other carriers in the Nordics, North America, Japan or Korea. The 4G coverage rate at March 31, 2017 was 89% of the population in France, 91% in Spain, 99% in Poland, 100% in Belgium, 83% in Romania, 80% in Slovakia and 98% in Moldova.

The sector with the biggest growth in France is fixed broadband, where the number of FTTH installed customers grew rapidly from just over one million a year ago to 1.579 million as of March 31, 2017, a remarkable 46.8% year on year growth. While the total number of broadband customers served by Orange in France remained about the same, it is certainly a good thing for the company that large number of DSL customers are now signing up for FTTH service. These are likely to be higher value customer with less churn and more likely to engage with additional offers from the innovative Livebox customer premise equipment, which will be capable of many more advanced services now that it can be connected at gigabit rates. A new Livebox and TV decoder has been marketed in France since May 2016, and this appears to be a significant factor driving the growth. Orange has also been busy modernising many of its stores.  So far, Orange has opened 72 locations in France with its Smart Store concept.

Overall, Orange's revenue in France are flat, or perhaps 'stabilised', after a long period during which every quarter showed a progressive revenue decline, largely due to inevitable loss of conventional fixed line telephony, the opening of the French market to outside competitors, and most recently the substantial decrease in mobile roaming revenue across Europe, Orange has now showed a very slight (-0.1%) loss in revenue in France.

The pieces are coming together for Dell Technologies – part 4

During its Dell EMC World conference last week in Las Vegas, the company provided a wide-ranging update on its networking activities. Dell has been a big believer in open networking. Some years ago, it took the bold step of decoupling its networking software from its hardware switching platforms, enabling customers to load an OS of their choice instead of the Dell version; last year Dell, in conjunction with Microsoft Azure and other industry leaders, made foundational contributions to the SONiC effort, which aims to open source all the components needed to build fully-functional networking software. SONiC is a collection of software packages/modules that can be installed on Linux on a network hardware switch which makes it a complete, functional router. Dell has successfully integrated its OS10 base software to serve as a foundational element for SONiC.

Open networking is a big theme, but the company does not disclose the percentage of switching customers that choose a third-party open networking OS over its own OS. There is a free version of the Dell networking OS and a new flagship OS10 Enterprise Edition option that incorporates design elements from the Open Compute Project. The OS10 Enterprise Edition package provides Layer 2 and 3 networking functionality. Open networking partners include Cumulus Networks and Big Switch, although other stacks, such as Pica8, could also be loaded using ONIE.

At the recent Dell EMC World, there were several networking hardware announcements, including:

•   A new S5100-ON series 25 Gigabit Ethernet Open Networking switch, designed to support the new Dell EMC PowerEdge 14th generation servers, which will ship with native 25 Gigabit Ethernet support and 100 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks.

•   A new S4100-ON series of top-of-rack data centre Open Networking switches optimised for high densities of 10 GBE fibre/copper or Fibre Channel 8/16/32 server and converged LAN and SAN within racks, with 100 GBE uplink ports. Included in this family is the S4148U, a new unified switch for both Ethernet and Fibre Channel traffic. It supports 32 Gbit/s Fibre Channel.

•   New Dell EMC N1100-ON series of campus switches, which include several fanless switches in half- and full-width options, Power over Ethernet (POE/POE+) and non-POE versions, and port configurations from 10/100/1000 Mbit/s to 1/10 GBE. The N1100-ON series switches are designed to pair with Aerohive's HiveManager NG, a next-generation cloud-based management solution that simplifies end-user wired and wireless access.

Opening the door to switching silicon competition

The new 25 Gbit/s switch is powered by Cavium's Xpliant switching silicon. This represents a significant win for Cavium and an opening at Dell to a wider silicon supply chain. Like its competitors, Dell's switching portfolio previously has been entirely powered by Broadcom. This relationship continues, but there are likely to be more silicon suppliers for Dell networking products going forward.

Networking scale and speculation

While other Dell Technologies' units are typically No. 1, 2 or 3 in their respective market categories, it is interesting to note that the Dell networking group has not attained this level of industry prominence. The big networking equipment vendors have found opportunities to position their solutions at the centre of major IT deployments. One typically hears marketing slogan about how 'the business runs on the network', 'the network is the business', etc., so one would think the networking group would be fundamental to Dell Technologies' ambition to be the No.1 IT vendor. Yet at the Dell EMC World event, the networking exhibit was relegated to a relatively small section that could easily be missed – small potatoes compared to the prominent displays for storage and servers.

With the new cross-company momentum inside the Dell Technologies' group, it is possible and even likely that the networking group will grow faster than its industry peers. Its open networking strategy has been in-step with latest network architecture trends. Dell does substantial business in partnership with other networking players, including Arista, Cisco, Nutanix and others, but it must differentiate itself if it is to attain a leadership position in the industry.

One needs to ask whether a major acquisition would be a faster and better way to grow its market share to reach parity with the other Dell units. If so, what are the possibilities? Private equity investors have been willing to buy out public companies. Dell Technologies' current investors, perhaps joined by others, conceivably could raise the funding to buy out even a mid-sized player. Presumably, the purpose of the exercise would be to gain a strong networking position in Fortune 500 accounts, which is Cisco's stronghold. The networking vendor that has been cannibalising these Cisco accounts is Arista Networks. To add to this speculation, it is interesting that Andy Bechtolsheim, founder and CTO of Arista, was a speaker at Dell EMC World in Las Vegas. One would not expect to see an Arista executive appear at Cisco Live!, but now we know that Dell and Arista are on friendly terms.

As noted earlier in this series, David Goulden said that as a private company Dell Technologies now has more leeway to make strategic investments. This week brings news that VMware has acquired Apteligent, a start-up based in San Francisco, providing a mobile analytics platform. VMware plans to integrate Apteligent’s mobile performance management with its own Digital Workspace Platform for enterprises building and delivering mobile applications. This is a strategic acquisition, and one should expect more such deal making on the networking side.

UK-based Optoscribe, developer of photonics technology, raises $2.3m

Optoscribe based in Livingston, Scotland, a global supplier of glass-based integrated photonics components, announced that it has closed a series B investment round of $2.3 million (GBP 1.8 million) that will support its expansion and product supply plans.

The second round of funding was led by Scottish business angel investment syndicate, Archangels, and supported by other existing investors Par Equity, Scottish Investment Bank and the Optoscribe management team.

Optoscribe previously announced it had raised GBP 1.2 million of funding in April 2016 in a round led by Archangels, which provided GBP 825,000 of funding, supported by Par Equity, the Edinburgh venture capital fund, with GBP 325,000 of investment, and Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) which invested GBP 50,000. The company said that the new funding would be invested in its manufacturing facilities, with a focus on its FCX product line for the data comms market.

At that time Optoscribe stated that it had been awarded development contracts by a number of technology companies and that it was supplying products worldwide to these companies for R&D purposes.

Recently, in March of this year Optoscribe announced the opening of a new facility to accommodate growth and meet future expansion plans. The new 7,400 sq foot building includes a Class 1,000 laser processing clean room and Class 10,000 assembly, characterisation, test and assembly clean room. The new facility also offers room for future expansion to accommodate the company's growth plans.

Optoscribe has developed advanced technology that enables the production of optical components at a wafer level, primarily targeted at high-volume optical transceiver manufacturers supplying the growing data centre equipment market.

The company's technology is designed to enable simple, precise coupling of optical fibres to arrays of laser emitters and/or photodetectors within optical transceivers. This allows transceiver manufacturers to automate the assembly process leveraging Optoscribe's monolithic single optical interconnect component, while also significantly reducing the costs associated with assembly and testing.

Founded in 2010, Optoscribe applies its laser direct write technology to manufacture glass-based integrated photonic components for the telecoms and data comms markets. Optoscribe is a spin out business from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh.