Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Interview: Lee Chen, CEO of A10 Networks

A10 Networks, which is sometimes referred to as the best-kept networking secret due to its high-performance security and load balancing product lines yet quiet public company profile, was founded by Lee Chen in 2007. Chen is a veteran of Silicon Valley networking start-ups having served in the key technical roles at Centillion Networks and later at Foundry Networks. Centillion Networks was a switching pioneer active in the late 1990s and later acquired by Bay Networks. Foundry Networks was a follow-up company that was first to ship a Gigabit Ethernet switch, and later had the good fortune of completing its IPO near the peak of the Internet bubble in 1999. Years later, Foundry was acquired by Brocade. A10 Networks, which got started in 2006 and is based in San Jose, California, completed its IPO in March 2014.

For its most recently reported fiscal quarter (3Q2017), the company's revenue grew 12 percent year-over-year to $61.4 million. Service Provider sales were about 53% of total revenue and enterprise sales were 47%. Total gross margin was 78.3%. A10 Networks postponed its 1Q2018 financial report, which had been expected in February, citing an internal investigation concerning a violation of its insider trading policy by a mid-level employee within its finance department.

Question: As yet another year of the annual RSA conference gets underway, it's clear that the really critical cybersecurity issues have not gone away. The daily news is filled with stories of attacks on critical infrastructure, major cryptocurrency heists, interference by one country in the electoral process of others, and most recently of the revelation from Facebook that possibly all of its nearly 2 billion users may have had profile data scaped by bad actors. What's your overall assessment of cyber security?

Lee Chen: My assessment of cybersecurity is that attacks will become frequent and more sophisticated. Will they ever go away? It’s not impossible but it’s not likely in the near term. I just don’t see in the next 10-20 years that they’re just going to go away. It’s a real part of our lives. That’s why it’s very important for every telecom company or operators, IT staff, IT organization, any enterprise customers, they need to have a security policy in place.

Q: Let's talk about DDoS. Over time, the number, duration, and volume of attacks always go higher.  What are your observations?

Lee Chen: As the number of DDoS attacks is increasing, the duration is getting longer the volume is getting higher and the vendor Solutions are getting more sophisticated, with much higher performance – and they’re becoming automated and easier to deploy. These solutions are getting better over time. It’s like any technology – it never stands still, and you always have a new era of attacks and solutions. The users need to make sure they keep up to date with the latest and greatest technology from the industry’s best vendors.

Q: The rise of crypto currencies tells us that a lot of electronic money is moving from the well-defended infrastructure of major banks to smaller platforms that may exist in less secure environments, perhaps making them more vulnerable to DDoS attacks. Does that mean that a greater amount of the money supply or capital will exist in a more vulnerable environment?

Lee Chen: I do believe that cryptocurrency is here to stay. Many people believe it’s a blip, but I believe it’s here to stay. I'm not sure cryptocurrency is necessarily more vulnerable because one of the things about the use of blockchain with cryptocurrency is that blockchain is more secure and provides more privacy. Just like any new technology, it will constantly be the target of cyberattacks, but for cryptocurrency to evolve, it will need a significant investment in cybersecurity.

Q: We're starting to see really substantial numbers of IoT devices coming online, some with better security controls than others. In some cases, it is the enterprise that is deploying IoT in volume to track their own assets. How significant is the security threat?

Lee Chen: IoT’s threat to the enterprise is not significant but in the future will be. IoT devices have the widest variety of different use cases: some are related to convenience, some for life and death, some for cost control, some for energy consumptions. Counting on IoT devices to be secure is not realistic – IoT devices will never be fully protected because attackers will always figure out a way get through the IoT device’s security.

Just like in any security scenario, it always comes down to policy. You need to have a well-designed security policy in place to make sure the application and IoT devices are protected from malware and DDoS attacks, and also from other network and application attacks.

Q: The gaming industry is becoming the latest professional sport. Players have a lot on the line to win their competition, but here again, there is a need for a very clean network.  How is this segment developing?

Lee Chen: Gaming is a very interesting and very challenging industry. It’s one of the most demanding DDoS protection environments, as no dirty traffic is allowed in the industry. One significant difference for a gaming environment is that the network needs to be super clean. Because of the time-sensitive nature of a gaming environment, you can’t have any lag, and you can’t have any latency due to dirty traffic on the network. The gaming industry needs a device that is really sophisticated, because any dirty traffic will cause one side to lose, and the stakes are very high. You need a device that can detect attacks instantly and will never allow volumetric attacks to happen to the network.

Q: Cloud migration. The move to public cloud services is another megatrend. Many companies, of course, are pursuing a hybrid public/private cloud strategy and this changes their security posture. How do you think about security when traditional network boundaries are changing?

Lee Chen: Most of the enterprise is moving from traditional networks to the cloud, and all corporations will have some data in the cloud and some on their corporate networks. Cloud is a great opportunity for companies to invest in a hybrid cloud strategy – as a matter of fact, one of the largest public cloud providers is one of A10’s marquee customers and does just that, with 40 data centers with 45 TB of data protected globally A10’s DDoS mitigation solutions.

Q: Carrier network virtualization - SDN and NFV are bringing the benefits of virtualization to carrier networks.  As they deploy x86-based infrastructure instead of proprietary systems, is this opening up new security vulnerabilities?

Lee Chen: The virtualized network such as SDN and NFV does provide the network efficiency, agility and flexibility, which is a must for virtual networks when it comes to providing good analytics and orchestration – all without vendor lock-in. And there are quite a few options when it comes to implementation: you have different versions of OpenStack; different vendors with their own versions, and different integrations. So you actually offer more integration opportunities. In the longer term, I can see significant advantages, and in the near-term, I see a lot of opportunities to integrate with the different vendors. The virtual solution does have some challenges because virtual management is a big issue. Overall, visibility and control is a must and there is a good opportunity for the application intelligence and analytics companies to provide a good solution for the virtualized networks.

Q: We are starting to see the rise of autonomous vehicles as companies like Waymo, Uber, Lyft, Maven and others talk about deploying tens of thousands of vehicles.  These future businesses will rely heavily on low-latency, mobile networks, presumably 5G. Could they also be vulnerable to DDoS attacks?

Lee Chen: Similar to the gaming industry and gaming networks, autonomous vehicles need super clean connectivity because now we're talking about life and death. With 5G networks, the opportunity to update the software in autonomous cars is really great. I think autonomous car usage will be popular although I don't know when. These cars absolutely need protection, because if somehow the network is compromised the risk is very high. Similar to the gaming industry, the DDoS protection needs to be very sophisticated, and be able to keep any volumetric attacks from entering the network. This DDoS detection and mitigation needs to be quick and automated via intelligent automation.


Orange and Siemens partner on Industrial IoT

Orange Business Services announced a partnership Siemens, the leading factory automation equipment provider, to drive the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the industrial sector by simplifying integration and promoting IoT innovation.

The initial focus will be to develop solutions around asset tracking and asset monitoring to optimize the supply chain and improve efficiencies, as well as to develop digitally enhanced products to increase customer satisfaction and create new business models.

Orange Business Services brings its global cellular connectivity, consulting, system integration and application development skills to the partnership. The alliance is built around Siemens’ MindSphere, the cloud-based open IoT operating system, and Datavenue, the Orange IoT and data analytics modular offering.

“We are delighted to partner with Siemens in the MindSphere Ecosystem in the industrial sector. By combining our strengths we are providing industrial enterprises with new opportunities to exploit their data and unleash the power of IoT to drive significant competitive advantage,” said Olivier Ondet, Senior Vice President, IoT and Analytics, Orange Business Services.

Equinix acquires Metronode data centers in Australia

Equinix completed its previously announced acquisition of Metronode, an Australian data center operator, for A$1.035 billion (US$792 million) in cash.  Metronode was owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan since December 2016.

Metronode operates two data centers in Melbourne, three in greater Sydney (including one in Illawarra), two in Perth, and one in each of Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane. The acquired Metronode sites add approximately 20,000 square meters of gross colocation space to the Equinix footprint. Metronode also brings more than 80,000 square meters of land, 90 percent of which is owned.

In Melbourne and in Sydney, the Metronode data centers will provide a diverse, second campus for Equinix's existing properties. Both of these Metronode campuses are described as "hyperscale ready".

In Perth, Metronode's data center will house the landing station for the new Vocus Australia Singapore Cable. Equinix's existing data center in Sydney also houses the landing station for subsea cables.

Metronode generated approximately A$60 million, or approximately US$46 million, of revenues in the 12 months ending September 30, 2017, with a margin profile accretive to the Equinix Asia-Pacific business.

The Equinix footprint in the Asia-Pacific region now includes 40 data centers and extends the company's global footprint to 200 data centers across 52 markets.

Cloud Foundry comes to Alibaba Cloud

Cloud Foundry will be available on Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group and the largest cloud infrastructure provider in China.

By creating a Cloud Provider Interface (CPI) for Cloud Foundry BOSH, Alibaba Cloud now has access to both Cloud Foundry Application Runtime (CFAR) and Cloud Foundry Container Runtime (CFCR) workloads. CFCR is a Kubernetes and BOSH-based technology housed within the Cloud Foundry Foundation.

Alibaba Cloud provides a suite of cloud computing services that covers elastic computing, object storage, relational database, big data analysis, and artificial intelligence in 43 availability zones around the globe.

“Alibaba is a dominant force in China, and throughout Asia, the availability of Cloud Foundry now on Alibaba Cloud represents an opportunity to expand the availability of Cloud Foundry,” said Abby Kearns, Executive Director, Cloud Foundry Foundation. “Now China-based enterprises can experience the combined benefits of Cloud Foundry and Alibaba Cloud together.”

“Being the first open source PaaS offering, Cloud Foundry is designed for multi-cloud, multi-framework and multi-languages,” said Hong Tang, chief architect of Alibaba Cloud.

NEC and NTT DOCOMO conduct 5G medical test

NEC and NTT DOCOMO participated in field trials of remote medical examinations over a 5G network.

The 5G demonstration was carried out by NTT DOCOMO, the Wakayama Prefectural Government, and Wakayama Medical University and hosted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. NEC provided a 5G base station.

In this experiment, the 5G network enabled the realtime sharing of images taken by a 4K close-up camera, high-definition echocardiographic (echo) video and MRI images using a 4K video conference system between Wakayama Medical University and Kokuho Kawakami Clinic. Participants included doctors from the dermatology, cardiovascular internal medicine and orthopedic surgery departments of Wakayama Medical University and its hospital.

Colombia's InterNexa and Coriant test Open Optical Transport

InterNexa, a leading connectivity infrastructure and ICT solutions provider in Latin America, and Coriant completed an open optical transport field trial featuring disaggregated 100G and 200G transmission over third-party optical infrastructure.

InterNexa operates a ring-based optical backbone infrastructure that supports IP and wholesale transport services throughout South America, with over 49,000 kilometers of optical fiber interconnecting Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil.

The open optical transport field trial spanned active transmission links on InterNexa’s backbone network using the Coriant Groove G30 Network Disaggregation Platform equipped with Coriant CloudWave Optics coherent transport technology. The testing encompassed multiple alien wavelength use cases, including DCI-optimized 200G 16QAM coherent transmission across a direct link between Bogotá and MedellĂ­n at a distance of 364 kilometers and ultra-long haul DWDM 100G QPSK transmission between the same cities using an express route through Cali for a total distance of approximately 1,400 kilometers. The latter ring-based alien wavelength use case was implemented across a third-party, 50 GHz ROADM-based network architecture.


Mignon L. Clyburn to leave the FCC

Mignon L. Clyburn announced her intention to step down as FCC commissioner.

Clyburn has served on the FCC since July 2009 and has become known for her advocacy of Net Neutrality, efforts to close the digital divide, and reform of predatory telecom practices that take advantage of the poor and of prison inmates.  She previously was a member of South Carolina's Public Service Commission.

In 2013, Clyburn took on the role of acting chair of the FCC until Tom Wheeler was confirmed by the Senate for the role. She was the first woman to hold the chair at the FCC.

Western Digital intros 14TB HDDs for data centers

Western Digital introduced its new 14TB Ultrastar DC HC530 hard drive -- the highest capacity hard drive based on CMR (conventional magnetic recording) technology.

The new drive, which is based on the company's fifth-generation HelioSeal technology, is designed for public and private cloud data centers where storage density, watt/TB and $/TB are critical parameters for creating the most cost-efficient infrastructure. It is available with either 12Gb/s SAS or 6Gb/s SATA interface.

WD already offers 14TB SMR (shingled magnetic recording) drive.

The company noted that Tencent, a leading global Internet service provider based in China is adopting Western Digital’s HelioSeal-based hard drives for their Tencent Cloud data centers.

AT&T withdraws IPO for DIRECTV Latin America

Citing current market conditions, AT&T withdrew its planned initial public offering of shares of Vrio Corp., a holding company for its Latin American digital entertainment services unit, DIRECTV Latin America.

Registration papers for the planned IPO were filed last month.

Verizon's Oath recruits a former Alibaba Group executive

Oath, the Verizon subsidiary that brings together its media brands (AOL, Yahoo, etc), has hired K. Guru Gowrappan to serve as its President and COO. He will report to CEO Tim Armstrong and will play a pivotal role in leading the company’s operations and global growth strategy, as Oath enters its second year. 

Gowrappan previously served as Global Managing Director at Alibaba Group, where he focused on international expansion for key consumer and enterprise products across ecommerce, entertainment & media, payments and the entire commerce enabling stack.

“Oath serves a billion global consumers and the world’s most important brands in the most disruptive area of the economy and adding Guru as President and COO will accelerate our clear vision into a platform for growth for years to come,” said Tim Armstrong, CEO, Oath. “We have an amazing ecosystem of digital brands and platforms, the backing of the best mobile company in the world - Verizon, and a culture centered around the best external and internal talent we can work with as a company - and those strengths are only going to get stronger by adding Guru to help lead the company into the future.”

See also