All posts by Tim Skinner

AWS posts most profitable quarter ever

amazon awsAs investors reportedly grow nervous with its parent company, Amazon Web Services has reported its most profitable quarter ever.

Though sales of Amazon Web Services (AWS) grew 69% and profits tripled, the stock of parent company fell by 10% in pre-market trading after its latest earning report, but it had jumped by 8% during Thursday trading.

The fall in market valuation of, described on Wall Street as a readjustment of ‘outsize expectations’ following Amazon’s previous declarations about cost management and investment in infrastructure, is unlikely to affect the cloud services business however.

Meanwhile, the AWS unit saw its quarterly operating profit triple to $687 million, after sales revenue for its latest quarter rose 69% to $2.4 billion. This represents a decline in growth rate, which was 78% in the previous three months. AWS brought in $687 million in operating income for the quarter, in comparison to the $240 million revenue that was made in the corresponding quarter last year. The operating expenditures for AWS for the quarter came in at $1.78 billion, up from $1.18 billion a year earlier.

Though the rate of expansion may be slowing, AWS is still the fastest growing division within Amazon and in an unassailable lead in the cloud infrastructure market, according to Richard Brown, Senior VP for EMEA at Interactive Intelligence.

“Amazon’s latest financial results show that demand for cloud computing is booming and provides insight into the changing behaviours of organisations as they move to the cloud. To keep their foothold in this growing market, cloud vendors like Amazon, Google and Microsoft are prioritising work on their cloud platforms.”

Direct comparisons with AWS rivals such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and IBM SoftLayer are difficult as their parent companies’ financials are structured differently.

On January 18th BCN reported how increasing price competition among the top three cloud service providers may affect profitability in the cloud market in coming months.

This year, BCN reports, AWS plans to add 5 AWS regions and 11 Availability Zones to its current estate of 32 Availability Zones across 12 geographic regions worldwide, with new sites in London, China and India.

Tierpoint buys Windstream’s data centre business for $575 Million

Cloud datacentreCloud service provider TierPoint has entered into a definitive agreement with comms vendor Windstream to buy its data centre business for a pure cash transaction of $575 million.

As part of the deal the two will enter a reciprocal partnership, selling each other’s products and services to their prospective customers through referrals. This structure will allow Windstream to focus on its telecom offerings while continuing to offer traditional data centre services to enterprise customers.

The boards of both companies have approved the transaction, which is expected to close within the next two to four months, subject to customary conditions and approvals.

Cloud service provider TierPoint will inherit invaluable data centre support expertise according to CEO Jerry Kent. “This is a great strategic fit for TierPoint and our customers,” said Kent, “Windstream Hosted Solutions and its employees have a reputation for providing excellent customer service and enterprise-class solutions. We value these team members as a key asset in the acquisition and their expertise adds to our strength.”

The long-term strategic partnership with Windstream allows both the comms vendor and the service provider to concentrate on their own strengths and complement each other’s contributions and data centre services are still an integral component of enterprise service explained Windstream’s CEO Tony Thomas. “We expect the divested data centre business to continue its significant growth under the leadership of TierPoint, and we look forward to partnering closely with them to provide advanced data centre services to our enterprise customers,” said Thomas.

The deal has a certain logic, but it’s also illogical in some aspects, said Quocirca analyst Clive Longbottom. “A smaller company trying to compete on non-core data centre activities will always be at a disadvantage, so selling to a data centre expert gives much greater capabilities and flexibility, so at this level, it makes sense,” said Longbottom.

However, he questioned the rational of specialisation followed by duplication of effort. “It leaves Windstream to focus on its comms business on one hand, except it says it won’t, as it will resell data centre services through Tierpoint. And Tierpoint will sell comms services through Windstream. Two companies, selling the same offering, but with overlapping and redundant back office costs, so driving the cost to the customer up,” said Longbottom, “it would make far more sense for the deal to be a merger with two divisions, to my mind.”

Vodafone Italy launches NFV, cloud-based VoLTE

Vodafone Italy is working with Huawei on what the two claim to be the world's first cloud-based VoLTE deployment

Vodafone Italy is working with Huawei on what the two claim to be the world’s first cloud-based VoLTE deployment

Vodafone is the latest carrier to push ahead with rolling out a voice over LTE (VoLTE) service, with its Italian subsidiary launching the service, reports

Setting this VoLTE project apart from other operators pursuing the calling technology, however, is the contribution from Huawei to launch the service on a cloud-based IMS core network. Essentially, the service launch is a live demonstration of NFV in action, with it relying on NFV-compliant core network solutions that are interoperable with commercial off the shelf (COTS) infrastructures. In this instance, the IMS and element management system (EMS) are virtualized, managed by the snappily titled “MANO-VNFM” (management and orchestration virtualized network function management).

Huawei reckons this constitutes a world first, and builds upon work conducted during ETSI NFV ISG’s proof of concept trials. ZTE, China Unicom and HP collaborated on developing a VoLTE service based on vEPC (evolved packet core) and vIMS architecture during one such PoC, and it seems Huawei and Vodafone have steamed ahead with a real-world deployment since the project was demonstrated in January.

A statement released by Huawei referenced the NFV partnership with Vodafone in the wider context of converging the ICT and telecoms worlds. “These innovating are the fruits of partnerships with major operators and join solution optimisation as ongoing processes at Huawei,” it said. “Media plane acceleration, fully automated operation, NFV-based capability exposure, and intelligent network slicing are key areas for NFV consolidation. These future goals are the core of Huawei’s commitment to facilitating cloud transformation for operators.”

Vodafone Italy’s VoLTE rollout, while allegedly being the first to utilise NFV infrastructure, is one of a growing number of European rollouts. Vodafone Germany launched the service in March, while it’s targeting a launch in the UK market at some point this summer. EE and Three, meanwhile, are both looking at a summer 2015 launch date for VoLTE services, as Europe plays catch up with the Far East already leading the way with matured rollouts of the next generation calling technology.

KT, Nokia launch Internet of Things lab

KT and Nokia said the lab will be a testing ground for IoT innovators

KT and Nokia said the lab will be a testing ground for IoT innovators

Korean telco KT, alongside Nokia Networks, has announced the launch of the country’s first dedicated lab for progressing the development of the internet of things, making good on its MoU pledge at MWC earlier this year, reports

Nokia Networks has slated the lab to be the bedrock of its targeted “Programmable World” project by utilising the convergence of IT and telecoms. It claims small and medium-sized IoT firms looking for advice, expertise and an environment in which to test new products and ideas will be able to make the best use of the lab.

The launch of the lab shows the progress being made in the IoT space, after KT and Nokia signed a memorandum of understanding to develop an IoT lab facility at Mobile World Congress in March. Andrew Cope, Nokia’s head of Korea, said LTE-M (the LTE network enabling M2M communications) is a key basis of the lab’s capabilities, and displayed his pleasure in having the lab ready so soon after the MoU announcement at MWC.

“Executing upon an agreement signed at MWC15, Nokia Networks and KT have taken another step forward on an exciting journey that will culminate in the creation of the ‘Programmable World’ in Korea and beyond,” he said. “After showcasing the world’s first LTE-M for interconnection of sensors, we have now created Korea’s first IoT lab – a solid-point of our commitment to standardise LTE-M and create a strong and sustainable ecosystem.”

Yun Kyoung-Lim, KT’s head of future convergence said the lab’s approach to collaboration in IoT is essential to its development and to seeing its potential realised.

“Together with Nokia Networks, we are leveraging upon the convergence of IT and Telecommunications to hasten our transformation into an ICT powerhouse,” he said. “Furthermore, this lab is a strong iteration of our vision to become the number one player in Korea’s IOT market. Our efforts are aimed at encouraging greater participation by domestic companies, which are a crucial factor in driving the change towards a creative IoT-based economy.”

IoT platform Thread unveiled, Qualcomm joins

Another week, another IoT standard ecosystem

Another week, another IoT standard ecosystem

Thread, an IP-based wireless protocol designed for consumer IoT in the home, has been unveiled, with the organisation also confirming Qualcomm Technologies as a member of its board of directors, reports

The IoT protocol, according to Thread, is designed for consumers and devices in and around the home, and extends domestic M2M connections into the cloud using IP in a low-power mesh network. Having announced its formation in late 2014, Thread now comprises of more than 160 member companies. Qualcomm has also been appointed to the group’s board of directors, where it will be more heavily involved in the development of Thread-compatible products, as well as the protocol itself.

Considering it’s only been operational for just over nine months, the progress being made within the wider Thread group shows the rate of development within the wider IoT industry in general; a sentiment agreed with by Chris Boross, Thread Group’s president.

“In the nine months since opening membership, more than 160 companies have joined the Thread Group, and now the group is launching the Thread technical specification, which has now completed extensive interoperability testing,” he said. “Today’s announcement means that Thread products are on the way and will be in customers’ hands very shortly. I’m excited to see what kinda of products and experiences Thread developers will build.”

With Qualcomm joining the board of directors, it also shows how large and influential tech firms are hedging their bets on the development of IoT, by also contributing to the AllSeen Alliance, another IoT platform development forum. Raj Talluri, Qualcomm’s SVP of product management reckons the work being done at Thread will help further IoT development.

“When it comes to easily and securely connecting the smart home, the work of industry alliances like the Thread Group are essential,” he said. “Collaborating with the Thread Group allows for the integration of this technology into the world’s leading brands of household appliances, and to thereby speed innovation and market transformation.”

Thread coming to the fore serves to illustrate how progress in various aspects of IoT connectivity is accelerating. There’s a plethora of platforms all addressing separate networking considerations, from Sigfox and its cellular IoT platform, to the Wireless IoT Forum deploying low-powered wide area networks for city-wide M2M connectivity. If the variety of industry stakeholders involved are indeed intent on open collaboration and cooperation to ensure the more altruistic progression of IoT; then sooner or later one would assume a level of convergence of said platforms is inevitable.

Samsung announces open Internet of Things platform

Samsung have launched an IoT platform

Samsung have launched an IoT platform

Samsung has announced the launch of a platform for the Internet of Things, “ARTIK”, which it claims is completely open and serves the entire software and hardware requirements of IoT.

Samsung Electronics’ president and chief strategy officer, Young Sohn, described ARTIK as “the industry’s most advanced, open and secure platform for developing IoT products.” Samsung claims it will enable developers to customise and deploy IoT-devices, as well as the services they deliver.

From a hardware perspective, ARTIK comes in three flavours, imaginatively titled ARTIK 1, 5 and 10 respectively. ARTIK 1 is the 144mmembedded module designed for small form-factor IoT applications and utilises Bluetooth/BLE technology for low-powered short range communications. ARTIK 5, Samsung says, is intended for small-to-medium size devices, such as home hubs and drones, and comes with a 1GHz dual-core processor, flash memory and on-board DRAM.

ARTIK 10 meanwhile is the full-fat module with an eight-core processor, HD video encoding/processing, 2GB DRAM and 16GB flash, and a variety of short-range, low power communications tech inside, such as wifi, Bluetooth, ZigBee. Samsung reckons it’s ideal for media applications, Industrial IoT and home servers.

“Industry requirements for IoT devices vary in terms of battery life, computational horse power and form factor,” said Sohn. “With this family of ARTIK offerings, Samsung is directly addressing the needs of the widest range of customers, uses and applications. ARTIK allows developers to rapidly turn great ideas into market leading IoT products and applications.”

ARTIK also incorporates a number of software considerations to give it credibility as a holistic IoT platform, according to Samsung. Technical aspects of the platform include security and privacy, local storage and computational capabilities, low-power architecture, small form factor, and compatility with the major connectivity protocols. Finally, the platform comes with a software stack which is intended to allow developers to go directly with application framework, thus removing the need to build low-level software

Verizon confirms SDN overhaul plans

Verizon is revamping its network

Verizon is revamping its network

Verizon has confirmed publicly its plans to develop and implement a software defined networking infrastructure, working alongside Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson and Nokia Networks, among others, reports

The US telco claims its SDN project will enable a transformation of its existing network, introduce new operational efficiencies and accelerate rapid and flexible service delivery to its customers. In outlining its intended overhaul, Verizon has worked with its aforementioned technology partners to create an SDN network architecture overview document.

The document, the telco claims, has included all interface specifications, reference architectures, plus requirements for both the control layer and forwarding box functions. It appears, as a consequence, Verizon is giving its suppliers very specific requirements for the upgrade, and that each partner is expected to deliver unique and bespoke elements to allow it to achieve the business and technical benefits of an SDN-enabled network.

The business case for implementing SDN has been well documented, such as elastic and scalable network-wide service creation, as well as dynamic resource allocation and network automation. Speaking of the announcement, Verizon’s chief information and technology architect, Roger Gurnani, reckons harnessing SDN will enable Verizon to more agilely deliver new services to its customers.

“Verizon and our key technology partners have always focussed on providing high-performance networks for our customers, and with this SDN architecture we will continue to ensure our network and services meet the needs of our customers, today and in the future,” he said.

Cisco’s chairman and CEO John Chambers, meanwhile, has targeted IoT as the next big growth opportunity for telcos, and says SDN will help enable its monetisation.

“This will become the foundation for innovative, new Verizon services and applications,” he said. “Both companies share a vision to transform the entirety of the network architecture to achieve the speed and operational efficiency required to meet the needs of today, as well as capture the growth opportunities to monetize with the Internet of Everything over the next decade and beyond.”

European Commission to reform mobile cloud services regulations – report

The EC is looking to create a level playing field in how telcos and mobile cloud service providers are regulated

The EC is looking to create a level playing field in how telcos and mobile cloud service providers are regulated

The European Commission is considering plans to reform how mobile cloud service providers, also know as Over The Top (OTT) companies, are regulated, according to reports from the FT.

Draft documents unveiled by the commission indicate that initiative to create a level playing field between the telecoms industry, cable operators and mobile cloud services like Whatsapp and Skype has long since been forgotten.

According to the Commission, telcos are currently being forced to compete with OTT services “without being subject to the same regulatory regime”, and that it intends to create a “fair and future-proof regulatory environment for all services”.

One of the main directives of the digital single market proposals advocated by the commission relates to the roll-out of superfast broadband infrastructure across the continent. With traditional revenue streams for telcos, such as calls and messaging, on the decline, operators frequently point the finger at OTT services for enabling free and wide-reaching services.

As a consequence, operators claim a lack of incentive when it comes to investing in overhauling  increasingly depreciated copper network infrastructure, particularly around the last mile.

That said, telcos remain hesitant to give its competitors free access to high-speed broadband infrastructure if it isn’t able to suitably monetise the service, which is where net neutrality enters the picture. Aside from the ongoing debate raging in the US of late, net neutrality formed one of the cornerstones of Neelie Kroes’ digital single market proposals, along with the abolishment of consumer roaming fees.

Last month, reported that the European Union’s Telecoms Council effectively conceded that a U-turn on its net neutrality ambitions was on the cards. There has yet to be an update on whether the open-letter signed by more than 100 MEPs has convinced the Council to steer clear of paid prioritisation of any kind.

It is believed the commission intends to unveil its new digital single market strategy on the 6th May.

Ericsson, Eindhoven University drive connected car partnership

Ericsson has been pushing its connected car platform the past couple of years

Ericsson has been pushing its connected car platform the past couple of years

Swedish infrastructure giant Ericsson has announced a new partnership with Eindhoven University of Technology focused on advancing the intelligent capabilities of automotive vehicles, starting with a solar-powered connected car, reports

The car, which will compete in a 3,000km race from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia as part of Solar Team Eindhoven, will be fully solar-powered, and Ericsson will be looking to drive intelligence in the vehicle based on the Connected Traffic Cloud platform it announced at Mobile World Congress in March.

Connected Traffic Cloud is a managed service capable of sharing two-way data between connected cars and road traffic authorities. In the context of the World Solar Challenge, Ericsson will be looking to aggregate car, traffic and weather data, conduct in-depth analytics and maximise the energy and power consumption efficiency of the vehicle.

Announced at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, Ericsson at the time said connected cars and road authorities utilising the platform will benefit from enhanced road safety, improved traffic flow and vehicle performance. The company has previously partnered on similar initiatives with Volvo, the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Statens Vegvesen).

Orvar Hurtig, head of industry and society at Ericsson said real-time data analysis is the key to driving more intelligent road networks.

“Mobile connectivity is increasingly a must-have feature in cars, thanks to both consumer demand for infotainment and a wide range of regulatory initiatives that aim to increase road safety,” he said. “As a result, vehicles are becoming a major source of data that could be used to improve road traffic authorities’ ability to manage traffic and prevent avoidable accidents. Connected Traffic Cloud is the means by which that data could be shared.”

Visit Connected Cars 2015 at the RAI Amsterdam between the 24th & 25th June. Automakers are eligible for free passes.

Telstra, Pacnet finalise acquisition deal

Telstra is buying Pacnet to bolster its presence in the Asia Pacific cloud and managed services market

Telstra is buying Pacnet to bolster its presence in China’s cloud and managed services market

Telstra’s acquisition of Pacnet has now come to fruition, with the Australian telco today announcing it has completed the purchase of the cloud, managed services and datacentre provider. As reported by in December, the valuation of the deal came in at $697m.

When initially announced, the deal came with the stipulation of agreement from regulatory bodies, as well as Pacnet financier approval. According to Telstra, all necessary approvals and agreements have now been confirmed, and the firm can now begin the full acquisition of Pacnet.

All that remains, it claims, is full regulatory approval in the United States, which it reckons is expected in due course and will not impact operations or the agreed purchase price.

Speaking on the acquisition, Telstra’s Global Enterprise and Services chief executive Brendon Riley said the integration of Pacnet will see its brand gradually retired, but that the Chinese market remains a big focus for the joint-venture.

“The addition of Pacnet’s staff, intrastructure, technology and expertise will position Telstra as a leading provider of services to multinational and large companies in Asia,” he said. “The completed acquisition will double Telstra’s customers in Asia, and greatly increase our network reach and data centre capabilities across the region. This includes the addition of the largest privately owned intra-Asia cable network, 29 data centres and the ability to further grow our China operations through existing joint venture.”

Riley concluded with a nod towards the Pacnet Enabled Network (PEN), an elastic and on-demand network based on SDN architecture, pioneered by Pacnet. PEN was one of the first live SDN-based networks launched globally.

“The acquisition provides us greater specialisation and scale, including the delivery of enhanced services, such as software-defined networking and opens up significant incremental opportunities for our business,” he said.