Thursday, July 6, 2017

Nokia and Openserve Test G.fastt in South Africa

Nokia and Telkom South Africa wholesale division Openserve announced they have conducted a trial of G.fast technology in an office complex in Pinelands, South Africa, during which they achieved fibre-like access speeds over existing copper infrastructure deployed into buildings.

Nokia noted that the trial was carried out in preparation for Openserve's commercial deployment of G.fast planned for later in 2017.as part of the company's program to quickly expand its network footprint across South Africa.

The G.fast trial with Openserve demonstrated an aggregate, upstream and downstream, bandwidth of 900 Mbit/s over short copper loops, and speeds of up to 500 Mbit/s downstream and 250 Mbit/s upstream on an existing copper line over a distance of 150 metres.

Nokia's G.fast technology uses the final few hundred meters of copper within a building to deliver ultra-broadband access to end users. The solution is designed to allow Openserve to meet growing demand for fibre-like broadband speeds without significantly increasing its operational cost. The Nokia solution incorporates vectoring technology to reduce cross-talk interference between copper lines and help to increase data speeds.

Nokia noted that G.fast technology is increasingly being used in locations that are difficult or costly to reach with fibre as it allows operators to deploy fibre to the building and avoid the need to install it all the way to each individual unit. G.fast uses existing copper lines in a building, thereby also helping to reduce disruption.

Nokia claims to be the leading vendor for G.fast technology, with more than 40 customer trials completed and 10 customers commercially deploying the technology worldwide, including BT Openreach in the UK, Chunghwa Telecom in Taiwan, A1 Telekom Austria, Energia Communications in Japan and Frontier in the U.S.



  • Nokia recently announced that Frontier Communications had selected its G.fast technology to increase in-building broadband speeds for residents of apartment and multi-dwelling units (MDU) across Connecticut.


Ericsson board chairman Leif Johansson to depart

Ericsson announced that chairman of the board of directors Leif Johansson, who has served in the role from 2011, has informed that he will not make himself available for re-election at the annual general meeting of shareholders 2018, and that it has therefore begun the search for a replacement.

Ericsson's nomination committee stated it has commenced the search for a new chairman. The company announced on June 1st that its nomination committee, under chairman Petra Hedengran, comprised the following members: Petra Hedengran, Investor AB; Bengt Kjell, AB Industrivärden and Handelsbankens Pensionsstiftelse; Christer Gardell, Cevian Funds; Anders Oscarsson, AMF Försäkring och Fonder; Johan Held, Afa Försäkring; and Leif Johansson, the chairman of the board.

In March, Ericsson announced a corporate reorganisation under president and CEO, Börje Ekholm that eliminated its existing two-tiered leadership structure, Executive Leadership Team and Global Leadership Team, and replaced it with a single executive team. In addition, the existing ten geographic regions were simplified into five regions, and the structure of five market areas was reduced to three.

At the same time, Ericsson stated it was exploring strategic opportunities for its Media business and IT cloud infrastructure hardware business.

As of April 1st, Ericsson's business areas are as follows: Networks; Digital Services; and Managed Services. Market areas are as follows: North America; Europe & Latin America; Middle East & Africa; North East Asia; South East Asia, Oceania & India.


Regarding his decision, board chairman Leif Johansson said, "… (In) the first quarter Ericsson presented a new, more focused business strategy… (which) supported by the board and the major owners, creates a solid foundation for realising Ericsson's full potential… the company now enters a new phase, with focus on execution and a new ownership constellation… it is natural to let the owners jointly propose a chairman and ahead of this I want to announce that I will not be available for a next term".


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Keeping an eye on Alibaba Cloud, Aliyun – Part 2

At its investor conference last week in Hangzhou, China, Alibaba's Aliyun cloud business unit disclosed plans to build out new data centres in lock step with the parent company's global e-commerce initiatives. The Asian economies are an area of focus. Another key principle in this overseas expansion is to form strategic partnerships, often the kind that the big U.S. public cloud players have been reluctant to pursue. By leveraging its core business-to-business ecommerce platform, Alibaba believes its cloud operations could attract many small to medium sized enterprises across Asia, particularly those seeking opportunities in China. Like with AWS, there is a focus on getting start-ups to move their operations into the cloud from the outset. For instance, Alibaba is looking to support Indonesia's 1,000 Start-ups Movement initiative, which was launched last year with the aim of nurturing 1,000 ventures by the year 2020.

Simon Hu, SVP of Alibaba Group and president of Alibaba Cloud, commented, "I believe Alibaba Cloud, as the only global cloud services provider originating from Asia, is uniquely positioned with cultural and contextual advantages to provide innovative data intelligence and computing capabilities to customers in this region. Establishing data centres in India and Indonesia will further strengthen our position in the region and across the globe".

Equinix accelerates connectivity into Aliyun

Earlier this month. Aliyun and Equinix, the global interconnection and data centre company, announced a collaboration to provide enterprises with direct, scalable access to Alibaba Cloud via the Equinix Cloud Exchange at its Hong Kong, Silicon Valley, Sydney and Washington DC International Business Exchange (IBX) data centres, with Frankfurt and London due to be added shortly. With the addition of direct access to Alibaba Cloud on Equinix Cloud Exchange in markets across Asia Pacific, EMEA and the Americas, Equinix can offer private access to Alibaba Cloud in five markets. Equinix noted that it previously offered access in its Singapore IBX. Alibaba Cloud is also a colocation customer in Dubai with Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (known as du). The deal could expand to other locations. Equinix operates 179 data centres in 44 markets worldwide.

India, Indonesia and Malaysia

Also this month, Aliyun announced plans to establish new data centres in Mumbai, India and Jakarta, Indonesia. Both facilities are expected to open during the current fiscal year, ending March 2018. Aliyun recently announced a data centre in Malaysia. The company said each of the new Asian data centres will offer a full suite of services, providing the flexibility for enterprises and organisations to build their entire IT infrastructure for business on Alibaba Cloud or run mission-critical and core applications on it. This brings the total number of Alibaba Cloud data centres to 17 worldwide, including mainland China, Australia, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S.

In India, Alibaba Cloud is working with Global Cloud Xchange (GCX), a subsidiary of Reliance Communications, to directly access Alibaba Cloud Express Connect via GCX's CLOUD X Fusion. In addition, Alibaba Cloud has established a global partnership with Tata Communications to provide direct access to Alibaba Cloud Express Connect via Tata Communications' IZO Private Connect service. In Malaysia, Alibaba signed an MoU with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia's digital economy development agency and the Hangzhou Municipal Government to connect the first e-hubs in the two countries under its Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP). The MoU seeks to build infrastructure for seamless cross-border e-commerce trade between Malaysia and China. In addition, Aliyun will take part in the Malaysia Multimedia Super Corridor initiatives, with a planned data centre in Malaysia later this year and certification program for local tech talents, to help local SMEs to succeed in the digital age through technology such as big data and Internet of Things (IoT). Aliyun has also been operating a data centre in Singapore since August 2015.

Big plans for Pakistan

In May, Alibaba signed a memorandum with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan to support ecommerce development of SMEs and financial services. The goal here is for Alibaba and Ant Financial to foster growth of worldwide exports of products by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Pakistan through ecommerce. The project is supported at the highest levels of the Pakistan government, with Alibaba Group's executive chairman, Jack Ma and prime minister Nawaz Sharif witnessed the signing of the MoU. Aliyun has not built or even announced plans for a data centre in Pakistan, but this would be a logical next step. The nearest already announced Aliyun data centre would be in Mumbai, which is not a viable option for political reasons.

Under its One Belt, One Road initiative, the government of China is heavily involved in building critical infrastructure in Pakistan. For instance, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which was announced in 2015, includes the construction of a new deep-water international commercial port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea in the Pakistan Province of Baluchistan. There are also upgrades to the electrical grid, highway system and airports. If Aliyun were to build a hyperscale cloud data centre in Pakistan, we would expect further upgrades to the telecom infrastructure, including perhaps large capacity terrestrial fibre cables serving the length of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The full-service cloud pitch

While Aliyun continues to add to its portfolio of cloud services, often at a cadence remarkably similar to AWS, the parent company sees a bigger picture. Aliyun's mission is to move from Infrastructure-as-a-Service to Application-enhanced Cloud as a Service as rapidly as possible. There are a lot of Alibaba services under this umbrella, including:


  • Retail Cloud – Alibaba's Taobao.com and TMall application; Aliyun customers will list their products here.
  • Digital Marketing Cloud - Alimama.com, the online marketing service powered by data from Alibaba's core operations, providing customers visibility amongst Alibaba's base of buyers.
  • Logistics Cloud - Cai Niao for moving products to customers across China.
  • Digital Media Cloud - YouKu, the so-called YouTube of China, a video sharing platform and CDN that would be of interest to Aliyun customers as well.
  • Financial Services Cloud - Ant Financial, formerly known as AliPay, services include online payment processing, credit reporting, private banking and wealth management.
  • Customer Service Cloud – TIMI.
  • CityBrain – the company's SmartCity initiative, which aims to leverage AI and cloud scale to municipal traffic management, online utility management and city hall services.
  • Tailored Industry Solutions - Aliyun is working on pre-packaged and customised services for manufacturers, financial companies and hospitals.
Aliyun’s global data centres are also expected to play a role in the delivery of products sold on the Alibaba marketplaces to consumers in local markets. For instance, Alibaba is launching an AliExpress service for cross-border, direct-to-consumer retail from select Chinese manufacturers. AliExpress initially is focusing on buyers in the U.S., Russia, Spain, France, Brazil and the UK. The company claims 60 million active buyers over the past year. A similar Lazada shopping service is launching in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. All this activity is to meet company goal of growing the gross merchandise volume (GMV) transacted across Alibaba from an estimated $ 547 billion in 2017 to $1 trillion in 2020.

AT&T partners with Ericsson for 5G trial of DIRECTV NOW in Austin

AT&T, which last year completed what it claimed to be the first fixed wireless 5G business customer trial in Austin, has announced the launch of a second trial involving the use of millimetre wave (mmWave) technology to deliver high speed 5G network services to more locations in Austin, Texas.

AT&T's second trial is designed to provide an ultra-fast Internet connection to residential, small business and enterprise locations utilising Ericsson's 5G RAN and the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform. Trial participants will be able to stream premium live TV via DIRECTV NOW and access faster broadband services over a fixed wireless 5G connection.

AT&T believes that the trial will provide speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s using mmWave spectrum. It noted that earlier this year it successfully delivered DIRECTV NOW utilising mmWave technology at its Middletown lab in New Jersey, which was claimed to be the first time DIRECTV NOW had been delivered over a 5G connection.

The latest trial covers a variety of customers, such as residential, small business and enterprise, and by using DIRECTV NOW and other applications AT&T is seeking to gain further insights into mmWave performance characteristics and better understand the need for standards development.

The fixed wireless 5G trial in Austin is due to last for several months. AT&T will also continue 5G testing using its network testbeds. At the same time, the company will continue its research into the role of software-defined networks and experimenting with advanced virtualised-RAN core network capabilities during the year.


The operator stated that data traffic on its mobile network has increased by more than 250,000% since 2007, with video now constituting more than half of mobile data traffic. In addition, video traffic has risen by over 75% and smartphones were responsible for nearly 75% of data traffic carried in 2016.


MRV to be acquired by ADVA for $69 million

MRV Communications based in Chatswoth, California, a provider of advanced network solutions for data centres, service providers and enterprises, announced an agreement under which ADVA Optical Networking will acquire MRV via a tender offer of $10.00 per share for all its outstanding common stock.

The tender offer represents an aggregate purchase price of approximately $69 million. The transaction has been approved and unanimously recommended by both the board of directors of ADVA and that of MRV Communications.

ADVA expects that the proposed acquisition will further strengthen its portfolio of optical, Ethernet and software solutions and expand its customer base, particularly in non–European regions. In 2016, MRV recorded revenue of $80.3 million; for the most recent quarter ended March 31, 2017, MRV recorded revenue of $21.2 million, up 12.1% year on year, and net loss of $1.0 million, versus a net loss of $3.9 million a year earlier. MRV had cash and cash equivalents of $21.7 million and no debt.

For its first quarter ended on March 31, 2017, ADVA reported revenue of Euro 141.83 million, up 16.3% versus the first quarter of 2016, with net income of Euro 6.18 million, compared with a net loss of Euro 5,16 million in the 2016 first quarter.

ADVA noted that the acquisition of MRV, if completed, will mark its second significant acquisition in two years. In 2016, it acquired Overture Networks to expand its Carrier Ethernet portfolio and create a NFV product suite, named Ensemble. Earlier this year, Ensemble was selected by Verizon for its virtual uCPE solution.

The acquisition of MRV remains subject to customary closing conditions, including the tender of at least a majority of MRV's outstanding shares of common stock, and is expected to be completed in August or September of this year.

Regarding the transaction, Uli Dopfer, CFO of ADVA said, "The acquisition of MRV will… not only strengthens ADVA's cloud access portfolio, but also open the door to new customers… this acquisition will present many new business opportunities, especially for communication service providers seeking to explore the possibilities of virtualised network services".



  • MRV Communications was founded in 1988 by Prof. Shlomo Margalit and Dr. Zeev Rav-Noy. The company is headquartered in Chatsworth, California and has R&D centers in Chelmsford, MA, and Yokneam, Israel.

ABB acquires KEYMILE mission-critical communication business

ABB based in Switzerland, a supplier of electrification products, robotics, industrial automation and power grids, announced an agreement to acquire, on undisclosed terms, the mission-critical communication business of the KEYMILE Group to expand its communication networks portfolio.

The acquisition includes key products, software and service solutions, as well as research and development expertise that enhance ABB's digital offering, ABB Ability, adding high reliability communications technologies required for dynamic and complex digital electrical grids.

ABB noted that reliable information is key to accurate decision making in an increasingly automated world with extensive interconnected networks. More specifically, the operation of mission-critical systems such as electrical grids requires specialised communication networks with high performance and reliability.

The KEYMILE communication portfolio is designed to meet the demands of network operators for reliability, availability and cyber security. The company's mission-critical communication customer base includes operators of energy grids, railways, oil and gas pipelines, as well as public authorities. The 120 employees of the acquired business will join the Grid Automation business unit of ABB’s Power Grids division.

KEYMILE is headquartered in Hanover, Germany with a total of 350 staff worldwide. The company was founded in 2002 through a merger of three technology companies based in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. KEYMILE is a major manufacturer of mission-critical and broadband telecom solutions with installations spanning 100 countries. KEYMILE stated that following the sale of its mission-critical communications operation to ABB it will focus on delivering broadband systems, in particular optical technology.

KEYMILE products enable network operators to deliver voice and data services over FTTx network architectures via a portfolio of VDSL-/vectoring- and G.fast-solutions. The IP-MSAN MileGate platform enables simultaneous usage of Ethernet/IP and traditional TDM, as well as SDH-/PDH-technology, from a single network element. This helps enable the efficient migration of connection-oriented voice and data technology to packet-based networks.


The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of 2017.


Huawei deploys Butterfly Site in Bangladesh

Huawei announced that Banglalink, a major communications service provider in Bangladesh, has selected its Butterfly Site solutions to connect unserved citizens in rural areas.

Huawei stated that deployment of this solution helped Banglalink to cost-effectively extend its infrastructure to rural locations with not coverage and to address the issue of delivering services economically and profitably. The joint initiative by Huawei and Banglalink will help extend mobile broadband (MBB) coverage in Bangladesh and help the country to achieve the goal of creating an information-based economy.

Huawei's Butterfly Site solution is designed to allow service provider to address mobile service demand across large rural areas. Using two high-gain, 90-degree antennas and a high-power remote radio unit (RRU), a Butterfly site is designed to maintain coverage while utilising one sector less than a conventional three-site solution. The Butterfly Site solution is claimed to reduce the need for antennas and RRUs by around one third.

In addition, the compact size and lightweight design of the device enables on-pole mounting, while low power consumption allows the use of solar power to further simplify deployment and lower operating costs.

Banglalink and Huawei stated that they have completed Butterfly Site deployment in the suburbs of the capital city Dhaka. This deployment helped to verify the capabilities of the solution to support continuous networking and hybrid networking with three-sector sites. The site statistics data indicated that a reduction of up to 30% in equipment was possible in rural sites.

The Butterfly site solution is a part of Huawei's rural network offering that includes Macro nTnR for wide coverage, two-sector Butterfly Sites to enable cost-effective continuous coverage, and Simple Site, which combines on-pole installation and solar power to deliver local coverage in isolated sites.

Banglalink is a company of Telecom Ventures, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Global Telecom Holding, owned 51.9% by VEON (formerly VimpelCom).



  • Huawei announced in February that it had completed the first commercial deployment of Butterfly in Bangladesh. At the time, Huawei noted that the solution supports GSM, UMTS and concurrent GSM and UMTS services, as well as enabling evolution to LTE.
  • In its February announcement, Huawei stated that mobile broadband in Bangladesh was at an early stage, and that operators were preparing to accelerate their mobile broadband projects to expand and enhance coverage. It was estimated that approximately 70% of Bangladesh's 163 million population were living in rural areas, many without access to mobile broadband service.

Nokia appoints Gregory Lee, formerly at Samsung Electronics, to head Technologies

Nokia announced the appointment of Gregory Lee as president of Nokia Technologies, reporting to president and CEO Rajeev Suri, and as member of the group leadership team, effective immediately.

Mr. Lee has held a range of product, technology and marketing leadership roles over a career spanning nearly three decades to date.

Gregory Lee joins Nokia from Samsung Electronics, where he served for over 10 years, most recently as president and CEO of Samsung Electronics, North America, with a focus on driving growth, profitability and operational excellence. In this role, he led all of Samsung's businesses for North America, managing a portfolio of products including mobile phones and consumer electronics, as well as for new market segments such as digital health, virtual reality devices and digital content.

Prior to that, Mr. Lee served as Samsung's global chief marketing officer, and as president and CEO of Samsung Electronics Southeast Asia and president and CEO of Samsung Telecommunications America. Before joining Samsung, he led product development, sales and strategic initiatives for global consumer brands including Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg's and Procter & Gamble.

In his new role, Gregory Lee will be based in California. He is s graduate of the University of California at San Diego, where he gained a BSc in biochemistry,

Nokia stated that, with the appointment of Mr. Lee, its group leadership teams will, effective June 30, 2017, comprise the following members: Rajeev Suri (chairman), Basil Alwan, Hans-Juergen Bill, Kathrin Buvac, Ashish Chowdhary, Barry French, Bhaskar Gorti, Federico Guillén, Gregory Lee, Igor Leprince, Monika Maurer, Kristian Pullola, Marc Rouanne, Maria Varsellona and Marcus Weldon.

Commenting on the new appointment, Rajeev Suri, president and CEO of Nokia, said, "Gregory's passion for innovation and operational excellence, along with his proven ability to build and lead global consumer technology businesses, make him well suited to advance Nokia's efforts in virtual reality, digital health and beyond".



  • Nokia announced in March changes in its organisational structure and group leadership team (GLT), effective April 1, 2017. As part of the reorganisation, Nokia separated the Mobile Networks business group into two organisations, one focused on products and solutions, called Mobile Networks, and the other on services, called Global Services.
  • In addition, the company's chief innovation and operating officer (CIOO) organisation was split and moved to a newly-appointed COO organisation, innovation activities to its CTO and incubation to the chief strategy officer.
  • Leadership changes included Marc Rouanne, formerly CIOO, becoming president, Mobile Networks, Igor Leprince, formerly EVP, global services, as president, Global Services, Monika Maurer, formerly COO, Fixed Networks, becoming group COO, Marcus Weldon, formerly president of Nokia Bell Labs and CTO, retained those responsibilities and joined the GLT as a new member.




UCAR deploys ADVA FSP 3000 CloudConnect

ADVA Optical Networking announced that the University Corporation for Atmosphere Research (UCAR), based in Boulder, Colorado, has deployed its FSP 3000 CloudConnect data centre interconnect (DCI) solution to support ultra-high capacity connectivity to the Cheyenne supercomputer.

UCAR has deployed the ADVA DCI technology to enable the transport of scientific data over two 200 Gbit/s 16QAM connections between the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne, Wyoming and the Front Range GigaPop in Denver, Colorado. By providing greater flexibility and more capacity, the new network is designed to help UCAR expand educational opportunities and expand collaboration.

As a leading institution for atmosphere research, UCAR will leverage the new capabilities and enhanced efficiency provided by the ADVA solution to offer the scientific community enhanced access to computing and data analysis platforms. As a result, the over 100 universities and research centres within the UCAR consortium will gain improved access to the Cheyenne supercomputing centre to support their research programs.

The ADVA FSP 3000 CloudConnect platform is designed to enable UCAR to maximise throughput at the optical layer, as well as offering scalability for the future. The ADVA solution features advanced technology but is designed to be simple to use, thereby helping UCAR to reduce operational complexity and costs.

ADVA noted that the FSP 3000 CloudConnect solution is an open DCI platform, with no vendor lock-in or restrictions that can address the research centre's density, security and energy requirements.

Regarding the project, John Scherzinger, SVP, sales, North America at ADVA, noted, "ADVA has developed a close relationship with UCAR over many years… the FSP 3000 CloudConnect… DCI solution will deliver UCAR significant savings in terms of price, power and space".



  • ADVA recently announced that the Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center (PSNC) in Poland had deployed its FSP 3000 CloudConnect with QuadFlex 400Gbit/s technology into its PIONIER research network. The DCI solution supplied employs 16QAM modulation and provides a 96-channel network connecting supercomputing centres in Poznań and Warsaw.

Flash Networks teams with ZTE on NFV

Flash Networks, a provider of mobile Internet optimisation, security and engagement solutions, announced a new strategic partnership with ZTE to deliver NFV-based optimisation solutions to address the requirement for a holistic approach to virtualised services in the mobile core.

Flash Networks stated that collaboration at the R&D level enabled the integration of network optimisation into ZTE's virtualised EPC environment. The offering includes engagement services addressing subscriber QoE, security and mobile network monetisation. The companies expect that the partnership will provide new opportunities in the Chinese market and worldwide.

Flash Networks' optimisation solutions are designed to improve the user QoE and increase RAN spectral efficiency to help accelerate traffic across LTE network while reducing the volume of web and video traffic data. The network optimisation solution employs a multi-dimensional approach that is designed to deliver a measurable improvement in radio spectral efficiency to the mobile core.

The company stated that ZTE selected its optimisation solution following extensive testing in a multi-vendor environment, designed specifically to verify the interoperability of different configurations of hardware resource layers, virtual resource layers and virtualised network functions (VNF) layers.

Flash Networks is a major provider of virtual and physical optimisation solutions designed to enable operators to improve RAN spectral efficiency, enhance network speed, optimise delivery of video and web traffic, secure and engage subscribers and generate over-the-top revenue from mobile Internet services.

At MWC 2017, Flash Networks demonstrated how an unnamed North American operator had achieved a 16% increase in spectral efficiency in a live network using its vHarmony 8.0 optimisation solutions.

Flash Networks' vHarmony 8.0 is designed to improve the QoE and increase RAN spectral efficiency. The solution features radio connection and signalling optimisation to improve radio network performance by managing traffic flows at the core and content optimisation that is claimed to accelerate traffic on LTE networks by 50% and reduce web and video traffic data by 30%. It also provides business intelligence and analytics and monetisation and personalisation capabilities.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Keeping an eye on Alibaba Cloud, Aliyun – Part 1

Alibaba's Jack Ma made headlines across the world last week by laying out a plan for rapid global expansion of China's e-commerce behemoth. In an Investor Conference held at the company's Xixi headquarters in Hangzhou, China, Ma made the bold claim that Alibaba could reach $1 trillion in gross merchandise value by 2021 by becoming the primary online store for 2 billion people, as well as by expanding into new areas, one of which is the international public cloud services business. While Alibaba's investor event was overshadowed somewhat by the news that Amazon will spend $13.7 billion in cash to acquire Whole Foods, the premium U.S. grocery store chain, Jack Ma unveiled a strategy with clear potential to disrupt the cloud market.

Meanwhile, business at Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA) is 'fantastic' and is only going to get better this year, according to the company CFO. For the most recent fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2017, the company reported revenue of RMB 38,579 million ($5,605 million), an increase of 60% year-over-year, including:

•   Revenue from core commerce of RMB31,570 million ($4,587 million), up 47% year-over-year.

•   Revenue from cloud computing of RMB 2,163 million ($314 million), up 103% year-over-year.

•   Revenue from digital media and entertainment of RMB 3,927 million ($571 million), up 234% year-over-year.

Growth at the parent company is primarily being driven by the steady increase in active buyers on its ecommerce platforms, both in numbers and in the value of goods and services being transacted. Annual active buyers reached 454 million, an increase of 31 million from the 12-month period ended on March 31, 2016. Mobile monthly active users (MAUs) on Alibaba Group’s China retail marketplaces reached 507 million in March, up 97 million over March 2016. Gross merchandise volume (GMV) transacted on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces in fiscal year 2017 was RMB 3,767 billion ($547 billion), up 22% compared to RMB 3,092 billion in fiscal year 2016.

Alibaba Cloud, or Aliyun as it is known in Chinese, is firmly established as the leading infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud in mainland China and is moving rapidly to become a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider and a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) retailer. Some important Aliyun metrics emerged from the Investor presentation, including (with additional commentary):

·         Public cloud is growing: based on Gartner's figures from March 2017, Aliyun estimates the global public cloud market will amount to $245 billion in 2017, growing to $436 billion in 2021, a 15.9% CAGR.

·         China’s public cloud market is growing even faster, with Gartner figures showing China’s public cloud market, valued at $14 billion this year, growing to $25 billion in 2021, a 17.2% CAGR; by 2021, China’s share of the global public cloud market would still be under 6%, which seems odd given the country's share of global GDP is much higher and that ecommerce, social media and mobile technologies are booming in China - why so low versus the U.S. market?

·         Aliyun cited figures from IDC Tracker 2016 H1/H2 Global Cloud Market (IaaS), indicating it currently is the No.4 player in public cloud services worldwide, but with only a 3.2% share; No.1 was AWS, $8.4 billion, 46.1% share; No. 2 Microsoft, $1.4 billion, 7.6% share; No.3 IBM, $1.0 billion, 5.8% share; No.4 Alibaba, $0.57 billion, 3.2% share; No.5 Google, $0.519 billion, 2.9% share.

Clearly, AWS is dominating the public cloud market, especially in the U.S. The other U.S. public cloud players are investing aggressively to catch up and they too seem to have ambitions that reach to the sky. Alibaba's Jack Ma has previously been quoted in the press as saying that Alibaba would catch and surpass Amazon. When it comes to cloud services at least, this will be extremely difficult given its current 3.2% share versus AWS’ 46.1% share, and a capex budget that appears decisively smaller.

In its home market of China, Aliyun's IaaS revenue is equivalent to the next seven players combined. The numbers cited in IDC Tracker 2016 H1/H2 Global Cloud Market are as follows:

·         No.1 – Alibaba Group, $587 million, 40.7% market share

·         No.2 - China Telecom, $123 million, 8.5%

·         No.3 – Tencent, $106 million, 7.3%

·         No.4 – Kingsoft, $87 million, 6.0%

·         No.5 – Ucloud, $79 million, 5.5%

·         No.6 – Microsoft, $72 million, 5.0%

·         No.7 – China Unicom, $67 million, 4.6%

·         No.8 – AWS, $55 million, 3.8%

In addition, as of March 31, 2017 Aliyun had 874,000 paying customers, had 15 data centres worldwide and had 186 cloud service offers. It also claims a 96.7% retention rate amongst its top paying customers in Q1 2017 compared to a year earlier.

Over one-third of China’s Top 500 companies are on Alibaba Cloud, including China's Public Safety Bureau (PSB), CCTV, Sinopec, Sina Weibo, Xinhua News Agency,Toutiao, Geely, Mango TV, CEA, Quanmin Live, Panda TV and DJI, while two-thirds of Chinese Unicorn companies are on Alibaba Cloud. Global Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) now available on Aliyun include Accenture, SAP, Docker, here, SUSE, Haivision, Wowza, AppScale, AppEX, Hillstone, Checkpoint Software Technologies, Hitachi Data Systems and Red Hat.


Aliyun’s Computing Conference 2016 was attended by over 40,000 developers in person, with more than 7 million viewers online. At its investor conference, Aliyun also disclosed a number of major international brands that are now using its services, including Schneider Electric, Shisheido, Philips, Nestle and Vodafone, which is a good start. Nevertheless, attracting international companies will be harder, first, because Alibaba has only just recently begun building data centres outside of China, and two, they will be much less known and trusted than established brands such as IBM.

AT&T to launch software-based 10G XGS-PON trial

AT&T announced it will conduct a 10 Gbit/s XGS-PON field trial in late 2017 as it progresses with plans to virtualise access functions within the last mile network.

The next-generation PON trial is designed to deliver multi-gigabit Internet speeds to consumer and business customers, and to enable all services, including 5G wireless infrastructure, to be converged onto a single network.

AT&T noted that XGS-PON is a fixed wavelength symmetrical 10 Gbit/s passive optic network technology that can coexist with the current GPON technology. The technology can provide 4x the downstream bandwidth of the existing system, and is as cost-effective to deploy as GPON. As part of its network virtualisation initiative, AT&T plans to place some XGS-PON in the cloud with software leveraging open hardware and software designs to speed development.
AT&T has worked with ON.Lab to develop and test ONOS (Open Network Operating System) and VOLTHA (Virtual Optical Line Terminator Hardware Abstraction) software. This technology allows the lower level details of the silicon to be hidden. AT&T stated that it has also submitted a number of open white box XGS OLT designs to the Open Compute Project (OCP) and is currently working with the project to gain approval for the solutions.

The company noted that interoperability is a key element of its Open Access strategy, and prompted the creation of an OpenOMCI specification, which provides an interoperable interface between the OLT and the home devices. This specification, which forms a key part of software-defined network (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV), has been distributed to standards and open source communities.



  • AT&T joined OCP in January 2016 to support its network transformation program. Earlier this year at the OCP Summit Edgecore Networks, a provider of open networking solutions and a subsidiary of Accton Technology, announced design contributions to OCP including a 25 Gigabit Ethernet top-of-rack switch and high-density 100 Gigabit Ethernet spine switch. The company also showcased new open hardware platforms.
  • At the summit, Edgecore displayed a disaggregated virtual OLT for PON deployment at up to 10 Gbit/ based on the AT&T Open XGS-PON 1 RU OLT specification that was contributed to the OCP Telco working group.
  • Edgecore's ASFvOLT16 disaggregated virtual OLT is based on the AT&T Open XGS-PON 1 RU OLT specification and features Broadcom StrataDNX switch and PON MAC SOC silicon, offering 16 ports of XGS-PON or NG-PON2, with 4 x QSFP28 ports and designed for next generation PON deployments and R-CORD telecom infrastructure.

Ciena teams with University of Waterloo

Ciena announced that it is working with engineering researchers at the University of Waterloo to develop solutions to help network operators and Internet providers address to the ever increasing demand for faster data transmission over the Internet.

The partners stated that the research relationship has received funding support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

A key area of the University of Waterloo's partnership with Ciena focuses on realising the maximum possible capacity from the optical cables that run under the oceans and which handle around 95% of intercontinental communications, including an estimated $10 trillion per day in financial transactions. Ciena noted that the reliable, high-speed transmission of huge amounts of data over undersea cables is increasingly important in fields including healthcare and academic research.

For the research program, Amir Khandani, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Waterloo, is leading a team of post-doctoral fellows and graduate students that are developing algorithms designed to efficiently and rapidly correct errors, including lost or dropped bits of data, that occur during extremely high-speed, long-distance optical transmission.

When incorporated on the electronic chips that are built into equipment for receiving and transmitting data, the algorithms developed by the Waterloo team can free up cable capacity, while also enabling the faster correction of errors in line with other technological advances in optical communications.


Under the three-year partnership, announced at an event at the University of Waterloo, Mr. Khandani holds the position of Ciena/NSERC Industrial Research Chair on Network Information Theory of Optical Channels. Ciena noted that the relationship between Waterloo Engineering and Ciena has already produced seven U.S. patents, with additional patents pending.


Cavium and China Unicom trial 5G user cases on M-CORD

Cavium, a provider of semiconductor products for enterprise, data centre, wired and wireless networking, and China Unicom announced a targeted program for the testing of 5G use cases on a M-CORD SDN/NFV platform leveraging Cavium's silicon-based white box hardware in M-CORD racks populated with ThunderX ARM-based data centre COTS servers and XPliant programmable SDN Ethernet-based white box switches.

Under the program, China Unicom and Cavium plan to shortly commence trials in a number of locations across mainland China to explore the potential of the new service.

Cavium and China Unicom are specifically demonstrating multi-access edge computing (MEC) use cases developed through a previously announced collaboration based on the ON.Lab M-CORD (Mobile Central Office Re-architected as a data centre) SDN/NFV platform at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai.

The demonstration involves a M-CORD SDN/NFV software platform and hardware rack integrated with virtualised and disaggregated mobile infrastructure elements from the edge of the RAN to distributed mobile core and the ONOS and XOS SDN and orchestration software.

The companies stated that this architecture is designed to enable turnkey operation in any central office or edge data centre for a full NFV C-RAN deployment. The solution is based on a Cavium-powered rack that combines the ThunderX ARM based data centre servers with the programmable XPliant Ethernet leaf and spine SDN switches to provide a full platform for M-CORD.

Regarding the latest project, Raj Singh, VP and GM of the network and communication group at Cavium, said, "Cavium is collaborating with China Unicom to explore 5G target use cases leveraging the M-CORD SDN/NFV platform and working towards field deployment… a homogenous hardware architecture optimised for NFV and 5G is a pre-requisite for field deployments".



  • Earlier this year, Radisys and China Unicom announced they had partnered to build and integrate M-CORD development PODs featuring open source software. For the project Radisys, acting as systems integrator, used the CORD open reference implementation to enable cloud agility and improved economics in China Unicom's network. The companies also planned to develop deployment scenarios for the solution in the China Unicom network.
  • The resulting platform was intended to support future 5G services by enabling mobile edge services, virtualised RAN and virtualised EPC. The companies also planned to develop an open reference implementations of a virtualised RAN and next-generation mobile core architecture.

TIM launches 1G FTTH and previews 4.5G

Italy's TIM has claimed another first for its mobile network by enabling upload speeds of up to 75 Mbit/s for all customers, and from July this year will enable 700 Mbit/s download speeds, over its 4.5G network in Turin, Milan, Rome, Naples, Palermo, Taormina and Giardini-Naxos.

In addition, as part of its fixed and mobile ultrabroadband initiative, TIM is launching a new 1,000 Mbit/s fixed-line service in 70 Italian municipalities. The company stated that the initiatives are the result of key investments to upgrade its ultrabroadband network, which currently reaches approximately 67% of Italian homes with fibre and covers 97% of the population via its 4G mobile network.

Through its Fibre and Mobile program, TIM offers customers connectivity enabling up to 1,000 Mbit/s download and 100 Mbit/s upload rates in 70 municipalities where the FTTH service is already available and, leveraging its 4.5G mobile network, 700 Mbit/s download rates in 11 cities. TIM stated that new customers can now sign up for its new Fibre and Mobile offer and receive broadband service with from 100 up to 1,000 Mbit/s bandwidth.

TIM stated that through planned investments for the period 2017 to 19 amounting to around Euro 11 billion, of which Euro 5 billion is dedicated to network modernisation, it has extended fibre coverage in Italy to over 16 million homes in around 1,900 municipalities. In 1,300 of these municipalities the broadband speed has been doubled to 200/70 Mbit/s via its FTTH infrastructure.

In addition, on its mobile network, having become the first service provider in Europe to launch 4.5G commercial service with download speeds of up to 500 Mbit/s in 11 cities, from July this year TIM plans to offer up to 700 Mbit/s download speeds in Turin, Milan, Naples, Rome and Palermo, Taormina and Giardini-Naxos for customers with compatible devices.

TIM is also offering all customers mobile service with upload speeds of up to 75 Mbit/s on Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ and Sony XPERIA XZ Premium devices.



  • In April, TIM announced that as part of a program to implement 5G technology it would launch the first field tests in the city of Turin, and would demonstrate the technology in the city on 5G Day at its Open Lab innovation and development centre.
  • The Torino 5G project, instituted by TIM through an agreement with the Turin municipal authority, is designed to allow TIM to carry out early trials of 5G technology in a metro environment by the end of 2018. The company noted at that time that Turin was expected to become the first city in Italy to have a 5G mobile network, and cited a goal of deploying the technology by 2020.
  • For the 5G Day, TIM partnered with Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson to demonstrate speeds of up to 700 Mbit/s download and up to 75 Mbit/s upload over its live 4.5G mobile network.

Silicon Labs launches XOs for 100/400G line cards

Silicon Labs, a supplier of silicon, software and solutions for networking applications, has introduced a new family of crystal oscillators (XOs), the Si54x Ultra Series, that is claimed to offer the lowest jitter frequency-flexible solution on the market.

The new Si54x Ultra Series XOs deliver jitter performance down to 80 femtoseconds (fs) for both integer and fractional frequencies across the entire operating range. The devices provide leading frequency flexibility and jitter margin performance and target demanding applications including 100/200/400 Gbit/s line cards and optical modules, hyperscale data centres, broadband, wireless infrastructure, broadcast video, industrial and test and measurement systems.

Silicon Labs' Si54x Ultra Series XOs are available with single, dual and quad frequency options and offered in an industry-standard 3.2 x 5 mm package, providing drop-in compatibility with traditional XO devices, as well as fast lead times and high reliability.

Silicon Labs noted that its PLL-based approach to oscillators is designed to enable efficient manufacturing and simplified factory programming to reduce lead times compared with custom oscillator products. Silicon Labs claims that this approach allows it to ship samples of any frequency XO within 1 to 2 weeks, and to deliver production quantities wthin four weeks.

The company's new Si54x oscillators employ Silicon Labs' advanced fourth-generation DSPLL technology to provide an ultra-low-jitter clock source at any output frequency. The device can be factory-programmed to any frequency from 200 kHz up to 1.5 GHz with <1 ppb resolution. In addition, on-chip power supply regulation allows noise rejection and enables consistent, reliable low-jitter operation in noisy scenarios such as high-speed networking and data centres.

The Si54x XOs also offer a drop-in replacements for low-jitter surface acoustic wave (SAW)-based oscillators while delivering superior frequency tolerance and temperature stability. The devices provide support for common output formats including LVDS, LVPECL, HCSL, CML, CMOS and Dual CMOS. Samples and production quantities of the Si54x Ultra Series oscillators are available immediately, and Silicon Labs offers a range of free web-based tools to support design and customisation.



Spirent supports testing of New H3C 100 GBE switch

Spirent Communications, a supplier of network test and measurement solutions, announced that it supported New H3C in conducting what is believed to be the highest density 100 Gbit/s data centre switch test.

Spirent also announced it had partnered with the China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI) to demonstrate automated testing of virtual core networks.

100 Gbit/s switch testing

The test, completed by Spirent and the New H3C Group and moderated by independent test lab Network Test, demonstrated the line-rate forwarding capacity and hyper-scale IP route announcement capacity of the H3C S12500X-AF chassis loaded with 100 Gbit/s ports and achieving a density of 768 x 100G ports per chassis. The S12500X-AF switch can support 48 x 100 Gbit/s QSFP28 pluggable optical modules per slot.

The test involved Spirent TestCenter and the N11U chassis, representing Spirent's flagship network performance test solution, equipped with the high density dX3 12-port 100 Gbit/s test modules designed to verify next-generation data centre architectures and routers.

For the testing, Spirent TestCenter generated 100 Gbit/s line-rate transaction traffic of various frame lengths and provided packet loss, latency, jitter, frame sequence, code errors and FCS error analytics to reflect the quality of transmission in real time.

The Spirent dX3 quint-speed test module can support twelve 100 or 40 Gbit/s ports per slot, 25 x 50 Gbit/s ports, or 48 x 25/10 Gbit/s ports per slot. It also supports key interface features such as FEC, auto-negotiation and Link Training. The module can be used to verify data plane QoS for hyper-dense network devices at line-rate, and for testing complex routing, data centre and access protocols on switches and routers.

Virtual core network testing

Separately Spirent announced a collaboration with the China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI) to demonstrate automated testing of virtual core networks at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai. Spirent noted that the demonstration is part of a joint effort to develop a methodology for automated testing of the functionality and performance of the China Mobile TIC (Telecom Infrastructure Cloud).

The partners plans to incorporate the test methodology into an automated testing system developed by CMRI to speed testing of services in operational virtual core networks and to form part of the complete vEPC environment developed by CMRI.

At MWC, Spirent has provided the test engines for the demonstration, including the virtualised mobile core network emulation and performance testing tool, Landslide Virtual, and the automated testing platform, iTest. The solutions automate performance and functionality tests used to develop, spin-up and monitor the vEPC. In addition, devops models have been developed for the test methodologies, allowing tests to be automated and incorporated into the virtualised network.

AT&T and China Telecom sign partnership deal

AT&T and China Telecom announced they have signed a framework agreement that strengthens their cooperation to support the development of advanced network services for multinational companies operating in China.

Through the agreement, the companies will help multinational customers leverage secure global communications to support business growth in China and worldwide. AT&T and China Telecom will also jointly work to create new services in the areas of Internet of Things (IoT), cloud-based big data, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) roaming, and software-defined networks (SDN).

The companies noted that the new agreement renews the 20-year authorisation under which Shanghai Symphony Telecommunications (SST), the joint venture formed bAT&T, China Telecom and Shanghai Information Investments, was established in 2000. As part of the new agreement, the parties intend to expand the scope of SST and the locations it serves to enable the delivery of new business services and technologies to customers.

Specifically, under the renewed agreement the companies plan to:

1.         Help establish industry standards for SDN and support their adoption.

2.         Launch bilateral roaming tests, as contemplated in a previously executed roaming agreement for business customers.

3.         Explore the potential of VoLTE roaming.


IoT forecasts come into focus

For years now there has been forecast after forecast predicting the size of the IoT market by the end of the decade or ten years hence. There is always a big number of connected things and impressive valuation for the sum of the whole market, and with the large mobile operators such as AT&T and Verizon now including connected things in their quarterly reports there is hard data to back up the rosy forecasts. At an editorial briefing in San Jose last month, Qualcomm executives said it is now shipping one million wireless connections per day - this certainly gives a perspective on how fast IoT can grow. The company has hundreds of OEM design wins for its MDM9206 LTE modem for IoT.

As of June 15th, the GSMA Intelligence services says there are 8,132,111,132 mobile connections, including M2M. The GSMA's online tracker further reports 5,016,263,289 unique mobile subscribers, which are assumed to mean people with at least one mobile phone and SIM card. By subtraction, this means 3.1 billion M2M connections tracked by the GSMA via their mobile operator members.

This piece collects newly published data from several sources. First, IDC recently reported that worldwide spending on the IoT will reach nearly $1.4 trillion in 2021. Second, the Cisco Visual Network Index (VNI) found that M2M connections globally will grow from 780 million in 2016 to 3.3 billion by 2021, a 34% CAGR or fourfold growth. Third, the newly published Ericsson Mobility Study finds that 70% of wide-areas IoT devices will use cellular technology in 2022. While studies from different authors will never precisely line up, this collection of data agrees that real and significant revenue from IoT for carriers has started to materialize and will grow quickly in the near term.

Highlights from IDC’s Worldwide Semi-annual IoT spending guide

The first big finding to notice in IDC's report is that worldwide spending on IoT will reach $800 billion this year, up 16.7% year over year, which means that the market this month must be worth tens of millions of dollars. These numbers are spread out amongst the hardware, software, services and connectivity that enable the IoT. This means splitting the pot between vendors such as Qualcomm, Sierra Wireless, Cisco Jasper, integration specialists, and of course carriers such as AT&T, Orange and Vodafone. There are many others that could be included on this list, especially when considering the global market.  In that sense, the $800 billion is just a starting point. IDC's forecast says that by 2021, global IoT spending will total nearly $1.4 trillion. In a press release announcing the study, IDC's Carrie MacGillivray, vice president, Internet of Things and Mobility, stated that the true value of IoT is realised when the software and services come together to enable the capture, interpretation, and action on data produced by IoT endpoints.

IDC breaks down 2017 investments in IoT as follows: manufacturing operations ($105 billion), freight monitoring ($50 billion), and production asset management ($45 billion), smart grid technologies for electricity, gas and water and smart building technologies ($56 billion and $40 billion, respectively). Looking to 2021, IDC expects these use cases will remain the largest areas of IoT spending. Smart home technologies are forecast to experience strong growth (19.8% CAGR) over the five-year forecast. The use cases that will see the fastest spending growth are airport facilities automation (33.4% CAGR), electric vehicle charging (21.1% CAGR), and in-store contextual marketing (20.2% CAGR).

IDC sees hardware as the largest IoT spending category to 2021, the last year of the forecast, when it is overtaken by the services category. This is to be expected as the various physical sensors and connectivity units must be deployed first before a service can be offered. IDC says hardware spending will be dominated by modules and sensors that connect end points to networks, while software spending will be similarly dominated by applications software. In addition, IDC says services spending will be about evenly split between ongoing and content services and IT and installation services. The fastest growing areas of technology spending are in the software category, where horizontal software and analytics software will have five-year CAGRs of 29.0% and 20.5%, respectively. Security hardware and software will also see increased investment, growing at 15.1% and 16.6% CAGRs, respectively.

Regional highlights:

•   Asia Pacific (excluding Japan, APeJ) will be the IoT investment leader throughout the forecast with spending expected to reach $455 billion in 2021.

•   The U.S. will be the second largest region with IoT spending reaching $421 billion in 2021.

•   Western Europe will reach $274 billion in 2021.

The IDC Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide is quite comprehensive, covering IoT spending for 12 technologies and 54 use cases across 20 vertical industries in eight regions and 52 countries (for more details see here: http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS42799917).

Cisco looks wide with its VNI forecast

Generally speaking, Cisco's forecasts have tended to be the most optimistic. This year’s Cisco VNI indicates that its IoT coverage includes both M2M and emerging category of wearable IoT devices. M2M connections, which Cisco defines as home and office security and automation, smart metering and utilities, maintenance, building automation, automotive, healthcare and consumer electronics, are predicted to grow from 780 million in 2016 to 3.3 billion by 2021, a 34% CAGR or fourfold growth.

Wearable devices, which Cisco notes could connect and communicate to the network either directly through embedded cellular connectivity or through another device (primarily a smartphone) using WiFi, Bluetooth, or another technology, include such things as smart watches, smart glasses, heads-up displays (HUDs), health and fitness trackers, health monitors, wearable scanners and navigation devices and smart clothing. The Cisco VNI predicts that by 2021 there will be 929 million wearable devices globally, growing nearly threefold from 325 million in 2016 at a CAGR of 23%. By 2021, Cisco expects that 7% will have embedded cellular connectivity, up from 3% in 2016. As AR/VR headsets enter the market, they could start to have a tangible impact on mobile traffic.

Ericsson looks to short-range and wide-range IoT connectivity

The newly published Ericsson Mobility Report finds that at the end of 2016 there were around 0.4 billion IoT devices with cellular connections. Ericsson's study divides IoT into short-range and wide-area segments, and it provides some guidance as to how IoT is impacting the network. For instance, the report says use cases with VoLTE calls for IoT (Cat-M1) are starting to emerge. This could extend mobile voice service to IoT devices, an interesting possibility.

By 2021, Ericsson expects there will be 2.1 billion devices connected via LTE-M and NB-IoT networks, roughly a 30% CAGR from today. This trend has already started. This year, several prominent mobile operators have rolled out commercial LTE-M networks. For instance, in March, Verizon announced the commercial launch of its nationwide 4G LTE Category M1 (or Cat M1) network. The coverage spans 2.4 million square miles. Verizon will introduce low rate, multi-year plans to match the longer useful life of Cat M1 devices, including data plans that start at $2 per month per device, with customised options available for bulk activations and volume purchases. In May, AT&T followed suit by announcing the deployment of its nationwide LTE-M network ahead of schedule.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Nokia – IP networks re-imagined

Recently we have seen Cisco predict that busy hour global IP 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. The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, released earlier this week, calculates that the total traffic in mobile networks increased by 70% between the end of Q1 2016 and the end of Q1 2017. And now, Nokia Bell Labs has just announced its own prediction: IP traffic will more than double in the next five years, reaching 330 exabytes per month by 2022 while growing at a 25% CAGR. The company anticipates that peak data rates will grow even faster at nearly 40% annually. Nokia Bell Labs also predicts that 3D/4K/UHD will experience a 4.79x growth from 2017 – 22, that wireless traffic will experience 7.5x growth from 2017 – 22, and that worldwide IoT devices to grow from 12bn in 2017 to 100bn in 2025.

Nokia unveils next gen networking processing engine

Nokia's processing engine sets the stage for perhaps the most significant announcement from the company since the merger of Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens Networks in 2015. In a press event entitled 'IP networks reimagined', Nokia unveiled its FP4 silicon, featuring the 'first' 2.4 Tbit/s network processor, up to 6x more powerful than processors currently available. The proprietary chipset is designed for a new class of petabit-class routers.

Core routers traditionally have been the 'big iron' that powers the heart of the Internet. It is a product category dominated by Cisco, Huawei, Juniper and Nokia, including via its existing 7950 XRS routing platform. However, the market has been in flux. Earlier this month, Dell’Oro Group reported a significant break in Q1 17 with Huawei taking the top spot from Cisco in the core router market for the first time. The report also found Huawei taking over second spot from Nokia in the SP edge router and CES market. The primary reason cited for this shift is that the SP core routing business is only growing at a low single-digit rate, while China Mobile is defying the trend with significant investments in their IP core backbone, for which Huawei is the lead supplier. Nevertheless, the overall predictions for rapid growth in IP traffic over the coming five years makes it more likely that service providers will need a significant refresh of their core backbones to handle hundreds of 100 or 400 Gbit/s connections at major nodes.

Nokia's previous generation FP3 chipset, unveiled by Alcatel-Lucent in June 2011 and launched in 2012, packed 288 RISC cores operating at 1 GHz and leveraged 40 nm process technology; the FP2 chipset offered 112 cores at 840 MHz and was built in 90 nm. This network processor lineage can be traced back to TiMetra Networks, a start-up based in Mountain View, California that launched its first carrier-class routing platforms in 2003.

TiMetra, which was headed by Basil Alwan, was acquired by Alcatel-Lucent later in 2003 for approximately $150 million in stock. The product line went on to become the highly successful 7450, 7750 and eventually 7950 carrier platforms - the basis for the IP division at Alcatel-Lucent. Not bad for an idea from a small start-up to grow into the star platform underpinning all of Alcatel-Lucent + Nokia Siemens Networks.

In a launch day webcast, Basil Alwan, now president of Nokia's IP/Optical Networks business group, said we are moving into a new phase of the Internet requiring 'cloud-scale routing'. First, he noted that there is market confusion between Internet-class routers and core data centre switches, which are being used to power the hyperscale infrastructure of the Internet content providers. High-end, data centre spine switches are capable of routing packets at high rates and can handle access control lists (ACLs). Likewise, conventional big iron core routers can switch data flows, and are sometimes deployed in data centres. However, there have been tradeoffs when this role reversal happens. Nokia's new FP4 chipset aims to fix that.

First multi-terabit NPU silicon

Six years have passed since the FP3, or roughly two cycles in the evolution of Moore's Law, so naturally one would expect the new silicon to be smaller, faster and more powerful and efficient. But Alwan said the company took its time to rethink how the packet processing works at the silicon level. To begin with, Nokia redesigned the onboard memory, employing 2.5D and 3D layouts on 16 nm Fin Field Effect Transistor (FinFET) technology. The single chip contains 22 dies, including memory stacks and control logic. It runs at 2.4 Tbit/s half-duplex, or 6x more capacity than the current generation 400 Gbit/s FP3 chipset. The FP4 will support full terabit IP flows. All conventional routing capabilities are included. Deep classification capabilities include enhanced packet intelligence and control, policy controls, telemetry and security.

The FP4 could be used to provide an in-service upgrade to Nokia's current line of core routers and carrier switches. It will also be used to power a new family of 7750 SR-s series routers designed for single-node, cloud scale density. In terms of specs, the SR-s boasts a 144 Tbit/s configuration supporting port densities of up to 144 future terabit links, 288 x 400 Gbit/s ports, or 1,440 100 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Absolute capacity could be doubled for a maximum of 288 Tbit/s configuration. It runs the same software as the company's widely-deployed systems. The first 7750 SR-s boxes are already running in Nokia labs and the first commercial shipments are expected in Q4.

Nokia is also introducing a chassis extension option to push its router into petabit territory. Without using the switching shelf concept employed in the multi-chassis designs of its competitors, Nokia is offering the means to integrate up to six of its 7750 SRS-s routers into a single system. This results in 576 Tbit/s of capacity, enough for densities of up to 2,880 x 100 GBE ports or 720 x 400 Gbit/s ports. Adding up the numbers, it is not truly petabit-class, but at 576 Tbit/s it is more than halfway there.

Network telemetry leads to security
Another interesting twist concerns security and petabit-class routing. In December 2016, Nokia agreed to acquire Deepfield, a start-up specialising in real-time analytics for IP network performance management and security. Deepfield, founded in 2011 and based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has developed an analytics platform that identifies over 30,000 popular cloud applications and services. Its Internet Genome tracks how traffic runs to and through networks to reach subscribers, in real time, and without the need for probes, taps and monitors in the network itself. At the time of the deal, Nokia said it would integrate Deepfield big data analytics with the dynamic control capabilities of open SDN platforms, such as the Nokia Network Services Platform (NSP) and Nuage Networks Virtualized Services Platform (VSP).

Expanding on this idea, Alwan said Deepfield can really leverage the routers rather than probes to understand what is happening to the traffic. Fewer probes mean lower investment. More importantly, Deepfield could be used to track DDoS attacks passing through the core of the network rather than at the edge destination target. The new FP4 silicon is said to be a very good match for this application.