Thursday, June 8, 2017

ONAP Adds Members and Cites Significant Technical Progress

The Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) Project, which unites two major open networking and orchestration projects, open source ECOMP and the Open Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O), announced its latest members: Accenture, CertusNet, Coriant, Juniper Networks, Mavenir, Mirantis, PCCW Global, Red Hat, VEON and Windstream joined as new members to contribute to the open source framework for network automation.

The group is meeting June 8-9 in Beijing. Later this year, ONAP plans to release an architecture that seamlessly integrates open source ECOMP and the Open Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O) to support the coming wave of 5G, IoT and cloud applications and services.

“I’m incredibly pleased with the technical energy behind ONAP and the progress the community is making,” said Arpit Joshipura, General Manager, Networking at The Linux Foundation. “The turnout at our first face-to-face developer gathering was amazing. With today’s news, the ONAP braintrust continues to expand, representing more than 35 organizations from around the world. ONAP enables a new business model of faster innovation and is now an integral part of all major vendors in Networking Community.”

Current members include: Amdocs, ARM, AT&T, Bell Canada, BOCO Inter-Telecom, Canonical, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Ciena, Cisco, Cloudbase Solutions, Ericsson, GigaSpaces, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Metaswitch, Microsoft, H3C Technologies, Nokia, Open Networking Foundation, Orange, Raisecom, Reliance Jio, Tech Mahindra, VMware, Wind River and ZTE.

Introducing ONAP - the Open Network Automation Platform

What is ONAP?

The Open Network Automation Platform is a project hosted by The Linux Foundation that aims to automate the entire network.

Presenters in this video include: Chris Rice, Senior VP of AT&T Labs;  Arpit Joshipura, General Manager for Network & Orchestration at The Linux Foundation; Madam Yang, Deputy General Manager of China Mobile Research Institute; Alla Goldner, Industry Alliances & Standardization at Amdocs; and Dave Reekie, SVP for Research and New Technology at Metaswitch.

Video sponsored by Metaswitch.

PacketFabric Signs NTT Com for its Layer2 Platform

NTT Communications (NTT Com) and PacketFabric, a NantWorks company and provider of next-generation Ethernet-based cloud networking services, announced that they are partnering to extend the availability of NTT Com's IP transit services to more locations in the U.S. across PacketFabric's network.

The partnership is designed to enable NTT Com to reach more customers and leverage PacketFabric's automated software-defined networking (SDN)-based network platform.

Leveraging the PacketFabric platform, NTT Com can extend its Tier-1 Global IP Network and provide fast, secure and reliable network connectivity services to customers in the 130 locations across 13 metro markets served by the PacketFabric network. Through the partnership with NTT Com, PacketFabric gains another ecosystem partner, enabling it to expand the over-the-top services offered to its customers.

NTT Com operates network infrastructure, including its global Tier-1 IP network, Arcstar Universal One VPN network, which reaches 196 countries/regions and 140 secure data centres. The company's solution offering also leverages the resources of NTT Group companies including Dimension Data, NTT DOCOMO and NTT DATA.

  • PacketFabric, based in Culver City, California, emerged from stealth to launch an Ethernet-based cloud networking platform in 11 metro markets across North America in January 2017. The SDN-based, neutral Layer-2 connectivity platform combines an automated network with terabit-scale performance, and is designed to provide customers with instant provisioning of highly scalable connectivity between two or more points across its private backbone.
  • PacketFabric allows users to dynamically provision capacity as needed to hundreds of networks and major data centre locations using the any-to-any, SDN-powered coast-to-coast network facilitates linking 130 carrier-neutral colocation facilities in 13 U.S. markets. PacketFabric leverages an advanced API and web-based portal that provides visibility and control over the network traffic and services.

PacketLight unveils 200G ADM/Muxponder/Transponder

Packetlight Networks, a provider of DWDM and optical fibre networking solutions, has launched the PL-2000ADS, a 200 Gbit/s 1U multi-protocol, multi-rate ADM/muxponder/transponder designed for short-haul and encryption applications.

The new solution is designed to provide enterprises and data centres with a modular, cost-effective and compact platform delivering transport capacity of up to 200 Gbit/s by aggregating 10/40/100 Gigabit Ethernet, 8/16/32 Gbit/s Fibre Channel, STM64/OC192, OTU2/2e and OTU4 into dual 100 Gbit/s OTU4 uplinks.

Packetlight's PL-2000ADS can also function as a standalone 200 Gbit/s Layer-1 encryption solution, allowing enterprises with a DWDM network to implement security without altering their infrastructure. The product complies with FIPS 140-2 Level 2 security requirements and provides GCM-AES-256 bit encryption and key exchange based on the Diffie-Hellman (DH) protocol without restricting performance.

The PL-2000ADS specifically targets short-haul 100 G bit/s connectivity and Layer-1 encryption applications, including:

1.         Last mile access/aggregation CPE for 10/40/100 Gbit/s managed service.

2.         High capacity, short-haul enterprise and campus networks.

3.         Dynamic add/drop of services in ring and linear add/drop topologies.

4.         As a feeder solution to third party OTU4 transponder cards.

5.         Up to 200 Gbit/s Layer-1 encryption for 10/40/100 Gbit/s service.

6.         High bandwidth connectivity for data centre and cloud computing.

* In November 2016, PacketLight announced the launch of the PL-2000M platform for data centre interconnect (DCI) and metro networks. The muxponder/transponder supports carrier-grade coherent 200 Gbit/s tunable uplink capacity for serving multiple applications and protocols such as data, storage, OTN and TDM.

The PL-2000M enables transport of 20 x 10 Gbit/s over a single wavelength. removing the need to replace existing infrastructure, with the 200 Gbit/s uplink tunable across the ITU 50 GHz and 100 GHz grids, allowing adjustment by the operator to fit the required wavelength.

Ixia enhances CloudLens to provide visibility into subscriber traffic

Ixia, a provider of network testing, visibility and security solutions, announced it has extended the capabilities of the CloudLens Private integrated cloud visibility platform via its MobileStack features.

The new MobileStack software provides end-to-end visibility into subscriber traffic, which enables mobile operators to assure the QoS for key Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and data services in both software defined (SDN) and traditional networks. CloudLens Private with new MobileStack capabilities enables mobile operators to manage QoS for subscribers by:

1.         Eliminating potential blind spots, thereby helping to ensure that all subscriber traffic from physical and virtual networks is delivered to QoS monitoring probes.

2.         Identifying and tracking mobile subscriber sessions and load balancing to probes in a subscriber-aware fashion, allowing the monitoring infrastructure to scale as traffic increases.
3.         Enabling operators to filter traffic based on type, such as VoLTE, subscriber identity, device or geographic location.

4.         Improving the total cost of ownership of monitoring tools through offloading the correlation of GTP sessions, so enabling these tools to focus on monitoring tasks.

Ixia noted that the capabilities of the MobileStack application were initially offered as part of its GTP Session Controller (GSC), a physical solution that provides subscriber-aware visibility. GSC, currently deployed with mobile operators worldwide, including at a large U.S. carrier, can handle hundreds of Gbit/s of throughput and tens of millions of subscribers.

LightRiver acquires Unique to enhance transport network

LightRiver Software, and sister company LightRiver Technologies, the provider of Factory Built Network design and commissioning for multi-vendor packet-optical networks, announced it has acquired Unique Computer Services, a company specialising in the development and support of multi-vendor transport network systems software, with hundreds of thousands of nodes currently under management.

LigtRiver noted that Unique's advanced product, netFLEX, is designed to enable transport network operators to efficiently provision and manage from a few up to several hundred thousand network elements, with FCAPS support across a range of legacy and next generation vendors and devices.

In combination with LightRiver's Transport Lab, Network Factory, preferred access to major equipment vendors and ongoing investment in Tier 1 software defined networking integration, the joint solution is intended to expedite the benefits operators can gain from next generation transport technologies and network orchestration, together with Webscale 2.0 elasticity. The combination also integrates resources to provide a single entity for the design, delivery and management of complex software controlled transport networks.

Unique's netFLEX system provides a Layer 0/1/2 transport network controller, either implemented on premises or in a hosted cloud model, that provides multi-vendor management across a range of technology domains, including WDM, OTN, SONET, TDM, Ethernet. The solution also supports products from vendors including ADVA, Nokia (Alcatel-Lucent), Ciena, Cisco, Coriant, Fujitsu and Infinera.

netFLEX can also serve as a single platform enabling support for transport domain management and services provisioning and SDN multi-domain service orchestration enablement.

  • In May, LightRiver announced a partnership with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) to offer communication networking technology, solutions and services designed to deliver the performance and security required for industrial control system and utility applications. LightRiver noted that the partnership would focus on providing turnkey solutions based on SEL's software-designed networking (SDN), managed Ethernet and Integrated Communications Optical Network (ICON) platforms.

BT creates new CIO positions

UK telco BT announced it has appointed a new team of chief information officers (CIOs) following a review and overhaul of the company's approach to serving major corporate and public sector customers.

BT stated that a key function of the new CIO team will be to act as the 'voice of the customer' within the company, to help ensure that suitable solutions are developed to meet customers current and future needs. As part of this effort, the new CIO team devote significant time to liaising directly with the CIOs of major customers with the aim of creating a long term shared plan for how technology can improve their businesses.

Led by Philip Baulch, CIO of BT's Major Corporate and Public Sector division, the new team also comprises a number of CIO industry leads who will focus on delivering the IT and networking requirements of customers in specific sectors, including central government, defence, and corporate, as well as those based within the English regions and devolved nations.

Additionally, a chief technology officer (CTO) and chief operations officer (COO) will provide additional support for complex deals and ensure that the right propositions are developed to meet customers' needs into the future. Reporting to the regional CIO, there will also be six new positions focusing on specific geographic areas within the UK, covering Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the South West; London and the South East, the Midlands and the North of England.

The other appointments include Ian Simpson as CTO, David Petty as COO, Paul Ryder as CIO, Central Government, Phil Brunkard, CIO, Regional, Gary Moore, CIO, Defence, and Tom Baker as CIO, Major Business.

The initiative follows the recent appointment of six new regional directors serving the same geographic areas, and also reflects BT’s shift towards adopting a more devolved approach to serving its public sector customers, in line with evolving market trends. The CIO leads will work closely with the regional directors to support the new strategy and to develop a shared technology vision in conjunction with customers.

Washington's Rainier Connect selects ECI for upgrade to 100 Gbit/s

ECI announced that in cooperation with Rainier Connect, a family-owned, telecommunications service provider offering high-speed Internet, cable TV and telephone services to more than 15,000 customers in the western U.S. it has upgraded Rainier's optical transport network to 100 Gbit/s capacity utilising the Apollo family of products.

ECI noted that the upgrade project was funded in part by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Rainier Connect, based in Tacoma, is a gigabit fibre, broadband and telecommunications company that serves business and residential customers in the South Puget Sound area of Washington state, including the communities of Tacoma, Puyallup, Centralia, Eatonville and Graham.

For the project, Rainier Connect selected the ECI Apollo platform, which is designed to provide transparent and flexible DWDM transport combined with integrated packet services. Apollo is designed to enable efficient networking by combining the performance and low-latency of OTN transport with software-configurable optical switching.

Through deployment of the Apollo solution, Rainier's network architecture is able to provide 100 Gbit/s interfaces, multi-degree ROADM capabilities together with scalability up to 88 channels. The complete solution is managed via ECI's LightSOFT network management system (NMS).

* Recently, ECI announced that Italy's Lepida, a regional broadband network in the north of the country, had selected its Apollo platform to enable a 10/100/200 Gbit/s regional WDM network featuring 96 channel, tunable flex grid and OTN cross-connect functionality in its main network PoPs.

* ECI also announced recently that Media Commerce, based in Bogota, Colombia and the largest operator of optical network infrastructure in Colombia, had completed the deployment of packet-optical metro and aggregation networks based on its Apollo and Neptune (NPT) family products, with management provided by the LightSOFT NMS solution.

Big ambitions for next gen satellite networks – part 2

While SpaceX is planning to encircle the planet with thousands of satellites for delivering broadband Internet access, another venture, known as Ligado Networks, has come up with a plan to salvage the power of the largest commercial satellite ever launched to deliver connectivity over North America for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) sector, and possibly as a boost for 5G networks.

Ligado Networks is a privately-backed company based in Reston, Virginia, with investors including Centerbridge Partners, Fortress Investment Group and JPMorgan Chase & Co. From the big hitting industry execs on the leadership team it is clear the company is serious. Ivan Seidenberg, a former chairman of Verizon Communications, serves as chairman. Also on the board of directors is Timothy Donahue, former executive chairman of Sprint Nextel and former president and CEO of Nextel Communications, and Reed Hundt, the former Federal Communications Commission. Doug Smith serves as Ligado's president and CEO; he is known for his work in engineering and launching nationwide networks for GTE, Nextel, Sprint Nextel and Clearwire.

Picking up the pieces from LightSquared, SkyTerra and Mobile Satellite Ventures

Ligado Networks, previously known as LightSquared, emerged from bankruptcy reorganisation in 2016 with a new plan, or rather a new version of an old plan. The company controls 40 MHz of nationwide spectrum licenses in the L-Band (1500 to 1700 MHz), which it acquired in 2010 through its purchase of SkyTerra, another bold start-up that envisioned transforming the U.S. mobile scene with satellite communications.

Prior to 2008, SkyTerra was known as Mobile Satellite Ventures and had successfully operated the MSAT-1 and MSAT-2 satellites for over a decade. As 4G LTE technologies neared, the company set its sights and going big. The business plan evolved from pure mobile satellite to a hybrid design where the satellite connectivity would be used to augment terrestrial mobile communications. This would mean using the same spectrum bands from ground based base station as well as from the satellite. The company changed its name to SkyTerra and was acquired by Philip Falcone's Harbinger Capital Partners acquired SkyTerra in March 2010. Harbinger invested about $2.9 billion in assets and soon raised more than $2.3 billion in debt and equity financing.

SkyTerra soon became known for its massive SkyTerra 1 satellite, which weighed a record 6,910 kg. The satellite was built at Space Systems/Loral's Palo Alto, California facility. It operates in two 10 MHz blocks of contiguous MSS spectrum in the 2 GHz band throughout the U.S. and Canada. Notably, the satellite uniquely features an 18-metre reflector and an S-band feed array with 500 spot beams. In November 2010, SkyTerra 1 was successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

SkyTerra changed its name to LightSquared and in January 2011 was granted a conditional waiver by the FCC to test its network if it could be shown that the service would not interfere with GPS signals. This alarmed many GPS advocates, who argued that the L-band spectrum was simply too close to its own and that even a little interference could have serious consequences for the military, aviation, agriculture and other vertical sectors that rely on precise navigation.

In February 2012, the company received its greatest setback when the FCC withdrew its conditional approval for LightSquared network due to the potential interference concerns with GPS receivers. In June 2012, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed securities fraud charges against Philip Falcone and Harbinger Capital Partners; the case was settled in June 2013. For LightSquared, the game was over and it was soon forced into the bankruptcy courts. In addition to the technical, legal and financial challenges, LighSquared also faced allegations of political favouritism. Nevertheless, it still had the spectrum licenses and a fully functional Skyterra1 satellite parked in geostationary orbit.

Ligado Network is the new entity that in December 2015 emerged from this decade-long mess. Significantly, the company reached a settlement with the GPS industry on a technical plan to avoid interference issues by reducing the transmission power. It is not clear why a similar compromise could not have been reached in 2012. Ligado is now awaiting clearance from the FCC.

Ligado looks for its market

So back to square one, and Ligado Networks is now moving ahead with the plan to combine Skyterra1 satellite coverage with a ground-based network should FCC approval come. The goal is a ubiquitous national network whose footprint requires far fewer ground-based towers than would otherwise be required for universal coverage. The company says its mid-band spectrum is well suited for things that move, such as planes, trains and automobiles.

In its original iteration, LightSquared aimed to either compete with or partner with 4G LTE mobile services. At least one mobile handset model was developed that incorporated specialised silicon for tuning in the L-band frequency in addition to standard cellular bands. It seemed that a distribution partnership with AT&T was also in the works. For consumers, this would have meant being able to use the AT&T LTE network where available and then seamlessly roam onto the SkyTerra1 satellite service when that signal was stronger. Unfortunately, this handset was based on an old Nokia design and was not an iPhone or Android device. Even without the legal and financial issues, this business plan was not going to work.

Meanwhile, as the number of autonomous vehicles on the road rises, the strain on the mobile infrastructure will rise. Mobile operators are working to 'densify' their networks in preparation for 5G. This might mean more of the capex is focused on the cities and less on rural places. Satellite coverage could really help here, although the issue of latency may prove problematic for fast moving vehicles needing to connect to a geostationary bird. In addition, there is the issue of creating end-point devices tuned for the L-band spectrum. Perhaps Ligado will introduce specialised solutions for the types of vehicles it is targeting. A further issue to consider is the aging Skyterra1 satellite. It has now been in orbit for six and a half years, and most satellites are designed for a 15-year life. By the time the Ligado Network is up and running it may be approaching mid-life status and time to start planning a new one.

Analog Devices updates RadioVerse to support transition to 5G technology

Analog Devices (ADI) has announced an update to its RadioVerse technology and design ecosystem, which is intended to simplify and accelerate radio development for wireless carriers and telecom equipment manufacturers as they transition cellular base stations from 4G to 5G technology.

ADI's expanded RadioVerse portfolio features new radio transceiver hardware, software tools and a robust design environment designed to enable the more compact and lower power radios required for next generation networks. The new solution allows customers to evaluate and develop radio designs for 4G small cell and Pre-5G massive MIMO systems, which will be key elements in the transition to 5G.

Supporting radio design across the circuit, architecture, system and software levels, the updated RadioVerse release includes the AD9375 RF transceiver, the latest addition to ADI's integrated wideband RF transceiver series. The AD9375 device is claimed to be the first RF transceiver to incorporate digital pre-distortion (DPD) algorithm on-chip to help reduce DPD power consumption by up to a claimed 90% versus competing solutions.

ADI stated that re-partitioning the DPD system from the FPGA to the transceiver reduces the number of JESD204B serial data interface lanes by half, resulting in a significant power saving, particularly as the number of antennas per base station increases from two to 128 in support of Pre-5G massive MIMO radio-channel density requirements.

Further benefits of the new design include a more compact radio circuit layout enabling simplified routing and system design, reduced base station size and allowing the use of lower-cost, less complex FGPAs. Applied to small cells, these advantages can allow more frequency bands per cell for higher network capacity.

ADI's AD9375 transceiver allows a common radio platform design that is tunable over a range of 300 MHz to 6 GHz, operates on a 6 Gbit/s JESD204B interface and consumes less than 5 Watts. As with the AD9371 product, the AD9375 features two 100 MHz receivers, two 250-MHz transmitters, a two-input observation receiver and a three-input sniffer receiver. In addition, integrated DPD can support 3G and 4G waveforms with instantaneous signal bandwidth up to 40 MHz.

In addition to the AD9375, the RadioVerse transceiver hardware portfolio features wideband devices for base station architectures ranging from macro- to pico- and femto-cell form factors, in addition to ultra-low power, narrowband transceivers targeting industrial Internet of Things applications.

ADI noted that it is continuing to expand RadioVerse through partnerships with power amplifier (PA) suppliers including NXP Semiconductors and Skyworks Solutions.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

OpenDaylight Carbon Brings Support for Metro Ethernet, cable services

The OpenDaylight Project, delivering an open source platform for programmable, software-defined networks, has announced its sixth release, Carbon, featuring enhancements designed to better support metro Ethernet and cable operators, as well as Internet of Things (IoT) deployments.

OpenDaylight's latest release advances the platform's scalability and robustness with new capabilities to support multi-site deployments for geographic reach, application performance and fault tolerance. Southbound protocols OpenFlow and Netconf have been made more scalable and offer new features and administrative utilities have been enhanced.

Further new capabilities offered with the Carbon release include:

1.         Streamlined service function chaining via an integrated framework for NFV management, with integration work and new capabilities recently showcased as part of the proposed Nirvana Stack.*

2.         Support for a series of PCMM specifications and other capabilities required by cable operators, plus improvements that allow software applications and service orchestrators to configure and provision connectivity services in physical and virtual network elements, in particular Carrier Ethernet services as defined by MEF.

It was noted that the enhanced toolchains for OpenDaylight are being incorporated as core components of higher-level open source frameworks including ONAP, OPNFV and OpenStack, as well as in real-world implementations of designs from standards bodies such as the MEF. In addition, such combined stacks are being used by developers to explore new use cases, such as IoT.

The OpenDaylight project cited comments on the new Carbon release from companies including CenturyLink, China Mobile, Inocybe Technologies and Tencent.

CenturyLink noted that as it works to virtualise its network, SDN controllers provide key functionality, while diverse requirements in the network, data centres and central offices require flexibility from OpenDaylight and applications such as the Edge Access Controller.

Regarding OpenDaylight, Adam Dunstan, VP of SDN/NFV engineering at CenturyLink, commented, ".,.to achieve full network virtualisation, CenturyLink has created its own virtualised Broadband Network Gateway (vBNG) using open source components including OpenDaylight and OpenStack… it used OpenDaylight software to build the SDN access controller because of its flexibility to work with legacy operations support systems as well as newer orchestration platforms".

*          Nirvana Stack is a generic NFV solution stack proposed by AT&T in 2016 which consists of four key components: OpenStack, OpenDaylight, These components are integrated into a solution stack in OPNFV and designed to enable rapid development, composable architectures, and flexible solution design.

Three strategic moves by Equinix: Telecity, VZ data centers, subsea links

When one thinks of public Internet infrastructure companies that first names that come to mind are the top cloud providers, but Equinix is another one that really should be at the top of the list, not only for its impressive footprint of data centres worldwide but for its strategic moves build Platform Equinix, its vision of interconnected global facilities for cloud-enabled enterprises. The company's stated belief is that digital transformation is driven by cloud services, where compute, storage and networking are shifting to the edge.

The company now operates data centres, which it calls International Business Exchanges (IBX), in 41 markets across the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific. In addition to data centre colocation space for enterprises and service providers, Equinix has been adding direct Layer 2 connections to major cloud service providers. This cross connect service was first launched in 2013 and has been expanded in size and footprint since. In EMEA, for instance, Equinix reports that major Infrastructure-as-a-Service players such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM SoftLayer, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle on average have a presence across 15 markets in its data centres.

Background and a look at financials

Equinix is a public traded company (EQIX) based in Redwood City, California and with 6,200 employees worldwide. It reported 2016 revenue of $3.61 billion (including $400 million from Telecity properties and $149 million from Bit-isle), up 33% over 2015 revenue. Without the Telecity and Bit-isle revenue, the company delivered an organic and constant currency growth rate of around 14%. Net income for 2016 from continuing operations amounted to $114 million. The company is guiding for 10% growth in FY 2017. During 2016, capex amounted to $1.1 billion spread over 19 expansion projects. During April, Equinix announced new expansions in London, Paris and Sydney totalling $145 million of capex.

In December 2015, Equinix reorganised its operations into a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), a legal structure with tax advantages for companies operating principally as property owners with tenants paying rent for physical facilities.

A big M&A player

Significantly, Equinix has entered a new growth phase through very big ticket acquisitions. In January 2016, Equinix completed its acquisition of TelecityGroup plc, more than doubling its data centre capacity in Europe and fortifying its position as the largest retail colocation provider in the region. The deal was valued at approximately $3.8 billion (compromised of $1.7 billion in cash and the issuance of approximately 6.8 million shares of Equinix common stock valued at $2.1 billion). Specifically, Equinix added data centre facilities in Bulgaria, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Sweden and Turkey. Telecity also brings more than 1,000 net new customers to Equinix, including more than 200 network and mobility companies and more than 300 cloud and IT services companies.

To gain regulatory approval for the deal from the European Union, Equinix agreed to sell eight data centres in markets where it would otherwise have attained a monopolistic advantage. This involved a sale of facilities to Digital Realty Trust for $874 million. Post merger, Equinix operates a flagship data centre campus in London (Slough), which now encompasses more than 408,000 sq feet (38,000 sq metres) of net premium colocation space, interconnected by more than 1,000 diverse dark fibre links. The campus hosts more than 90 network service providers and provides access to a range of trans-Atlantic subsea cables, with latency of approximately 30 milliseconds to New York and 4 milliseconds to Frankfurt. The facility also houses LINX, one of the world's largest Internet Exchanges, and serves as a virtual financial centre for more than 170 financial services companies. Equinix estimates that a quarter of European equities trades flow through its premises. Taken together, this makes Equinix one of the busiest network nodes in the UK.

In February 2017, Equinix acquired IO UK's data centre operating business, also located in Slough, in close proximity to the existing campus. Financial terms were not disclosed. The facility is in its development phase. Equinix announced plans to rename the data centre LD10. The facility will add approximately 350 cabinets of sold capacity and a total colocation space of approximately 3,340 cabs once the facility is completely built out.

Equinix gained a big foothold in Europe in 2007 through its $2 billion acquisition of IXEurope and its facilities in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK.

On May 2nd, 2017, Equinix completed its acquisition of 29 data centres and their operations from Verizon Communications. The deal, which was first announced in December 2016, was valued at $3.6 billion in cash. Along with facilities spanning approximately 3 million gross sq feet of data centre space, the transaction includes over 1,000 customers, of which over 600 are net new to Equinix. The 29 data centres are located across 15 cities in North and Latin America, three markets of which are new to Equinix (Bogota, Culpepper and Houston), bringing Equinix's total global footprint to over 175 IBX data centres across 44 markets and approximately 17 million gross square feet.

The deal is significant for several reasons. First, it shows that Verizon would rather pursue its role as a carrier than as a colocation data centre operator. If Verizon finds it better not to own the building but to partner with Equinix, a carrier neutral colocation company, then perhaps other carriers will follow this reasoning. Operating the next wave of cloud exchange data centres is distinctly different business than being the carrier. Second, the key facilities mentioned above in Culpepper and Miami will open new doors and bring tremendous traffic volumes in the years ahead. Both are highly strategic squares on the global chess board. Third, the scale of the Equinix platform jumped up another quantum level.

Bringing subsea cables into the data centre

Earlier this week, Equinix announced a deal with Eastern Light, a Stockholm-based company that is building a series of new international optical cable routes in northern Europe, with a focus on selling dark fibre to operators as well as other customers with special requirements for controlling their own infrastructure. NSW (Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke) is Eastern Light's main supplier of its submarine cable system. Eastern Light is using Ciena's GeoMesh solutions as part of its dark fibre offering.

The Equinix deal with Eastern Light ensures that the cable will terminate in two Equinix IBX data centres - HE6 in Helsinki and SK2 in Stockholm - which are key interconnection points for the Nordics. The Sweden–Finland portion of the cable is scheduled for completion in autumn 2017.

Equinix argues that there are performance and cost advantages when subsea cable systems are linked to cloud and content ecosystems inside the same data centre, and the Eastern Light deal is by no means the first such project for Equinix. Recently, the company disclosed that it is maintaining 'significant momentum' as the interconnection partner for new submarine cable projects globally, including recently winning its fifteenth project.

One such high-profile project is the Monet submarine cable, which will deliver 60 Tbit/s of capacity between the U.S. and Brazil, owned by Algar Telecom (a Brazilian telecom company and ISP), Angola Cables, Antel (the Uruguayan telecom company) and Google, which is also the U.S. landing party for Monet. Construction of the system is underway and expected to be completed in 2017. In September 2016, Equinix announced that the Monet cable will terminate in the U.S. at its MI3 IBX data centre in Miami. In Brazil, Monet will land in Fortaleza and Praia Grande near São Paulo. Landing facilities in those markets are to be provided by Angola Cables in Fortaleza and Google in Praia Grande.

When this project was announced, Ihab Tarazi, CTO at Equinix, stated:

-    "As data traffic continues to grow, from Facebook videos and Instagram selfies to Office 365 sessions and IoT connected devices, there is an unprecedented surge in construction of new submarine cables that currently carry 99% of this and all Internet traffic between continents. The investors in these new submarine cable systems, which now include large cloud service providers and content companies, are finding that when these submarine cables terminate on land, Equinix data centres are the optimal location to connect these point to point submarine cables into a single location that directly connects to thousands of networks".

Other current submarine cable projects that Equinix is engaged with (announced publicly) include: Southern Cross Cable Network (California - Sydney); Aqua Comms (New York - London); Hibernia Express (New York - London); Cinia (Germany - Finland); Trident (Australia - Indonesia - Singapore); Globenet (Florida - Brazil); Asia Pacific Gateway (China - Hong Kong - Japan - South Korea - Malaysia - Taiwan - Thailand - Vietnam - Singapore); Hawaiki Cable Limited (U.S. – Australia – New Zealand); Gulf Bridge International (Middle East - Europe); FASTER (U.S. West Coast - Japan); and Seaborn Networks (New York - Sao Paulo).

Alibaba, AT&T, Baidu, Tencent adopt Barefoot forwarding plane

Barefoot Networks, a provider of advanced, high speed switching technology, announced significant market momentum driven by growing demand for its programmable forwarding plane technology.

Barefoot's 6.5 Tbit/s Tofino switch, which is claimed to be the fastest and P4-programmable switch chip, has been sampling to customers since the fourth quarter of 2016. The company noted that its technology is being adopted by large enterprises and telecommunications providers to increase network performance and efficiency through leveraging programmable forwarding plane technology.

Barefoot stated that it has recently worked with AT&T and SnapRoute to deliver what it believes is the first real-time path and latency visualisation. Utilising Tofino and In-band Network Telemetry (INT), AT&T was able to gain deep insight into the network down to packet-level for the first time to help to address bottlenecks caused by path or latency variation.

Barefoot noted it took 6 weeks to develop the visualisation capability before it was deployed into AT&T's production environment carrying live customer traffic over a Washington DC to San Francisco link.

In addition, major Internet companies Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent have used Tofino and P4 to address challenges in their networks. Barefoot noted that the demands of mega-scale data centres are growing to support new applications and services, while legacy fixed-function switching technology is not sufficiently flexible and so they are using Barefoot to develop custom forwarding planes. The companies are therefore able to adopt load balancing, DDoS protection and INT features without affecting performance.

Barefoot has also expanded its ecosystem via partnerships with equipment manufacturers based in Asia. To date, the company has announced go-to-market partnerships with Edgecore Networks, WNC, H3C, Ruijie and ZTE. These partnerships are designed to enable Barefoot to meet growing demand for programmable networking across a range of network environments.

  • Barefoot Networks, based in Palo Alto, California, exited stealth and unveiled its user-programmable Tofino switch chip in June last year. Founded in 2013, Barefoot is backed by investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital. The company has raised approximately $155 million in five funding rounds, most recently raising $23 million in November 2016 in a round led by Alibaba and Tencent.

Colt selects NEC/Netcracker OSS, Service Orchestration solutions

NEC and Netcracker Technology announced that UK-based Colt has selected their technology for its large-scale OSS transformation, designed to equip the service provider to deploy next generation of infrastructure including virtualisation.

Under the agreement, Colt will leverage Netcracker's next-generation OSS and Service Orchestration solution, which forms a part of NEC/Netcracker's Agile Virtualization Platform and Practice (AVP).

Netcracker's OSS and Service Orchestration solution is designed to enable Colt to optimise its physical network and monetise new investments. The Netcracker solutions will also allow Colt to prepare its infrastructure for the use of both physical and virtualised environments.

NEC/Netcracker's Service Orchestration solution will provide Colt with increased provisioning automation and help to speed the delivery of new services to customers, as well as remove the risk of provisioning errors resulting from manual processes. The solution will also provide Colt with greater visibility into the network and thereby enable enhanced support and improved services.

  • Recently, Colt announced newly optimised low-latency network routes linking stock exchanges in Tokyo and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, offering latency between Tokyo and Chicago as low as 121.07 ms between each endpoint after network optimisation. Colt noted at the time that it had also commenced optimisation of other key routes in the Asia Pacific region.
  • Colt also announced recently the expansion of its Colt IQ Network to Helsinki, a growing focus for data centre investments. By extending its existing Nordic network to Helsinki, Colt can provide new network routes, including 10 Tbit/s capacity to Stockholm and a 100 Gbit/s-enabled connection that closes its fibre ring from Finland to Germany, linking Helsinki to Warsaw and Berlin.
  • Colt is a global high bandwidth connectivity provider that delivers services to small, medium and large enterprises and wholesale carriers in nearly 30 countries in Europe, Asia and North America via its intelligent, cloud-integrated network, known as the Colt IQ Network. The Colt network connects over 700 data centres and over 24,500 on-net buildings.

Kalaam Telecom teams with Versa Networks on SD-WAN

Kalaam Telecom, describing itself as the second largest ISP serving the business market in Bahrain, announced a partnership with Versa Networks, a supplier of next-generation software-based networking and security solutions, to launch what is believed to be Bahrain's first Secured SD-WAN infrastructure designed to simplify and secure WAN/branch office networks.

Kalaam's next generation feature-rich Secured SD-WAN solution is intended to mitigate the challenges faced by enterprise customers relating to supporting cloud applications, management of branch locations and security. The Kalaam SD-WAN solution is designed to support application growth and enable network agility and simplified branch implementations for both on-premises and cloud-based applications.

As the main alternative licensed telecommunications provider based in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Kalaam Telecom, established in 2005, offers a range of voice, Internet, data and value added services and cloud solutions to business customers. The company addresses small and medium-sized business customers and corporations across a variety of industries in Bahrain.

  • In May, Versa Networks announced the expansion of its software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities from SD-WAN to software-defined branch (SD-Branch). The enhanced Versa Cloud IP Platform enables large enterprises and service providers to virtualise and software-define the entire branch and WAN to help reduce complexity and improve IT agility.

ABI survey finds 55% plan to use telcos for connectivity only

According to the latest Industry Survey: Transformative Technology Adoption and Attitudes – Implementers' Perspective of Telco and Cloud report from ABI Research, despite telecom operators' efforts to enter new enterprise markets and create new business opportunities, the B2B technology survey indicates that technology implementers predominantly see telcos as providers of connectivity, and not value-added, vertical specific services.

The ABI survey finds that 55% of implementer respondents expect to use telcos for connectivity alone, with 31% favouring a 'connectivity+' approach, presenting an opportunity for telcos to bundle value-added, vertical-specific services with connectivity. However, only 13% of survey respondents expect telcos to create new ecosystems for IoT, data-related, IT and cloud services.

ABI noted that connectivity+ involves bundling vertical-specific services on top of connectivity, allowing telcos to leverage existing assets such as data, devices management, applications and services management, security and analytics to add value for implementers.

The research firm stated that the survey also indicate that telcos cannot, and should not, attempt to compete with web-scale companies in cloud computing services.

Specifically, ABI finds that only 4% of implementers surveyed intend to utilise telcos for cloud computing services currently, and projects that this will decline to 1% over the next five years. However, the survey shows that 12% of respondents are currently using hybrid cloud, and forecasts that this will increase to 38% in the next five years as the industry recognises the growing importance of using more than private and public cloud services on a standalone basis.

Commenting on the survey, Dimitris Mavrakis, research director at ABI Research, said, "Verizon has done well to offload its cloud businesses and other Tier 1 telcos will follow… competing with web-scale companies in their own field is impossible for telcos… implementer requirements and telco strategies seem to be disparate for the moment, for example, telcos are focusing on the automotive vertical, but the survey indicates that the retail, government and logistics markets are very interested in telco services".

Calix develops 10G EPON leveraging AXOS

Calix, a provider of Subscriber Driven Intelligent Access solutions, announced that it is leveraging the AXOS platform to rapidly develop new solutions, and specifically has added 10 Gbit/s EPON to its AXOS eSeries systems.

Calix's new 10 Gbit/s EPON-enabled eSeries solution is designed to provide cable operators with an enhanced, higher capacity platform that can be integrated into customers' existing networks and service delivery models while also offering a migration path to SDN.

Based on AXOS, the company's software-defined access (SDA) platform, Calix used its agile development approach to leverage its layered, componentised and abstracted platform to create a flexible 10 Gbit/s EPON solution. Calix stated that it was able to develop the new solution from design to customer demonstration within 120 days.

The result is the development is the first in a range of AXOS 10 Gbit/s EPON systems integrating support for OLT, routing, IP policy and accounting functions to support the back-office environments of cable operators. Additionally, AXOS 10 Gbit/s EPON systems are designed to meet the range of cable operator form factor needs to support centralised, distributed or virtualised network deployments, as well as supporting SDN transformation plans.

Currently available on the AXOS E3-2 Intelligent PON node, Calix's new 10 Gbit/s EPON will also be added to the AXOS E7-2 Modular Access System and E9-2 Intelligent Edge System over the coming months to address different deployment density requirements.
The company noted that cable operators can leverage the AXOS Sandbox to significantly accelerate the introduction of 10 Gbit/s EPON systems into their networks. AXOS Sandbox, which is available for download, allows customers to begin the integration and testing of production software releases of the Calix AXOS systems in a virtual environment, without the need for Calix hardware.

Additionally, by combining Calix AXOS DPx and 10 Gbit/s EPON systems, cable operators can eliminate the need to modify workflows and operations as they transition to SDN. Based on NetConf interfaces and standards-based Yang models, Calix 10 Gbit/s EPON allows cable operators to adopt SDN to gain automated provisioning in a multi-vendor, multi-technology deployment.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Vodafone and LG UPlus partner to address South Korea market

Vodafone and LG UPlus have jointly announced a new partner market agreement covering South Korea, marking the first strategic partnership by LG Uplus with a global telecoms company.

Under the new partnership, which commenced in April 2017, Vodafone will leverage its global reach and expertise to support the consumer and enterprise operations of LG Uplus in South Korea. As part of the agreement, Vodafone will share best practices with LG Uplus across all areas of its business, including network strategy and development, with the aim of helping LG Uplus to improve its customer base management capabilities.

Vodafone and LG Uplus will additionally cooperate to enable the delivery of unified communications and enterprise services to multinational companies with a presence in South Korea and internationally.

LG Uplus is focused on providing services comprising mobile, B2B solutions and TPS (triple play service, with broadband, VoIP and IPTV), and at the end of the first quarter of 2017 served approximately 12.6 million mobile subscribers and 3.67 million broadband customers.

Vodafone Group is a global telco with mobile operations in 26 countries, partners with mobile networks in a further 49 countries and fixed broadband operations in 17 markets. At the end of March, Vodafone Group had 515.7 million mobile customers and 17.9 million fixed broadband customers, including India and all of the customers for its joint ventures and associate companies.

In April this year, Vodafone and Proximus of Belgium the renewal of their strategic partnership covering Belgium and Luxembourg for a further five years, building on a relationship that began in 2003. The agreement is designed to enable the companies to offer joint products and services across their networks for consumer and enterprise customers.

Windstream moves swiftly into agile network services

Windstream is a publicly traded telecommunications operator based in Little Rock, Arkansas that has not hesitated to move faster than its industry peers in executing transformative business strategies or in adopting cutting-edge networking technologies. The company has just launched a service called SDNow Waves for data centre cloud applications. While many rivals are rushing to address the pressing need for big-pipe data centre interconnects, Windstream's new service pushed the concept further with SDN controls over an agile optical transport layer. Mike Shippey, president of Windstream Wholesale, puts it this way:

-    "We are investing in strategic technologies that enable us to deliver flexible, on-demand services across our multi-vendor network… providing SDNow services to our customers via multi-vendor service orchestration and automated provisioning truly differentiates Windstream in the marketplace".

Windstream background

Windstream Communications was formed in 2006 when Alltell spun out its local wireline phone business and merged it with VALOR Communications Group. The deal, which was valued at $9.1 billion at the time, created a major wireline operator focused on the rural U.S. market with approximately 3.4 million access lines in 16 states and about $3.4 billion in annual revenues in 2006. Windstream then went on a buying spree. Acquisitions included CT Communications on North Carolina for $585 million, D&E Communications of Pennsylvania for $330 million, Iowa Telecom for $1.1 billion, Q-Comm of Kentucky for $782 million, Hosted Solutions of North Carolina for $310 million, and PAETEC of New York for $2.3 billion.

In November 2016, Windstream announced plans to acquire Earthlink for $1.1 billion. The merger creates an extensive national footprint spanning approximately 145,000 fibre route miles and provide advanced network connectivity, managed services, voice, internet and other value-added services. The deal brings together Windstream's scale in the enterprise segment and EarthLink's newly-launched SD-WAN service. Upon closing of the transaction, Windstream shareholders represented approximately 51% and EarthLink shareholders represented. approximately 49% of the combined company. Earthlink was founded in 1994 and was based in Atlanta, Georgia.

In April 2017, Windstream announced plans to acquire Broadview Networks for $227 million. Broadview operates a regional MPLS backbone serving small and medium-sized businesses in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.

The REIT Spin-off

In August 2015, Windstream completed a tax-free spin-off of select telecommunications network assets into a new company, Communications Sales and Leasing (CSAL), an independent publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT). This network operations business leases back the physical assets to Windstream through a long-term triple-net exclusive lease with an initial estimated rent payment of $650 million per year. In addition, at the time of the REIT transactions Windstream also announced the near completion of a one-for-six reverse stock split of Windstream's shares. Also, Windstream repaid debt in an aggregate amount equal to $2.4 billion under its outstanding credit agreement.

Recent business highlights

For Q1 2017, Windstream reported total revenue of $1.515 billion, a decline of 7% compared to $1.632 billion a year earlier. The ILEC and Consumer business declined to $391 million from $397 million a year earlier. The Wholesale division business declined $178 million from $196 million a year earlier, the Enterprise division declined to $578 million from $594 million a year earlier, and the CLEC Consumer and SMB division declined to $198 million from $241 million a year earlier. During 2016, consumer households declined 6.3%.

To combat these trends, Windstream has been focused on expanding its network capabilities by adding metro fibre extensions (Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Little Rock and St. Louis) and especially be adding new capabilities via software. This includes a new SD-WAN and the new SDNow Waves launch. For consumers in its ILEC business, Windstream is working to bump up Internet access speeds by expanding the number of markets where it can deliver gigabit service.

More on the SDNow Waves service

Windstream's new SDNow Waves introduces optical wave services based on multi-vendor service orchestration and automated provisioning across the Windstream long-haul core network. It is initially available at five major third-party carrier neutral data centres in Chicago, Dallas, Ashburn, Miami and Atlanta. Windstream plans to expand the service to 50 additional locations this summer. The service is aimed at hyperscale web content and application companies in need of high capacity long-haul transport services. While the company's service launch release does not explicitly state how the multi-vendor provisioning works, below is what has previously been disclosed about the Windstream SDN strategy.

First, Windstream currently offers regional, metro and long-haul optical wavelength services at speeds ranging from 1 to 100 Gbit/s in targeted cities across the U.S. within the Windstream service area. The network reaches enterprise customers, carrier hotels, data centres and POPs with over 60,000 route combinations.

Second, Windstream has been using Infinera's DTN-X platform, featuring 500 Gbit/s super-channels, across its long-haul express network since 2014. In April 2015, Infinera announced an expanded rollout of the Windstream 100 Gbit/s long-haul express network to additional markets across the U.S.  In August 2016, Infinera cited Windstream as a test site for its new Xceed Software Suite (Xceed), which allows service providers to extend SDN automation to Infinera’s end-to-end Intelligent Transport Network portfolio, spanning long-haul, metro and data centre interconnect applications.

Thirdly, in October 2016 Ciena announced that its Blue Planet orchestration software had been selected by Windstream to automate the delivery of managed wavelength services across its multi-vendor optical network. The idea here was to utilise the optical network as a programmable resource to speed the delivery of managed 1, 10 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet wavelength services.

Another significant aspect to Windstream's SDNow Waves announcement is that it takes the carrier another step further down the road to DevOps, removing human touch-points in the service fulfilment process. Windstream says this will bring a better customer experience with improved accuracy through automated standard configurations.

The SD-WAN and Diverse Connect Services

In April, Windstream launched an all-new SD-WAN solution for the reseller community. The service, powered by VeloCloud, uses SDN to dynamically route traffic over a combination of private and public access types to reach multiple locations. The goal is to help customers maintain control over their network from a convenient centralised location rather than requiring them to manage various routers, firewalls and switches. It also simplifies management and monitoring by presenting comprehensive information to the customer in a unified management console a 'single pane of glass'.

Windstream's Wholesale portfolio also includes MEF 2.0 certified Carrier Ethernet, MPLS and Dedicated Internet Access. Also in April, Windstream announced the availability of a new business continuity service designed to ensure reliable connectivity for enterprises that rely on the cloud to support mission-critical applications. Windstream said this new Diverse Connect service helps to keep a customer's network endpoints connected while ensuring the performance of business functions including in the event of a major network issue. Diverse Connect is offered with a 99.999% (5-9s) uptime SLA that covers services from end-to-end, including over the last mile from Windstream's provider service point to the business' internal network.

XKL enables connectivity to DWDM with eVolocity platform

XKL based in Kirkland, Washington, a provider of fibre optic networking systems, announced the expansion of its eVolocity platform via the addition of features that enable connectivity to DWDM networks and lit service handoffs across the same interface, thereby allowing customers to connect physically separate private DWDM networks on a single platform.

XKL noted that the ability to light dark fibre and interface to lit services, including subsea, terrestrial and aerial systems, with a single, integrated platform can enable customers to create more flexible networks.

The XKL eVolocity platform can also serve as a media converter for aggregating 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports for transport over 100 Gbit/s DWDM wavelengths and on LAN-PHY interfaces. In addition, the platform is able to support statistical multiplexing at OSI Layer 1 to enable customers to aggregate more client-side interfaces than the standard 10 x 10 Gigabit Ethernet solutions.

The compact, 1 or 2 RU eVolocity platform additionally offers low power consumption and is designed to further reduce cost of ownership through allowing IT professionals to integrate and operate the system within their networks without the need for optical engineering expertise.

Recently, XKL launched its DarkStar Mux/Demux-Amplifier (DMD-A) optical utility appliance, offering features designed to enable increased network flexibility and manageability. The DMD-A appliance supports a range of filter options including 48- or 96-channel mux/demux and 4- or 6-band combiner filter, and enables point-to-point or east/west configurations. It also provides support for up to four EDFAs and one Raman amplifier, along with dispersion compensation and an integrated optical switch for path protection.

Earlier in the year, XKL introduced its FlexArc solution, designed to enable flexible provisioning and scaling via increased control at Layer 1 and new inline amplifier products for the DarkStar family, as well as the DQT10 transponder with ROADM, extending the DQM10 family of DWDM appliances via support for up to 96 channels and alien wave injection.

TELUS to invest C$4.2nn to upgrade network in Alberta

Canadian operator TELUS announced that it plans to invest C$4.2 billion in new communications infrastructure in Alberta over the period to 2020, including over C$900 million in 2017.

The network expansion program will include extending TELUS' gigabit-enabled PureFibre network directly to thousands more homes and businesses in rural and urban communities across the province, enhancing 4G LTE wireless service and continuing work to develop and test next-generation 5G wireless service, as well as improving support for key sectors such as healthcare and education.

TELUS noted that it recently launched a program to support vulnerable populations in Alberta with the introduction of broadband Internet service for low-income single-parent families receiving income or disability assistance from the provincial government for less than C$10 per month.

The TELUS investment in Alberta forms part of the company's national program to upgrade its network infrastructure. When announcing its financial results for the first quarter, TELUS stated it had invested C$724 billion in its networks in the first quarter and updated its consolidated financial targets for 2017, including revenue and EBITDA following closing of the agreement with Bell under which approximately 100,000 Bell MTS postpaid wireless customers and 15 dealer locations were acquired by TELUS.

In particular, TELUS raised its consolidated capex target to reflect the ongoing fibre network rollout and to support increased wireless network investments in Manitoba, as well as for its small-cell technology strategy designed to improve coverage and prepare for the introduction of 5G technology. TELUS now plans capex of approximately C$3.0 billion, up from the previous C$2.9 billion in 2017.

TELUS also announced it had reached a milestone ahead of Canada's 150th birthday, specifically that by the end of the year the company would have invested over C$150 billion in capital and operations to build and support network infrastructure across the country since 2000.

TELUS generates around C$12.9 billion in annual revenue and has 12.7 million subscriber connections, including 8.6 million wireless subscribers, 1.7 million high-speed Internet subscribers, 1.4 million residential network access lines and 1.1 million TELUS TV customers.