Monday, June 13, 2016

GÉANT to Implement Infinera's Packet Optical SDN

GÉANT will deploy Infinera’s programmable and open packet optical SDN solution on its pan-European network, which interconnects Europe’s National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) and supports over 50 million users at 10,000 institutions across the continent.

Infinera said GÉANT has tested and validated two key components of its packet optical SDN solution, the Open Transport Switch (OTS) software and the Packet Switching Module (PXM). The PXM enables Ethernet and MPLS switching intelligence on the Infinera DTN-X platform, which is widely deployed in the GÉANT network.

Infinera’s DTN-X family delivers terabit-class scalability, operational simplicity and efficiency, and high levels of flexibility and programmability for multi-layer Intelligent Transport Networks. Infinera’s OTS software further enables multi-layer SDN programmability of Infinera networks with an open modular architecture, open APIs and a simplified programming model for rapid SDN application development. Introduced in 2015 and initially deployed for SDN-driven optical bandwidth on demand services, OTS has been extended to support programmability of Layer 2 packet services via the PXM, enabling multi-layer service provisioning and optimization over an integrated packet-optical transport network.

GÉANT validated the Infinera packet SDN solution components and is working with ON Lab to develop the ONOS SDN controller to create an SDN-driven approach to network optimization. Once the solution is fully deployed, GÉANT will be able to enhance how large data flows across the network are routed, optimizing connectivity and capacity between the IP/MPLS and optical layers to deliver a multi-layer transport solution in the support of data-intensive research computing projects. This will improve the service offered to users and reduce the need to overprovision capacity at the IP/MPLS and optical layers. GÉANT has modeled the benefits of re-architecting its network to use the Infinera packet optical SDN solution versus multiple alternatives. This solution avoids 50 percent of expenditure across the network where it is to be initially deployed.

“Infinera’s packet optical SDN solution offers an effective approach to optimize the GÉANT network and efficiently and optimally handle large traffic flows,” said Mark Johnston, Chief Network Operations Officer at GÉANT. “We look forward to realizing the expected efficiencies and operational benefits of this solution, and continuing our excellent collaborative work with Infinera on future SDN applications.”

“We are delighted to work with GÉANT to deliver real-world, deployable SDN solutions that create tangible value,” said Nick Walden, Senior Vice President, EMEA at Infinera. “This is just one example illustrating the strong partnership between our organizations, and we are excited about working with GÉANT to deliver future innovations.”

GÉANT Deploys Infinera Cloud Xpress with 100 GbE for DCI

GÉANT, Europe’s leading collaboration on e-infrastructure and services for research and education (R&E), and operator of the pan-European R&E network that interconnects Europe’s National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), has deployed the Infinera Cloud Xpress to extend their 100 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) network connectivity into data centers. Initial connectivity is being provided to Jisc, the UK organization for education and research...

Europe's GEANT Deploys ONOS

GEANT, the European research network formed last year through the integration of the TERENA and DANTE initiatives, has deployed the Open source SDN Network Operating System (ONOS) on its pan-European testbed network. The ONOS installation allows researchers to define, build, test and rebuild highly scalable, high capacity virtual networks quickly, easily and cost-effectively. Specifically, GEANT is running a new Inter Cluster ONOS Network Application...

FIU/AmLight Deploys ONOS and SDN-IP Across the Americas

Florida International University (FIU) has deployed the Open source SDN Network Operating System (ONOS) on Americas Lightpaths (AmLight), creating a software-defined networking (SDN) facility entirely based on OpenFlow. Five Latin American research and education networks (RENs) – Academic Network at Sao Paulo (ANSP), Brazilian National Research and Education Network (RNP), Latin American Advanced Networks Cooperation (RedClara), National University...

Infinera and DANTE (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe), have set a Guinness World Record for the fastest rate of multi-Terabit optical capacity provisioning across the GÉANT Network. Infinera and DANTE were able to install and activate eight Terabits per second (Tbps) of long haul super-channel optical capacity. The record was set using an Infinera Intelligent Transport Network, featuring the DTN-X packet optical transport networking...


LinkedIn Acquisition Brings More Cloud Services and Traffic

Microsoft agreed to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in cash, giving it the world’s largest social network for professional contacts.

LinkedIn highlights:
  • 19 percent growth year over year (YOY) to more than 433 million members worldwide
  • 9 percent growth YOY to more than 105 million unique visiting members per month
  • 49 percent growth YOY to 60 percent mobile usage
  • 34 percent growth YOY to more than 45 billion quarterly member page views
  • 101 percent growth YOY to more than 7 million active job listings
Microsoft said LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence. Jeff Weiner will remain CEO of LinkedIn, reporting to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.

“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”

“Just as we have changed the way the world connects to opportunity, this relationship with Microsoft, and the combination of their cloud and LinkedIn’s network, now gives us a chance to also change the way the world works,” Weiner said. “For the last 13 years, we’ve been uniquely positioned to connect professionals to make them more productive and successful, and I’m looking forward to leading our team through the next chapter of our story.”
  • LinkedIn's Project Falco is building a disaggregated switching platform to enable a programmable data center fabric on top of an open network operating system. LinkedIn has said its goal is to move toward "a fully-automated, self-healing, and purpose-built application-centric network that operates on its own. "

  • The LinkedIn website and related infrastructure are hosted in multiple third-party facilities in multiple cities in the U.S. and in Singapore. 
  • LinkedIn's 2015 annual report discussed significant investments in data centers that the company was expecting to make to handle future growth and new services.
LinkedIn Develops its Own Data Center Switch
LinkedIn's engineering team has developed its own data center switch to keep up with the rapidly growing traffic demands of its professional, social network.

The new switch, dubbed "Pigeon", is a 3.2 Tbps switching platform that can be used as a leaf or spine switch. It uses Broadcom's latest Tomahawk silicon (32X100G) and switch software developed in house.

In a blog post, Zaid Ali Kahn describes why the company decided to take on the difficult task of switching software code development rather than relying on an existing network equipment supplier. Key reason include ongoing bugs, unneeded features, lack of a Linux-based platform support tools such as Chef/Puppet/CFEngine, out-of-date monitoring capabilities, and the high-cost of scaling the software license.

The Pigeon switch will be deployed in LinkedIn's upcoming data center in Oregon.

Symantec to Acquire Blue Coat for $4.65 Billion in Cash

Symantec agreed to acquire Blue Coat for approximately $4.65 billion in cash. Symantec intends to finance the transaction with cash on the balance sheet and $2.8 billion of new debt. In connection with the transaction, Silver Lake has agreed to make an additional investment of $500 million in 2.0% convertible notes due 2021 of Symantec, doubling its investment in Symantec to $1 billion. In addition, Bain Capital has agreed to make an investment of $750 million in the convertible notes.

Symantec said the acquisition of Blue Coat enhances its position to define the future of cybersecurity and set the pace for innovation.

“With this transaction, we will have the scale, portfolio and resources necessary to usher in a new era of innovation designed to help protect large customers and individual consumers against insider threats and sophisticated cybercriminals. Together, we will be best positioned to address the ever-evolving threat landscape, the massive changes introduced by the shift to mobile and cloud, and the challenges created by regulatory and privacy concerns,” said Dan Schulman, Chairman of Symantec.

For its fiscal year ending April 30, 2016, Blue Coat reports GAAP revenue of $598 million and non-GAAP revenue was $755 million, with 17% year-over-year growth, supported by new products and new customers. For the same time period, the company had non-GAAP operating margins of 22% and cash flow from operations of $135 million. Also for this time period, GAAP operating margins were -42%.

The combined Symantec + Blue Coat would have had $4.4 billion in revenues in fiscal year 2016, of which 62% would come from enterprise security. By the end of fiscal 2018, Symantec expects to realize $550 million in run-rate cost savings, of which $400 million will come from Symantec’s previously announced cost efficiency program.

Greg Clark, CEO of Blue Coat, will be appointed Chief Executive Officer of Symantec and join the Symantec Board upon closing of the transaction. The Board of Directors will continue to be led by Symantec’s current Chairman, Mr. Schulman. Mr. Clark will serve as CEO and Mr. Seifert will continue as Chief Financial Officer.

VMware Acquires Arkin for SDDC Tools

VMware agreed to acquire Arkin Net, a start-up offering software-defined data center security and operations tools. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Arkin, which is based in Santa Clara, California, brings operational visibility to software-defined data centers. The Arkin platform provides insights into the datacenter traffic flows via a pre-assessment tool that enables faster NSX deployments via micro-segmentation planning. Post deployment, Arkin significantly lowers time to resolution, leveraging constructs such as time-machine, plain English search and contextual analytics across virtual and physical layers.

The companies said that as organizations adopt a software-defined data center (SDDC) architecture based on VMware virtualized infrastructure, they will require an operational model that delivers cross-silo visibility and collaboration. By integrating Arkin's platform with the VMware vRealize Suite, cloud management teams will have access to a new generation of planning, troubleshooting and automation platform that provide visibility and control across the entire data center environment.

“Arkin is a great fit for VMware and its customers as we look to accelerate our growth businesses including cloud management and network virtualization,” said Ajay Singh, senior vice president and general manager, cloud management business unit, VMware. “With VMware NSX combined with Arkin and vRealize, VMware will deliver the security and operations management plane for the SDDC. Over time, Arkin will solidify vRealize Suite’s position as the industry’s most comprehensive Cloud Management Platform that delivers application-focused operations, NSX micro-segmentation at scale and cross-domain visibility and context across physical and logical infrastructure.”

  • Arkin previously disclosed a $15 million Series B investment from Nexus Venture Partners, key strategic investors and industry veterans including B.V. Jagadeesh (formerly CEO at NetScaler)
  • Arkin was co-founded by Shiv Agarwal (previously VMware), Rohit Toshniwal (previously VMware), Mukul Gupta (previously Playdom), and Abhijit Sharma (previously BMC).

China Mobile Signs EUR 1.36 Billion Deal with Nokia

China Mobile awarded a one-year frame agreement valued at up to EUR 1.36 billion to Nokia.

Under the deal, Nokia will deploy its 5G-ready AirScale Base Station, which allows multiple radio technologies to operate simultaneously in one base station, and also additional elements of its mobile radio access and core portfolio in addition to fixed access, IP routing and optical transport, customer experience management, operational support system (OSS) and third party products as well as its global Services expertise.

The agreement was signed at the Sino-German Economic Forum by Li Huidi, Executive Vice President at China Mobile, and Hans-Juergen Bill, Executive Vice President at Nokia and also Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nokia Networks GmbH & Co KG in Germany.  The German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended the forum.

Ericsson Lands Big Upgrade Contract with VimpleCom

VimpelCom, which serves more than 200 million mobile and broadband customers across Russia and 13 other countries, has selected Ericsson to transform its global IT infrastructure. Ericsson valued the deal at more than US$1 billion.

Under the partnership, Ericsson will undertake a complete overhaul of VimpelCom's IT infrastructure across 11 countries and 12 time zones.  Ericsson said the project's scale is the largest and most ambitious in the industry's history.

VimpelCom will digitalize and globalize its Business Support Systems (BSS) infrastructure using Ericsson's new software and cloud technologies. The Digital Stack will accelerate product and service development, while the delivery and use of near real-time analytics, will allow greater personalization of services for customers. In addition, a simpler user interface will also enhance the customer experience on all levels.

Jean-Yves Charlier, Chief Executive Officer of VimpelCom, said: "This marks a fundamental milestone in our transformation as we move ahead with our strategy to turn VimpelCom into a true digital pioneer. The new Digital Stack will help us better respond to our customers while also centralizing and simplifying our business, creating lean and agile operations that will result in a more efficient cost structure across our global footprint."

Hans Vestberg, President and CEO, Ericsson, said: "In a fully connected world, success for operators requires performance, flexibility and efficiency. Ericsson's unique BSS as a service concept, combed with our leading services and technology capabilities, will support VimpelCom in realizing these ambitions while positioning the company for further growth as ICT transforms industries everywhere."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

IHS: Over 8 Billion Connected Devices Worldwide

As of year-end 2015, the world contained 8.1 billion connected smartphones, tablets, personal computers, TVs, TV-attached devices and audio devices, according to IHS' Connected Device Market Monitor report.

“The proliferation of media-enabled connected endpoints has implications for media consumption, media production, broadband infrastructure, and the business itself of network management and traffic discrimination,” said Merrick Kingston, principal analyst-connected home, at IHS Technology. “It drives media consumption, IP traffic and more.”

Some highlights:

  • Smartphones outnumber tablets by five to one
  • Year-on-year, smartphones contribute roughly half a billion new devices to the market; tablet and OTT set-tops are also growing quickly, but operate a full order of magnitude below the smartphone. By 2020, this ratio will only widen. Within the forecast period, the smartphone-to-tablet ratio rises to nearly 10:1.
  • Chromecast out-shipped Apple TV for the first time in Q1 2016, Apple TV shipping 1.7 million units compared to Google pushing 3.2 million Chromecasts to market.
  • Netflix has secured a presence across 32 percent of connected devices in the US

Saturday, June 11, 2016

HPE Brings The Machine to Open Source community

HPE intends to support open source software on its futuristic platform billed as "The Machine." The company announced its intent to bring The Machine to open source developers very early in the software development cycle.

The Machine, which has been a long-term research project of HP Labs, promises to overturn 60-years of processor-centric platforms with a new paragidm based on memory-centric architecture.

HP said it will start familiarizing developers with its new programming model as well as invite them to help develop the software itself. An initial release of developer tools is expected in the coming month, including the following four contributions of code:

  1. Fast optimistic engine for data unification services: A completely new database engine that speeds up applications by taking advantage of a large number of CPU cores and non-volatile memory (NVM).
  2. Fault-tolerant programming model for non-volatile memory: Adapts existing multi-threaded code to store and use data directly in persistent memory. Provides simple, efficient fault-tolerance in the event of power failures or program crashes.
  3. Fabric Attached Memory Emulation: An environment designed to allow users to explore the new architectural paradigm of The Machine.
  4. Performance emulation for non-volatile memory bandwidth: A DRAM-based performance emulation platform that leverages features available in commodity hardware to emulate different latency and bandwidth characteristics of future byte-addressable NVM technologies.

HPE is also planning changes to Linux that enable it to run on The Machine, as well as example applications that demonstrate how The Machine can significantly improve application scale and performance.

3M Intros FTTH Pathway for Routing Fiber into the Home

3M introduced a new FTTH pathway solution to inconspicuously route fiber from outside to inside residential and commercial settings.

The 3M Clear Track product family includes technology poised to set new industry benchmarks for craft-friendly installations, while creating a nearly invisible network footprint.

3M Clear Fiber Drop Cable – an all-dielectric FTTH Clear Fiber Drop cable transitions fiber cable from outdoors, where ruggedness is required, to indoors, where aesthetics are desired, without the need for a splice or connection point. With easy-peel technology, the flat, jacketed cable opens to expose a single 900 μm clear buffered ultra bend-insensitive fiber (ITU-T G.657.B3) that’s ready for indoor routing with the 3M Clear Track Fiber Pathway. Clear Fiber Drop Cable can easily be pulled through conduit due to its low friction, low profile cable design.

3M Clear Track Fiber Pathway – the Clear Track Pathway captures and routes a single 900 μm clear fiber to the desired outlet or terminal while remaining virtually invisible. The pathway features 3M’s proprietary clear tape adhesive backing with an easy-peel liner. It installs directly to most walls without staples, heat guns, glues or leaving behind a bulky raceway.

3M 900 μm Clear Fiber – the clear buffered and ultra bend-insensitive, Clear Fiber locks into the Clear Track pathway and provides high-performance bandwidth and low insertion loss even with multiple 90º corners. The fiber can be easily repositioned and reinstalled for convenient extensions and rerouting.

3M Clear Track Fiber Installation Tool – compact and mechanical, the Clear Track Installation Tool is a hand-held rolling device that requires no power source. It secures Clear Fiber in the Clear Track Fiber pathway with required pressure and precision. The installation process requires limited training to operate.

3M One Pass Mini Surface-Mount Wall Outlet – available with SC/APC or SC/UPC adaptors, the One Pass Mini Surface-Mount Wall Outlet is an equally low-profile way to complete the Clear Track FTTH connection near an ONT or customer premise equipment.

Dell Advances its IoT Program

Marking the one-year anniversary of the formation of its IoT division, Dell announced the addition of VMware, Nokia, Eurotech and others to its Dell Internet of Things (IoT) Solutions Partner Program.

“We’re proud of the progress that we’ve made this past year,” said Andy Rhodes, executive director, Commercial IoT Solutions, Dell. “With the launch of the Edge Gateway and Embedded Box PCs, our quickly growing partnership program and now our successful IoT Gateway Contest, our efforts underscore Dell’s deep commitment to driving IoT adoption for real world use.”

In addition, V5 Systems, a provider of portable, solar-powered security and Industrial IoT solutions, was named the platinum winner of
“Connect What Matters” IoT Contest run by Dell and Intel. V5 Systems' technology can be deployed without being tied to power or data cables for applications from law enforcement to agriculture to other outdoor uses. The portable units contain analytics, multiple sensors (including video, acoustic and chemical detection), power, computing and Wi-Fi and cellular communications. V5 evolved its intelligent security platform to support more use cases and technologies by working with Dell OEM Services to provide intelligent gateways for use at the edge of networks expanding Industrial IoT applications.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Dimension Data Names CEO

Dimension Data has appointed Jason Goodall as Group Chief Executive Officer, replacing Brett Dawson, who is stepping down after 12 years.

Goodall previously served as Dimension Data's Group COO, where he has been responsible for the regions and several global functions including sales, marketing, Group Information Services (GIS), HR and commercial finance. Goodall is a veteran of Dimension Data having served many roles during his 18-year career with the company. Dimension Data, which is a member of the NTT Group, has an turnover of US$7.5 billion, offices in 58 countries, and 31,000 employees.

New Group CEO, Jason Goodall commented, “We see many opportunities for growth across both the Dimension Data Group as well as the wider NTT Group. I’m excited about the opportunities in front of us, to continue to build our winning culture, to accelerate the ambitions of our clients, our people and the communities we operate in. I’m honoured and thrilled to be stepping up to this opportunity and look forward to working with our clients, partners and employees in the near future’.

Pennslyvania's DQE Comm Launches Wavelength Service

DQE Communications, a business network services provider in western Pennsylvania, has launched a wavelength service option.

Ekinops supplied its 40-channel reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer-based system.

DQE, which is a subsidiary of Duquesne Light Holdings, operates a 2,700-route-mile fiber-optic network serving 11 counties around Pittsburgh. That network serves 1,140 on-net buildings, 33 business parks, 15 data centers and multiple hub sites.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

IDC: Worldwide Security Appliance Market Continues to Grow

The total security appliance market showed positive growth in both vendor revenue and unit shipments for the first quarter of 2016 (1Q16), marking the eleventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth, as worldwide vendor revenues in the first quarter increased 5.5% year over year to $2.47 billion, while shipments grew 9.0% year over year to a total of 580,007 units, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Security Appliance Tracker.

Some highlights for Q1 2016:

  • The UTM market generated $1.25 billion in revenues for year-over-year growth of 16.9% 
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention (IDP) generated revenues of $372 million and 3.8% annual growth
  • The Firewall, Content Management, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) categories experienced a slow start to the year with year-over-year revenue declines of 4.2%, 6.7% and 24.2%, respectively.
  • The United States market represented 43% of the total security appliance market revenue globally and is experienced year-over-year growth of 7.3% in 1Q16. 
  • Western Europe is the second largest region with 21% of total worldwide revenues and year-over-year revenue growth of 4.3%. 
  • Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) accounted for 18% of worldwide revenues and showed a slight decline of 0.9% compared to the same quarter of 2015.

"There has been a sharper decline than expected in many of the markets as the global economy is having an effect on the security market and shaping the growth rate to be lower than expected," said Elizabeth Corr, Research Analyst, Security Products at IDC.

Nokia to Acquire Gainspeed for Virtualized Cable Architecture

Nokia agreed to acquire Gainspeed, a start-up specializing in DAA (Distributed Access Architecture) solutions for the cable industry via its Virtual CCAP (Converged Cable Access Platform) product line. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Gainspeed's Virtual CCAP enables cable operators to increase the capacity of their existing HFC (Hybrid Fiber Coax) infrastructure and rapidly deploy new services, while simultaneously reducing space and power requirements in the headend. The solution also enables cable operators to migrate their networks to a software-driven, all-IP architecture.

Gainspeed's design eliminates the physical CCAP by leveraging SDN and NFV to distribute the CCAP’s functions to other devices and locations in the network. This centralizes routing, control and management in the data center or cloud and pushes
the physical layer, DOCSIS processing and RF modulation into the node, deep within
the access network

Gainspeed is based in Sunnyvale, California and has approximately 70 employees.

Federico Guillen, president of Nokia's Fixed Networks business group, said: "We are very excited to have Gainspeed, the technology leader in its field, joining us. Cable is one of the fastest growing areas in our fixed networks business, and we are committed to delivering a complete solution set to cable operators. Gainspeed's Virtual CCAP perfectly complements our leading fiber access solutions for cable MSOs."

  • Gainspeed is headed by Krish Padmanabhan, who previously was Senior Vice President of Products and Solutions at Harmonic Inc., where he oversaw overall strategy for its video playout and compression portfolio.
  • Gainspeed was founded in 2012 by Shlomo Rakib (previously co-founded Novafora and Terayon Communication Systems, where he invented the SCDMA technology that was the basis for DOCSIS 2.0), Jeff White (previously president of Hatteras Networks),  Mark Stalica (previously Vice President of Strategic MSO Accounts for Metaswitch Networks), and Drew Perkins (previously a co-founder at Infinera, On-Fiber Communications, Lightera Networks, FORE Systems, and InterStream).

Fortinet to Acquire AccelOps for Security Monitoring

Fortinet agreed to acquire AccelOps, a start-up based in Santa Clara, California, that specializes in network security monitoring and analytics solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

AccelOps’s virtual appliance software monitors security, performance and compliance in local and virtualized infrastructures, resulting in a unified view of the environment. The software discovers, analyzes and automates IT issues across multi-tenant or single networks, spanning servers, devices, storage, networks, security, applications and users.

Fortinet said the acquisition extends Fortinet’s recently announced Security Fabric strategy by enhancing network security visibility, security data analytics and threat intelligence across multi-vendor solutions. AccelOps solutions will become FortiSIEM and become part of the Fortinet Security Fabric, providing customers with greater visibility across both Fortinet and multi-vendor security solutions.

“Fortinet and AccelOps share a common vision of providing holistic, actionable security intelligence across the entire IT infrastructure. Our mission has always been to help our customers make security and compliance management as effortless and effective as possible. The synergies between AccelOps’s solutions and Fortinet’s Security Fabric vision and thought leadership will ensure that our customers are protected with the most scalable and proven global threat intelligence, security and performance analytics and compliance and control across all types of network environments with multiple security and networking vendor products,” stated Partha Bhattacharya, founder and chief technology officer, AccelOps.

Blueprint: Endpoint Visibility in the IoT

A Five-Step Action Plan for Securing the Network in the Age of IoT by Tom Kelly, CEO, AccelOps A report from BI Intelligence projects that Internet of Things (IoT) deployments will create $421 billion in economic value for cities worldwide in 2019. Cities will enjoy benefits such as improved traffic flow, a reduction in air pollution and better public safety. This is just one example of the advancements the IoT will bring to all sectors. However,...

Blueprint: Three Predictions for Network Monitoring in 2016

by Tom Kelly, CEO, AccelOps Why do armies set up look-outs all around their camps? Why do people read their horoscopes and shake magic eight-balls? Simple: they want to see what’s coming. In business, it’s incredibly helpful to be able to accurately forecast needs and set strategy. In the network security and performance arena of the business, it’s table stakes. While there’s no crystal ball that can tell us everything, one thing is certain:...

AccelOps Builds Threat Intelligence into its Actionable Security Platform

AccelOps, a start-up based in Santa Clara, California, introduced threat intelligence capabilities for its integrated IT and operational visibility platform. The existing AccelOps virtual appliance software monitors security, performance and compliance in cloud and virtualized infrastructures on a single screen. It automatically discovers, analyzes and automates IT issues in machine and big data across organizations’ data centers and cloud resources,...

Will coming 'third wave' of ARM-based processors for the data centre break Intel's monopolistic grip on this sector?

Preamble - basic facts about ARM

ARM (Advanced RISC Machine) uses reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architecture in its cores which offer relatively low power consumption, typically smaller die size, lower cost, faster clock speed and usually easier development, while Intel's market-dominant Xeon devices are complex instruction set computing (CISC) x86 processors targeted at the non-consumer workstation, server and embedded system markets. Rather than compete with Intel directly, ARM licenses its technology to other silicon companies. The biggest single and very substantial disadvantage of RISC architecture is that it cannot directly run x86 applications.
 ARM is estimated to have an 85% share of the apps processor market, a 65% share of the computer peripheral s market, a 90% share of the hard-disk and SSD market, and a 95% share of the automotive apps processor market. ARM is seeking to extend its 85% share of mobile processors and enter the data centre and networking space. Intel dominates the data centre server space and has just withdrawn from mobile space. Broadcom dominates the data centre switching space and has withdrawn from the mobile space, but may be eyeing an entrance into data centre servers with help from ARM.

ARM is a relatively small company compared to Intel whose revenue in 2015 was $55.4 billion, but ARM is growing quite fast whereas Intel revenue for the year was down around 1% on 2014. Since 2007, ARM has grown its overall market share in all of the markets in which it competes from 17% to 37% and revenue has more than tripled. Intel's market share, specifically in SC in recent years, has been roughly static in the range 15-16%.

On December 28, 2015 Intel closed its $16.7 billion acquisition of FPGA specialist Altera, whose sales in 2015 were around $1.6 billion, potentially adding around 3% to Intel's annual sales level. Because of its size, Intel's business outlook is much more dependent on total SC market growth than ARM. The global semiconductor market in 2015 was $335.2 billion, down 0.4% on the all time peak in 2014. On June 7, 2016 WSTS released its new semiconductor market forecast generated in May 2016 which forecasts the world semiconductor market to be down 2.4% in 2016 at $327 billion, with growth returning in 2017 and 2018. Intel's market share, specifically in SC in recent years, has been roughly static in the range 15-16%. Intel's Q1 2016 sales, including one full quarter of Altera, were $13.7 billion, up 7% year on year compared with $12.8 billion in Q1 2015 hinting at a slight improvement in its competitive position.

Specifically, ARM on February 10th reported full year revenue of $1,488.6 million (slightly under 3% of Intel's), up 15% from $1,292.6 million in 2014. ARM's Q4 2015 revenue was $407.9 million, up 14% YoY compared to $357.6 million, confirming a steady growth rate. This 14% trend was seen to be continuing when on April 20th ARM reported Q1/2016 revenue of $398.0 million compared with $348.2 million in Q1/2015. It reported a 2015 operating margin of 51.6%, up 1.3 points compared to 50.3% in 2014, and PBT of $511.5 million, up 24% compared to $411.3 million in 2014.

Operationally in the first quarter 2016, ARM reported 39 processor licences signed by a broad range of companies including leading SC vendors and OEMs. Target applications included mobile computing, automotive, networking infrastructure and servers, with strong demand for its most advanced technology with 8 licences signed for ARM Cortex-A technology for its high-performance and high efficiency application processors. It also noted 2 Mali multimedia processor licences signed, including licences for advanced graphics and display processors, and 4.1 billion ARM-based chips shipped, up 10% year-on-year.

New ARM-based processors aimed at the huge data centre opportunity

In recent weeks, there has been a parade of new ARM-based processors aimed at cloud data centres and network infrastructure. These 'forward-looking' product unveilings from the likes of AppliedMicro, Broadcom, Cavium and others, promise better performance and significant improvements in power efficiency over comparable Intel Xeon processors when this next generation of ARM-based processors become available late in 2016 or early 2017. The new chips license the core processor design from ARM Holdings, the British multinational semiconductor and software design company headquartered in Cambridge. The product announcements really come as no surprise, since ARM has been pursuing the market for 64-bit processors aimed at the data centre since at least 2012.

Two previous generations of ARM processors have since entered the market, and while they have seen some success in specialised applications with tier 2 OEMs such as Inventec, Gigabyte and Wistron, they have not gained enough market traction to become a mainstay of the modern data centre. For instance, AppliedMicro began sampling its first generation X-Gene 'Server on a Chip' processor in early 2013, including to HP for its Moonshot server. Despite early publicity, and a follow-up HeliX 2 embedded processor based on the ARMv8-A 64-bit architecture, Intel Xeons have kept ahead of the competition.

For 2015, ARM estimated that it captured 15% of market for processors designed for networking infrastructure, a broad category in which it includes base stations, switches, routers and servers for data centres and cloud platforms. Looking more closely at ARMv8-A based servers, ARM Holdings’ 2016 Roadshow presentation acknowledges less than a 1% market share as of the end of 2015, compared with its 85% of the mobile processing business (smartphones, tablets and laptops) and 25% share of the market for processors aimed at embedded intelligence, such automotive, industrial and other smart devices. So if the first two waves of ARM processors aimed at network infrastructure yielded a measly market share, will the third wave do any better?

The current 15% share is market reality and not the company's growth target. In its 2016 Roadshow presentation, ARM states a goal of capturing 45% of an addressable $16 billion networking infrastructure market in 2020. The company already has design wins in wireless access systems, wired access systems, aggregation/core products, security and some high-end data centres, and to push this further ARM will need to introduce new technology for physical IP, processor architecture and implementations, as well as tools and analysis to optimise SOCs for servers. Some licensees active in this market include Annapurna, AMD, AppliedMicro, Broadcom, Cavium, Marvell, NXP, and Texas Instruments. Other licensees include Altera, Avago, Freescale, HiSilicon, IBM, Qualcomm, and Xilinx.

Third wave ARM-based Solutions


On May 30th Cavium of San Jose, California announced its second generation ThunderX2 processor, which scales up to 54 cores with up to 3.0 GHz core frequency, making it a high-end, high-performance processor, for data centre workloads such as storage, network and secure compute workloads in the cloud. The ThunderX2 will offer fully out-of-order (OOO) cores, single and dual socket configurations, very high memory bandwidth, large memory capacity, integrated hardware accelerators, fully virtualised core and IO, scalable Ethernet fabric and feature rich I/O's supporting 25 Gbit/s. One variant of the chip will include Cavium's 5th generation NITROX technology with acceleration for IPSec, SSL, Anti-virus, Anti-malware, firewall and DPI. This family is optimised for secure web frontend, security appliances and cloud RAN type workloads. Similar hardware-based accelerators designed into the chip could give a performance advantage to this specialized silicon over Intel's more general purpose Xeons.

However, although the ThunderX2 announcement was accompanied by very positive generalised endorsements of Cavium's approach by a broad array of involved companies, namely AMI,  Canonical, E4, FreeBSD, Gigabyte, Inventec, Linaro, NGINX, Red Hat and SUSE, so far as is known no Tier 1 vendors have as yet committed to either the first or second generation of the product. Moreover, although Cavium has indicated that ThunderX2 will be built using a 14 nm FinFET SC process, (compared to 28 nm for the previous generation), which might seem to put it on a par with Intel's latest Xeon E5-2600 v4 (Broadwell) processor launched in March, also being built on a 14 nm process, not only will the Cavium chip not be built in volume until late 2017, while the Intel device is immediately available, but on the day of the announcement top server companies such as Dell ,Hewlett Packard Enterprises, and Lenovo were eager to make it clear they were on the ball and using the Intel chip.

The reason for such a very early announcement by Cavium further points up the difference between the two companies. Intel customers generally expect and receive regular predictable outputs from a pipeline of Intel products. They expect Intel to anticipate their needs and deliver appropriate technology upgrades regularly and on time  and it usually does. With a relatively small company like Cavium (sales in Q1 2016 $101.9 million) they need a degree of extra reassurance.

Applied Micro Circuits 

In November 2015 Applied Micro of Santa Clara, California (whose sales in 2015 were $159.3 million, and $41.1 million in its first quarter of 2016, its fifth successive quarter of growth) announced its X-Gene 3 Server-on-a-Chip, which will combine 32 high performance ARMv8-compatible CPU cores in a single socket. The device aims to deliver performance competitive with mainstream high-end Xeon E5/E7 processors in a similar TDP envelope. It will offer eight DDR4 memory channels for addressing one Tbyte of RAM, outpacing the Xeon E5 in memory bandwidth, making it well suited to hyperscale workloads such as in-memory databases, big data, machine learning, web search and HPC. X-Gene 3 is expected to sample in the second half of 2016, with production shipments in the second half of 2017.

Part 2


At the 2015 Annual Hot Chips 27 conference in August 2015 this relatively unknown Chinese start-up, located in Guangzhou surprised attendees by introducing two families of ARM-based processors for server applications: Mars, aimed at applications characterised by high performance, high volume of memory, high bandwidth memory access, high bandwidth I/O access and a requirement for large scale cache coherence; and Earth, aimed at high density computing applications requiring low cost and high power efficiency but requiring moderate performance.

Mars is a 640 sq mm chip built on a TSMC 28 nm process which operates at up to 2 GHz and draws up to 120 W with an architecture based on 8 panels, each containing 8 x Xiaomi ARMv8-based cores.

The chip is rated at 512 GFlops. According to research director Charles Zhang, the company aspires to be a leading-edge processor and ASIC maker in the Chinese IT sector and will be working on two classes of ARM-based processors - one aimed at scale-up machines, another aimed at scale-out machines used in hyperscale and cloud computing.

In the presentation at Hot Chips he cited improvements in all areas for the next generation CPU but mentioned no numbers.

According to Wikipedia, Phytium has already produced the FT-1500A chip, an ARM64 SoC which includes 16 cores of ARMv8 processor, a 32-lane PCIe host, 2 GMAC on-chip Ethernet controller and a GICv3 interrupt controller with ITS support. The 'FT' in the device name seems to stand for FeiTeng, directly linking Phytium (presumably an anglicisation) to the FeiTeng range of processors developed under Professor Xing Zuocheng of the National University of Defense Science and Technology of Changsha, Hunan Province, a top military academy and national research university. 2,400 of the previous generation chip, the FeiTeng1000, are used in China's Tianhe2 Supercomputer in the Chinese National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou, which with 3.12 million cores and a capability of 33.86 petaflop/s was, as of July 2015, rated by the Top 500 HPC listing organisation as the world's fastest supercomputer.

While the Mars chip in its present form does not have a sufficient edge to make much of an impact on Intel's current position, it is necessary to recognise that as part of its 13th 5 Year Plan approved March 2016 the Chinese government committed $100 -$150 billion in public and private funds towards the objective of catching up technologically with the world’s leading firms by 2030 in the design, fabrication and packaging of chips, so it can cease being dependent on foreign supplies. In 2015, the government also announced that by 2025 it wanted local firms to be producing 70% of the chips consumed by Chinese industry. According to McKinsey, in 2015 only around 12% of the chips used in Chinese production were designed by local fabless Chinese companies, so there is a long way to go.

Despite the probably almost unlimited funding available, Chinese attempts to buy their way into the global industry have met serious political resistance in both the U.S. and Taiwan. However, that seems to mean that existing domestic semiconductor companies such as Phytium and market leader HiSilicon will for the next few years be able to scale up research, development and production facilities to whatever level they wish. Moreover, there are domestic security limitations on Intel's exporting its highest level technology to China, which possibly opens up some opportunities for Phytium and following some bad publicity about international security practices China is likely to establish increasingly tighter controls on the designs and designers of intelligent components used in the country's mission-critical systems, which would strongly favour local design and production.
(NB: An important point in this context is that on January 16th 2016 it was announced that Qualcomm and the provincial government of the southern Chinese province of Guizhou had established a $280 million capitalised joint venture 55% owned by the province and 45% by Qualcomm to focus on the design development and sale of advanced chipset technology in China. The population of Guizhou is around 35 million and its GDP in 2014 $151 billion - higher than Hungary, the Ukraine or Morocco.)

Industry partnerships and projects to open the market 

To accelerate its entry into network infrastructure, ARM is working with a number of open source projects, including the OpenDataPlane project. This initiative aims to produce an open-source, cross-platform set of application programming interfaces (APIs) for the networking data plane. Other supporters include Broadcom, Cavium, Cisco, Ericsson, Freescale, MontaVista, Nokia, Wind, Texas Instruments and ZTE.

In May, ARM announced its participation in an industry effort to develop a specification for a new Cache Coherent Interconnect for Accelerators (CCIX). This interconnect technology specification will ensure that processors using different instruction set architectures (ISA) can coherently share data with accelerators and enable efficient heterogeneous computing, significantly improving compute efficiency for servers running data centre workloads. Other companies supporting this include AMD, Huawei, IBM, Mellanox, Qualcomm and Xilinx.

Also in March 2016, ARM and TSMC announced a multi-year agreement to collaborate on a 7 nm FinFET process technology, which includes a design solution for future low-power, high-performance compute SoCs. This deal expands the long-term foundry partnership beyond mobile devices to include next-generation networks and data centres. It also sets the stage for possibly a fourth-wave of ARM-based processors aimed at the data centre.

A further opportunity for ARM may be China, which has been known to encourage IT solutions developed by Chinese firms as a matter of national security policy, especially in preference to Qualcomm, Intel, Microsoft and other dominant U.S. players. In April 2016, a China-based Green Computing Consortium (GCC) was formed with the goal of establishing a deep ecosystem in China for big data, enterprise and cloud computing platforms based on the ARM architecture. Under this consortium, ARM is working with Alibaba, Baidu, China National Software and Service, Dell. Guizhou Huaxintong, the joint venture company of Guizhou and Qualcomm Hewlett Packard Enterprise/H3C (HPE), Lenovo and Phytium.

RISC vs CISC battle continues 

Finally, one should note that Intel once flirted with RISC architecture. Ten years ago Intel decided to sell off its nascent Xscale communications and applications processing division, which was developing solutions for the then new category of smartphones and personal digital assistants. The RISC-based Intel Xscale technology had found early success with then super start Research in Motion (RIM), which was planning to use an Intel PXA9xx communication processor codenamed Hermon in a new Blackberry 8700 device. Another Intel PXA27x applications processor, codenamed Bulverde, had prime design wins in the Palm Treo smart phone, the Motorola Q and other devices of the day (the Xscale mobile processor group sale occurred six months ahead of Steve Jobs' unveiling of the iPhone in January 2007).

Marvell was the purchaser of this seemingly successful Intel division, paying $600 million in cash plus the assumption of some liabilities. Some 1,400 employees transferred from Intel to Marvell and there was the possibility of Intel becoming a supplier of ARM-based mobile processors. The strategic reasoning for the sale given by Intel at the time was so that it could focus its investments on its core businesses, including high-performance, low-power Intel Architecture-based processors and emerging technologies for mobile computing, including WiFi and WiMAX. WiMAX struggled for years in the vain hope of challenging LTE as the future of mobile broadband. The bet on x86 architecture for mobile devices did not turn out so well either, with Intel only recently deciding to give up altogether on x86 mobile processors.

As the third wave of ARM-based processors for servers and network infrastructure comes to market, ARM seems more patient than its larger rival. Its plan is than an army of licensees will develop specialised solutions for specific data centre workflows. There is also hope that its 85% share of mobile processors can be leveraged to accelerate its entrance into data centre infrastructure.


There is already huge discussion in business literature about how to dislodge an incumbent, but it is to be observed that any such advice cannot be that good since senior U.S. ICT companies like Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, HP and IBM all look capable of hanging on for at least a decade and probably more, even though they show many signs of weakness and in all cases difficulty in renewing themselves internally. However, looking at it from the challenger point of view there are no easy options either.

The problem that a company like ARM and its large ecosystem has in dislodging an incumbent vendor, particularly one as big, rich and savvy as Intel, is that the challenger's products do not merely have to be better than those of the market leader but they have to be so much better that users of the existing product see it as a 'no brainer' to make the necessary changes in design. What that no-brainer advantage premium might actually be in percentage or operational terms varies depending on circumstances, such as the absolute size of the business involved, average design cycle, the immediate usually substantial onetime costs of making the change, and the longer term drawbacks of moving from a well-proven business relationship to a probably less certain one.

However, on the evidence that percentage is clearly quite large and difficult to achieve against an adversary as competent as Intel. Moreover, unless the advantage involved is so unique that it is unmatchable the incumbent usually still has 'last-mover' advantage, i.e. ,the time and space to make a carefully calculated counteroffer which may not necessarily match the challenger's offer but reduce it below the no brainer level, which would force the customer to make a change. So it is much too early to bet against Intel surviving most of the assaults on its data centre business fortress.

ADVA Backs DIMENSION Project for Lasers on Silicon

ADVA Optical Networking announced its support and participation in the Directly Modulated Lasers on Silicon (DIMENSION) project, which aims to create a platform for single-chip electro-optical integration. The research involves lasers built with active III-V materials embedded into silicon photonics chips.

The four-year DIMENSION project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and coordinated by Dresden University of Technology with participation from partners in Germany, Switzerland, Greece and the UK. The two research centers included are Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics and Athens Information Technology. The large industry partners are ADVA Optical Networking, Optocap and IBM Research – Zurich.

ADVA said the DIMENSION project could lead to cost-efficient components needed to optimize data center interconnect (DCI) transport and create the next generation of data centers.

“Improving efficiency in the DCI couldn’t be more vital given the increasing demand for cloud computing and the growing scale of the internet of things,”commented Michael Eiselt, director, advanced technology, ADVA Optical Networking. “Much of our recent innovation has centered on enhancing the DCI, such as our FSP 3000 CloudConnect™ solution. By integrating the three distinct technologies of silicon photonics, electronics and active photonics, we’re giving data centers what they need to meet tomorrow’s needs. It’s great to be working closely with other European companies and institutions to make this vital breakthrough a reality. It also provides fantastic opportunities for university students who get to be at the forefront of innovation and help make a significant impact on the industry.”

Coriant Brings a New IP/MPLS Router for the Metro Edge

Coriant introduced a compact IP/MPLS routing optimized for the metro edge and pre-aggregation networks.

The Coriant 8625 Smart Router, which is packaged in a compact and power-efficient form factor, is designed for the delivery of consumer and business services in a broad range of mobile and fixed network applications, including IPTV distribution, mobile gateway, and LTE/LTE-A and 5G-optimized backhaul. The router is designed to scale up to 1 Tbps of capacity (full duplex), and in its initial release supports capacity of up to 400 Gbps and dense IP/Ethernet service interfaces (1G, 10G). The 8625 Smart Router supports a mix of IP and Ethernet services, such as IP VPNs, VPLS, and Ethernet pseudowires, with significant buffering capacity for bursty data applications as well as advanced traffic management features with hierarchical QoS support for flexible end-user service definition. It also includes integrated synchronization capabilities optimized for LTE/LTE-A backhaul applications and emerging 5G network architectures, including IEEE1588v2 and Synchronous Ethernet.

The rollout includes a converged IP-Optical offering – the Coriant 8625-O – that combines Coriant's suite of IP/MPLS routing features with pluggable optical layer flexibility and cost efficiencies.

"As end-user mobile and cloud applications drive ever-increasing capacity demands in access and aggregation networks, operators face the ongoing challenge of cost-efficiently scaling network infrastructure without sacrificing service performance," said Mikko Hannula, Director of Product Management, Coriant. "The 8625 is an ideal solution that meets the logical scalability and low latency transport requirements of evolving aggregation applications, while providing the operational efficiencies and service agility of SDN programmability and network slicing to cater to the different requirements of heterogeneous services."

Nokia Supplies IP/MPLS + DWDM for Swissgrid

Nokia supplied an IP/MPLS network overlaid on an optical network to Swiss electricity transmission system operator Swissgrid for the management of its electrical grid, which has a length of 6,700 km covering 140 substations. The "Grid Control Network" additionally interconnects power plants, data centers and offices.

In a turnkey project, Nokia implemented two IP/MPLS -based networks, one an operational network and the other a business communications network. They are both overlaid on an encrypted DWDM and Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplex (CWDM) network, also from Nokia. The IP/MPLS network features Nokia's 7705 Service Aggregation Router portfolio, with features tailored to support critical applications required by utilities as well as the 7750 Service Router portfolio. The xWDM network layer, based on the Nokia 1830 Photonic Service Switch, provides optical intrusion detection and on-the-fly low latency wavelength encryption for the operational and business communications network. This means that potential physical intrusions on the fiber cable can be detected and located. In case of an intrusion, sensitive data are nevertheless protected through embedded optical layer encryption (AES-256).

Nokia said its solution is supporting mission-critical operational services such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, Teleprotection, video surveillance via closed-circuit TV (CCTV), site access control and intrusion detection. This will allow Swissgrid to maintain the highest level of reliability, safety and security across the entire grid. The network is also enabling business communications between electricity substations and Swissgrid locations for tasks such as office local area network (LAN) and voice over IP (VoIP) in a highly secure way.

When fully deployed in partner sites outside of Switzerland in 2016, the "Grid Control Network" will be the key element in the exchange of electricity between Swissgrid's network in Switzerland and sites in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy and France.

Intelsat 31 Successfully Launched

Intelsat 31 was successfully launched aboard an International Launch Services (ILS) Proton Breeze M rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Intelsat 31 is a 20-kilowatt class Ku-and C-band satellite built by Space Systems Loral (SSL). The Ku-band payload, known as DLA-2, is designed to provide redundancy for DIRECTV Latin America’s distribution services in South America and the Caribbean. The C-band portion enhances Intelsat’s existing C-band service infrastructure serving Latin America.