Friday, January 18, 2013

Violin Memory Acquires GridIron for Acceleration and Caching

Violin Memory, which specializes in high-performance flash-based storage systems, has acquired GridIron Systems, a start-up developing data center application acceleration technology. Financial terms were not disclosed.

GridIron offers a TurboCharger Appliance to optimize the performance of application traffic and data workloads traversing the SAN fabric. The appliance uses patented SetRanking technology to manage all "high value" reads from the storage array, enabling the array to focus on writes to disk.  The company has claimed a 2-10X application performance improvment. Deployment scenarios include online transaction processing (OLTP), data warehouses, virtualization and big data analytics.

Violin Memory, which provides tier 1 Flash Memory Arrays, said the GridIron acquisition brings sophisticated intellectual property for SAN-based caching and application acceleration.

"The acquisition of GridIron Systems complements and expands Violin Memory’s strategy of offering memory-based solutions that accelerate business critical applications while optimizing IT infrastructures," said Don Basile, CEO of Violin Memory. "The expanded talent, technology and intellectual property position Violin Memory at the forefront of the ongoing transformation of enterprise data centers to memory-based architectures."

  • GridIron is based in Sunnyvale, California.  Violin Memory is based in Mountain View, California.
  • GridIron's founders include Som Sikdar (previously the founder of Shomiti Systems (Finisar) and Force10 Networks) and Herb Schneider (a founder and VP of engineering at Extreme Networks).

CoreSite Builds Open Cloud Exchange in its Data Centers

CoreSite launched an Open Cloud Exchange to help its data center customers to connect directly to the cloud service providers of their choice.

The CoreSite Open Cloud Exchange is available immediately in seven of CoreSite's North American data center campuses including Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, New York, Northern Virginia, Boston, and Washington, DC.

CoreSite's partners in providing initial Open Cloud Exchange services include:

  • CENX, a leader in Carrier Ethernet interconnect systems and services, will provide its CENX Automated Ethernet Lifecycle Management software specially designed for CoreSite's Open Cloud Exchange, enabling single sign-on management of Layer 2 cloud infrastructure services and full MEF CE 2.0 compatibility.
  • RightScale, the leader in cloud computing management, will provide the platform to deploy and manage business-critical applications across public, private, and hybrid clouds. RightScale offers efficient configuration, monitoring, automation, and governance of cloud computing infrastructure and applications.
  • RiverMeadow Software will deliver its automated cloud onboarding SaaS developed specifically for migrating servers and workloads into and between Carrier Service Provider Clouds.
  • Brocade will provide the hardware infrastructure and switching logic at the heart of the Open Cloud Exchange.

"We're building the industry's premier home for cloud services," said Jarrett Appleby, COO, CoreSite. "With networks—the oxygen for cloud services—as the foundation, adding the industry's leading cloud providers will create best-in-class scalability, management, automation, software, and many-to-many exchange capability. The Open Cloud Exchange offers our customers enormous provider flexibility, guaranteed performance, real-time monitoring, and easy management of cloud infrastructure services."

Separately, CoreSite announced plans to acquire a 280,000 square-foot building and 10 acres of land in Secaucus, New Jersey.  The new facility, which will be referred to as NY2, will offer up to 18 critical megawatts of capacity. CoreSite expects to invest $65.0 million to acquire the facility, redevelop the powered shell, and complete the initial phase of inventory consisting of 65,000 square feet.  The company said there is potential to build additional data centers at the site as market demand warrants.

Taiwan Strait Express-1 Cable Links Mainland China and Taiwan

Taiwan Strait Express-1 (TSE-1), the first, direct undersea fiber cable between Taiwan and mainland China, has entered service.  The submarine cable spans 270 km between Tamsui, Taiwan and Fuzhou, Fujian Province,  China.  Partnets include Taiwan’s Far EasTone, Taiwan Mobile, Chunghwa Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom.

Dialog to Launch LTE TDD in Sri Lanka with Huawei

Dialog Broadband Networks (DBN) has launched an LTE TDD network in Sri Lanka using equipment from Huawei. The network has been activated in the capital Colombo, with an extension across wider Sri Lanka expected soon.

DBN has deployed Huawei's end-to-end solutions for RAN and EPC bundled with Huawei application software and customer-provided equipment (CPE).

Huawei aslo noted that Dialog's LTE TDD network is set to provide the world's first commercial VoIP service, adopting a VPN solution to provide comprehensive wireless access network services for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and home connections.

Huawei's VPN solution offers QoS  for E2EM (end-to-end management) with precise charging and centralized VPN subscriber management. The solution also supports transparent transmissions on an LTE network to complement or act as a substitute for traditional fixed-lines.

Tail-f Supplies Configuration and Automation Software for Pulsecom's Ethernet Line

Pulsecom has licensed Tail-f Systems’ multi-vendor configuration management and network automation software to develop its carrier-class Element Management System (EMS) for its SuperG family of Access and Network Interface Device (NID) products.

Tail-f’s NCS  is a network abstraction layer designed to accelerate EMS platform development.  Key features include automated service provisioning and transaction-safe configuration management as well as well as a seamless EMS-to-OSS/BSS interface.

Pulsecom’s SuperG Multiservice Access Switch is a CE 2.0-ready Ethernet and DS1 access solution supporting multiple generations of cell site backhaul and evolving business service requirements.  Its SuperG NID is a CE 2.0-ready Ethernet access solution optimized for cell site and customer premise applications requiring MEF-compliant Ethernet services.

"Tail-f’s NCS software is the backbone for Pulsecom’s NetPulse EMS and has the advanced feature set necessary for Tier 1 carriers. The model-driven development approach allows us to rapidly add and modify management capabilities to meet our customers’ evolving needs. In addition, northbound interfaces are standards-based for smooth integration with OSS/BSS platforms and automated provisioning enables consistent and accurate subscriber service turn-up," stated Paula DeCarlo, Director Pulsecom Engineering Operations.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Open Compute Project Disaggregates the Data Center

The Open Compute Project (OCP), which was launched by Facebook in April 2011, has moved from early design work to seeing the first commercial products based on its specifications hit the open market.

Facebook's original idea was to share its specifications for "vanity-free" servers using barebones AMD and Intel motherboards and optimized for low-power in highly dense data centers.

The Open Compute Project has evolved to challenge the industry to rethink all aspects of data center design, from motherboards, to storage, I/O, power, cooling and rack design.

A big focus is on "breaking the monolith" by developing a next generation "disaggregated rack", where compute, network and storage are separate modules that can be scaled and upgraded independently of other server elements.

This week, the group attracted a full house of 2,000 attendees to the Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley for its fourth Open Compute Summit.

Here are some notes taken from the keynotes (a webcast is online):

  • Orange and NTT are the latest carriers to join the Open Compute Project.
  • During the first 9 months of 2012, Facebook spent $1.0 billion for servers, networking equipment, storage infrastructure and the construction of data centers.  Facebook is accelerating its data center operations to handle the data deluge from a billion users, its growing number of services, the widespread adoption of smartphones, and the fact that 82% of users are outside the United States while most of its data centers are domestic.
  • Facebook currently stores about 240 billion unique photos and is adding 350 million new photos added per day - this means 7PB of new storage is consumed by Facebook photos per month.  This is accelerating with the adoption of smartphones.  Keeping all of the photos online all of the itme is a Big Data challenge requiring changes to the data center, the servers and the software.
  • Rackspace will design and build its own infrastructure using OCP designs as a starting point.
  • Riot Games will purchase systems based on the OCP design.
  • Avnet, Delta, Emerson, and Sanmina introduced products for the Open Rack design.
  • Intel is working on silicon photonics for Open Rack and is contributing designs that enable 100 Gbps interconnects.
  • Fusion-io is contributing some design work on its new 3.2TB ioScale flash card to OCP.
  • Facebook has developed a new common slot architecture specification for motherboards that it calls “Group Hug”.  The idea to create boards that are completely CPU silicon vendor-neutral and will last through multiple processor generations. The specification uses a simple PCIe x8 connector to link the SOCs to the board.
  • AMD, Applied Micro, Calxeda, and Intel and supporting the Group Hug board idea.

Key components that Facebook is looking for a disaggregated rack:

  • Compute Nodes -- each compute node would use 2 processors, 8 or 16 DIMM slots, no hard drive but instead a small flash boot partition, and a big NIC or 10 Gbps or more.  Moore's Law means that Facebook would expect to depreciate these modules over a 2-year period rather than the typical  3-year replacement cycle.
  • RAM sled  -- a rack tray on rails offering 128GB to 512GB with an FPGA, mobile processor or desktop processor on-board.  Performance should range from 450k to 1 million key/value gets/second. The cost should be $500-700 excluding RAM costs
  • Storage Sled  -- a rack tray on rails holding 15 spinning disc drives.  Instead of a SAS expander, the sled would use a small server.  The cost should be $500 to $700 excluding drives, which should costs less than $0.01 per GB
  • Flash Sled  -  a rack tray on rails offering 500GB to 7TB of flash. The cost should be $500-$700 excluding the cost of the flash.  Facebook would like to keep longer and depreciate over the read/write lifetime of flash - perhaps 4-6 years.
The disaggregated rack will be helpful for Facebook's newly announced Graph Search service because the optimum ratio of RAM/Flash is changing quickly as price declines.

Pacnet Plans 100G OTN Cable Upgrade for Asia

Pacnet plans to upgrade its EAC-C2C submarine cable system in Asia using 100G and integrated Optical Transport Network (OTN) switching technology. The upgrades are scheduled to begin in early 2013.  A vendor has not been publicly announced.

EAC-C2C spans 36,800 km with cable landing stations throughout Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines and China.

“With the rapid intra-Asia digital content growth continuing to fuel soaring bandwidth demands in the region, this latest initiative is a significant step in strengthening our network services to handle the continued growth of Internet traffic,” said Andy Lumsden, Chief Technology Officer of Pacnet.

Comcast Upgrades Ciena’s 6500 in Core Network

Comcast Cable has selected Ciena’s 6500 Packet-Optical Platform equipped with third generation WaveLogic coherent optical line interfaces for use in its core network.  Ciena is also providing Comcast with network management system capabilities and a range of professional services via its Ciena Specialist Services portfolio, including furnishing and installation.

“Adding Ciena’s WaveLogic 3 to our already installed 6500 Packet-Optical Platforms lets us leverage that investment to deliver more content, faster Internet speeds and enable new cloud-based applications for our customers, while also providing future core 400G scalability,” said Kevin McElearney, senior vice president, Network Engineering, at Comcast Cable. “As we scale beyond our 100G network, Ciena’s coherent optical technology will help us to deliver on our ongoing commitment to maintain and operate a high-performance, feature-rich advanced network.”

Ciena and Comcast have a long-standing relationship. Ciena noted that Comcast has been deploying Ciena’s coherent 40G and 100G technologies across its national fiber network since 2009. More recently, Comcast deployed Ciena’s packet networking solutions to support its Metro Ethernet services offering.  In addition, Comcast Business Class, a division of Comcast Cable, is a Managed Service Provider partner in Ciena’s BizConnect partner program.

WSJ: AT&T Ponders Possible European Acquisitions

AT&T is considering possible European acquisitions as a strategic expansion path, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Possible targets could include carriers such as Everything Everywhere (EE in the UK) or KPN (Netherlands), although the article describes the company's thinking as preliminary at this point.

Telx Offers AWS Direct Connect in Data Centers

Telx, which operates 19 data centers across the U.S., has begun offering Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connect with its own Datacenter Connect for Telx clients across the United States.

The new option enables Telx clients to use private interconnection to reach an expanded roster of AWS facilities spanning coast to coast. 

"Extending Telx’s service offerings with AWS enables clients to design their applications to achieve faster end-user response times, greater security and availability, and better protection from potential regional failures. Today’s enterprises face an array of complex application and architectural requirements. Telx’s continued investments in state-of-the-art facilities and ever-increasing ability to provide a rich variety of interconnection solutions between facilities and to AWS continues to increase the value of the Telx ecosystem,” said Joe Weinman, senior vice president of cloud services and strategy for Telx.

Orange Horizons Looks to OTT Services Outside Network Footprint

Orange has launched a new subsidiary called Orange Horizons that aims to seek out new business opportunities in countries where the Group is not already present as a mass-market telecommunications provider.  The idea is to leverage the Orange brand in areas outside its geographic network footprint. Possible market activities could include online stores selling telecoms-related equipment or airtime; the introduction of flexible travel solutions; or the launch of a virtual mobile operator (MVNO) activity.

Orange Horizons has already begun operations in South Africa where it is developing e-commerce and online content services. Orange  plans to launch business ventures in several other countries in 2013 in Europe and Africa, and will also look at opportunities in South America in order to leverage existing content-related assets.

Cisco Extends Extend Jabber's HD Voice/Video to Virtual Desktops

Cisco released  new software that extends the Cisco Jabber unified communications application to virtualized desktops.

The new Virtualization Experience Media Engine (VXME) software enables virtual desktop users to access Jabber's enterprise-class collaboration capabilities such as voice and high-definition (HD) video, presence and instant messaging (IM) as part of the Cisco Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI) Smart Solution. With the Cisco VXI end-to-end solution for desktop virtualization, virtual desktops, applications and collaboration services are centrally hosted on the Cisco Unified Data Center and delivered across a Cisco network to a broad array of user devices for a superior virtual workspace experience.

Cisco said the new software will be available initially on thin clients, followed by support for third-party devices, starting with Dell Wyse thin clients, and then Windows-based thin clients and Windows PCs.

Nokia Trims IT Services, Transfers Employees

Nokia will cut its global IT organization by up to 300 employees and transfer certain activities and up to 820 employees to HCL Technologies and TATA Consultancy Services.  Most of the affected employees are based in Finland.  The company said the changes are part of its ongoing restructuring.

CenturyLink Builds R&D Lab in Monroe, La

CenturyLink is building a new Technology Center of Excellence at this home base in Monroe, Louisiana.

The facility will include technology research and development labs, a network operations center and office and meeting space. The company plans to invite vendors in to collaborate on network technology and IT skill projects in the new building.  CenturyLink hopes to break ground on the center in early 2013. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2014, and should be operational in early 2015.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Intel Develops Silicon Photonics for Disaggregated, Rack-Scale Servers

Intel is working with Facebook and the Open Compute Project to develop silicon photonic connectivity for the next generation of disaggregated server racks combing compute, storage and networking resources.

At the Open Compute Summit in Santa Clara, the companies also unveiled a mechanical prototype built by Quanta Computer that includes distributed input/output (I/O) using Intel Ethernet switch silicon.  The design will support the Intel Xeon processor and the next generation, 22 nanometer system-on-chip (SoC) Intel Atom processor, code named "Avoton" late this year.

"Intel and Facebook are collaborating on a new disaggregated, rack-scale server architecture that enables independent upgrading of compute, network and storage subsystems that will define the future of mega-datacenter designs for the next decade," said Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer during his keynote address at Open Computer Summit in Santa Clara, Calif. "The disaggregated rack architecture includes Intel's new photonic architecture, based on high-bandwidth, 100Gbps Intel® Silicon Photonics Technology, that enables fewer cables, increased bandwidth, farther reach and extreme power efficiency compared to today's copper based interconnects."

By disaggregating compute, storage, networking and power distribution into discrete module in a rack, the data center operator gains the flexibility to selectively upgrade or move components as needed.  This provides cost, scalability and speed advantages over traditional, monolithic servers in a box.

"We're excited about the flexibility that these technologies can bring to hardware and how silicon photonics will enable us to interconnect these resources with less concern about their physical placement," said Frank Frankovsky, chairman of the Open Compute Foundation and vice president of hardware design at supply chain at Facebook.

Intel said it will contribute a design for enabling a photonic receptacle to the Open Compute Project (OCP) and will work with Facebook, Corning*, and others over time to standardize the design.

Fusion-io Targets All-Flash Data Centers

Fusion introduced its new ioScale product line for hyperscale and cloud data center deployments.  Each ioScale provides up to 3.2 terabytes of Fusion ioMemory flash capacity with prices starting at $3.89 per gigabyte.  

Some highlights
  • Up to 3.2 TB of capacity on a single half length PCIe slot, with a single controller, enabling a small form factor server to reliably scale to 12.8 TB or more, delivering maximum rack density and reducing the need for antiquated disk drive bays

  • Hyperscale servers supporting UEFI can boot from Fusion ioScale, further eliminating the need for RAID controllers or disk infrastructure in spartan webscale servers with limited space
  • Best-in-class Fusion-io endurance in all capacities, empowering caching, write-heavy databases and large scale applications
  • Enterprise reliability with the Self-Healing, Wear Management, and Predictive Monitoring capabilities of Fusion ioMemory, ensuring customers can easily meet even the highest service level requirements
  • Compatibility with the Fusion ioMemory software development kit (SDK) to leverage application programming interfaces (APIs) like Atomic Writes and directFS permitting applications to run natively on flash

The offer was previously previously exclusive to Fusion-io customers outfitting thousands of servers but is now available in minimum quantities of a hundred units.

Digital Realty Acquires 3 Data Centers in Paris

Digital Realty Trust has acquired a three-property data centre portfolio in the Paris area from Bouygues Telecom, France's third largest telecommunications operator, for EUR 60.0 million.  The portfolio consists of one Tier III+ facility at Montigny-le-Bretonneux and two Tier III facilities in Bievres and Saclay.  The properties total approximately 87,000 rentable square feet, with nearly five megawatts of IT capacity.

The deal includes a sale-leaseback arrangement under which Bouygues Telecom will maintain a long-term presence in the facilities, which host its core infrastructure assets.

"The acquisition of this institutional-quality portfolio further expands our footprint in this key European market and, equally important, adds a new network and IT service provider to our global customer base," said Michael F. Foust, Chief Executive Officer of Digital Realty.

Ericsson: Work Begins on LTE Release 12

Work has just started on 3GPP LTE Release 12 and major enhancements are planned in capacity, QoE and energy efficiency in macro deployments, according to a new whitepaper published by Ericsson.   The gains can be achieved by adding support for enhanced multi-antenna transmission and advanced receivers, and the introduction of a new lean carrier type.

LTE Release 12 is also looking to improve LTE small-cell deployments, and possible to closely integrate LTE and Wi-Fi. deployments.

The 12-page Ericsson whitepaper is posted here:

Reliance Awards US$1 Billion Managed Services Contract to ALU

Reliance Communications awarded an end-to-end network managed services contract valued at over US$1 billion to Alcatel-Lucent to deliver seamless voice and data communications services to its customers in Eastern and Southern India up to 2020.

Under the fully integrated strategic agreement, Alcatel-Lucent will enhance Reliance Communication’s operations, and synergize hitherto independent wireless and wireline teams to form a single network management organization. The network will proactively assure a high quality and consistent experience for customers regardless of device or type of connection.

Alcatel-Lucent said it will set up and operate next-generation OSS (operations support systems) and introduce advanced real-time optimization tools to improve network performance across Reliance’s wireless, wireline, long-distance, fiber and utilities’ functions.

“We are happy to announce our new partnership with Alcatel-Lucent, which is a transformative leap from the limited scope and vision of traditional outsourcing of services. This will enable Reliance Communications to take the lead in offering next generation telecom solutions that will meet and exceed the expectations of our customers, and help them to transit from voice-led usage to a seamless data experience across multiple devices and platforms,” stated Gurdeep Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Wireless Business, Reliance Communications.

"This business association is an extension of our long-standing relationship with Reliance Communications, and our commitment to India. It also demonstrates our renewed focus on managed services as we apply greater selectivity on more value-added contracts. The enormous scope of this agreement will bring a wide variety of skills, expertise and hands-on know-how that we can leverage for the benefit of others," said Rajeev Singh-Molares, President, Asia-Pacific with Alcatel-Lucent.

Reliance Communications has a customer base of about 130 million including over 2.5 million individual overseas retail customers. It has established a pan-India, next generation, integrated (wireless and wireline), convergent (voice, data and video) digital network that is capable of supporting best-of-class services spanning the entire communications value chain, covering over 24,000 towns and 600,000 villages.

U.S. Cellular Deploys NSN's eNode Bs

U.S. Cellular selected Nokia Siemens Networks for the second wave of its 4G LTE network rollout, providing Radio Access Network (RAN) and Mobile Management Entity (MME) technology.  The deployment occurred in late 2012 in 11 markets covering select cities in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Previously, Nokia Siemens Networks deployed Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and Home Subscriber Services (HSS) in the first wave of the 4G LTE rollout. The installation of the 4G LTE core was included in nine separate markets.