Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Intel Debuts its Xeon Scalable Platform

In what it called its “biggest data center launch in a decade”, Intel officially unveiled its Xeon Scalable platform, a new line of server CPUs based codenamed Skylake and specifically designed for evolving data center and network infrastructure.

The new silicon, which Intel has been refining for the past five years, promises the highest core and system-level performance averaging 1.65x higher performance over the prior generation.  First shipments went out several months ago and are now in commercial use at over 30 customers worldwide, including AT&T, Amazon Web Services and Google.  Intel says every aspect of Xeon has been improved or redesigned: brand new core, cache, on-die interconnects, memory controller and hardware accelerators.

Intel’s new processors scale up to 28 cores and will be offered in four classes: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The design boasts six memory channels versus four memory channels of previous generation for memory-intensive workloads. Up to three Intel Ultra Path Interconnect (Intel UPI) channels provide increase scalability of the platform to as many as eight sockets.

Intel claims 4.2X greater VM capacity than its previous generation and a 65% lower total cost of ownership over a 4-year old server.  Potentially you might need only one quarter of the number of servers. For communication service providers, the claim is that the new Xeon Gold will deliver a 2.7X performance boost for DPDK L3 forwarding applications over a 4-year old server.



Key innovations in Xeon Scalable Platform

  • Intel Mesh on-chip interconnect topology provides direct data paths with lower latency and high bandwidth among additional cores, memory, and I/O controllers. The Mesh architecture, which replaces a previous ring interconnect design, aligns cores, on-chip cache banks, memory controllers, and I/O controllers, which are organized in rows and columns, with wires and switches connecting them at each intersection to allow for turns. Intel said this new design yields improved performance and greater energy efficiency.

    More specifically, in a 28-core Intel Xeon Scalable processor, the Last Level Cache (LLC), six memory channels, and 48 PCIe channels are shared among all the cores, giving access to large resources across the entire die a
  • Intel Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel AVX-512), which delivers ultra-wide vector processing capabilities to boost specific workload performance, now offers double the flops per clock cycle compared to the previous generation.  Intel AVX2,6 Intel AVX-512 boosts performance and throughput for computational tasks such as modeling and simulation, data analytics and machine learning, data compression, visualization, and digital content creation.
  • Intel Omni-Path Architecture (Intel OPA) is the high-bandwidth and low-latency fabric that Intel has been talking about for some time. It optimizes HPC clusters, and is available as an integrated extension for the Intel Xeon Scalable platform. Intel said Omni-Path now scales to tens of thousands of nodes. The processors can also be matched with the new Intel Optane SSDs.
  • Intel QuickAssist Technology (Intel QAT) provides hardware acceleration for compute-intensive workloads, such as cryptography and data compression, by offloading the functions to a specialized logic engine (integrated into the chipset). This frees the processor for other workload operations. Encryption can be applied to data at rest, in-flight, or data in use.  Intel claims that performance is degraded by under 1 percent when encryption is turned on. This function used to be off-chip.
  • Enhanced Intel Run Sure Technology, which aims to reduce server downtime, includes reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) features. New capabilities include Local Machine Check Exception based Recovery (or Enhanced Machine Check Architecture Recovery Gen 3) for protecting critical data.

Aiming for the megatrends

In a webcast presentation, Navin Shenoy, Exec Vice President & General Manager, Intel’s Data Center Group, said that as traditional industries turn to technology to reinvent themselves, there are three megatrends that Intel is pursuing: Cloud, AI & Analytics, and 5G.  The new Xeon Scalable Platform addresses the performance, security and agility challenges for each of these megatrends.

AT&T’s John Donovan testifies, performance boost about 30%

During the big Xeon Scalable unveiling, Intel invited AT&T’s John Donovan on stage to talk about the new processors/ AT&T gained access to the new processors a few months ago and has already deployed Xeon Scalable servers which are carrying production traffic.  Donovan reported about at 30% performance boost for its applications over the previous Xeon generation. The net effect he said should be a 25% reduction in the number of servers it will need to deploy.  Intel has been seeding the process with other top customers as well.

This 30% performance boost is certainly good, but it is probably a stretch to call this upgrade “the biggest data center announcement in a decade.” For other applications, perhaps the claim is better justified. One such area is machine learning, which Intel identifies as one of the key megatrends for the industry. There are some interesting developments for Xeons in this domain.

A strong market position

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is the first public cloud to put the Intel Xeon Scalable Platform into commercial operation. A partnership between Google and Intel was announced earlier this year at a Google event where the companies said they are collaborating in other areas as well, including hybrid cloud orchestration, security, machine and deep learning, and IoT edge-to-cloud solutions. Intel is also a backer of Google’s Tensor Flow and Kubernetes open source initiatives.

In May 2016, Google announced the development of a custom ASIC for Tensor Flow processing. These TPUs are already in service in Google data centres where they "deliver an order of magnitude better-optimized performance per watt for machine learning." For Intel, this poses a long-term strategic threat.  With this announcement, Intel said Xeon’s onboard advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel AVX-512) can increase machine learning inference performance by over 100x – a huge boost for AI developers.

The data centre server market is currently dominated by Intel.  Over the years, there have been several attempts by ARM to gain at least a toe-hold of market share in data centre servers, but so far, the impact has been very limited.  AMD recently announced its EPYC processor for data centre servers, but no shipment date has been stated and the current market position is zero. NVIDIA has been gaining traction in AI applications as well as in public cloud acceleration for GPU intensive applications – but these are specialized use cases.

Zayo – Growing by leaps and bound

If anyone is keeping a list of the most acquisitive companies in the telecom space, Zayo Group Holdings must have a spot toward the top. Zayo got its start in 2007, when Dan Caruso, John Scarano and Matt Erickson saw an opportunity for a new play in a game they knew well – building the highest capacity network infrastructure dark fibre and lit services, including carrier-neutral colocation, mobile infrastructure, wavelengths, Ethernet and IP services. All three co-founders had previously worked at Level 3 Communications, which built a reputation for its nationwide, wholesale transport network and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) business. Level 3 reached a high-level of prominence by its bold strategy, quick deal making and willingness to raise the huge sums of money needed for a rapid entrance onto the global telecoms stage.  Zayo seems to have taken all of these characteristics and multiplied them 10x.

Zayo by the numbers (currently):

·         122,000 fibre route miles.

·         10 million fibre miles.

·         46 data centres across North America and Europe.

·         Presence in 370 markets.

Quick update on the financial picture

Zayo's revenues are primarily derived by leasing dark fibre (23%), dark fibre for mobile infrastructure (6%), wavelength services (15%), Ethernet services (9%), IP services (7%); interconnect-oriented colo (10.5%), and Allstream Canada (23.1%). For its most recent third quarter, ended March 31, 2017, Zayo reported $550.2 million of consolidated revenue; including $470.9 million from the Communications Infrastructure segments and $79.3 million from the Allstream segment. Net income amounted to $27.0 million, including $17.3 million from the Communications Infrastructure segments and $9.7 million from the Allstream segment.

Getting to this stage

Since its founding in 2007 through to the current quarter, Zayo has been in a constant process of hunting for, acquiring and integrating other network operators. Outside observers give the company especially high marks in network integration, a technically difficult process requiring careful planning and methodical accuracy so as not to disturb live customer traffic on the old or new network. Zayo operates a single platform for delivering a uniform set of services despite having swallowed over 30 networks over the past 10 years. Wikipedia puts the number of Zayo acquisitions at 39. Here they are in reverse chronological order based on the year the deal was first announced:

·         2017 - two data centres in San Diego from KIO Networks for $12 million, located at 12270 World Trade Drive and 9606 Aero Drive, with more than 100,000 sq feet of space and 2 MW of critical, IT power, with additional power available.

·         2016 – Electric Lightwave.

·         2015 - Latisys, IdeaTek Systems, Viatel, a new Dallas, TX data centre from Stream Data Centers, Clearview International and Allstream, Canada's main facilities-based inter-exchange carrier which has its roots in the railway telegraph business.

·         2014 - Dallas-based data centere operator CoreXchange, Neo Telecoms and Geo Networks.

·         2013 - Austin-based data centre operator Core NAP, Access Communications, Midwest-based dark fibre operator FiberLink and Corelink Data Centers.

·         2012 - AboveNet, FiberGate, Arialink, US Carrier Telecom, First Telecom Services, and Maryland-based Litecast/Balticore.

·         2011 - MarquisNet data centre business in Las Vegas and 360networks.

·         2010 - AGL Networks, American Fiber Systems and Dolphinis Cummins Station data centre and colocation services.

·         2009 - FiberNet Telcom Group.

·         2008 - Columbia Fiber Solution, Adesta Communications assets, two sets of fibre assets from Citynet, two sets of fibre assets from Northwest Telephone and CenturyTel Regional Markets.

·         2007 - Memphis Networx, VoicePipe, Onvoy Inc, PPL Telcom and Indiana Fiber Works.

Among the latest acquisitions were two of its most significant buys: Allstream and Electric Lightwave. Allstream was a Canadian leader in IP communications and the only national provider that works exclusively with business customers. Allstream brought over 9,000 route km of metro fibre network concentrated in Canada's top five metropolitan markets (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa and Calgary) that connect to approximately 3,300 on-net buildings. In addition, Allstream has an approximate 20,000 route km long-haul fibre network connecting all major Canadian markets and 10 U.S. network access points. In addition, Allstream operates colocation space in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Zayo has previously stated that approximately half of Allstream's revenue is a direct fit with its existing core business. The remaining half will be organised into two additional segments: Voice and Universal Communications (approximately one third of Allstream’s revenue), and Small Business (primarily enterprise voice). Each of these will be separated into standalone business units in parallel with the formation of Zayo Canada. Perhaps Zayo will sell these operations.

Zayo agreed to acquire Electric Lightwave, formerly known as Integra Telecom, for $1.42 billion in cash. The recently-completed acquisition of Electric Lightwave, which provides infrastructure and telecom services primarily in the western U.S., was valued at $1.42 billion. Electric Lightwave had 8,100 route miles of long haul fibre and 4,000 miles of dense metro fibre in Portland, Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Salt Lake City, Spokane and Boise, with on-net connectivity to more than 3,100 enterprise buildings and 100 data centres.

Recent management changes

There has been considerable turnover in the company's executive ranks in the past year. Within the year, has Zayo recruited three high-powered execs from Level 3, although one has since gone back to Level 3.

Jack Waters, CTO of Zayo Group, was previously CTO at Level 3 where his responsibilities included global network technology, architecture, engineering, process and security. He had been with Level 3 since 1997.

Andrew Crouch, president and COO, previously served as regional president of EMEA for Level 3, where he also was responsible for its Global Accounts Division.

Ed Morche, president of sales, was previously group VP of sales at Level 3 where he was responsible for sales, sales engineering, business operations, commercial services and metro market expansion for the company's largest business unit – North America’s Enterprise and Government customers. On June 22nd, Morche resigned his new position at Zayo in order to return to Level 3. His decision to return to Level 3 comes just as CenturyLink prepares to complete its acquisition of Level 3.

Telxius deploys Infinera Instant Bandwidth

Infinera announced that Telxius, the global telecommunications infrastructure company formed by Telefónica, which serves around 300 million subscribers worldwide, is offering its customers on-demand, software-defined terabit capacity service activation on its SAM-1 submarine network that links the U.S., Brazil and Puerto Rico.

The new on-demand service capabilities offered by Telxius are enabled by Infinera’s Instant Bandwidth software that is able to activate capacity on the Infinera Intelligent Transport Network deployed by Telxius.

Telxius manages around 65,000 km of international infrastructure encompassing high-capacity optical subsea cable systems, of which 31,000 km are owned by the company. Telxius owns and operates the 25,000 km SAM-1 subsea cable connecting the U.S. with Central and South America, where Infinera solutions are deployed; Infinera solutions are also installed on the terrestrial backhaul routes associated with the cable.

The Telxius Intelligent Transport Network is based on Infinera's DTN-X XTC Series solution with support for up to Tbit/s transmission capacity. The XTC Series is designed to simplify network operations via high-capacity optical super-channels enabled by Infinera's large-scale photonic integrated circuits and integrated packet-aware optical transport network (OTN) switching, which also provides the flexibility to address the requirements of both subsea and terrestrial networks.

In addition, utilising Infinera's Instant Bandwidth software defined capacity (SDC) functionality Telxius is able to deploy bandwidth capacity in 100 Gbit/s increments without the need to pre-deploy additional line cards in the system. Infinera noted that Instant Bandwidth is in use by 60+ customers.


* Earlier this year, Infinera expanded its SDC offering with the introduction of its Instant Network solution for cloud scale networks, which enables service providers to automate optical capacity engineering and quickly scale optical capacity using its Xceed and Digital Network Administrator (DNA) software.

* Telefónica announced in February 2017 that it had agreed the sale of up to 40% of Telxius to KKR for Euro 1,275 million, representing an implied enterprise value of Euro 3,678 million and an equity value of Euro 3,188 million euros for Telxius. Telefónica retained a controlling stake in Telxius.

* Recently, Telxius, Facebook and Microsoft, together with local and regional authorities from Biscay and the Basque Country, announced landing of the 6,600 km trans-Atlantic submarine cable MAREA in Sopelana, Spain as part of a project announced in 2016. MAREA will run between Virginia Beach in the U.S. and Sopelana/Bilbao, Vizcaya in Spain and provide an initial design capacity of 160 Tbit/s. The cable is scheduled to be completed in the autumn of this year.

Cogeco to acquire MetroCast cable systems for $1.4bn

Cogeco Communications, the 8th largest cable operator in North America, announced that its subsidiary serving the U.S., Atlantic Broadband, has entered into a definitive agreement with Harron Communications to purchase all of its cable systems operating under the MetroCast brand.

Under the terms of the agreement, substantially all of the assets of MetroCast will be purchased for $1.4 billion, while in conjunction with the transaction Atlantic Broadband expects to realise tax benefits with a present value of approximately $310 million. After adjusting for tax benefits, the purchase price represents a multiple of approximately 9x 2017 forecast adjusted EBITDA for the business being acquired.

As part of the transaction, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) has committed a $315 million equity investment for a 21% interest in Atlantic Broadband's holding company, with the remaining balance of the purchase price and transaction costs to be financed through a committed secured debt financing provided by two banks at Atlantic Broadband.

MetroCast's networks pass 236,000 homes and businesses in New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia and serve approximately 120,000 Internet, 76,000 video and 37,000 telephony customers. For the calendar year 2017 the company's revenue is expected to be approximately $230 million, with adjusted EBITDA projected to be approximately $121 million.

Cogeco stated that the transaction is intended to add scale in the American broadband services segment, with Atlantic Broadband's primary service units (PSU) to increase from approximately 602,000 to a total of 835,000 after the acquisition. In addition, MetroCast's systems are mainly serve non-metropolitan markets with attractive demographic profiles and it will be able to leverage Atlantic Broadband's product and sales capabilities to expand the customer base.

The MetroCast network is fully digital and comprises 860 MHz or FTTH infrastructure across 95% of the network and supports broadband speeds of 150 Mbit/s across the footprint. Atlantic Broadband is currently the 9th largest cable company in the U.S. serving around 239,000 Internet, video and voice customers and following the transaction will have a geographic footprint extending from Maine to Florida.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, is expected to close in January 2018.

Cogeco Communications is a major cable operator in North America, operating in Canada under the Cogeco Connexion name in Québec and Ontario, and in the U.S. through the Atlantic Broadband brand.


Regarding the transaction, Atlantic Broadband president and CEO Richard Shea said, "After the successful acquisition and integration of the MetroCast Connecticut system almost two years ago, Atlantic Broadband understands the sizable residential and business growth potential that it can expect with the remaining MetroCast systems".


ZTE and China Unicom complete first 5G NR field test in Shenzhen

ZTE announced that it has supported China Unicom as the operator conducted its first 5G NR (New Radio) field test based  on its pre-commercial 5G base station at sub 6 GHz and featuring massive MIMO, LDPC (low-density parity check) and other key 5G technologies.

During the trial China Unicom achieved data rates of up to 2 Gbit/s for single user-equipment. The 5G NR field test carried out in Shenzhen used the 3.5 GHz frequency band with a 100 MHz bandwidth, and was conducted by ZTE working with the Guangdong branch of China Unicom and the operator's network construction department and the China Unicom Network Technology Research Institute.

The field test was designed to verify the 5G technical performance and product commercial capabilities in a live network environment and builds on the established partnership for 5G network development between China Unicom and ZTE.

In 2016, China Unicom launched a 5G laboratory to verify the feasibility of potential key technologies and accelerate the development of 5G base station designs and platforms. Following the start of 5G field testing in 2017, China Unicom is expanding its efforts for verification, with a goal of achieving pre-commercial 5G network deployment in 2019 and a large-scale roll-out in 2020.

ZTE noted that earlier in 2017, it initiated the development of NOMA (non-orthogonal multiple access) technology at 3GPP, representing a core project for 5G NR. ZTE is also involved in China's national 5G tests, having completed testing in seven major scenarios, and was first to complete mMTC field tests in Phase 2 of the program.

In April this year, ZTE announced that it was implementing mobile edge computing (MEC) pilots and technical verification trials with China Unicom, China Telecom and China Mobile, ahead of plans to deploy the technology commercially in 2018. ZTE noted that it launched MEC pilots in collaboration with China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom during 2016.


Huawei details Boundless Computing server strategy and solutions

Huawei announced in Beijing the launch of its Boundless Computing server strategy and series solutions, which focuses on industry requirements for digital transformation and outlines the company's 5-year innovation roadmap for computing.

During the launch event, Huawei delivered an overview of the server strategy and its business positioning, and also launched its V5 series solutions, which include the all-flash SAP HANA appliance solution, a big data application acceleration solution, edge computing for smart video analytics solution, and the G series heterogeneous computing platform.

Huawei's Boundless Computing vision encompasses optimising computing for applications and bringing computing power closer to data sources to help realise the potential of computing. It also includes progressing beyond servers and enabling data centre-level resource pooling and on-demand provisioning to improve the computing efficiency of data centres.

The strategy also involves going beyond the limits the of data centre to enable smart access, and expanding computing into the data sources to enhance the intelligence of data at the remote end.

At the release ceremony, Huawei, together with customers and partners including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Tencent, SAP and Microsoft, discussed the challenges to computing development and how they can be addresses. Huawei also released the FusionServer V5 delivering five key smart features.

Describing the strategy, Qiu Long, president, IT server product line at Huawei, said, "A fully connected world is unfolding and computing will be the pivotal force behind everything… the Boundless Computing strategy is about rethinking the road to a fully connected world, that includes unlocking the potential of computing, going beyond the boundary of servers, and extending further beyond the boundary of data centres".


AT&T completes acquisition of Vyatta network OS assets from Brocade

AT&T, which in early June announced it would acquire Vyatta, has completed its the acquisition of the Vyatta network operating system and associated assets of Brocade Communications Systems through an agreement that included the hiring of several dozen Brocade employees, mainly located in California and the UK.
The transaction includes the Vyatta network operating system and vRouter product line. AT&T gains the Vyatta network operating system, including its virtual network functions (VNFs) and distributed services platform, software under development as part of its unreleased product roadmap, existing software licenses and related patents and patent applications.

This acquisition is intended to strengthen AT&T's ability to deliver cloud or premises-based VNFs, beginning with its previously announced SD-WAN cloud service offered with VeloCloud that  was announced in October 2016. The Vyatta acquisition will also help AT&T to enhance its white box platform capabilities.


* In March this year AT&T completed a trial in partnership with other companies and industry groups to design and build white box switches designed to enable more efficient management of data traffic across its network. The trial involved vendors including Barefoot Networks, Broadcom, Delta Electronics, Edgecore Networks, Intel and SnapRoute.

* AT&T stated that the Vyatta platform will help continue to drive its network transformation, through which AT&T is aiming to virtualise and software-control 55% of its network by the end of 2017, rising to 75% by 2020.

LightCounting sees demand for DCI as mega data centres go metro-regional

LightCounting forecasts in its latest Mega Datacenter Optics report that there will be growing demand for high bandwidth interconnectivity as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent move to a distributed network of data centres in metro areas due to restrictions on building larger facilities in China, while mega data centres operated by the big western cloud companies are transforming into metro-regional clusters.

More specifically, LightCounting notes that Amazon recently disclosed that it operates 25 data centres interconnected with 3,500 fibres in Ashburn, Virginia, while Facebook has expanded its mega data centres by building new facilities near to existing ones, and Microsoft has announced it intends to build more metro and regional data centres to reduce the time involved in planning new facilities.

The research firm states that most of these facilities will be interconnected using DWDM technology, thereby expanding the market opportunity for suppliers of data centre interconnect (DCI) equipment to the cloud companies. Such customers are expected to be early adopters of 200 and 400 Gbit/s DWDM technology.

In terms of vendors, LightCounting notes that Cisco recently introduced the term 'fog computing', referring to adding compute and storage capabilities in facilities located closer to enterprises to facilitate migration of private data centres to the cloud. Meanwhile, Equinix and other colocation providers are increasing their business with enterprise customers as they migrate to the cloud.

In addition, cloud companies are beginning to use colocation data centres to extend reach closer to the end users. LightCounting notes that storage (or caching) of popular videos in local data centres or the central offices of service providers was necessary to meet rising demand for video on demand, while new applications such as SnapChat and Instagram are creating the need to support these applications locally to reduce the load on long haul networks.

The research firm adds that in the future applications such as self-driving cars and IoT will require the use of edge data centres to deliver low latency performance. All of these requirements are driving a transition in the way data centres are deployed and operated.

WorldLink selects Nokia to upgrade backbone in Nepal to 100G

Nokia announced that WorldLink, the largest fixed broadband operator in Nepal, is upgrading a 650-km backbone network using its 1830 PSS (Photonic Service Switch) DWDM technology to support bandwidth-hungry entertainment and enterprise services across the country.

The WorldLink intercity network connects from Kathmandu to Bhairahawa and Birgunj, as well as providing international connectivity between Nepal and neighbouring countries including India. WorldLink serves around 120,000 residential broadband subscribers and 5,000 enterprise broadband circuits, and states it is connecting 10,000 residential FTTH service subscribers each month, creating increasing demand for network capacity.

The deployment of Nokia's optical network technology is designed to enable WorldLink to flexibly increase its network capacity, reach and density leveraging Nokia's programmable chipset, Photonic Service Engine-2 featuring super coherent technology (PSE-2s).

WorldLink is the largest Internet and network service provider in Nepal. The company owns its own leased fibre backbone and purchases IP bandwidth from IP transit locations including Mumbai, Chennai, Singapore and London, interconnecting with service providers such as Tata, Airtel, Singtel and Cogent.

The operator also interconnects with a number of Internet exchanges including NPIX in Nepal, Equinix in Singapore and LINX in London and has partnerships with content delivery network (CDN) operators such as Google, Facebook and Akamai.

WorldLink noted that it operates an advanced network based on equipment from vendors including Juniper and Cisco for IP/MPLS core and aggregation, Extreme Network for switching, Nokia and Huawei for access systems, as well as Nokia DWDM solutions. It operates an extensive national fibre backbone and access network serving 63 districts and offers services including high speed Internet up to 100 Mbit/s and HD IPTV services.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Cisco's intent-based, intuitive networking launch – Part 2

An interesting aspect of Cisco's new strategic direction with its Intent-based enterprise networking is that the company has made a major bet on developing proprietary ASICs rather than relying on merchant Ethernet switching silicon from Broadcom, Cavium, Barefoot, Innovium or other merchant semiconductor suppliers. There are a number of reasons why the company may have chosen this approach.

First, with Broadcom dominating the market for Ethernet switching silicon, it does not help Cisco's market positioning when many competing vendors have similar switches with matching port counts and speeds. Cisco commands a margin premium and to defend over the long term it may have been necessary to pursue a silicon development program. Second, the costs of developing switching silicon may have declined in relative terms to the market opportunity. Consider that several start-ups, including Barefoot, Innovium and Xpliant (now part of Cavium), gathered sufficient venture funding to attempt entering the market. If the costs were too high, the angel investors would not have taken the risk, so one can assume that large vendors, such as Cisco do have the financial resources to proceed with in-house silicon development. Third, while merchant silicon is becoming more programmable, Cisco may see benefits in a proprietary chipset with APIs for select ecosystem partners.

Cisco's Intent-based networking builds on its Digital Network Architecture (DNA) and its widely-installed Catalyst line of campus, branch and access Ethernet switches.

The new line of Catalyst switches are the 9000-series -- out of sequence compared to previous Catalyst generations, including the 2900 series, 3600, 3800, 4500, 6500 and 6800 series. The 9000-series branding makes sense, however, when considering the company's data centre switches. The Cisco Nexus 9000 series is its flagship data centre switch, so it makes sense that the Catalyst 9000 series be positioned as the flashing enterprise switch.

Comparison with Nexus data centre switching line

Cisco's Nexus data centre switching line also differentiates from the competition using proprietary silicon but powers some models with Broadcom. The latest generation of Nexus switches, announced in March 2016, includes a new Nexus 9000 model based on its custom ASIC and a Nexus 3000 model based on Broadcom's Tomahawk silicon. In terms of Nexus network architecture and software programmability, Cisco is supporting three choices: its own, full-bore Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) architecture, running on the APIC controller in its Nexus 7K and flagship 9K switches, a programmable fabric vision that could also be supported on the new Nexus 3000 switches with Broadcom silicon, and a lighter programmable network architecture running on any of the Nexus switches and featuring NX-OS enhancements for devops, automation and segment routing.

Performance is a key argument for the custom silicon. With the new Nexus 9000 switches, Cisco said it will achieve industry-leading performance for 100 Gbit/s, with 25% more non-blocking performance, at 50% the cost of comparable solutions, plus greater reliability and lower power. In addition, Cisco is announcing a new Nexus Fabric Manager that automates the fabric lifecycle management with a point-and-click web interface and offers automated configuration snapshots and rollback. Nexus Fabric Manager builds and self-manages a VXLAN-based fabric, dynamically configuring switches based on simplified user-based actions. An IT manager can fully deploy a VXLAN-based fabric in just three steps, complete with zero touch provisioning, and can upgrade all fabric switches to a new software release in 'four mouse clicks'.

There are no performance comparisons yet for the Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) 2.0 ASIC that powers the new Catalyst 9000 series, but the company has said that it is highly programmable. One example of this flexibility is the unique encrypted traffic analytics that will supported. This capability leverages the power of the ASIC along with Cisco's Talos cyber intelligence and machine learning to analyse metadata traffic patterns. Cisco said this enables the network to identify the fingerprints of known threats even in encrypted traffic, without decrypting it and impacting data privacy. Cisco claims it can detect threats in encrypted traffic with up to 99% accuracy, with less than 0.01% false positives. This capability was developed essentially over the course of several months.

Automation and programmability key themes for switching silicon

Other silicon vendors are pursuing automation and programmability as well. Earlier this month, Broadcom unveiled a new generation of its widely-deployed Trident switching silicon for data centre, enterprise and service provider networks. The new StrataXGS Trident 3 switch family, aimed at networks transitioning to high density 10/25/100 Gigabit Ethernet, is manufactured in 16 nm and designed to support fully programmable packet processing, while achieving significant cost and power efficiency. It builds on Broadcom's widely deployed StrataXGS Trident and Tomahawk switch products, offering fully programmable, line-rate switching. It supports new protocol parsing, processing and editing for Service Function Chaining, network virtualisation and SDN. It offers programmable support for new switch instrumentation capabilities such as in-band and out-of-band network telemetry. The StrataXGS Trident 3 also retains complete functional compatibility to with StrataXGS Trident 2 and Trident 2+ based networks, widely adopted by network equipment manufacturers. The chip supports forwarding databases for L2 switching, L3 routing, label switching and overlay forwarding. Broadcom promises 3xincreased ACL scale to support evolving policy/security requirements.

Barefoot Networks, a start-up based in Palo Alto, California, has garnered considerable attention for its Tofino switching chip which boasts 6.5 Tbit/s of overall capacity, and a strategic investment from Google, as well as engagements with  Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent . Barefoot has said its Tofino silicon, which has been sampling since November 2016, excels for its programmable forwarding plane. Recently, the company disclosed ongoing work with AT&T and SnapRoute to deliver what it believes is the first real-time path and latency visualisation. Utilising Tofino and In-band Network Telemetry (INT), AT&T was able to gain deep insight into the network down to packet-level for the first time to help to address bottlenecks caused by path or latency variation. Barefoot noted it took 6 weeks to develop the visualisation capability before it was deployed into AT&T's production environment carrying live customer traffic over a Washington DC to San Francisco link. Barefoot has also announced a partnership with Taiwan-based network switching equipment firms Edgecore Networks and WNC. As a side note, Barefoot Networks was co-founded by Nick McKeown, a Stanford professor and co-founder of Nicira (acquired by VMware), Martin Izzard, Pat Bosshart and Dan Lenoski VP Engineering.

Inovium is another Silicon Valley based start-up that is making a run at scalable Ethernet silicon for data centres switches. Its TERALYNX is claimed to be the first single switching chip to break the 10 Tbit/s performance barrier. It also offers telemetry, line-rate programmability, the largest on-chip buffers and ultra low-latency. The chip is expected to sample in Q3 2017. Innovium’s TERALYNX promises to include support for 10/25/40/50/100/200/400 Gigabit Ethernet standards. It will deliver 128 ports of 100 Gbit/s, 64 ports of 200 Gbit/s or 32 ports of 400 Gbit/s in a single device. This may make it more suited for data centre switches than campus or branch offices.

Some concluding observations

While Cisco may be going down the path of proprietary silicon for its flagship switching platforms, the many other players in this market segment appear set to benefit from innovations coming from Broadcom and the new merchant silicon suppliers. Arista, in particular, continues to thrive despite the many legal challenges presented by Cisco. Earlier this month, Arista rolled out key enhancements to its R-Series platforms, which are based on Broadcom's Jericho+ switching silicon. The latest Arista R-Series platforms provide over 150 Tbit/s of capacity for switching and routing applications with cloud-driven Arista EOS software technologies including Arista FlexRoute and AlgoMatch. Arista is also known to use Cavium's programmable Xpliant switching silicon in other platforms, giving it a multi-vendor approach to the market.


AT&T partners with Coral to launch $200m VC fund

AT&T announced it is committing to invest up to $200 million in a venture capital fund as part of its ongoing effort to develop solutions to address current and emerging technology challenges.

Under the program, AT&T will work with venture capital firm Coral's Communications Industry Platform (CIP) team to identify and invest in start-up companies that are focused on developing technology for connected services and platforms.  AT&T and Coral will also seek to identify additional companies interested in investing in the fund.

The new fund will specifically invest in technologies that run on the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) operating system for software-defined networks. AT&T noted that ONAP was created through the merging of a platform developed by AT&T Labs and an existing open source project.

ONAP is currently being used to manage the company's own cloud network, and is now an open source platform hosted by the Linux Foundation that is increasingly being adopted as the standard for virtualised networks worldwide.

AT&T stated that this latest investment initiative builds on its existing innovation programs that encompass AT&T Labs and the AT&T Foundry innovation centre that were established in 2011 to support work with the start-up companies and the open source community.

Coral Group is a venture capital firm that specialises in telecom systems integration, Internet-based consumer and enterprise-facing applications and services. The Communications Industry Platform (CIP) combines venture capital and integrated solutions to help communication service providers address strategic challenges. Coral has provided VC funding to companies including Calix, Flexlight Networks, Infinera and Picolight.


Regarding the initiative, Andre Fuetsch, CTO and president of AT&T Labs, noted, "This investment is part of AT&T's push to address the needs of global service providers… it will collaborate with Coral and other CIP members to find, and even create, start-up companies to build disruptive technologies to solve these challenges".


Baidu deploys Xilinx FPGAs for cloud acceleration

Xilinx announced that Baidu has deployed Xilinx FPGA-based application acceleration services into its public cloud, specifically for the Baidu FPGA Cloud Server, a new service that leverages Xilinx Kintex FPGAs, tools and the software required for hardware-accelerated data centre applications such as machine learning and data security.

The Baidu FPGA Cloud Server provides a complete FPGA-based hardware and software development environment, including hardware and software design examples, and is designed to help users quickly develop and migrate applications with reduced development costs.

The Baidu service is based on each FPGA instance serving as a dedicated acceleration platform that is not shared between instances or users. The design examples provided services including cover deep learning acceleration, encryption and decryption.

Xilinx claims that FPGA-enabled servers can deliver a 10x to 80x performance per watt advantage compared to CPU-only servers. In addition, as they are dynamically reconfigurable, Xilinx FPGAs can support a range of workloads, including machine learning, data analytics, security and video processing.



  • Separately, Baidu announced a partnership with Microsoft for its new open source autonomous driving platform, Apollo. Baidu unveiled Apollo in April, featuring cloud services, software and reference hardware/vehicle platforms, and expects the technology will be running on roads by late 2020.
  • In addition, Conexant, a provider of audio and voice technology solutions, announced it was collaborating with Baidu to release development kits and reference designs for device makers to develop far-field voice-enabled artificial intelligent (AI) devices running on Baidu's DuerOS platform. The development kits and reference designs will feature Conexant's CX20924 4-microphone and CX20921 2-microphone voice input processing solutions and DuerOS, a conversation-based AI system that enables access to a voice-activated digital assistant for mobile phones, TVs and other devices.

Equinix provides direct access to Oracle Cloud in Sydney

Equinix, the global interconnection and data centre company and a Gold level member of the Oracle Partner Network (OPN), announced the immediate availability of dedicated, private access to Oracle Cloud in its Sydney, Australia, International Business Exchange (IBX) data centre.

Available via Oracle Cloud Network Service - FastConnect and the Equinix Cloud Exchange, access will be available for Oracle Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as well as Platform as a Service (PaaS). Direct access enables enterprise customers in the region to migrate compute, applications and data to Oracle Cloud in a low-latency manner for an optimal user experience.

The latest expansion builds on previous announcements between Equinix and Oracle to offer direct connection to multiple Oracle PaaS and IaaS services, including database, Java, integration, analytics, compute and storage, in multiple regions worldwide. The addition of Sydney brings the total markets where Equinix is offering private access to Oracle Cloud to five.

In addition to direct access to the Oracle Cloud, customers in Sydney also have access to Oracle Managed Cloud Services to help them determine the best deployment model for their business needs. Oracle Cloud delivers nearly 1,000 SaaS applications and 50 enterprise-class PaaS and IaaS services to customers in more than 195 countries.

Equinix noted that as business models become interdependent and enterprises adopt an interconnection oriented architecture (IOA) strategy in order to deliver the performance users require while utilising multiple IaaS, PaaS and SaaS cloud services. Enterprises can bring these services closer to end users by putting workloads and application near to the digital edge of their network in Equinix facilities, colocating IT hubs adjacent to the cloud service providers that host their cloud edges in Equinix facilities.

Equinix stated that its data centres in Sydney are the most interconnected in Australia, with customers able to establish direct links to both of the continent's largest peering points, as well as key submarine cable systems, and gain direct access to multiple network and cloud providers such as Oracle via the Equinix Cloud Exchange.


The Equinix Cloud Exchange is currently available in 21 markets, namely Amsterdam, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York, Osaka, Paris, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Washington DC and Zurich.


Huawei Marine selected to build 4,000km Western Pacific Cable

Huawei Marine, the joint venture between Huawei Technologies and UK-based Global Marine Systems, announced it has signed a contract with the Solomon Island Submarine Cable Company (SISCC) to construct the first submarine cable in the Solomon Islands.

Huawei noted that the Solomon Islands encompasses six major islands and over nine hundred smaller islands situated to the northeast of Australia. Due to its geographical location, the Solomon Islands has been dependent on satellite connectivity for telecommunications service, which is costly and is becoming insufficient to meet the bandwidth demands of the country.

In 2016, the Solomon Islands' government founded the SISCC, with the remit to develop a submarine cable system to connect the main islands and provide onward connectivity to Australia.

Huawei Marine, in conjunction with its parent Huawei Technologies, has been selected to design and construct a network that will incorporate approximately 4,000 km of submarine cable and deliver total capacity of 2.5 Tbit/s. The new cable system will link Sydney on the east coast of Australia to the Solomon Islands capital Honiara, with a further domestic connectivity on to the cities of Auki and Noro. The cable system is expected to be ready for service in 2018.

The signing ceremony for the cable system contract was attended by Solomon Islands Prime minister Manasseh Sogavare, Minister of Finance and Treasury Snyder Rini, Minister of Communications and Aviation Peter Shanel, plus the CEO of SISCC Keir Preedy and the president of Huawei's South Pacific Region, Wei Chengmin.

Huawei Marine noted that it was recently selected to build submarine infrastructure in Papua New Guinea.

Commenting on the project, Keir Preedy, CEO of SISCC, said, I have been planning this submarine cable for nearly seven years… the completion of this cable will solve problems we are facing of insufficient bandwidth, high cost and unstable services… it will provide quality telecommunication services to carriers in the South Pacific region, and deliver high-speed Internet and telecom services in the Solomon Islands".


Fujitsu expands RunMyProcess PaaS

Fujitsu announced the global extension of its digital platform-as-a-service, RunMyProcess, with the addition of new regional cloud platforms in North America and Australia, expanding in the existing platforms in Europe and Asia.

The capacity increase for RunMyProcess is designed to support and address the growing digital transformation needs of organisations with regional compliance requirements for data sovereignty, regulation, security and low-latency.

Fujitsu's RunMyProcess is a native cloud platform that allows organisations to quickly and securely build, test, deploy and scale device-independent applications that connect digital business processes across cloud, on-premises and mobile environments.

Using RunMyProcess, organisations can model and streamline complex business processes while also integrating existing systems and services, whether cloud services such as Office 365 or on-premises solutions such as SAP, with smartphones, tablets, PCs, wearable technology and other devices. The platform's pre-built connectors is designed to allow customers to develop connected applications faster and deploy them within days, as well as scale up to thousands of users.

RunMyProcess is available globally with a choice of regional data centres. The new deployments in Australia and North America are now available both directly from RunMyProcess and via Fujitsu local sales teams.

Fujitsu stated that RunMyProcess is currently serving over 500 customers worldwide across a range of industries including government, defence, retail and manufacturing and utilities, as well as financial services and healthcare.

Fujitsu cited HomeServe USA, a provider of home emergency repair services, as an example of how RunMyProcess was used to digitalise end-to-end processes for the introduction of new products. RunMyProcess worked with HomerServer USA to create a new central process flow, supported by seven sub-processes and connecting 21 cross-functional teams.


Bahamas-based Cloud Carib builds data centres

Bahamas-based Cloud Carib, a provider of enterprise-grade, private and hybrid cloud solutions, announced that it is extending its reach across the Caribbean and Latin America region via multiple new data centres.

Cloud Carib is a leading managed cloud service provider in the Caribbean. The company currently operates data centres located on the islands of Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas, and plans to launch a newly rebuilt CaribPod data centre in Panama. Cloud Carib has also extended services into Barbados and Jamaica, and is planning to establish additional regional sites in Trinidad, Cayman and other locations before the end of the year.

Cloud Carib data centres are supported 24/7 by the company's command and control centre to provide clients with support and monitoring services. Cloud Carib data centres are operated in accordance with international standards, with services supported by the Cloud Carib service management framework.

The company noted that due to the geographical advantages of the region, there is growing interest from organisations in cloud services provided throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean. Cloud Carib is aiming to address this growing demand through regional expansion as it seeks to become a the premiere managed cloud services provider in the region.

Cloud Carib focuses exclusively on providing managed cloud services leveraging core competencies across disciplines including data centre services, business continuity services and mobile and productivity services.


Headquartered in Nassau, the Bahamas, Cloud Carib offers multiple data centre locations across the Caribbean, including in Freeport, Nassau, Panama, Barbados and Jamaica. It offers solutions including: IaaS, security, business continuity, productivity and mobility, together with professional services and VAR options.


Accedian appoints Dion Joannou as COO

Accedian, the specialist provider of performance assurance solutions for mobile networks and enterprise-to-data centre connectivity, announced the appointment of Dion Joannou as chief operating officer (COO), with responsibility for overseeing the company's global sales, business development, marketing and operations.

As COO, Dion will draw on extensive industry experience and knowledge to support Accedian as it seeks to scale its established market position and expand its customer base in the network operator, service provider and enterprise sectors worldwide.

Dion Joannou joins Accedian from Viavi Solutions (formerly JDSU), where he served for two years as SVP of Sales for the company's Network Service Enablement (NSE) unit. Prior to that, Mr. Joannou was with Nortel Networks for 14 years, where he held a number of leadership positions in the IP and wireless businesses in Europe and Central and Latin America. While at Nortel, he served in roles including chief strategy officer and as president of North American operations.

Dion Joannou holds an MBA in international business from the University of Miami, and a BA in business administration from Southern Illinois University.



  • Accedian recently announced the appointments to its board, namely Steve Pusey, former group CTO of Vodafone Group, Steve Mills, former VP for IBM Software and Systems, and Peter Griffiths, former EVP at CA Technologies. The board appointments followed the acquisition of the company by Bridge Growth Partners in March 2017, and are intended to support company growth.



Friday, July 7, 2017

Cisco's intent-based, intuitive networking launch – Part 1

This week Cisco outlined its vision for Intent-based Networking. Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins described the unveiling as the most significant announcement from the company in perhaps the last five years and as the 'foundation for networking' for the next 30 years. So, what exactly is it?

Simply put, it is a vision. It is not a technology nor a network architecture, it is a vision of machine learning that will be applied to make networks more agile, more efficient and more secure. It leverages Cisco's Digital Network Architecture (DNA), which extends its data centre-based, policy-driven Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technology throughout the entire network: from campus to branch, wired to wireless, core to edge. Cisco has been talking about its DNA for the past 15 months or so. It would be easy to assume that all the Cisco DNA slide ware presented to date has simply been a marketing exercise to keep market analysts busy, but this would be a wrong assumption. The five key principles of Cisco DNA have already been used to differentiate its Nexus 9000 core data centre switches. These five guiding principles for Cisco DNA will now do the same for core systems in enterprise networks:

·         Virtualise everything to give organisations freedom of choice to run any service anywhere, independent of the underlying platform – physical or virtual, on premise or in the cloud.

·         Designed for automation to make networks and services on those networks easy to deploy, manage and maintain, fundamentally changing the approach to network management.

·         Pervasive analytics to provide insights on the operation of the network, IT infrastructure and the business – information that only the network can provide.

·         Service management delivered from the cloud to unify policy and orchestration across the network, enabling the agility of cloud with the security and control of on premises solutions.

·         Open, extensible and programmable at every layer, integrating Cisco and 3rd party technology, open API's and a developer platform, to support a rich ecosystem of network-enabled applications.

At a press event this week in San Francisco, Cisco executives kicked off this new intent-based networking vision by launching several key products: DNA Center, a centralised management dashboard with an intent-based approach for full visibility and context across the entire network, and new Intent-based network infrastructure products including the Catalyst 9000 switching portfolio.

Custom Cisco silicon + onboard Intel x86 powers the switches

It used to be said in that 'silicon is destiny', at least that was a saying in Silicon Valley until Marc Andreessen came along and proclaimed 'software will eat the world'. In more recent years, the conventional wisdom became that merchant silicon was good enough and fast enough, with software to be the key differentiator, enabling valued-added features. In the enterprise networking space, Broadcom's merchant Ethernet switching silicon has pretty much dominated the market. The company offers several switching silicon product families, covering everything from low-end access switches to the highest-capacity, openly programmable data centre core switches.

For this new Catalyst 9000 Series product family Cisco developed its own programmable silicon. The chipset is officially known as the Cisco Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) 2.0 ASIC. Next-generation features include a programmable pipeline, microengine capabilities, and template-based, configurable allocation of Layer 2 and Layer 3 forwarding, access control lists (ACLs), and QoS entries. A first version Cisco Unified Access Data Plane ASIC has previously powered the Catalyst 3850 Unified Access Switch with a built-in WLAN controller and the Cisco 5760 Unified Access WLAN Controller appliance, which have been shipping for several years.

With the new Cisco UADP 2.0 ASIC entering production, it is worth looking at the data sheets for the first Catalyst platforms in which it will be deployed. The newly-announced Catalyst 9K product line up includes the Catalyst 9500 Series 40 Gbit/s switch for the enterprise campus. Three variants will be offered:  24 x 40 Gigabit Ethernet ports, 12 x 40 Gigabit Ethernet ports, or 40 x 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports. A mix of QSFP and SFP+ ports are supported. Key specifications include:

·         Intel 2.4 GHz x86 CPU with up to 120 GB of USB 3.0 SSD storage for container-based application hosting.

·         Up to 960 Gbit/s switching capacity (IPv4) with up to 1440 Mpps of throughput.

·         Up to 24 nonblocking 40 Gigabit Ethernet QSFP ports.

·         Platinum-rated AC power supplies.

·         Up to 512,000 Flexible NetFlow (FNF) entries in hardware.

·         Up to 32 MB of shared buffer per ASIC.

·         Up to 64,000 routing entries for high-end campus access and aggregation deployments.

·         IPv6 support in hardware, providing wire-rate forwarding for IPv6 networks.

·         Dual-stack support for IPv4/v6 and dynamic hardware forwarding table allocations, for ease of IPv4-to-IPv6 migration.

·         Support for both static and dynamic NAT and Port Address Translation (PAT).

·         Scalable routing (IPv4, IPv6, and multicast) tables and Layer 2 tables.

·         Open IOS-XE, described as a completely new rewrite of IOS for the enterprise with support for model-driven programmability, on-box Python scripting, streaming telemetry, container-based application hosting, and patching for critical bug fixes; the OS also has built-in defences to protect against runtime attacks.

·         StackWise virtual technology, a network system virtualisation technology for scalability.

The Catalyst 9400 Series, positioned as the mainstream, next generation of the industry’s most widely deployed enterprise switching platform. The Catalyst 9400 includes modular access switches built for security, IoT and the cloud, offering high availability, support up to 8 Tbit/s, SD-Access capabilities. Two versions of the 9400 are initially offered: a 10-slot chassis offering up 384 ports, 480 Gbit/s per slot; or a 7-slot chassis offering up to 240 ports, 480 Gbit/s per slot. Both support MPLS L2 and L3 VPNs, MVPN, NAT, SD-Access, Cisco StackWise, and N+N/N+1 redundancy.

A Cisco Catalyst 9400 Supervisor Engine line card is used to power the chassis. On the card is the same Cisco Unified Access Dataplane (UADP) 2.0 ASIC, along with an Intel 2.4 GHz x86 CPU with up to 960 GB of SATA SSD local storage for container based application hosting. Line rate hardware-based Flexible NetFlow (FNF) can process up to 384,000 application flows. Significantly, the Catalyst 9400 switches form the foundation building block for Cisco's enterprise SD-Access, which includes: policy-based automation from edge to cloud; segmentation and micro-segmentation, with predictable performance and scalability; automation through the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller - Enterprise Module (APIC-EM); policy enforcement through the Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE).

The Catalyst 9300 Series, positioned as Cisco's next generation stackable switching platform, features eighteen models initially. The three top configurations are: 24 ports of 1/2.5/5/10 Gbit/s; 48 ports of 1 Gbit/s SFP for data, PoE+, Cisco UPOE; 24 ports of 1 Gbit/s SFP for data, PoE+, Cisco UPOE.


As with other members of the Catalyst 9000 series, these switches are powered by the new UADP 2.0 ASIC with programmable pipeline and microengine capabilities. The Cisco ASIC is complemented by an Intel x86 CPU complex with 8 GB memory, and 16 GB of flash and external USB 3.0 SSD pluggable storage slot to host containers and run third-party applications and scripts natively within the switch. Cisco also said the Catalyst 9300 Series is optimised for high-density 802.11ac Wave2.

Mellanox intros Spectrum-2 200/400 GBE data centre switch

Mellanox Technologies announced the Spectrum-2, a scalable 200 and 400 Gbit/s Open Ethernet switch solution designed to enable increased data centre scalability and lower operational costs through improved power efficiency.

Spectrum-2 also provides enhanced programmability and optimised routing capabilities for building efficient Ethernet-based compute and storage infrastructures.

Mellanox's Spectrum-2 provides leading Ethernet connectivity for up to 16 ports of 400 Gigabit Ethernet, 32 ports of 200 Gigabit Ethernet, 64 ports of 100 Gigabit Ethernet and 128 ports of 50 and 25 Gigabit Ethernet, and offers enhancements including increased flexibility and port density for a range of switch platforms optimised for cloud, hyperscale, enterprise data centre, big data, artificial intelligence, financial and storage applications.

Spectrum-2 is designed to enable IT managers to optimise their network for specific customer requirements. The solution implements a complete set of the network protocols within the switch ASIC efficiently, providing users with the functionality required out-of-box. Additionally, Spectrum-2 includes a flexible parser and packet modifier which can be programmed to process new protocols as they emerge in the future.

Mellanox stated that Spectrum-2 is the first 400/200 Gigabit Ethernet switch to provide adaptive routing and load balancing while guaranteeing zero packet loss and unconditional port performance for predictable network operation. The solution also supports double the data capacity while providing latency of 300 nanoseconds, claimed to be 1.4 times less than alternative offerings. It is designed to provide the foundation for Ethernet storage fabrics for connecting the next generation of Flash based storage platforms.

Mellanox noted that Spectrum-2 extends the capabilities of its first generation Spectrum switch, which is now deployed in thousands of data centres. Spectrum enables IT managers to efficiently implement 10 Gbit/s and higher infrastructures and to economically migrate to 25, 50 and 100 Gbit/s speeds.


The new Spectrum-2 maintains the same API as Spectrum for porting software onto the ASIC via the Open SDK/SAI API or Linux upstream driver (Switchdev), and supports standard network operating systems and interfaces including Cumulus Linux, SONIC and standard Linux distributions. It also supports telemetry capabilities including the latest in-band network telemetry standard, enabling visibility into the network and monitoring, diagnosis and analysis of operations.


China Telecom and Ericsson launch open IoT platform

China Telecom and Ericsson announced the launch of the China Telecom IoT Open Platform, a global connection management platform that will support China's One Belt One Road strategy and speed the deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and services.

The China Telecom IoT Open Platform is designed to enable enterprises to deploy, control and scale the management of IoT devices through partnerships. Using the platform, enterprise customers will be able to integrate their business processes with the managed connectivity service offered by China Telecom to create a reliable IoT solutions. Leveraging the platform, China Telecom and its customers will be able to drive the digital transformation of industries in China and beyond.

The China Telecom IoT Open Platform is based on Ericsson's Device Connection Platform, a global, unified platform that is used by multiple enterprise customers across various industries to manage IoT connection services worldwide. The platform provides enterprise customers with reliable connectivity with service-level agreements and a common, unified view of devices and access networks.

Ericsson’s Device Connection Platform was launched in 2012 and currently supports more than 25 operators and over 2,000 enterprise customers as part of its IoT Accelerator platform. Ericsson is also collaborating with the Bridge Alliance and the Global M2M Association to support the provision of a seamless customer experience with global coverage for IoT applications.

Recently, Ericsson and China Mobile formed a strategic agreement to cooperate on IoT, signing a separate Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ericsson and China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI) covering R&D for Cloud RAN and IoT.

With regards to IoT, China Mobile was to use the Ericsson Device Connectivity Platform to streamline the process for provisioning, as well as deploy services to capitalise on new business opportunities.



  • Earlier this year, China Telecom and Orange Business Services extended their existing strategic partnership to cover IoT space during the launch event of eSurfing on the Silk Road in Shanghai. Through the expanded agreement, multinational customers of both China Telecom and Orange will be able to deploy IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) services across each other's networks.