26 April 2012

NetEvents APAC Press Summit, Hong Kong - Day 2 - 'In the Hot Seat' Summary

Jim Machi, Vice President, Marketing, Dialogic Corporation: The Challenges for the mobile Internet
Opening the short presentation, Machi noted that everyone in the room had three devices, and that this was not unusual. As a result, he said, "data growth is huge, especially here in APAC."

That growth will continue, he forecast, as tablet numbers are growing and they use 25 times more data than phones. " Video is an especially huge challenge," he said. "How do you handle it all? How do you make money out of it - data revenues are different from voice revenues. Also how operators build a business model given the increasing volumes of over-the-top provider's data?"

He said that the impact on average revenue per user (ARPU) meant that this was declining for operators who have voice and for those who have voice and data - but that voice-only is declining even faster. "Subscriber happiness because of network congestion is a problem especially in crowded areas," he said.

For Machi, this left mobile operators with a number of options:
- Data offload - get users to use wifi not 3G as much as possible.
- Network upgrade eg LTE/4G.
- New technology
- Deploy new capacity - for example, build new towers
- Cap data for data hogs
- Optimisation - "we offer this," he said - which means squeeze and compress data to get more out of the bandwidth.

"What can a service provider do?", asked Machi. "They can be a bitpipe provider, a smart pipe provider, or they can add value added services which bring in 20% more revenue than dumb pipes. Operators need to find those new services now."

Machi was then interviewed in the hot seat by Dubash, who asked about the future for the operators, and both whether and how they could make the move up from being dumb pipe providers to being content providers. Machi said that he was not optimistic, but said that the operator industry would see consolidation or some would not last. "It will be survival of the fittest," he said.

NetEvents APAC Press Summit, Hong Kong - Day 2 - Debate 5 Summary

What effect will Carrier Ethernet 2.0 have on the industry?
Daniel Bar-Lev, certification programme director at the MEF opened the panel discussion by remarking that: "I'm addicted to connectivity - I look for it wherever I am, everywhere all the time." He then took a straw poll.

"I find that everyone has a laptop and phone, most have a tablet - and it's a problem if you've can't connect all of them to the Internet. Like you, I want storage somewhere else so I can access it on any device. I want power to be in a datacentre not in a battery or my room. I want my software connected and working all the time. But I don't want to be my own IT manager.

"So what I want is a global Ethernet LAN like the LAN from the office. It's true for individuals and for businesses. That is what Carrier Ethernet (CE) 2.0 is pointing to - it's not the solution but one step along the way to that seamless global LAN. CE2.0 has four flavours - E-LAN, E-Line, E-Access and E-Tree."

After the panel introduced themselves and their companies, Divesh Gupta (PCCW Global); Irit Gillath (Telco Systems); Jim Machi (Dialogic), Bar-Lev asked about E-Access. It's a wholesale service - what is it?

Gupta said: "Customers ask for SLAs for end to end latency and packet loss. Our network ends at the POP in each country but a local provider provides access to the last mile. Without an end to end SLA, we can't deliver that service but E-Access helps deliver that." He said that there have has problems in the past with incompatibilities between network services but when standardised, they are more efficient and are a critical part of CE.

The panel was asked whether CE could speed up certification of operator partners? Gupta said that it would improve the situation.

Gillath said: "E-Access means you can provide SLAs across different providers - both sides can access and monitor the performance of each others' networks."

Mobile backhaul is an important part of the puzzle, said Machi. "Backhaul is a huge expense every year, it's 27% of the total cost for a mobile operator," he said. "The proportion of backhaul provided by CE is growing, today it's only one-third, and the rest is TDM."

How is CE going into mobile backhaul? Gupta said that, in Africa, it used to be about serial interfaces and then satellite, but now it's RJ45 jacks and going over Ethernet. Gillath said: "We are providing multiple services on the same network because each network has a specific requirement." For example, she said, carriers want to differentiate and provide a distinctive SLA and offer value added services such as cloud.

Won't CE provide complexity because theory is different from practice, the audience asked? Bar-Lev said: "CE2.0 is more than just an Ethernet service, it allows SPs and operators to sue infrastructure more efficiently at lower cost, and can add higher value services."

What about manageability? Gillath said: "Service providers are looking for a dynamic network that can adjust to problems if eg there are spikes in usage or changes in the network." Gupta said: "We need to provide visibility to end users across different networks and service providers. If those service providers deploy network in different ways, that causes problems so we need standards to help us support them."

Final question for the panel asked whether they shared the vision of data everywhere, anytime over a single network?

Machi said: "There's so many interconnections out there so will not ever be one single giant global network."

Gillath said: "We are getting there."

Gupta said: "The Internet is already there but Ethernet at a service level might take 20 or 200 years."

NetEvents APAC Press Summit, Hong Kong - Day 2 - Debate 4 Summary

Unified Communications - from connectivity to communicating
This debate was opened by Charlie Dai, analyst with Forrester Research, and a panel consisting of Frederic Gillant (Orange) and Pranay Misra, Nanotel.

Dai presented some research on the most important features of unifioed communications (UC). The top three in the USA were unified messaging, presence, and business phone features on mobile devices. Obstacles to UC include many employees not yet being trained or on a UC system. For mobile UC, the barriers were that employees didn't have smartphones that could support UC, and problems with integrating across mobile networks and devices.

"Can UC provide solutions to the way we work and interact today, and increase ROI?", asked Dai. "And what's the future of connectivity and communication?"

The panellists were asked for their vision. Misra said that everything needs to be connected. He noted that communication has changed from wired to wireless over last 20 years, now it's click-click on smartphones. He foresaw more connectivity such as the ability "to see what my kids are doing in my home now."

Gillant said that the answer fell into four broad categories:
1. That return on investment (ROI) on UC is not demonstrated.
2. That UC fits onto cloud and UC as a service.
3. The problem of social networks
4. Communication-enabled services to return ROI.

He said that you can't demonstrate hard ROI on UC. He said that UC was usually taken up by early adopters, when for example the CEO wants to use it to speak to his family while travelling. "You can calculate you will pay UC players a lot to implement and manage it," he said. "But you can't go back because it improves your communication with colleagues and partners. HD video is richer and more efficient than email, which this is now a curse and the cholesterol of the office."

UC as a cloud service is not as security-sensitive as putting financial data in the cloud, Gillant said, and you can implement it using a pay-per-use model, which gets rid of large equipment capex.

"On social networks, everyone talks about it but I am not convinced," Gillant said. "I wouldn't hire people who spend time updating Facebook pages three times a day. Social networks are easy to use though and so they are part of UC, but they are a new curse just like email because they don't enhance your communication. Facebook pictures of your dog don't improve productivity."

The best feature of UC is presence, Gillant said. To know that someone is there and what they're doing - even though it's intrusive on privacy. It's also good for messages in industrial processes, such as messages from physical devices like a hydraulic pump. If it fails, it sends an email to one person who is on holiday. Without a properly designed workflow that takes account of absence, it might not be noticed. With UC you can re-route such alerts to someone who is there on call.

UC is also good for collaboration and gathering thoughts, and can provide a hard ROI from presence.

Responding to a question from the audience, Gillant said that email remains powerful as you have a record and can organise meetings such as this.

"This conference may be called by email but the conference is done face to face, which is the highest level of communication," he said. "It allows you to touch and read body language which you can't do via tele-presence."

Email is the lowest form of communication as emails can be mis-written and mis-interpreted. "But email is good as sending documents so I ask people just to use it for that - if you want a discussion with me, call me.

"Email will slowly disappear and be replaced by something else. But presence invades privacy and you can be seen, is not as convenient, but privacy is also going to disappear."

NetEvents APAC Press Summit, Hong Kong - Day 2 - Opening Keynote Summary

Opening keynote: Bridging India's Mobile Data Performance Gap
Nanotel CEO Pranay Misra opened the second day of NetEvents here in Hong Kong. He talked about the size of the Indian telecoms market and how Nanotel would change the volumes and speed of mobile data. Only 28.4% of rural population has mobile coverage, he said, and as well as huge growth in the numbers of mobile providers, we are also seeing a big shift from voice to data.

Users want seamless connectivity but the problem with existing networks and providers is that they are slow to develop new applications and features, and building new networks is expensive.

"Operators want more customers, increased revenues, lower costs, harmonised networks, and be fast to market," he said. "Customers want new services, value for money, less cost, personalisation, mobility, and freedom, and they want one bill and one network to handle it all."

Misra said that next generation networks which could deliver this offer high speed backhaul, are service oriented, use IPv6, can handle TV, and are all packet-based.

Potential drivers of revenue include growth in data traffic and an under-serviced rural population but operators face problems of smartphones and tablets not in place, or not affordable, said Misra. Operators also need to change their low quality, high latency networks, and need to provide billing on a per-second or data volume dependent basis. But telcos say there's no revenue model, especially for the 600+k villages in India. Such rural coverage means high opex - they don't have electricity - and need solar or diesel power, fibre connectivity to each tower not microwave in order to assure speed.

Other key challenges for telcos include a lack of local content.

Misra was then interviewed on stage by event host, journalist and NetEvents editorial director Manek Dubash. They discussed revenue models, power for base stations, competition, and average revenue per user (ARPU).

25 April 2012

NetEvents APAC Press Summit, Hong Kong - Day 1 - Debate 3 Summary

Seven Secrets of Datacentre Design

Clive Longbottom, service director and analyst at Quocirca opened this session saying that the secrets were in fact not very secret. "Cloud changes everything - or does it?" he said. "It's all about latency and its impact on usage. But we find 1 in 7 large organisations say that cloud has no part in their future - ever. There's too much confusion."

From the panel, Kevin Buckingham (BT) said that: "customers are looking for agility, faster routes to market, and optimal solutions."

Pranay Misra (Nanotel) said: "Cloud computing is at an early stage in India - but the issues there are scalability, security and flexibility, and which cloud model to adopt, a passive or an active network?" He said that the shared model would click very soon.

Atsushi Iwata (NEC) said that "you need to think about the applications first, then the network infrastructure."

Mark Pearson (HP) asked whether OpenFlow network would operate across the WAN. "We can speed up automation within and across the datacentres, it will happen," he said.

Longbottom said that datacentre designs are changing, with integrated systems from eg Dell and HP, and asked if this was the future.

Bruce Bateman (Dell) said: "Today you want to pay as you grow. We can provide fully containerised solutions, and that model is easier for an IT guy." He said that organisations can buy more pieces as the business changes, and that they need to be able to move modules around according to needs, not just scale up.

Pearson said that it was up to cloud managers whether OpenFlow (SDN) was the future, given the strengths of proprietary networks. He noted that "OpenStack is open with integration points".

Buckingham said that if you have a customer and provide them with good service, they will stay with you. He said: "You can spend a lot of time in configuring and providing services, but customers are much more savvy than they were, so they need to know that they can switch suppliers if necessary. They want options for the future."

Longbottom said that networks need to flatten to reduce latency. Misra said that this is important, but that it depends on opex costs. He said that it's about security not just investment and that the multi-tier model will not work in a shared network.

Bateman said that traffic is more east-west than before, so this brings the user closer to the network. "We can speed up the infrastructure in the datacentre but the service provider gets the latency across countries and continents," he said, "A 350 millisecond round trip between UK and Asia is not good enough." This meant that service providers will need to store data within the country of origin, and use technologies such as deduping and caching.

Longbottom said that static SLAs are not useful any more and that performance creep is an issue. How could we improve SLAs automatically to meet new requirements, he asked. Could we reach a  value level agreement?

Itawa said: "The open network summit covers this - eg we can provide guaranteed service. Now we have to provide the right tools to allow networks to scale."

Bateman said that Dell could remotely manage not just desktops and laptops but also servers, and that it had lot of tools for management and automation.

Pearson said that "datacentre dynamics need a central control plane to abstract resources. It means can you can incorporate feedback and use that for templates."

Longbottom asked: "Abstracting resources has value but doing it all at line speed creates problems as it's down to hardware. Can we do it all at line speed?"

Misra said that it's about how fast you can move in that direction. "In India, the dynamics are very high and live data transfers from old datacentres will take time."

Buckingham said: "BT has invested heavily in the network so we are looking to put active traffic shaping with agreement with customers."

Longbottom concluded by saying that the network is now the important thing. "It is critical to get it right at the datacentre, WAN and LAN levels. It needs a holistic view."