Wednesday, August 15, 2018

FWD: Intel focuses on Data-Centric Innovation

For months, many market watchers have described Intel as complacent as we've seen the surge in new products from companies such as ARM, NVIDIA and Xilinx. This week, Intel is hitting back. At an all-day media and analyst event at its headquarters in Santa Clara, California, Intel executives laid out their plans for extending the strength of the Xeon product family in data centers to the new frontiers of AI, network transformation, 5G, and supercomputing.

Navin Shenoy, executive vice president at Intel, kicked off the event with the roadmap showing how Xeon has come to dominate the server business and where it is headed next. 

The big takeaways from the events are:

(1) the new frontiers are enormous economic opportunities for silicon developers 
(2) Intel will integrate its Optane persistent memory with its Xeon processors 
(3) Intel is working directly with hyperscale cloud service providers to develop custom silicon 
(4) Intel is entering the SmartNICs business 
(5) the edge presents the opportunity to rebuild the central telco office

Video from all ten of the Data Centric Summit keynotes will be posted later this week to the Intel investor relations website:

Here are some observations from the event.

Due to new projections about autonomous vehicles, and the impact of its Optane memory technology, Intel is raising its forecast for the total addressable market:

Network traffic trends are inescapable, especially east-west traffic in data centers.

 The market for network logic silicon could be worth $24 billion in just four years. Today, Intel has a growing share in silicon for the networking market but still was under 19% for 2017. 

 The biggest point of differentiation for Intel will be to leverage its Optane 3D memory technology to change the current compute-storage-network paradigm.

 Intel's goal is not just faster Xeon processors, but better ways of story and moving data.

The next iteration of Xeon is codenamed Cascade Lake and is optimized for AI with the Optane persistent memory. Intel expects an 11X improvement in inference performance.

 Here is a sneak peek at the roadmap.

The connectivity opportunity is growing at a 25% CAGR. It gives Intel a window to capture a greater share of the overall data center architecture.

to be continued 

Cisco delivers strong sales growth of 6%

Cisco reported revenue of $12.8 billion for its fourth quarter of FY 18, up 6% year-over-year -- its strongest sales growth in a while. Revenue growth in the 5% to 7% range is also forecast for this quarter (1Q FY 19)

GAAP net income was $3.8 billion or $0.81 per share, and non-GAAP net income was $3.3 billion or $0.70 per share.

"We had a very strong finish to a great year and generated our highest quarterly revenue of $12.8 billion," said Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO of Cisco. "Our results demonstrate a combination of strong customer adoption of our latest innovations, the ongoing value customers see in our software and subscription offerings, and excellent execution across our customer segments and geographies. Our strategy is working and we believe that are well-positioned to capture growth across our portfolio with our pipeline of innovation."

Some highlights

  • Product revenue was up 7%
  • Service revenue was up 3%. 
  • Recurring revenue as a percentage of total revenue was 32%, up 1 point year over year. 
  • Revenue by geographic segment was: Americas up 5%, EMEA up 8%, and APJC up 6%. 
  • Product revenue performance was generally broad based with growth in Security, up 12%, Applications, up 10%, and Infrastructure Platforms, up 7%.
  • By customer segment, enterprise was up 11%, commercial was up 9%, public sector was up 1% and service provider return to grow, up 6%. 
  • On a GAAP basis, total gross margin, product gross margin, and service gross margin were 61.7%, 60.2%, and 66.0%, respectively, as compared with 62.2%, 60.3%, and 67.8%, respectively, in the fourth quarter of 2017.
  • Deferred revenue amounted to $19.7 billion, up 6% in total, with deferred product revenue up 15%, driven largely by subscription-based and software offers, and deferred service revenue was up 1%. The portion of deferred product revenue related to recurring software and subscription offers increased 23%.
  • Ended Q4 with $46.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents
  • For the full FY18, revenue amounted to $49.3 billion, up 3%. Operating cash flow was $13.7 billion.
  • The Catalyst 9000 remains the fastest ramping product in company history. At the end of the quarter, there were over 9,650 customers

Telstra activates 5G pilot sites on Gold Coast

Telstra has turned on 5G in selected areas on the Gold Coast. The pilot sites use Telstra's licensed 3.4GHz spectrum and are connected to its new modernised production core network.
Telstra aims to have 200 5G-capable sites live around the country by the end of 2018.

In a blog post, Channa Seneviratne, Executive Director, Network and Infrastructure Engineering - Telstra Operations, discusses milestones in Telstra's network evolution, including:

  • open the 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast earlier this year
  • activating the world’s first precinct of 5G-enabled WiFi hotspots 
  • Australia’s first Connected Car, 
  • the world’s first end-to-end 5G data call on a commercial mobile network.

F5 introduces VNF Manager

F5 Networks introduced a VNF Manager as part of a prepacked software-defined networking solution based on its BIG-IP capabilities.

The company said its goal is to make VNFs simple to purchase, deploy, manage, and upgrade in a “pay as you grow” model with subscription and perpetual licensing options. To help maximize utilization, resources can be automated and tailored for current initiatives, empowering customers to create, spin up, spin down, and add capacity to F5 VNF services immediately and automatically—all through the integrated F5 VNF Manager.

"Service provider organizations have plenty of options when it comes to virtualizing elements of their network, but what they haven’t had previously is a package that delivers consumption-based pricing that can be tied directly to business outcomes,” said James Feger, VP and General Manager of F5’s Service Provider business. “Beyond just VNFs and basic service management, F5’s new offering provides a preconfigured solution that gives customers push-button ease-of-use for capacity thresholds, along with service programmability and orchestration capabilities for specialized requirements.”

Some highlights:

  • Service providers can introduce differentiated services with flexible VNF service layering and programmable service chaining to expand network capabilities without sacrificing control. Preconfigured solutions support auto-scaling.
  • Network planning, sizing, and deployments can be accelerated with F5’s capacity-based consumption models and automation features, maximizing operational flexibility around elements such as the mobile core and virtual edge. In addition, the solution enables portable VNFs that can be easily moved as needed throughout the network.
  • F5’s automated, capacity-based NFV capabilities reduce the risk (and expense) of both underutilization and overprovisioning.

A10 Networks selected for 5G pilot in Japan

A major Japanese mobile carrier has selected the A10 Thunder Convergent Firewall (CFW) Gi/SGi firewall solution for a 5G pilot network, to complement the massive capacity demands of their existing mobile network and help lay the foundation for the mobile carrier’s 5G production network, expected to become commercially available beginning in 2020. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Japanese carrier has previously deployed A10's solutions to deliver a variety of security and networking services, such as application delivery, IPv4 preservation/IPv6 migration technologies, DDoS protection and Threat Intelligence.

A10 said its expanded relationship with this customer includes the Thunder CFW Gi/SGi firewall 5G-GiLANTM solution to scale and secure its GiLAN, and which will serve as the backbone network for data communication services of the carrier’s 5G network.

Highlights of the enhanced A10 Thunder CFW 5G-GiLAN solution include:

  • GiLAN Consolidation - Consolidates GiFW, CGNAT, application visibility and intelligent traffic steering to increase operational efficiency and better security on the GiLAN.
  • Application Visibility & Control - DPI-based L7 application visibility for effective policy enforcement and control provides enhanced Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) support and compliance.
  • Intelligent Traffic Steering - Subscriber-aware traffic steering to enhance new business models with differentiated service offerings for new revenue streams.
  • GPRS Tunneling Protocol (GTP) Support - GTP Firewall with granular SCTP filtering defends the mobile core against GTP-based attacks initiated from RAN or GRX/IPX networks.
  • Accelerates Adoption of SDN/NFV - Achieve on-demand capacity with versatile software options (PNFs, VNFs, Containers and Bare Metal) across SDN/NFV environments. Supports A10 FlexPool subscription-based capacity pooling licensing model for flexible consumption.
  • A10 Thunder CFW provides a consolidated and secure 5G-GiLAN solution for an effective defense against attacks by delivering comprehensive mobile core infrastructure protection. Thunder CFW also helps customers achieve superior levels of performance, scalability and visibility, along with exceptionally high firewall connection rates in a compact form factor.

"We continue to work very closely with global carriers to enable them to lead the way with their 5G rollouts. This is demonstrating our trusted partnership and continued leadership to help carriers accelerate network transformation to 5G," said Lee Chen, CEO of A10 Networks. “The A10 Thunder CFW provides service providers with a highly scalable, consolidated and secure 5G-GiLAN solution for a comprehensive network defense, with automation for improved business agility, faster network rollout and overall reduction of TCO."

SK Telecom installs Xilinx FPGAs for AI acceleration in data centers

SK Telecom is running artificial intelligence (AI) acceleration boards powered Xilinx FPGAs in its data center.

The Xilinx Kintex UltraScale FPGAs are now running SKT's automatic speech recognition (ASR) application to accelerate NUGU, its voice-activated assistant. The Xilinx FPGA add-in cards are installed in existing CPU-only servers.

The company reports up to 5X higher performance in ASR applications when compared to GPUs, and more importantly, 16X better performance-per-watt. This is the first commercial adoption of FPGA accelerators in the AI domain for large-scale data centers in South Korea.

"Over many years we have seen the shape of the industry evolve, and we are proud to be at the forefront of developing AI accelerators. By designing our solution based on the Xilinx KCU1500 board and our own bitstream image, we have developed a cost-effective, high-performance application," said Kang-Won Lee, senior vice president, software research and development center at SKT.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to deploy Xilinx FPGAs to SKT's AI data center, a first in South Korea," said Manish Muthal, vice president, marketing for data center at Xilinx. "Xilinx Kintex UltraScale KCU1500 FPGAs show that Xilinx has a major competitive edge in applications. Xilinx will continue to focus its technological capabilities and innovations on data center acceleration."

IX-Denver expands to EdgeConneX’s Edge Data Center Campus

IX-Denver has expanded its Denver area neutral internet exchange to EdgeConneX’s Edge Data Center Campus.

IX-Denver is operated by IX-West, a registered Colorado nonprofit organization, now has over 30 unique ASN’s or networks connected, making it the largest carrier and facility neutral interconnection platform in the state of Colorado.

“On the heels of our Denver Edge Campus expansion announcement, we are excited to welcome IX-Denver to our facility and enable customers access to the areas’ leading neutral exchange platform,” comments Jeff King, General Manager for the Denver Market. “In addition to EdgeConneX’s capabilities of supporting deployments of up to 30kW/rack, the new, 115,000-square-foot facility, built from the ground up in under six months, now provides access to 10 Gig ports on IX-Denver’s protected switching fabric, enabling greater access to content and improved quality of internet connectivity for our customers.”

T-Mobile revamps customer service with humans, not robots

T-Mobile U.S. announced its latest "un-carrier" move -- the revamping of its customer service.

T-Mobile's "Team of Experts" approach aims to re-invent customer service by relying less on automation and more on trained representatives dedicated to solving customer complaints the first time. The program promises to eliminate the automated phone menu and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) by directing support calls directly to a human.

“Team of Experts isn’t just better customer service. It’s an entirely new way of thinking about customers … one that puts your happiness at the center of everything we do,” said Callie Field, EVP of Customer Care at T-Mobile. “Some brands attempt to give high-dollar customers the kind of treatment we give everyone with Team of Experts. Because at T-Mobile, we think just being our customer makes you a rock star. Team of Experts is ‘one percenter’ treatment for the rest of us!”

Team of Experts is now live for T-Mobile postpaid customers at no additional cost.

Exabeam raises $50 million for SIEM

Exabeam, a start-up based in San Mateo, California, raised $50 million in Series D funding for its next-gen Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions.

The funding round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and supported by existing investors Aspect Ventures, Cisco Investments, Icon Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and cybersecurity investor Shlomo Kramer.

Exabeam cites 250 percent market growth in 2017, coming off 300 percent growth in 2016, for its Security Intelligence Platform (SIP), which is built on open source, big data technology, including Elasticsearch and Hadood. It enables unlimited secure data collection, indexing and search but without volume-based pricing.

“Our investors have an amazing track record of investing in companies that truly are disruptive and typically become category leaders,” said Exabeam CEO Nir Polak. “Their experience with high-growth companies like MuleSoft, Nutanix, Zscaler, ForeScout – is invaluable to us in the advice and guidance they pass along to our executive team. The new funding will allow us to invest heavily in our new cloud solutions and reach even more enterprises around the world. We are on track to overtake Splunk and be the next SIEM market leader.”

Corning expands manufacturing in North Carolina

Corning is preparing to expand its optical cable manufacturing operations in North Carolina, according to the Charlotte Business Journal, which says the $60 million investment will add 110 jobs to its local workforce.

In April, the company announced plans for a high-volume manufacturing facility for Corning Valor Glass in Durham, North Carolina. Corning described this project as part of a plan to invest $500 million and create 1,000 new U.S. jobs as the first part of an investment of $4 billion leading to 4,000 new high-tech jobs. Corning anticipates that the new facility will be operational by year-end 2019.

Twistlock raises $33 million for container security

Twistlock, a start-up that specializes in container and cloud native cybersecurity, raised $33 million in series C funding.

Twistlock, which is based in Portland, Oregon, offers an automated and scalable container cybersecurity platform. The latest release, Twistlock 2.5, additionally provides automated forensic data collection and correlation across cloud-native environments.

The latest funding was led by ICONIQ Capital, with the participation of existing investors YL Ventures, TenEleven, Rally Ventures, Polaris Partners and Dell Technologies Capital. This brings Twistlock’s total funding to $63 million.

Hurricane Electric adds 3rd POP in Hong Kong

Hurricane Electric, which operates the world’s largest IPv6-native Internet backbone, has added its third location in Hong Kong, at HKCOLO, a neutral, network-dense carrier facility.

Tenants at the facility are able to exchange IP traffic with Hurricane Electric’s global network, which offers over 20,000 BGP sessions with over 7,200 different networks via more than 185 major exchange points and thousands of customer and private peering ports.

The Hong Kong PoP also provides access to Hurricane Electric’s extensive IPv4 and IPv6 network through 100GE, 10GE and GigE ports.