Friday, April 10, 2015

Mavenir to Miss Expectations, Citing VoLTE Delays

Citing delayed VoLTE projects, Mavenir Systems said it now expects first quarter revenues to be in the range of $27.0 million to $28.5 million, below previously announced guidance range of $39.0 million to $41.0 million. Non-GAAP EPS is expected to be in the range of $(0.47) to $(0.41). Non-GAAP operating loss is expected to be between ($12.5) million and ($10.5) million, also below the previously announced guidance of a non-GAAP loss in the range of $(4.0) million to $(2.3) million.The shortfall in revenue results in non-GAAP gross profit margin percentages in the range of 50% to 53% which is also below the guidance range of 60% to 62%.

Mavenir said the revenue shortfall is primarily the result of shifts in projects with existing purchase orders, specifically:

  • Projects where acceptances were delayed as customers moved their VoLTE network launch timelines
  • Projects where acceptance was delayed due to the announcement of the pending acquisition of Mavenir by Mitel Networks Corporation
  • Additionally, impact from foreign exchange rates was a negative factor.

“While disappointing, our performance in the first quarter was largely impacted by a shift in the timing of operator launches in Europe and timing issues associated with the pending acquisition of Mavenir,” said Pardeep Kohli, Mavenir President and Chief Executive Officer. “The delayed projects are primarily with customers where Mavenir has established customer purchase orders. We remain encouraged by ongoing and strong customer roll-outs, including the recent launches by Vodafone Germany of Europe’s first VoLTE and EE (Everything Everywhere) of Wi-Fi Calling.”

http://www.mavenir.com

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Amazon Web Services Deepens its Cloud

Cloud has become "the new normal" and you might as well embrace it instead of trying to fight gravity, said Andy Jassy, SVP at Amazon.com, speaking at the company's AWS Summit in San Francisco.

To differentiate from other cloud providers, AWS is seeking "much deeper features" with it services, such as tight integration between its compute, relational databases and analytic offerings.

Some highlights:
  • AWS reports 102% YOY growth in its S3 storage service, as measure by data transfers in/out of S3 -- big growth on a big base of cloud storage.
  • AWS EC2 Container Service is now generally available.  This is a highly scalable container management service that supports Docker containers, enabling users to run applications on a managed cluster of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances. AWS is also adding a new Amazon ECS Service scheduler to manage long-running applications and services. The Service scheduler maintains application availability by scaling containers up or down to meet an application’s capacity requirements.
  • AWS announced an Elastic File System service that will run on low-latency SSDs, scale to hundreds of petabytes while being able to support 1,000s of concurrent accesses. It provides multiple EC2 instances with low-latency, shared access to a fully-managed file system via the popular NFSv4 protocol.  The security is designed for large, complex organizations. Pricing starts at $0.30 per gigabyte per month.
  • AWS Lambda is now in production. This is a zero-admin compute platform that does not require the user to configure, launch, or, monitor Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances, to think about scale, or worry about fault tolerance. AWS Lambda functions are defined using JavaScript and then connected to other AWS resources. Applications can then run, and scale to high-volume as needed.
  • AWS is enhancing its WorkSpaces virtual desktop (VDI) service by launching a Marketplace for Desktop Applications.  This will give uses access to popular desktop apps for a monthly fee with no long-term contract. Over 100 popular apps will be available to virtual desktop users at launch.  AWS is also launching a new WorkSpaces Application Manager (WAM) that provides on-demand access to centrally managed desktop applications. Delivery is secure, scalable, and streamlined; you can choose your applications from a catalog (built by your IT Manager) and start using them within seconds, with a user-based pricing model. Companies can use WAM to provide employees with access to a curated collection of commercial (licensed), open source, and in-house applications. Apps are deployed to Amazon WorkSpaces using application virtualization technology, which allows Amazon WAM to safely encapsulate and isolate applications in dedicated containers that run using resources provided by Amazon WorkSpaces. The application virtualization technology transforms Windows applications into centrally managed virtual applications. Apps are never installed, which streamlines application life-cycle management for IT admins.
  • AWS is introducing Amazon Machine Learning service, which lets users build predictive models using large amounts of data from S3 or Redshift.
https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/
https://live.awsevents.com/

Infinera to Acquire Transmode for Metro Packet-Optical

Infinera announced an offer to acquire Transmode (Nasdaq: TRMO) for approximately $350 million to accelerate its entrance in the 100G metro market. For every 10 shares of Transmode, shareholders will receive SEK 300 in cash and 4.705 Infinera shares.

Transmode, which is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, is a leading supplier of metro packet-optical networking in EMEA. Its product portfolio includes packet-optical networking products based WDM and Ethernet Layer 2 technology as well as a complete network and services management suite. Transmode's flagship M-Series platform is used in mobile transport, Triple-play Backhaul and IPTV, Business Ethernet, Enterprise Networks, Metro Regional Core Networking and Wholesale applications. Its TG-Series is a passive optical WDM platform designed for access applications such as Fiber To The Curb (FTTC), Fiber To The Building (FTTB) and high-security access networks. Its TS-Series is a CWDM/DWDM platform for enterprises and private/public institutions. Transmode's customer base includes 3, DT, Tele2, Virgin Media, surftelecoms, Telenor, etc.

Infinera said the Transmode's product set and customer base complements its entrance into the 100G metro aggregation market. Infinera's newly introduced photonic integrated circuits (PICs) will be integrated into Transmode's metro edge portfolio.

“The acquisition of Transmode accelerates the realization of our long held vision of providing an end-to-end portfolio of world class optical transport products. Further, the combination ensures we are well positioned to be a leading provider in the metro aggregation market as this market transitions to 100G,” said Tom Fallon, CEO of Infinera. “Transmode’s services-rich metro platforms, broad European customer base and profitable business model are naturally complementary to Infinera. We are also excited to have the Transmode team join Infinera and leverage our shared cultures of customer first, product excellence and profitability.”

Infinera also disclosed that its Q1 financial results are expected to be slightly ahead of expectations.

Separately, Transmode  disclosed preliminary results for Q1, saying its Q1 revenue will be in the range of SEK 285-290 m (SEK 231.3 m), representing a growth of 23-25% compared to the corresponding quarter the previous year. Preliminary operating profit for the first quarter 2015 is expected to be in the range of SEK 46-51 m (SEK 21.5 m).

http://www.infinera.com/j7/servlet/NewsItem?newsItemID=450
http://www.transmode.com/

Singtel to Acquire Trustwave for Cloud-based Security Services

Singtel has agreed to acquire Trustwave, a U.S.-based provider of managed security services provider for approximately US$850 million.

Trustwave's cloud-based TrustKeeper platform covers three main areas – threat management, vulnerability management and compliance management. Trustwave has an elite team of security experts in its forensic and threat research security unit, SpiderLabs. Trustwave provides its customers round-the-clock support in a dynamic cyber threat environment through its five security operation centres and nine engineering centres. The company claims over three million business subscribers.  Trustwave is based in Chicago and has 1,200 employees in 26 countries.

Singtel said the acquisition will expand its existing portfolio of cloud based solutions and further entrench its leadership position in the managed services market.  Singtel will leverage Trustwave’s threat intelligence, technology and talent to meet the growing demand for always-on managed security services in North America and the Asia Pacific region.

Chua Sock Koong, Singtel Group CEO, said: “We aspire to be a global player in cyber security.  We have established a strong security business in the region, both organically and through strategic partnerships with global technology leaders.”

http://www.singtel.com
http://www.trustwave.com

Intel and Cray to Build Next Gen Supercomputers for DoE

Intel and Cray have been selected to build two next generation, high-performance computing (HPC) systems that will be five to seven times more powerful than the fastest supercomputers today.

Intel will serve as prime contractor to deliver the supercomputers for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF). The Aurora system will be based on Intel’s HPC scalable system framework and will be a next-generation Cray “Shasta” supercomputer. Intel said the Aurora system will be delivered in 2018 and have a peak performance of 180 petaflops, making it the world’s most powerful system currently announced to date. Aurora will use future generations of Intel Xeon Phi processors and the Intel Omni-Path Fabric high-speed interconnect technology, a new non-volatile memory architecture and advanced file system storage using Intel Lustre software.

A second system, to be named Theta, will serve as an early production system for the ALCF. To be delivered in the 2016, the system will provide performance of 8.5 petaflops while requiring only 1.7 megawatts of power. The Theta system will be powered by Intel Xeon processors and next-generation Intel Xeon Phi processors, code-named Knights Landing, and will be based on the next-generation Cray XC supercomputer.

“The Aurora system will be one of the most advanced supercomputers ever built, and Cray is honored and proud to be collaborating with two great partners in Intel and Argonne National Lab,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray. “The combination of Cray’s vast experience in building some of the world’s largest and most productive supercomputers, combined with Intel’s cutting-edge technologies will provide the ALCF with a leadership-class system that will be ready for advancing scientific discovery from day one.”

http://newsroom.intel.com/community/intel_newsroom/blog/2015/04/09/chip-shot-intel-selected-by-us-department-of-energy-to-deliver-nations-most-powerful-supercomputer

In November 2014, Intel announced that its third-generation Intel Xeon Phi product family, code-named Knights Hill, will be built using Intel's 10nm process technology and integrate Intel Omni-Path Fabric technology. Knights Hill will follow the upcoming Knights Landing product, with first commercial systems based on Knights Landing expected to begin shipping next year.

Intel also disclosed that its Intel Omni-Path Architecture will achieve 100 Gbps line speed and up to 56 percent lower switch fabric latency in medium-to-large clusters than InfiniBand alternatives. The architecture targets a 48 port switch chip compared to the current 36 port InfiniBand alternatives. This will reduce the number of switches required in HPC clusters.

Indiana Fiber Network Expands with Ciena

Indiana Fiber Network (IFN), which is operated by 20 local exchange telephone companies throughout the state, will deploy converged packet optical and packet networking solutions from Cienato ensure network resiliency, reduce costs and increase capacity.

The deployment includes Ciena’s 5400 and 6500 converged packet optical platforms, equipped with WaveLogic Coherent Optical Processors and integrated switching capabilities.

IFN provides a variety of communications services, including fiber-optic broadband, to both urban and rural areas in 52 Indiana counties. Its customers include carriers, service providers, enterprise businesses, government entities, educational and healthcare institutions, as well as independent telephone company members. The network upgrade enables IFN to rapidly provision new high-speed offerings like Ethernet business services, 10G, and 100G services.

http://www.ciena.com/about/newsroom/press-releases/Indiana-Fiber-Network-LLC-Turns-to-Ciena-for-Network-Expansion.html

Zayo to Expand Long Haul Dark Fiber Route from Phoenix to Dallas

Zayo announced plans to extend its long haul dark fiber network between Phoenix and Dallas, adding more than 1,200 route miles to its long haul network, which spans more than 16,000 route miles across the United States and Europe.

Zayo said this expansion project is driven by an anchor tenant on the route. The route will provide direct connectivity from California’s Bay Area to Dallas, and expand service between markets such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, Ariz., southern New Mexico, El Paso, Tex., Dallas, and Denver.

The project is under construction and should be complete in the fourth quarter of 2016.

http://www.zayo.com

  • In December 2014, Zayo announced the construction of a new 1,000 route mile network from Omaha to Dallas.
  • In January 2015, Zayo announced a route between Salt Lake City and Sacramento, which will add more than 800 route miles to Zayo’s long haul network.

Palerra Raises $17 Million for Cloud Security

Palerra, a start-up based in Santa Clara, California, raised $17 million in Series B financing for its cloud security automation solution.

Palerra's LORIC platform is designed to protect an enterprise’s entire cloud footprint, including branded applications such as Microsoft Office 365, as well as infrastructure such as AWS. The platform combines security configuration management, threat detection, predictive analytics, and automated incident response.

The funding was led by new investor August Capital, with participation from current investors Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), Wing Venture Capital and Engineering Capital.

“Enterprises want the benefits that the cloud has to offer, but only if they can maintain strong security,” said Rohit Gupta, founder and CEO of Palerra. “The dramatic rise in adoption of cloud services by today’s enterprises against the backdrop of our generation’s most potent cyber threats has necessitated a new approach. LORIC was designed to meet these threats head on and this new round underscores our commitment to deliver the most powerful cloud security solution in the industry. As the perimeter disintegrates into a set of federated cloud-based and on-premises infrastructures, effective monitoring becomes almost impossible, unless security controls are embedded in these heterogeneous environments. This will require ‘enterprises’ to reconsider and possibly redesign their security architecture and corresponding security controls by placing those controls in the cloud.”

http://www.palerra.com

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Nokia Networks Hits 10Gbps Over the Air at 73 GHz

Nokia Networks announced it has achieved a 10Gbps peak rate system over the air at 73GHz (mmWave), paving the way for future 5G networks.  The technology is being demonstrated this week at the Brooklyn 5G Summit, jointly organized by Nokia Networks and the university research center NYU WIRELESS.

Also being demonstrated is NYU WIRELESS' updated prototype of a "channel sounder," which is a system for how millimeter waves propagate in indoor and outdoor environments.  Its earlier version of this system provided the first validation that mmWave cellular networks were feasible. The organization's second demonstration will be a millimeter-wave (mmWave) communication link using an LTE-like transmission but in the higher frequencies bands for future cellular.

Plenary sessions at this week's event include:

  • Gerhard P. Fettweis, TU Dresden, "5G Tactile Internet: mm-Waves versus cm-Waves"
  • Tom Keathley, SVP, AT&T, "The Road to 5G: Requirements, Capabilities and Expectations"
  • Hossein Moiin, CTO & EVP, Nokia, "Expanding the human possibilities with 5G"
  • Seizo Onoe, CTO, NTT DoCoMo
  • Minerva Tantoco, CTO of New York City
  • Edward G. Tiedemann, Jr., SVP, Qualcomm, "MIMO Technology: Past, Present and Future"
  • James Truchard, CEO, National Instruments, "Next-Generation Tools for 5G Research".
"At NYU WIRELESS, we have witnessed an industry eagerly developing this technology that holds the potential to increase wireless data capacity a thousand-fold," said NYU Professor Theodore (Ted) Rappaport, Founder and Director of NYU WIRELESS. "Part of the reason for the excitement is because early studies at our research center and elsewhere are demonstrating feasibility, yet we must maintain this momentum."

http://brooklyn5gsummit.com/
http://networks.nokia.com/

PLUMgrid Adds SDN Monitoring Tools, Red Hat Certification

PLUMgrid announced a major upgrade for its SDN software suite, including new operational tools, enhanced high availability, dynamic routing, and expanded service insertion for 3rd party virtual, physical and container based appliances.

PLUMgrid Open Networking Suite 3.0, which is powered by OpenStack Juno, also introduces new high availability features that seamlessly increase up time for both physical and virtual networks. The new enhancements include the following:

  • PLUMgrid Toolbox - suite of seven monitoring and troubleshooting tools offering enhanced visibility into virtual network functions, network health of virtual machines, PLUMgrid Zone, Virtual Domains, etc. 
  • Dynamic Router VNF - a new dynamic router virtual network function (VNF) that supports dynamic routing protocols allowing the network to automatically learn and distribute IP routes. The new router VNF supports a portfolio of routing protocols including RIP, OSPF and BGP. The dynamic router VNF can peer with and learn from other routers in the network, greatly simplifying provisioning of tenants.
  • Enhanced High Availability - supports VXLAN Tunnel Endpoint (VTEP) with hardware and software gateways. In ONS 3.0, PLUMgrid introduces VTEP support in active/active configuration for selected switches that include VTEP multi-chassis link aggregation feature. Providing load balancing and redundancy over multi-chassis links enables higher availability and traffic distribution.  
  • Service Insertion Architecture (SIA) for Container based Service Appliances - seamless insertion of 3rd party virtual, physical, and container based service appliances via SIA. PLUMgrid SIA allows customers to seamlessly complement and augment their Virtual Domains with additional network functions - both open source and commercial versions for faster time to service.
  • Red Hat Certified - RHEL-OSP 6 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 6. The integration and certification ensure compatibility for customers and provide highly available, automated installation of PLUMgrid ONS 3.0 in a RHEL OSP 6 environment.

PLUMgrid ONS for OpenStack enables scalable and secure virtual network infrastructure for OpenStack clouds. PLUMgrid ONS supports Canonical, Mirantis, Oracle, Piston, Red Hat and SUSE.

http://www.plumgrid.com

Microsoft Announces Hyper-V Containers for Next Gen Cloud

Microsoft announced plans to offer containers with a "level of isolation previously reserved only for fully dedicated physical or virtual machines." The company said the goal of its new Hyper-V Containers is to ensure code running in one container remains isolated and cannot impact the host operating system or other containers running on the same host.

The announcement follows an alliance with Docker disclosed last October to bring containers to developers across the Docker and Windows ecosystems via Windows Server Containers, available in the next version of Windows Server.

The new Hyper-V containers will offer an additional deployment option between Windows Server Containers and the Hyper-V virtual machine. In addition, applications developed for Windows Server Containers can be deployed as a Hyper-V Container without modification, providing greater flexibility for operators who need to choose degrees of density, agility, and isolation in a multi-platform, multi-application environment.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/server-cloud/archive/2015/04/08/microsoft-announces-new-container-technologies-for-the-next-generation-cloud.aspx

Dell and Red Hat Announce OpenStack Cloud Solution

Dell and Red Hat announced a co-engineered, enterprise-grade private-cloud solution based on OpenStack.

The Dell Red Hat Cloud Solution combines Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 and Dell PowerEdge R630 and R730xd high-density rack servers, which offer a hyper-dense memory, storage flexibility and a compact footprint. It could be used for hosting massively scalable Red Hat Ceph Storage.

This latest release of the Dell Red Hat Cloud Solution stems from a longstanding collaboration between the two companies, and joint engineering within the OpenStack community.

“Enterprise customers are requiring robust and rapidly scalable cloud infrastructures that deliver business results,” said Jim Ganthier, vice president and general manager, Dell Engineered Solutions and Cloud. “Dell and Red Hat continue to jointly deliver cost effective, open source-based cloud computing solutions that provide greater agility to our customers, and this newest version of the Dell Red Hat Cloud Solution leverages best of breed technology from both companies to do so.”

http://www.dell.com
http://www.redhad.com

InfoVista Acquire Ipanema for WAN Optimization

InfoVista, which offers IP and RF planning, service assurance and network optimization software solutions, has acquired Ipanema Technologies. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Ipanema, which is based outside of Paris, provides WAN optimization solutions to guarantee application performance across enterprises’ large and complex networks. Its platform integrates Application Visibility, Application Control, WAN Optimization, Dynamic WAN Selection and Network Rightsizing.

InfoVista said the acquisition is part of its strategy to orchestrate network and application performance. Together, the companies provide unique combination of actionable visibility and in-depth understanding of application behavior across the entire service delivery chain.

“With this acquisition, InfoVista extends its capabilities with Software-Defined WAN to maximize business application experience over the hybrid network,” said Philippe Ozanian, CEO, InfoVista. “Both Ipanema and InfoVista strongly share the conviction that CSPs must play the leading role in helping enterprises make the most of the new hybrid network and hybrid cloud paradigm. The two companies have also established a proven and successful technology partnership for several years. This makes us feel very confident in the benefits it will bring to our enterprise and CSP customers.”

“Ipanema is a disruptive player in the industry. Its vision of business-centric application performance management through all-in-one, objective-based and fully automated solutions is becoming a must-have,” said Jim Darragh, CEO, Ipanema Technologies.

http://www.infovista.com
http://www.ipanematech.com

Vodafone Germany Launches VoLTE with Mavenir

Vodafone Germany has launched VoLTE using Mavenir Systems' VoLTE application solution.

Vodafone Germany’s VoLTE implementation includes complex integration with the traditional 3G network using eSR-VCC mobility procedures, and broad interoperability with the rapidly expanding VoLTE device ecosystem.

“We are pleased to have partnered with Vodafone to successfully launch such a critical service,” said Pardeep Kohli, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mavenir Systems. “Mavenir’s VoLTE solution provides the foundation for the transformation to a low-cost, consolidated all-IP network that will enable service innovation, as well as converged consumer and enterprise features across mobile and fixed market segments.”

Mavenir’s virtualized VoLTE application solution consists of its IMS Telephony Application Server (TAS), Application Gateway (AGW) and Media Resource Function (MRF), which are easily and flexibly deployed on Vodafone’s NFV and SDN strategy, Telco over Cloud.

“Completing this milestone has been the result of a very intensive effort and close collaboration across all involved Vodafone teams and our network partners in this journey, including Mavenir,” said Dr. Eric Kuisch, CTO Vodafone Germany. “We are now able to offer our customers a VoLTE service with extremely fast connection time and high quality HD voice, and we plan to continue adding new features to enhance the service experience for customers on our network.”

http://www.mavenir.com

Bell Labs Dedicates Nobel Laureate Garden

Bell Labs, the industrial research arm of Alcatel-Lucent, dedicated a Nobel Laureate Garden within its campus in Murray Hill, New Jersey to commemorate the 13 Bell Labs scientists that have shared eight Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry.

Bell Labs' most recent Nobel Laureate, Eric Betzig, who received his Nobel Prize in 2014 for his transformative work on molecular and biological imaging, spoke at the garden's dedication ceremony. Also present were George Smith (2009 Nobel Prize in Physics); Horst Stormer (1998 Nobel Prize in Physics); Bob Wilson (1978 Nobel Prize in Physics) and Philip Anderson (1977 Nobel Prize in Physics).

https://www.bell-labs.com
http://www.alcatel-lucent.com

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

AT&T Extends its Switched Ethernet with Network on Demand

AT&T's Switched Ethernet Network on Demand service is now available in more than 100 U.S. cities.

The service offers a customer portal that lets business customers order more ports, instantly add or change services, scale bandwidth to meet their changing needs and manage their network in near real time.

"Businesses want fast, versatile network service tailored to their needs," said Josh Goodell, vice president, Network on Demand. "The rapid expansion of Network on Demand for AT&T Switched Ethernet Servicesm will provide customers improved network control and help them work more efficiently. We look forward to adding more services in 2015."

AT&T highlights:

  • Speed – order service significantly faster and change it in near real time
  • Simplicity – order and manage service through the user-friendly AT&T Business Center web portal
  • Flexibility – scale service up or down as needed
  • Reliability – enjoy the reliability and security from the AT&T network

http://www.business.att.com/enterprise/Family/network-services/ethernet/

Cisco Offers Threat Grid via Cloud or On-prem Appliance

Cisco announced a number of new network security capabilities and services, including a new AMP Threat Grid in the Cisco Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) portfolio:

AMP Threat Grid provides dynamic malware analytics and threat intelligence.  These advanced capabilities are provided as a standalone cloud service or via new UCS based on premise appliances.  AMP Threat Grid analytics engines provide security teams with breach detection against advanced malware, allowing them to quickly scope and recover from a breach by providing context-rich, actionable threat intelligence.

Vulnerability visibility and prioritization: AMP for Endpoints brings additional visibility to the extended network by providing a list of hosts that contain vulnerable software, a list of the vulnerable software on each host, and the hosts most likely to be compromised. Powered by Cisco threat intelligence and security analytics, AMP identifies vulnerable software being targeted by malware and the potential exploit, and provides customers with a prioritized list of hosts to patch.
Enhanced Retrospective Security Capabilities

Cisco also announced new models of its ASA with FirePOWER Services -- a threat-focused next-generation firewall (NGFW) aimed at midsize companies, branch offices and industrial environments with the same advanced malware protection and threat detection capabilities deployed by large enterprise organizations. The Cisco ASA with FirePOWER Services combines stateful firewall, application visibility and control (AVC), advanced malware protection (AMP), and next-generation intrusion prevention capabilities (NGIPS) into a single device. Pricing starts at US $995 including a Cisco ASA with FirePOWER Services appliance and management.

 "Every day organizations are faced with advanced threats that infiltrate and persist in company environments for months before they are discovered.  We believe that the most effective way to address these real-world challenges is continuous threat protection against these attacks. Further enhancements like advanced correlation of indicators of compromise, vulnerability mapping and expanded retrospective security further differentiate Cisco AMP and strengthen security teams' responses before, during and after an attack," stated Marty Roesch, Vice President, Chief Architect, Cisco Security Business Group.

http://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content?type=webcontent&articleId=1615794

Blueprint: Converged Infrastructure in the Age of Cloud

by Scott Geng, CTO of Egenera

The past decade has been a time of serious change in the technology industry with the advent of virtualization and cloud computing. Virtualization, by itself, has been a significant agent for change in every IT data center around the world. It’s driven a massive push for server consolidation that has made IT more efficient with their compute resources by dramatically driving up utilization rates and fundamentally changing the processes used for application deployment. It has also driven the development of many new tools to help administrators get their job done.  As an example, tools for live migration provide more sophisticated ways to deal with hardware changes and load distribution than was previously possible.

While virtualization was aggressively being adopted in data centers across the globe, another major agent of change came along on its heels – cloud computing. Cloud computing, which was really built on top of virtualization, gives IT even more flexibility in how to deploy applications. It enables user self-service capabilities that allow traditional IT workflow processes to be managed by end users or other third parties, and allows those processes to be fully automated to ease the delivery of services. Cloud technology has also driven the availability of public services like IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. These concepts have introduced a new paradigm of service delivery that is causing many organizations to redesign how they deliver their business value.

Cloud Has Major Impact on Reseller Channels

Virtualization and cloud computing have also resulted in a massive amount of change across the industry - including the big server vendors, indirect channels like resellers and VARs, service providers, colos and enterprises.

Let’s start with the big server vendors. Despite experiencing modest growth in the face of virtualization and cloud trends, their slice of the pie is getting substantially smaller. Baird Equity Research Technology estimates that for every dollar spent on Amazon Public Cloud resources, there is at least $3/$4 dollars not spent on traditional IT. The reason for this is two fold. First, the massive consolidation effort spawned by virtualization has reduced the number of servers that IT needs to run their businesses. Second, the fact that huge companies like Amazon and Google are not buying their servers from the big hardware vendors, but building the hardware themselves to control the cost of their infrastructure. It’s hard to get a definitive count of how many servers that represents but based on gross estimates for Amazon and Google, which is close to 3 million servers, it is 10% of the big server vendor’s market share.

VARs and resellers are feeling the pinch even more. If you are an IBM reseller, for example, you are feeling the impact of the smaller number of opportunities to sell hardware and add value on top of it. It will continue to be an uphill battle for these vendors to remain relevant in this new cloud economy.

The Public Cloud model is also impacting Service Providers. As businesses move a larger percentage of their services into the cloud, the traditional service providers are finding it harder to prevent customers from abandoning ship to the big public cloud vendors – mostly because the price points from these vendors are so attractive. Take Amazon pricing for example. They have lowered prices over 40 times since 2008. That constant price pressure makes it extremely difficult for these businesses to compete. The best path to success for these vendors is to provide specialized / differentiated services to avoid the infrastructure price wars that will otherwise crush them.

Enterprises are faced with an independent set of challenges as they struggle with the fundamental questions of what to move to the cloud and what is the best way to get there. The easy access to public cloud resources leaves many IT organizations hard pressed to get their arms around which business departments are already using these resources. It’s a real security concern because of the ubiquitous access the cloud enables, as well as the problem of identifying and controlling costs.

Now, let’s look at its impact on the data center and IT organizations. Most IT organizations see the power of these new technologies and are working hard to take advantage of the capabilities that they provide. However these new capabilities and processes have a price in the form of management complexity. From a process perspective, the management of virtualized solutions is an added burden for IT. It’s not like virtualization is completely replacing all the pre-existing processes used to manage physical servers. That still has to be done, and it’s not just a matter of hardware deployment, as hardware has an operational life cycle that IT has to manage too including provisioning, firmware management, break-fix, next gen and more. So from a practical point of view, virtualization has added another layer of management complexity to IT’s day-to-day operations.

The same can be said about cloud computing. While cloud computing has expanded IT’s toolbox by enabling user self-service and access to multiple service deployment models, it has added another layer of choice and management complexity.  This is especially true for organizations starting to adopt hybrid cloud environments where IT has the challenge of managing multiple disparate environments that include a mix of hardware vendors, hypervisors and/or multiple public cloud solutions.

To reduce complexity, IT is sometimes forced to limit those choices, which is problematic because it locks organizations into solutions that ultimately limit their ability to adapt to future changes. It is also fair to say that most cloud solutions today are still relatively immature, especially with respect to integration, or the lack thereof, into the business processes of the company. Organizations are left trying to piece together the integration into their existing processes, which is typically hard to do.

Another important point is that most cloud management solutions today assume the infrastructure (the hardware platforms, the hypervisors and the management software) is already deployed and setup. The services on today’s market don’t help IT deal with moving to a new generation of hardware or changing hardware vendors entirely. The reality is that there are very few examples of solutions that integrate the concept of self-service for the actual physical infrastructure itself or that make it easy to react to infrastructure changes that happen naturally over time. This leaves IT with no choice but to support separate processes for setting up and managing their infrastructure. And that spells complexity.

Given these challenges, can converged infrastructure help address some of these complexities?  

As the name implies, converged infrastructure is the consolidation/integration of data center resources (compute, network and storage) into a single solution that can be centrally managed. There are also a few important related concepts - stateless computing and converged fabrics. As it turns out, both of these technologies can really help in the fight against operational complexity. Stateless computing refers to servers that do not store any unique software configuration or “state” within them when they are powered off. The value of this approach is that servers become anonymous resources that can be used to run any operating system, hypervisor and application at any time. Converged fabric solutions are another example of consolidation but down at the network/fabric layer - essentially sending network, storage and management traffic over a single wire. This is important in the drive for simplification because it reduce the number of physical components. Fewer components means less things to manage, less things that can fail, lower costs and better utilization - all things every IT director is striving for.

In my view converged infrastructure with stateless computing and converged fabrics are ultimately what is needed to address the complexity of physical, virtual and hybrid clouds. Let’s examine why.

By combining compute, storage and network with converged infrastructure management you get an integrated solution that provides a single pane of glass for managing the disparate parts of your infrastructure. This certainly addresses one of the major pain points with today’s data center. The complexity of different management interfaces for each subsystem is a serious headache for IT and having a single user interface to provision and manage all of these resources is just what the doctor ordered.

The integration of these technologies lends itself to a simpler environment and a significant increase in automation. The traditional workflow for deploying a server is complex, because of the manual breaks in the workflow that naturally happen as IT moves between the various boundaries of compute, network and storage. These subsystems often require special expertise to orchestrate the infrastructure. With converged infrastructure solutions, these complex workflows become simple automated activities that are driven by software. As always, automation is king in terms of simplifying and streamlining IT operations.

While a converged infrastructure solution addresses some of the key pressure points that IT admins experience today, when combined with stateless computing and a converged fabric it delivers the ultimate in simplicity, flexibility and automation for IT:

1. Enables provisioning of bare metal in the same way as provisioning virtual servers. You can now create your physical server by defining your compute resources, network interfaces and storage connectivity all via a simple software interface. This allows IT to get back to a single process for deploying and managing their infrastructure (regardless of whether its virtual or physical) - a real impact on IT operations.

2. Higher service levels. The power of a stateless computing approach enables automated hardware failover capabilities that drive a radical simplification for providing highly available services. In fact, it becomes so easy with this model that IT administrators can make any operating system and application highly available with the click of a button, and even pool failover resources between applications – driving incredible efficiency and flexibility.

3. Flexibility that improves utilization. A converged infrastructure model allows you to take full advantage of your compute resource by being able to move your compute power to where you need it most, when you need it. For application developers it ensures the ability to right size applications both before and after production.

4. Simplified Disaster Recovery (DR)

One of the key ingredients to a simplified DR approach is create a software definition for a physical server. Once you have this model in place it is easy to copy those definitions to different locations around the world. Of course, you have to copy the server’s data too. The key benefit here is that it creates a digital blueprint of data center resources including the server definitions, network and storage connectivity along with any policies. In the case of a disaster, the entire environment (servers, network and storage connectivity) can be reconstituted on a completely different set of physical resources. This is a powerful enabler for IT to simplify and protect their business and do it in a way that increases the reliability and effectiveness of IT.

So, what value does this all bring from the business point of view?
  •  Faster delivery of business services
  •  Better service levels for business services
  • Lower capital and operational costs, as well as reduced software license costs
  • Enhanced availability and business continuity insurance
  • Flexibility to react to change

I think it’s clear that while virtualization and cloud computing have brought fantastic benefits to IT, those trends have also caused serious disruption across the industry. A converged infrastructure approach can ensure you get the benefits you are striving for, without the headaches and complexity you always want to avoid.

About the Author

Scott Geng is Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Engineering at Egenera. Previously, Geng managed the development of leading-edge operating systems and middleware products for Hitachi Computer Products, including development of the operating system for the world’s then-fastest commercial supercomputer and the first industry-compliant Enterprise JavaBeans Server. Geng has also held senior technical positions at IBM, where he served as advisory programmer and team leader in bringing UNIX to the mainframe; The Open Software Foundation, where he served as consulting engineer for the OSF/1 1.3 micro-kernel release; and Wang Laboratories, as principle engineer for the base kernel and member of the architectural review board.

About Egenera

Converge. Unify. Simplify. That’s how Egenera brings confidence to the cloud. The company’s industry leading cloud and data center infrastructure management software, Egenera PAN Cloud Director™ and PAN Manager® software, provide a simple yet powerful way to quickly design, deploy and manage IT services while guaranteeing those cloud services automatically meet the security, performance and availability levels required by the business. Headquartered in Boxborough, Mass., Egenera has thousands of production installations globally, including premier enterprise data centers, service providers and government agencies. For more information on the company, please visit egenera.com



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