Thursday, July 21, 2016

Verizon Launches Virtual Network Services

Verizon Enterprise Solutions announced its launch of Virtual Network Services with the aim of transitioning its enterprise customers to a virtual infrastructure model, providing greater agility and on-demand resources.

The new services, which are underpinned by Verizon's open SDN and NFV architecture, will be available in the U.S. and internationally.  The virtualized services can be delivered across public, private and wireless networks from Verizon or other service providers, or a combination of multiple providers across multiple networks. The initial Virtual Network Service packages are: Security, WAN Optimization, and SD WAN services.

“The way in which network services are delivered is going through an unprecedented shift—the biggest we’ve seen since the broad adoption of MPLS,” said Shawn Hakl, vice president of networking and innovation, Verizon. “Today the network is transitioning to a virtualized model using similar technology that drove the disruption in the data center market. With our new solution set, enterprises will be able to balance agility, performance, cost and security necessitated by the growth of mobile-to-cloud applications and the Internet of Things.”

Verizon said its goal is to enable clients "to essentially operate a “living” network that can be changed quickly to address the number of company locations and users, bandwidth required by application, and application use by employee to enable a secure, high performance and efficient network."

Initial service release includes Cisco, Juniper Networks, Fortinet, Riverbed, Palo Alto Networks, and Viptela.

Verizon will offer three models to clients for deploying virtualized services including: premises-based universal customer premises equipment (CPE), cloud-based virtual CPE services (available Fall 2016) and hybrid services where clients can mix premises-based and cloud-based deployment models to meet their individual business and technical requirements.

http://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-deliver-virtual-network-services-support-digital-transformation-enterprises

AT&T Says DIRECTV Merger was a Hit

AT&T reported Q2 revenue of $40.5 billion, up more than 22% versus the year-earlier period largely due to the July 24, 2015 acquisition of DIRECTV. Compared with results for the second quarter of 2015, operating expenses were $34.0 billion versus $27.2 billion; operating income was $6.6 billion versus $5.8 billion; and operating income margin was 16.2% versus 17.5%.

Second-quarter net income attributable to AT&T totaled $3.4 billion, or $0.55 per diluted share, compared to $3.1 billion, or $0.59 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Adjusting for $0.17 of amortization, merger- and integration-related costs and other expenses, earnings per diluted share was $0.72 compared to an adjusted $0.70 in the year-ago quarter.

“One year after our acquisition of DIRECTV, the success of the integration has exceeded our expectations,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “Cost synergies are ahead of target, we’ve added nearly 1 million DIRECTV subscribers since the acquisition, and our new video streaming services are scheduled to roll out later this year. We plan to serve every segment of the video industry and offer customers their favorite content virtually wherever and whenever they want it."

Some highlights:

  • 2.1 million wireless net adds driven by connected devices, Mexico and Cricket
  • U.S. wireless postpaid churn of 0.97%, second-lowest ever
  • U.S. wireless operating margins expand; best-ever U.S. wireless EBITDA margins
  • 342,000 U.S. DIRECTV net adds; 38,000 global TV net adds
  • Nearly 1 million U.S. satellite net adds since acquisition of DIRECTV
  • 74,000 IP broadband net adds
  • Nearly 800,000 U.S.-branded smartphones added to subscriber base, more than offsetting a nearly 600,000 decline in U.S.-branded feature phone base
  • 185,000 U.S.-branded (postpaid and prepaid) phone net adds
  • 380 million North American 4G LTE POPs
  • Q2 revenues from business customers were $17.6 billion, down 0.5% versus the year-earlier quarter.
  • Revenues from strategic business services, including VPNs, Ethernet, cloud, hosting, IP conferencing, voice over IP, dedicated internet, U-verse and security services, grew by more than $200 million, or 8.4%, versus the year-earlier quarter and 9.0% when adjusting for foreign exchange pressure. These services represent an annualized revenue stream of more than $11 billion.
  • Second-quarter operating expenses were $13.4 billion, essentially stable versus the second quarter of 2015
  • Year-to-date cash from operations up 14.5%; year-to-date free cash flow up 11.6%
  • Full-year guidance on track to meet or exceed expectations


http://www.att.com/gen/investor-relations?pid=282

Is Microsoft on track to reach its stated goal of $20 billion in annual revenues from the cloud by FY2018?

The big message from Microsoft's quarterly results issued this week is that the Microsoft cloud is winning significant customer support and is now on a $12 billion annual run rate.  (Commercial cloud annualized revenue run rate is calculated by taking revenue in the final month of the quarter multiplied by twelve for Office 365 commercial, Azure, Dynamics Online, and other cloud properties.) This means Microsoft is catching up to Amazon and Azure could surpass AWS in revenue terms in the near future.  Nadella's stated ambition is for Microsoft to achieve $20 billion in commercial cloud revenue in FY18 -- and he believes the company is on track to doing so.

“This past year was pivotal in both our own transformation and in partnering with our customers who are navigating their own digital transformations,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “The Microsoft Cloud is seeing significant customer momentum and we’re well positioned to reach new opportunities in the year ahead.”

Here are some of the key metrics revealed this week:

·         Office consumer products and cloud services revenue grew 19% (up 18% in constant currency) with Office 365 consumer subscribers increasing to 23.1 million
·         Server products and cloud services revenue increased 5% (up 8% in constant currency) driven by double-digit annuity revenue growth
·         Azure revenue grew 102% (up 108% in constant currency) with Azure compute usage more than doubling year-over-year
·         Enterprise Mobility customers nearly doubled year-over-year to over 33,000, and the installed base grew nearly 2.5x year-over-year
·         70% of Office enterprise renewals are in the cloud. New Office 365 enterprise customers include Facebook, Hersey’s and Discovery Communications

·         The Intelligent Cloud segment delivered slightly more than $6.7 billion in revenue, growing 7% and 10% in constant currency. 

·         At least 60% of Fortune 1000 firms are now using at least three of Microsoft's cloud offerings

·         Microsoft now has 33,000 customers for its Enterprise Mobility Solution -- roughly double the number over the past year.

·         Nearly one third of customer virtual machines on Azure are now running Linux.

·         Office commercial products and cloud services revenue grew 5% (up 9% in constant currency) driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 54% (up 59% in constant currency)

·         Office consumer products and cloud services revenue grew 19% (up 18% in constant currency) with Office 365 consumer subscribers increasing to 23.1 million
·        
Office commercial products and cloud services revenue grew 5% (up 9% in constant currency) driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 54% (up 59% in constant currency)

Globalization Remains a Key Advantage for Azure

Microsoft states that one of Azure key advantages it spans multiple jurisdiction, covering more countries and regions with local support than any other cloud provider. This enables Azure to support regulatory requirements with the maturity and experience that are simply lacking in the other quickly growing clouds.

For instance, Microsoft is the only big cloud provider that operates in China under Chinese law and in Germany under German law.  The company is currently at 26 global data center regions and has announced plans for 34 data centers, but whether this number continues to expand depends on continued cloud growth and the development of regulatory issues.

Regulatory trouble could hamper Microsoft’s top competitors, especially Google and Amazon.

While Microsoft says that it is in-step with global regulators, recent news reports suggest that Google will be facing increased scrutiny from the EU.  A report from CNBC this week stated the Google (Alphabet) could be subject to three separate anti-trust cases from the European Union, accusing the firm of using its dominant position in search, advertising, mapping and mobile OS to stifle competition. Charges have not yet been formally made, so the impact to Google financially and strategically is just speculation.  Likewise, for Amazon, which has moved so aggressive in online commerce across so many markets, the question of which cloud continues to grow the fastest with the widest range of services, may be obscured by other activities underway at the parent companies.

Performance Could Be Significant Differentiator

Recently, Cedexis, a San Francisco-based company providing Internet performance monitoring and optimization, released data company the end-user latency measurements for AWS, Azure, IBM Softlayer, Rackspace, and the Google Cloud Engine, as experienced from different regions across the continental United States. The data, which was collected in March and April of 2016, measured latency to specific cloud data centres.
The Cloud Latency results were reported as follows (best to worst in milliseconds):

Rackspace Cloud – ORD: 56.11

Azure Cloud – US North Central: 56.56

IBM Softlayer – Dallas: 56.89

Google Compute Engine – U: 58:33

Softlayer – Washington: 61.22

Azure Cloud – U.S. East: 62.22

IBM Softlayer – Houston: 62.33

Rackspace Cloud – DWF: 63.22

Rackspace Cloud – IAD: 63.56

AWS EC2 – US East (VA): 63.56

Azure Cloud – US West: 73:11

AWS EC2 – US West (CA): 75.44

AWS EC2 – US West (OR): 84.78

The Cedexis report shows that the Microsoft Azure facilities in general doing better than the pack, and in particular better than its closest market rival, AWS. The western US performed worse than other regions perhaps because of more congested peering points affecting all providers, according to Cedexis.
Nevertheless, performance and security are becoming important differentiators as the big clouds move into real-time service for IoT devices.

Newly Announced IoT deal with Boeing Points in the Right Direction

Microsoft has just scored a bit IoT with Boeing, which has just agreed to use the Azure IoT suite + Cortana for machine learning capabilities. On the partnership, Boeing will move its extensive digital toolset for its airline customers to the Azure cloud.  The companies said this will “improve commercial aviation by enhancing factors like predictive aircraft maintenance, fuel optimization, airline systems and the overall cabin passenger experience.”  Potentially, vast amounts of data from Boeing aircraft will be streamed into Azure data centers, where predictive algorithms will identify issues of concern to airlines and their passengers.

Just a week earlier, Microsoft and GE announced a partnership that will make GE’s Predix platform for the Industrial Internet available on the Microsoft Azure cloud. GE of course a major supplier of aircraft engines, and has advertised heavily to promote its idea of embedding sensors into its industrial products.  A year ago, GE first introduced its Predix Cloud -- a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) designed specifically for industrial data and analytics. This tie-up with Microsoft will provide Predix customers with scalable infrastructure, data sovereignty, hybrid capabilities, and advanced developer and data services. In addition, GE and Microsoft plan to integrate Predix with Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite along with Microsoft business applications, such as Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Power BI, in order to connect industrial data with business processes and analytics.

Microsoft has said that it is moving quickly to add intelligence and machine learning to the Office 365 product suite as well. If the company can bridge these same machine learning and Big Data analytics from Azure IoT to Office 365, then its relationship with the Fortune 1000 will become much more deeply embedded and increasing difficult for AWS to match given that Amazon lacks the Office suite to reach corporate works.

Distractions Could Be Costly


As always, with big corporations there can be big distractions.  In recent year, the Windows phone failure followed by the Nokia debacle proved quite costly to Microsoft.  With Nadella in charge, the company has hopefully moved beyond these distractions. But the recent $26 billion bet to acquire LinkedIn acquisition may take some time to demonstrate how it delivers an equivalent business value to the company.

Comcast to Offer Pre-paid TV and Internet Option

Comcast will begin offering pay-as-you-go TV and Internet service.

Xfinity Prepaid Services lets people sign-up for TV or Internet service and “refill” their subscription any time they would like for either seven or 30 days.

The TV and Internet services, which come without a credit check or contract, will be available later this year starting in Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Florida and Indiana and offered everywhere within the Comcast footprint by the end of 2017.

http://www.comcast.com

Plugfest Planned for 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet

The Ethernet Alliance and the NBASE-T Alliance announced plans to validate multi-vendor interoperability of 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet at a plugfest event scheduled for the week of October 10, 2016 at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) in Durham, NH. Both organizations will share post-event results of the interoperability testing performed, demonstrating the rapid maturation of 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet technologies and their deployment readiness. The Ethernet Alliance and NBASE-T Alliance will continue to develop market awareness and education as 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T technologies are deployed on a global basis.

IEEE P802.3bz defines 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T and offers a seamless upgrade to 1000BASE-T operation, which was introduced nearly 20 years ago. The new specification enables up to five times the speed with no changes in cabling infrastructure required, resulting in a better user experience. In addition, 2.5GbE and 5GbE are well suited to interconnect to the next generation of higher-speed wireless networks based on IEEE 802.11ac™.

“The availability of tested, interoperable equipment conforming to a single standard will drive future generations of advanced network performance and innovative new applications,” said John D’Ambrosia, chairman, Ethernet Alliance; and senior principal engineer, Huawei. “As IEEE prepares to ratify the IEEE P802.3bz™ 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T standard, our upcoming plugfest will help speed its global adoption and make the most of the expansive 1000BASE-T infrastructure that exists today. As the leading industry voice of Ethernet, our mission is to accelerate its deployment. This joint initiative with the NBASE-T Alliance is a natural progression of that goal.”

“Based on the strong ecosystem developed by the NBASE-T Alliance, and the rapid adoption of 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T technology, we are ready for the next phase of broad deployment,” said Peter Jones, chairman, NBASE-T Alliance; and principal engineer, Cisco. “The unparalleled benefits of 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T Ethernet technology are enabling new capabilities throughout the industry and the upcoming plugfest will be a significant milestone to showcase this success. We look forward to the joint plugfest with the Ethernet Alliance to speed product deployment and move the industry forward.”

http://www.ethernetalliance.org/
http://www.nbaset.org/

Salesforce to Acquire Coolan

Salesforce has agreed to acquire Coolan, a start-up based in San Mateo, California, that develops code for optimizing servers in large data centers.  Financial terms were not disclosed.

Coolan, which was founded by brothers Amir and Yoni Michael, is described as a hardware analytics solution.

http://www.coolan.com/

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

AT&T and Orange Reach SDN + NFV Agreement

AT&T and Orange agreed to collaborate on open source and standardization initiatives that will accelerate the standardization of software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV).

Specifically, the two companies agreed to collaborate in the following areas:

  • Make customer premises equipment (CPE) and services truly universal by creating common specifications for premise-based devices, allowing them to work in different NSP environments and with different network function software providers.
  • Streamline the onboarding process for virtual network functions (VNFs) by introducing common guidelines and templates that will mature the VNF provider ecosystem and make VNFs more plug and play.
  • Develop standardized APIs that will enable SDN architectures from different NSPs to interoperate with each other, making deployment of virtualized network services and functions faster and easier.

“We’re committed to defining a framework that will accelerate the adoption of SDN. Driving the industry toward a standardized approach will reduce the cost and complexity created by proprietary implementation of equipment in the network and on the customer premise,” said Roman Pacewicz, Senior Vice President, Offer Management and Service Integration, AT&T Business Solutions.

“Everyone benefits when network services and functions are designed around a common ecosystem that is delivered on open platforms. Innovation can happen faster and more easily, and this model will also help improve reliability and security,” said Didier Duriez, Senior Vice President, Global Solutions, Orange Business Services.

http://www.orange.com/
http://about.att.com/story/att_and_orange_collaborate_on_open_source.html

Google Activates Oregon Cloud Data Center

Google announced the activation of its Oregon Cloud Region (us-west1) data center.  The region initially includes three offerings: Google Compute Engine, Google Cloud Storage and Google Container Engine, and features two Compute Engine zones to support high availability applications.

The company said initial testing shows that users in cities such as Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles can expect to see a 30-80% reduction in latency for applications served from us-west1, compared to us-central1.

In addition, Google launched two new Machine Learning APIs into open beta and expanding our footprint in the United States.

https://cloudplatform.googleblog.com


Verizon Launches NG-PON2 Lab Tests

Verizon is set to begin testing NG-PON2 (next generation passive optical network) equipment at its Innovation Lab in Waltham, Mass.

Starting this month, Verizon will begin initial testing with equipment from Ericsson (in partnership with Calix) and ADTRAN. Testing will focus on several features of NG-PON2, including tuning performance, ability to carry residential and business services on the same platform, and interoperability and conformance testing to meet Verizon ONT specifications.

“When it comes to NG-PON2, ADTRAN and Ericsson/Calix have developed new designs and some novel, yet different, approaches that put them at the forefront of the industry,” said Vincent O’Byrne, Ph.D., director of network planning for Verizon.

NG-PON2 is expected to support up to 40G of total capacity and up to 10G speeds per customer, both upstream and downstream, over a single fiber – a tenfold increase over some of the current speeds in the industry.  Last year the ITU-T (International Telecommunications Union Telecommunications Standardization Sector) approved NG-PON2 specifications, paving the way to establish NG-PON2 as the next step in PON technology.

http://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-begins-lab-testing-ng-pon2-technology

Verizon Completes 10G FTTP Trial Using NG-PON2

Verizon has completed a test of a 10 Gbps technology on its fiber-to-the-premises network.

Field testing of the NG-PON2 technology was completed recently from Verizon’s central office in Framingham, Mass., to a FiOS customer’s home 3 miles away as well as to a nearby business location. This followed extensive testing in Verizon’s laboratories in Waltham, Mass.

A new optical line terminal (OLT) installed in the Verizon central office generated four wavelengths, each capable of operating at 10G/2.5G. Later versions are envisioned to support the same download and upload speeds of 10G/10G per color. One test transmitted the NG-PON2 signals over a fiber serving live GPON customers proving that the network can simultaneously deliver GPON and NG-PON2 on the same fiber. The trial was conducted with a NG-PON2 equipment system from Cisco and PT Inovação.  The technology will have the system capacity to grow to 40-80 Gbps as the market demands.

Verizon said upgrades on its FTTP network will begin when commercial equipment is available to support business services such as switched Ethernet services. The company plans to issue a request for proposals later this year for the purchase of hardware and software for the new NG-PON2 platform.

“The advantage of our FiOS network is that it can be upgraded easily by adding electronics onto the fiber network that is already in place," said Lee Hicks, vice president of network technology for Verizon. "Deploying this exciting new technology sets a new standard for the broadband industry and further validates our strategic choice of fiber-to-the-premises.”

http://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-tests-superfast-10-gigabit-internet-service-using-newest-optical-technology

Intel's Data Center Revenues up 5% YoY

Intel reported second-quarter GAAP revenue of $13.5 billion (up 3% YoY), operating income of $1.3 billion, net income of $1.3 billion and EPS of 27 cents.

“Second-quarter revenue matched our outlook and profitability was better than we expected," said Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO. "In addition, our restructuring initiative to accelerate Intel’s transformation is solidly on-track. We're gaining momentum heading into the second half. While we remain cautious on the PC market, we’re forecasting growth in 2016 built on strength in data center, the Internet of Things and programmable solutions.”

In a conference call, Krzanich said data center revenue grew 5% year over year, cloud services providers grew 9%, comm service providers grew 10%, and enterprise was down 1%. He said Intel continues to gain share in network infrastructure, including for SDN and NFV.

Q2 Key Business Unit Trends:

  • Client Computing Group revenue of $7.3 billion, down 3 percent sequentially and down 3 percent year-over-year
  • Data Center Group revenue of $4.0 billion, up 1 percent sequentially and up 5 percent year-overyear
  • Internet of Things Group revenue of $572 million, down 12 percent sequentially and up 2 percentyear-over-year
  • Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group revenue of $554 million, down 1 percent sequentially and down 20 percent year-over-year
  • Intel Security Group revenue of $537 million, flat sequentially and up 10 percent year-over-year
  • Programmable Solutions Group revenue of $465 million, up 30 percent sequentially. Note the comparable period did not include $99 million of revenue as a result of acquisition-related adjustments.

http://www.intel.com

Qualcomm Posts Revenues of $6 Billion, up 4% YoY

Qualcomm reported revenue of $6.0 billion for its fiscal third quarter ended June 26, 2016, up 4% YoY and up 9% sequentially. Net income (GAAP) was $1.4 billion, up 22% YoY. EPS came in at $0.97.

“We delivered strong results this quarter, with EPS well ahead of our guidance based on meaningful progress with licensees in China,” said Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated. “Our chipset business is also benefiting from a strong new product ramp across tiers, particularly with fast growing OEMs in China. We are executing well on our strategic priorities, and we remain confident that our focused investments in 5G and other advanced technologies will create a strong foundation for long-term earnings growth.”

Qualcomm reported 201 million MSM device shipments during the quarter, down 11% from a year earlier.

http://www.qualcomm.com

Why did SoftBank offer £24.3 billion (US$32.4 billion) in cash to acquire ARM Holdings? - Part 2

 In part 1 of this article we considered some of the given reasons for the ARM bid and whether the new ownership would be positive, neutral or negative for ARM given Softbank’s record at Sprint.  Here we look at recent M&A activity in semiconductors and consider some salient points concerning SoftBank’s charismatic Chairman Masoyoshi Son.

For comparison - A String of Recent Mergers for Semiconductor Companies

SoftBank's acquisition of ARM also continues the on-going consolidation in the semiconductor business.  Although SoftBank is not a player in semiconductors and in that sense is not contributing to the further consolidation of the industry into just a few houses, investment bankers representing ARM would surely be familiar with current valuations and the desire to match smaller players to larger buyers.  Bigger seems to be better when it comes to silicon companies.

In March 2015, NXP Semiconductor agreed to acquire Freescale in a stock swap value at $16.7 billion (including Freescale's debt).   The deal created the largest supplier of semiconductors for the automotive industry and the No.1 supplier of general microcontrollers (MCUs).

In May 2015, Avago Technologies agreed to acquire Broadcom in a deal valued at $37 billion ($17 billion in cash and $20 billion in Avago shares).  This merger created the third largest global semiconductor company with strong presence in wired infrastructure, wireless infrastructure, enterprise storage, ASICs, PHYs, Ethernet switching silicon and set-top box silicon.  The new company has an annual revenue of approximately $15 billion.

In January 2016, Intel completed its acquisition of Altera, a provider of field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology, in a deal that was valued at $16.7 billion when it was first announced six months earlier.  Altera now operate as a new Intel business unit called the Programmable Solutions Group (PSG).  Its portfolio includes its Stratix series FPGAs with embedded memory, digital signal processing (DSP) blocks, high-speed transceivers, and high-speed I/O pins. Altera's Arria system-on-chip solutions integrate an ARM-based hard processor and memory interfaces with the FPGA fabric using a high-bandwidth interconnect. These devices include additional hard logic such as PCI Express Gen2, multiport memory controllers, error correction code (ECC), memory protection and high-speed serial transceivers.

In November 2015, Microsemi Corporation consolidated its offer to acquire PMC Sierra for $9.22 in cash and 0.0771 of a share of Microsemi common stock, representing an enterprise value of $2.5 billion.

In June 2016, Cavium agreed to acquire QLogic for $1.36 billion in stock. QLogic, which is based in Aliso Viejo, California, supplies Fibre Channel Adapters, converged network adapter for the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) market, Ethernet adapters, iSCSI adapters, and ASICs.  The company has design wins for next generation Ethernet (10/25/50/100Gb) and Fibre Channel (16/32Gb) platforms.

In March 2016, Cisco agreed to acquire Leaba Semiconductor, a venture-backed fabless semiconductor company, for $320 million in cash and assumed equity awards, plus additional retention based incentives. Leaba, which is based in Israel, specializes in networking semiconductors.  The company is in stealth mode and has not announced any products.

Through this string of mergers, we see that enormous consolidation is underway in the semiconductor industry and that given its prominence in the field, we can surmise that ARM must have been the subject of many proposed deals.  It would have been expected to see ARM paired up with developers of switching silicon, RF chips, or fast memory.  The SoftBank acquisition therefore is incongruous.

SoftBank’s Charismatic Chairman

When trying to assess the rationality of this bid it is worth noting that Masayoshi Son has never been easy to characterise. He is certainly a long way from being an investor in the calm mould of Warren Buffett or Bill Gates and does not have a flawless history in the investment business. During the dotcom boom Son bought almost anything that moved and ended the decade with the unenviable reputation of having lost more money than any other entrepreneur in history i.e. about $ 70 billion Son has a risk-aggressive and maverick personality and is inclined towards making massive and unusual bets on trends and companies that usually result in either colossal successes like Ali Baba or huge failures like Vodafone KK --therefore normal financial yardsticks cannot be easily applied to his decisions --since almost by definition he is working on an unique perception that almost no one else shares. As an example of Son's unpredictability, a few weeks ago Nikesh Arora the ex-Google executive most people thought was certain to succeed Son left his job abruptly after Son changed his mind and decided he was too young to retire which indeed at under sixty years he certainly is.
Masayoshi Son's abiding interest in humanoid robotics should be also noted.

In February 2015, SoftBank acquired 95% stake in Aldebaran Robotics SAS, a decade-old robotics developer based in Paris that, in collaboration with SoftBank Mobile, created Pepper, a humanoid robot with four microphones, two HD cameras, a 3-D depth sensor, a gyroscope in the torso, touch sensors (head and hands) six lasers, and a touch-screen display.  The big advancement with Pepper is its attempt to understand its physical environment and interact with humans on an emotional level. Following the buyout, Bruno Maisonnier, founder and CEO of Alderaban, stepped down and was replaced by Fumihide Tomizawa.

Several thousand early versions of Pepper were shipped in late 2015.  Full commercial release of Pepper is expected shortly in Japan. An active third-party develop program is underway.

Earlier this year, various company activities in this sector were consolidated under SoftBank Robotics Holdings Corp, based in Tokyo and with offices in France (formerly Alderaban Robotics), U.S., and China.

In March 2016, SoftBank and Microsoft announced a partnership to create a next-generation cloud-enabled robot using “Pepper” — SoftBank Robotics' humanoid robot — and Microsoft's cloud-based Azure IoT Suite. The idea is to build a humanoid robot for the retail industry to serve customers in person.  This version of Pepper will use Microsoft's Surface Hub large-screen collaboration device, its Surface 2-in-1 devices, and data repositories in the Azure cloud, such as inventory systems, AI assistance from Cortana, and the Microsoft Translator application.

In January 2016, SoftBank announced plans to offer a version of the Pepper humanoid robot to the enterprise market that would integrate cognitive capabilities of IBM's Watson.   The Watson-powered Pepper would try to make sense of a range of social media, video, image and text inputs. IBM said it will give clients access to Watson APIs and various pre-packaged applications.  The hospitality industry is target for the partners.

On June 21st 2016, SoftBank reached a deal to sell its 84% stake in Supercell Oy, a developer of mobile games based in Helsinki, Finland, to Tencent Holdings for approximately US$10.2 billion. SoftBank owned the controlling stake in Supercell since 2013, but let the business operate as an independent company with its own unique culture and independent team of developers. The proceeds from the sale will be used for the ARM acquisition.



Verizon Lands GSA Networx Contract Extensions

The U.S. General Services Administration awarded extensions to Verizon for contracts held by the company under the agency’s Networx program, which U.S. federal agencies can use to procure network and communications services from Verizon until the government transitions to a new, comprehensive solution-based contract, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions, or EIS.

The Networx contract extensions feature a one-year base period and two one-year options. Following are the contracts held by Verizon that the U.S. General Services Administration recently extended.


  • Networx Universal: Extended to March 2020, Verizon’s Networx Universal contract was set to expire in March 2017.The contract was originally awarded in March 2007.
  • Networx Enterprise: Extended to May 2020, Verizon’s Networx Enterprise contract was set to expire in May 2017. The contract was originally awarded in May 2007.


“The technology landscape is shifting dramatically and federal agencies require access to advanced communications, IT and security solutions to enable their digital government initiatives to streamline operations, boost employee productivity, and enhance the delivery of citizen services,” said Michael Maiorana, senior vice president of public sector markets, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “We are appreciative of the long-standing collaborative relationship we have forged with the GSA and our newly extended Networx program contracts will help ensure that we continue working together to enable federal agencies to deliver on their mission commitments in the U.S. and around the globe via reliable and secure network services for years to come.”

http://www.verizon.com

Etisalat Deploys Affirmed for Mobile Core

Etisalat has successfully on-boarded its first virtualised telecom function using Affirmed Networks' virtualised Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) solution.

UAE-based Etisalat made its first live LTE data and voice calls on its NFV telco cloud platform in April this year.

The vEPC will be used to deliver broadband and voice services for both mobile and fixed users, in addition to providing advanced connected car and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) services.

http://www.affirmednetworks.com/

F5 hits Revenue of $497 Million, up 3%

F5 Networks reported revenue of $496.5 million, up 3 percent from $483.7 million in the prior quarter and 3 percent from $483.6 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2015.

“During the third quarter, F5 delivered solid revenue growth and strong earnings despite a relatively challenging spending environment,” said John McAdam, F5 President and Chief Executive Officer. “The Americas and Asia Pacific both contributed strong sequential revenue growth, while EMEA revenues were down from the prior quarter against the backdrop of the UK's referendum to withdraw from the European Union.

“Reflecting steadily increasing deployment of our products in public and private cloud environments, software sales continued to grow as a percentage of overall product revenue. Our expanding footprint in public and private clouds also contributed to sequential growth in sales of our security products during the quarter.”

http://www.f5.com

F5 Names Ben Gibson as Chief Marketing Officer

F5 Networks named Ben Gibson as its new Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President, reporting to the CEO.

Gibson most recently was Chief Marketing Officer at Veritas, where he led a global team of marketing professionals and spearheaded that company’s rebranding efforts following a spin-off from Symantec. Prior to Veritas, Gibson spent five years as Chief Marketing Officer at Aruba Networks. Before joining Aruba, Gibson spent five years at Cisco Systems, most recently as Vice President of Data Center/Virtualization Marketing.

http://www.f5.com

Riverbed Expands R&D in Bangalore

Riverbed Technology opened a new global Research and Development facility in Bangalore, India. The new center will be the largest Riverbed R&D facility outside the U.S..

The company said it intends to expand its engineering team in the region three-fold over the next several years.

The Riverbed India R&D Center will be led by Kartik Subbanna, Vice President of Engineering, reporting to US-based Vineet Abraham, Riverbed’s Senior Vice President of Engineering.

http://www.riverbed.com

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Arbor Networks: Largest DDoS Attack Hits 579 Gbps

The largest distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack data during the first six months of 2016, as measured by Arbor Networks, reached 579 Gbps -- up 75% over the largest DDoS attack seen by the same research in 2015.  The data from the Arbor study shows a continuing escalation in both the size and frequency of attacks.

Arbor’s data is gathered through the Active Threat Level Analysis System (ATLAS), a collaborative partnership with more than 330 service provider customers who share anonymous traffic data with Arbor in order to deliver a comprehensive, aggregated view of global traffic and threats.

ATLAS has recorded:

An average of 124,000 events per week over the last 18 months.
A 73% increase in peak attack size over 2015, to 579Gbps.
274 attacks over 100Gbps monitored in 1H 2016, versus 223 in all of 2015.
46 attacks over 200Gbps monitored in 1H 2016, versus 16 in all of 2015.
USA, France and Great Britain are the top targets for attacks over 10Gbps.

Here are some highlights released by the company:

LizardStresser, an IoT botnet was used to launch attacks as large as 400Gbps targeting gaming sites worldwide, Brazilian financial institutions, Internet service providers (ISPs) and government institutions.
Average attack size in 1H 2016 was 986Mbps, a 30% increase over 2015.
Average attack size is projected to be 1.15Gbps by end of 2016.
DNS is the most prevalent protocol used in 2016, taking over from NTP and SSDP in 2015.
Average size of DNS reflection amplification attacks is growing strongly.
Peak monitored reflection amplification attack size in 1H 2016 was 480Gbps (DNS).

https://www.arbornetworks.com/arbor-networks-releases-global-ddos-attack-data-for-1h-2016

See also