Category Archives: Americas

Dell tells VMworld how it simplified the cloud

Dell serversDell claims it will demystify the cloud for enterprise buyers with a raft of new products and services, which it unveiled at VMworld in San Francisco.

A new release of Dell’s Active System Manager will deepen integration with the product portfolio of virtualisation vendor VMware, it claimed, making it easier to automate the management of public and private cloud computing, and hybrids of the two.

“Dell’s portfolio helps customers to design, deploy and manage hybrid clouds from the device to the data centre to meet each customer’s unique journey to a hybrid cloud,” said Jim Ganthier, VP and GM of Engineered Solutions and Cloud, Dell.

Converting public cloud deployments to hybrid cloud environments brings financial returns that have been verified by several independent studies, according to Dell. “Dell’s innovations and our VMware partnership can deliver the business results and outcomes,” said Ganthier.

Meanwhile, an updated version of its Engineered Solutions for VMware EVO:RAIL Horizon Edition will shrink workloads on virtual desktops and applications by up to 80 per cent, Dell claimed. This would cut the price of management and hosting. A new thin client operating system, Wyse ThinOS 8.1, will tighten security and make support easier, it claimed. Another improvement comes from the new version of Wyse Cloud Client Manager (CCM), which extends management to bring millions of Windows Embedded Standard (WES) and SUSE Linux thin clients under the umbrella of its management platforms.

Dell is working with VMware to make virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) easy to create and run, claimed Steve Lalla, Dell’s VP of commercial client software. “Collaboration enables us to deliver these solutions to our customers within VMware Horizon environments,” said Lalla.

One of the productivity shortcuts created by active system manager (ASM) is that any business analyst or IT architect can use templates and automation methods to speed up processes such as requests, approvals, help desk and self-service. The saving of time and manual effort and improved responsiveness and consistency will create rapid payback, claimed Dell.

Dell also claimed it has been ‘deeply involved’ in the joint development – with VMware – of EVO SDDC, which aims to ‘dramatically’ simplify the building of large scale software defined data centres. Dell’s EVO SDDC offerings will align closely with VMware’s general availability in the first half of 2016, said Dell.

Ericsson buys system integrator to shore up IT consultancy services in LATAM

Ericsson is boosting its OSS/BSS activities in LATAM

Ericsson is boosting its OSS/BSS activities in LATAM

Ericsson announced plans to acquire Guatemala-based Icon Americas, a consulting and systems integration firm, for an undisclosed sum. The company said the move would bolster its expertise in telecoms software.

Founded in 1996, Icon Americas specializes in providing application development and maintenance (ADM) services, specifically in the area of billing and charging for telecom operators.

Ericsson said the acquisition, which will see Icon Americas’ 250 employees join the networking giant, will boost its portfolio of consulting services around OSS/BSS solutions in the region.

Sergio Quiroga da Cunha, head of Ericsson in Latin America and Caribbean said: “IT services is an area of strategic importance to Ericsson – not just in Latin America but globally. The acquisition of Icon Americas will improve our ability to provide IT and ADM services to customers in Latin America, thereby strengthening our end-to-end position in OSS/BSS.”

Hugo Cruz, founder and chief executive of Icon Americas said: “We are excited to be joining the Ericsson team as its global scale and presence enable us to apply our expertise to a much wider range of customers.”

Verizon, Qualcomm among Mcity partners testing IoT, automated cars

Verizon is teaming up with the University of Michigan to test connected and automated cars

Verizon is teaming up with the University of Michigan to test connected and automated cars

Verizon and Qualcomm are among 15 partners launching Mcity at the University of Michigan this week, a controlled testing environment for connected and automated vehicles that the project participants claim could clear the path for mass-market adoption of driverless cars.

The facility will allow researchers to simulate environments where connected and automated vehicles will be most challenged – for instance where road signs may be defaced by graffiti, or when traffic lights become faulty or break.

“There are many challenges ahead as automated vehicles are increasingly deployed on real roadways,” said Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center. “Mcity is a safe, controlled, and realistic environment where we are going to figure out how the incredible potential of connected and automated vehicles can be realized quickly, efficiently and safely.”

Michigan – particularly the City of Detroit – has a longstanding (and to some extent troubled) history in automotive, but the University said the facility will help the State regain its leadership in the sector. The project builds on a 3,000 vehicle connected car project launched three years ago and co-funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation

As part of its participation with the project Verizon will be contributing its telematics technology, In-Drive, and is offering its own research into vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies. It will also help explore various ways to combine mobility, telematics and IoT services.

Other project partners include Iteris, Navistar, Denso, Ford, General Motors, Qualcomm and Xerox; each partner is investing about $1m into the project over the next three years.

Amit Jain, director of corporate strategy, IoT verticals at Verizon said the project will help create new vendor-agnostic and OEM-agnostic services that could improve road and pedestrian safety.

“Placing the onus on OEMs only to deploy technologies such as Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), for example, could take up to 37 years according to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s why creating opportunities like Mcity to pool research and share best practices to expedite innovation is so important,” Jain said.

“Consider the fact that there are more than 30,000 fatalities in the US annually caused by vehicle accidents – of which 14 percent of those fatalities involve pedestrians. As part of our participation in Mcity, we will be involved in tailored research to explore how smart phones can be used to further enhance vehicle-to-pedestrian communications.”

Verizon has moved over the past few years to bolster its legacy M2M portfolio (industrial M2M, telematics) with the addition of new IoT services, which according to the telco now constitute a growing portion of its overall revenues – particularly connected cars. In a Q2 2015 earnings call with journalists and analysts this week Verizon’s chief financial officer Francis Shammo said that although IoT is still quite a nascent sector it raked in about $165m for the quarter and $320m year-to-date.

“As far as Internet of Things, we think that the transportation, healthcare, and energy industries in particular present great opportunities for us and we are very active fostering innovation in these areas,” Shammo said. “We are very well-positioned to capitalize on these new growth opportunities and we will continue to develop business models to monetize usage on our network and at the platform level.”

Google says trade agreement amendment hinders security vulnerability research

Google says the US DoC amendments would massively hinder its own security research

Google says the US DoC amendments would massively hinder its own security research

Google hit out at the US Department of Commerce and the Bureau of Industry and Security this week over proposed amendments to trade legislation related to the Wassenaar Arrangement, a multilateral export control agreement, arguing they will negatively impact cybersecurity vulnerability research.

The Wassenaar Arrangement is a voluntary multi-national agreement between 41 countries and intended to control the export of some “dual use” technologies – which includes security technologies – and its power depends on each country passing its own legislation to align its trade laws with the agreement. The US is among the agreement’s members.

As of 2013 software specifically designed or modified to avoid being found by monitoring tools has been included on that list of technologies. And, a recent proposal put forward by the US DoC and BIS to align national legislation with the agreement suggests adding “systems, equipment, components and software specially designed for the generation, operation or delivery of, or communication with, intrusion software include network penetration testing products that use intrusion software to identify vulnerabilities of computers and network-capable devices” to the list of potentially regulated technologies, as well as “technology for the development of intrusion software includes proprietary research on the vulnerabilities and exploitation of computers and network-capable devices.”

Google said the US DoC amendments would effectively force it to issue thousands of export licenses just to be able to research and develop potential security vulnerabilities, as companies like Google depend on a massive global pool of talent (hackers) that experiment with or use many of the same technologies the US proposes to regulate.

“We believe that these proposed rules, as currently written, would have a significant negative impact on the open security research community. They would also hamper our ability to defend ourselves, our users, and make the web safer. It would be a disastrous outcome if an export regulation intended to make people more secure resulted in billions of users across the globe becoming persistently less secure,” explained Neil Martin, export compliance counsel, Google Legal and Tim Willis, hacker philanthropist, Chrome security team in a recent blog post.

“Since Google operates in many different countries, the controls could cover our communications about software vulnerabilities, including: emails, code review systems, bug tracking systems, instant messages – even some in-person conversations! BIS’ own FAQ states that information about a vulnerability, including its causes, wouldn’t be controlled, but we believe that it sometimes actually could be controlled information,” the company said.

Google also said the way the proposed amendment is worded is far too vague and proposed clarifying the DoC-proposed amendments as well as the Wassenaar Arrangement itself.

“The time and effort it takes to uncover bugs is significant, and the marketplace for these vulnerabilities is competitive. That’s why we provide cash rewards for quality security research that identifies problems in our own products or proactive improvements to open-source products. We’ve paid more than $4 million to researchers from all around the world.”

“If we have information about intrusion software, we should be able to share that with our engineers, no matter where they physically sit,” it said.

CenturyLink adds clean cloud datacentre in Washington

CenturyLink has added a datacentre in Washington to its footprint

CenturyLink has added a datacentre in Washington to its footprint

CenturyLink has opened a datacentre in Moses Lake, Washington this week, which is powered in part by hydro-electric energy.

The facility is powered in part by hydroelectric generators located on the nearby Columbia River, and because the local climate allows for significant use of free-air cooling (which is much less power-intensive than traditional cooling methods) the company said the datacentre has among the lowest power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratings in the industry.

“CenturyLink’s new low-cost power datacentre services provide many benefits to our customers, including a highly resilient solution coupled with power costs and efficiency metrics that rank among the best in the industry, and the facility serves as an excellent disaster recovery location,” said David Meredith, senior vice president, CenturyLink. “Enterprises enjoy global access to CenturyLink’s portfolio of cloud and managed hybrid IT services, and we continue to extend the reach of our data center footprint to new markets to meet from the needs of our customers.”

The datacentre is being hosted by Server Farm Realty, a managed datacentre and colocation provider, and offers access to cloud, colocation, networking and managed services.

This is the second datacentre CenturyLink has added to its footprint in recent months. Two weeks ago the company announced a partnership with NextDC to broaden its datacentre footprint in Australia, and in March brought its cloud platform online in Singapore.

While most datacentres are typically located close to large metropolitan centres, Kelly Quinn, research manager with IDC reckons CenturyLink’s latest datacentre could bring more attention to the region’s potential as a hub for other facilities.

The central part of Washington state is one of the geographies in which I see substantial potential for further growth as a datacentre hub,” Quinn said.

“Its potential stems from the area’s abundance of natural, power-generating resources, and its relative immunity from natural disasters.”

“It also may offer customers who are ‘green’ conscious the ability to work with a provider that can satisfy their datacentre needs with renewable energy sources, Quinn added.

USA Freedom Act passes ending bulk data collection

The USA Freedom Act will end bulk data gathering familiar to the PRISM programme and other NSA iniatiatives

The USA Freedom Act will end bulk data gathering familiar to the PRISM programme and other NSA iniatiatives

The USA Freedom Act, a bipartisan bill aimed at reforming the US Patriot Act that would among other things end kind of bulk data collection Edward Snowden revealed two years ago, passed the House or Representatives by a wide margin this week. The move may be welcome news to both telcos and cloud service providers alike, many of which lobbied hard for US surveillance reform.

The bill, which passed in a 328 for – 88 against vote, ends the bulk collection of communications metadata under various legal authorities, and not only includes telephony metadata collected under Section 215 but internet metadata that has been or could be collected under other legal authorities as well.

It will also allow companies to be more transparent with the demands being placed on them by legal authorities, and will create  new oversight and accountability mechanisms that will shed more light on the decisions reached by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which has so far operated in a deeply secretive manner and with little interference.

“This bill is an extremely well-drafted compromise—the product of nearly two years of work.  It effectively protects Americans’ civil liberties and our national security.  I am very proud of the USA Freedom Act and am confident it is the most responsible path forward,” said Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican Representative for Wisconsin’s fifth district.

“If the Patriot Act authorities expire, and the FISC approves bulk collection under a different authority, how would the public know?  Without the USA Freedom Act, they won’t.  Allowing the PATRIOT Act authorities to expire sounds like a civil libertarian victory, but it will actually mean less privacy and more risk.”

“Let’s not kill these important reforms because we wish the bill did more.  There is no perfect.  Every bill we vote on could do more,” he added.

Others, including Ted Lieu (D-CA), voted against the proposed reforms because the bill didn’t go far enough.

“While I appreciate a number of the reforms in the bill and understand the need for secure counter-espionage and terrorism investigations, I believe our nation is better served by allowing Section 215 to expire completely and replacing it with a measure that finds a better balance between national security interests and protecting the civil liberties of Americans,” Lieu said.

“Beyond Section 215, I am troubled that the USA Freedom Act would leave in place Sections 505 and 702, provisions that also allow sweeping data collection and backdoor searches circumventing encryption that can result in the collection of information of US citizens not identified in warrants.  The loopholes left in place will continue to undermine the trust of the American people.”

“A federal district court struck down the NSA’s spying on Americans and called the NSA PRISM program ‘Orwellian.’ A federal appellate court ruled last week that the NSA’s bulk collection program was illegal. Despite these two court decisions, the NSA continues to operate its unconstitutional and illegal programs.”

Many cloud service providers and telecoms companies have for the past two years (since Snowden’s NSA-related revelations primarily) voiced concerns that failure to reform US surveillance practices could alienate customers both foreign and domestic. Microsoft and Google have been particularly vocal about this in recent months.

Google’s vice president public policy and government affairs in the Americas Susan Molinari trumpeted her support of the bill. She said the bill takes a big step forward in surveillance reform “while preserving important national security authorities.”

“It ends bulk collection of communications metadata under various legal authorities, allows companies like Google to disclose national security demands with greater granularity, and creates new accountability and oversight mechanisms.”

“The bill’s authors have worked hard to forge a bipartisan consensus, and the approved bill is supported by the Obama Administration, including the intelligence community. The bill now moves to the other side of the Capitol, and we hope that the Senate will use the June 1 expiration of Section 215 and other legal authorities to modernize and reform our surveillance programs, while recognizing the importance of protecting Americans from harm,” she added.

US-based telco Verizon declined to comment on the passage of the bill.

NTT America and Verio to merge, keeps NTT America brand

The Verio brand will be no more under the proposed merger with NTT America

The Verio brand will be no more under the proposed merger with NTT America

NTT America and American cloud service provider Verio have announced a merger that will see the Verio brand absorbed into NTT America.

“Upon the merger, NTT America, the surviving company, will be taking over the whole existing services of Verio in the Cloud and Web hosting business domain,” the company said in prepared remarks.

“The intent of the merger is to maximize the competitiveness of NTT Com group’s cloud services within the rapid-changing business environment. NTT America and Verio will further improve the operational efficiency with the aim to strengthen cloud services for its enterprise customers.”

The move comes nearly fifteen years after NTT Com acquired Verio in an all-cash $5.5bn deal, a move aimed at leveraging expansion to the US in its dealings with large multinationals, which at the time were predominately in Asia.

At the time the acquisition was the subject of an investigation by the US government on national security grounds, but months after the initial deal was announced the Clinton-led government declined to intervene.

Over the past few years NTT Com has moved aggressively to bolster its cloud presence globally, with many of the NTT brands and sub-brands (DiData, Gyron, and Digital Port Asia) on hiring sprees. It also recently acquired e-shelter, a German hosting and cloud services provider.