Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cisco Launches its Latest Unified Computing System

Cisco launched a new generation of servers and software based on Intel's latest Xeon Scalable Platform processors and a unique Cisco system-level vision for the future of IT.

The Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) M5 generation seeks to extend the power and simplicity of unified computing for data-intensive workloads, applications at the edge, and the next generation of distributed application architectures. The latest UCS Director 6.5 management software allows data center professionals to complete 80% of operational tasks from a single console. A Workload Optimization Manager, which is powered by Turbonomic and which is deeply integrated into the UCS hardware, uses intent-based analytics to continuously match workload demand to infrastructure supply across on premise and multi-cloud environments. The company says the Cisco UCS can reduce administration and management costs by up to 63 percent while accelerating the delivery of new application services by up to 83 percent.

Leveraging the new Intel Xeon Scalable processors, UCS M5 servers supports up to double the memory capacity of previous systems. Cisco said its lab testing reveals that UCS M5 servers deliver up to 86% higher performance over the previous generation of UCS.

The M5 generation of servers include:


  • Cisco UCS B200 M5 Blade Server: a half-width blade form factor for traditional multi-tier or distributed applications. It supports two GPUs.
  • Cisco UCS B480 M5 Blade Server: for workloads ranging from memory-intensive, mission-critical enterprise applications to distributed database virtualized workloads.
  • Cisco UCS C220 M5 Rack Server: aa high-density 2-socket rack server that delivers performance and efficiency for a wide range of workloads, including virtualization, collaboration, and bare-metal applications.
  • Cisco UCS C240 M5 Rack Server: a storage and I/O optimized enterprise-class rack server for big data analytics, software-defined storage and bare metal applications.
  • Cisco UCS C480 M5 Rack Server: featuring a modular architecture for flexible technology refreshes, the C480 delivers scale-up extensibility for in-memory databases, big data analytics, virtualization, VDI and bare metal applications. GPU support has tripled—with up to six supported—as has disk capacity, which now supports 32 drives.

“As organizations strive to become more competitive through real-time analytics and faster decision-making, new thinking around data center infrastructure is required,” said Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco Computing Systems Product Group. “Our unique, unified system architecture delivers the agility our customers need to create a cloud experience on-prem, so that our new line of servers simply means faster applications with fewer complications.”

http://www.cisco.com

Infinera achieves 19 Tbit/s capacity on trans-Atlantic route

Infinera announced the completion of a submarine field trial with a major subsea network provider over a modern trans-Atlantic route that involved the Infinera XTS-3300 meshponder and demonstrated the potential to support 19 Tbit/s per fibre pair, achieving what it claimed is the highest spectral efficiency on a trans-Atlantic route with stable, commercial-ready performance margin.

Infinera's XTS-3300 leverages its new Infinera Infinite Capacity Engine 4 (ICE4) and comprises part of the Infinera Intelligent Transport Network portfolio optimised for long-haul subsea applications. The new meshponder delivers the performance of Infinera's ICE4 technology, including enhanced pre- and post-dispersion compensation, digitally synthesised Nyquist subcarriers and soft-decision forward error correction (FEC) gain sharing.

The trial over the trans-Atlantic link was designed to validate ICE4's transmission of 8QAM 600 Gbit/s super-channel in 140 GHz of spectrum, delivering what is claimed to be the highest spectral efficiency of 4.3 bits per second, per hertz together with commercial-ready performance margin.

The ICE4-based Infinera DTN-X XT Series and XTS Series are expected to be generally availability later in the quarter. Infinera's Cloud Xpress 2 platform, also based on ICE4, began shipping in the second quarter of 2017.

Commenting on the field trial, Andrew Schmitt, lead analyst at Cignal AI, said, "While optical vendors have demonstrated experimental approaches to boost subsea fibre capacity, the Infinera XTS-3300 is the first commercial platform to deliver over 19 Tbit/s capacity on a trans-Atlantic route… the XTS-3300 trial used tighter channel spacing and advanced compensation techniques in the DSP".


  • Infinera unveiled its Infinite Capacity Engine, a multi-terabit optical subsystem in 2016, combining its next generation FlexCoherent Processor and the photonics of its fourth generation photonic integrated circuit (PIC). The technology enables optical super-channel capacity of up to 2.4 Tbit/s and reach up to 12,000 km in a single compact package.
  • The solution also features Advanced Coherent Toolkit (ACT), providing a claimed 60% more capacity-reach performance for submarine and terrestrial networks versus current generation optical technologies.

EdgeConneX and Telia Carrier expand partnership

EdgeConneX, a specialist provider of data centre solutions at the edge of the network, announced a strategic partnership with Sweden's Telia Carrier to enable access to the carrier's network and interconnection points with reduced latency and improved traffic flow and efficiency for Internet end-users.

EdgeConneX noted that as enterprises increasingly access to strategic edge locations worldwide, Telia will begin deploying its network at multiple facilities across EdgeConneX's portfolio of 30 Edge Data Centers (EDCs) in 27 global markets. In addition to the existing deployments in Detroit, Santa Clara and Portland, the first wave will include Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Phoenix in the U.S. and Amsterdam in Europe.

The partnership is designed to meet increasing end-user demand for OTT service delivery and the move to the edge by enterprise users. To create the ecosystem needed to address the current and future demands of the marketplace, the partnership combines Telia Carrier's global Internet backbone with EdgeConneX facilities that are strategically located close to network aggregation points to enable improved security and lower latency for the cloud, IoT and content via single-hop access.

Regarding the partnership, Clint Heiden, CCO at EdgeConneX, said, "Telia Carrier is an ideal partner for EdgeConneX… its global IP backbone is… sought-after by global MSOs, content providers, gaming companies and hyperscalers expanding worldwide, and the IP connectivity it brings is critical to EdgeConneX ecosystem... furthermore, Telia Carrier (also) believes in the momentum of the edge creating a better user experience".



  • Recently, EdgeConneX partnered with NL-ix, which interconnects over 100 carrier neutral data centres in 15 European countries, to establish a new point of presence (PoP) at the EdgeConneX EDC in Amsterdam.

    EdgeConneX also recently entered and agreement with Megaport (USA), the U.S. subsidiary of Australia-based Megaport, a global provider of SDN-based solutions, to expand the availability of Megaport's elastic interconnection services in EdgeConneX’s Houston, Santa Clara and Boston EDCs.

Equinix opens $113m AM4 IBX data centre in Amsterdam

Equinix announced the opening of its new $113 million International Business Exchange (IBX) data centre, AM4, in Amsterdam at its Science Park campus to address increasing demand for interconnection capacity from business customers.

Equinix's new AM4 IBX facility in Amsterdam is adjacent to the existing AM3 data centre and is designed to enable companies to extend network infrastructure to the digital edge and enhance workload performance by shortening the distance between services and the end users.

The initial phase of AM4 includes space for 1,555 cabinets and is planned to have four expansion phases. At full build the vertical facility will represent a total investment of approximately $189 million and provide 4,200 cabinets across eight floors with more than 125,000 gross sq feet (11,500 sq meters) of data centre space.

Equinix noted that it operates multiple Amsterdam data centre campuses, with the addition of AM4 adding capacity to meet growing demand for hybrid cloud, interconnection and connectivity to business ecosystems across vertical markets and Internet exchanges. The company noted that according to the European Commission's Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2017, the Netherlands ranked as the 4th most advanced digital economy in the EU,

The company added that the Netherlands offers connectivity to over 150 global submarine cable systems and Equinix data centres in Amsterdam provide high density networks to offer Dutch businesses greater choice when planning IT projects. In addition, multinationals seeking to expand into Europe also consider Amsterdam a top destination, providing connectivity to around 80% of Europe within 50 milliseconds latency.

Equinix Amsterdam currently has more than 700 customers, provides connections to over 150 network service providers and access to an established cloud ecosystem that includes AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Office 365, Oracle and IBM Softlayer. Equinix also allows buyers and sellers of cloud services to connect via the Equinix Cloud Exchange in Amsterdam and more than 20 markets worldwide.


Separately, Equinix announced an expansion of its presence in the Frankfurt, Germany market with the opening of FR6, the new $96 million IBX data centre located at  Campus Kleyer. The new facility offers low-latency connectivity to Europe and international markets, and is designed to meet enterprises' need for data-intensive applications such as electronic trading, data analytics and IoT scenarios requiring IT deployments closer to the network edge.


Ericsson expands IoT offering with new network services

Ericsson announced it is expanding its cellular IoT software and IoT Accelerator offerings with the introduction of a set of network services designed to enable service providers to efficiently address the deployment and operation of the massive number of IoT devices that are being connected to LTE networks.

Designed for use with Cat-M1 (also called LTE-M) and Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) technologies, the new services include IoT network design and optimisation, deployment and operation and management, and are supported by Ericsson's recently expanded support services offering.

Ericsson has also introduced new IoT software features, including Voice over LTE (VoLTE) support for Cat-M1. This feature allows operators to develop new use cases in which it can be advantageous for IoT devices to support voice services, thereby enabling enterprise services to be expanded to areas such as security alarm panels, remote first-aid kits, wearables, digital locks, disposable security garments and other IoT-enabled applications and services.

The new offering also provides network design and optimisation for heterogeneous IoT networks and use cases that will require a different approach to network planning and design. To address this need, Ericsson is introducing scenario assessment, network modelling, design development and developmental appraisal capabilities designed for large scale IoT networks.

In addition, Ericsson offers expanded network operation and management features to address the need for a new approach to management and operation of networks. Specifically, it is introducing automated machine learning tools for its network operations centres (NOCs), which are designed to help operators manage delivery costs and proactively manage events and incidents. Ericsson stated that in a trial, 80% of incidents were identified by machine learning only, with the root cause correctly identified in 77% of cases.

The Ericsson network services and VoLTE for IoT software support in radio and core networks are commercially available.



* Recently, Ericsson, together with China Unicom and Qualcomm Technologies, announced they had demonstrated Cat-M1 VoLTE use cases at Mobile World Congress Shanghai. The demonstrations involved Ericsson's IoT and VoLTE-capable network infrastructure, IoT devices integrated with Qualcomm MDM9206 global multimode LTE IoT modems, and China Unicom's radio spectrum and verification of the technology and multi-service capabilities.

Windstream joins ONAP project

Windstream, a major provider of advanced network communications services, announced that it has joined the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) Project as part of its commitment to work with peers in the open source community and to support the development of global standards for software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV) technologies.

Windstream is a leader in implementing SDN technology, and as part of this effort recently launched its Software Defined Network Orchestrated Waves (SDNow) solution. Through membership of ONAP the company will be able to leverage the project's resources to promote technology standardisation and adoption in a complex, multi-vendor environment. It will also help Windstream to progressively develop its solutions for all customer segments and implement the technology to automate service ordering and installation.



  • Formed through the merger of AT&T's open source ECOMP and the Open Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O) open source networking initiatives, ONAP, a Linux Foundation project, is focused on creating a comprehensive framework for real-time, policy-driven software automation of virtual network functions. The project aims to enable software, network equipment, IT and cloud providers and developers to create advanced new services.
  • Windstream launched its SDNow Waves for data centre cloud applications in May. The company noted that leveraging a devops-style approach to automation development enables it to abstract the complexity of service delivery and offer a simplified view of the multi-vendor optical layer. SDNow Waves offers optical wave services based on multi-vendor service orchestration and automated provisioning across the Windstream long-haul core network and was initially available at five third-party, carrier neutral U.S. data centres.
  • Previously, Windstream launched a SD-WAN solution for the reseller community following the launch in January of its SD-WAN solution based on VeloCloud technology that uses SDN to dynamically route traffic over a combination of private and public access types to multiple locations.

Deep Blue Cable selects TE SubCom for Caribbean Cable

Deep Blue Cable based in St. Lucia, the developer, owner and operator of a subsea fibre-optic system that will provide connectivity across the Caribbean islands and the Americas, announced it has contracted TE SubCom to build and deploy the new Deep Blue subsea cable system.

Deep Blue's pan-Caribbean system spans nearly 12,000 km and will feature initial landing points in 12 markets across the region, including the Cayman Islands, Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos Islands. The system will also offer dual diverse landings in the U.S., including the first cable landing on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The company plans to implement 40 cable landings for the system and to enable connectivity to 28 island nations in the region.

The Deep Blue subsea cable system will offer an initial design capacity of 6 Tbit/s per fibre pair over up to 8 fibre pairs and will utilise TE SubCom's proven OADM (optical add/drop multiplexer) branching unit technology, Route survey work for the cable is due to begin in August, followed by cable installation that is scheduled to start in September 2018. The system is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The network is designed to offer increased capacity and lower costs for residential and business customers in the region, as well as providing lower latency via direct connectivity between key traffic hubs and improved reliability. In addition, the Deep Blue cable will provide optical add/drop connection points to smaller markets in the region.

http://www.te.com/usa-en/industries/subsea-communications/news.html


i3 Broadband expands FTTH to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

Illinois-based i3 Broadband, a neighbourhood provider of fibre optic Internet services, announced it is to commence network construction in multiple neighbourhoods as it continues its multi-year, multi-million dollar investment to extend the fibre network throughout Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

i3 Broadband is deploying FTTH infrastructure to deliver its gigabit broadband, video and voice services. The company noted that to support its latest fibre network expansion it plans to hire local technicians and other staff later in the year.

i3 Broadband is the new local commercial partner that is working with the UC2B not-for-profit board to extend fibre connectivity to homes and businesses. The current network expansion will extend the initial UC2B fibre backbone build-out carried out in 2010-13 that was supported by $26 million in federal and state grants and in-kind contributions from the cities of Champaign and Urbana and the University of Illinois.

i3 Broadband is continuing its partnership with UC2B to plan neighbourhood build-outs and to support a community benefit fund that will help address technology adoption barriers for disadvantaged community groups in the area.

In November 2016, CountryWide Broadband (CWB) announced that iTV-3, a company wholly-owned by CWB and Seaport Capital of New York, had acquired the assets of ITV-3, which provided FTTP-based services to communities in and around
Peoria, Illinois. Following the transaction iTV-3 was to operate as i3 Broadband.

The companies noted that CWB had continued the expansion of iTV-3 prior to completing the acquisition, having worked with ITV-3 to extend its network into 10 new neighbourhoods in the Peoria market. At the time iTV-3/i3 stated it planned to continue the expansion of the system, both in terms of customers and through the construction of new fibre infrastructure in the greater Peoria area.




  • CWB, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, is a broadband acquisition and management firm headed by a management team with broad expertise in the fibre, cable and telephone industries. The company has a strategy of acquiring, consolidating and expanding broadband properties in markets throughout the U.S.

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.