Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Blueprint column: End users are now demanding virtualized services

by Prayson Pate, CTO, Edge Cloud, ADVA

I used to ask the question: Why do customers of managed services care about NFV?

My answer was: They don’t. But they do care about the benefits of NFV, such as choice, services on demand, and new commercial models such as pay-as-you-go and try-before-you-buy.

But the situation has changed. Now, customers looking at managed services are asking for virtualized solutions. Our sources show that half of end-user tenders for managed services call for universal CPE (uCPE) by name. They want the benefits of a managed service, combined with the benefits of virtualization, without the headaches of doing it themselves.

And, in case you forgot, uCPE is the replacement of a stack of communications devices (e.g., router, firewall, SD-WAN endpoint, etc.) with software applications running on a standard server.

Why are end-users asking for uCPE? 

End-user reasons for virtualized services and uCPE

Here are some of the top reasons that end users are asking for virtualized solutions delivered using uCPE. These reasons apply whether the end-user is consuming a managed service or they are operating their own overlay network services.

Dynamic services delivered on-demand. This is probably the biggest reason. End-users want to be able to choose and change their services in real-time. They know if a service is delivered using a stack of dedicated appliances, then every service change means changing appliances – at every site. This is no longer acceptable, as it is costly, slow and it does not scale.

Usage-based services. End users can consume cloud resources on a pay-as-you-go basis, with no commitments. They want to be able to consume their managed communications services in the same way.

Try-before-you-buy services. Almost every paid service on the internet has a free trial period. End users expect the same with their communications services. Once a site is served by a uCPE hosting device, any service can be offered on a trial basis. This is great for end-users, but why would the service provider and VNF supplier support this model? Because their incremental cost is zero, and the acceptance rate is high. Try-before-you-buy is a win-win for all parties.

User-managed applications. Enterprises want to take advantage of multi-cloud hosting. That includes on-premises hosting to meet requirements for latency, security and bandwidth. They want those benefits, but without having to manage their own hardware. They see managed edge cloud hosting on uCPE as the answer.

Decouple hardware from software and break vendor lock-in. This one is standard for service providers, but it may surprise you to learn that it affects enterprises also. I recently talked to an enterprise that is operating their own SD-WAN network. Their favorite SD-WAN supplier was acquired by one of the big guys. As a result, their pricing went up, and the availability of the endpoint devices got much worse. To make a change meant ripping and replacing every endpoint. They do not want to be in this situation again. By moving to uCPE, they enable a future change of SD-WAN supplier – without changing the installed hardware.

Self-operated network versus managed services

Before we go on, I would like to comment on the eternal debate about whether to run your own network or use managed services. This topic has been well-hashed, but the advent of virtualized services on uCPE changes the equation. It provides more benefits than an appliance-based approach. But it introduces the complexity of a multi-vendor system. The complexity is going to be acceptable for some larger enterprises. But many others will find that a managed and virtualized service gives them all the advantages without the drawbacks (as described here).

Real-world example: before uCPE and with uCPE

Let’s take a look at how the advantages of a virtualized service delivered with uCPE can benefit an end-user. Assume that you are opening a new store or branch office, and you need internet connectivity, VPN, and managed security. Here is a step-by-step comparison of the end-user experience.


I don’t know about you, but I like the “with uCPE” model a lot better!

The cloud is spreading to telecom

End users are increasingly moving their applications to the cloud, and they understand the benefits of doing so. End users expect the same cloud benefits of flexibility, speed and software-centric development in their communications services. NFV and uCPE are how we bring the power of the cloud to communications services – and to end-users.

Celona tests performance edge with CBRS enterprise cellular

Celona, a start-up based in Cupertino, California, is reporting impressive performance results in beta testing of its cellular wireless network solution for enterprises which uses interference-free and clean spectrum offered by CBRS.

Celona's platform creates a dedicated, wireless “express lane” for mission-critical business applications over a private cellular network. The company says its solution is undergoing beta testing at eight new sites including logistics environments, industrial shipping yards, global retail locations and other challenging wireless environments.

Each of the beta sites is deploying Celona’s end-to-end solution. The company has not yet formally announced its products.

Celona said its solution was recently deployed at a music festival held in Las Vegas on December 5, 2019. Applications requiring uninterrupted connectivity at such an event could include Point of Sale (PoS) systems for food, drink and merchandise, RFID scanning, video security and more. Leveraging staff-operated iPhones for performance testing, there were several locations where data rates under 1Mbps were recorded for the public LTE network performance due to an increasing number of music fans in attendance at the event. Celona’s enterprise cellular network in the CBRS spectrum was able to deliver download speeds greater than 25Mbps for the same set of devices, with latency metrics also improving 200x.

“The FCC’s recent decision to allow full-scale commercial deployments in the CBRS band is very timely given the outstanding response Celona has seen to its own end-to-end offering,” said Dr. Mehmet Yavuz, CTO and co-founder at Celona. “Enterprise IT teams across industries want CBRS spectrum to enable a new express lane of communication for business-owned and staff-operated mobile and IoT infrastructure. Low latency and high-reliability operation for relevant applications with the use of private LTE is a key requirement, in addition to simplified deployment and operations.”

In addition to its beta program, Celona cites momentum in the burgeoning Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS)  market by building new partnerships with Cradlepoint and working with global channel partners including World Wide Technology.

http://www.celona.io

Windstream Wholesale to deliver wave capacity to Sparkle

Windstream Wholesale will provide wave connectivity to Sparkle, the first international service provider in Italy and among the top ten global operators, connecting their U.S. IP network.

This connectivity from Sparkle’s PoP in El Paso will take place via the Equinix LA1 International Business Exchange (IBX) data center in Los Angeles, which is directly connected to the three other Equinix IBX data centers (LA2, LA3, LA4) in the Los Angeles area via low-latency dark fiber links. The Equinix LA1 IBX offers access to Equinix IBX data centers in 38 major markets globally through Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric. It also offers access to one of the fastest sub-marine cables to Japan.

Windstream Wholesale’s long-haul routes, including a planned Los Angeles-to-Las Vegas route, offer 10 Gbps and 100 Gbps Wavelength services.

“Our customer-tailored routes coupled with our unique domestic network density in Tier 1, 2 and 3 cities make us an ideal provider for international carriers, content providers, fiber operators and others needing domestic diversity and redundancy,” said Joe Scattareggia, executive vice president for wholesale sales at Windstream. “We are delighted to enable Sparkle to grow its customer base through our newly established presence in the Equinix LA1 data center.”

https://www.windstreamenterprise.com/wholesale/interactive-map

IDC: 5G could boost 2020 IT spending

Worldwide IT spending is set to increase by 5% in constant currency this year as software and services investment remains stable while smartphone sales recover on the back of a 5G-driven upgrade cycle in the second half of the year, according to an update to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Black Books.

"Much of this year's growth is dependent on a positive smartphone cycle as the year progresses, but this is under threat from disruption caused by the Coronavirus crisis," said Stephen Minton, program vice president in IDC's Customer Insights & Analysis group. "Our current forecast is for broadly stable tech spending in 2020, but PC sales will be way down on last year, while server/storage investments will not recover to the levels of growth seen in 2018 when hyperscale service providers were deploying new datacenters at an aggressive pace."

Some highlights from IDC:

  • Excluding smartphones, IT spending will dip from 7% growth in 2019 to 4% in 2020. 
  • Software growth will decelerate slightly from last year's 10% to less than 9% and IT services growth will dip from 4% to 3%.
  • Most of the slowdown will be due to the PC market where the end of the recent buying cycle (partly driven by Windows 10 upgrades) will see PC sales decline by 6% this year compared to 7% growth in PC spending last year.
  • Hyperscale service provider IT spending will recover to 9% growth this year, up from just 3% in 2019, but this is short of the pace of two years ago. 
  • Cloud infrastructure and digital services providers will also continue to increase their IT budgets in order to meet strong end-user demand for cloud and digital services, which will continue to expand at a double-digit rate of growth as enterprise buyers increasingly shift their IT budgets to the as-a-service model.

Court approves T-Mobile US + Sprint merger

The U.S. Federal Court in New York approved the merger of T-Mobile US and Sprint. The companies said they are now taking final steps to complete their merger to create the New T-Mobile.

“Today was a huge victory for this merger … and now we are FINALLY able to focus on the last steps to get this merger done! We want to thank the Court for its thorough review of the facts we presented in our case. We’ve said it all along: the New T-Mobile will be a supercharged Un-carrier that is great for consumers and great for competition. The broad and deep 5G network that only our combined companies will be able to bring to life is going to change wireless … and beyond. Look out Dumb and Dumber and Big Cable – we are coming for you … and you haven’t seen anything yet!” said John Legere, Chief Executive Officer of T-Mobile.

“Judge Marrero’s decision validates our view that this merger is in the best interests of the U.S. economy and American consumers,” said Sprint Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure. “Today brings us a big step closer to creating a combined company that will provide nationwide 5G, lower costs, and a high-performing network that will invigorate competition to the benefit of all mobile wireless and in-home broadband consumers. With the support of federal regulators and now this Court, we will focus on quickly completing the few remaining necessary steps to close this transaction. I am proud of my Sprint team’s dedication, passion and resilience throughout the merger review process, and we are ready to make the vision of a New T-Mobile a reality.”

FCC approves T-Mobile + Sprint merger

The FCC voted to approve the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint with the following commitments from the new T-Mobile:

  • Within three years, the company will deploy 5G service to cover 97% of the American people, and within six years to reach 99% of all Americans. This commitment includes deploying 5G service to cover 85% of rural Americans within three years and 90% of rural Americans within six years.
  • Within six years, 90% of Americans would have access to mobile service with speeds of at least 100 Mbps and 99% of Americans would have access to speeds
  • of at least 50 Mbps. This includes two-thirds of rural Americans having access to mobile service with speeds of at least 100 Mbps, and 90% of rural Americans having access to speeds of at least 50 Mbps. 

The FCC ruled that the merger would not harm competition and that the transaction is in the public interest.

In connection with the merger, the FCC also proposed modifications to construction deadlines related to DISH licenses and the Department of Justice’s consent decree, where DISH pledged to become a new entrant into the wireless industry. DISH has committed to offering 5G to over two-thirds of Americans within four years.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai stated "New T-Mobile will be far better positioned to deploy Sprint’s extensive 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings than would Sprint standing alone, given that company’s financial situation. Indeed, New TMobile’s network will cover at least 88% of Americans with mid-band 5G within six years, a far wider deployment than either Sprint or T-Mobile would be able to accomplish on their own."

New T-Mobile to provide network access to DISH for 7 years

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the merger of T-Mobile US and Sprint with the following conditions: Sprint’s prepaid businesses and Sprint’s 800 MHz spectrum assets be divested to DISH. Sprint and T-Mobile must also provide DISH wireless customers access to the New T-Mobile network for seven years and offer standard transition services arrangements to DISH during a transition period of up to three years. DISH will also have an option to take on leases for certain cell sites and retail locations that are decommissioned by the New T-Mobile, subject to any assignment restrictions.

The T-Mobile + Sprint deal was first announced on 29-April-2019. Deutsche Telekom holds approximately 62% stake in T-Mobile US. Softbank holds an 83% stake in Sprint.

"The T-Mobile and Sprint merger we announced last April will create a bigger and bolder competitor than ever before – one that will deliver the most transformative 5G network in the country, lower prices, better quality, unmatched value and thousands of jobs, while unlocking an unprecedented $43B net present value in synergies. We are pleased that our previously announced target synergies, profitability and long-term cash generation have not changed," said T-Mobile CEO and New T-Mobile CEO John Legere.

“This is an important day for our country and, most important, American consumers and businesses,” said Sprint Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure. “Today’s clearance from the DOJ, along with our anticipated approval from the FCC, will allow the U.S. to fiercely compete for 5G leadership. We plan to build one of the world’s most advanced 5G networks, which will massively revolutionize the way consumers and businesses use their connected devices to enhance their daily lives. The powerful combination of 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things will unleash endless possibilities.”

https://www.t-mobile.com/news/t-mobile-sprint-merger-doj-clearance

New T-Mobile and DISH Agreements that become effective upon completion of the T-Mobile+Sprint merger

Agreement to Divest Sprint’s Prepaid Businesses
The New T-Mobile will be committed to divest Sprint’s entire prepaid businesses including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Sprint-branded prepaid customers (excluding the Assurance brand Lifeline customers and the prepaid wireless customers of Shenandoah Telecommunications Company and Swiftel Communications, Inc.), to DISH for approximately $1.4 billion. These brands serve approximately 9.3 million customers in total.

Agreements Upon Closing of Prepaid Divestiture 

Master Services Agreement for Network Access
Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint-branded prepaid customers, as well as new DISH wireless customers, will have full access to the legacy Sprint network and the New T-Mobile network in a phased approach. Access to the New T-Mobile network will be through an MVNO arrangement, as well as through an Infrastructure MNO arrangement enabling roaming in certain areas until DISH’s 5G network is built out.

Transition Services Agreement to Support Prepaid Customers
The New T-Mobile will offer standard transition services arrangements to DISH for up to three years following the close of the divestiture transaction. The transition services provided by the New T-Mobile will result in the orderly transfer of prepaid customers to DISH and will also ensure the continued and seamless operation of Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint-branded prepaid businesses following transition to DISH's ownership.

Agreement to Divest Sprint’s 800 MHz Spectrum Licenses to DISH
DISH has agreed to acquire Sprint’s portfolio of nationwide 800 MHz spectrum for a total value of approximately $3.6 billion in a transaction to be completed, subject to certain additional closing conditions, following an application for FCC approval to be filed three years following the closing of T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint. This will permit the New T-Mobile to continue to serve legacy Sprint customers during network integration, pending later FCC approval of the license transfer. The companies have also entered into an agreement providing the New T-Mobile the option to lease back a portion of the spectrum sold to DISH for an additional two years following closing of the spectrum sale.

Option for DISH to Take Over Decommissioned Cell Sites and Retail Locations
Following the closing of T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint and subsequent integration into the New T-Mobile, DISH will have the option to take on leases for certain cell sites and retail locations that are decommissioned by the New T-Mobile for five years following the closing of the divestiture transaction, subject to any assignment restrictions.

Agreement to Engage in Negotiations Regarding T-Mobile Leasing DISH's 600 MHz Spectrum
The companies have also committed to engage in good faith negotiations regarding the leasing of some or all of DISH’s 600 MHz spectrum to T-Mobile.

DE-CIX opens PoP at NJFX Cable Landing Station

DE-CIX, which now operates the largest Internet Exchange (IX) in the New York market, has established a Point of Presence (PoP) in the NJFX Cable Landing Station (CLS).

The new PoP at NJFX will provide access for customers to exchange traffic so that their data can traverse directly from the U.S. East Coast to Europe and beyond, as well as up and down the East Coast U.S. corridor to the New York metro area, and to Ashburn, Virginia. Customers can also interexchange traffic across the multiple subsea cable systems available at NJFX, including TGN1, TGN2, and Seabras, in addition to HAVFRUE/AEC2 later this year.

“DE-CIX is establishing more than just a point of presence at NJFX,” comments Felix Seda, General Manager for NJFX. “With the deployment of a router to exchange traffic directly at NJFX, it decreases the hops and increases security while improving latency, and allows carriers and service providers to reach their destinations more directly.”

Currently, DE-CIX serves more than 1850 network operators, Internet service providers (ISPs), and content providers from 100+ countries with peering and interconnection services at its more than 20 locations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and North America. DE-CIX North America operates two IXs in Dallas and New York.

“For global enterprises, ISPs, CDNs and network operators, having access to diverse terrestrial and subsea options for connectivity is the coin of the realm, the foundation of their ability to reach new customers and penetrate new markets,” states Ivo Ivanov, CEO of DE-CIX International. “By establishing a presence at the NJFX CLS colocation campus, customers are now able to leverage direct, low latency routes to major U.S. business hubs in New York and Ashburn that avoid legacy chokepoints.  In addition, customers can also gain access to multiple subsea cable systems for intercontinental data exchange, including critical transatlantic connectivity to Europe. We are also seeing the LATAM market as one of the focus regions for networks we want to connect in NJFX to DE-CIX New York.”

http://www.njfx.net

Further MWC cancellations: AT&T, Ciena, Cisco, Facebook, Intel

A10 Networks
AT&T
Ciena
Cisco
F5 Networks
Facebook
iconnectiv
Intel
McAfee
Mediatek
Open-Xchange
Royole (foldable screen technology)
Spirent
Sprint
Vivo

MWC20 cancellation updates

Accedian: “After careful consideration, we have taken the decision to withdraw from MWC 2020. This was not a decision taken lightly. We’ve been extensively following the development of the virus and the recommendations of the WHO, and we have come to the conclusion that we must take the necessary precautions to protect our most cherished and valued assets: our employees,” said Dion Joannou, CEO, Accedian.

Amdocs statement: "In the face of the public health concern from the novel coronavirus, we are placing the highest priority on protecting the health of our employees, customers and partners. While we appreciate the precautionary measures put into place by the GSMA, we believe the safest option is not to attend MWC 2020 in Barcelona," said Shuky Sheffer, president and chief executive officer, Amdocs.

CommScope statement: "This is not a decision our executive team took lightly, and although the likelihood of contracting the virus is low, we will not risk the health of our employees, nor the business impact that would result if a quarantine were ordered. The team is currently exploring virtual trade show and meeting options to showcase the new CommScope portfolio."

Dali Wireless: “This was not a decision we took lightly, but ultimately, it’s not worth us potentially exposing our employees to health and safety risks, or propagating the spread of the virus with international travel,” said Dr. Albert Lee, CEO. iconectiv

InterDigital: 
"“InterDigital has a very proud history at Mobile World Congress: over the years we’ve taken advantage of the event to unveil numerous world’s firsts in communications technology, and this year we were excited to show some groundbreaking demos including a working 6G platform. However, nothing is more important to us than the health and welfare of our employees. We’ll be reaching out to our various stakeholders to discuss better means of bringing our new technologies to them and engaging in the important discussions that always take place in Barcelona,” said William J. Merritt, President and CEO."

NTT

Sony

Previously announced cancellations: Amazon, EricssonLGNVIDIAViavi Solutions

A10 posts Q4 revenue of $60 million, up 14% sequentially

A10 Networks reported Q4 2019 revenue of $60.3 million, up 14 percent compared with $52.8 million in third quarter 2019. GAAP gross margin was 77.7 percent. GAAP net income was  $0.0 million, or $0.00 per basic and diluted share. Non-GAAP net income of $7.8 million, or $0.10 per basic and diluted share.

"I am thrilled to join A10 Networks at an exciting time for the business,” said Dhrupad Trivedi, president and chief executive officer of A10 Networks. “A10 occupies an attractive area within networking and security, as companies increasingly focus on delivering business outcomes while managing operational complexities from proliferation of IoT, shift to hybrid cloud environments, and ever-increasing complexity of the cybersecurity landscape. Service providers around the world also face the same challenges while getting ready for 5G technology to support many of these consumption trends."

See also