Scrappy, Dublin-based startup UBIqube has landed a nice research-and-development gig in South Korea. The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) has picked UBIqube’s MSActivator Framework as a technology for its network test bed. 

UBIqube's MSActivator software is part service development platform, part orchestration tool. Company officials say the MSActivator platform will enable ETRI to build a more flexible service orchestration platform that will enable it to quickly integrate new vendors, streamline service integration, and reduce service turn-up time. 

This technology attacks a next-generation problem for telcos: How do they become more flexible and act more like cloud service providers by using software to quickly develop new services in a "DevOps" style program?

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 14:44 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Applications, Investing.
Keywords: UBIqube, Nabil Souli, Devops, R&D, Orchestration, NFV

Alcatel-Lucent today introduced its Network Services Platform (NSP), a Software Defined Networking (SDN) provisioning and control system that automatically manages and balances bandwidth and network services over several different layers of networks, including IP and optical systems.

NSP delivers on some of the key SDN concepts -- namely, making networks intelligently responsive, so that they can automatically fine-tune network circuits in response to service demands. With a vast array of cloud and data services both increasing bandwidth demand and becoming more unpredictable, service providers need SDN technology to automate the way networks respond to changing data demands. 

The NSP product can automatically respond to services needs and traffic changes by turning traffic across optical and IP networks.
 

Alcatel-Lucent says NSP, which will be sold as a software package, "bridges the gap between service design, provisioning and network engineering for the first time." The goal is to enable service providers to create services in real-time, by automatically provisioning network circuits whether a connection is Ethernet, IP, or optical. The software gives full visibility of the state of the network across all layers at all times. 

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 15:02 pm and is filed under .
Keywords: Alcatel-Lucent, SDN, Provisioning, Orchestration, NFV, IP, Optical

BOSTON -- NEC's Netcracker division today released an upgrade of its telecom software suite, Netcracker 10, which is tackling the evolving convergence of Operations Support Systems (OSS), Billing Support Systems (BSS), and virtualization.

On Thursday here at an analyst event, Netcracker CEO Andrew Feinberg called Netcracker 10 "the only industry solution that brings together virtualization and OSS/BSS." He said the new technology is based on networks in Japan built in response to the 2011 tsunami disaster, which resulted in government mandates to build self-healing networks. 

"This platform leverages an incredible first-mover advantage in the Japanese market that has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in virtualization," said Feinberg. "Japan is light years ahead in virtualization."

This entry was posted on Friday, May 15, 2015 at 18:36 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Applications, M2M.
Keywords: Netcracker, Andrew Feinberg, NFV, OSS, BSS, Virtualization

Last night was the last call -- the last quarterly earnings call for Cisco CEO John Chambers. His legacy on Wall Street will be a masterful management of earnings expectations, investors, and analysts. 

Chambers was always the CEO of positive spin. He was the guy who could take a disastrous financial quarter, tell it like it is, and quickly move on. Take a look at this earnings call from 2013. The ultimate knack to managing investors is to leave them thinking they should buy more stock after a terrible quarter, and Chambers did this as well as anybody. 

Cisco CEO John Chambers had a calming effect on investors.
 

Calming analysts and markets with his mellifluous Southern drawl, Chambers led the company through a series of growth spurts as well as crises. The biggest test was the aftermath of the 1999-2000 technology bubble, when Cisco had to unwind frothy acquisition bets, an inventory glut, and a crash in enterprise technology demand. During that period, Cisco shares fell from an all-time high of $82 in 2000 to a low of $10 in October 2002. Recently they hovered near a respectable $30. 

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 11:28 am and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Investing.
Keywords: Cisco, John Chambers, Stock, Ethernet

Verizon is buying AOL for $4.4 billion. The offer of $50 per share represents a premium of 17.4 percent on AOL's Monday close of $42.59. The deal has been rumored for months, but most people didn't believe it because it sounded so silly

That's because it is silly. 

The big rationale of the deal seems to be to put more ads -- especially video -- on your mobile devices. Either that, or Verizon wants to expand its presence in the dial-up Internet market, as that is still AOL's primary revenue stream. The market was unimpressed, as Verizon's share price has fallen $0.22 to $49.58 in early morning trading. 

I'll go into the details in a minute, but the bottom line is that this deal is in no-man's land. It is not a strategic match, and it does not have the scale to impact what Verizon is really going after -- Google's dominance in Internet and mobile advertising.

A real quick reminder: AOL was worth $226 billion shortly after its disastrous merger with Time Warner in 1999. It's now worth $4.4 billion. And to repeat: Its largest revenue stream is still dial-up Internet. Its Internet and advertising revenues are still pretty tiny.

The overall media business is dominated by two things: content and distribution (and the combination thereof). A perfect example is cable companies and the piles of money they make when they combine ownership of valuable media assets, such as sports licensing rights or hot programming, along with distribution across their networks.

Internet media is growing faster than traditional media, and the shift of platforms from broadcast and cable to over-the-top (OTT), mobile, and Internet has opened up distribution channels to more competition. This has been demonstrated by the value created by Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) by distributing content using Internet broadband. Netflix has also driven toward vertical integration by developing its own programming

So, the theory is that Verizon has this idea that by buying AOL, it hopes to integrate its mobile distribution network (more than 30 million mobile phone subscribers) with AOL's content and advertising technology and become more of a player in mobile Internet content and advertising.

Good luck! 

Buying AOL is an unimpressive solution. AOL does not have the Internet content scale, technology differentiation, or leverage to make a dent in Google's dominance. It's not going to work, and here's why:

Minimal technology leverage. What is Verizon's leverage in mobile devices? None. Apple and Google control the operating systems on mobile devices, with roughly 90% of the market between them. All Verizon does is sell the devices, which means zero leverage. It doesn't control the technology at all.

Me-too video ad technology. I saw a pundit on TV say this was about AOL's programmatic video ad technology. That's preposterous. There are dozens of video-ad technology companies. Yahoo recently bought one of the best, BrightRoll, for $640 million. So if Verizon were really interested in video ad technology, why wouldn't it buy a video ad technology company?

Wrong culture. This is Time Warner/AOL all over again -- on a smaller scale. Zero cultural fit. Verizon is a global telecom player. It's trying to jump into the content and advertising business, with much bigger players such as Google, Disney, Yahoo, and Viacom. Have you ever hung out with telecom executives? They are in the business of putting cables in the ground, not creating exciting content.

AOL's content and advertising share is negligible. AOL is a tiny content and advertising player. Google controls nearly $20 billion in online ad revenues. AOL controls about $1 billion. How will that give Verizon any scale to take on the giant?

This is about Verizon's paranoia about the threat of OTT Internet content and the threat of cable, more than anything else. If you think about it, it's being squeezed on both sides: Netflix and Google are squeezing it on content and advertising, and cable companies are squeezing it on the distribution side.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong this morning defended his track record at AOL, which he refocused on Internet content by buying assets such as The Huffington Post and TechCrunch. 

"If you look at AOL over the last five years... we turned the company around," he said on CNBC this morning after the deal was announced. "We outperformed the S&P 500 for the last five years, and when you look at where we are today and where we're going, we've made AOL as big as it can possibly be in today's landscape."

Armstrong has probably gotten as far as he could refashioning AOL as an Internet content company bolted on to Steve Case's old dial-up business. He's done well for AOL shareholders in the last five years, which he should be commended for. 

Armstrong is a great salesman, as he has just made a deal to sell Verizon a company for $4.4 billion that will have minimal impact on its ability to compete on advertising and mobile video.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 14:21 pm and is filed under .
Keywords: Verizon, AOL, Google, Advertising, Mobile Video

The optical equipment consolidation predicted by many is continuing, as key optical players reposition themselves for Software Defined Networking (SDN) and growth in the data center. This week's big deal in which Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) announced it is buying Cyan (Nasdaq: CYNI) for $400 million reflects the growing urgency to build technology for more open networks. 

Cyan, whose stock has been under a lot of pressure, caught a nice 30% premium on the deal, but the price, in the triple-digit millions, is not overly burdensome for Ciena. Ciena shares initially jumped about 1%, as the deal was reasonably well received, but they have fallen since Monday in general market weakness.  

First the financials: Ciena is paying Cyan shareholders a combination of stock (89%) and cash (11%). Ciena will issue shares to pay for the transaction, which is expected to close during Ciena's fourth fiscal quarter ending October 31, 2015. Most Wall Street analysts do not expect it to have a large impact on Ciena's earnings this year, but it does have the potential to boost earnings (be "accretive" in Street parlance) next year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 07, 2015 at 18:17 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Investing.
Keywords: Ciena, Optical, SDN, Cyan, Blue Planet, Data Center

The Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) players are tanking up for what is likely to be an epic fight. CloudGenix today announced that it has closed $25 million in Series B funding led by Bain Capital and accompanied by cash from Charles River Ventures and the Mayfield Fund

CloudGenix says it will use the money to scale its sales force and product pipeline. The company has now raised $34 million total. It's one of many players profiled in my recent report, "The Future of Cloud WAN." That report revealed that more than $360 million has been invested in a number of startups looking to produce virtual networking and Software Defined Networking gear for WAN networking.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 05, 2015 at 17:05 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN.
Keywords: SD-WAN, Cloud WAN, Cisco, CloudGenix, VeloCloud

I've been banging the table about how network security is the hottest application for Software Defined Networking (SDN). This week, Big Switch Networks confirms this trend with the release of Big Tap Monitoring Fabric 4.5, a "next-gen packet broker" designed to dig deep into networks for security monitoring. 

Up to this point, packet brokers have been standalone network appliances that "tap" into a network and make copies of all the network traffic, gaining packet-level insight into what's going on. They can then run analytics to detect performance or security issues. Some of the bigger packet brokers include Gigamon (NYSE: GIMO) and VSS Monitoring. The downside of this approach is that you must add more hardware to the network for the sole purpose of analytics and monitoring.

An SDN approach, such as that taken by Big Switch, integrates packet brokering and visibility into the networking software itself, obviating the need for a standalone appliance. Big Tap 4.5 scales from 10 Gbit/s to 40 Gbit/s. Some of the monitoring capabilities it will provide include inline/out-of-band deployment, flow-level granularity, and analytics.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 05, 2015 at 15:43 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Applications, Investing.
Keywords: Big Switch, SDN, Packet Broker, Security

After years of anticipation, Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers has finally announced his retirement. Cisco's Board of Directors today appointed long-time Cisco executive Chuck Robbins as the company's new Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Chambers effective July 26, 2015. 

This will close the book on Chambers's 20-year reign as Cisco's CEO, a period in which Cisco rolled up majority market-share in many enterprise networking segments and dominated a wide range of Ethernet and IP-based networking technologies.

In recent months, speculation has been rampant about when Chambers, who is 65, would retire. Chambers joined Cisco as head of sales in 1991 and became CEO in 1995. The Rayno Report last summer predicted an announcement would be imminent, but apparently we were just a wee bit early. 

This entry was posted on Monday, May 04, 2015 at 14:56 pm and is filed under .
Keywords: Chambers, Cisco

[Editor: This story was updated to add more details about sales of Cisco white-box Nexus switches to Facebook.]

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is quietly building its own "white box" strategy to combat a developing market for open Software Defined Networking (SDN) products and has sold large orders of Cisco switches configured as white boxes to Facebook (NYSE: FB), according to industry sources.

So what's up with this? It's clear that Cisco wants a backup strategy to combat the advent of SDN and white boxes, in which generic hardware switching platforms are provided as "bare metal" so that customers can load their own software and customize the product. Cisco has reponded to the SDN threat with its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) initiative, which makes its hardware more programmable by selling you an SDN product -- the Applications Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC). But there's also a backup plan: Cisco is developing a secret, behind-the-scenes white-box strategy, according to several sources.

White boxes are built with off-the-shelf switching chips known as merchant silicon, and loaded with open SDN software to run many networking applications. But how to differentiate? The new marketing buzzphrase that has taken over the industry is "brite box," in which you take a white box and apply your own branding, special services, and support twist to please the customer. The differentiation becomes a "branded white box," or "brite box." 

Industry sources tell me that this is Cisco's backup strategy: Use the Nexus 3000 switch, known as the 3K, as a brite box. 

And there's more: Several industry sources say it's "common knowledge" that Cisco shared technical details and collaborated with Facebook to sell it a bunch of Nexus switches that could be loaded with Facebook's own Facebook Open Switching System (FBOSS) operating system. One source says these orders could have amounted to millions of dollars worth of Nexus switches loaded in white-box fashion.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 18:07 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Investing.
Keywords: Cisco, SDN, White Boxes, John Chambers
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