Data & Voice Networking News

Started by VelMurugan, Mar 17, 2009, 05:02 PM

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VelMurugan

IPv6 fails to penetrate Internet

Only a small percentage of the Internet supports the emerging protocol IPv6 despite the technology being mandated by the US government.

Figures from the web monitoring company Pingdom showed that just four percent of the Internet supports IPv6. Furthermore, an examination of the traffic at the Internet's biggest exchange AMS-IX showed that just 0.25 percent of Internet traffic is IPv6 and that the world is expected to run out of IP addresses by 2012. Pingdom doesn't pull punches on this, describing the situation as a "crisis".

That's not something that Internet numbering authority ICANN will go along with, "I don't think that a word like "crisis" is a helpful way to characterise the situation. Clearly, a lot of people need to do a lot of work but the work that needs to be done is achievable and in many cases has already started," said Leo Vegoda number resources manager at ICANN's IP address adjunct IANA.

Of course, It wasn't supposed to be like this: Pingdom showed a slide from a Cisco presentation from 2002 which suggested that IPv6 would be fully adopted by 2007. "Generally speaking, if you look at the current state of things, adoption will have to be sped up significantly over the coming 2-3 years. At the current rate, we'll have IPv6 fully deployed a decade or so later than when we need it, said a Pingdom spokesman.

Vegoda thinks that the situation will change when IP addresses will no longer be available for free. "IPv^ requires a significantly larger address space and for an ISP successfully selling an IPv4 based service a
significantly larger address space is not terribly relevant while there isn't an immediate shortage of IPv4 address space, which can be obtained almost for free from an RIR (Regional Internet Registry)."

However, he believes that this situation is changing. "the biggest ISPs have been very aware of the situation for a long time and realise that they will be among the first affected when large blocks of IPv4 address space are no longer available for (just about) free. They have staff actively involved in theIETF for the remaining protocol tweaks that need to be developed."

However, the situation is healthier in Europe than it is in the rest of the world. According to a blog from Derek Morr from Pennsylvania State University who maintains a blog on IPv6 adoption, Europe is far ahead of the rest of the world in adoption and traffic, although he doesn't provide any numbers. Pingdom is also unable to provide continents-specific figures.

There's a lot of catching up that needs to be done if IPv6 adoption is to get back on track, however Vegoda thinks that it's possible. "while the low number of commercially available IPv6 services available
today is not a good thing it isn't necessarily an insurmountable problem. It is possible for large, rapid deployments to be made and for commercial IPv6 services to be widely available in just a few years. I can't know what will happen but I am confident that rapid, widescale IPv6 deployment is possible," he said.

Source : TechWorld

VelMurugan

Netuitive develops toolset for VMware

Netuitive has launched a new version of its Netuitive SI monitoring tool, so that it can now operate in VMware infrastructures.

"We've fully integrated all our virtualisation monitoring into our core SI product, and we've added support for clusters and the datastore," said Daniel Heimlich, a vice president at Netuitive.

The new support for clusters enables users to monitor and analyse them as a single entity and brings failover and load-balancing. The SI product, he added, "self-learns the behaviour of all infrastructure resources."

The sum of the enhancements enables what the company refers to as a Total Health Index, or a snapshot of the health of a virtual infrastructure. From there, Heimlich explains, companies can drill down into virtual machines and get application data from out-of-the-box tools, such as Tivoli, Microsoft's Operations Manager, HP OpenView, and BMC Patrol.

"We show a correlated composite view of the infrastructure," Heimlich said.

Netuitive's approach appeals to IT shops because most of those tools Netuitive works with were built for distributed computing, not virtual architectures, according to David Williams, research vice president at Gartner.

"It's about optimising your current infrastructure," Williams said. "Netutive gives an overview and visibility into data IT might then use to re-provision."

Williams added, however, that customers have to be mature enough, from an infrastructure perspective, to manage in such a holistic manner. That said, Netuitive SI might be a natural fit for companies with cloud or service-oriented infrastructures because they already think this way, while more traditional infrastructures would require an adjustment to make the most of the tool.

VelMurugan

Vyatta adds new security tools

Open-source routing vendor Vyatta is adding SSL VPN, intrusion prevention, web caching, URL filtering and other features to the newest version of its software.

Following the practice of Linux distributors, Vyatta distributes routing software in a free version and sells a more up-to-date version along with support. Customers can also buy the software on a standard x86 server. It offers a less expensive, more flexible alternative to the familiar enterprise routing products from the likes of Cisco Systems and Juniper, according to Vyatta. The platform is designed primarily for enterprises, and about half of its customers are outside the US, according to Dave Roberts, vice president of strategy and marketing for the Belmont, California, company.

Vyatta Community Edition 5 (VC5), supports OpenVPN, an open-source version of SSL VPN software. SSL joins IPSec, PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol) and L2TP (Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol) as VPN alternatives included in the routing platform. Frequently used to secure web-based transactions, SSL is a relatively lightweight encryption system that works more easily with NAT (Network Address Translation) than do alternatives such as IPSec.

Vyatta is also adding an intrusion-detection and protection system based on the open-source intrusion-prevention system Snort Inline. It can detect intrusion attempts by using Snort-based signatures and network-based detection mechanisms. VC5 can then drop packets associated with a detected attack, preventing the intrusion.

Network administrators can now enforce policies on Vyatta by blocking users from accessing certain web sites through URL filtering. VC5 acts as a Web proxy server, inspects the URL and blocks the site, sending an error message to the user.

VC5 also includes features for boosting performance. It can act as a proxy server for web caching, storing data so it doesn't have to be downloaded over the Internet by multiple clients individually. The new Ethernet bonding capability allows users to group Ethernet links together into larger virtual links.

Other enhancements include a new web-based graphical interface for managing VC5-based systems, DNS forwarding and Dynamic DNS for small enterprises and branch offices, improved drivers that boost the performance of VMware and Xen virtual machines running VC5, and support for additional hardware, including 3G (third-generation) mobile data modems.

VelMurugan

UK VoIP users to get better connected

VoIP is about to get more attractive for UK businesses as a new registry service is set to go live. The UK ENUM registry will mean that businesses' VoIP information will be in the public domain meaning that better use could be made of lower-cost calls.

The registry, run by UK registration agency Nominet will allow users of different VoIP systems, be they proprietary like Skype or standards-based SIP devices to talk with each other, provided that they both had an existing phone number.

Nominet won out on a tender held in 2007, run by UK Enum Consortium, to run the registry. Phil Kingsland, Nominet's director of communications said that the process would work in a similar to that of the domain names; Nominet would be Tier 1 registrar while other registrars would hold the registrations for businesses. He stressed that although the underlying technology was the same for Internet domain registrations, the two databases would be held separately with no current plans to merge. He said that there were currently three registrars in the UK but expected that to grow.

In addition, Nominet would have authority for the validation agencies, the organisations that would monitor registry applications to ensure that the people applying had the authority to apply and actually owned the number in question. Kingsland said that this was to avoid some of the disputes that bedevilled the Internet in the early years.

In addition to the cost savings of using VoIP, business users will be able offer additional features such as 'follow me' allowing callers to use a single number to call someone who is not in a fixed place throughout a day - and without paying the cost of a mobile call. Kingsland said that for the first time, VoIP users would not have to belong to the same network.

The core technology of ENUM works by translating a phone number into a domain name. This allows users to continue to use existing phone number formats , while allowing the device to route the call using a DNS lookup. Kingsland said that the 'work' would be done by the VoIP system so that a caller looking for a particular business would be diverted over the VoIP number if that business had a registration. "The caller would have to do nothing, the VoIP software will do the searching in the same way that a conventional exchange will find the number."

Kingsland said as the system had only just gone live it was too early to talk about the size of the registry but he envisaged steady progress rather than rapid take-up.

VelMurugan

500Mbit/s over copper on its way

The next generation of DSL systems will enable bandwidths of more than 500Mbit/s by bonding many copper lines and using advanced noise cancellation, acording to Ericsson.

The company has performed the world's first live demonstration, at least according to Ericsson, of vectorised very high bit rate DSL2 at speeds of more than 500Mbit/s. Products using the technology will likely be available by the end of the year, according to Don McCullough, head of product marketing at Ericsson Broadband Networks.

The key to getting more capacity is having many copper lines at your disposal instead of just one, which traditional DSL has to make due with. The Ericsson demonstration used six copper lines over 500 metres. Vectoring technology is used to cancel out the noise among them by being able to predict where it will occur, allowing for higher rates than what would be naturally possible.

"We have found many places where six copper pairs make a difference, and they are available. On the other hand; in some buildings they aren't, and in those buildings you have to go with fiber all the way to the resident if you want to provide these applications," McCullough said.

Vectorized very high bit rate DSL2 will be used for enterprise and residential broadband, as well as backhaul for mobile base stations, according to McCullough.

The introduction of vectoring, and the capacity improvements that comes with it, will help copper stay a viable option to fibre for broadband networks. The question when that will no longer be the case always gets the same answer: a couple of years from now, according to McCullough. Then stuff like this comes along, he said.

But in the end fibre is the option to go with if it's economically feasible. "Of course, if you can get fibre; you should get fibre," said McCullough.

The Swedish telecom company is far from the only company working on vectorised VDSL2. The technology is being standardised, and a standard is expected by the end of 2009, Ericsson said.

VelMurugan

Nokia Siemens moves on key Nortel assets

Nokia Siemens Networks is bidding acquire some of the key assets of troubled Nortel Networks, according a report in the Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources.

Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection in January after years of financial scandal and losses, but the maker of carrier and enterprise communications equipment still has strong technology and a healthy position in the North American market. Even since its bankruptcy filing, the company has said it wanted to keep all or part of its operations intact, but some industry observers believe it will have to sell significant pieces to satisfy shareholders.

Nokia Siemens made an unsolicited bid last month for large parts of Nortel's carrier equipment business, the Journal reported. They include Nortel's successful CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) cellular unit, its older TDM (Time-Division Multiplexing) mobile division and the research division working on upcoming LTE (Long-Term Evolution) fourth-generation technology. The company is also interested in Nortel's VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) business, the report said.

Nokia Siemens is a joint venture of Nokia and Siemens focused on telecommunications infrastructure.

Competitors are also interested in Nortel's enterprise telecommunications business, according to the Journal.

Siemens Enterprise Communications and Avaya submitted offers last week, as well as Golden Gate Capital, a private equity firm based in San Francisco. Cisco Systems has not bid for that division.

Another possible suitor, Genband, is interested in the Nortel unit that makes gateways between the traditional and IP (Internet Protocol) telecommunications networks, the Journal reported. Genband's own products are distributed by Nortel today.

Nortel has been ailing since the telecommunications crash early in this decade. Carrier mergers are now shrinking the customer base for its products, while Chinese rivals such as Huawei and ZTE gain ground with lower prices. The company has already left the mobile WiMax business and sold its application acceleration unit, but it recently said it was reconsidering the sale of its metropolitan Ethernet unit.

VelMurugan

Skype sale announced as eBay admits mistake

EBay plans to spin off Skype via an initial public offering (IPO) because the Internet telephony unit doesn't mesh with the company's two other businesses - e-commerce and online payments.

EBay expects to complete Skype's IPO in the first half of next year, it announced on Tuesday. When exactly that happens will depend on market conditions.

"Skype is a great stand-alone business with strong fundamentals and accelerating momentum," eBay CEO John Donahoe said in a statement. "But it's clear that Skype has limited synergies with eBay and PayPal."

The plan is yet another acknowledgement that eBay's $2.6 billion (1.8 billion) acquisition of Skype in October 2005 was a costly blunder.

Skype was supposed to significantly enhance communications between merchants and buyers in eBay's online marketplace, but that never happened. Two years after the acquisition, eBay wrote down Skype's value by $1.4 billion.

Operating Skype as a separate, publicly traded company is the right thing to do for the Internet telephony player and eBay, Donahoe said. It will give Skype the necessary "focus and resources" and allow eBay to concentrate on e-commerce and online payments, he said.

Donahoe made the decision after giving himself a year to evaluate Skype's performance and its potential synergies with eBay and its other websites and services, eBay said.

Skype had revenue of $551 million in 2008, a 44 percent increase compared with 2007. It had 405 million registered users at the end of last year, a 47 percent jump from the year before. EBay expects Skype's revenue to exceed $1 billion in 2011, it said.

EBay itself is struggling to jump-start growth in its online marketplace, as it faces increased competition from Amazon.com and other rivals. In 2008's fourth quarter, the revenue from its Marketplaces unit declined 16 percent from the same quarter in 2007, while gross merchandise volume declined 12 percent. Unique monthly users also dropped year over year.

Saying EBay hadn't kept up with key trends in e-commerce, Donahoe outlined a three-year plan for growth last month. "The [eBay] marketplace hasn't kept up with competition, nor customer needs," he told financial analysts at eBay's San Jose, California, headquarters.

EBay has been a victim of its success, which made it hard for it to make changes that would position itself for the future. "We were trying to protect our past," he said then.

On Monday, eBay announced the sale of StumbleUpon, another company it acquired in 2007, saying that it too lacks "synergies" with eBay's core business.

On Tuesday, eBay said it will begin taking a more hands-on approach to solving disputes between merchants and sellers, a departure from its laissez-faire philosophy.

Starting around mid-June, eBay will sometimes issue refunds at its own expense to buyers who don't receive an item they bought or receive a different product. EBay said it will do this even if it determines the seller wasn't at fault.

It will also steer buyers to take their complaints to eBay for resolution, as opposed to reporting them to its PayPal online payment unit.

The steps are part of an attempt to make eBay more attractive to a broader audience of shoppers who consider the buying experience today too risky and chaotic.

VelMurugan

IBM counters Cisco by reselling Foundry switches

Brocade has responded to Cisco's recent entry into the blade server market, by extending its OEM relationship with IBM to include its recently acquired Foundry switches.

IBM will rebrand and sell Brocade's Foundry switches through its global sales force and authorised business partners. The switches include:

    * NetIron MLX series, to be rebranded IBM m-series Ethernet routers;
    * NetIron CES 2000 series, to be rebranded IBM c-series Ethernet switches;
    * FastIron SuperX line, to be rebranded IBM s-series Ethernet switches; and
    * FastIron GS series, to be rebranded IBM g-series Ethernet switches.

The amended OEM agreement, announced this week, extends the existing relationship between Brocade and IBM in the SAN market. That arrangement has been in place for over 10 years, according to Brocade, and includes the multi-protocol Brocade DCX Backbone along with Fibre Channel directors, stand-alone and embedded switches, and related software.

Meanwhile, IBM has been selling networking equipment from Cisco for just as long, and recently began selling LAN switches from Juniper Networks. The Brocade extension is viewed by some as an IBM countermeasure to Cisco's entry into the data centre blade server market, which has been a stronghold of IBM's for decades.

Cisco's decision to develop its own blade servers may have angered IBM, HP and others in that market. As a result, server vendors are aligning themselves with Cisco competitors in the networking space.

Some believe Cisco won't feel the impact of the IBM/Brocade deal. Others see this as more than a response to Cisco entering the blade server market.

"This is less of a response to Cisco and more of a reaction to the need and use of Ethernet in the storage environment," says Abner Germanow, an analyst at IDC. IBM is looking at all the various vendors of Ethernet and picking out the best of what all of those companies have to offer. They're not putting all of their eggs into one basket."

Or two: IBM says the Cisco and Juniper resale arrangements will continue despite the extended deal with Brocade.

"Juniper and Cisco are key IBM networking partners and we will continue to resell their products," an IBM spokesman stated in an email. "The expansion of the Brocade agreement is about providing additional choice to IBM's customers."

Juniper also says it is business as usual with IBM. IBM resells Juniper's EX line of LAN switches, which debuted 13 months ago.

"The relationship with IBM is very strong," says Hitesh Sheth, executive vice president and general manager of Juniper's Ethernet Platforms business group. "The resale arrangement is going to remain in place and we will continue to strengthen the relationship we already have with IBM. We have to separate what may be tactical stuff going on vs. strategic."

IBM expects to make these products generally available in May.

VelMurugan

Hitachi enters server, network monitoring business

Hitachi Data Systems has released three new software products to provide enhanced monitoring of business applications, virtualised servers and the storage they use.

Hitachi said the products address a new market for the storage systems and software provider: a holistic view of everything that an enterprise uses to connect to its storage systems. The products will also work with competing vendors' systems.

The Hitachi IT Operations Analyzer is an application aimed at midsize companies that provides a single-pane view of data centre servers and IP networks, as well as Fibre Channel storage-area networks, LANs and the storage hardware attached through those networks. Hitachi said the application provides performance and availability monitoring across heterogeneous servers, networks and storage systems.

"It's certainly a new kind of product for Hitachi in that they obviously come from a storage background. I think this is a first-generation effort to really reach beyond storage and offer customers and channel partners visibility into both network servers and storage," said Mary Johnston Turner, an analyst at IDC.

Turner said Hitachi will likely use the IT Operations Analyzer as a platform for other monitoring tools in the future. The software features automated root-cause analysis and network visualisation and runs off an agentless architecture. It has a web-based interface.

"It uses I/O path awareness to look at bottlenecks proactively so there's no need for active monitoring or the setting of thresholds," said Sean Moser, vice president of software at Hitachi Data Systems.

Moser said Hitachi's IT Operations Analyzer is designed to help users monitor and improve customer service levels and can easily be managed across a data centre without requiring specialised training.

Hitachi's second release, its Virtual Server Reporter (VSR), uses Aptare's StorageConsole to provide an end-to-end view of virtualised VMware servers and their respective storage usage. VSR is intended for enterprise installations and extends the capabilities of heterogeneous storage management reporting to individual virtual machines.

VSR is an agentless application that automatically discovers all ESX server deployments and then monitors hardware capacity and CPU utilisation. The application can automatically load-balance workload across virtual machine server deployments, "and it helps customers find spare capacity across their server footprint," Moser said.

VSR works independently of storage installations, which is a first for Hitachi Data Systems, a storage-centric vendor.

Moser said that by integrating the reporting of virtual servers, users can increase the visibility of their virtual environments and more effectively manage the storage and backups associated with virtual machines, allowing them to make the best use of storage assets and decrease costs.

Hitachi's third product is the Storage Command Portal, which consolidates storage reporting within the Hitachi Storage Command Suite of management software to report on Hitachi storage systems and the business applications that rely on them.

The software provides a business application view of the Hitachi storage environment, with capacity and performance reporting to help manage service-level agreements.

VelMurugan

New European Internet laws agreed

European lawmakers have finally reached agreement on EU-wide telecomms laws.

The legislation had been held up by debates over how to balance people's rights to information against the need to prevent illegal Internet behaviour, specifically whether ISPs in countries such as the UK and France had the right to summarily cut Internet users off from their services.

Not everyone is going to be happy with the compromise, however. Anyone hoping that the new laws will force countries such as France and the UK to scrap their rules against copyright abuse will be disappointed, said Malcolm Harbour, a member of the European Parliament.

Wording designed to force member-states to consult a judge before cutting someone off from the Internet has been scrapped. Instead the new law states that any limits on a citizen's rights to information from the Internet must be applied in full compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

France is in the process of adopting a law that would allow people to be cut off from the Internet if they repeatedly breached copyright laws. The code is designed to combat illegal file sharing of music and movies over the Net.

"The telecoms package was never going to be able to force member-states to change their civil and criminal laws," Harbour said. "Some people wanted the telecoms package to do this, but they were unrealistic," he added.

Harbour has reached an agreement with the national governments on how these issues should be tackled under the new laws. The agreement has also been endorsed by all the biggest political parties in the European Parliament, meaning that when it goes to the full Parliamentary plenary meeting next week it is almost certain to be adopted.

VelMurugan

HP ProCurve tightens security with server blade

HP ProCurve is adding a security blade to its edge and core switches. The company said that this would help prevent malware by enabling businesses to insert firewalls, VPNs and IDS/IPSs wherever they have one of the switches.

The modules are managed by ProCurve Manager Plus, streamlining the management of network security by using the same console that is used for managing the switches. In addition, the modules plug into the switches, reducing the number of boxes deployed in equipment closets, HP ProCurve said.

This is just the first entry for HP ProCurve into security and will be followed up by more offerings, says Mauricio Sanchez, chief security architect for ProCurve Networking. He wouldn't say what those offerings will be or when they will be available.

This addition to the switch line is another step in the battle between Cisco and HP for presence in corporate data centres, says John Kindervag, an analyst with Forrester Research. Cisco recently announced its intent to sell blade servers that can be used to support virtual environments within data centres, challenging more traditional data-centre server vendors such as IBM, Dell and, most relevant here, HP, he said.

EDS, an HP services company, has an alliance to sell Cisco gear into its customer accounts, and that could be challenged by this HP ProCurve offering, says Kidervag. "They can tie this in with EDS and their own EDS data centers," he says. "The EDS name pushes a lot of gear."

He notes that for customers, the unified switch/security management platform and price will be attractive. "It's going to be a heck of a lot cheaper than Cisco, and this stuff can scale," he says. "The management software is more robust. Cisco's Achilles' heel is it's really hard to manage it."

Cutting out the high salaries of highly trained Cisco engineers might also draw customers interested in lower data centre operations costs, he says.

The security blades fit in ProCurve 5400 edge and 8200 core switches, and come with firewall, VPN and IPS software installed. The price is US$13,000 and includes one year's support, a lifetime hardware warrantee except for the hard drive, which is warranteed for five years.

Firewall speed on the blade is 3Gbit/s, and the IDS/IPS is 3Gbit/s. The VPN clocks 300Mbit/s when it is running alone on the hardware, and slower if other features are turned on, ProCurve says.

Some of the components of the blades are licensed from other vendors, but Sanchez would not say which ones.

VelMurugan

Juniper offers cut-down version of SRX routers

Juniper Networks is set to offer enterprises a lower-priced range of branch office routers and switches. The new offerings include downscaled versions of Juniper's SRX Services Gateway Routers starting at a list price of about $700(470). The high-end SRX 5000 can cost as much as $1 million, said the company.

The new switches are entry-level gigabit versions of Juniper's EX line that list at about $100 per port. Juniper entered the LAN switching market a year ago with large enterprise versions of the EX line.

Together, the gateways and switches, which all run Juniper's JUNOS operating system, are intended to provide distributed branch offices of large enterprises with the consistency of a single "carrier-class" operating system and integrated security at a lower TCO than competitive and legacy systems. Juniper claims its "distributed enterprise" gear can provide a 41 percent reduction in overall network operations costs, citing commissioned data from a Forrester Research study.

On the services gateway front, Juniper will announce four SRX platforms this week: the SRX 100, 210, 240 and 650. All feature integrated content security, with unified threat management and intrusion prevention services (IPS) embedded in the JUNOS software.

The SRX 100 is a fixed configuration platform with a forwarding performance of 600Mbit/s and IPS of 50Mbit/s. The SRX 210 features an expansion slot for a variety of LAN, WAN and wireless interfaces, or an optional SIP gateway. It also features optional hardware acceleration for content security, and has a forwarding/IPS rate of 750/80Mbit/s.

The SRX 240 features 4 expansion slots, optional SIP gateway and content security acceleration support, and forwarding/IPS performance of 1500/250 Mbit/s. The SRX 650 sports 8 expansion slots, optional SIP gateway, standard content security acceleration, and forwarding/IPS performance of 7000/900 Mbit/s.

The SIP gateway features integrated FX0 and FXS analogue ports and is intended to work with call managers and handsets from a variety of VoIP vendors, including Juniper partner Avaya and rival Cisco. Juniper has not yet certified the SIP gateway as interoperable with any vendor, however.

These systems will go up against Cisco's Integrated Services Router portfolio, which has enjoyed considerable success in the market since their introduction in 2004. The 100 costs about $700, while the 210, 240 and 650 are priced at roughly $1,100, $3,000 and $16,000, respectively.

The new EX switch is called the EX 2200. It is a fixed configuration device with 24 or 48 10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet ports, and two of the four models support Power over Ethernet (PoE) for VoIP installations. All models provide four SFP uplinks, Layer 2 forwarding and the Routing Information Protocol in the base licence, and Layer 3 in an "enhanced" license.

Each switch consumes about 2 watts per port, including the PoE ports, Juniper says.

Juniper is also expected to roll out an automated technical support service for all of its JUNOS-based devices. This is designed to deliver automated incident management and proactive analysis assistance to remote JUNOS devices and users from Juniper technical assistance centre servers.

VelMurugan

US should give up Internet domain control says EU

The US should relinquish control of Internet governance said the European commissioner for Internet-related issues.Viviane Reding has called  for a new multilateral approach  once the current system expires at the end of September.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a private, not-for profit corporation established in California. It is responsible for some of the most sensitive issues related to Internet governance, such as top-level domains and management of the Domain Name System, which ensures that millions of computers can connect to each other.

ICANN is partly controlled by the US Department of Commerce. Earlier attempts to internationalize ICANN failed. Reding said the change of administration in Washington offered renewed hope in this direction.

"I trust that President Obama will have the courage, the wisdom and the respect for the global nature of the Internet to pave the way in September for a new, more accountable, more transparent, more democratic and more multilateral form of Internet governance," she said in a video blog on her website.

The time to act is now, she added. "And Europe will be ready to support President Obama in his efforts," she said.

ICANN's remit expires on 30 September. Reding proposed a successor body of the same name that is fully privatized, applying strict transparency rules. She also suggested setting up an independent judicial body as well as an intergovernmental body, possibly based on the G12 forum of governments from around the world, to oversee ICANN in future.

"In the long run, it is not defendable that the government department of only one country has oversight of an Internet function which is used by hundreds of millions of people in countries all over the world," Reding said.

A "G12 for Internet governance" would be an informal group of government representatives that meets at least twice a year. The group would provide swift reaction in case of threats to the stability, security and openness of the Internet, Reding suggested.

To be geographically balanced, this body would include two representatives each from North America, South America, Europe and Africa, three from Asia and one from Australia, as well as the chairman of ICANN as a non-voting member, she added.

On 6 May the European Commission will host a public hearing in Brussels on the future of Internet governance.

VelMurugan

European agency stresses IPv6 co-operation

European companies are not being pressed to accelerate IPv6 deployment according to the European Internet registry.

RIPE NCC was responding to news that ARIN, the US Internet registry, had been sending out letters to companies applying for domain names warning them that the stock of IPv4 addresses would be running out within two years and that companies should be hastening their adoption of IPv6, the emerging standard for Internet communication.

ARIN Chairman John Curran wrote in a letter dated 15 April, that from 18 May, it expected companies to "begin planning for IPv6 adoption if not doing so already." It also said that applications for IPv4 addresses to include an "attestation of accuracy from an organisational officer." The full letter was posted on the SANS Internet Storm Center blog.

The agency went on to say that it was taking this step "to ensure the legitimacy of all IPv4 address space requests" so those organisations with a legitimate need for address space could still get it.

It was not an approach that appealed to its European counterpart. Axel Pawlik, managing director of the RIPE NCC, said: "We ensure that the management and distribution of Internet number resources is undertaken as effectively as possible. This is achieved while taking into consideration the cultural and economic differences between these regions. A letter to inform ISPs of the need to accelerate IPv6 deployment may work for ARIN in the US and Canada, however we would not find it an effective way to communicate with our members in our service region."

He agreed that it was important to hasten the acceleration, but stressed the importance of co-operation between all parties.

"It's expected that IANA will distribute the last blocks of IPv4 in late 2010, and all of the five RIRs will run out of IPv4 address space about a year later. It is therefore important that the RIRs work closely together and with the rest of the Internet stakeholder community to ensure an efficient deployment of IPv6 worldwide and help safeguard the future development of the Internet. Our operations and procedures are fully audited by our members and third parties. As a result we are confident that they are appropriate, effective and beneficial for our members and the region we serve."

There has a been a marked reluctance to upgrade to IPv6. In March, a survey by the Internet Society found that there had been no concrete business drivers for IPv6, so take-up had remained patchy. In the same month, a survey by Pingdom showed that just 0.25 percent of Internet traffic was IPv6.

VelMurugan

EU telecoms plan in disarray

The European Commission may break up a package of telecoms reforms to salvage some of its  elements, after the European Parliament torpedoed the original plan for some radical changes.

Parliamentarians supported everything in the package, which is designed to update the rules to suit the modern world of high-speed Internet access. All, that is, except for one: the ability of national governments to ban citizens from the Internet for illegally downloading copyright-protected music and video without first taking them to court.

The item isn't even central to the overall package, which deals mainly with issues such as how to share radio spectrum among new mobile technologies, the creation of an EU-wide telecoms regulator, boosting healthy competition among service providers and the protecting of people's privacy online.

Nevertheless, the big bang approach required total agreement on all aspects between the Parliament and the national governments in order to get adopted. Wednesday's plenary meeting of the Parliament was the last opportunity to get such an agreement before Parliamentarians head back to their constituencies to prepare for next month's European Parliament election.

For the past two years EU lawmakers and the telecom industry have argued that it is vital to get the reforms adopted without delay, because existing laws dating back to 2002 are out of date and are hampering the rapid pace of change in the sector. The urgency intensified last year when Europe's economy plunged into recession. Rapid roll-out of high-speed broadband networks and greater competition in the telecom sector would help get the whole economy back on its feet, the argument went.

There is still a small chance that the package could be approved before the June elections, but it would require national governments agreeing to the Parliament's insistence that the policing of the Internet be done through the proper judicial authorities. This is unlikely because two of the biggest countries in the 27-nation block - France and the UK - are pushing for greater powers to curb the downloading of illegal content.

Next week, for example, the French senate is expected to pass a law dubbed the "three strikes and you are out" law, that would see illegal downloaders banned from the Internet after being caught three times by a government-appointed authority - not a court.

"You can't force a national government to force its courts to act. The MEPs that voted for this amendment got carried away by fantasies that get us nowhere," said Pilar del Castillo, a right wing MEP from Spain who favoured a compromise solution with the national governments that would have taken out all references to the courts.

So what to do? Accept a delay of at least six to nine months, while the new Parliament gets settled in? No one is terribly enthusiastic about that prospect, partly because there is no knowing what the political makeup of the new Parliament will be. Six to nine months could turn into 12 to 15 months if the new MEPs don't play ball.

One alternative is to try to isolate the troublesome amendment by breaking the package into its distinct legal parts, said Martin Selmayr, spokesman for the telecom commissioner, Viviane Reding.

The right of access to the Internet falls under what is called the framework directive. The new EU-wide telecom regulator that everyone agrees is needed is covered by a separate legal instrument called a regulation. Similarly privacy and data protection measures, which were also agreed to by all lawmakers, are covered by what has been dubbed the e-privacy directive.

"It is possible to split up the different elements," Selmayr said, pointing out that this is what happened in 2002 when lawmakers failed to agree on privacy issues. The privacy aspects were carved out from the old telecom package of legislation, allowing all the other parts to be agreed upon. The privacy issues were then settled six months later.

However, the framework directive includes two key aspects of the latest reforms: the distribution of radio spectrum that has been freed up by the move from spectrum-hungry analogue TV to the more efficient digital TV - the so-called digital dividend - and guidelines for encouraging the roll-out of next-generation, super-fast broadband networks. These bits of the reforms promise some of the greatest economic benefits of the whole telecom package. And they can't be split away from the Internet access question, Selmayr said.

Telecom ministers from the 27 national governments are due to meet in Brussels on 12 June. Until now there was nothing much planned on the agenda. But the vote in the Parliament Wednesday changed that. Now ministers will have to decide whether to accept the Parliament's terms on Internet access, or else allow a much-needed tool for economic recovery to slip through their fingers.

"The ball is in the national governments' court now," Reding said. No doubt she will be courtside between now and then, urging the telecom ministers on.

VelMurugan

Virgin announces 200Mbit/s broadband trial

UK broadband users have been offered the tantalising prospect of 200Mbit/s - with the hint of even faster speeds.

Virgin Media is conducting a pilot trial to assess the technical viability of the technology and to assess what sort of applications it might be used for.

The trial, which will be held in Ashford, Kent, will use 100 'lead adopters' who will assess the technology and provide insight as to the future uses of superfast broadband. "These are educated users," said a Virgin spokesman, "People who can troubleshoot routers and happy working with the C prompt."

The spokesman said that one of the problems with delivering such a fast service was the not the network itself but the PCs. "We don't know how the PCs will be able to handle such a throughput," he said. "It will have an impact on everything from the NICs onwards. That's why we're working with vendors to see how their technologies will cope with such a speed."

The spokesman said that possible uses for the technology included IP TV, music and home security services. He also said that such a service would be very attractive for small businesses, a key market for Virgin.

He was wary about making any predictions about when 200Mbit/s technology would be offered commercially.He said that the trial would take anything from six to 12 months and there would be a period after that when Virgin assessed the results of the trial.

"I don't want to say when the service will be launched, the trial hasn't even started yet," said the spokesman. The technology being used, DOCSIS3, has been used in two other fast broadband services in Japan and the US, currently 160Mbit/s and 101Mbit/s respectively.

The spokesman said that the fibre optic rollout should ensure that the infrastructure should be able to handle 200Mbit/s and in the trial there will be no contention issues. He said that the DOCSIS3 technology being used should deliver close to the projected 200Mbit/s. "We're only using one of the two channels for the trial," he said. "We could use both and deliver 400Mbit/s in theory - but that's something way off in the future."

VelMurugan

Extreme racks up switch port density

Extreme Networks has tapped into the growing demand for Gigabit Ethernet within data centres with new range of switches. The company has released modules for its BlackDiamond range that, it claimed, would offer greater scalability and port density at a cost far lower than its competitors.

The BlackDiamond 8900-series switches offer up to 582 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports in a single rack. The company is looking to address the growing use of 10 Gigabit Ethernet in data centres brought on by iincreasing use of blade servers and the onset of virtualisation.

According to Paul Hooper, Extreme's vice president for the volume products group, Extreme has had to keep up without growing demand by increasing the performance of its switch. "We're offering a greater port density than the rest of the market," he said.

Like many of its competitors, Extreme has also had the uncomfortable experience of Cisco pushing for a stronger presence in the data centre, "Cisco's approach is to do everything; we believe in open standards and working with other vendors within the data centre, not in providing a 'god box'," said Hooper. "And we're certainly much cheaper than they are."

The switches, which like Extreme offerings use the ExtremeOS operating system, also offer an open API for data centre managers to configure their own management tools. "We're increasingly seeing people prefer to do this themselves rather than rely on something like HP OpenView," said Hooper. "So we're providing them with an interface to integrate with XML or SOAP."

The company has also introduced the capacity to operate in hibernation mode to save on power. "It's not something that we expect to see that many people using," admitted Hooper, "but there are going to be data centres where not everything's going to be operating at all hours and there could be a considerable power saving."

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