Friday, April 29, 2011

Cisco - Growth, Competition, Challenges, Options

After the Gartner report (They said, that when you bring 2nd vendor it won't hurt the operations and also reduce the opex by 15-60%) there is lot of hot discussions/exchanges between Cisco and competitors.

Competitors say "Good Enough" Networks, while Cisco rebuts the "Good Enough" aggressively in its blogs, webcasts and all sort of communications. Here

In my personal opinion, I'd still think the Core / Mission critical portion of Network to keep single vendor. Rest of the domains can be mixed/dual vendors. My biggest justification would be "Operational Reasons". After all machines/boxes can deliver what they can based on the "Human" who manages/configures them.

In my 12 years of experiences I can summarize almost 90% of outages are due to Human Error/Factor. It could be a wrong command, accidental modification or unknown config etc etc. We've all sorts of MOP (Method Of Procedures), SOP but still "human factor" is a critical aspect of operations.

For Cisco, if I do a quick SWOT,


* Networks = Cisco for most of the managers/sr mgmt. (Well known brand, established relations)
* Excellent channel partners & technology partners
* Well known/proven support
* Strong financial position & Excellent staff


* Giant and not fast to new changes
* Highly complex/complicated partner/support structure can put off SME's/Small enterprises
* Price.. (Too expensive for minor tasks)


* Data Centers & new growth areas in IT area
* Mobile Networks. More and more networks are going all-IP. But this itself is a challenge too
* Build Cloud, Security in the network boxes


* Intense competition from new entrants as well as IT vendors. Margin pressures (Juniper still can maintain 60% margins while Cisco margins are no where near where they're in 2000)
* Changing business models in Telco's/Large enterprises (Managed Services where operators are purchases based on Mbps/Transactions. Mobile giants like Ericsson, ALU, NSN are building their own high end routers and ALU is the 2nd player in the market  right now)
* Missing the reality at Ground and coming up with new products like UMI (Strictly not a threat but this is where they'll loose if they don't stop)

So in a nut shell , Cisco can still deliver and be what they used to be in 2000. But it takes a lot of effort from top mgmt, change of mind set and most importantly establishing direct relation with customer. Cisco is taking steps in the right direction (atleast now) and will not be surprised if they offer it's own managed services as part of advanced services arm.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Globe Telecom to start major transformation project

Source: Here

Globe Telecom (part of Ayala Group, Philippines) embarking on a massive transformation project. The main focus is on Quality and capacity expansion. If we see their recent results, their costs are increasing steeply while the revenue is stand still.

After PLDT merger with SUN (here), Globe certainly need to change to improve its position. I believe they are moving in the right direction. Their biggest problem is the Voice + SMS. Ironically philippines is the country with highest sms usage and this is where Globe performing poorly. No wonder their market share is just going south.

The cost structure should be changed and they should focus more on the network/infrastructure. When Globe started their operations they've had one of the best infra. But after 8 years (after their major upgrade) now the network is old, not supporting the change in the usage pattern, and mttr is low and mtbf is high.

I am going to meet one of their senior exec soon and will share more info later on..

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Accident at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8, Ave3 (AMK MRT)

I saw dozens of people gathered outside Ang Mo Kio MRT and when I crossed the traffic light I realized there was an accident. It's a car & bike. The biker seems to be bleeding from the head and I saw some blood on the road & kerb :(
I can see the side of Car and understand how hard the impact was. The side dented so badly. This was the 3rd accident around the mrt area in this month. Couple of weeks back there was a pedestrian hit by van; then another teenager lost her legs at the MRT track. this is the third..Pray for the people and wish them a speedier recovery.

Monday, April 25, 2011

vodafone done it again.. this time Easter period

Source: Australian

"From 14:30 AEST 24/04/2011 to 21:34 AEST 24/04/2011 Users may have experienced difficulties in sending SMS," Vodafone said on its customer support website.
"We apologise to customers for the inconvenience."

I remember VHA replaced their RAN with Huawei (Here), and I doubt this is due to the RAN but most likely an issue with SMSC or the interconnecting network. Hope they'll avoid these embarrassing faults in future

AT&T remote mobile zone - excellent for BCM/disaster areas

Source: AT&T Website
Just came across the service offering from AT&T for disaster stricken/emergency areas. Typically used by first responders/government entities the Mobile Zone is packed in a suitcase size pack and can offer excellent features/services. In summary,

* Will work with all AT&T phones
* Instant on
* Up to 28 concurrent users
* Easy to setup and use

This part of the world (SEA/ASEAN) we see lot of disasters be it volcanic eruptions, tsunami, floods or even forest fires. Most of the times the first job of Mobile engineers is to establish communications with central office.

During the recent disasters in Thailand, the BCM program became a joke and the operators realized their BCP is just to use alternate/competitor network. So Operator-A is keeping Operator-B handsets/SIM cards and vice-versa. Then when the engineers went to disaster area, they realized almost all the networks/base-stations are dead. To establish the comm links they took precious 40 hours. Now I know singtel is working with Ericsson to establish a United Nations Crisis response or disaster response center.

But to help SME's or other gov agencies they can work within the group to offer similar services and I am sure they will find new businesses and revenue. At the same time they can add +1 to their corporate social responsibility.

BRIDG is a cool idea. Wish to have that feature from WebEx (Automated incoming calls) 

It's a cool idea and personally I don't think they can succeed by competing with other conf call providers with just this feature. It takes lot more to compete with the rest.

Having said that, I thought many times that WebEx should provide an option to automate simple tasks and this was one my wish list. Right now WebEx gives an option to create incoming call but the user need to login to the WebEx and create the callback.  If the meeting admin/owner can initiate the call automatically based on the time that'd be really great.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The 100 most influential people (Time's List)

Source: TIME

Who said India is a paper tiger. With it's 1.2 billion population & near madness of cricket, now Mr.Cool, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Captain of worldcup winning Indian cricket team became more influential than Mr. President, Barack Obama. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Canadian regulation on Net Neutrality (Applicable to Mobile too)

Previously I've talked about net neutrality in Singapore here and the COP in UK here. Today I came across the net neutrality regulation framework in canada. The pressrelease and info can be found here

The surprising part is the date of release in in 2009 which means Canadians have the regulation developed almost a good one and half year back. In summary,

* ITMP (Internet traffic management practices) should be transparent when employed
* Overall ISP's should invest in network to avoid congestion. However they can implement certain ITMP to manage at certain points.
* When they are employed they MUST be designed to address a DEFINED need and nothing more.
* Applicable to Mobile broadband.

If I've to compare this to our current situation in Singapore, I've very little positive words to mention. Today we've very 'generic' definitions on what will be controlled/blocked/throttled and at what times. Also the impact to individual customer is not clearly communicated (ISP's say that they throttle to certain % out of their capacity. So if one customer is just downloading a legal linux distro, his connection may be throttled to few kbps if the ISP sees a specific threshold met based on cumulative P2P usage).

Hope IDA will look in to this ( I wish together with IPv6) in the near future.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Complaint about SingTel: Pay-TV subscribers at the mercy of channel swops

Here is a letter from another customer who wrote to straittimes forum.

Pay-TV subscribers at the mercy of channel swops
16 April 2011
ST Forum

SingTel’s's mio TV had done well to offer a Bharata pack comprising channels like Zee (Hindi) and Zing, allowing consumers like myself to economise on total pay-TV charges spend.

However, SingTel suddenly decided to discontinue Zee (Hindi) and Zing, replacing them with channels which they say are an alternative to the original channels.

What is worse is consumers cannot be freed from their contracts.

If SingTel fails to deliver on its offerings, shouldn't the consumers be allowed to cancel the agreements without penalty?

Aditya Dharnidharka

This is exactly my complaint and I'll know what will happen next. Our dear service providers in Singapore love SOP. There is a template for all these questions. So the reply will be "As part of our continuous improvement/revamp we have to change some channels. At the same time to provide variety and similar content we tied up with xyz channels and replaced abc channel. thanks for your feedback and if you've more question please fell free to call/email"

Final /8 Public IP in Asia - APNIC

Source: APNIC

As per the news statement Asia is left with final /8 public IP. For Service Providers this is another reminder either they need to be ready with more cash to buy IP in secondary markets or prepare/start offering IPv6 services.
Singapore is seriously lagging in the adoption of new technologies and IPv6 is no exemption. Hopefully we can see services from Openent RSP's rather than using private IP...

For the details on policy process from APNIC, below is the info

9.10 Distribution of the final /8 worth of space in the unallocated APNIC IPv4 address pool

When the total remaining space in the unallocated APNIC address pool reaches a threshold of a total of one /8, the following policies will come into force.

9.10.1 Allocations to LIRs

Each APNIC account holder will be eligible to request and receive a single allocation from the remaining /8 worth of space, with the following conditions:
  1. Each allocation will consist of the minimum IPv4 allocation size
  2. The account holder must meet the criteria for receiving an IPv4 allocation specified in one of the following sections of this policy document:
    • 9.3 Criteria for initial allocation
    • 9.4 Criteria for subsequent allocations
All APNIC account holders are eligible to receive only one allocation from the final /8 worth of address space. This applies to both current and future account holders.

9.10.2 Allocations for future uses

A /16 will be held in reserve for future uses, as yet unforeseen.
If the reserved /16 remains unused by the time the rest of the remaining /8 worth of space has been allocated, the /16 will be returned to the APNIC pool for distribution under the policy described in Section 9.10.1, "Allocations to LIRs".

9.10.3 Transfers of IPv4 between APNIC account holders

For more information on this policy, see section 3 of APNIC transfer, merger, acquisition and takeover policy.

Huawei Revenue increases 30% in 2010

Source: Huawei Annual Report

Key Points

  • Revenue increased by 30%. Now stands at RMB 185 billion vs RMB 149 billion in 2009 (5 years back it was RMB 66 billion in 2006)
  • Revenue from overseas is RMB 120.4 billion
  • Net profit is RMB 23.75 billion (5 years back it was RMB 3.99 billion in 2006)
  • Operating Margin ~ 15%. 
Look at the image right to see CAGR.

Operating margin is pretty healthy compared to the competetors in Mobile market. Ericsson gross margin is ~ 8% in 2009 and Nokia margin is ~ 34% but this is entire nokia. Not simply the infra business.
However this is pretty low compared to networking giants like Cisco. Cisco share price dropped in Feb because their margins missed the target (~62.4% vs analyst 63.3%).

I believe their strategy would be to focus on services now. They've presence over 140 countries and with cheap hardware/free upgrade strategy they've managed to get in to lot of networks. Now this is the right time for them to start 'milking'.

Stolen GSM Network - Libiya

Source: theregister

Interesting post there. Basically the opposition 'stole' the GSM network in their strong hold area from the TELCO Libyana(Owned by Gadaffi son). The 'new' network is serving 750,000 and covering the area the size of England.
No, they have not build any new base stations, antennas, networks, exchanges. what they've done is took the help of local engineers in Benghazi and 'disconnected' the local network from the Tripoli.

Typically the GSM system uses a encryption mechanism but many operators run without the encryption (Singapore - singtel enabled it only in 2006) so disconnecting the local/regional network with HQ is not very difficult. So the opposition/rebel forces can use the network to make voice calls. Understood that SMS is not working and I think the reason could be there is no SMSC in the region. They can simply use one SMSC locally or get some open smsc sort of things (cannot handle huge traffic) :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cisco kills Flip & Reorg consumer business

Finally, Cisco took the right step. As per channelinsider, Cisco is killing the flip and going to do some changes to consumer business. As I said here, even a person on street like me couldnt understand what cisco is trying to do. Not quite sure how they managed to convince the top management, board to invest close to half a billion dollars in to Flip business (pun unintended).

Recently cisco done some changes to its partners too, and this will affect quite a number of partners. This is critical for partners as the discount levels are directly based on their status (gold, silver etc). But I believe this is done in the right direction. Cisco need to move quickly from just selling 'routers & switches' to provider of 'solutions' that can be integrated in to the service provider/enterprise networks.

From their results, the biggest drop is within the SP sector. I'm sure NOW is the right opportunity for them to improve their sales tactics, and solutions to provide solutions for LTE networks. Today the big players in LTE are Ericsson, ALU, NSN, Huawei & ZTE. With the exception of NSN rest of them have developed a IP base within the last five years and they are offering the 'end to end solutions' to Service Providers. So Cisco cannot rely on it's past practices to sell the routers to bridge the mobile equipment.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Telkom (Indonesia) want to buyback the share in Telkomsel from SingTel

Source: Kontan, use google translate to change to english..

SingTel is facing pressure from different multitudes, and this is additional blow to it. I'm sure SingTel wouldn't want to dispose but if due to whatever reasons they end up selling the stake that would be the biggest blow to singtel. Telkomsel is the cashcow (bharti is the crown jewel, but the revenue contribution is low and bharti is not paying any dividends).

* Telkomsel contributes almost 15% to profit (Q1-2010, 161 million out of 968 million).
* Indonesian market seems to be normalizing where as Bharti still facing stiff competition.
However this is not the first time Telkom tried to buy back the stake or reduce singtel influence. Last year they've tried with the tower business (here), mentioned that they are ready to purchase SingTel stake (here)

If sources were to be believed the ministers & management of telkom meeting SingTel today itself and want to  get some solid progress. Not sure how singtel can handle this and if SingTel to divest they need to quickly find alternate/replacement for their investment.

IPL 2011 starts today. In Starhub only...:|

One of the bad things in Singapore is about the Cable TV or Entertainment. There are two players in pay tv market and the channels are typically in exclusive contract. Which means the Customer end up with paying to two different parties and two different settop boxes in living room.

Just to quote a recent example, Cricket world cup was shown in MIO TV and I was hoping that MIO TV will extend the same for IPL. Sadly this is not the case and the rights are still with Starhub. Same goes with rest of the content.

Thanks to the regulator it is going to be changed 'soon' (Unfortunately the soon is going to be in next few years or worst case next facade)

Huawei - One more probe (Telekom Austria Probes Huawei Deals)

Source: Light Reading

+1.. Seems more and more scandals in telecom market.. If they look in to developing world, the scandals would increase by dozens..

Telekom Austria AG says it has launched an internal investigation into allegations of corrupt business practices that resulted in the award of contracts to Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

The European operator says it "would like to distance itself fiercely from such alleged business practices, which fell under the responsibility of the former management," and says it has "launched internal investigations into these allegations in order to examine those and to get the facts out on the table."

It added: "In the event that these allegations prove to be true, the Telekom Austria Group will take appropriate action against the supplier Huawei and any further persons or companies involved."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ugadi Subhakankshalu

ఖర నామ సంవత్సర ఉగాది శుభాకాంక్షలు..मराठी मित्र, नूतन वर्षाभिनंदन

Sunday, April 3, 2011

India - Winner of cricket worldcup 2011

The team managed to overcome pressure..

In a single line that's all I can say. This is not the best batting line up or bowling attack but overall the team managed to keep their emotions during the matches. That made the difference. Well done guys and I guess this is a good learning story for the first timers and a good memory for the seniors.

If Sachin decides to retire ( I wish to see him in the next worldcup too) this would be his last worldcup and what a wonderful gift to him & to the cricket mad nation from Dhony & Team. A great job.

By the way for stats, Sachine managed to get few more records under his name

* Most run scorer in the world cup (2278, 2nd place is Ricky Ponting with 1743 runs)
* Most centuries (6, 2nd place Ricky with 5)
* Most half centuries (21, 2nd place Rick again with 11)

I think by this time he holds the record for "Most records held by a single player in the history of Cricket".

Friday, April 1, 2011

Youtube problem in Singapore (Today)

Its a very strange occurrence to me. Somehow I cannot use Youtube and the video simply doesnt start. At first suspected this is a computer issue, but after trying with three browsers and multiple restarts and flash uninstall, version downgrade, realized that there seems to be a problem :|

I'm on SingNet DSL and seems the problem is specific to that. On my mobile I can use youtube without any problem. Google shows that there are other users facing the same issue (Here, Here, & Here)

Is it something to do with singnet caching?? or specific to youtube?? not sure. Need to wait till tomorrow before the cust care opens..