Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tellabs Unveils New Edge Routers for LTE-A

Tellabs is rolling out new edge routers designed to support LTE-advanced networks and for integration with Coriant's multilayer SDN solutions for mobile networks.

The new products include:

  • Tellabs 8665 Smart Router - a new 900 Gbps full duplex IP/MPLS router featuring a small footprint, low power consumption, and future scalability to 3 Tbps. It offers Ethernet interfaces from 1 to 100 Gbps. It promises seamless evolution for Tellabs Smart Routers managed by the Tellabs® 8000 Intelligent Network Manager. Its IP routing and Ethernet switching capabilities, aligned with other Tellabs 8600 Smart Routers, support mobile operators as they build and scale LTE and LTE-Advanced networks.
  • Tellabs 8615 Smart Router  - a new router optimized for mobile and fixed-mobile converged networks. It offers 44 Gbps throughput in a compact 1RU unit. In the future, two Tellabs 8615 routers can be stacked to provide 88 Gbps throughput.
  • Tellabs 8602 Smart Router - a compact, environmentally hardened, full featured 6-port IP/MPLS router with a water- and dust-proof (IP 67) design. The Tellabs 8602 router enables plug-and-play autoconfiguration through SON (Self Organizing Network) capabilities, speeding deployment of small cells and macrocells. It’s the first in a line of a new series of smart next-generation routers.
  • Tellabs Integrated GPS (GNSS) SFP Module -- extends Tellabs’ packet synchronization capabilities (e.g., IEEE1588v2, SynchE, ACR). It enables a flexible and cost-efficient Time-of-Day and Phase Synchronization in mobile backhaul networks, which is critical as networks evolve to LTE-TDD and LTE-Advanced. It enables substantial capital expense savings compared with external GPS receiver solutions. The GPS SFP is managed by the Tellabs intelligent manager, delivering simple and consistent support of synchronization across the network.
  • New user interface for Tellabs Insight Analytics Services offers dashboards focused on operators’ top concerns in mobile backhaul networks. 


In January, Marlin Equity Partners announced plans to integrate the majority of Tellabs into its new Coriant optical transport company, while spinning off the access product line of Tellabs into an independent company. Marlin's acquisition of Tellabs was completed in December.

Tellabs currently supplies packet-optical, mobile backhaul and Optical LAN networking solutions to telecom service providers, independent operating companies, MSO/cable companies, enterprises and government agencies.  Under this plan, the optical LAN product line will be spun out into Tellabs Access, which will also continue to provide residential access products to service providers. Mike Dagenais has been named President and CEO of Tellabs Access business. Previously, Dagenais served as CEO of Radisys Corporation and as president and CEO of Continuous Computing.  He also served as president and CEO of Optical Solutions, Inc. and president and COO of Convergent Networks.

Netsocket's Virtual Edge Brings SDN to Branch Offices

Netsocket introduced a cloud-managed virtual network implementation that lets Service Providers deliver enterprise-capable routing functions and other IT services target small to medium-sized businesses and enterprises with remote office networks.

Netsocket’s Virtual Edge solution leverages the company’s SDN framework for network virtualization and advanced orchestration. The Virtual Edge solution is a fully automated, centrally managed virtual network that enables service providers to deliver managed network services to its business customers -- without the need to travel to a customer site to install, deploy, update or manage the customer’s network.

The solution’s centralized cloud-based network orchestration capabilities are combined with virtual networking software hosted on the low-profile and cost-effective standard x86-based MicroCloud Server at the site.

Netsocket said its the MicroCloud component of NVN ostensibly replaces the traditional costly router, server and Layer 3 switch that would normally be required.  The MicroCloud Server is shipped to the customer site and requires the user to plug-in one cable to unleash full virtual network functionality within minutes.

“Managed Service Providers must find a way to provide affordable network services to smaller business customers and at a profit,” stated Fletcher Hamilton, president and CEO of Netsocket. “Netsocket’s Virtual Edge solution does just that.  MSPs can now offer reliable, affordable network services and extend their reach to a wider range of customers.  We are very excited to pioneer the path for MSPs by delivering a solution that can virtually revolutionize their business and profitability model and in short, result in new revenue streams.”


In October, Netsocket introduced its Virtual Network solution for enterprise campuses and distributed office LAN and edge networking environments. Most SDN solutions target data center or metro networks.

Netsocket's Enterprise Edition NVN vNetCommander orchestration application, which now commercially available, is comprised of a three-tier SDN architecture – providing end-to-end virtual networking, centralized orchestration and automation, and superior interoperability and integration with legacy routed networks as well as higher-level management systems such as Microsoft System Center. The Netsocket Virtual Network interconnects enterprise branches in just a few minutes, with no networking expertise required at the site. Its switching and routing components are automatically deployed and provisioned to each branch office using the centralized, intuitive network management application vNetCommander. The company said its web-based GUI, the vNetCommander, can handle automated deployment, installation, configuration and orchestration of virtualized networks all from a centralized console.

ONF Publishes Open SDN Migration Use Cases and Methods

The Open Networking Foundation's Migration Working Group published recommendations for organizations looking to migrate to software-defined networks based on the OpenFlow standard.

The :Migration Use Cases and Methods" paper summarizes best practices and lessons learned from real-world open SDN migration use cases and deployments from different network domains. Referenced examples include Google’s inter-data center WAN use case, NTT’s provider edge use case, and Stanford’s campus network use case. The “Migration Use Cases and Methods” document describes a framework for migration methods exemplified by a set of target networks and offers a variety of requirements to ensure a complete and successful migration to SDN.

“SDN is making a dramatic impact on the networking industry, and many business and technology decision makers, including CTOs and those who own and operate networks, are seeking recommendations and best practices for SDN migration,” said Justin Dustzadeh, chief technology officer and vice president of technology strategy at Huawei, and chair of the Open Networking Foundation Migration Working Group. “The Migration Working Group’s ‘Migration Use Cases and Methods’ document is a valuable resource that can help network operators gain insights into real-world SDN migration use cases and learn more about the process of migrating services to an OpenFlow-based, software-defined network.”

The ONF Migration Working Group was chartered in April 2013 to produce methods, guidelines, systems, and tools to migrate network services from a traditional network to an OpenFlow-based, software-defined network. The Working Group brings together practitioners who have carried out, or are interested in carrying out software-defined network migrations in order to reduce associated risks.

“ONF focuses on encouraging the adoption of open SDN, and a pivotal step in doing so is providing the information necessary to help operators and end users successfully migrate to a software-defined network, taking into account the significant investments they have made in their existing networks,” said Dan Pitt, executive director of the Open Networking Foundation. “This document from the Migration Working Group is an excellent starting point to help those considering a software-defined network make migration a reality.”

The “Migration Use Cases and Methods” document can be found at:

Sprint Posts Better Numbers in Q4 as LTE Network Expands

Sprint reported Q4 operating revenue of more than $9.1 billion and an operating losss of $576 million in the fourth quarter, a 22 percent year-over-year improvement. Quarterly Adjusted EBITDA was $1.15 billion, up nearly 40 percent year-over-year.

“In 2013 Adjusted EBITDA and Sprint platform wireless revenues grew significantly while we made investments to improve network performance and expand 4G LTE to more than 200 million people,” said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. “As we roll out Sprint SparkTM and create innovative offers like Sprint Framily, we are building a foundation for future success.”

Sprint ended the year with 53.9 million Sprint platform subscribers – its highest level ever – after adding 58,000 postpaid subscribers, 322,000 prepaid subscribers and 302,000 wholesale and affiliate subscribers in the fourth quarter. Sprint sold 5.6 million smartphones in the fourth quarter and 20.5 million smartphones for the year with smartphone sales mix reaching 95 percent for postpaid and 66 percent for prepaid in the quarter.

Some additional highlights:

  • Sprint's LTE footprint now covers more than 200 million people and the company continues to expect that by the middle of this year LTE coverage will reach 250 million people and the voice/3G network modernization deployment will be complete.
  • Sprint currently has nearly 33,000 Network Vision sites on air, an increase of more than 24,000 sites over the last 12 months. 
  • During the fourth quarter the company unveiled Sprint Spark – a combination of advanced network and device technology with the potential to surpass wireless speeds of any U.S. network provider, capable of delivering 50-60 Megabits per second peak speeds today with potential speeds three times as fast by late 2015. 
  • Sprint Spark, the network upgrade that leverages the company’s 800MHz, 1.9GHz and 2.5GHz spectrum together with devices offering tri-band capability and high-definition voice, is now in 14 markets. Sprint plans to deploy Sprint Spark in about 100 of America’s largest cities during the next three years. By the end of this year, 100 million Americans are expected to have Sprint Spark coverage. 
  • The company expects 2014 capital expenditures of approximately $8 billion.


IBM Launches Partner Resources for Cloud, Big Data & Analytics

IBM is launching an expanded set of resources to help its partner developers capture opportunities driven by the strategic areas of cloud computing, big data and analytics, mobile computing, social business, Watson and security.  The Power Development Platform provides developers with no-charge access to IBM Power Systems servers in the cloud to build, port and test applications.

"As the world is being transformed by cloud, mobile, social, big data and analytics, we need to enable our Business Partners to transform with it so they can take full advantages of the opportunities these changes bring," said Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President, IBM Systems & Technology Group and Integrated Supply Chain. "Our goal is to provide our Business Partners with the broadest set of capabilities, programs, incentives and solutions in the industry, allowing them to move to higher-value opportunities and achieve greater success."

IBM said its Power Development Platform provides developers worldwide with remote access to the latest IBM POWER7 and POWER7+ processor-based servers running Linux, AIX and IBM i operating systems. Once up and running on the platform, developers have access to the same hardware platform -- Power Systems – that, together with Linux, powers IBM Watson's cognitive computing solutions. Additionally, the platform includes a new Linux porting image with IBM DB2 10.x, IBM WebSphere 8.5.5, and the latest Linux development tools for Power. The platform also serves as an entry point to the full IBM Software Group Software Access Catalog, which contains current versions of hundreds of downloadable IBM software applications.

IBM also announced a new FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution, which is designed to directly integrate IBM's virtualization software with the FlashSystem 840.  The solution leverages Software Defined Flash, which enables increasing data volumes to be stored, accessed and analyzed – in real-time – through flash-optimized data virtualization.


Broadcom and NSN Demo LTE-Advanced at 300 Mbps

Broadcom, Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) and Finnish operator Elisa demonstrated LTE Advanced (LTE-A) carrier aggregation Category 6 (Cat 6) data rates of 300 Mbps on a live commercial network.

The end-to-end test was completed on Elisa’s commercial LTE network in Finland with Broadcom’s LTE-A Cat 6 technology using inter-band carrier aggregation and NSN’s Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station. The test was performed by aggregating two 20 MHz channels in the 1800 MHz band (LTE Band 3) and the 2600 MHz band (LTE Band 7) to reach speeds of 300 Mbps.

“LTE-A Category 6 is the number one priority for operators as they look to deploy the next speed enhancement to their networks,” said Robert Rango, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Mobile and Wireless Group, Broadcom. “The success of this test demonstrates Broadcom’s ability to engineer advanced LTE modem features to address stringent carrier requirements for speed and interoperability."

“This live network demonstration with 300 Mbps mobile data speed is a great example of possibilities of the mobile technology. It’s a major step towards delivering the best possible experience to our customers. In addition to the extremely high maximum data speeds, it will also offer much more capacity for mobile broadband customers,” said Dr Eetu Prieur, Head of Access Networks from Elisa.

“This test underlines the strong partnership between Elisa and NSN, one that dates back to the world’s first GSM network,” said Petteri Terho, Account Director at NSN in Finland. “After jointly building LTE networks on 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz, NSN enabled the operator to launch Finland’s first 800 MHz LTE network in January this year. Now, in collaboration with Broadcom we have showcased how our technical expertise and best-in-class equipment can help Elisa address subscriber demands in the future.”


Israel's Bezeq Deploys ECI Telecom's Apollo Platform for 100G

Bezeq International, Israel’s leading telecommunications company, has deployed ECI Telecom's Apollo packet-optical transport system in a 100G network.

ECI's Apollo family of packet-optical platforms brings transparent aggregation and transport of services over 10G to 100G WDM links. It offers 100G optical performance, OTN fabric, a variety of ROADM modules and configurations, tunable lasers, and a GMPLS-based control plane.

​For the​ Bezeq deployment, 100G optical links are used to aggregate ten channels of 10G over a single wavelength, including Ethernet, FC and SDH channels, providing a cost-effective tenfold increase in network capacity.

​​ECI said this deployment follows the 100G trial carried out in March 2013 over Bezeq International’s live operational submarine fiber. The trial, conducted in conjunction with the Tera Santa Consortium, as part of its research on long-distance adaptive coherent channel behavior, demonstrated the advanced capabilities of ECI 100G transmission system and technologies in compensating for non-linear channel impairments and chromatic dispersion utilizing advanced SD-FEC algorithms.


Cyan Posts Q4 Sales of $21 Million, Citing Cautious Customer Ordering

Cyan reported Q4 revenue of $20.9 million compared with $29.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 and $37.7 million for the third quarter of 2013. GAAP net loss for the fourth quarter was $13.7 million, or $0.29 per share, compared with a net loss of $8.0 million, or $3.13 per share, in the same period last year, and a net loss of $8.6 million, or $0.19 per share, for the third quarter of 2013.

“Our fourth quarter results were impacted by cautious customer order patterns and a significantly greater than expected decline in revenue from our largest customer. However, we achieved a number of milestones in the fourth quarter that demonstrate the continued adoption of our Z-Series packet-optical and Blue Planet SDN and NFV platforms, including delivering the first software controlled and fully automated carrier SDN network in a multi-vendor network to a leading carrier in Europe,” stated Mark Floyd, Cyan’s chairman and chief executive officer.

AT&T Mobility Reaches Labor Deal with CWA

AT&T Mobility reached a tentative agreement with the Communications Workers of America covering more than 11,500 AT&T Mobility employees in CWA District 3 – the Southeast Region, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and St. Croix, USVI.

The agreement covers wages, pension, work rules and disability benefits. CWA members in October 2012 ratified a separate four-year benefit agreement for all CWA-bargained Mobility employees nationwide covering health care and certain other benefits.  The deal will now be voted on by the union members.


Monday, February 10, 2014

NSN Launches Telco Cloud Management, Teams with HP

Nokia Solutions and Networks is launching a Telco Cloud Management solution to comply with ETSI's Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) framework for hosting carrier applications on cloud-based infrastructure. NSN is also extending its end-to-end Services to help operators prepare, implement and run their own telco clouds and migrate existing telco services to cloud-based networks.

NSN Telco Cloud Management includes two main components: the cloud-ready NetAct Operations Support System (OSS) for managing virtualized and non-virtualized network elements, and the new Cloud Application Manager for managing applications in the telco cloud. Cloud Application Manager automates many phases in a telco application’s life cycle from development to deployment, through to maintenance. It also provides automated elasticity management of cloud resources to ensure the right network capacity is available to run applications.

The company said its telco cloud implementation has undergone a variety of trials and pilot implementations and has now reached commercial readiness.  The next step is to build a telco cloud partner program to support it, including a newly extended relationship with HP, one of its IT platform providers.  NSN and HP will collaborate on IT platform sourcing, integration services as well as joint telco cloud architectures and delivery models.

"The telco cloud has finally become a reality for operators worldwide. And our new Cloud Application Manager makes sure operators can tackle the complexities of telco cloud any time, with flexible network capacity, shorter time to market and high return on hardware investment," stated Michael Clever, senior vice president of Core, NSN.


Broadcom Releases 5th Generation LTE Platform

Broadcom has released a new LTE chipset aimed at the sub $300 smartphone market.

Broadcom's fifth generation turnkey platform supports Android KitKat and utilizes the company's pin-to-pin compatible dual-core M320 or upcoming quad-core M340 LTE SoC and connectivity and location technology.

Key features:

  • Cat 4 150 Mbps LTE speeds in FDD-LTE and TD-LTE modes and up to 42 Mbps with DC-HSPA+ 3G as well as GSM/EDGE
  • BCM2095 LTE RF transceiver enables FDD and TD LTE/3G/2G band support for worldwide roaming
  • VoLTE and HD voice support
  • HD display, imaging and graphics for an immersive consumer experience
  • Pre-integrated with the Android KitKat operating system
  • Reduces LTE modem power consumption by up to 30 percent for extended hours of use
  • "5G" WiFi, Bluetooth Smart, NFC and location technologies

Broadcom also noted complete design reuse between its dual-core and quad-core basebands, enabling OEMs to develop multiple devices with the same platform design while lowering engineering costs and accelerating time to market. Certification by leading carriers worldwide and Category 4 (Cat 4) speeds in FDD-LTE and TD-LTE modes enable OEMs to deliver high-performance smartphones with seamless worldwide roaming capabilities.


Mavenir Announces Virtualized EPC

Mavenir Systmes announced a Virtualized Evolved Packet Core (EPC) designed to deliver a full suite of wireless functions (SGW, PGW and MME).

The company said its virtualized software platform can be deployed on cloud-based infrastructures using Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) to rapidly scale capacity and adapt to new deployment models. It leverages a distributed architecture that splits control and bearer planes for optimal packet processing and capacity gains.

Mavenir plans to show it at the upcoming Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona from February 24th – 27th.


Amdocs Links Self-Optimizing Networks to Customer Experience

Amdocs introduced its Self-Optimizing Networks (SON) solution for automated optimization of radio access networks (RANs).

Amdocs SON, which is currently being deployed by TIM Brasil and three other operators in Latin America, is designed to help service provider deliver better network performance, data traffic improvements, improved capacity and near-real-time performance, especially during major sporting and cultural events.

Key attributes of Amdocs SON:

  • Vendor-agnostic, with multi-technology support - delivers maximum impact regardless of network equipment provider or technology.
  • Customer experience/value-driven - integrates market-leading business support systems (BSS) with SON to target optimization more effectively by subscriber location and value.
  • Able to support 2G and 3G services as well as LTE -maximizes the value of existing network assets 

The company claims its optimization results in 10% faster mobile broadband, 10% increase in utilization and 20% fewer dropped calls. Amdocs provides integration services to tie its SON into existing equipment, operational/business support systems and processes.

"Amdocs SON, the flagship offering of our new Amdocs Network Solutions business, reflects our expanded focus on the network software domain," said Rebecca Prudhomme, vice president of product and solutions marketing at Amdocs.


Mellanox Backs Microsoft Open Compute Project Cloud Server Spec

Mellanox Technologies announced 10 and 40GbE NIC support for the Microsoft OCP server and storage specification which are based on hardware used to power Microsoft’s global cloud services, including Windows Azure, Bing, and Office 365.

Mellanox ConnectX-3 Pro OCP-based 10/40GbE NICs with RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) and overlay network offloads are now available, offering optimized application latency and performance while maintaining extremely low system power consumption.

"The growth of hyperscale computing requires new paradigms in infrastructure, and Mellanox Ethernet NICs provide rich performance and efficiency features, such as overlay network offloads and RDMA/RoCE to provide the best infrastructure return-on-investment,” said Kevin Deierling, vice president of marketing at Mellanox Technologies. “We’re pleased to collaborate with Microsoft in delivering 10/40GbE NIC technology to their OCP server and storage designs to enable superior cloud productivity, efficiency, and sustainability.”


Mexico's Alestra Opens Cloud Data Center

Alestra inaugurated its fifth data center in Mexico.

The new facility in the city of Querétaro will support the carrier's cloud services.  Alestra boasts claims its new data center achieves a PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) of between 1.2 y 1.5, among the lowest in Mexico.


Aeroflex Acquires Shenick for Virtual Test Solutions

Aeroflex, which specializes in high performance microelectronic components, and test and measurement equipment, has acquired Shenick Network Systems.  Financial terms were not disclosed.

Shenick, which is based in Dublin, Ireland, provides IP test and measurement solutions.  Its TeraVM can be used to load, analyze, develop and validate the performance and capabilities of a wide variety of network and security devices including VPN/Firewall, vSwitch, DPI or IPS/IDS, vLoad Balancer and video infrastructure. It provides very high load traffic generation and analysis from 1 Gigabit to 1 Terabit of fully stateful data application traffic, with comprehensive measurement and performance analysis on each and every application flow to easily pinpoint and isolate problems. TeraVM supports all major hypervisors and can be deployed on industry-standard hardware.

"Shenick provides Aeroflex with next generation technology in the rapidly growing virtual test market," stated Len Borow, Aeroflex's Chief Executive Officer. "For the last two years, we have partnered with Shenick to enhance the capabilities of our wireless infrastructure test products. Shenick's unique TeraVM™ software product offers network providers the ability to emulate and measure millions of unique IP application flows to support network and application development and performance testing in next generation converged and cloud based networks. We believe that this acquisition will help us continue to grow and maintain our leading market position in wireless infrastructure test equipment and to increase our gross margins and profitability while expanding our end markets."


Rackspace's CEO Steps Down

Rackspace announced the retirement of Lanham Napier as its Chief Executive Officer and as a member of its Board of Directors.  Napier, who plans to invest in and advise other entrepreneurial companies, will remain a consultant to Rackspace for the next several months to ensure a smooth transition.

Graham Weston, Rackspace’s co-founder and Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer.

Under Lanham’s leadership, Rackspace grew from a small startup to a global $1.5 billion public company, serving more than 200,000 customers, and has been one of the fastest-growing firms on the New York Stock Exchange. We are grateful for the way Lanham positioned Rackspace for continuing success in this attractive and growing market," stated James Bishkin, lead director on the Rackspace Board of Directors.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Blueprint: SDDC – Moving Beyond the Early Adopter

by Steve Riley, Technical Director, CTO Office, Riverbed

The term “early adopter” can carry with it something of a stigma. We tend to think of early adopters as technophile geeks who overpay for some new piece of consumer technology that is only partially functional. One significant example was those who scoffed at the earliest automobiles, because they were initially less reliable than the horses that were the standard form of transportation.

What many people failed to realize, however, was that automotive technology would rapidly improve until those who insisted on continuing to use horses and wagons were seen as the odd ones out. This has happened with business technology as well over the last several decades, with some organizations (such as many doctors’ offices) reluctant to adopt computerized systems until they were forced to in order to remain competitive. The challenge for any company is to know whether a new technology will be beneficial long-term, or if it's merely a flash in the pan.

Under the Hood in the Business

One area of technology that is relevant to business performance – but often goes unnoticed by the end user – is that of the corporate data center and its underlying network architecture. While the user is concerned with access to applications and services, similar to the way we evaluate a car's appearance and stereo system, what is “under the hood” will make or break the experience in the long run.

Key to business success in the current economic climate is agility: the ability to quickly adapt to changing business circumstances. To that end, virtualization and cloud computing have emerged to accelerate deployment of the services an organization needs, when they’re needed. But the need for agility goes beyond virtualized software applications and servers. Businesses are quickly growing beyond the network “box,” or the limitations of the physical network infrastructure.

What Is Software-Defined Networking?

To overcome the rigidity of the traditional data center network, software-defined networking (SDN) has emerged as a popular solution. Traditional network equipment bundles the decision-making logic (the “control plane”) and the data routing mechanism (the “forwarding plane”) into a single box. In SDN, these functions are separated. Boxes still move data, but the decisions are made by software running on general-purpose computers. SDN provides the fundamentals for effective network virtualization.

Administrators are already familiar with the benefits of server virtualization, which has streamlined workload management in organizations of all sizes. By deploying right-sized application-specific logical servers over a farm of inexpensive general-purpose physical server hardware, resource utilization is increased and provisioning can be accomplished much more quickly.

As server virtualization became more commonplace, desktops soon followed. Rather than provision each machine and piece of software individually, IT soon discovered the advantages of centralizing these processes and delivering them either through local servers, over the WAN, or even over the Internet.

SDN relies on well-defined application programming interfaces (APIs), which allow an organization to develop specialized software that extends functionality beyond what is available out of the box. Load balancing, for example, no longer requires an expensive specialized appliance in an SDN environment, but can be handled with software and provisioned in a “service chain” along with other networking services such as firewalls. These services run on commodity hardware that is sized (and can be resized) as appropriate. The underlying physical network is simplified, and redundant tools can be eliminated because resources can be moved around as needed. Adjustments to the network can be made in real time through software applications, rather than having to frequently replace or reconfigure physical devices in the data center. And SDN delivers the same benefits as other virtualization initiatives, such as the ability to house logically separate entities on a single device, even if they have conflicting requirements that would ordinarily cause compatibility issues.

Virtualizing the network

To varying degrees, network virtualization isn’t new. Virtual LANs (VLANs) create logical local network segments across distinct physical network segments. Virtual switches manage the traffic between virtual machines, on either the same or separate physical hosts. But neither of these techniques can be considered full network virtualization.

Administrators are beginning to consider whether it would be beneficial to bring full virtualization to the network and, if so, how. For years this has been considered a legitimate possibility, but there have been concerns. Managing state changes, access control lists, and counters in logical networks with thousands of virtual nodes can be a real challenge. It turns out that SDN is very good at solving these particular challenges, and with SDN it becomes possible to build fully virtualized networks completely decoupled from the underlying hardware.

The end result: software-defined data centers

Data centers have enjoyed the benefits of compute and storage virtualization for many years. SDN brings effective virtualization to the network. The logical culmination of all these, then, is the software-defined data center (SDDC).

The SDDC is characterized by broad programmability across all elements: compute, storage, and networking. Consumable services are decoupled from hardware and implemented as abstractions that, for all practical purposes, behave just like their old-fashioned physical counterparts. But they’re free from old-fashioned physical constraints: they can be relocated as necessary, scaled according to demand, and billed according to usage. Applications will require no fundamental reconfiguration to keep processes running normally.

The software-defined data center delivers benefits in several important areas:
  • Today’s applications are utilizing more complex infrastructure requirements that can be a challenge to meet in order to ensure proper quality of service. The delicate balance of meeting each requirement without harming another process is improved by the level of abstraction made possible by the SDDC.
  • Because resources are provisioned on demand, developers are free to focus on the business functionality of applications without undue concern about whether the network can respond—the network in an SDDC automatically reacts to changing application requirements.
  • Combining a more consolidated and centralized control framework on top of commodity hardware means there are fewer specialized physical components that can break down and inhibit operations. In addition, centralized control brings improved visibility, which makes it more difficult for attackers to hide and conduct malicious actions.
  • With a reduced need for specialized network equipment, organizations employing an SDDC will likely see reduced capital and operational expenditures. With IT budgets frequently first on the chopping block in businesses, the SDDC is an ideal way to ensure continued operations at a lower cost.
A fully software-defined data center will be a game-changer for those organizations that successfully execute the vision. But it will require effective planning to execute, and it may still be several steps in the future for many companies. But even without being an early adopter, businesses today can look ahead and begin to make preparations, such as conducting test implementations of SDN and increasing their experience with virtualization.

Just as the automobile quickly redefined travel, the SDDC is likely to define the corporate network in the years to come. Organizations should overlook the growing pains of the technology and plan how and when to make the transition, to ensure that they don’t find themselves eating the dust of the competition.

About the author

Steve Riley is Technical Leader in the Office of the CTO at Riverbed Technology. His specialties include cloud computing, information security, compliance, privacy, and policy. Steve has spoken at hundreds of events around the world. Before Steve joined Riverbed, he was the cloud security evangelist at Amazon Web Services and a security consultant and advisor at Microsoft. Steve enjoys sharing his opinions about the intersection of technology and culture.

About Riverbed

Riverbed Riverbed delivers application performance for the globally connected enterprise. With Riverbed, enterprises can successfully and intelligently implement strategic initiatives such as virtualization, consolidation, cloud computing, and disaster recovery without fear of compromising performance.  By giving enterprises the platform they need to understand, optimize and consolidate their IT, Riverbed helps enterprises to build a fast, fluid and dynamic IT architecture that aligns with the business needs of the organization. Additional information about Riverbed (NASDAQ: RVBD) is available at www.riverbed.com.


NTT Teams with ALU and Fujitsu on Server Study

NTT has launched a collaborative study with Alcatel-Lucent Japan and Fujitsu to develop server architecture for core systems of telecom networks.

NTT said it is interested in servers based on general purpose hardware that enable faster development of applications.  In this server architecture, all network functions would be realized on network-wide virtualized hardware.

NTT Laboratories will contribute core technologies. Alcatel-Lucent Japan is developing virtualization and orchestration technologies for network server systems, and Fujitsu has extensive experience in systematization of distributed computing and maintaining large-scale server systems.

The project is now underway.


Pluribus Networks Unveils its Virtualized Data Center Architecture

Pluribus Networks, a start-up based in Palo Alto, California, unveiled its "Freedom" architecture for integrating compute, network, storage and bare-metal hypervisor OS technologies.

Pluribus said its  he Freedom platform brings full bare-metal control and visibility into the network through powerful, Unix-style API to deliver true inNetwork Application Programmability, inNetwork virtualization, inNetwork analytics and inNetwork automation.

The solution is based on a distributed network operating system with hypervisor bare-metal virtualization capabilities of computing resources - CPU, memory, and storage - and merchant silicon switch chip. This is matched to a powerful server platform combined with a high-density 10/40 GbE merchant silicon switch and network processor.  The company said its technology partners include Intel and Broadcom.

In the Freedom architecture, the network switch becomes a true extension of the server. Merchant silicon chips are fully integrated into the operating system, controlled and virtualized like a NIC, and used as an offload/hardware acceleration engine for application flows and network functions. The network switch is managed by a server-class control plane through multi 10Gbps high-speed connections, unleashing a new class of services and functions to run directly “inside” the network; examples include the ability to run scalable monitoring and analytics for “physical” and “virtual” (tunneled) flows, free of taps and external monitoring gear.

Key components of the Pluribus solution include:

1) Netvisor 2.0, the industry’s first and only bare-metal, distributed network hypervisor operating system with full integration of merchant silicon switch chips into the server hypervisor

2) The Freedom Server-Switch product line, the industry’s most programmable network services platform based on off-the-shelf, open components to truly program, virtualize and automate the network exactly like a server

3)Pluribus Network Freedom Care, 24x7x365 support with escalation engineers in the U.S., India and China.

4) Freedom Development Kit (FDK), which allows developers to experience true inNetwork™ application programmability (with Unix-style tools such as C and Java) to support scalable and dynamic deployment of network-aware mission critical applications

The company said the its architecture simplifies the infrastructure by eliminating:

  • Separate monitoring network
  • Separate SAN
  • Separate overlay-underlay
  • Separate external controllers
  • L4-L7 appliance sprawl
  • Separate servers for services and orchestration (PXE, DHCP, DNS, OpenStack controllers, Argus, Wireshark, and more)

Pluribus expects to enter general availability in a few weeks. Oracle and Cloud Flare are reference trial sites.


  • Pluribus is headed by Kumar Srikantan (CEO), who was previously VP/GM of HW Engineering for the Enterprise Networking Business at Cisco where he was responsible for the HW engineering execution of Cisco’s Enterprise Networking portfolio.
  • Investors in Pluribus include New Enterprise Associates, Menlo Ventures, Mohr Davidow and China Broadband Capital.