ACG Research

ACG Research
We focus on the Why before the What

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Huawei Symantec Set to Shake up Data Center Market

Huawei/Symantec just announced at it 2011 Partner Summit their entry into the Ethernet switching/routing market. Providing a full suite of products from low-end SMB switches to high-end performance, density 1/10G chassis, Huawei/Symantec is positioning itself as an Ethernet competitor to Cisco, HP and Juniper. Leveraging its security and storage products, Huawei/Symantec is rolling out a high powered Terabit switch/router chassis and top-of-rack 1G and 10G switches to complement the data center switches. Huawei/Symantec, through the extensive development capabilities of Huawei, can claim the number 2 position with over 4 million units and 2 billion ports shipped to over 10,000 enterprise customers.

The S9300 is a high-end terabit routing switch developed by Huawei for the service-focused network. The intelligent multilayer switching technology provides intelligent service optimization methods such as traffic analysis, comprehensive QoS policies, controllable multicast, and integrated security guarantee to high-performance L2/L3 switching services. In addition, it features super high extensibility and reliability.

The S9300 is geared for WANs, MANs, campus networks, as well as the core layer and aggregation layer of data centers to help enterprises build an application-oriented network. It integrates the switching and routing functions to build an end-to-end integrated network. The suite features three models: S9303, S9306, and S9312. Their switching capacity and port density can be expanded indefinitely. The three models use universal modules and components. This not only ensures the extensibility of the equipment, but also protects the investments of carriers. In addition, the S9300 adopts various innovative energy saving technologies, which greatly reduce the energy consumption and noise of the equipment without affecting the performance and stability of the system.

The S6300 series 10 gigabit switch is a 40 port Ethernet switch that can provide top of rack capabilities in the data center. This is an ideal switch that complements Huawei/Symantec’s storage efforts in the entertainment, media and high-performance computing market. This 1U fixed configuration provides low latency, high performance with dual power capabilities.

S5300 series gigabit switches are new-generation Ethernet gigabit switches developed by Huawei to meet the requirements for high-bandwidth access and Ethernet multiservice convergence, providing powerful Ethernet functions for carriers and enterprise customers. Based on the new-generation high-performance hardware and Huawei’s versatile routing platform (VRP) software, the S5300 features 1U fixed configuration of either 24 or 48 ports gigabit Ethernet with interface choices of copper or fiber ports. 1G and 10G uplink options come in either copper or fiber options or unique combo cards. Stacking is also supported for this family of products. The S5300 series are classified into SI (standard) and EI (enhanced) models. The S5300 of the SI version supports Layer 2 functions and basic Layer 3 functions, and the S5300 of the EI version supports complicated routing protocols and rich service features.

The partner community was very enthusiastic about the Ethernet switching announcement. I am sure the rest of the industry will be closely watching the developments from Huawei/Symantec.

Marshall Bartoszek

Monday, July 25, 2011

Security and Compliance: Anticipating Tomorrow

One of the most significant numbers in 2010 is 6253, which is the number of potentially exploitable vulnerabilities (PEVs) discovered last year. A PEV represents an exploitable hole in an operating system (OS), a piece of software or hardware or 6253 new opportunities for the bad guys to move into and disrupt the digital world. That’s 17 a day. And if you are a customer of Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco or using any ubiquitous piece of software, hardware or OS your odds of being exposed to one daily is actually very high.

That number has consequences for both security and compliance. For security it represents potentially exploitable weaknesses that can be leveraged to disrupt operations or processes. Those are written by the malware writers that are “notoriety driven,” and the anti-virus industry has pretty well reined those guys in. But more problematically, malware is now used to drop malicious code into environments to capture and remove data for future profit. Typically, the propagation techniques are much better architected and traditional security technologies have difficulty dealing with this type of threat. Hence, they are more successful and costly.

In 2009 the average lag time from the initial exposure of a PEV to the release of Beta code to exploit that PEV was 3.5 days. There are development teams designed to write and release that code quickly so the hole can be exploited before the targets are prepared to deal with it or are even aware that the issue even exists. The average lag time from PEV exposure to the release of the appropriate patch to resolve the issue was 45 days. This obviously represents a huge issue. That’s 41.5 days of exposure.

There is also the impact that 6253 PEVs bring to the compliance requirement table. Fact: None of the compliance documents (US or international) say (I will paraphrase) “thou shall fix the hole!” There is simply no requirement to patch or resolve a PEV. However, all of them say, and again I paraphrase, “You better know that the PEV is in your environment, document exactly how many instances of it you have and where they are located and have some 3rd party documentation of the probability of that PEV being exploited. If it’s low enough, you can use that as a rational for not fixing the hole.”

Those 41.5 days of exposure drive me back “the elephant” I talked about in the previous blog. It’s all about the knowledge component. Security technologies are only as good as the real-time pre-emptive knowledge that sits behind them and alignment or misalignment of the external risk landscape with the internal working environment. Today, it’s not how fast you can respond; it’s what do you already know about tomorrow.

Neils Johnson

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More on Netflix

A reader wrote in response to the Netflix blog:

I have been a loyal Neflix customer to 8 years. Recently my Cable Internet Service Provider (IPS) hit me with their data cap limit. I had to get a business internet account for $40 more a month to keep internet access due in part to Netflix.

Now Netflix is basically trying to hit me with yet another hike in my monthly bills only 2 months after swallowing the additional $40 from my ISP. This is very bad timing on Netflix part. I would have accepted a hike in the rate of a DVD, streaming account for their existing customers but not a %60 hike.

I buy through Amazon a lot so their Amazon Prime service for an annual fee of $79 charge and will let me have "free" 2 day shipping and includes video streaming looks like a great alternative. It does not have the large Netflix library but the service is new and is expected to grow fast. There are other alternatives.

5 of the Best Streaming Media Services Compared
February 14, 2011. This maybe different now that Netflix thumbed its nose at all its existing customer base.

Hulu Courts Buyers, While Netflix Streaming Surges
Jul 7, 2011

Amazon Prime Instant: A Closer Look
February 22, 2011 - This article provides a chart of prices across the main video streaming competitors. This article is mainly focused on Amazon's offering but does compare it to the other offerings.


Thanks for your input you highlight two important aspects of the business. There are competitors and reasonable alternatives, including Amazon and Hulu, and that the bandwidth utilization can be a catalyst for ISPs to raise rates or institute caps.

As you mentioned each has its strengths and different content libraries, so most users go for the service that suits them best. Amazon is great if you are already a Prime customer, but for those who are not big Amazon users, the value proposition is less compelling. Hulu is great for its library of TV shows, but is weak on movies. Netflix's price hike will certainly turn away some users, but I still believe that at $8 for streaming-only, it is still a very competitive offering given its library. The real change in price was in the bundle for both services, for people who use only one service (streaming or DVD) will not see any change.

Relative to rate caps/tiered service plans - these are inevitable because the ISPs are making massive investments to keep up with the demand and they have to earn a return on their investment.

David Dines

Monday, July 18, 2011

What's Your Security Batting Average?

The beginning…it’s a great place to start when discussing security, and I have two questions and the first one doesn’t count because it is posed to get you thinking and to set up the more important second question. Have you had a virus outbreak or malware or been hacked or had data stolen from your enterprise? Regardless of how you answer the first question, the second is much more important. How do you know if you’ve been attacked?

If knowing or not is the germinal point, we have to start by acknowledging that the “bad guys” are actually delivering some pretty cool stuff. Code is written with stealthing and propagation techniques that are designed to thwart traditional security technology. New methods of exploitation are developed such as web-apps (93 percent increase in web-based attacks in 2010 over 2009), new platforms (mobile devices), and now anything from Apple seems to be a target. Let’s face it, they’re good, and actually knowing that you’ve had an outbreak or had malware planted in your systems or data removed is not as easy to realize as it once was.

As I write this we are about a week away from the 2011 All Star Break. I am annually reminded that to be incredibly successful in baseball you can still fail at the plate 7 times out of 10. Anyone batting .300 is paid handsomely for those 7 failures. In the security space we don’t have luxury. In security we have to bat 1.000 and the bad guys only have to bat .001 to be successful. I will talk about the numbers that we are seeing in a future addition of this blog. So I will simply say that with the automated devices, developmental processes, quality control, which potentially offers huge monetary rewards, we don’t expect to see any slow down soon.

All that said, how should you respond to that kind risk? First, eliminate redundant data. Every time a data repository is duplicated it doubles the requirements for security, compliance, storage, and management.

Second, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the general lack of knowledge about the threat landscape and how it changes every day. In 2010 the security industry surfaced 6253 new potentially exploitable vulnerabilities (PEVs), holes in operating systems, applications and hardware platforms. That’s 17 a day if you do the math. Did you know that? Again, we will talk about the significance of those PEVs in another blog. My point is that they have all sorts of implications for your environment from both a security and compliance perspective. IF you didn’t know about them or their implications, you have a personal example of the elephant.

We operate an information-centric world. The idea of defense-in-depth is still valid, but today the nomenclature includes words such as data loss prevention and encryption. The papers are full of examples of why those technologies are important — think Sony.

We’d like to hear your voice about these issues and encourage you to send an e-mail ( Give us your suggestions as to which security issues you want addressed and help us guide the direction of this blog. We don’t have all the answers, but we know the people who do and will get the answers to address your needs and bring you material at various levels of granularity about the risk landscape. We will talk about the definition of risk quite a lot, primarily because is changes daily. We will talk about the requirements to understand how significant that risk is to you and let you decide how risk tolerant you are. But if the answer is not very we will also work to deliver some help in the mitigation of that risk and help you bat 1.000.

Neils Johnson

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Netflix Changing Its Pricing Bundles

What does it mean for the OTT market?

Netflix just changed its pricing bundle from $9.99 a month for one at a time DVD and streaming to $15.99. DVD only and streaming only services are still available for $7.99 each.

It is interesting to see the reaction in the technology press; some have opined that it is a sign that Netflix is facing major challenges. Until now, it has been making money based on a free ride from the telcos and favorable deals with the content owners. Given such a big increase in the price, they will stop growing so rapidly.

Another point of view is that Netflix basically goofed on pricing and priced too low. When compared to other options for watching movies, even with the price increase, Netflix, still beats the bricks and mortar video store and the premium channels or pay-per-view options from the cable company.

So despite some outcry from customers about the price increase, I do not see this as a sign of major structural challenge or that it will slow growth significantly. In the final analysis, $8 a month is still a bargain, especially when compared to other choices consumers have.

David Dines

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Network Traffic: An ACG Survey

ACG Research recently conducted a network traffic survey to determine what type of infrastructure network operators will use to address the traffic mix on their networks. With IP services and applications continuing to drive higher bandwidth on their networks, operators are under pressure to determine which type of infrastructure best addresses their requirements.

Our survey, which we conducted with 52 operations, concluded the following:
  • Operators are at a crossroads with infrastructure choices.
  • Decisions will be made not based on bandwidth growth but on traffic type.
  • TDM services traffic is not growing.
  • IP private line traffic is growing, and IP public traffic is growing even more.
  • This survey shows that in five years operators expect the predominant traffic on their networks to shift to IP.
The vast majority of operators still have a significant amount of TDM traffic on their networks, and they must decide 1) what type of infrastructure they should invest in; 2) determine how quickly the TDM traffic will decrease; and 3) assess how rapidly IP traffic will grow.

Although we do not have a definitive answer today, we can clearly see what operators are planning for traffic changes in the future. What they will deploy for infrastructure will most likely be determined in this next year to 18 months.

To download the survey results, click here.