Transforming Network Infrastructure Week in Review: cPacket, E4, Ixia


Transforming Network Infrastructure Week in Review: cPacket, E4, Ixia

March 21, 2015

Much of the news in network transformation this week centered on the theme of assuring performance of these new resources.

For example, new survey results from Ixia indicate that a good share of the nearly 75 percent of businesses that leverage virtualization doesn’t have good visibility into those environments.

Less than 40 percent of those that responded to the survey monitoring their virtualized network assets as they do their physical resources, according to Ixia, a company that sells solutions to enable visibility of virtualization solutions. And the others said they don’t have the ability to monitor their virtual environments at all.

In other network assurance news this week, transformingnetworkinfrastructure’s Peter Bernstein reported about cPacket’s new Active Test solution. A standard feature in all of the company’s cVu-NG solutions, Active Test allows for granular and real-time stress testing of production environments in the data center and network operator scenarios.

The focus of Active Test is on performance assurance, proactive mitigation of imminent issues, and real-time troubleshooting. And it complements passive monitoring, cPacket explains, by challenging the production network above baseline behaviors.

Bernstein also wrote about how Italy’s E4 Computer Engineering has launched the ThunderX ARM8 ARKA dense computing server family to address the cornucopia of structured and unstructured data coming into data centers.

The new E4 product is a 64-bit ARM platform that integrates a graphics processing unity, InfiniBand technology, and ThunderX, as well as support for compilers and Linux OS, libraries, compilers and applications.

"ThunderX powered ARKA Series server provides a versatile and flexible platform for the hyper-scale data center," said Rishi Chugh, Director, Data Center Processor Group at Cavium. "E4 Computer Engineering extensive experience in HPC solution will enable highly competitive ThunderX based ARKA servers that are optimized for the Cloud, Web 2.0, HPC, and High Density Storage."

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M2M Evolution Week in Review: Microsoft, Samsung, CeBIT

What a week we’ve had at M2M Evolution—The M2M news out of CeBIT has been pretty exciting, it seems like everyone is starting to take signal security seriously, it looks like Microsoft is making a play to control a huge piece of the IoT and the sun is out to get us all.

And that’s just one week. No one can accuse us of working in a boring industry, that’s for sure.

Beginning with CeBIT, which ended March 20, and where on March 16 Samsung announced its biggest push into M2M to date with the Samsung Business suite for enterprise IoT solutions. The platform targets key industries, seeking to address needs in the retail, education, hospitality, transportation, and logistics spheres with tailored programs.

Samsung also addressed security concerns within the new suite, and it’s a good thing. According to studies by Symantec, HP and several technology research firms, the IoT is on the brink of a big problem, if security concerns aren’t addressed soon. Want some proof? Take a look at SHODAN. Never heard of it? Well, you’ll wish you hadn’t.

In M2M Evolution news, our fearless leader Carl Ford hooked you up with a free series of educational webinars that outlined how to get lean, mean and profitable with your next M2M deployment.

Microsoft held its annual Convergence in Atlanta this week and CEO Satya Nadella unveiled the company’s all new Azure IoT suite, which is laser targeted at the M2M ecosystem, like the apex predator Microsoft is. Another key announcement is that the soon-to-be-released Windows 10 will be chock-full of M2M-enabled software. Big blue is looking to get back to the top of the hill, and if it does it right it will.

Finally, in a bit of apocalyptic apocrypha, the sun cast its evil eye of Sauron upon the planet this week and caused a rare severe geomagnetic storm, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center. This storm could, conceivably, have interrupted power grids and satellite communications, but it didn’t so, no worries. Lovely Northern Lights all week, though.

That’s just a little tease of everything we had for you this week at M2M Evolution, so go ahead and make sure you poke around and read all our top stories. And don’t forget: if you have questions, comments, input or abuse, please send it to our new editorial director, Ken Briodagh at kbriodagh@tmcnet.com or on Twitter @KenBriodagh.  

Happy Spring, and we’ll see you next week!

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Unified Communications Week in Review: Vonage, Verizon, VOSS, Tata, Cisco

Unified Communications Week in Review: Vonage, Verizon, VOSS, Tata, Cisco

March 21, 2015

With story headline verbiage such as ‘Enhances,’ ‘Steps Up,’ ‘Releases,’ ‘Extends’ and even ‘Lights a Fire in Customers’ Hearts,’ this week has been all about unified communications (UC) companies shooting for the moon. Let’s talk about how they plan to get there in the week in review. 

Starting with ‘Enhances.’ Vonage is a commercial Voice over IP (VoIP) network and SIP company that provides telephone service via a broadband connection, but you may know them for their commercials, or by their name, which is a play on their motto "Voice-Over-Net-AGE."  The company announced this week that is has acquired SimpleSignal, which offers cloud-based telecommunications systems for businesses, and is a leading provider of Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) and collaboration solutions for small and medium businesses (SMBs). 

The acquisition will give Vonage more than just additional UCaaS features and services. SimpleSignal has a very strong nationwide network of indirect channel partners that could help make Vonage one of the largest organizations in the UCaaS sector. Joe Rizzo has the details.

Now for ‘Steps Up.’  Verizon is driving expansion in its Unified Communications & Collaboration as a Service (UCCaaS) operations, bringing in several new tools. Among these new tools is the Cisco Collaboration Meeting Room system, a cloud-based tool that allows businesses to make easy contact from any video device that can handle the basic standards involved. Verizon also expects to offer cloud-based contact center systems to drive a better customer experience in the contact center, and these systems can likewise be integrated with UCCaaS tools. Steve Anderson talks more about how Verizon plans to step up its UC ambitions, here.

On to ‘Releases.’  VOSS Solutions unveiled its latest version of the VOSS-4-UC management platform to give industries across many different verticals specific tools to address their segment.  The VOSS UC management platform is designed for UC services and applications with a comprehensive toolset that allows its customers to create a communications architecture that can be designed, deployed and operated, in the public and private cloud, the benefits of which are explained, HERE.     

‘Extends.’ What does the future hold for Unified Communications? Is the forecast cloudy—minus, the meatballs—or should we expect hardware to make a comeback? Whether the enterprise chooses an on-premises solution or strictly software-based, it must be interoperable and customizable to meet the firm’s need. Tata has announced three new additions to its unified communications portfolio: the InstaCC Global, Click2RTC and Hosted Lync help. Maurice Nagle has the details. 

Las but not least, ‘Lights a Fire in Customers’ Hearts.’ With Cisco Spark, users can create virtual meeting rooms as needed, and bring in teammates to join in the action taking place therein. Getting in on Cisco Spark is as easy as downloading an app from an app store or proceeding to a website to start up a Cisco Spark room around a desired topic. From here, a host of functions become available, and sparks fly.

And that’s a wrap! Check in with us next week for news you need in the ever-expanding UC universe. 

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NFV & SDN Zone Week in Review: Cyan, Ethernity, Qosmos

The week in network functions virtualization and software-defined networking saw Orange Business Services launch an SDN pilot test aimed at small and medium businesses, Ethernity Networks demonstrate its solution at an event in Paris, and Qosmos join forces with NEC.

Orange said that by next month up to 10 SMB sites using its SDN service, which allows organizations to use a web portal to create and manage their intranet and Internet services in real time. That includes private and secure corporate network offerings leveraging ADSL, fiber, or VDSL access, and what Orange called a ready-to-use router.

As discussed in an SDN Zone posting last week, a handful of other companies already have introduced customer self-provisioning SDN services to date. That includes AT&T, CenturyLink, Masergy, and NTT Communications.

Speaking of that, Cyan this week revealed that CenturyLink is leveraging its Blue Planet NFV Orchestrator for SMBs. Mike Hatfield, president of Cyan, commented: "We're proud that Cyan's Blue Planet is playing a critical role in how they deploy multi-vendor VNFs as services to end customers. Together, CenturyLink and Cyan are unifying the data center, virtual resources, WAN, and managed services to create a new way of doing business for network operators."

In other news this week, Ethernity Networks demonstrated its new OpenFlow-enabled hardware acceleration network interface card at the 2015 NFV & SDN Summit.

The solution is for use in virtualized customer premises equipment and evolved packet cores. For example, Telrad Networks uses the platform—called the ACE-NIC—in its vEPC. ACE-NIC accelerates performance of network functions by up to 50 times.

Elsewhere on the SDN frontier, Qosmos came aboard the NEC SDN Partner Space. It’s an effort through which NEC and partner companies work to expedite the compatibility and integration of different vendors’ SDN solutions. 

Conferencing Week in Review: Highfive, Revolabs, Array Telepresence, More

March 21, 2015


By Rory J. Thompson
Web Editor

The conferencing space continued to expand this past week, and we have all the highlights!

To start, it was announced that Highfive has raised $32 million in series B funding for its video conferencing initiative, a hardware plus as-a-service play that aims to take on hardware-heavy incumbents. With the new funding, Highfive aims to double its team of 50 employees this year to support engineering, sales and marketing. Highfive’s solution consists of an $800 device, which contains a video camera, HD microphone and Wi-Fi. It connects to a regular 1080p television and runs on IP, so the company’s cloud software can then route communications between the device and any number of camera-enabled desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile handsets and other gear. More details are HERE.

Elsewhere, it was announced that Revolabs (News - Alert) is now shipping its FLX UC 1000 VoIP Conference Phone. What makes this device stand out is that it has Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and USB audio support. The new FLX UC 1000 features first-class sound components and multiple communications channel integration, which brings users a simple and powerful solution for desktop and small room conferencing applications. Click HERE to read all about it.

In other conferencing news, a new tool from Array Telepresence (News - Alert) recently got its debut, and it's looking to kick things up a notch in the field. Array Telepresence debuted the Array Equal-i DX Dual Camera Module, as well as the Array Equal-i 2S Image Processor (News - Alert), tools designed to work together and make videoconferencing better as a result. Both tools, as the names imply, use the Equal-i system as a basis, a set of image improvement algorithms, camera and image processor systems that improve the quality of video transmitted and make it more accessible. Details are HERE.

As always, there’s much more going on in the field, so be sure to check in with us daily for the latest updates.

ADTRAN’s VoIP Switch Portfolio Out to Improve With New Entrants

March 18, 2015

By Steve Anderson Contributing SIP Trunking Report Writer

Get busy growing, or get busy dying. This “Shawshank Redemption” misquote has been the battle cry of many businesses over the years—even some who took it up before Andy Dufresne took his infamous crawl out of Shawshank Prison—and ADTRAN is no exception. ADTRAN has taken up the growing side of this aphorism, and proves it with the addition of two new Gigabit Ethernet switches to its lineup: the NetVanta 1510 and the NetVanta 1550.


Both the NetVanta 1510 and the NetVanta 1550, according to reports, are just the first in a lineup of new models expected to be released this year, and both are designed to allow for “superior voice performance at all times” thanks to a combination of high power and high ease of use. Both devices are cloud-ready, and the 1510 comes with a choice of 24 or 48 Gigabit Ethernet ports, built-in surge protection, multi-layer switching and Web management. The 1550, meanwhile, includes much the same features the 1510 does, but also comes with Layer 2 and Layer 3 lite multi-layer switching and advanced stacking capabilities thanks to the ActivChassis system.

Perhaps the most important common feature between the 1510 and the 1550, however, is that both have a focus on voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service. Indeed, many switch vendors, according to reports, suffer from a lack of focus on this front, leading to products that offer businesses dropped calls or poor voice quality as a result. ADTRAN's line of switches, meanwhile, can offer better voice quality, more rapid deployment, and the best in uptime for both premise-based and hosted VoIP. This is a point that should prove especially valuable to value-added resellers (VARs) and managed service providers (MSPs) looking to augment a current hardware profile to better accommodate new customers.

NetVanta 1550 via ADTRAN online catalog 

Several ADTRAN users have already come out in favor of the devices; Van Ausdall & Farrar general manager Trent Smith calls ADTRAN switches “the best in the market,” and notes that such switches “will operate at the highest levels of performance and reliability.” Meanwhile, JMS Group's general manager Brandon Shewbridge cites ADTRAN's ease of use and top-notch service capability as reasons JMS Group sticks with ADTRAN.

ADTRAN's product catalog is actually pretty extensive—it took around three minutes just sifting through the site to even find the 1500 series line—so seeing these two products step into the fray may seem like adding products to an already crowded lineup. But ADTRAN may have the right idea here, offering up several choices for users so, regardless of what's actually needed, there's likely to be an ADTRAN system that can fill the bill. With VoIP as a whole growing in popularity thanks to the combination of more services and reduced costs over standard phone services, having the necessary hardware to run VoIP systems properly is more important than ever. ADTRAN, meanwhile, looks to offer up that kind of high-end hardware platform.

ADTRAN's new devices are likely to prove welcome in the market, though only time will tell just how welcome these ultimately prove to be. With VoIP on the rise, though, it's likely these will prove fairly popular at that.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

How M2M will Make the Move to Mass Market

It boils down to this: everyone thinks IoT is the next big thing, but there are so many piranhas in the pond that there’s a good chance the industry gets eaten. Until the various developers start building on platforms that use a common language, M2M communication is not going to attain ubiquity.

Steve Willmott, CEO of 3Scale, one of the leading API management platforms, said that the key element for achieving universal M2M communication is to develop a common vocabulary for objects and actions. “The language of events, a shared vocabulary in how common events are described in the code is the secret,” Willmott said. “If the terms are universal, then smart devices can talk to each other about those events and the syntax of how they communicate will matter less.”

The industry is right now undergoing the silo wars, he said, wherein many developers and vendors are building architecture that works well enough within the proprietary structure, but can’t function as well outside of its home turf. One of the ways out of that is in discovering the API that can access the silo. “If you figure out the API,” he said, “you can figure out how to work with the device or sensor.” The trouble is, as the number of APIs in play increases, it becomes harder to find what’s out there. He suggested a series of directories that can help, including API discovery services like ProgrammableWeb, Mashape, and his own APIs.IO. He said he really advocates for machine readable meta-data formats like APIs.JSON to publicize APIs.

“The language of events is the critical evolution that needs to happen, but we’re a long way from it,” Willmott said. “When it’s finally here, it’ll be very powerful.”

Right now, it seems IoT is still just a babe. When it grows up, it’ll be something to see. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Caterpillar Sets Out to Bring M2M to Heavy Machinery

The world’s largest maker of the world’s heaviest stuff, Caterpillar, announced on March 18 that it will team up with Uptake, a predictive analytics company, to integrate M2M solutions into its products. Caterpillar made a minority investment in Uptake and, together the two companies will develop a platform for predictive diagnostics, designed to help Cat customers monitor and optimize their fleets.

“Customers use our current technology for fleet monitoring and to track fuel efficiency, idle times, location and more,” said Doug Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar. “Our existing solutions are effective, but it's time we take it to the next level. This relationship will combine Caterpillar's engineering and design expertise with Uptake's software, application and data analytics. As a result, we'll be able to transform the quintillion bytes of incoming data we see every day into useful information we feed back to our customers for on-the-spot decisions and planning purposes to further reduce owning and operating costs.”

Uptake has been working with Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD), a subsidiary of Caterpillar, since last year to develop locomotive-specific solutions for diagnostics and fleet optimization. Caterpillar selected Uptake as its partner based on the capabilities the company witnessed following the agreement with EMD. Uptake's location in Chicago, which is near Caterpillar's headquarters in Central Illinois and the company's largest concentration of U.S. engineers and factories, was also a key factor.

In the next few months, Caterpillar and Uptake will coordinate a nation-wide roll out with Cat dealers to install the latest predictive analytics and insights through Web-based and mobile tools for customers.

“We want to empower our customers with the insight necessary to shift from a reactive ‘repair after failure’ mode to a proactive ‘repair before failure’ stance. The end result will be more efficient operations and increased fleet availability for our customers,” said Oberhelman. “What we're really talking about is graduating to even smarter, more connected products.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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WARNING: Benchmarking Can Be Hazardous to Your Operation’s Health

CUSTOMER Magazine spoke recently to Mark Miller, Contact Center Solutions Practice Leader at J.D. Power, a leading marketing research company. We asked Mark to describe the benefits and pitfalls of benchmarking performance when building a world-class contact center. How can benchmarking be hazardous?

One benchmarking hazard is comparing your performance against the “average” performance of other contact centers. Keep in mind that 50% of the organizations will perform “better than average.” Settling for better-than-average gives the false impression that you’ve effectively differentiated yourself when you may not have.

J.D. Power’s contact center benchmarks regarding customer experience and operational performance are derived from our certified contact centers, which represent multiple industries. Each certified organization has demonstrated that they provide an outstanding customer experience, as verified through rigorous customer satisfaction research that puts them in the top 20% of all customer care and direct sales organizations. We document what these organizations do to achieve this high level of performance through extensive analyses and on-site evaluations of more than 200 practices. The net result is an unparalleled understanding of the strategies, tactics, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of top performers. These are true benchmarks that can help an organization reach targets and maintain a culture of ongoing improvement.

What are some successful benchmarking strategies?

1) Benchmark against others that value the same service standards as you do                                    Organizations that use J.D. Power benchmarks value most the provision of superior service to their customers, and they balance that against their other priorities. They either currently provide, or want to provide, a differentiated experience through service. If your organization puts customers first, then benchmarking against organizations that put operational issues ahead of customers won’t help you improve. Controlling costs remains an operational imperative, even among organizations that prioritize the customer experience. However, many of those organizations achieve cost controls through improvements in customer and representative retention and first call resolution as a result of their service orientation. Regardless of what your organization values most, benchmarking against organizations that share those values will improve your benchmarking.

2) Benchmark operational practices, not just statistics

Managing operational metrics or statistics is not enough. For example, it is insufficient to benchmark and then act on rep attrition statistics without understanding the drivers of that attrition. High-performing companies benchmark at least three elements to get the whole picture: (1) customer experience (including loyalty); (2) key operational and performance metrics; and (3) best practices. 

3) Look outside your industry for top performers

Another critical component of effective benchmarking is to look at what high performers outside your industry do. Almost without exception, your customers’ expectations of your contact center are not wholly created by interactions with your competitors or even within your industry, but rather by interactions with high-performing organizations outside your industry. A great experience anywhere becomes the standard by which consumers judge all other experiences, and J.D. Power can help organizations meet that standard.

Visit http://www.jdpower.com/solutions/contact-center-solutions, email information@jdpa.com, or call (888) JDPower to learn more about J.D. Power’s suite of solutions for the contact center industry.

Edited by Maurice Nagle