Monday, July 25, 2016

Hans Vestberg is Out as CEO of Ericsson

Hans Vestberg has stepped down as President and CEO and member of Ericsson's Board of Directors.

Jan Frykhammar, Executive Vice President and CFO, will assume the CEO position until a new CEO is in office.

The resignation comes under pressure from the company's Board of Directors, which issued a statement saying that new leadership is required to address changing market conditions and "drive the next phase of Ericsson's development."  As stated during the disappointing financial report last week, the company must further cut expenses.

In a press statement, Chairman of the Board Leif Johansson says: "Hans Vestberg has led the company for seven years through significant industry and company transformation. Hans has been instrumental in building strong relationships with key customers around the world and his leadership and energy have been an inspiration to employees and leaders across Ericsson. However, in the current environment and as the company accelerates its strategy execution, the Board of Directors has decided that the time is right for a new leader to drive the next phase in Ericsson's development."

  • In June 2009, Hans Vestberg took over as CEO of Ericsson, replacing Carl-Henric Svanberg who had taken over as CEO of BP.

Ericsson's Q2 Sales Declined 11% YoY, Further Cuts Announced

Ericsson's Q2 sales decreased by 11% YoY, or down 7% YoY when adjusted for comparable units and currency, as mobile broadband sales continued to decline particularly in markets impacted by a weak macro-economic environment, such as Brazil, Russia and the Middle East.

"The negative industry trends from the first quarter have intensified impacting demand for mobile broadband, especially in markets with a weak macro-economic environment. We are delivering on ongoing cost reduction activities. However, in light of market development, management has, with the support of the Board of Directors, initiated significant actions to further reduce cost," stated Hans Vestberg, President and CEO of Ericsson.

In addition to its ongoing cost and efficiency program targeting savings of SEK 9 b. during 2017, Ericsson said it now plans to reduce R&D investments in IP and capture efficiency gains from the new company structure. Together, these activities are expected to reduce the annual run rate of operating expenses, excluding restructuring charges, to SEK 53 b. in the second half of 2017. This is to be compared with SEK 63 b. for full-year 2014 and equates to double the previously targeted savings in operating expenses.

Some highlights:

  • In Europe, completion of mobile broadband projects in 2015 continued to have a negative effect on sales growth YoY. 4G sales in Mainland China were stable YoY as the fast pace of deployments continued.
  • Network sales in North America were stable YoY driven by continued mobile broadband capacity investments. Global Services sales declined in North America as activities in Professional Services were lower.
  • The transition from 3G to 4G continued primarily in parts of Asia, contributing to solid sales growth in region South East Asia and Oceania.
  • Sales in the targeted growth areas were 20% of total sales and grew by 5% in the quarter in constant currencies.

MEF's Open Connectivity Services Packet WAN Use Case Led by Cisco. Amartus

MEF is undertaking a new OpenCS (Open Connectivity Services) Packet WAN Use Case that as part of MEF’s Open Initiative to accelerate the industry transition to agile, assured, and orchestrated Third Network services.

The OpenCS Packet WAN use case, which is led by Cisco and Amartus, will deliver a multi-vendor enabled reference design that includes the Presto NRP API using an OpenDaylight (ODL) SDN controller as a platform. In addition, the project involves OpenDaylight plug-ins defined in the ODL UNI Manager project. The OpenCS Packet WAN project team will provide frequent feedback about the use cases, information models, and operations required for MEF network resource models to the MEF NRP project team and coordinate MEF contributions to the ODL community.

MEF has multiple OpenCS use case instances underway, representing the services under the control of a specific network operator but which are orchestrated as part of a federated system initiated by a Third Network service provider. Within the OpenCS ecosystem, companies are developing and testing reference designs of MEF-defined L1-L7 services using combinations of open and closed source software, open specification and commercial hardware (e.g. Carrier Ethernet 2.0 certified devices), SDN, and NFV via MEF’s LSO Presto Network Resources Provisioning (NRP) APIs.

“We are delighted to have the support of Cisco and Amartus for MEF’s OpenCS Packet WAN Use Case that will help drive industry innovation,” said Pascal Menezes, CTO, MEF. “We especially want to thank Donald Hunter, Principal Engineer, Cisco and Bartosz Michalik, Technical Architect, Amartus for co-leading this important project.”

“We’re pleased that the MEF has selected Bartosz to co-lead this project,” said Marcin Paszkiewicz, CEO of Amartus. “Bartosz has contributed to the development of the LSO Presto API from the very outset, having participated in both of the MEF LSO Hackathons that have taken place to date, and I have no doubt that he’ll be highly successful in this project.”

Crehan: Steeper Price Declines for Ethernet Networking Bandwidth

Much steeper server-class Ethernet networking price declines will result in a significant increase in bandwidth deployed, enabling the next phase of cloud services, according to most recent Server-Class Adapter & LAN-on-Motherboard (LOM) Long-Range Forecast Report from Crehan Research Inc.

The firm forecasts that the dollar-per-gigabit cost of server-class Ethernet networking bandwidth will fall to less than one-fifth of its current level within five years, and that the related bandwidth deployed will correspondingly increase more than seven-fold during that same time period (see accompanying figure).

“Over the past five years, server-class Ethernet networking bandwidth has seen a robust increase of about thirty percent per year, in conjunction with ever-increasing data center network traffic and an annual dollar-per-gigabit price decline in the ten to fifteen percent range,” said Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research.

“With the arrival of 25 gigabit Ethernet (GbE), 50GbE and 100GbE, we expect an inflection change in this trend, with total bandwidth increasing close to fifty percent annually and the cost-per-gigabit of that bandwidth declining by close to thirty percent annually.” He added, “In fact, we are already seeing examples where 25GbE, 50GbE and 100GbE data center Ethernet products have very small – and sometimes no – price premium over the comparable lower speed offering.”

Despite its projection of a very strong ramp in the adoption of 25GbE, 50GbE and 100GbE, Crehan Research expects 10GbE to remain a very important server-class Ethernet networking technology through 2020, especially in enterprise data centers. “Although there is a lot of excitement around 25GbE, 50GbE and 100GbE, and justifiably so,” Crehan said, “many enterprise data centers are still using 1GbE for server networking attach. A lot of these customers will likely see 10GbE, and especially 10GBASE-T, as their next network upgrade path.” In a prior long-range forecast report, the firm noted that in contrast to the past, many high-speed Ethernet networking speeds would coexist simultaneously, as the diverse segments of the market looked for more targeted solutions to meet their specific needs.

Nokia to provide Tele2 with Cloud Packet Core

Tele2 has selected Nokia's Cloud Packet Core solution for deployment across its international network, first in Croatia and followed by Sweden, the Baltic states, Austria, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan.

The new generation mobile network will give Tele2 the flexibility, scale and performance necessary to support LTE consumer services on a larger scale, and further develop the foundation for 5G. Nokia will deliver its full Cloud Packet Core solution based on Cloud Mobile Gateway  and Cloud Mobility Manager, including the EMS and Virtualized Network Functions (VNF) Manager. The deal also includes Nokia's Professional Services.

"Like all leading operators, Tele2 is building out its packet core network to address the growth of consumer mobile broadband and an evolution path to 5G. Nokia is a packet core innovator and our cloud-native solution will allow Tele2 to connect a greater number and variety of devices and deliver a broader range of services. We look forward to helping our customer transform its mobile network infrastructure so they can offer new services faster, ensure scalability and performance, and evolve with confidence," stated Basil Alwan, president of IP/Optical Networks at Nokia.

Singapore's StarHub Triple Upload Speed with Carrier Aggregation + 64 QAM

Singapore's StarHub completed a trial with Nokia that implmented carrier aggregation in the 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands and the 64 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) technique to triple the upload speed over its LTE network.  The companies reported peak upload speeds of 150 Mbps.

StarHub plans to introduce the technology commercially in the Marina Bay and Orchard areas of Singapore in time for the city state's year-end celebrations, allowing customers with compatible devices to enjoy a smoother mobile data experience while sharing high definition videos and photos in real time. At such speeds which are three times faster than what most 4G networks offer today, a 200MB 4K resolution video can be uploaded to the Internet in as little as 11 seconds.

Mock Pak Lum, Chief Technology Officer, StarHub, said: "The ability to upload quickly is fast becoming a necessity for our mobile customers. In fact, we saw a close to 50% increase in upload traffic year-on-year, as customers increasingly share high definition videos and photos instantly with the world. Collaborating with technology partners such as Nokia, we are driving innovation in 4G for the benefit of our customers amid continued growth in mobile data use."

Verizon Confirms $4.8 Billion Acquisition of Yahoo

Verizon confirmed a deal to acquire Yahoo for $4.8 billion in cash. The deal does not include Yahoo’s cash, its shares in Alibaba Group Holdings, its shares in Yahoo Japan, Yahoo’s convertible notes, certain minority investments, and Yahoo’s non-core patents (called the Excalibur portfolio). Yahoo will remain a registered, publicly traded investment company holding these assets, and will change its name once the deal closes.

Yahoo, which was founded in 1994 and is based in Sunnyvale, California, remains one the most visited news and media website, with over 7 billion views per month, along with leading web services with email, sports, etc..

Yahoo claims 600 million monthly active users. Yahoo's email service has 225 million monthly active users.

Verizon said the acquisition, combined with its AOL property, gives its more than 25 digital content/service brands in areas ranging from sports and entertainment news to online information services.

“Just over a year ago we acquired AOL to enhance our strategy of providing a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers. The acquisition of Yahoo will put Verizon in a highly competitive position as a top global mobile media company, and help accelerate our revenue stream in digital advertising.” Lowell McAdam, Verizon Chairman and CEO

ADVA Expands its NFV Ensemble Harmony Ecosystem

ADVA Optical Networking announced ten new members of its network functions virtualization (NFV) Ensemble Harmony Ecosystem: Advantech, ASTRI, Check Point Software Technologies, Introspective Networks, LightRiver Technologies, Mirantis, Riverbed Technology, Versa Networks, and Walker and Associates.

ADVA said its Ensemble Harmony Ecosystem enables more than 30 partners to collaborate on solutions spanning 14 categories of VNFs.

“The Ensemble Harmony Ecosystem offers a comprehensive portfolio of onboarded VNFs with unparalleled variety and choice. The truth is, no other program in the industry even comes close,” commented Brian Irish, director, marketing, Ensemble Division, ADVA Optical Networking. “We know that today’s customers expect cooperation between vendors. They demand solutions that enable them to combine the most advanced and best-of-breed components from various suppliers. That’s why we’ve created an environment where the industry’s leading companies can collaborate to deliver even more value to customers and take NFV to the next level. We’ve done the heavy-lifting and made it incredibly simple for customers. They can now choose from a wide variety of virtualized functions and effortlessly realize the full promise of NFV.”

Saturday, July 23, 2016

CenturyLink Activates Transatlantic Capacity with Aqua Comms

CenturyLink has activated two 100G wavelengths between New York and London on Aqua Comms’ America-Europe Connect (AEConnect) subsea cable system.

“The circuits Aqua Comms has provided to CenturyLink from New York City to London are lit point of presence (PoP) to PoP with no intermediate or cable landing station regeneration,” said Aqua Comms Chief Technology Officer Tom McMahon. “Traversing over 6,800 kilometers, the high capacity transatlantic route includes diverse terrestrial segments on both ends enabling CenturyLink to provision end-to-end high capacity connectivity without regeneration, utlising advanced modulation techniques.”

“This is a major milestone for CenturyLink’s international network. We now can control the provisioning, monitoring and troubleshooting of end-to-end connectivity between our U.S. network and any CenturyLink point of presence on our European network,” states CenturyLink Senior Vice President of Network Planning Pieter Poll. “Our multinational customers require seamless connectivity to accommodate today’s key business applications and we’re confident that this new Aqua Comms AEConnect fibre optic cable system will provide an important link between two of the world’s most vital social and economic hubs.”

Aqua Comms' New AE Cable Plugs into euNetworks Fiber Network

Aqua Comms an euNetworks announced a commercial partnership that enables Aqua Comms’ to extend its America Europe Connect (“AE Connect”) subsea system across Europe on euNetworks’ footprint. euNetworks owns and operates 13 fibre based metro networks across the region, connected with a long haul fibre network spanning 45 cities across 10 countries. This footprint offers direct fibre connectivity to more than 280 data centres in major European mark

Greg Varisco, COO of Aquacomms, introduces the key capabilities of AEConnect, which boasts capacity of 130 wavelengths, each at 100Gbps.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Second Intelsat EpicNG Launch Expected in August

Intelsat 33e, the second of the Intelsat EpicNG series of high throughput satellites (“HTS”), arrived at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, where it will undergo final preparations before its scheduled launch on an Ariane 5 rocket on the 24th of August, 2016.

Intelsat 33e was manufactured by Boeing and is equipped with the most advanced digital payload on a commercial spacecraft.

Intelsat 33e will extend Intelsat’s high throughput capacity in both C- and Ku-band from the Americas to include Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean regions.

Intelsat said it has a number of customers already committed to Intelsat 33e, some of which include Pakistani Internet service provider SuperNet Limited, African telecommunications providers such as Telkom South Africa, Orange, IP Planet, Vodacom, Dijoubti Telecom, Safarifone and Africell RDC SPRL.; Russian network service providers Romantis and RuSat LLC; and media customers including TV & Radio Broadcasting (formerly Television and Radio Broadcasting of Armenia), and MultiChoice of South Africa.

Intelsat 33e will also deliver enterprise-grade, broadband services to aeronautical and maritime mobility service providers and users, including maritime mobility customers such as EMC, Harris CapRock and Marlink, and aero mobility customers such as Gogo and Panasonic Avionics.

First Intelsat EpicNG Satellite Successfully Launched by Arianespace

The first of the Intelsat EpicNG high throughput satellites was launched successfully from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 vehicle.

The Intelsat 29e (IS-29e), which is the first of the EpicNG satellites, combines high throughput Ku- spot beams in the Americas to meet broadband demand for carrier-grade telecom and enterprise connectivity as well as Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean coverage for dense aero and shipping routes. It also offers a transatlantic Ku- wide beam overlay and provides efficient broadcast capabilities for in-flight entertainment. C-band wide beam provides full South American continent coverage for media distribution. Boeing served as prime contractor.

“Today’s launch represents a truly ‘epic’ moment in communication’s history, as we begin a new era of high throughput satellite services for our customers,” stated Stephen Spengler, Chief Executive Officer, Intelsat. “This is a testament to the innovation and creativity of the Intelsat team who envisioned the Intelsat EpicNG platform nearly four years ago. Through design expertise and a deep understanding of our customers’ requirements, the Intelsat EpicNG platform will deliver high performance, improved economics and simplified access that will expand the addressable market for our solutions.”

  • Intelsat has previously named a number of customers in the region who have already committed to Intelsat EpicNG, include Compania Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela, BT Latam Venezuela, Anditel, S.A.S, Axesat, Amazonia Cabo Ltda., Cadena Ecuatoriana de Television C.A., Canal 10 CETV, Corporacion Nacional de Telecommunicaciones CNTE.P., Fox Latin America Channels do Brasil, Igrege Mundial do Poder de Deus, Radio e Televisao Banderantes and Telefonica del Peru.
  • In 2012, Intelsat first unveiled its EpicNG platform -- a new approach to satellite and network architecture utilizing multiple frequency bands, wide beams, spot beams and frequency reuse technology. EpicNG will be the company's next generation of satellites, promising higher throughputs and lower cost per bit. It will be a complementary overlay to the company's existing constellation of satellites and global IntelsatONE terrestrial network.

Israel's Bezeq Trials Adtran's

Bezeq, Israel's incumbent operator, has undertaken field trials of ADTRAN's range of FTTx solutions.

The tests, in one of Israel’s largest cities, involves a variety of copper loop lengths and Internet speeds. Specifically, Bezeq is currently trialling the 8-port and 16-port ADTRAN distribution point units (DPUs), which are both physical layer and chipset agnostic, ensuring rapid service provisioning and activation.

“Bezeq is committed to delivering infrastructure for a Gigabit society, and it’s clear how will play a vital role in accomplishing this for many areas throughout Israel, alongside traditional FTTP approaches where required,” said Dr. Eduard Scheiterer, senior vice president, research and development, ADTRAN. “The path to delivering transformative broadband is made even more compelling as Fiber-to-the-Cabinet deployment models are supported with an increase in equipment port density and enhanced chipset performance, permitting substantial asset re-use and accelerating the pace of rollout.”

“Our trials have proven to be both an innovative and a pragmatic broadband technology that creates new possibilities thanks to its flexible deployment capabilities. We are pleased that ADTRAN has enabled us to accelerate the delivery of new transformative Gigabit broadband services,” said Bezeq CTIO, Yaki Zano. “Bezeq’s and ADTRAN’s continued strategic and collaborative partnership is cementing both companies’ commitment to delivering access solutions and technology that best serve customers in Israel.”

Zayo Appoints Jack Waters as CTO and President of Network Solutions

Zayo appointed Jack Waters as chief technology officer (CTO) and president of Network Solutions, reporting to Zayo’s chairman and CEO Dan Caruso.

Waters and Caruso worked together beginning in 1997 in launching Level 3 Communications and throughout Caruso’s seven years at the company. During Waters’ 18-year tenure with Level 3, he held key leadership and engineering roles and is well known for his role as their long-time CTO.

Before joining Level 3, Waters was an executive staff member for MCI Communications, responsible for network architecture and implementation. He began his career at SURAnet, the Southeastern University Research and Academic Network. Waters serves on the FCC’s Technical Advisory Council and the board of directors for the Colorado Technology Association.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

ONOS Project and ONF Develop Leaf-Spine Fabric

The ONOS Project, which is the open source SDN Network Operating System (ONOS) for service providers and mission-critical networks and hosted by the Linux Foundation, and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) have collaborated to develop a leaf-spine fabric solution for data centers and service provider Central Offices.

The effort has resulted in the first L2/L3 leaf-spine fabric on bare-metal switching hardware that is built with SDN principles and open source software.

“Underlay and overlay fabrics represent important ONOS use cases,” said Guru Parulkar, executive director of ON.Lab. “ONOS Project, in partnership with ONF and several active ONOS collaborators, have delivered a highly flexible, economical and scalable solution as software defined data centers gain momentum. This is also a great example of collaboration between ONF and ON.Lab to create open source solutions for the industry.”

“This is an L2/L3 SDN fabric with state-of-the-art white box hardware and completely open source switch, controller and application software,” said Saurav Das, principal architect at the Open Networking Foundation. “No traditional networking protocols found in commercial solutions are used inside the fabric, which instead uses an integrated SDN-based solution. In the past, the promise of SDN has fallen short in delivering HA, scale and performance. The fabric control application design, together with ONOS, and the full use of modern merchant silicon ASICs solve all of these problems. In addition, the use of SDN affords a high degree of customizability for rapidly introducing newer features in the fabric. CORD’s usage of the fabric is an excellent example of such customization.”

Some highlights:

  • The fabric is built on Edgecore bare-metal hardware from the Open Compute Project (OCP) and switch software, including OCP’s Open Network Linux and Broadcom’s OpenFlow Data Plane Abstraction (OF-DPA) API. 
  • It leverages earlier work from ONF’s Atrium and SPRING-OPEN projects that implemented segment-routed networks using SDN.
  • It offers HA and scale support with multi-instance ONOS controller cluster (previous work was with single-controller)
  • vRouter for interfacing with traditional networks using BGP and/or OSPF
  • CORD’s vOLT for residential access network support
  • Support for IPv4 Multicast forwarding for residential IPTV streams in CORD
  • Integration with CORD’s XOS-based orchestration framework

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.

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

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.