Tag: Networking

Cisco antics show dangers of the cloud

Networking giant Cisco has been giving its customers a lesson as to why that cloud thing might not be such a good idea.

According to Extreme Tech, a number of Cisco customers last week began reporting problems with three specific Linksys-branded routers.

Owners of the E2700, E3500, or E4500 routers were being told to login using their “Cisco Connect Cloud” account information. The routers were all shipped with “Automatic Firmware Update” option selected and Cisco “upgraded them” so that they could use the Connect Cloud.

The upgrade was sold to users as “anytime, anywhere” access to their router, delivering free, new apps, and “will keep expanding with new apps to enrich your connected lifestyle”.

Practically, it meant that many users found themselves asked to authenticate using a different account with no prior warning.

A couple of network bright sparks worked out that unplugging the router from the wall restored the old login/password function but they lost a number of advanced functions in the process.

There are reasons why some companies would like to avoid Cisco’s Cloud Connect. A good one would be that Cisco initially created a supplemental privacy policy which allowed the company to track your company’s operations. It changed its mind on this particular idea but it does have the right to update its privacy policy at any time.

One of the things that network managers were concerned about was the clause:  “In some cases, in order to provide an optimal experience on your home network, some updates may still be automatically applied, regardless of the auto-update setting”.

This is more or less what happened and last week Cisco forced its customers to register for a cloud service that provides no benefit whatsoever. When they didn’t, there was no way to roll back to the earlier firmware and their routers were useless.

Cisco appears to have twigged that this is “not a good idea” and provided a public link to the old firmware and a detailed guide on updating the router.

But that is really not the point. The situation shows how little control companies have when it comes to the cloud and how a policy decision by a vendor can really ruin a network manager’s day. 

Huawei gunning for the Cisco kid

Huawei has been talking up its new enterprise unit which it claims will give market leaders Cisco a real Chinese burn.

Huawei announced its first US distribution agreement with IT distributor Synnex that will allow it to expand its presence in the US enterprise market

It is also launching new products that compete with Cisco’s telepresence offerings and network switches.

According to Reuters, the company has told its enterprise unit that it has to make $15 billion worldwide in revenue by 2015. In the few months that the department has been open it has made more than $7 billion worldwide and expects to invest $4.5 billion in research and development.

The enterprise unit is selling hubs, routers and switches that run networks transferring data across corporations.

According to John Roese, the US market is complex market and as tricky as an American company trying to elbow its way into China.

Fortunately the US is not critical to Huawei’s cunning plan and there are signs that what ever the company is doing is working.

Huawei’s enterprise unit revenue rose 57.1 percent in 2011 to 9.16 $1.45 billion, making it the fastest growing division though it contributes only 4.5 percent of total revenue.

Roese is certain that Huawei has what it takes to be a formidable rival to Cisco in the United States.

He said that there has not been alegitimate major competitor for Cisco for a long time, but Huawei was not a small player.

Cisco’s Chief Executive John Chambers has named Huawei as its toughest rival.

So far this has only extended to some patent trollage from Cisco, which saw Huawei remove the contested parts.

However, we can expect to see some more patent cases between the two as the gloves come off.

Huawei also has some problems in that US politicians, keen to earn campaign funds from US tech companies, have been claiming that the outfit is a communist plot.

Huawei has a secretive founder Ren Zhengfei who is a former Chinese military officer. There are also concerns that its hardware might phone home secret data to China.

This has shut Huawei out of the US federal government and the financial services market.  So far.

Intel promises Crystal Forest will combat data deluge

Intel has announced its intentions to make its mark at the top-end of the networking infrastructure market with the Crystal Forest platform.

Intel reckons that with cloud and mobile services throwing ever more data into the ether, there is an increasing pressure on equipment manufacturers and service providers to manage traffic more simply and efficiently.  With countless mobile devices being switched on every day, this is adding to the deluge of content being bandied around the internet.

And, not surprisingly, Intel believes that it has the answer to this growing problem of handling huge chunks of data – in its sparkling new Crystal Forest communications platform.

At the moment, Intel says it is necessary for equipment manufacturers to stick together a multitude of processors using different software programming models in a scalable network.  With Crystal Forest, however, it seeks to tidy this all up with by putting the workloads of application, control and packet processing onto multi-core Intel architecture.

By doing this, Intel says data can be processed at speeds that top that of ASICs and specialised processors which typically hit around 100 million packets per second. 

Comparitively, Intel reckons it can push out 160 million packets per second for Layer 3 packet forwarding that could manage thousands of hours of HD video across each network node.   All of which means Intel is looking for high-end network service providers.

By creating a more unified approach, service providers should be able to save a bit of cash by relying less on a number of complex platforms, which Intel says should make keeping a network much easier.

The platform will use QuickAssist technology based on its normal range of processors for processing deep packet inspection, compression and cryptography.  With this, it is expected that net transactions can fly at up to 100Gbps, making it a nice fit for any 4G internet providers.

Intel says that it will also allow for ‘always on’ secure connections, rather than opt-in equivalents normally used for something like financials transactions, with Intel keen to focus on tight security for the platform.

HP releases new thin clients

For years the industry has awaited the return of the thin clients and now it seems that HP is keen to help corporations get into the act.

The downside of thin clients is that they depend on networking and users hate the fact that they do not have much personal processing power.

The maker of expensive printer ink has announced the HP t610 Flexible Series Thin Client and HP t510 Thin Client which it thinks can deal with these problems.

HP claims that the Thin Client range provides enough power to the desktop while still enabling corporates to benefit from the use of thin clients for security and data protection.

The HP t510 and HP t610 have a dual-core  AMD G-series processor with integrated discrete-class AMD Radeon graphics that offload computing from the server to the chipset. This means that users can stream multimedia and work with high-definition graphics.

The HP t510 and HP t610 also manage multiple monitors and remote connections which have been a bit beyond thin clients.

HP claims that the thin clients are ideal for industries such as healthcare, financial services, public sector and retail, where employees must often access sensitive data.

The two machines have hard identification security as well as a broad set of tools to simplify management.

HP says that the HP t610 is the industry’s first thin client to feature both a BIOS (basic input/output system) that complies with the security recommendations of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and an on-board Trusted Platform Module that protects access to networks under the certification requirements of the Trusted Computing Group.

The HP t510 Thin Client has a starting price of $259 and the HP t610 Flexible Series Thin Client has a starting price of $399. The devices are expected to be available in March in the Asia Pacific and Japan region, and in April in the Americas and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 

Cisco tipped to say market conditions improving

IT industry giant and bellwether Cisco is expected to tell the world and its dog that the hard times are over this Wednesday.

The company, which is seen as a general indicator about the way the tech industry will go, has reported a reasonable quarter. Not great, but better than a poke in the eye with a short stick.

According to Reuters, Cisco looks set to report a stable quarter buoyed in part by improving enterprise demand in the United States.

On Wednesday it’s expected to announce an increase in revenue of almost eight percent to $11.23 billion.

Natarajan Subrahmanyan, analyst at The Juda Group, wrote in a note to investors that improving demand in the US is driving a recovery in Cisco’s business, with solid growth across US enterprise and commercial offsetting weakness in Europe and parts of Asia such as India.

He thinks that Cisco will outgrow its peers over the long-term, given enterprise networking is outgrowing overall IT spending.

Cisco’s smaller rivals such as Juniper Networks, Tellabs and Acme Packet have warned of weak spending among corporates.

Cisco happens to be in the right place, having a data centre operation, and appears to have also seen solid enterprise demand that went against what its rivals have been seeing. Cisco has also made gains from large routing contracts in China. 

Intel eyes exascale speeds with InfiniBand purchase

Intel has splashed out on the InfiniBand business from networking firm QLogic with a view to pushing the boundaries of supercomputing up to exascales.

An agreement has been signed with QLogic, said to be worth around $125 million, with Intel set to benefit from high performance computing fabric technology.

This is in line with Intel’s plans to start hitting exaflop per second performances by 2018, which is more than a little bit fast – roughly a hundred times the speed of the quickest supercomputers around today, according to Intel.

The deal is set to see QLogic staff employed in the InfiniBand business incorporated into Intel’s always growing legions, with current product lines and assets also snapped up as part of the deal.

Clearly Intel is not too worried about spending the odd hundred million at the moment, after it announced massive profits yet again in 2011 despite many others struggling.

According to Intel VP Kirk Skaugen, who was involved in an Intel staff shake-up recently, the fabric technology owned by QLogic will help reach its Exascale goals towards the end of the decade.

The deal, which is also set to be finalised in the coming weeks, will boost Intel’s networking business, Skaugen says, and will offer improvements to customers of its datacentre services.

ZTE overtakes Apple, grows even more

Chinese infrastructure giant and phonemaker ZTE has announced its revenue for the nine months up to 30 September is at US $9.32 billion. At the same time, a report from Strategy Analytics says ZTE has become the world’s 4th largest handset vendor, overtaking Apple.

Strategy Analytics’ Alex Spektor said in a statement that ZTE really was the star of the show, managing to nab five percent market share. He put the growth down to its cheap entry-level feature phones and Android smartphones.

ZTE’s $9.32 billion revenue for the first nine months is an increase of 26.5 percent based on the same time last year. The Chinese company – which is huge in its home territories – has been on an aggressive crusade to flood the world with its smartphones, expanding into Europe with its own branded handsets last year. 

Because of this, the net profit for parent company shareholders did drop 21.5 percent from last year. ZTE puts that down to “increased financial expenses” – which we presume means the warchest it has been spending like crazy to claw market share from the competition.

Terminal sales revenues increased 53.4 percent, it says, while telecoms software, services and other products grew 28 percent. It also reported 15 percent boost in carrier network revenue, in turn helping along with selling ZTE’s wireline, optical communication systems, international CDMA system equipment and GSM/UMTS system equipment in China.

It thinks TD-LTE’s increasing popularity will further bolster its revenues, as it flogs the necessary equipment everywhere that wants it – including new partnerships with Sweden, Japan, India and Saudi Arabia. 

In 2012, ZTE expects to continue doing what it’s doing, while expanding and upgrading wireless networks across the world. It says it wants to explore other opportunities in the ICT market, without saying just what, and in smart terminals. Reassuring investors, it said it will try to get its head around a positive balance between scale and profit while still growing.

Crucially, it has employed Professor Green, the grime-pop UK artist, to leverage its brand on a tour. A ZTE spokesperson denied that there were any other candidates for ZTE’s sponsorship.

They told TechEye: “There were no others, Professor Green was our first choice since ZTE mobile phones and Professor Green are both currently breaking into the mainstream UK market and stand for the same qualities: vibrant, energetic and extremely talented.”

ZTE will be giving away tickets to a small Professor Green show in London through its presence on the web in social media. 

The Hackney-born rapper had this to say of ZTE: “Sponsorship is a reality of today’s music industry – the key is to make sure you partner with the right people. ZTE are up-and-coming and innovative so this relationship is really exciting for me.”

ZTE exec Wu Sa, who we did not have down as a fan, said “Professor Green is attaching kudos and relevance to ZTE as we drive our brand to a social networking driven youth market”.

ZTE’s UK marketing team says it starts the day with a Professor Green song every morning.

HP finally replaces networking head honcho

HP’s executive Feng Shui continues, with interim Bethany Mayer promoted to senior VP and general manager of the networking business.

Mayer will replace Marius Haas, one of 10 executive VPs who jumped ship since Apotheker began his crusade to turn the company into SAP.

Her role used to be vice president of marketing for enterprise, storage and networking, which HP claims helped boost revenues 14.6 percent. Most recently she had more than a helping hand in networking for small to medium businesses, virtualised networking and HP’s network security.

The promotion to full-time is a job Mayer should be safe in. During the HP re-jiggling, there was no question that networking would be out of the window.

The Dow Jones says over 10 executive VPs took their leave since Apotheker’s very short reign began. That has left some well-paid jobs in the company that needed filling. 

Executive VP in Enterprise Servers, Storage, Networking and Technology Services Dave Donnatelli said in a statement he’s confident Mayer will do well. Citing HP’s seventh straight quarter of double digit growth in the networking division, he claimed: “She is the right leader to accelerate this business.”

Freescale expects worse Q3

Freescale Semiconductor has lowered its quarterly outlook, ending 30 September. 

The revised forecast says that net sales are going to decline six to eight percent from the previous quarter. This is blamed on weakness in the industrial and networking businesses, Freescale says, and is a drop from the initial three percent penned in.

Despite the stutter in sales, Freescale says that its gross margin will  increase modestly from the previous quarter. 

The revision has damaged Freescales shares, somewhat. Bloomberg’s anaylsts predicted average sales of $1.19 billion for the third quarter with a gross margin of 46.2 percent.

But shares declined by 4.1 percent on the New York Stock Exchange. Bloomberg reports stock had already dropped a total of 32 percent in the year, prior to the revised forecast. 

The good news for Freescale is that earlier this year, it and Rambus stopped the patent scrap, and it is positioned well in the automotive market.

Cisco Virtual Switch moves to Hyper-V

The creator of the hardware behind the Great Firewall of China has teamed up with a convicted monopolist to link virtual switches.

Cisco is collaborating with Microsoft to bring its virtual switch to Hyper-V next year when Windows Server 8 is released.

At the moment, Cisco’s Nexus 1000V distributed virtual switch runs on VMware software, however it can’t work in Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2.

According to a Cisco statement, support for Hyper-V will only apply to the forthcoming Windows Server 8. This is because it is better at integrating third-party modules than its predecessor.

Hyper-V customers can use a virtual switch included with Microsoft’s hypervisor, and connect to Cisco physical switches and other Cisco products like the Unified Computing System.

Even so, if the code works it means that the Cisco virtual switch software can be brought to the hypervisor layer.This will create greater visibility into virtual machines and better provisioning and management capabilities, Cisco claims

Cisco’s policy enforcement, automated provisioning and diagnostics features can be used on the Nexus 1000V, and will help IT administrators rapidly deploy virtual workloads in Windows Server Hyper-V environments and scale to large data centres.

The networking giant boffins are adapting Cisco’s Virtual Machine Fabric Extender (VM-FEX) technology to support Hyper-V in Windows Server 8, providing IT administrators the same type of management interface and capabilities for both physical and virtual networking.

From Vole’s perspective expanding the ability of Cisco’s networking tools to work with Hyper-V could help Redmond convince punters that its server virtualisation software is a viable alternative to VMware.

Hyper-V technology is not bad and Vole can provide management tools that are familiar to Windows administrations. So far, it has failed to convert large enterprise customers from VMware to Hyper-V.