Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Cisco: expansion of the IP universe is accelerating

Cisco: expansion of the IP universe is accelerating

Cisco has just published its latest Visual Networking Index, an annual report that uses network traffic data from its service provider customers to forecast usage patterns for the next four years. Cisco has been publishing these VNI reports for 12 years and over that time has attracted quite a following. The reports are often cited in the media and used by many other network operators, regulators and Internet companies for planning purposes.

The first question on everyone's mind is 'how fast is the Internet growing?' Cisco's answer for this year, along with its responses for the past few years, are as follows:

·         2017: Global IP traffic is expected to increase three-fold from 2016 – 2021, reaching an annual run rate of 3.3 zettabytes by 2021, up from 1.2 zettabytes in 2016. Busy hour Internet traffic is increasing faster than average Internet traffic, and busy hour Internet traffic will grow 4.6-fold (35% CAGR) from 2016 to 2021, reaching 4.3 Pb/s by 2021, compared to average Internet traffic that will grow 3.2-fold (26% CAGR) over the same period to reach 717 Tb/s by 2021.

·         2016: Global IP traffic to nearly triple at a CAGR of 22% over the next five years (2015-2020) as more than a billion new Internet users come online and new applications take hold.

·         2015: Global IP traffic to triple between 2014 and 2019, when it will reach a record 2 zettabytes. This equates to a CAGR of 23% and marks the first global CAGR increase in consecutive VNI forecasts in nearly a decade.

·         2014: Global IP traffic to grow three-fold from 2013 to 2018, reaching 1.6 zettabytes annually by 2018, representing a 21% CAGR over the forecast period.

·         2013: Global IP traffic to reach 1.4 zettabytes (23% CAGR from 2012 to 17).

·         2012: Global IP traffic forecast to be 1.3 zettabytes by 2016.

In short, this year's Cisco's VNI predicts a 26% CAGR for global IP traffic over the next five years, which means that growth is not just ripping along but actually accelerating. The universe is expanding quickly and accelerating. It is an important observation with implications for everyone in the network ecosystem.

Looking at these big numbers for overall Internet traffic, and knowing that video represents such a significant percentage of that 26% CAGR, one cannot help but wonder why Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) would not have mitigated more of this traffic load. Considering the load an all-day Netflix binge on a 4K monitor, if tens of millions of viewers in the same cities and neighbourhoods are engaged in similar behaviour and watching the same shows, how effective are CDNs? The Cisco VNI numbers indicate that CDN traffic is growing even faster! A 44% CAGR globally and even faster in many regions.

Cable provider IP traffic is a different category

One might also think that the 26% CAGR for public IP traffic would be partially due to the migration or planned migration of cable operators to IP delivery platforms. But that is not the case. Cisco VNI has a separate category for Managed IP video, which is defined as IP traffic generated by traditional commercial TV services. It is not considered Internet traffic because its remains within the footprint of a single service provider. Below are the numbers for that category.

Infinera Intros XTM II for Cloud Scale Metro Packet-Optical

Infinera introduced its next generation packet-optical platform for metro networks.

The XTM II, which delivers Layer 0, Layer 1 and Layer 2 services, is optimized for bandwidth-intensive cloud scale applications at the metro edge, such as Remote PHY, 5G transport and data center interconnect (DCI).

Infinera said its new platform builds on its widely deployed XTM Series, but now adds 200 gigabits per second (200G) per wavelength capabilities, with an eightfold density increase and a reduction in power per gigabit of 3.5 times. Power consumption is believed to be the lowest in the industry for 100/200G transport. It also features Infinera Instant Bandwidth, which is the company's open grid line system with SDN control. This gives network operators a highly flexible, open and software-programmable packet-optical solution for Layer 0, Layer 1 and Layer 2 services.

A key component of the XTM II platform is the new range of 200G per wavelength traffic units, featuring:
  • The 400G Flexponder: A dual, 200G muxponder that uses 16QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) for high-capacity transport, or a dual 100G transponder that uses quadrature phase-shift keying (QPSK) for longer reach operation. This device provides 400G of line and client capacity per slot, giving an eightfold density increase over the previous generation. Including optics, the device operates at as low as 20 watts per 100G service, which the company believes is the lowest power consumption per 100G available in the industry on any wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM)-based platform.
  • The 200G Muxponder: A 200G Layer 1 muxponder that supports a broad range of client signals, including 10G/40G/100G Ethernet and Optical Transport Network (OTN) as well as 8/16/32G Fibre Channel. The device can also be paired to create an OTN add-drop multiplexer (ADM).
  • The EMXP440 Packet-Optical Transport Switch: A high-capacity addition to the existing range of EMXP devices that provides Layer 2 packet-optical switching with dual 100/200G ports and 12 or 24 10G ports. The EMXP440 supports Carrier Ethernet (CE) and MPLS-TP, packet transport with sub-50 milliseconds protection, Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) CE 2.0 service creation and quality of service-aware traffic aggregation. In addition, the EMXP440 has feature-harmonization with the EMXP/IIe range and PT-Fabric.
Additional enhancements to the XTM Series include:

  • A new portfolio of XTM II upgraded chassis for improved power management and cooling and increased density to support nodes that require large volumes of new traffic units. 

  • Instant Bandwidth capability, enabling the on-demand licensing of 100G bandwidth increments to align capital expense spend with service revenue and to reduce operational expenses through automated software activation of new capacity.
  • New 400G+ per wavelength-ready flexible grid 4x and 9x ROADM modules and optimized hybrid erbium-doped fiber amplifier (EDFA)/Raman optical amplifiers to support sophisticated modulation formats and higher baud rates required above 100G. In addition, the new XTM II open flexible grid line system supports fiber capacity up to 24 terabits per second.
  • A unified solution providing end-to-end software control from core to access. The XTM Series, including the XTM II, is supported by Infinera’s Xceed Software Suite and DNA network management system. This new range of packet-optical platforms provides network operators with leading low power and high density at Layer 0, Layer 1 and Layer 2, and supports full interworking with the large installed base of XTM Series and the DTN-X platforms.
“While backward compatibility is key as it allows current customers to take advantage of over 30,000 existing XTM Series chassis, what is more significant are the capabilities XTM II brings to new networks deployed by both new and existing customers,” said Karl Thedéen, Infinera Senior Vice President, Head of Metro Business Group.

The XTM II chassis are already shipping to customers and the 400G Flexponder will be available in Q3, with additional components of XTM II available by the end of 2017.


BT Labs demonstrates multi-400 Gbit/s superchannel

BT has announced a new 400 Gbit/s single-carrier based technology solution for the transmission of large volumes of data over core optical networks developed by researchers at the BT Labs in Adastral Park, Ipswich in the UK.

BT noted that the trial of the technology builds on its previously demonstrated Superchannel concept, which achieved transmission speeds of 5.6 Tbit/s in 2016 by combining 200 Gbit/s wavelengths of light into a single optical fibre.

For the latest demonstration BT, working with partner Huawei, has developed a technique that combines multiple 400 Gbit/s wavelengths over a single fibre. Using the new technique, BT researchers believe that transmission speeds of more than 13 Tbit/s can be achieved using the same amount of light spectrum as in the demonstration last year.

BT's latest Superchannel concept is based on the ultra-efficient use of light carried over optical fibre, termed spectral efficiency. The trial demonstrated that it is possible to transmit at multi-terabit speeds over existing core networks with stable, long term, error free performance and 6.25 bits/s/Hz spectral efficiency. BT claims that this spectral efficiency is the highest achieved on a real-world fibre link using production-grade hardware and software.

For the demonstration the technology was trialled on a live optical loop between BT Labs at Adastral Park and BT's Bishops Stortford exchange over a distance of 250 km. BT is demonstrating the technology at its Innovation Week 2017 event at Adastral Park.

  • In May last year, BT announced it had successfully transmitted speeds of 5.6 Tbit/s over a single optical fibre, and also that working with Huawei had demonstrated speeds of 2 Tbit/s over a live core network spanning 700 km between London and Dublin. The demonstration of 5.6 Tbit/s on an optical superchannel over a closed loop comprised 28 x 200 Gbit/s (64 GBaud/QPSK) sub-channels, bundled together to provide combined capacity with high spectral efficiency.

China Mobile to deploy Nokia home gateways for 30m users

Nokia and China Mobile announced the deployment of millions of home gateways to provide residential customers in 29 provinces in China with access to fibre-based ultra-broadband applications and intelligent home services.

Under the agreement, China Mobile will deploy home gateway units featuring Nokia's solution to over 30 million users during 2017. Utilising established FTTH networks that enable gigabit speeds for end customers, deployment of the new gateway is intended to extend Internet coverage within the home and enable IoT communications between devices and sensors.

Additionally, the ability to flexibly add software functions and enhanced analytics capabilities will allow China Mobile to deploy and deliver a new intelligent home experience and associated services.

Nokia noted that the latest contract with China Mobile extends a long-term fixed networks partnership between the companies that also encompasses the development of the telco's GPON network to support mobile backhaul.
According to market research company IDATE, China Mobile is expanding its position as a converged telecom operator and currently serves more than 31 million FTTH subscribers. It noted that the operator is leveraging its extensive fibre access network to deliver ultra-broadband applications such as 4K TV and gigabit access to customers in a number of provinces. The addition of intelligent home gateway technology is expected to enable China Mobile to differentiate its services.

  • Earlier this year, Nokia announced that its Nuage Networks venture had been awarded a contract to supply its Virtualized Services Platform (VSP) for China Mobile's first commercial public cloud project. For the project China Mobile is using Nuage's scalable SDN solution for a deployment of approximately 2,000 public cloud servers in Beijing and Guangzhou.
  • Nuage Networks' VSP solution is designed to enable China Mobile to virtualise its multi-tenant data centre networks and establish connectivity among computing resources while also delivering new features to customers. China Mobile had previously deployed Nuage Networks SDN technology in CMCC's DevOps private cloud architecture.

TE SubCom selected for South Pacific cable maintenance

TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity company and leading provider of submarine communications technology, announced that it has been awarded the South Pacific Marine Maintenance Agreement (SPMMA), a five-year service agreement with 14 cable operators in the region.

Under terms of the agreement, which began in March 2017, SubCom will maintain more than 51,000 km of cable that comprise 19 disparate telecommunications and power cable systems.

The SPMMA area covers the South Pacific region from Singapore in the west to Tahiti in the east, and from the southernmost point of New Zealand to Hawaii in the north. The agreement involves the maintenance cable systems across more than 28 million sq miles of the Pacific Ocean and will be supported by the cable ship Reliance, which is based in the South Pacific region.

As part of the agreement, SubCom will leverage its modern marine assets and technology portfolio to enable the delivery of maintenance services throughout the region.

  • TE SubCom is currently engaged in deploying the Hawaiki Submarine Cable, a 14,000 km trans-Pacific cable system that will link Australia and New Zealand to the mainland U.S. and Hawaii and American Samoa. New Zealand's Hawaiki Cable announced in 2013 that it had awarded a turnkey supply and installation contract to TE SubCom to build the cable system.
  • The 100 Gbit/s-enabled Hawaiki cable system will support capacity of up to 10 Tbit/s per fibre pair on the Australia/New-Zealand to U.S. route, while a number of Pacific Islands along the route will be able to connect to the main trunk.

Netronome enhances Agilio SmartNIC for OPNFV Danube

Netronome, a provider of intelligent networking solutions, has announced support for the latest OPNFV software release, OPNFV Danube, and integration into its Agilio SmartNIC platform, which is claimed to improve networking performance by up to 4x and to reduce CPU consumption by over 5x.

Netronome noted that at the OPNFV Summit in Beijing, Open-NFP.org is hosting the OPNFV Data Plane and VNF Acceleration Mini-Summit, which will feature technical sessions focused on acceleration of VNFs within the framework of OPNFV Danube-supported data planes such as Open vSwitch (OVS) and the Fast Data project (FD.io). Participants in the sessions include China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI), Guangzhou Research Institute at China Telecom, OPNFV, Open-NFP, SK Telecom, Spirent Communications and ZTE.

Netronome explained that designers and operators of cloud and telco data centre networks recognise the need for server acceleration and offload to realise the TCO benefits of NFV. SmartNICs can play a key role in efficiently delivering acceleration, while acceleration and offload of portions of VNF functions can offer further cost benefits.

During the OPNFV Data Plane and VNF Acceleration Mini-Summit, OPNFV community members are proposing an open framework and API to cover NFVi and VNF acceleration designed to promote broad cooperation and collaboration in the industry. The minis-summit is hosted by Open-NFP.org, a global, community-driven organisation that seeks to enable open, collaborative development in the area of data plane acceleration for network functions processing in server networking.

Open-NFP hosts 40-plus open projects and comprises over 100 developers, including service providers, OEMs, research institutions and academia. The portal also offers developers support via a P4- and C-based data plane software development environment and open source code related to Netronome Agilio SmartNICs.

Sessions to held during the event will cover areas including:

1.         NFVi acceleration models and offload architectures for OVS and VPP data planes using SmartNICs.

2.         VNF acceleration models and offload architectures for NFV using SmartNICs.

3.         An open API model for enabling NFVi and VNF acceleration, including the use of sandbox functions based on the P4 and/or C programming languages.

4.         A proposal for developing and testing VNF acceleration under the umbrella of the OPNFV Pharos Labs initiative, leveraging resources and support from the Open-NFP community.

Regarding the demonstration, Nick Tausanovitch, VP of solution architecture at Netronome, said:

-           "Enhancements to OVS-DPDK and introduction of new data plane technologies such as FD.io improve networking performance, however, these technologies rely on x86 compute cycles for networking functions, bringing down server efficiency while starving VNFs of bandwidth and reducing the CPU cycles available".

-           "The Agilio SmartNIC platform from Netronome, integrated with the OPNFV Danube software platform release, relieves such bottlenecks, enabling service providers to deliver new 4G and 5G services faster and more economically".

  • At Mobile World Congress in February, Netronome announced that its flagship Agilio CX SmartNIC platform has been integrated into a range of NFVi solutions from OEMs, including Juniper Networks, Mirantis and Nuage Networks (Nokia) to help telcos prepare their data centre infrastructure for the growth in data and new services.
  • Netronome also announced that Ericsson had added support for the Agilio CX SmartNIC platform within its NFVi solution to enable offload and accelerated datapath processing and to keep virtual machines (VMs) and VNFs hardware independent for rapid onboarding.

OFS expands InvisiLight fiber portfolio

OFS, a manufacturer of advanced fibre optic products and a Furukawa Electric company, has launched the InvisiLight Façade Solution for low-rise buildings or garden-style dwelling units, expanding the InvisiLight portfolio that also includes the drop cable solution to residential homes, MDU solution for building hallways and ILU solution for indoor living units.

OFS' InvisiLight portfolio also integrates with the SlimBox branded portfolio of terminals and closures to provide a modular solution offering for a range of market demands.

The new InvisiLight Façade solution is offered with 12 or 24 fibre-count indoor/outdoor rated cable, which can be installed on the face of a building or placed behind outdoor structures such as rain water downspouts. The 12 and 24 fibre cables have diameters of 3.0 mm and 3.8 mm, respectively, and can be either factory pre-terminated or connectorised on site with a fusion splice or mechanical connector.

During the installation process, the cables are connected to an outdoor building terminal typically installed at the base of a building. From the terminal, the cable can be installed vertically on the face of the building into the attic and then connected to a distribution terminal from which EZ-Bend optical cables can be run into living units.

Alternatively, the cable can be placed along the building facade using clips to pass each living unit, with compact slack loops placed outside or inside the unit. From there the optical fibre can be extracted to connect to the other InvisiLight solutions to connect to the optical network terminal (ONT).

OFS stated that its established EZ-Bend optical fibre is used in the InvisiLight Façade cable products, as well as the other InvisiLight portfolio of products. The EZ-Bend fibre features a 2.5 mm bend radius, which allows it to accommodate the sharp corners often encountered when fitting the cable onto buildings. OFS noted that the new InvisiLight Façade solution is designed to offer an almost invisible cable for installation onto the exterior of and within buildings.

Dell'Oro reports white box server shipments up 41% yr/yr in Q1

According to the latest Server Quarterly Report from Dell'Oro Group, white box server shipments continued to grow at a rapid pace in the first quarter, increasing 41% year on year, with the first quarter growth led principally by Google and Amazon, although Facebook and Microsoft are expected to increase their spending in the second quarter of 2017.

Highlights from Dell'Oro's server report for the first quarter of 2017 include:

1.         Overall cloud data centre expenditure is projected to remain strong for the remainder of the year, although it is forecast to be uneven during the year across the major cloud providers Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook.

2.         The cloud providers are expected to continue to build-out data centres at a high rate and to invest in the latest server technologies based on the Intel Purley platform and 25 Gbit/s single-lane SerDes technology.

3.         Most of the major U.S.-based branded vendors, led by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Dell Technologies, experienced quarter over quarter and year on year shipment declines due to a number of factors, including server migration from the enterprise/on premise to the cloud, typical first quarter weakness, and a pause in server purchases ahead of the Intel Purley server refresh cycle, which is expected in the second half of 2017.

Commenting on the report, Baron Fung, senior business analysis manager at Dell'Oro Group, noted, "Dell'Oro believes that most of the growth in the server market will come from cloud deployments… while the upcoming Intel Purley refresh cycle may spur overdue spending in enterprise, it will be the cloud providers that will set the market growth pace in 2017."

China Telecom Shanghai selects Huawei for gigabit network

Huawei announced that it will help the Shanghai Branch of China Telecom to deploy a gigabit network featuring 10 Gbit/s PON optical network terminals (ONTs) to support smart home services.

Shanghai Telecom is planning to build what is believed to be the first commercial FTTH network in China using 10 Gbit/s PON technology as it progresses towards providing full fibre coverage enabling 1 Gbit/s bandwidth in Shanghai over the next 3 years. This project is expected to make Shanghai the first gigabit city in China.

Huawei noted that Shanghai Telecom established a 3-year goal of moving from 100 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s in 2016, and is a leading company in the construction of 10 Gbit/s communities and delivery of 1 Gbit/s bandwidth to households.

By the end of 2016, Shanghai Telecom was providing 1 Gbit/s access for 269 communities. By the end of 2018, the average access rate of Shanghai Telecom's network is expected to rise from 50 to 280 Mbit/s, while user-perceived download rates are expected to rise from 13 to 100 Mbit/s.

As part of its gigabit services offering, Shanghai Telecom has released a range of home broadband services, including multi-channel 4K, video calling, video conferencing and other smart home services.

To address Shanghai Telecom's requirements, Huawei is supplying its large-capacity distributed optical line terminal (OLT) MA5800 and next-generation smart 10 Gbit/s PON ONT. The single sub-rack solution is able to support streaming of UHD 4K videos for 16,000 households concurrently, as well as offering support for 8K video.

The Huawei OLT is designed to enable gigabit convergence through multiple media, allow different services to share the same platform during cloud evolution and to support a large number of physical connections for smart home applications.

The ONT supports multiple Gigabit Ethernet ports and can bear simultaneous multi-channel 4Kvideo, video calling and virtual reality (VR) services. Additionally, Huawei is providing an open intelligent platform designed to flexibly support a range of smart home services.

The pieces are coming together at Dell Technologies – part 3

Wrapping up the coverage of last week's Dell EMC World, a key point to consider is how the many component companies now assembled will fit together and what strategic advantage this provides over the likely competition.

At the low end, Dell Technologies will face challenges from the 'white' competitors - vendors can supply generic PCs, servers, switches, etc. on thin margins. even single digit margins. Especially as the industry turns to open networking software and Open Compute Platform (OCP) hardware designs, Dell EMC could find itself in the same race to the bottom in margins. This is the race that drove IBM to sell off its PC and server business to Lenovo.

Looking around the exhibits and customer case studies at last week's event, it looks like there is a solid case that Fortune 500 enterprises are sticking with Dell. They simply have too much at stake to risk being out of date with their technology or going with a dodgy vendor. Just looking at the many victims for the WannaCry ransomware attacks, once again we can hear the experts reminding everyone to keep their systems up-to-date. Businesses must realise that running Windows XP on PCs that are six years old can put the whole enterprise at risk. As a top brand, Dell should have a convincing case that it is the right partner for this.

Enterprise IT shops are also looking to public clouds for a bargain. For rolling out a new enterprise application, cloud vendors such as AWS, Google or Azure, certainly seem like a bargain. No upfront costs to buy server or storage. No wasted time in ordering, testing and provisioning equipment. No complications in planning how to back-up the application or how to scale it if grows quickly. No risk of buying too much and having unused compute and storage resources. And if the new application were to fail or found to be unneeded or redundant, there is no wasted capital for servers and storage that now must be disposed.
As discussed in previous parts, Michael Dell cited a key figure in his keynote, saying he believes public cloud services are 2.5 times more expensive than on premise solutions when considering long term costs, which one would expect means applications with heavy compute, networking and storage characteristics. Over a 3-year period, it is easy to see how public cloud expenses would exceed the cost of buying a server and operating it locally.

However, making a business case centred on long term cost is not the only way that Dell Technologies is tackling the challenge of public cloud migration. One way of fighting the attrition of enterprise customers to the public cloud, is to bring the public cloud on premise. Newly released is the Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack, an on-premises hybrid cloud platform for delivering infrastructure and platform-as-a-service with a consistent Azure experience on-premises or in the public cloud. Everything you need to run Azure Stack is pre-configured on Dell hardware that resides in your own data centre. The Azure Stack APIs, tools, apps and services remain behind the enterprise firewall, and yet remain consistent with the customer's Azure public cloud experience. For Dell EMC, this is an opportunity to sell more PowerEdge R730XD and S-Series switches. For Microsoft, it is an opportunity to keep the customer running Microsoft server software while perhaps luring some, but not all, of the workloads into the Microsoft data centres.

Moving IT spending to a consumption model

One of Dell Technologies' big announcements is that it will now offer a consumption based model for its IT infrastructure products.  This is its answer to the no-upfront cost lure of public cloud services. In a sense, the public cloud companies are paying to pre-deploy compute/storage/networking equipment in their data centres. They earn this money back as they fill it up with customers. At some point, the money collected exceeds the cost of purchase and from then forward until the day it is obsolete the equipment is delivering profit. With interest rates continuing to remain low, Dell can play this same game, and maybe they do not even need to borrow money and can self-finance the operation. For customers who choose the consumption model, Dell will provide the equipment, as the workloads increase and storage drives get filled, the bill increases. Customers pay only for the storage capacity needed. Importantly, the service promises instant access to additional buffer capacity during spikes driven by the business, with payments adjusting to match usage. If not needed any more, Dell can take back the equipment. Of course, the leasing contract will likely have many conditions and clauses, but certainly this model provides a direct answer for project managers comparing this quarter’s heavy capex spending for a new project with a much leaner opex alternative from Amazon Web Services. The flex pricing is initially available for all Dell EMC storage solutions, but company executives suggested that it could be expended across the IT portfolio.

This consumption model is already being used by other tech companies. There are processor cores that are activated and paid-for on-demand; similarly, Infinera offers a Bandwidth On-demand licensing model where network capacity can be activated in 100 Gbit/s chunks when demand justifies it.

Looking for start-up opportunities

Meanwhile, the new Dell Technologies Capital has just been introduced to manage the company's investment strategy. Specifically, Dell Technologies Capital will invest in start-up companies globally on behalf of all the business units, including Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and VMware.

Dell Technologies figures that it has more than just capital to invest. Targeted start-up will also benefit from Dell's full resources, OEM and go-to-market relationships and global distribution challenge. While this new investment arm has just been unveiled, it has been running for several years and has already staked out equity positions in more than 70 early-stage start-ups. Targeted areas include storage, software-defined networking, management and orchestration, security, machine learning/artificial intelligence, big data/analytics, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and DevOps. Two Dell Technologies Capital portfolio companies were highlighted at Dell EMC World this year:

•   Edico Genome, which created the first bio-IT processor and an end-to-end platform designed to analyse the massive workloads associated with DNA sequencing. The company is delivering a pre-configured, out-of-the- box solution with Dell Technologies that enables the analysis of an entire genome in 22 minutes compared to more than 24 hours using standard software.

•   Graphcore, which developed new technology to deliver massive acceleration for Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications. The company's Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) is the first to be designed specifically for machine intelligence workloads.

All start-ups tend to look for an exit for their early investors, usually in the form of acquisition or an IPO. With Dell Technologies now having many companies under its umbrella, one can expect some of the portfolio investments to become acquisition targets. This is the well-known model of Silicon Valley, with some R&D essentially outsourced and the risk/reward is shared.

Sprint Offers Free Unlimited for One Year to Switchers

In the latest volley in U.S. mobile marketing war, Sprint launched a very aggressive pricing campaign to attract users to join its network. The deal promises "FREE Unlimited data, talk and text for one year" with no annual contract for new Sprint customers currently served by  Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile. After July 31, 2018, the service is priced at $60/month for the first line. The offer is valid until June 30. Customers must bring their own phones.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Huawei demonstrates 6 Gbit/s downlink in China's 5G R&D testing

Huawei announced that it has completed China's second phase 5G radio technology test in Huairou District, Beijing organised by IMT-2020 (5G) promotion group, during which as part of C-Band testing it employed 5G New Radio, massive MIMO and other technologies utilising the entire 200 MHz bandwidth to enable over 6 Gbit/s of single-user downlink throughput and over 18 Gbit/s peak cell rate.

Huawei noted that its 5G test terminal was utilised for radio technology verification, enabling over 100 channels of on demand 4K UHD video in a single 5G base station. As part of the demonstration, 4K video was reliably delivered for vehicle-mounted mobile scenarios, illustrating the capabilities of 5G C-Band enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB).

Huawei stated that it is the first to complete testing of 5G network slicing technology for diverse service requirements in three typical scenarios. Network slices allow flexible configuration with a high degree of cooperation between the air interface and network to enable a secure user experience. As a result, a range of services are available on a single network with air interface latency of less than 0.5 ms and over 4 million single-cell connections, exceeding ITU 5G requirements.

Huawei has now completed large-scale service verification based on a live network and service environment ahead of schedule, marking a key milestone as part of China's 5G R&D test and representing a further advance for 5G industrialisation.

During the test procedures, Huawei noted that it implemented interoperability tests involving radio frequency and interworking functions working with upstream and downstream vendors. Specifically, Huawei partnered with instrument vendors Rohde & Schwarz, Keysight Technologies and DT Link Tester, chipset vendors Spreadtrum Communications and MediaTek, together with other companies.

MRV introduces 200 Gbit/s optical transport solutions

MRV Communications, a supplier of network solutions for data centre operators, service providers and enterprises, has introduced new 200 Gbit/s coherent digital muxponders for its OptiDriver WDM optical transport portfolio that are designed for data centre interconnect (DCI) and telecom applications.

Equipped with the new muxponders, OptiDriver can be deployed for a range of applications, from smaller access locations to large metro and regional WDM networks based on common modules and chassis. This approach helps to simplify network design, reduce stranded chassis space and sparing requirements and enable interoperability for data centre operators, service providers and enterprises.

The new products are based on digital coherent technology and enables a complete solution, ranging from 100 Gbit/s transponder module to the 200 Gbit/s muxponder modules, offered in a compact form factor. The 200 Gbit/s muxponders provide high-service granularity, thereby a failure of a module affects only the service on one port, while the high port-density 600 Gbit/s triple muxponder integrates three independent 200 Gbit/s muxponders in a 1 RU configuration.

MRV noted that the new solutions provide chassis-based modularity across the product line, together with advanced management options including Ethernet and OTN/FEC PM, OTN OAM&P, as well as remote management capabilities based on GCC-channels for high density optical transport applications.

Based on coherent digital CFP2-DCO optics, MRV's OptiDriver 100 Gbit/s transponder and 200 Gbit/s muxponders are designed to enable a cost-effective pay-as-you-grow strategy.

The new transponder and muxponders offer energy efficiency, delivering between 0.16 and 0.25 watts/Gbit/s, combined with high density when installed in OptiDriver stackable chassis from the OD-1, compact one-slot desktop unit to the OD-4-DCI, 1 RU modular pizza box, to the OD-48-HD 48 slot metro and regional WDM platform. The new modules provide up to 1.2 Tbit/s capacity in the 1 RU OD-4-DCI chassis and up to 18 Tbit/s in the OD-48-HD, 10 RU chassis.

MRV stated that the new modules can be used in combination with other modules in the OptiDriver portfolio including optical add/drop multiplexers (OADM), multi rate and multi-protocol transponders, dispersion compensation, ROADMs, optical multiplexers and amplifiers to address a range of DWDM network requirements.

The new modules, which can be  managed via the Pro-Vision life cycle service orchestration software, also offer support for Layer 1 wire-speed, hardware-ready encryption and open line system (OLS) architectures.

BT launches InfoVista application performance management

UK incumbent telco BT has announced the launch of BT Connect Intelligence InfoVista-as-a-Service, a new application performance management solution delivered from the cloud that offers a scalable as-a-service flexible pricing option to BT's applications performance management portfolio,

The new BT Connect Intelligence.It offering delivers InfoVista's Ipanema technology via the BT cloud infrastructure and is designed to combine the capabilities organisations require to orchestrate the performance of business applications running across the network. The solution provides enterprises with greater flexibility and cost control when managing critical applications across the corporate network, irrespective of the connection type or bandwidth used.

The software underpinning the new solution is delivered from BT's cloud infrastructure and can be managed by users over the Internet. This model helps to speed implementation and allows self-service and availability over any WAN infrastructure. The Ipanema software provides capabilities including application visibility and control, WAN optimisation and dynamic path selection functions.

BT noted that Connect Intelligence InfoVista-as-a-service is designed to support organisations' digital transformation initiatives as they increasingly rely on dynamic network services, and to allow them to gain the flexibility and cost benefits of software-defined networking (SDN) leveraging the existing network infrastructure. The new solution is available worldwide to existing customers and to organisations using other network providers.

The cloud is creating choices that never existed before. Through understanding those choices comes the confidence and the ability to harness change and do things that matter: get to market and innovate faster, keep costs down, and keep customers happy.

The new Connect Intelligence solution comprises part of BT's Cloud of Clouds portfolio strategy, designed to enable customers worldwide to connect securely to the applications and data required, regardless of where they are hosted and where they are based.

Microsemi upgrades TimeProvider 5000 PTP grandmaster clock

Microsemi, a major provider of high performance, low power semiconductor solutions, has updated the hardware on its TimeProvider 5000 IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) grandmaster clock to provide support for IPv6 and multi-Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) constellation, offering improved reception and higher security for a range of telecom network applications.

The company noted that global operators are increasingly seeking solutions such as its enhanced TimeProvider 5000 product to meet the requirement of directives in certain countries to support multiple constellations to remove the dependency on GPS. In addition, via support for both GLONASS and Galileo constellations systems can be made more robust and secure against certain GNSS vulnerabilities.

Microsemi stated that the TimeProvider product family has been installed in over 350 networks globally to support high performance, reliable network infrastructures. Combined with newly added support for IPv6 and multi-GNSS constellations, the TimeProvider 5000 also provides redundant hardware, user configurable PTP profiles and Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE) support with optical small form-factor pluggable (SFP) modules.
TimeProvider 5000 is a carrier-grade, IEEE1588 PTP grandmaster clock with network time protocol (NTP) server option and expansion shelf capabilities including SyncE and advanced PTP profiles, designed to meet the timing and synchronisation requirements of current and future networks. The device specifically enables circuit-to-packet network migration for advanced data services and wireless backhaul, as well as delivery of 3G, 4G/LTE, LTE-A and 5G wireless services.

Microsemi's enhanced TimeProvider 5000 PTP grandmaster clock with support for IPv6 and multi-GNSS constellation is available immediately.

Microsemi also offers a comprehensive range of IEEE 1588 and SyncE network synchronisation silicon solutions providing time stamping, ultra-low jitter suitable for up to 100 Gbit/s PHYs, IEEE 1588 protocol support (including the ITU-T telecom profile for frequency and phase), designed for wireless and wireline applications.

Huawei and Vodafone Turkey enterMoU for TechCity 2.0 project

Huawei and Vodafone Turkey have announced the launch of the TechCity 2.0 Project in Istanbul, Turkey, designed to expand cooperation between the two companies to deliver a range of new technologies and solutions.

The companies noted that Istanbul was named as one of 14 leading Tech Cities worldwide in May last year, and the new TechCity project is intended to provide solutions that will help address mega-city issues in Istanbul.

Over the past year, the TechCity project has delivered advanced technology in Turkey, including for the 'smart stadium', the Besiktas ground which Vodafone Turkey sponsors, where 4 x 4 MIMO and CRAN technologies have been implemented. The solution provides enhanced capacity and higher data speeds to people in the stadium, enabling speeds of up to 400 Mbit/s utilising commercial licensed and unlicensed bands via LAA 3CC technology on the Huawei Lampsite base station.

In addition, the deployment of Huawei DRAN and Easy Macro solutions is intended to enhance Internet service in high traffic areas such as universities, hotels, concert venues and crowded roads by increasing coverage and capacity.

It was noted that recently, Vodafone Turkey and Huawei completed what is believe to be the first verification of the GL spectrum sharing solution on Vodafone's commercial networks in Istanbul. The solution enables spectrum sharing between GSM and LTE, which increases both LTE data rate and cell capacity. Huawei stated that compared to LTE 5M, the LTE peak data rate can be increased by nearly 80%.

TechCity 2.0 offers a commercial test environment for new technology and services and is designed to help operators verify end-to-end business models. By providing enhanced coverage and connectivity for MBB (mobile broadband) networks and enabling information sharing, it can help to improve the efficiency of connections between people and things.

Dalkom partners with Intelsat to expand broadband in Africa and Middle East

Intelsat, operator of what it describes as the Globalized Network and provider of integrated satellite communications, announced that Dalkom Somalia has signed an agreement covering satellite services that will allow it to expand its broadband enterprise and direct-to-home (DTH) services in East and Central Africa and the Middle East region.

Under the multi-year agreement, Dalkom, a privately-owned operator based in Somalia, will incorporate Ku-band satellite services provided by Intelsat 17 to extend the availability of services currently delivered over its fibre network. This will allow the operator to expand its broadband enterprise networks into countries such as South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as to the Middle East. Dalkom will also add DTH services to its service offering in Somalia.

Dalkom Somalia is a major Somalia-based telecom provider established in 2003 that currently offers a range of next-generation solutions for broadband, connectivity, cloud computing, managed services, satellite and Internet services to the business, wholesale and consumer market segments.

Dalkom holdss submarine cable, international gateway, application service provider (ASP) and content service provider (CSP) licenses and independent infrastructure that includes international landing stations in Mogadishu, Somalia connecting to the rest of the world, and gateways that connect to key cities in Somalia via metro and backbone infrastructure. It also serves cities in Kenya and Uganda via EASSy through partnerships and operates data centres in Mogadishu, Nairobi and Mombasa.

Registered in Somalia and United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dalkom Somalia is privately owned and funded by Somalian individuals and investment companies. The company holds 10% equity in EASSY and 9.13% in WIOCC, through which it holds equity in the EIG and WACs submarine cables.

In April., pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Econet Global, and Intelsat announced an agreement to introduce Intelsat EpicNG satellite services into the Liquid Telecom network. As part of the multi-year agreement, Liquid Telecom committed to dedicated services on the Intelsat 33e satellite, including ground networking equipment based upon Newtec Dialog VSAT platform with technology developed under the ESA-funded Project Indigo.

The Intelsat EpicNG services expanded Liquid Telecom's coverage and network across the DRC, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe for connectivity to underserved remote or rural areas.

nbn appoints new team to support transition from build to operation

Bill Morrow, chief executive of nbn, the company engaged in deploying a national broadband network across Australia, has announced a number of changes, effective July 1st, to the company's executive committee as it transitions from building to operating its nbn infrastructure.

The company stated that the changes are driven by a number of factors, including the nbn access network approaching halfway completion, with deployment due to be finished by 2020, the growth in active end-users, the potential one billion dollar annual revenue run rate, the increasing rate of network and IT technology convergence, and the need to focus on network operation and optimisation and serving customers, both service providers and subscribers.

The new executive team, effective July 1st, includes:

1.         John Simon as chief customer officer - business, to lead business sales and marketing until his retirement in 2018.

2.         Brad Whitcomb, chief customer officer - residential, to lead the residential sales and marketing after three years leading strategy, transformation, regulatory and technology.

3.         Kathrine Dyer, chief network deployment officer, promoted to the executive committee to lead the construction of the remaining portion of the network with the newly formed Network Deployment and Planning team.
4.         Peter Ryan, chief network engineering officer, to lead the newly formed Network Engineering and Operations team, comprising the Network Service Operations department and Network Performance Engineering team.

5.         John McInerney, chief systems engineering officer, to lead the newly formed Systems Engineering and Operations team, comprising the existing IT team and the network engineering team with a focus on the delivery of new network functionality.

6.         JB Rousselot, chief strategy officer to lead strategy, transformation, regulatory and technology after two years establishing and leading Network Service Operations.

7.         Stephen Rue, chief financial officer, to continue to lead finance, procurement and supply.

The pieces are coming together at Dell Technologies - part 2

The 13,500 people gathered at the Dell EMC World conference in Las Vegas this week came from 122 countries, basically reflecting the global reach of the tech industry. About 50% of Dell Technologies' annual revenue of $62 billion came from outside the U.S. Whereas Hewlett-Packard famously split its PC and printing operations (now HP Inc.) from its enterprise solutions business (now HPE) in November 2015, Dell has kept the family together while massively adding new market segments to its portfolio.

The company has a stated mission of becoming its customers' essential infrastructure provider and insists that the 'death of the PC' has been greatly exaggerated. While consumers now rely mostly on smartphones, tablets and laptops, enterprise customers are still buying PCs in significant numbers because they know that PCs are the primary tool for accomplishing most office tasks. Dell sees the PC as an essential link in its overall value chain. Dell supplies nearly all the Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. to some extent, and its brand is especially strong with retail companies, the hospitality industry, transportation and others. As described in Part 1, Dell Technologies is emerging as an IT superpower. Its nearest competitors are HPE, Huawei, IBM and Lenovo, but the comparisons are rough. Unlike the American rivals, Dell remains in the low margin consumer PC business, and unlike the Chinese vendors it has stayed out of the massive mobile handset business.

The integration of two major corporations - Dell Inc. and EMC - is admittedly an enormous project that will take years to fully accomplish and not everything has found a place under the big umbrella. There have been three divestitures amounting to $7 billion. The most notable of these was the decision in March 2016 to sell Dell IT Services (the old Perot Systems) to Japan's NTT Data for $3.05 billion. In June 2016, Dell agreed to sell its software division to Francisco Partners and Elliott Management for a reported $2 billion. The deal involved Dell’s Quest Software and SonicWALL division. Dell paid $2.4 billion for Quest in 2012. Despite the paper loss, these divestures enabled Dell to pay down its significant debt before completing the acquisition of EMC.

Quick update on Dell’s financial picture

For its most recently completed fiscal 2017, Dell Technologies posted consolidated revenue $61.6 billion and non-GAAP revenue from continuing operations of $62.8 billion. The company generated an operating loss of $3.3 billion, with a non-GAAP operating income of $5.1 billion. The company ended the year with a cash and investments balance of $15.3 billion, an increase of $287 million from the third quarter.

Dell Technologies' overall sales mix is approximately:

•   60% from Dell Client Solutions Group (desktop PCs, virtual desktops, notebooks, tablets, and peripherals, such as monitors, printers, and projectors under the Dell brand name).

•   35% from Dell EMC (storage solutions, servers, converged infrastructure, switching, security, cloud services).

•   5% from VMware.

Highlight from Q4 2017 results:

•   Gross margin for the quarter of 32.0%.

•   Since closing the EMC transaction, Dell Technologies paid down approximately $7 billion in debt and repurchased $824 million of Class V common stock.

•   The Client Solutions Group generated revenue of $9.8 billion, up 11% versus the fourth quarter of last year; revenue for the full year was $36.8 billion, up 2% year over fiscal year 2016.

•   PC shipments reached 11 million, representing the largest volume of products shipped since the fourth quarter of 2011.

•   16 consecutive quarters of gaining yr/yr PC share and grew fastest of the top 5 in yr/yr unit shipment growth in Q4 and for full year.

•   Dell attained the No.1 share position worldwide for displays, gaining unit share yr/yr for the 16th consecutive quarter.

•   The Infrastructure Solutions Group generated $8.4 billion of revenue, including $3.6 billion in servers and networking and $4.8 billion in storage, and an operating income of $1 billion.

•   Dell regained the No.1 worldwide server unit share position driven by strength in the mainstream PowerEdge business.

•   Attained the No.1 market share position in all-flash arrays4, which exited 2016 at a more than $4 billion demand run rate.

•   No.1 in Converged Infrastructure, accelerating in Hyper-converged.

•   No.1 in x86 server unit share.

•   VMware revenue for the quarter of $1.9 billion, with operating income of $565 million, or 29.2% of revenue.

The essential argument

Applications increasingly run on clouds. Private clouds are more secure, have better performance characteristics, and are less expensive that public clouds. Clouds run on data centre infrastructure (servers, storage and switches). Dell is the leading supplier of IT infrastructure, therefore Dell benefits from cloud migration. For the past decade, CIOs have sought to optimise IT for their businesses. With the digital transformation underway, CIOs now know that IT is their business. The corporate vision sees: (1) cloud-native apps driving the public clouds; (2) traditional apps moving to hybrid clouds; and (3) hybrid clouds being built on converged infrastructure. If Dell can capture these app migrations with software frameworks, then sales at the hardware layer could follow.

For mission-critical apps, Dell now has Virtustream, a hot start-up based in Bethesda, Maryland, that EMC acquired in 2015. Virtustream’s cloud management software provides the ability to run SAP, Oracle and other complex enterprise software in a cloud environment using micro VMs. The system measures and allocates the precise amount of compute, networking and storage resources needed for a given task. Virtustream also provides cloud archiving and restoration services.

For traditional apps, VMware is the king of virtualisation. Its vSphere is widely used in enterprise data centres. The NSX software defined networking (SDN) delivers virtualisation and programmability for network resources. The hottest application for NSX to date has been micro-segmentation of the network for security purposes. VMware is run as an independent business unit. While it is early to say if the VMware franchise will provide a long term competitive to Dell EMC over other networking and storage vendors, it is a prized asset that is good to have in house.

For cloud-native applications, Dell Technologies has Pivotal Software, a San Francisco-based cloud foundry company that was formed in 2012 after spinning out of EMC and VMware (investors in Pivotal include Dell EMC, Ford, GE, Microsoft and VMware). The Pivotal framework for software gives developers the ability to build micro-services-based dynamic data pipelines. By deep understanding the app development process, the infrastructure can be optimised and ready to respond to cloud native requirements.

Dell’s strategy acknowledges that we live in multi-cloud world. The company is also a big advocate of open software and disaggregated networking hardware. It further sees software developers building cloud native apps. Yet it knows that its revenues depend heavily on the sale of x86 laptops, desktops, servers and flash storage. It now has a vision as well as business teams in place to differentiate from commodity hardware suppliers. The race is on to see if management can execute on this vision by integrating these component companies.

(Parts 3 and 4 will look at Dell's networking business and Dell Financial Services.)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The pieces are coming together at Dell Technologies - part 1

Dell Technologies is somewhat of a contrarian when it comes to business trends. While other major technology providers have been busy downsizing and pulling their organisation apart, for example Ericsson and HP, Dell Technologies went in the opposite direction, pulling together a mega-merger and bringing together satellite companies in adjoining spaces.

Led by its iconic founder, chairman and CEO Michael Dell, the company has set its sights on becoming the No.1 IT super-power with strengths in computing, storage and networking. It retains its crown as leading supplier of laptops and desktops while pushing ahead in new areas through marquee brands, such as RSA for cybersecurity and VMware for network virtualisation.

Dell’s $67 billion acquisition of EMC, first announced in October 2015 and completed 11 months later, ranks as the largest tech merger of all time. For comparison, HP's acquisition of Compaq was valued at $33 billion, Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn is valued at $26.2 billion, Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp was valued at $19.1 billion, and Google’s acquisition of Motorola at $13.2 billion.

Dell Technologies, is a public company with a class V tracking stock that trades on NYSE under the symbol DVMT. It is the successor to Dell and EMC, which merged in September 2016. Dell Technologies reported 2016 revenue of $61.642 billion with a net loss of $3.737 billion. The company has some 138,000 employees and is based outside of Austin, Texas.

This week, the company attracted an estimated 13,500 of its customers and partners to its first integrated Dell EMC World conference at the Venetian in Las Vegas. The event served as the debutante ball for the newly integrated Dell Technologies empire and the launch pad for several critical products: its 14th generation of Dell PowerEdge servers, due out this summer, new all-Flash storage solutions, more Hyperconverged platforms, its first 25 Gbit/s networking solutions and a new consumption model for its IT products.

The theme at Dell EMC World was transformation, not just for the newly-merged company but for its customers as they become cloud-enabled businesses. The event was the opportunity to showcase how marquee customers such as Boeing, Citibank, Nike and Jaguar Land Rover are not just updating their IT hardware but fully-transforming themselves into 'digital' companies. The goal was to get customers talking about how IT does not just run the business, it is the business. For its own business, the Las Vegas event was the opportunity to show how the pieces of its empire are coming together to ensure bigger sales and better feedback.

David Goulden, president of Dell's Infrastructure Solutions Group, said the private business structure enables the company to make strategic investments and operational changes that would have been difficult as a public entity, where every move is judged by the impact on its quarterly financial statements. Goulden cited two areas: moving the IT industry toward a pay-on-consumption model (more on this below), and longer-term R&D investments that put a strain on current financials but set the stage for future growth.

Dell Technologies is essentially a holding company with seven brands under a single umbrella, as follows:

  • Dell - supplies PCs, laptops, printers and monitors, and currently ranks as the third largest PC company in the world with a market share of about 16%.
  • Dell EMC - IT solutions, including servers, all-flash storage solutions, hyper-converged appliances, cloud and data centre products.
  • Pivotal - the San Francisco-based cloud foundry that helps mission-critical applications run better in the cloud.
  • RSA - the iconic cybersecurity company and operator of the annual RSA Conference on network security.
  • Virtustream - cloud computing management software.
  • VMware - the network virtualisation company based in San Francisco.

Competition in the public cloud

It is well known that in the networking business, the pendulum swings back and forth from public to private. Sometimes it is better to use resources on a shared infrastructure and at other times economics will dictate that it is better to build your own network. In various presentations throughout the week, Dell executives made it clear that the big public cloud companies are not the perfect solution for every app and every customer. Both Michael Dell and Tom Sweet, the company's CFO, said the public cloud can be 2.5 times more expensive for some applications compared to an on-premise hardware solution. This 2.5x cost saving factor could be a huge competitive advantage for Dell EMC, although it appears to be a 'soft' number based on anecdotal evidence rather than a formal study that could be analysed in depth.

Nevertheless, one can see where this discussion is headed. One after another, Fortune 500 companies have been consolidating their data centres and moving many of their most innovative workloads into AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Softlayer or Google Cloud Engine. Some big players, such as Netflix, have even boldly stated that they are all in for public cloud services. The IT budgets that are now paying for cloud services were previously being spent equipment from the likes of Dell or its competitors. But in his keynote address, Michael Dell said that he is not worried, the current public cloud enthusiasm just reflects the exuberance of an early market. The Dell view is that: (1) it will be a multi-cloud world rather than an industry dominated by just one or two players; (2) hybrid clouds are logical outcome; (3) Dell EMC is already the leading supplier of hyperconverged platform and any organisation moving to a hybrid data centre will needs solutions that can tie together the multi-cloud strategy.

(Part 2 will cover the key announcements from Dell EMC World.)