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Can Huawei really crack the desktop virtualization market?

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July 25, 2014

Huawei's goal in the desktop virtualization market also deals with network function virtualization for telcom companies, according to Huawei CTO for data centre solutions Ron Raffensperger.

But the question is, can the company really crack the desktop virtualization market? The Chinese networking maker was this year's only new entrant to Gartner's Magic Quadrant for x86 virtualisation, a position that the analyst firm said reflects strong growth in its home nation and other developing economies.

To be sure, Raffensperger does agree with that assessment, telling us that emerging markets are keen to move from PCs to lower-cost mobile devices. That opportunity to offer a desktop virtualisation option presents plenty of opportunities, and the fact that Huawei runs 100,000 desktops in that mode using its own software doesn't hurt when the time comes to demonstrate proof of concept.

Huawei's cloudy suite is called FusionSphere and is based on the open source Xen hypervisor, which Raffensperger said Huawei has modified extensively to make it more secure, scalable and reliable.

“It does not bear much resemblance to Xen,” he said. Huawei has tweaked the software heavily because the opportunity that got it interested in virtualization was wireless carriers' interest in network function virtualisation (NFV), the practice of putting more intelligence in the network core instead of in premises equipment.

Naturally, delivering NFV often means running virtual machines to drive subscribers' desired applications.

As wireless carriers typically have many customers, Huawei's move into the virtualization segment therefore needed more scale than it felt when Xen could deliver in an unaltered form.

Which is not to say that the company is interested only in VDI and wireless carriers-- as most of us know, Huawei is a lot more ambitious than that.

Raffensperger said Huawei is now also in the business of selling server virtualisation to anyone, anytime, and can also offer the resources that its partners want to take FusionSphere to market.

He also feels that the company's best chances to succeed soon will come in nations that aren't currently very virtualized and therefore offer opportunities that VMware and Microsoft don't.

Within those markets, industries like government and media look especially interesting, the latter thanks to broadcasters' rapid moves into digital production and internet streaming.

Huawei also has a foot in the hybrid cloud market, and is contemplating software Raffensperger said would see “a distributed cloud data centre where you have the ability to move various workloads between multiple physical data centres that look like logical data centres.”

The CTO feels that arrangement could span private and public clouds. If such a product were to soon be offered, Huawei would be in direct competition with VMware and Microsoft.

But for now, it is trying to be open, and you can't blame the company for that. Raffensperger said he feels that participation in the OpenStack segment is important to the company's ambitions and that despite offering its own servers, networking and storage, Huawei still intends to make certain its software is validated to run with top-tier hardware providers like EMC, HP and Cisco.

“As we looked at the enterprise businesses, we decided we don't want to be just pushing commodity servers,” Raffensperger added. “There's a real need for virtualization in a lot of the markets where we have opportunities.”

In other IT news

Cisco said today that it's re-launching its developer network program to have another chance at attracting 3rd party coders and developers to its systems. Call it the Cisco Developer Network version 2.0 if you prefer.

Some have hit upon the idea that getting others writing functions and applications for a system is a big chunk of the future of a company and it probably is.

It's not even the first time it's called the program the Cisco Developer Network, or DevNet in the parlance of today's company announcement.

For instance, let's turn the calendar back to 2009, when Cisco renamed its existing developer program the Cisco Developer Network, “CDN as we call it”, “focussed on our broad developer community” as it was described then, “and leveraging the extensive capabilities of our broad developer network”.

That program got its own rename and became the Cisco Solution Partner Program, which is just as well or Cisco would have had to come up with a different name this time around.

According to Susie Wee, CTO of Networked Experiences, Cisco's DevNet program is designed to enable an open community of software developers – including ISVs, customers and Systems Integrators and Channel Partners – to help them easily and rapidly build Cisco-enabled applications to sell and use, on top of Cisco APIs to enhance or manage Cisco networks and platforms.

Cisco is encouraging the adoption of APIs across its products and fostering integrations with third-party products, the company says.

Specific resources will include engineering platform APIs, SDKs, ready-to-use code samples, a developer sandbox, developer support, and community management, Wee says.

Naturally, this time around there's an extra twist to the side that makes Cisco want to play-- OpenStack, OpenFlow and NFV are a threat to everybody building network equipment, and Cisco knows that all too well, so attracting lots of developers is a good move for the company.

The idea will be to convince developers and ISVs that it's faster and easier to work in the Cisco environment than outside it.

Wee also promises that Cisco has more than 100 APIs available and will be putting money into SDN, IoT, collaboration, mobility and security APIs.

Cisco is working with a few other companies to make access to APIs easier, and there's a Developer Sandbox to eliminate the cost and time of acquiring lab equipment and the technical staff to maintain it.

Additionally, it allows developers to test application use cases before deployment, as an added bonus.

There's also going to be a team of developer evangelists, community managers and support engineers, so things are looking up.

To describe what lies ahead for a world with Cisco DevNet-enabled applications, let's take this from the Wall Street Journal-- “Developers and ISVs quickly put together an app at a recent Cisco event that exploits knowledge of where smartphone-bearing users are at a football stadium to block streaming video until people move to certain zones, like the concession stands.”

In other IT news

Western Digital said this morning that it's launching a new 6 TB hard drive that it will sell at just $299. To be sure, this is a 5-platter drive, with 1.2 TB per platter of density, intended for NAS utilization.

The new HD comes in both 5 TB and 6 TB versions. It spins in the 5,400 to 5,900 RPM range using Intellipower, has a 64 MB cache and uses a 6 Gbit/s SATA interface.

It comes with v3.0 of WD’s NAS software which means that the new 'Red drives' (as WD calls them) are capable of supporting up to eight-bay NAS systems with no negative impact to performance.

Western Digital Red drives range from 750 GB to 6 TB, are for up to 5-bay enclosures, and classed as consumer NAS products.

There is now an accompanying Red Pro line, with from 2 TB to 4 TB capacities, which is for business use in 8 to 16-bay enclosures.

The existing Red line is for entry-level to high-end datacentre NAS implementations.

Drobo owners, who can populate their enclosures with third-party drives, have now got an enticing upgrade option available once their current drives fill up.

We might expect Western Digital to update its four bay Sentinel Windows Storage Server line of desktop and 1U rackmount shelf products which are listed as using 4 TB currently.

Moving to 6 TB drives would give them a 50 percent capacity upgrade. We can expect this 1.2 TB/platter area density to start spreading further through WD’s product line in the next couple of quarters, both in 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch form factors.

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WD says that its Green drives “will also be seeing capacity expansion in the near future with soon to be announced 5 TB and 6 TB additions for high capacity consumer storage.”

Western Digital sibling HGST has a 6 TB helium-filled drive. Currently, HGST and WD are forced to operate independently, due to the Chinese regulator MOFCOM’s ruling following Western Digital’s purchase of HGST two years ago.

Putting this density level to work in HGST’s seven platter helium drives would produce an 8.4 TB drive.

For its part, Toshiba has a 5 TB MG-04 and MC-04ACA drives spinning at 7,200 RPMs. Seagate has a 6 TB six-platter version used in a LaCie external storage product. It spins at 7,200 rpm and has a 1 TB/platter level density.

The WD Red drive has a 3-year warranty and the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $249.00 and $299.00 for the 6 TB product.

The Red Pro has a 5-year warranty and a 2 TB version will cost $159.00 with 3 TB costing $199.000 and 4 TB priced at $259.00. All Red products should be available now or in short order at some U.S. retailers and the WD store.

In other IT news

Almost a whole year after the hype first hit the blogosphere, Cisco has done its first installation of its NCS 6008 massive router, at Australian carrier Telstra. And this is important, since the NCS 6008 has the potential to revolutionize things.

Back in September 2013, Telstra was said to be one of the customers deploying the Cisco NCS, a statement which in retrospect could be described as optimistic.

Telstra last week blogged that its 1 Tbps-per-card-capable NCS 2008 has gone live on the Telstra Internet Direct network, which serves fast internet connections to enterprise, government and wholesale customers.

“Our new Cisco super router is currently managing traffic on the busy Melbourne to Sydney path and makes Telstra the first Telco in the world to enable live network traffic on the next generation of routing technology,” the carrier said.

Source: Huawei.

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