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Entry level Chrome OS based commercial and consumer products built on Rockchip RK3288-C SoC

Once you have regular security problems on your Windows 10 PC like me, and you are essentially already close to 100% using web applications only like me, than it is time to move over to the Chrome OS platform. And this could be done now with a rock bottom cost. This is what I’ve found by examining the latest Chrome OS platform information as well as the entry level hardware represented by devices built on Rockchip RK3288-C SoC (a low-end quadcore 64-bit ARM SoC with lowest cost IP inside, so the SoC is the lowest cost too).

There is a “hidden” advantage as well. The “Android apps on Chrome OS” is in Beta now, but when the current Android Framework in Chrome OS will move from support of Android Marshmallow [6.0] to Android Nougat [7.0] Coming to Chrome OS 58 or 59 all Google Play store apps will be available properly on Chrome devices as well. In a companion post I’ve examined the current state-of-the-art of Android security as well, and that is looking much better than that of current Windows 10. So as far as all this information is concerned such a platform change looks like the final solution for my current security issues on Win10.

There is a further impetus from yesterday’s news on Microsoft Edge comes last in browser security battle By 18 hours ago from techradar

Chrome remains the undisputed champion at Pwn2Own

So let’s examine first the state-of-the-art of Chrome OS security:

1:57-2:00: “What we know is that every Chrome device on the market today has a TPM.”
Streamed live on Feb 1, 2017G SuiteChrome OS Security Guide, an in-depth discussion by David Karam, Chrome OS Product Manager. An overview of Chrome OS security across the entire stack.

Next let’s see the latest information about the strategic value proposition of the Chrome OS:
March 9, 2017, Google CloudSimple, flexible, and secure Chrome OS solutions built for the future (Google Cloud Next ’17) by Rajen Sheth Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education, Google. As businesses evolve, they need technology solutions that are simple, flexible and cost-effective to help them succeed today and build for tomorrow. Chrome provides solutions fit for the workplace of the future – providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. Learn how your business can leverage ChromeOS in multiple ways.

March 15, 2017G SuiteOptimizing your Retail Business with Google Chrome (17- min) by Chris McLaughlin (Strategy and Solutions Manager, Android and Chrome at Google)
– Retail is being disrupted by digital. With a need to improve the in-store experience, retailers want technology to optimize employee effectiveness and customer experience.
Chrome devices empower retail store employees and delight customers while improving IT efficiency.

March 8, 2017, The Keyword from Google: How businesses are smartly transforming with Google Cloud, Android, and Chrome by Rajen Sheth Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education, Google.

While businesses with a mobile strategy are commonplace today, that doesn’t mean the mobile transformation is over. Today, we’re highlighting how companies are using Google Cloud, Chrome, and Android to reimagine the way they engage customers in public spaces and also equip employees to work more productively in the office and in the field.

Smart signs cut costs and provide customer insights

We recently collaborated with Coca-Cola on Chrome-based digital signs for supermarkets that pull in localized ads from DoubleClick and are equipped with beacon technology for pushing personalized messages to mobile users.

Coca-Cola_digital_signage.width-458[1]

The company has worked closely with Google Cloud to build a new signage solution that includes affordable digital sign and menu boards for Coca-Cola sellers.

“Our mission at Coca-Cola is to elevate the consumer experience to a place of pure excellence and the ability to send the right message to the right person at the right time is key to driving that world class experience in the connected retail world,” said Greg Chambers, Global Group Director of Digital Innovation at Coca-Cola.

The displays are powered by inexpensive Chromebit devices connected to a content management system (CMS) on Google Cloud Platform. The Chromebits also provide simple, centralized management of the signs. Combined with sensors, they can offer the company detailed, actionable information through Google Analytics as well as highly contextual advertising to other screens like nearby customer smartphones.

Android plus cloud intelligence enables field workers

UK pest control company Rentokil Initial is piloting a fleet of Android devices that utilize Google Cloud machine learning, including our Vision API image classification technology, to help field workers better identify pests and get treatment suggestions. Employees use an Android app to capture images that are identified using a machine learning model that’s been trained on Rentokil’s pest imagery database. The app then provides solutions to eradicate the pests. The PestID app, jointly developed by Accenture Mobility, is among the first wave of solutions Google is helping build as part of an alliance announced last year with Accenture.

Connecting manufacturing to the back office

42Q, a product division of manufacturing services provider Sanmina, developed a Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) solution that runs on Google Cloud Platform.

42q-android-manufacturing.width-500[1]

It enables Sanmina employees and 42Q’s customers to bring real-time transparency to their factory operations using Android and Chrome devices. Using 42Q with Chrome, “deskless” back office workers can access work instructions, data requirements, and quality plans without deploying heavy client applications and expensive equipment.

Factory operators can also use the 42Q Android app for a “tailored” mobile interface, ensuring they only see critical information on demand.

When combined with G Suite, everyone from front office planners to back office operators can collaborate on current production line states, critical orders and real time reporting on factory operations.

Tomorrow’s businesses: empowered with advanced devices, collaboration and context

With a Google Cloud devices and mobility strategy, businesses are able to gather contextual data through devices and apply machine learning analytics to quickly take smart, well-informed actions. And the more employees who use managed Chromebooks and Android devices to collaborate and securely access documents in G Suite, the more efficient your whole team becomes.

Several new devices support this secure data-driven strategy. The Asus Chromebook Flip and recently-announced Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus function as both a Chromebook and an Android tablet with Google Play support. Last month, AOPEN launched the Chromebox mini and Chromebase mini, which also support Android apps and can use our new Kiosk APIs for improved app management and a robust customer experience.

To learn more about the Google Cloud devices and mobility solutions that enable a connected workspace, visit our booth at Next 2017 between March 8 and 10. There we’ll be demonstrating how a business becomes smarter when you pair Chrome and Android devices, cloud services and sensors with employees, customers and spaces. Or sign up here for additional information as we continue to evolve our range of data-driven tools to make every workspace connected no matter where it is.

Google Devices are built for the cloud -- Google Next 17 March 8, 2017

Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 1: Developing Next Gen Solutions AOPEN’s Jim Hoey along with Google’s Chris McLaughlin (Strategy and Solutions Manager, Android and Chrome at Google) go over Chrome OS, developing on Chrome, and an example of a fully integrated Chrome solution.

Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 2: Chrome Device Management AOPEN’s Jim Hoey and Miles Schofield discuss the benefits of Chrome Device Management (CDM) and how businesses can utilize it for rapid deployments, reducing and controlling costs, and much more.

Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 3: AOPEN Chrome Mini Devices AOPEN’s Jim Hoey and Miles Schofield introduces two new AOPEN Chrome Devices: Chromebox Mini and Chromebase Mini

Re: “TPM chip” mentioned in the early part of the 1st video above:
from Trusted Platform Module article in Wikipedia

Overview 

Trusted Platform Module offers facilities for the secure generation of cryptographic keys, and limitation of their use, in addition to a random number generator.[4][5] It also includes capabilities such as remote attestation and sealed storage, as follows:

  • Remote attestation – creates a nearly unforgeable hash key summary of the hardware and software configuration. The program hashing the configuration data determines the extent of the summary of the software. This allows a third party to verify that the software has not been changed.
  • Binding – encrypts data using TPM bind key, a unique RSA key descended from a storage key.[6]
  • Sealing – encrypts data in a similar manner to binding, but in addition specifies a state in which TPM must be in order for the data to be decrypted (unsealed).[7]

Software can use a Trusted Platform Module to authenticate hardware devices. Since each TPM chip has a unique and secret RSA key burned in as it is produced, it is capable of performing platform authentication.

Generally, pushing the security down to the hardware level in conjunction with software provides more protection than a software-only solution.[8] However even where a TPM is used, a key would still be vulnerable while a software application that has obtained it from TPM is using it to perform encryption/decryption operations, as has been illustrated in the case of a cold boot attack. This problem is eliminated if key(s) used in TPM are not accessible on a bus or to external programs and all encryption/decryption is done in TPM.[citation needed]

TPM implementations 

Starting in 2006, many new laptop computers have been sold with a built-in Trusted Platform Module chip. In the future, this concept could be co-located on an existing motherboard chip in computers, or any other device where the TPM facilities could be employed, such as a cell phone. On a PC, either the LPC bus or the SPI bus is used to connect to the TPM.

Many manufacturers make TPMs. The Trusted Computing Group has certified TPMs manufactured by Infineon Technologies, Nuvoton, and STMicroelectronics.[15] The Trusted Computing Group has assigned TPM vendor IDs to Advanced Micro Devices, Atmel, Broadcom, IBM, Infineon, Intel, Lenovo, National Semiconductor, Nationz Technologies, Nuvoton, Qualcomm, Rockchip, Standard Microsystems Corporation, STMicroelectronics, Samsung, Sinosun, Texas Instruments, and Winbond.[16]

There are five different types of TPM 2.0 implementations: discrete TPMs (dTPM), integrated TPMs, firmware TPMs (fTPM), software TPMs, and virtual TPMs.[17][18] 

  • Discrete TPMs are chips that implement TPM functionality and nothing else, and are in their own semiconductor package.[17] These implement their functions in hardware to resist software bugs and implement tamper resistance.[18] They are therefore the most secure type of TPM.[18] 
  • Integrated TPMs are part of another chip that implements other functionalities.[17] While they use hardware that resists software bugs, they are not required to implement tamper resistance.[18] Intel has integrated TPMs in some of its chipsets.[17]

from ARM TrustZone FAQ article on Open Virtualization – ARM TrustZone and ARM Hypervisor Open Source Software site

How does the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) compare to Trusted Platform Mobile (TPM)?

There are two main components of platform security:

  1. Trusted Execution Environment
  2. Trusted Platform Module

They work in tandem; one is not designed as a replacement of the other. As an analogy, TEE is the bulletproof safe, while TPM is the 128-digit combination lock for the safe. Both are needed to ensure the safe is protected.

TEE encompasses the following elements:

  1. A protected or secure execution of critical applications in a virtualized environment
  2. Safe and secure boot ensures all system software components are in a known and “trusted” state before launching.

TPM provides the following services:

  1. Remote attestation: External services can verify that the system has not been altered or tampered with by using a hash of both system state. The verification is performed on both hardware and software. It is necessary to check that the system is not compromised before executing sensitive processes.
  2. Binding: Encryption of data using a unique RSA key that is burned into the chip when the chip is manufactured.
  3. Sealing: A feature that ensures that data isn’t accessed or decrypted when the system is in normal operation. It ensures that applications cannot access protected data when the system is in a sealed mode. But it can also allow legitimate applications to access protected data.

Arguments were made that TPM is not necessary if the TEE is robust. Some vendors have chosen not to use external TPM and store the keys and protected data in a TEE-only addressable area. TEE can help with Binding and Sealing. ISO standards suggest using a full-fledged TPM. External TPM could be very useful in coordinating between several masters and other complex systems. On the other hand, solutions that only rely on TPM are very vulnerable for execution and boot attacks. It is easy to override the application run states and circumvent TPM.

Do Intel or AMD offer Trusted Execution Environments?

Yes, other processor architectures support TEE. Popular CPU Architectures and their TEE implementations:

  1. ARM TrustZone
  2. Intel TXT
  3. AMD Secure Execution Environment

All three of these TEE implementations provide a virtualized Execution Environment for the secure OS and applications. To switch between the secure world and the normal world, Intel provides SMX Instructions, while ARM uses SMC. Programmatically, they all achieve very similar results.

Popular TPM Implementations:

  • ARM SecureCore
  • TPMs from Broadcom and other vendors who meet ISO standards

ARM: SecurCore Processors
Tamper resistant – optimized for security applications

The ARM® SecurCore processor family provides powerful 32-bit secure solutions based upon industry leading ARM architecture. By enhancing highly successful ARM processors with security features, SecurCore provides smart card and secure IC developers easy access to the benefits of ARM 32-bit technology such as small die size, energy efficiency, low cost, excellent code density and outstanding performance. SecurCore processors, used in a wide range of security applications, outperform legacy 8-bit or 16-bit secure processors.

Performance, anti-tampering

SC300
High performance smartcard and embedded security applications

Optimized, anti-tampering

SC000
Highest volume smartcard and embedded security applications.

SecurCore characteristics

ARM SecurCore processors are designed primarily for tamper-resistant smart cards and incorporate several security features that make SecurCore an ideal choice for such applications. Further details on the SecurCore security features are available under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) from ARM.

ARM SecurCore are built upon the ARM Cortex-M series. They benefit from wide tools support, including full support from RealView® Microcontroller Development Kit (the Keil uVision environment), the most popular smart card development tool chain in the industry.

SecurCore applications

SecurCore is shaping the future of smart cards and it is successfully adopted in many applications:

  • Advanced payment systems
  • Electronic passports
  • Electronic Ticketing
  • SIM
  • Transportation
  • Smart cards

Industry Standards

SecurCore is the industry standard architecture of choice for smart cards.

Re: “Android apps on Chrome OS” also mentioned in the 1st video above:
March 13, 2017, Chromebook Central Help ForumAndroid apps on selected Chromebooks FAQ

Hi everyone

We have been rolling out the Google Play Store on select Chromebooks on the Stable channel and the Play store will now be available on more Chromebooks in the coming months.

You can find the full list of Chromebooks here  but please note also that all the Chromebooks we launch in  2017 will support  Android apps.

This post aims to answer the most frequently asked questions about Android apps on Chrome OS and provide more clarity on which what Chromebooks run Android Apps:

Stable Channel

Android apps are now available on Stable Channel in the following devices

  • ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA
  • Acer Chromebook R11 / C738T / CB5-132T
  • Google Chromebook Pixel (2015)
  • Samsung Chromebook Plus

Beta Channel

  • ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
  • Acer Chromebook R13 (CB5-312T)

Dev Channel

  • ThinkPad 11e Chromebook 3rd Gen (Yoga/Clamshell)
  • Dell Chromebook 13 7310
  • ASUS Chromebook C202SA/C300SA/C301SA
  • HP Chromebook 13 G1
  • Samsung Chromebook 3
  • HP Chromebook 11 G5 / HP Chromebook 11-vxxx

FREQUENT ASKED QUESTIONS

WHY ANDROID APPS AND HOW WE BUILT

What does it mean  that “Android apps are coming to Chromebooks”?

“Android apps are coming to Chromebooks” means that we are bringing the Google Play Store and all Android apps to compatible Chromebooks.

Why are we building it?

Chrome OS has brought the web as a first class citizen to our users. With that, we made great productivity and  knowledge devices. We want to give the Google Play Store Google’s app ecosystem, the same treatment and treat  both the web and Android apps as first class citizens to our users and provide them with a platform for productivity, consumption, gaming and more.

How did we build this?

Android will run in a container side-by-side with Chrome OS. The apps will then be composited into Chrome OS inside of windows. Input into those windows (touch, mouse, keyboard) will be sent to the Android container and processed by the app. All concepts expected by Android apps (intents, notifications, toasts, you name it) will be fully supported by Chrome OS.

GETTING STARTED

Why is Play Store not available for download on my Chromebook?

The Play Store is available for certain Chromebooks. To see the list of Chromebooks that will eventually be able to run the Play Store, check here.

I did not opt into to download Play Store support – how do I enable it?

You can enable Android apps by going into Settings and checking – Enable Google Play Store on your Chromebook. You can check steps in our Help Center.

I’m using Chromebook in my workplace or school, and heard that Play Store should be available for download – how come it’s not showing up? 

Please ask your IT administrator so that you can enjoy using Play Store applications as soon as possible.

APPS & GOOGLE PLAY RELATED QUESTIONS

March 10, 2017ClintonFitch.com: Android Nougat [7.0] Coming to Chrome OS 58 or 59

While the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS continues to roll out, the question for many is when or if it will be updated.  The answer is yes and pretty soon.  This week while attending Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, I posed the question to Chrome OS product management in a breakout session and it was confirmed that Android Nougat will be coming to the platform build 58 or 59.  Given that it is already in the beta channel, I suspect that it is likely 58.

As readers may know, Android Framework in Chrome OS currently is based on Android Marshmallow [6.0].  So, in theory, if an app will run in Marshmallow, it will run on Chrome.  The tricky bit has been that some apps can’t go full screen in 6.0 and features like multi-window support for apps is not something that is supported at all in Marshmallow.  All of that changes under 7.0 obviously as the framework allows for it.

The other big challenge with Marshmallow is that you can only run one app at a time, somewhat related to the multi-window aspect.  In other words, if you are running an Android app on your Chromebook and switch focus to another app, the first app quits running on the backend.  So things like sync don’t work.  That would change in a Nougat framework.

When I asked Google about this, they confirmed that Nougat is coming to Chrome OS in the 58 or 59 train.  That’s good because 58 is in the Beta Channel and 59 is in the Developer channel.  So, at best, we are likely 6 weeks away and at worst, 12 weeks.

Perhaps the better news in all of this, the Chrome team also confirmed that they want to accelerate support in the future of Android so when Android O [8.0] is released later this year, we could see widespread support of it much faster than we have Nougat.

New AOPEN Chrome devices offer enterprise grade performance at an affordable price

New York, 17 January 2017 – Two new powerful and innovative AOPEN Chrome devices, from one of the leading commercial* Chrome device manufacturers, are set to drive customer experience in 2017.

The AOPEN Chromebase Mini and Chromebox Mini devices are part of a new enterprise range aimed at bringing enterprise reliability and features at an affordable price.

The Chromebase Mini is an enterprise-ready interactive 10.1-inch all-in-one touchscreen solution. It’s designed to be managed with ease, reliability, and security – making it ideal for high-traffic enterprise environments including digital signage, POS, self-service kiosks, digital corporate communication, and AV room control.

The second device, the Chromebox Mini, is the smallest Chromebox on the market today and also runs on the Chrome OS platform. It is solid state and can be used as an SME or enterprise desktop replacement hosting IOT applications, digital signage and kiosks and affording greater control of in-store engagement.

Stephen Borg, Global Chief Digital Officer AOPEN Group, says the devices represent a major leap forward in design – allowing a ubiquitous approach to multiple use cases, rapid application development, and ease of use for the signage, kiosk, POS, and other enterprise markets.

“AOPEN designed its new Chrome OS device line to empower the customer by servicing a wide range of verticals and needs,” says Borg. “They are fully enterprise-ready in terms of product longevity and reliability, ease of large deployment, remote access, and service.”

Chromebase Mini
The Chromebase Mini, an all-in-one 10.1-inch solution, does not require a kiosk protective case, is waterproof and tamper proof unlike like a consumer touch device.

The enterprise ready all-in-one touch device supports audio-video conference platforms, such as Google Hangouts. It offers mounting options for A/V or desktop use (including a built-in Vesa Mount stand), high-quality camera and audio, and a dual microphone. The chromebase mini is also accompanied by optional accessories such as recess wall mounts, POE adapters, and adapters to mount various payment solutions.

By leveraging AOPEN software layer meldCX, the Chromebase Mini is compatible with end-user legacy POS systems – featuring local app instances for offline use and device integration, while maintaining a competitive price point.

“The Chromebase Mini achieves both customer and operational benefits. Its aesthetic and interactive design makes it ideal for high-traffic enterprise environments and provides a compelling way for customers to transact. Retailers or Integrators can also use Chrome Device Management to control and manage their device fleets. It means that content updates and management of the devices can be done remotely via the cloud, and its ease of rollout gives retailers an amazing experience,” says Borg.

“The Chromebase Mini is also ideal for enterprise business solutions. It positions Chrome squarely in the cloud, offering secure flexibility of business cloud solutions and enabling both Google Hangouts and other video conferencing solutions.”

Chromebox Mini
The Chromebox Mini is a solid-state, ultra-small form factor device. It is the smallest enterprise-ready Chromebox currently available.

It supports Chrome Device Management, and can be used as an enterprise desktop replacement. Its features include fanless design, Bluetooth, wide-reaching dual-band antenna, and power button extension ports for ease of mounting behind device or having other AV equipment control on/off state .

Both the Chromebase and Chromebox Mini are enterprise-grade solutions, at a price point suitable for home use for those wanting a more reliable silent solution. Both feature fanless/non-venting hole designs, can operate in a wide range of temperatures, and meet Google’s security requirements.

“Rather than re-purposing consumer-grade products and support for commercial environments, AOPEN has introduced a design for the Chrome Mini Range that is robust and reliable enough for enterprise deployments across key verticals – including retail, hospitality, and QSR,” says Borg.

Chromebase Mini – key features:

  • Panel: 10.1” 1280 x 800 250nits AHVA
  • Touch: 10 point multi-touch; pinch to zoom
  • CPU: Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
  • DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
  • Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
  • FHD Webcam (2M)
  • Built-in Dual Digital MIC and Stereo Speaker
  • WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1

Chromebox Mini Fievel – key features:

  • Fanless/non venting hole design
  • CPU:Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
  • DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
  • Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
  • WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1

*AOPEN commercial grade products are engineered for 24/7, 365 use in a commercial environment. Products are all solid state. In addition, the Chromebase Mini has tamper proof and water resistant features.

About AOPEN
Founded in 1996, AOPEN is today a major global electronics manufacturer and a thought leader in digital signage.

AOPEN is an official partner for Google Chrome devices, including the following tiers:

  • Google Cloud Sales Premier Partner (Chrome)
  • Google for Education Sales Premier Partner
  • Google Cloud Services Partner (Chrome)
  • Google for Work Education Services Partner

Specialising in multi-platform, ultra-small form factor computing for both home and business, AOPEN works with a wide range of partners – from hardware to software and services. Through these partnerships, AOPEN creates advanced digital display solutions for many of the world’s top brands.

Part of the Wistron group, AOPEN has a presence in over 100 countries. AOPEN customers and partners range from governments and financial institutions to retailers, retail design firms, strategic consultants, and branding agencies.
www.aopen.com

Features:

● Fanless/non venting hole design
● CPU:Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
● DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
● Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
● WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1
● Dimensions: 5.75 x 3.8 x 0.94 in

For additional details, download the Chromebox Mini spec sheet below. DOWNLOAD SPECSHEET

Features:

● Panel: 10.1” 1280 x 800 250nits AHVA
● Touch: 10 point multi-touch; pinch to zoom
● CPU: Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
● DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
● Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
● FHD Webcam (2MP)
● Built-in Dual Digital MIC and Stereo Speaker
● WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1

For additional details, download the Chromebase Mini spec sheet below. DOWNLOAD SPECSHEET

201605-09, Rockchip: RK3288-C based CTL J4+ Chromebook, priced at under $200!

The humble Chromebook has gone through many revisions since its inception nearly five years ago. Originally designed as a low-cost notebook running the Google Chrome OS and connected to the cloud for everyday work, there are now ultra-premium models such as the Pixel, a wider range of touchscreen-enabled designs primarily from Asus, as well a bevy of entry-level offerings that target value above all else.

This budget end of the market is dominated by Chromebooks powered by the ARM architecture. Chief amongst the proponents of this Internet-connected device is Chinese chipmaker Rockchip, whose RK3288 system-on-chip processor powers a number of Chromebooks for the consumer and education markets.

Found in Chromebooks from Asus, Haier and HiSense, as well as the novel Chromebit, the RK3288(C) SoC is also present in education-focussed notebooks made popular by CTL. Priced at under $200 for the best-in-breed J4+, we have one in for evaluation today.

Under the hood: RK3288C

But before we get to the Chromebook it is instructive to take a peek at what makes the RK3288 SoC an ideal fit for these devices. The RK3288 uses two of ARM’s best-known technologies – Cortex A-class processor and Mali graphics – and then wraps them inside a fully-baked SoC with display, memory, camera and connectivity support.

The Cortex-A17, which is ostensibly a speed-bumped version of the Cortex-A12, is arranged in a quad-core configuration and scales up to 1.8GHz. Though now superseded by the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A72, the 32-bit-only processor remains a potent choice for an entry-level Chromebook. Graphics oomph is provided by the Mali-T760 GPU also in a quad-core configuration, and its performance in a range of last year’s premium handsets bodes well for the kind of work that Chromebook users will engage in on a daily basis.

The rest of the SoC treads familiar ground. There’s a dual-channel 64-bit memory controller supporting DDR3/L memory, 4K-capable HDMI-out, an H.264 video encoder/decoder, and 13MP ISP for snapping duties.

The point to appreciate is that a budget SoC provides enough general chutzpah for a fluid experience on a Chromebook. We’ve seen this proved empirically with the evaluation of the similar, yet more expensive, Chromebook Flip from Asus.

The CTL J4+

Designed primarily for the classroom but available to purchase from a selected number of retailers for regular customers, the CTL J4+ is solid enough to withstand the usual knocks that might be expected in an education environment. The carbon-like pattern is, as you would expect, made of plastic, but it’s of a high quality throughout. Grabbing the sides of the Chromebook in both hands results in very little flex. Indeed, we’ve seen full-on notebooks costing multiple times more having inferior build quality.

That said, the lid, although a dark grey, is a magnet for fingerprints. The slightest bit of grease or moisture shows up, so you’ll be rubbing it away constantly to ensure it’s kept nice and clean. Portability is a key concern for the education market, too; the J4+’s 1,124g weight is very competitive against other Chromebooks of a similar bearing, while the total travel weight, including small power charger, is less than 1,500g. My 11-year-old niece felt it was portable enough to be carried in a rucksack during the daily 15-minute walk to school.

There are inevitable compromises when retailing a sub-$200 Chromebook. One area where the J4+ falls slightly short is shown by a lack of USB 3.0. An older, slower port lines either side, with HDMI-out and a micro-SD card-reader also available. Though it would be nicer to have USB 3.0, the question we ask ourselves is whether it makes much of a real-world difference on a machine that’s purposely designed to be used almost exclusively with the Internet?

Other than the previously mentioned quad-core Rockchip SoC operating at up to 1.8GHz, this Chromebook is supported by 16GB of eMMC storage, 4GB of DDR3L memory, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and an integrated, 3,400mAh battery promising up to nine hours of regular usage from a single charge. A couple of 1.5W speakers offer rudimentary sound capabilities.

The smooth hinge goes back about 120° revealing an 11.6in display with large bezels on all sides. Premium Chromebooks look more like expensive laptops, but at the cheaper end of the market the design has barely changed over the past decade. But hey, it works well enough for its intended market.

The + suffix is the differentiator between this and an otherwise similar Chromebook from the CTL stable. The regular machine also has an 11.6in screen with a native 1,366×768 resolution but it uses a TN display instead. The + model improves this to an IPS screen with wider viewing angles and, in our opinion, considerably better colour reproduction.

It’s bright, sharp enough for the modest resolution and a good fit for a budget Chromebook. In a world where children often have higher-resolution tablets as the norm rather than exception, my niece noted that the fidelity wasn’t as impressive as her retina-equipped iPad. Yet good enough for basic spreadsheets and some simple word processing? Sure.

The keys offer shallow travel that take a little getting used to if coming from a full-size, discrete keyboard. Optimised for Chrome it misses out the regular Caps Lock key which gives way to Search while the usual function keys are routed instead to common Chrome tasks.

In a similar vein to the Chromebook Flip, the trackpad is solid. It also supports Chrome gestures and has a satisfying click each time it’s depressed. We’d describe the inputs as generic for an entry-level Chromebook, but do understand that isn’t meant in a pejorative sense; the duo work well.

The power-sipping nature of the SoC is a boon for those searching for quietness. A lack of vents hints to silent computing, and it is, with the Rockchip SoC cooled passively. Students coming from a tablet world will appreciate that, in terms of noise, it’s no different to what they’re accustomed to.

In use

General performance is dictated by the SoC and supporting memory contained within the Chromebook. In concert with the majority of others plying this end of the market, one where Rockchip has a leadership position, applications open quickly and the user experience is smooth and predictable. This isn’t a machine for doing anything taxing, mind – the Chrome OS is built for Internet-centric usage – yet playing videos, opening up multiple tabs in simple programs, and calling on Skype does little to push the capabilities of the RK3288C SoC.

For those that haven’t used a Chromebook of late, think of the performance as analogous to a mid-range smartphone of this year. It’s never electric, as on the latest PCs or high-end phones, but neither is it slow at any task you would commonly undertake.

More pertinently, it’s quick enough for the education market for which this model is primed. Rather than conduct looping battery tests, we used the J4+ over the course of a weekend, doing the usual browsing and video playback, and noted that it kept going for approximately 10 hours before running out of juice.

A simple machine with a simple premise of appealing to a broad educational market, the CTL J4+ is a solid Chromebook arriving with an attractive bulk price of under $200. It strikes all the right notes for an entry-level Chromebook powered by the ever-popular Rockchip RK3288C SoC. Pricing, though, remains absolutely key, as more feature-filled models are available for a little more, while the absolute budget end, based on the same chassis, starts at just $150. Tablets, too, offer a similar level of performance, albeit without physical keyboard, for less money.

The evolution of mobile SoCs has meant that adequate performance can be gained by spending a very reasonable amount of money. A case in point is the Rockchip RK3288C, widely seen in these devices, and with enough grunt and longevity to run everyday tasks for well, all day. CTL naturally takes this on with the J4+ education-focussed Chromebook equipped with a solid IPS display and surprisingly decent build quality.

Available to purchase to regular consumers for $189 at present, it represents good value in a congested marketplace. If your heart is set on a Chromebook and require a solid machine that covers all the basics, the CTL J4+ is a good starting point.

Rockchip: RK3288

  • Quad-core Cortex-A17 up to 1.8GHz
  • Mali-T764 GPU
  • Dual-channel DDR3/DDR3L/LPDDR2/LPDDR3
  • 4K UHD H265/H264
  • BT.2020/BT.709
  • H264 encoder
  • TS in/CSA 2.0
  • USB 2.0
Process • 28nm
CPU • Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
GPU • Mali-T764 GPU, Supports AFBC (ARM Frame Buffer Compression)
• support OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.1, OpenCL, DirectX9.3
•  High performance dedicated 2D processor
Multi-Media • 4K 10bits VP9/H265/H264 video decoders, up to 60fps
• 1080P other video decoders (VC-1, MPEG-1/2/4, VP8)
• 1080P video encoder for H.264 and VP8
• Video post processor: de-interlace, de-noise, enhancement for edge/detail/color
Display • Support RGB/Dual LVDS/Dual MIPI-DSI/eDP interface, up to 3840*2160 resolution
• HDMI 2.0 for 4K@60Hz with HDCP 1.4/2.2
Security ARM TrustZone (TEE), Secure Video Path, Cipher Engine, Secure boot
Memory • Dual-channel 64bit DDR3-1333/DDR3L-1333/LPDDR2-1066
• Support MLC NAND, eMMC 4.51
Connectivity • Embedded 13M ISP, MIPI CSI-2 and DVP interface
• Dual SDIO 3.0 interface
• TS in/CSA2.0, support DTV function
• Embed HDMI, Ethernet MAC, S/PDIF, USB, I2C, I2S, UART, SPI, PS2
Package • BGA636 19X19, 0.65mm pitch
State • MP Now

xx

Android security

February 14, 2017, RSA Conference: Delivering Secure, Client-Side Technology to Billions of Users Adrian Ludwig, Director of Android Security, Google.
Google aims to make the web safe for all. Director of Android Security Adrian Ludwig will discuss the progress they’ve made, the gaps that remain and how client-side security can make the web more secure.

THE BASICS
30 Aug 2016, WIRED UK: How Google is putting security at the heart of Android By ADRIAN LUDWIG. Google’s director of Android Security explains the operating system’s built-in security features

Android has been the fastest growing operating system of all time.

Google launched the first Android phone in the US in 2008, and there are now 1.4 billion Android users around the world.

The total ecosystem is huge: 400 companies partner with 500 carriers to produce over 4,000 distinct phones, tablets, and TVs running Android.

When we founded Android, the idea was somewhat crazy — build an open standard for hardware makers. Android is open-sourced and provided for free on all hardware.

This makes it possible for hardware makers to build a wide variety of different devices (phones, tablets, and even watches) while simultaneously making it easier for developers to build one app that works across any of these different devices.

Having an open ecosystem and over a billion users means that we take security very seriously. From the very beginning, security has been baked into the heart of Android. For example:

Application Sandbox

All Android applications run in what we call an “Application Sandbox.” Just like the walls of a sandbox keep the sand from getting out, each application is housed within a virtual ‘sandbox’ to keep it from accessing anything outside itself. This means that even if a user were to accidentally install a piece of malware, it’s forbidden from accessing any other app on the device.

The latest security technology

Android devices use leading hardware and software security technologies such as encryption, application signing, system integrity checks, SELinux, ASLR, and TrustZone to protect user data and the device.

More control in Android M

Users are even more safe with the new permissions model in Android M by giving them more control over what apps are allowed to access. Apps trigger requests for permissions at the time they need to do something.

For example, if your photo posting app wants to access your photo roll, it has to ask you first. So if a flashlight app starts asking for access to your phone book, you can just say no.

Google Play

Google Play —  our official marketplace for Android apps and games — is also an important part of Android security. Before applications become available in Google Play, they undergo an application security review process to confirm that they comply with Google Play policies, prohibiting potentially harmful applications. We suspend developer accounts and apps that violate our policies.

Third Party Verify Apps Feature

Since Android allows alternative app stores other than Google Play, our users often download apps from third-party app stores. In order to help make this third-party experience secure, we also have a feature called Verify Apps that warns the user or blocks potentially harmful apps, even if the app wasn’t from the Play Store.

It will check apps when you install them and periodically scans for potentially harmful apps to keep users safe. Over 1 billion devices are protected with Google Play which conducts 200 million security scans of devices per day.

The results of these efforts have made malware relatively rare on Android. Based on our research, fewer than one per cent of Android devices had a Potentially Harmful App (PHA) installed in 2014, and fewer than 0.15 per cent of devices that only install from Google Play had a PHA installed.

In future installments, we’ll talk more about how we work with the broader security community to protect Android users, and offer a few tips for you to protect your phone as well.

THE CONTRIBUTION FROM THE PARTNERS COMMUNITY
31 Aug 2016, WIRED UK: How Google’s bug bounties reward you for hunting out flaws in its Android software By ADRIAN LUDWIG. Google’s head of Android Security explains how bug bounties keep the OS secure.

Our last post looked at the ways in which we protect users against harmful software inside of Android and through our app store Google Play.

Android, however, is an open ecosystem used by more than 1.4 billion people around the world, so it makes sense to tap into all of those Android partners, developers, users, and researchers to help locate vulnerabilities and problems. This is the advantage of an open ecosystem: we can work with the broader security community who help us improve security and make Android stronger.

The priority for this approach is that we must be transparent about how exactly Android works. Android is open source, and this means we publish the latest programming source code for Android here.

Anyone can review the code to identify potential security risks. Anyone can build a device using this open source code (as well as add their own customisations). And anyone can suggest modifications or improvements to the core open source project.

Secondly, we work hard to encourage research on Android. We have come up with many ways to incentivise people to poke around in our code and find problems.

In 2010, Google started what we call security reward programs to pay security researchers who find major flaws. In 2014 alone we paid more than $1.5 million to security researchers who found vulnerabilities in Chrome and other Google products.

The success of this program led us to extend it directly to Android. In 2014, we started Google Patch Rewards — an experimental program to reward proactive security improvements for a few of our open-source projects. Rewards for qualifying submissions range from $500 for one-line improvements, up to $10,000 for complicated, high-impact improvements that almost certainly prevent major vulnerabilities in the affected code.

Then in 2015, we started the Android Security Rewards Program to help reward the contributions of security researchers who invest their time and effort in helping us make Android more secure. Through this program we provide monetary rewards and public recognition for vulnerabilities disclosed to the Android Security Team.

The reward level is based on the bug severity, increasing for higher quality reports that include reproduction code, test cases, and patches. In the last six months of 2015, we paid more than $200,000 to researchers for their work, including our largest single payment of $37,500 to an Android security researcher. This was part of the total $2 million paid out to researchers across all the programs.

On top of our own programs, we also sponsor third-party competitions such as Mobile pwn2own, ZDI’s annual contest that rewards security researchers for highlighting security vulnerabilities on mobile platforms.

Finally, we work closely with our hardware partners so devices can be updated with the latest patches. For more than three years, we have been working with Android manufacturers every month through bulletins of security issues with which they can keep their users secure.

Manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, and Blackberry are collectively providing millions of devices with these monthly security updates.

Nexus devices have always been among the first Android devices to receive platform and security updates. Since last year, Nexus devices have been regularly receiving security-focused, over-the-air (OTA) updates each month in addition to the usual platform updates. These fixes are also released to the public via the Android Open Source Project.

For Android, security has always been a priority. We are extremely grateful to the wider research community for helping us find security flaws. It’s great to us — but more importantly, to 1.4 billion people around the world — to see so many people pitching in to make Android safer.

FROM THE USERS THEMSELVES
2 Sept 2016, WIRED UK: How to keep your Android phone safe from prying eyes By ADRIAN LUDWIG. Google’s director of Android Security reveals practical ways to keep your data safe.

Over the course of this dedicated security series we have focused on how security is baked into the very heart of Android.

But the Android operating system also empowers you to take safety into your own hands.

This final piece in our series focuses on how each and every Android phone user can play an active role when it comes to safety on the internet. Today, smartphones have become nearly indispensable. So it’s important to keep your phone, but also its contents, secure.

We’re going to walk you through some top ways to keep your mobile security skills as sharp as possible. These are simple but highly effective ways to keep you safe, such as finding your phone if it’s lost, keeping your personal information secured, and making sure the apps and games you download are safe.

One of the most basic threats to mobile security is pretty simple and is probably something that has happened to all of us: losing your own phone. We entrust our phones with some of our most personal data – texts from loved ones, family photos, work emails, bank account information, and more. In the wrong hands, that data could cause trouble but when your phone goes missing, it’s not always easy to figure out where to start, who to call, or how to keep your information safe.

Find Your Phone is a new Android feature that will help you if your phone is ever lost or stolen. In a few simple steps, you can not only locate your phone, but also lock and call it, secure your account, leave a callback number on the screen, and more. The feature can be used to find lost Android and iOS devices, and soon, you’ll also be able to access it by searching Google for “I lost my phone.”

You can use Find Your Phone in My Account, or just by searching ‘find my phone’ on any Google browser. Plus, it works for both Android and iOS devices.

A second easy thing you can do if you don’t want anyone who picks up your phone or tablet to have access to your stuff is to switch on your mobile device lock. On an Android phone or tablet, you can pick a PIN, a password, or a pattern.

For added security, you should also set your device to automatically lock when it goes to sleep. You can take this even one step further and customise your settings so that your patterns and passwords are not visible when you’re entering them.

Download apps from trusted stores and marketplaces and help ensure your phone is safe when it’s in your own hands. Some apps can affect your device’s security, so only download them from places you trust. We work to make sure that all apps available on Google Play pass stringent policy checks, including checks for potentially harmful behaviour.

If you have Google Play installed, you’re automatically protected from potentially harmful apps with the Verify Apps feature. It’s turned on by default and warns you before you install an application we believe is potentially harmful. It’ll also check your device once a week for potentially harmful apps. If you see a warning from Verify Apps, we recommend not installing that app.

In the last year, we’ve significantly improved our machine learning and event correlation to detect potentially harmful behaviour. We protect users from malware and other Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs), by checking more than 6 billion installed applications per day. We protect users from network-based and on-device threats by scanning 400 million devices per day. And we protect hundreds of millions of Chrome users on Android from unsafe websites with Safe Browsing.

We have also continued to make it even more difficult to get PHAs into Google Play. Last year’s enhancements reduced the probability of installing a PHA from Google Play by over 40 per cent compared to 2014. Within Google Play, install attempts of most categories of PHAs declined. Data Collection decreased over 40 per cent to 0.08 per cent of installs, spyware dropped 60 per cent to 0.02 per cent of installs and hostile downloaders also decreased 50 per cent to 0.01 per cent of installs.

Overall, PHAs were installed on fewer than 0.15 per cent of devices that only get apps from Google Play. About 0.5 per cent of devices that install apps from both Play and other sources had a PHA installed during 2015, similar to the data in last year’s report.

It’s critical that we also protect users who install apps from sources other than Google Play. Our Verify Apps service protects these users and we improved the effectiveness of the PHA warnings provided by Verify Apps by over 50 per cent. In 2015, we saw an increase in the number of PHA install attempts outside of Google Play, and we disrupted several coordinated efforts to install PHAs onto user devices from outside of Google Play.

xx

What is behind the ARM Holding’s acquisition by SoftBank Group?

Update: Recently SoftBank Group among other Silicon Valley notaries such as Apple and Facebook, have poured over $100 billion into a new Softbank “vision Fund” that Founder Masayoshi Son says is going to be used to help develop AI. This is allocated to spending on emerging technology companies in the next 5 years. To put that number in perspective, the entire global venture capital “industry” is only $65 billion in size. Here is his presentation about that from MWC 2017:
March 3, 2017: Globalfuturist.org: Softbank CEO, Masayoshi Son Keynote at MWC 2017 (25 and half min)

The How to Invest in the Singularity – It’s Near from June 3, 2017 will also give you a deep analysis of this initiative. Highly recommended!
End of Update

The quick answer is that “ARM is the driver of the IoT era” when every thing is interconnected. Another reason is that they have been steadily working in an early investment mode from very beginning, and quite successfully.

SoftBank CEO and Founder Masayoshi Son has been referring back to the PC and Internet era when his company invested into Yahoo US which had only 16 employees then. In the beginning of PC broadband they have invested into mobile internet. And now is one of the biggest paradigm shifts is coming BIG TIME, that is IoT — he says. Some of his quotes shed light on what kind of perspective he is thinking of:

I truly believe Singularity [*] is coming and that computers will one day become smarter than mankind.

Every street light will be interconnected to the internet because we can save when car is not passing.

Automobile will all be connected so driverless car much safer.

All the things will be connected and what is biggest common denominator, that is Arm.

Technological singularity (Wikipedia): “is a hypothetical event in which an upgradable intelligent agent (such as a computer running software-based artificial general intelligence) enters a ‘runaway reaction’ of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an intelligence explosion and resulting in a powerful superintelligence that would, qualitatively, far surpass all human intelligence.[1][2] This would signal the end of the human era, as the new superintelligence would continue to upgrade itself and would advance technologically at an incomprehensible rate.[3]
For more information see the rest of the Wikipedia article.

And about the automobile opportunity alone he said:

I would say automobile is becoming smarter and smarter so when automobile becomes so smart it is required to have more and more chips integrated inside the car, especially when it becomes a driverless car. Automotive itself will become a super computer which consists of a bunch of multiple chips so ARM will be going into that market very aggressively.

More information along these lines see in the SoftBank CEO: the average person will have 1,000 internet-connected devices by 2040 article by Tech in Asia.

July 18, 2016: ARM CEO Simon Segars about SoftBank acquisition 

Official video released at https://www.acceleratingtech.com/ a site to explain the SoftBank acquisition of ARM, they claim:
– SoftBank’s £17 offer price gives ARM shareholders a 43% premium on Friday’s closing share price and a 41.1% premium on the all-time high share price
– Assurance to double ARM’s UK headcount in the next five years and increase headcount outside the UK
– Leaves ARM’s successful partnership business model, culture and brand unchanged
– Great endorsement of UK tech

July 18, 2016: Acquisition of ARM Holdings plc
Background and Rationale by SoftBank Group Corp.
(from Recommended Acquisition of ARM by SoftBank)

The acquisition of ARM by SBG will deliver the following benefits:

  • Support and accelerate ARM’s position as the global leader in intellectual property licensing and R&D outsourcing for semiconductor companies

SBG’s deep industry expertise and global network of relationships will accelerate adoption of ARM’s intellectual property across existing and new markets.

  • Maintain ARM’s dedication to innovation

SBG intends to sustain ARM’s long-term focus on generating more value per device, and driving licensing wins and future royalty streams in new growth categories, specifically “Enterprise and Embedded Intelligence.”

  • Increased investment to drive the next wave of innovation

SBG intends to support ARM’s multiple growth initiatives by investing in engineering talent and complementary acquisitions with the aim of ensuring ARM maintains a R&D edge over existing and emerging competitors. SBG believes such an investment strategy in long-term growth will be easier to execute as a non-listed company.

  • Shared culture and long-term vision

SBG believes the two companies share the same technology-oriented culture, long-term vision, focus on innovation and commitment to attracting, developing and retaining top talent. These common values will be the foundation for the strong strategic partnership necessary to capture the significant opportunities ahead.

  • Maintain and grow the UK’s leadership in science and technology

SBG is investing in the UK as a world leader in science and technology development and innovation and, as evidence of this, intends to invest in multiple ARM growth initiatives, at least doubling the number of ARM employees in the UK over the next five years.

July 18, 2016: Our Business Model (from Presentation material (English) (PDF) )

SoftBank Group Corp. Business Model -- 18 July 2016

Everything in violet color has been added by myself to the slide.

July 2015, from CEO Message:

Transformation into “SoftBank 2.0”

Thirty-four years have now passed since the foundation of SoftBank, and so far, our position has been one of SoftBank holding assets in overseas companies as a company in Japan. Now, however, we are going to the second stage of SoftBank—“SoftBank 2.0”—in which we will transform SoftBank into a truly global company that can ensure sustained business growth over the long term. We are now in a major transition period.

As the founder, I have set out to create a business model that can deliver continued business growth for centuries. However, many technology companies face the common challenge of a 30-year life cycle where growth is followed by decline. This decline stems from factors such as the increasing obsolescence of technologies and business models, and an over-reliance on founders.

What is the solution? Not only do we need to transform our existing businesses, we also need to have a comprehensive structure in place for supporting disruptive entrepreneurs and facilitating continued development with them.

… [the rest is to see at the place of original]

July 18, 2016Press Conference: ARM to be acquired by SoftBank

Japanese SoftBank CEO and Founder Masayoshi Son (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Masayoshi+Son), the richest person in Japan, speaks at the SoftBank Press Conference to announce the acquisition of ARM Holdings for $31.4 Billion, SoftBank promises to keep the same business model for ARM, to increase the employee count in the UK by 2x within the next 5 years, to increase ARM’s employee count around the world. You can read the official presentation materials here:
http://www.softbank.jp/corp/d/sbg_press_en/list/pdf/pressconference_01/material_en.pdf
[i.e. Presentation material (English) (PDF)]

July 2015, Major Subsidiaries

Company Name Voting Rights (%) Principal Business Activities

Mobile Communications Segment

SoftBank Mobile Corp.*1                         100 Mobile communications services, sale of mobile devices
BB Mobile Corp.                         100 Holding company
Ymobile Corporation*1*2                        99,7 Mobile broadband services, development and sale of communications devices, ADSL services, PHS-based mobile communications services
GungHo Online Entertainment, Inc.*3 40.2
[18.6]*
Production and distribution of online games for smartphones and other devices
Wireless City Planning Inc.                        33,3 Planning and provision of mobile broadband services
SoftBank Commerce & Service Corp.*5                         100 Manufacture, distribution, and sale of IT-related products, IT-related services
Brightstar Global Group Inc.                         100 Holding company
Brightstar Corp.                         100 Mobile device distribution, supply chain solutions, handset protection and insurance, buy-back and trade-in, omnichannel solutions and financial services
GRAVITY Co., Ltd.*6                        59,3 Planning, development, and operations of online games
Supercell Oy*7                        53,7 Production and distribution of mobile game applications

Sprint Segment

Sprint Corporation                        79,5 Holding company
Sprint Communications, Inc.                         100 Mobile communications services, sale of mobile devices and accessories, fixed-line telecommunications services

Fixed-line Telecommunications Segment

SoftBank BB Corp.*1                         100 ADSL services, IP telephony services
SoftBank Telecom Corp.*1                         100 Fixed-line telephone services, data transmission and leased-line services

Internet Segment

Yahoo Japan Corporation                        43,0 Operation of the Yahoo ! JAPAN portal, sale of Internet advertising, operation of e-commerce sites, membership services
IDC Frontier Inc.                         100 Data center business
ValueCommerce Co., Ltd.                        50,6 Ad affiliate marketing service, StoreMatch online advertising distribution service

Others

Mobiletech Corporation                         100 Holding company
SB Energy Corp.                         100 Generation of electricity from renewable energy sources, supply and sale of electricity
SoftBank Payment Service Corp.                         100 Settlement services, card services and related services
Fukuoka SoftBank HAWKS Corp.                         100 Ownership of professional baseball team, operation of baseball games, management and maintenance of baseball stadium and other sports facilities, distribution of video, voice and data content via media
SoftBank Robotics Holdings Corp.                         100 Planning, development, and sale of robots
SBBM Corporation                         100 Holding company
ITmedia Inc.                        57,9 Operation of comprehensive IT information site ITmedia, etc.
SoftBank Technology Corp.                        55,4 Solutions and services for online businesses
Vector Inc.                        52,4 Operation, sales, and marketing of online games, software downloads, advertising
SFJ Capital Limited                         100 Procurement of funds by issuing preferred (restricted voting) securities
SB Group US, Inc.                         100 Holding company
SB CHINA HOLDINGS PTE LTD                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Ventures Korea Corp.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Korea Corp.                         100 Holding company
Starburst I, Inc.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank Holdings Inc.                         100 Holding company
SoftBank America Inc.                         100 Holding company
STARFISH I PTE. LTD.                         100 Holding company
SB Pan Pacific Corporation                         100 Holding company
Hayate Corporation                         100 Holding company
*1   On April 1, 2015 SoftBank BB, SoftBank Telecom, and Ymobile, merged into SoftBank Mobile.  On July 1, 2015, SoftBank Mobile changed its company name to SoftBank Corp.
*2   eAccess merged with WILLCOM on June 1, 2014 and changed its company name to Ymobile on July 1, 2014.
*3   As a result of the completion of a tender offer by GungHo for its shares on June 1, 2015, and other factors, GungHo became an equity method associate of SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.).  Please refer to page 190 for details.
*4   Holdings by parties in close relationships, etc., with SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.)
*5   SoftBank BB Corp., divided its commerce and service business and newly established SoftBank C&S on April 1, 2014.  All shares of SoftBank C&S held by SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.) were transferred to a wholly owned subsidiary of Brightstar.
*6   Since GRAVITY Co., Ltd.’s parent company GungHo is an equity method associate, as noted in *3, as of the publication of this annual report, GRAVITY is not a subsidiary of SoftBank Corp. (currently SoftBank Group Corp.).
*7   The Company purchased additional shares of Supercell from existing shareholders on May 29, 2015.  After this transaction, the Company’s share of voting rights stands at 77.8%.

July 2015, Major Associates

Company Name Voting Rights (%) Principal Business Activities

Internet Segment

ASKUL Corporation                    41,9 Mail order sales of stationary, office products, services, etc.
The Japan Net Bank, Limited                    41,2 Banking business
BOOKOFF CORPORATION LIMITED                    15,0 Auction service and reuse business

Others

Scigineer Inc.                    33,2 Provision of Internet marketing support services using the personalized engine “deqwas” for e-commerce business operators and retailers
Bharti SoftBank Holdings Pte. Ltd.                    50,0 Holding company
Renren Inc.                    43,0 Investor company of company operating Renren.com SNS site in China
Alibaba Group Holding Limited                    31,9 Investor company of companies operating e-commerce sites Alibaba.com, Taobao. com, and Tmall.com
InMobi Pte. Ltd.                    35,2 Mobile advertising services

Main Overseas Fund Data

Fund Name
Subsidiaries
SoftBank Ranger Venture Investment Partnership
SoftBank Capital Fund ’10 L.P.
Associates
SoftBank US Ventures VI L.P.
SoftBank Capital Technology Fund III L.P.

 

OpenStack adoption (by Q1 2016)

OpenStack Promise as per Moogsoft -- June 3, 2015For information on OpenStack provided earlier on this blog see:
– Disaggregation in the next-generation datacenter and HP’s Moonshot approach for the upcoming HP CloudSystem “private cloud in-a-box” with the promised HP Cloud OS based on the 4 years old OpenStack effort with others, ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Dec 10, 2013
– Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 4 delivery and Dell as the first company to OEM it co-engineered on Dell infrastructure with Red Hat, ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Feb 19, 2014
To understand the OpenStack V4 level state-of-technology-development as of June 25, 2015:
– go to my homepage: https://lazure2.wordpress.com/
– or to the OpenStack related part of Microsoft Cloud state-of-the-art: Hyper-scale Azure with host SDN — IaaS 2.0 — Hybrid flexibility and freedom, ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, July 11, 2015

May 19, 2016:

Oh, the places you’ll go with OpenStack! by Mark Collier, OpenStack Foundation COO on ‘OpenStack Superuser’:

With OpenStack in tow you’ll go far — be it your house, your bank, your city or your car.

Just look at all of the exciting places we’re going:

From the phone in your pocket

The telecom industry is undergoing a massive shift, away from hundreds of proprietary devices in thousands of central offices accumulated over decades, to a much more efficient and flexible software plus commodity hardware approach. While some carriers like AT&T have already begun routing traffic from the 4G networks over OpenStack powered clouds to millions of cellphone users, the major wave of adoption is coming with the move to 5G, including plans from AT&T, Telefonica, SK Telekom, and Verizon.

We are on the cusp of a revolution that will completely re-imagine what it means to provide services in the trillion dollar telecom industry, with billions of connected devices riding on OpenStack-powered infrastructure in just a few years.

To the living room socket

The titans of TV like Comcast, DirecTV, and Time Warner Cable all rely on OpenStack to bring the latest entertainment to our homes efficiently, and innovators like DigitalFilm Tree are producing that content faster than ever thanks to cloud-based production workflows.

Your car, too, will get smart

Speaking of going places, back here on earth many of the world’s top automakers, such as BMW and the Volkswagen group, which includes Audi, Lamborghini, and even Bentley, are designing the future of transportation using OpenStack and big data. The hottest trends to watch in the auto world are electric zero emissions cars and self-driving cars. Like the “smart city” mentioned above, a proliferation of sensors plus connectivity call for distributed systems to bring it all together, creating a huge opportunity for OpenStack.

And your bank will take part

Money moves faster than ever, with digital payments from startups and established players alike competing for consumer attention. Against this backdrop of enormous market change, banks must meet an increasingly rigid set of regulatory rules, not to mention growing security threats. To empower their developers to innovate while staying diligent on regs and security, financial leaders like PayPal, FICO, TD Bank, American Express, and Visa are adopting OpenStack.

Your city must keep the pace

Powering the world’s cities is a complex task and here OpenStack is again driving automation, this time in the energy sector. State Grid Corporation, the world’s largest electric utility, serves over 120 million customers in China while relying on OpenStack in production.

Looking to the future, cities will be transformed by the proliferation of fast networks combined with cheap sensors. Unlocking the power of this mix are distributed systems, including OpenStack, to process, store, and move data. Case in point: tcpcloud in Prague is helping introduce “smart city” technology by utilizing inexpensive Raspberry Pis embedded in street poles, backed by a distributed system based on Kubernetes and OpenStack. These systems give city planners insight into traffic flows of both pedestrians and cars, and even measure weather quality. By routing not just packets but people, cities are literally load balancing their way to lower congestion and pollution.

From inner to outer space

The greatest medical breakthroughs of the next decade will come from analyzing massive data sets, thanks to the proliferation of distributed systems that put supercomputer power into the hands of every scientist. And OpenStack has a huge role to play empowering researchers all over the globe: from Melbourne to Madrid, Chicago to Chennai, or Berkeley to Beijing, everywhere you look you’ll find OpenStack.

To explore this world, I recently visited the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin where I toured a facility that houses one of the top 10 supercomputers in the world, code named “Stampede

But what really got me excited about the future was the sight of two large OpenStack clusters: one called Chameleon, and the newest addition, Jetstream, which put the power of more than 1,000 nodes and more than 15,000 cores into the hands of scientists at 350 universities. In fact, the Chameleon cloud was recently used in a class at the University of Arizona by students looking to discover exoplanets. Perhaps the next Neil deGrasse Tyson is out there using OpenStack to find a planet to explore for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories.

Where should we go next?

Mark Collier is OpenStack co-founder, and currently the OpenStack Foundation COO. This article was first published in Superuser Magazine, distributed at the Austin Summit.

May 9, 2016:

From OpenStack Summit Austin, Part 1: Vendors digging in for long haul by Al Sadowski, 451 Research, LLC:  This report provides highlights from the most recent OpenStack Summit

THE 451 TAKE OpenStack mindshare continues to grow for enterprises interested in deploying cloud-native applications in greenfield private cloud environments. However, its appeal is limited for legacy applications and enterprises sold on hyperscale multi-tenant cloud providers like AWS and Azure. There are several marquee enterprises with OpenStack as the central component of cloud transformations, but many are still leery of the perceived complexity of configuring, deploying and maintaining OpenStack-based architectures. Over the last few releases, processes for installation and upgrades, tooling, and API standardization across projects have improved as operators have become more vocal during the requirements phase. Community membership continues to grow on a global basis, and the supporting organization also depicts a similar geographic trend.

…  Horizontal scaling of Nova is much improved, based on input from CERN and Rackspace. CERN, an early OpenStack adopter, demonstrated the ability for the open source platform to scale – it now has 165,000 cores running OpenStack. However, Walmart, PayPal and eBay are operating larger OpenStack environments.

May 18, 2015:

Walmart‘s Cloud Journey by Amandeep Singh Juneja
Sr. Director, Cloud Engineering and Operations, WalmartLabs: Introduction to World’s largest retailer and its journey to build a large private Cloud.

Amandeep Singh Juneja is Senior Director for Cloud Operations and Engineering at WalmartLabs. In his current role, Amandeep is responsible for the build out of elastic cloud used by various Walmart Ecommerce properties. Prior to his current role at Walmart Labs, Amandeep has held various leadership roles at HP, WebOS (Palm) and eBay.

May 19, 2015:

OpenStack Update from eBay and PayPal by Subbu Allamaraju
Chief Engineer, Cloud, eBay Inc: Journey and future of OpenStack eBay and PayPal

Subbu is the Chief Engineer of cloud at eBay Inc. His team builds and operates a multi-tenant geographically distributed OpenStack based private cloud. This cloud now serves 100% of PayPal web and mid tier workloads, significant parts of eBay front end and services, and thousands of users for their dev/test activities.

May 18, 2015:

Architecting Organizational Change at TD Bank by Graeme Peacock, VP Engineering, TD Bank Group

Graeme cut his teeth in the financial services consulting industry by designing and developing real-time Trading, Risk and Clearing applications. He then joined NatWest Markets and J.P. Morgan in executive level roles within the Equity Derivatives business lines.
Graeme then moved to a Silicon Valley Startup to expand his skillset as V.P. of Engineering at Application Networks. His responsibility extended to Strategy, Innovation, Product Development, Release Management and Support to some of the biggest names in the Financial Services Sector.
For the last 10 years, he has held Divisional CIO roles at Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, both of which saw him responsible for Credit, Securitized and Emerging Market businesses.
Graeme moved back to a V.P. of Engineering role at TD Bank Group several years ago. He currently oversees all Infrastructure Innovation — everything form Mobile and Desktop to Database, Middleware and Cloud.  His focus is on the transformational: software development techniques, infrastructure design patterns, and DevOps processes.

TD Bank uses cloud as catalyst for cultural change in IT
May 18, 2015 Written by Jonathan Brandon for Business Cloud News

North American retail banking outfit TD Bank is using OpenStack among a range of other open source cloud technologies to help catalyse cultural change as it looks to reduce costs and technology redundancy, explained TD Bank group vice president of engineering Graeme Peacock.

TD Bank is one of Canada’s largest retail banks, having divested many of its investment banking divisions over the past ten years while buying up smaller American retail banks in a bid to offer cross-border banking services.
Peacock, who was speaking at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver this week, said TD Bank is in the midst of a massive transition in how it procures, deploys and consumes technology. The bank aims to have about 80 per cent of its 4,000 application estate moved over to the cloud over the next five years.
“If they can’t build it on cloud they need to get my permission to obtain a physical server. Which is pretty hard to get,” he said.
But the company’s legacy of acquisition over the past decade has shaped the evolution of both the technology and systems in place at the bank as well as the IT culture and the way those systems and technologies are managed.
“Growing from acquisition means we’ve developed a very project-based culture, and you’re making a lot of transactional decisions within those projects. There are consequences to growing through acquisition – TD is very vendor-centric,” he explained.
“There are a lot of vendors here and I’m fairly certain we’ve bought at least one of everything you’ve ever made. That’s led to the landscape that we’ve had, which has lots of customisation. It’s very expensive and there is little reused.”
Peacock said much of what the bank wants to do is fairly straightforward: moving off highly customised expensive equipment and services, and moving on to more open, standardised commodity platforms, and OpenStack is but one infrastructure-centric tool helping the bank deliver on that goal (it’s using it to stand up an internal private cloud). But the company also has to deal with other aspects a recent string of acquisition has left at the bank, including the fact that its development teams are still quite siloed, in order to reach its goals.
In order to standardise and reduce the number of services the firm’s developers use, the bank  created an engineering centre in Manhattan and elected a team of engineers and developers (currently numbering 30, but will hit roughly 50 by the end of the year) spread between Toronto and New York City, all focused on helping it embrace a cloud-first, slimmed-down application landscape.
The centre and the central engineering team work with other development teams and infrastructure specialists across the bank, collecting feedback through fortnightly Q&As and feeding that back into the solutions being developed and the platforms being procured. Solving developer team fragmentation will ultimately help the bank move forward on this new path sustainably, he explained.
“When your developer community is so siloed you don’t end up adopting standards… you end up with 27 versions of Softcat. Which we have, by the way,” he said.
“This is a big undertaking, and one that has to be continuous. Business lines also have to move with us to decompose those applications and help deliver against those commitments,” he added.

May 9, 2016: From OpenStack Summit Austin, Part 1: Vendors digging in for long haul continued:

While OpenStack may have been conceived as an open source multi-tenant IaaS, its future success will mainly come from hosted and on-premises private cloud deployments. Yes, there are many pockets of success with regional or vertical-focused public clouds based on OpenStack, but none with the scale of AWS or the growth of Microsoft Azure. Hewlett Packard Enterprise shuttered its OpenStack Helion-based public cloud, and Rackspace shifted engineering resources away from its own public cloud. Rackspace, the service provider with the largest share of OpenStack-related revenue, says its private cloud is growing in the ‘high double digits.’ Currently, 56% of OpenStack’s service-provider revenue total is public cloud-based, but we expect private cloud will account for a larger portion over the next few years.

October 21, 2015:

A new model to deliver public cloud by Bill Hill, SVP and GM, HP Cloud

Over the past several years, HP has built its strategy on the idea that a hybrid infrastructure is the future of enterprise IT. In doing so, we have committed to helping our customers seamlessly manage their business across traditional IT and private, managed or public cloud environments, allowing them to optimize their infrastructure for each application’s unique requirements.
The market for hybrid infrastructure is evolving quickly. Today, our customers are consistently telling us that in order to meet their full spectrum of needs, they want a hybrid combination of efficiently managed traditional IT and private cloud, as well as access to SaaS applications and public cloud capabilities for certain workloads. In addition, they are pushing for delivery of these solutions faster than ever before.
With these customer needs in mind, we have made the decision to double-down on our private and managed cloud capabilities. For cloud-enabling software and solutions, we will continue to innovate and invest in our HP Helion OpenStack®platform. HP Helion OpenStack® has seen strong customer adoption and now runs our industry leading private cloud solution, HP Helion CloudSystem, which continues to deliver strong double-digit revenue growth and win enterprise customers. On the cloud services side, we will focus our resources on our Managed and Virtual Private Cloud offerings. These offerings will continue to expand, and we will have some very exciting announcements on these fronts in the coming weeks.

Public cloud is also an important part of our customers’ hybrid cloud strategy, and our customers are telling us that the lines between all the different cloud manifestations are blurring. Customers tell us that they want the ability to bring together multiple cloud environments under a flexible and enterprise-grade hybrid cloud model. In order to deliver on this demand with best-of-breed public cloud offerings, we will move to a strategic, multiple partner-based model for public cloud capabilities, as a component of how we deliver these hybrid cloud solutions to enterprise customers.

Therefore, we will sunset our HP Helion Public Cloud offering on January 31, 2016. As we have before, we will help our customers design, build and run the best cloud environments suited to their needs – based on their workloads and their business and industry requirements.

To support this new model, we will continue to aggressively grow our partner ecosystem and integrate different public cloud environments. To enable this flexibility, we are helping customers build cloud-portable applications based on HP Helion OpenStack® and the HP Helion Development Platform. In Europe, we are leading the Cloud28+ initiative that is bringing together commercial and public sector IT vendors and EU regulators to develop common cloud service offerings across 28 different countries.
For customers who want access to existing large-scale public cloud providers, we have already added greater support for Amazon Web Services as part of our hybrid delivery with HP Helion Eucalyptus, and we have worked with Microsoft to support Office 365 and Azure. We also support our PaaS customers wherever they want to run our Cloud Foundry platform – in their own private clouds, in our managed cloud, or in a large-scale public cloud such as AWS or Azure.
All of these are key elements in helping our customers transform into a hybrid, multi-cloud IT world. We will continue to innovate and grow in our areas of strength, we will continue to help our partners and to help develop the broader open cloud ecosystem, and we will continue to listen to our customers to understand how we can help them with their entire end-to-end IT strategies.

 December 1, 2015:

Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Microsoft announce plans to deliver integrated hybrid IT infrastructure press release

London, U.K. – December 1, 2015 – Today at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Discover, HPE and Microsoft Corp. announced new innovation in Hybrid Cloud computing through Microsoft Azure, HPE infrastructure and services, and new program offerings. The extended partnership appoints Microsoft Azure as a preferred public cloud partner for HPE customers while HPE will serve as a preferred partner in providing infrastructure and services for Microsoft’s hybrid cloud offerings.

“Hewlett Packard Enterprise is committed to helping businesses transform to hybrid cloud environments in order to drive growth and value,” said Meg Whitman, President and CEO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “Public cloud services, like those Azure provides, are an important aspect of a hybrid cloud strategy and Microsoft Azure blends perfectly with HPE solutions to deliver what our customers need most.”
The partnering companies will collaborate across engineering and services to integrate innovative compute platforms that help customers optimize their IT environment, leverage new consumption models and accelerate their business further, faster.
“Our mission to empower every organization on the planet is a driving force behind our broad partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise that spans Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows 10,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “We are now extending our longstanding partnership by blending the power of Azure with HPE’s leading infrastructure, support and services to make the cloud more accessible to enterprises around the globe.”
Product Integration and Collaboration HPE and Microsoft are introducing the first hyper-converged system with true hybrid cloud capabilities, the HPE Hyper-Converged 250 for Microsoft Cloud Platform System StandardBringing together industry leading HPE ProLiant technology and Microsoft Azure innovation, the jointly engineered solution brings Azure services to customers’ datacenters, empowering users to choose where and how they want to leverage the cloud. An Azure management portal enables business users to self-deploy Windows and Linux workloads, while ensuring IT has central oversight. Azure services provide reliable backup and disaster recovery, and with HPE OneView for Microsoft System Center, customers get an integrated management experience across all system components. HPE offers hardware and software support, installation and startup services to customers to speed deployment to just a matter of hours, lower risk and decrease total cost of ownership. The CS 250 is available to order today.
As part of the expanded partnership, HPE will enable Azure consumption and services on every HPE server, which allows customers to rapidly realize the benefits of hybrid cloud.
Extended Support and Services to Simplify Cloud
HPE and Microsoft will create HPE Azure Centers of Excellence in Palo Alto, Calif. and Houston, Texas, to ensure customers have a seamless hybrid cloud experience when leveraging Azure across HPE infrastructure, software and services. Through the work at these centers, both companies will invest in continuing advancements in Hybrid IT and Composable Infrastructure.
Because Azure is a preferred provider of public cloud for HPE customers, HPE also plans to certify an additional 5,000 Azure Cloud Architects through its Global Services Practice. This will extend its Enterprise Services offerings to bring customers an open, agile hybrid cloud with improved security that integrates with Azure.
Partner Program Collaboration
Microsoft will join the HPE Composable Infrastructure Partner Program to accelerate innovation for the next-generation infrastructure and advance the automation and integration of Microsoft System Center and HPE OneView orchestration tools with today’s infrastructure.
Likewise, HPE joined two Microsoft programs that help customers accelerate their hybrid cloud journey through end-to-end cloud, mobility, identity and productivity solutions. As a participant in Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program, HPE will sell Microsoft cloud solutions across Azure, the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite and Office 365.

May 9, 2016: From OpenStack Summit Austin, Part 1: Vendors digging in for long haul continued:

VENDOR DEVELOPMENTS

As of the Mitaka release, two new gold members were added: UnitedStack and EasyStack, both from China. Other service providers and vendors shared their customer momentum and product updates with 451 Research during the summit. Among the highlights are: ƒ

  • AT&T has cobbled together a DevOps team from 67 different organizations, in order to transform into a software company. ƒ
  • All of GoDaddy’s new servers are going into its OpenStack environment. It is also using the Ironic (bare metal) project and exploring containers on OpenStack. ƒ
  • SwiftStack built a commercial product with an AWS-like consumption model using the Swift (object storage) project. It now has over 60 customers, including eBay, PayPal, Burton Snowboards and Ancestry.com. ƒ
  • OVH is based in France and operates a predominately pan-Europe public cloud. It added Nova compute in 2014, and currently has 75PB on Swift storage. ƒ
  • Unitas Global says OpenStack-related enterprise engagements are a large part of its 100% Y/Y growth. While it does not contribute code, it is helping to develop operational efficiencies and working with Canonical to deploy ‘vanilla’ OpenStack using Juju charms. Tableau Software is a client. ƒ
  • DreamHost is operating an OpenStack public cloud, DreamCompute, and is a supporter of the Astara (network orchestration) project. It claims 2,000 customers for DreamCompute and 10,000 customers for its object storage product. ƒ
  • Platform9 is a unique OpenStack in SaaS startup with 20 paying customers. Clients bring their own hardware, and the software provides the management functions and takes care of patching and upgrades. ƒ
  • AppFormix is a software startup focused on cloud operators and application developers that has formed a licensing agreement with Rackspace. Its analytics and capacity-planning dashboard software will now be deployed on Rackspace’s OpenStack private cloud. The software also works with Azure and AWS. ƒ
  • Tesora is leveraging the Trove project to offer DBaaS. The vendor built a plug-in for Mirantis’ Fuel installer. The collaboration claims to make commercial, open source relational and NoSQL databases easier for administrators to deploy.

April 25, 2016:

AT&T’s Cloud Journey with OpenStack by Sorabh Saxena SVP, Software Development & Engineering, AT&T

OpenStack + AT&T Innovation = AT&T Integrated Cloud.

AT&T’s network has experienced enormous growth in traffic in the last several years and the trend continues unabated. Our software defined network initiative addresses the escalating traffic demands and brings greater agility and velocity to delivering features to end customers. The underlying fabric of this software defined network is AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC).

Sorabh Saxena, AT&T’s SVP of Software Development & Engineering, will share several use cases that will highlight a multi-dimensional strategy for delivering an enterprise & service provider scale cloud. The use cases will illustrate OpenStack as the foundational element of AIC, AT&T solutions that complement it, and how it’s integrated with the larger AT&T ecosystem.

http://att.com/ecomp


As the Senior Vice President of Software Development and Engineering at AT&T, Sorabh Saxena is leading AT&T’s transformation to a software-based company.  Towards that goal, he is leading the development of platforms that include AT&T’s Integrated Cloud (AIC), API, Data, and Business Functions. Additionally, he manages delivery and production support of AT&T’s software defined network.

Sorabh and his organization are also responsible for technology solutions and architecture for all IT projects, AT&T Operation Support Systems and software driven business transformation programs that are positioning AT&T to be a digital first, integrated communications company with a best in class cost structure. Sorabh is also championing a cultural shift with a focus on workforce development and software & technology skills development.

Through Sorabh and his team’s efforts associated with AIC, AT&T is implementing an industry leading, highly complex and massively scaled OpenStack cloud.  He is an advocate of OpenStack and his organization contributes content to the community that represents the needs of large enterprises and communication services providers.

April 25, 2016And the Superuser Award goes to… AT&T takes the fourth annual Superuser Award.

AUSTIN, Texas — The OpenStack Austin Summit kicked off day one by awarding the Superuser Award to AT&T.

NTT, winners of the Tokyo edition, passed the baton onstage to the crew from AT&T.

AT&T is a legacy telco which is transforming itself by adopting virtual infrastructure and a software defined networking focus in order to compete in the market and create value for customers in the next five years and beyond. They have almost too many OpenStack accomplishments to list–read their full application here.

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Sorabh Saxena gives a snapshot of AT&Ts OpenStack projects during the keynote.

The OpenStack Foundation launched the Superuser Awards to recognize, support and celebrate teams of end-users and operators that use OpenStack to meaningfully improve their businesses while contributing back to the community.

The legacy telecom is in the top 20 percent for upstream contributions with plans to increase this significantly in 2016.

It’s time for the community to determine the winner of the Superuser Award to be presented at the OpenStack Austin Summit. Based on the nominations received, the Superuser Editorial Advisory Board conducted the first round of judging and narrowed the pool to four finalists.

Now, it’s your turn.

The team from AT&T is one of the four finalists. Review the nomination criteria below, check out the other nominees and cast your vote before the deadline, Friday, April 8 at 11:59 p.m.Pacific Daylight Time. Voting is limited to one ballot per person.

How has OpenStack transformed your business?

AT&T is a legacy telco which is transforming itself by adopting virtual infrastructure and a software defined networking focus in order to compete in the market and create value for customers in the next five years and beyond.

  1. Virtualization and virtual network functions (VNFs) are of critical importance to the Telecom industry to address growth and agility. AT&T’s Domain 2.0 Industry Whitepaper released in 2013 outlines the need as well as direction.
  2. AT&T chose OpenStack as the core foundation of their cloud and virtualization strategy
  3. OpenStack has reinforced AT&T’s open source strategy and strengthened our dedication to the community as we actively promote and invest resources in OpenStack
  4. AT&T is committing staff and resources to drive the vision and innovation in the OpenStack and OPNFV communities to help drive OpenStack as the default cloud orchestrator for the Telecom industry
  5. AT&T as a founding member of the ETSI ISG network functions virtualization (NFV) helped drive OpenStack as the cloud orchestrator in the NFV platform framework. OpenStack was positioned as the VIM – Virtual Infrastructure Manager. This accelerated the convergence of the Telco industry onto OpenStack.

OpenStack serves as a critical foundation for AT&T’s software-defined networking (SDN) and NFV future and we take pride in the following:

  • AT&T has deployed 70+ OpenStack (Juno & Kilo based) clouds globally, which are currently operational. Of the 70+ clouds 57 are production application and network clouds.
  • AT&T plans 90% growth, going to 100+ production application and network clouds by the end of 2016.
  • AT&T connects more than 14 million wireless customers via virtualized networks, with significant subscriber cut-over planned again in 2016
  • AT&T controls 5.7% of our network resources (29 Telco production grade VNFs) with OpenStack, with plans to reach 30% by the end of 2016 and 75% by 2020.
  • AT&T trained more than 100 staff in OpenStack in 2015

AT&T plans to expand to expand its community team of 50+ employees in 2016 As the chosen cloud platform OpenStack enabled AT&T in the following SDN and NFV related initiatives:

  • Our recently announced 5G field trials in Austin
  • Re-launch of unlimited data to mobility customers
  • Launch of AT&T Collaborate a next generation communication tool for enterprise
  • Provisioning of a Network on Demand platform to more than 500 enterprise customers
  • Connected Car and MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator)
  • Mobile Call Recording
  • Internally we are virtualizing our control services like DNS, NAT, NTP, DHCP, radius, firewalls, load balancers and probes for fault and performance management.

Since 2012, AT&T has developed all of our significant new applications in a cloud native fashion hosted on OpenStack. We also architected OpenStack to support legacy apps.

  • AT&T’s SilverLining Cloud (predecessor to AIC) leveraged the OpenStack Diablo release, dating as far back as 2011
  • OpenStack currently resides on over 15,000 VMs worldwide, with the expectation of further, significant growth coming in 2016-17
  • AT&T’s OpenStack integrated Orchestration framework has resulted in a 75% reduction in turnaround time for requests for virtual resources
  • AT&T Plans to move 80% of our Legacy IT into the OpenStack based virtualized cloud environment within coming years
  • Uniform set of APIs exposed by OpenStack allows AT&T business units to leverage a “develop-once-run-everywhere” set of tools OpenStack helps AT&T’s strategy to begin to adopt best of the breed solutions at five 9’s of reliability for:
    • NFV
    • Internet-scale storage service
    • SDN
  • Putting all AT&T’s workloads on one common platform Deployment Automation: OpenStack modules have enabled AT&T to cost-effectively manage the OpenStack configuration in an automated, holistic fashion.
  • Using OpenStack Heat, AT&T pushed rolling updates and incremental changes across 70+ OpenStack clouds. Doing it manually would be take many more people and a much longer schedule.
  • Using OpenStack Fuel as a pivotal component in its cloud deployments AT&T accelerates the otherwise consuming, complex, and error-prone process of deploying, testing, and maintaining various configuration flavors of OpenStack at scale. AT&T was a major contributor towards Fuel 7.0 and Fuel 8.0 requirements. OpenStack has been a pivotal driver of AT&T’s overall culture shift. AT&T as an organization is in the midst of a massive culture shift from a Legacy Telco to a company where new skills, techniques and solutions are embraced.

OpenStack has been a key driver of this transformation in the following ways:

  • AT&T is now building 50 percent of all software on open source technologies
  • Allowing for the adoption of a dev ops model that creates a more unified team working towards a better end product
  • Development transitioned from a waterfall to cloud-native CICD methodologies
  • Developers continue to support OpenStack and make their applications cloud-native whenever possible.

How has the organization participated in or contributed to the OpenStack community?

AT&T was the first U.S. telecom service provider to sign up for and adopt the then early stage NASA-spawned OpenStack cloud initiative, back in 2011.

  • AT&T has been an active OpenStack contributor since the Bexar release.
  • AT&T has been a Platinum Member of the OpenStack Foundation since its origins in 2012 after helping to create its bylaws.
  • Toby Ford, AVP AT&T Cloud Technology has provided vision, technology leadership, and innovation to OpenStack ecosystem as an OpenStack Foundation board member since late 2012.
  • AT&T is founding member of ETSI, and OPNFV.
  • AT&T has invested in building an OpenStack upstream contribution team with 25 current employees and a target for 50+ employees by the end of 2016.
  • During the early years of OpenStack, AT&T brought many important use-cases to the community. AT&T worked towards solving those use-cases by leveraging various OpenStack modules, in turn encouraging other enterprises to have confidence in the young ecosystem.
  • AT&T drove these following Telco-grade blueprint contributions to past releases of OpenStack:
    • VLAN aware VMs (i.e. Trunked vNICs) – Support for BGP VPN, and shared volumes between guest VMs
    • Complex query support for statistics in Ceilometer
    • Spell checker gate job
    • Metering support for PCI/PCIe per VM tenant
    • PCI passthrough measurement in Ceilometer – Coverage measurement gate job
    • Nova using ephemeral storage with cinder
    • Climate subscription mechanism
    • Access switch port discovery for bare metal nodes
    • SLA enforcement per vNIC – MPLS VPNaaS
    • NIC-state aware scheduling
  • Toby Ford has regularly been invited to present keynotes, sessions, and panel talks at a number of OpenStack summits. For instance: Role of OpenStack in a Telco: User case study – at Atlanta Summit May 2014 – Leveraging OpenStack to Solve Telco needs: Intro to SDN/NFV – Atlanta Summit May 2014 – Telco OpenStack Roadmap Panel Talk – Tokyo Summit October 2015 – OpenStack Roadmap Software Trajectory – Atlanta Summit May 2014 – Cloud Control to Major Telco – Paris Summit November 2014.
  • Greg Stiegler, assistant vice president – AT&T cloud tools & development organization represented the AT&T technology development organization at the Tokyo Summit.
  • AT&T Cloud and D2 Architecture team members were invited to present various keynote sessions, summit sessions and panel talks including: – Participation at the Women of OpenStack Event – Tokyo Summit 2015 – Empower Your Cloud Through Neutron Service Function Chaining – Tokyo Summit Oct 2015 – OPNFV Panel – Vancouver Summit May 2015 – OpenStack as a Platform for Innovation – Keynote at OpenStack Silicon Valley – Aug 2015 – Taking OpenStack From Zero to Production in a Fortune-500 – Tokyo Summit October 2015 – Operating at Web-scale: Containers and OpenStack Panel Talk – Tokyo Summit October 2015 * AT&T strives to collaborate with other leading industry partners in the OpenStack ecosystem. This has led to the entire community benefiting from AT&T’s innovation.
  • Margaret Chiosi gives talks worldwide on AT&T’s D2.0 vision at many Telco conferences ranging from Optics (OFC) to SDN/NFV conferences advocating OpenStack as the de-facto cloud orchestrator.
  • AT&T Entertainment Group (DirecTV) architected multi-hypervisor hybrid OpenStack cloud by designing Neutron ML2 plugin. This innovation helped achieve integration between legacy virtualization and OpenStack.
  • AT&T is proud to drive OpenStack adoption by sharing knowledge back to the OpenStack community in the form of these summit sessions at the upcoming Austin summit:
    • Telco Cloud Requirements: What VNFs Are Asking For
    • Using a Service VM as an IPv6 vRouter
    • Service Function Chaining
    • Technology Analysis Perspective
    • Deploying Lots of Teeny Tiny Telco Clouds
    • Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about OpenStack At Scale
    • Valet: Holistic Data Center Optimization for OpenStack
    • Gluon: An Enabler for NFV
    • Among the Cloud: Open Source NFV + SDN Deployment
    • AT&T: Driving Enterprise Workloads on KVM and vCenter using OpenStack as the Unified Control Plane
    • Striving for High-Performance NFV Grid on OpenStack. Why you, and every OpenStack community member should be excited about it
    • OpenStack at Carrier Scale
  • AT&T is the “first to marketwith deployment of OpenStack supported carrier-grade Virtual Network Functions. We provide the community with integral data, information, and first-hand knowledge on the trials and tribulations experienced deploying NFV technology.
  • AT&T ranks in the top 20 percent of all companies in terms of upstream contribution (code, documentation, blueprints), with plans to increase this significantly in 2016.
    • Commits: 1200+
    • Lines of Code: 116,566
    • Change Requests: 618
    • Patch Sets: 1490
    • Draft Blueprints: 76
    • Completed Blueprints: 30
    • Filed Bugs: 350
    • Resolved Bugs: 250

What is the scale of the OpenStack deployment?

  • AT&T’s OpenStack based AIC is deployed at 70+ sites across the world. Of the 70+ 57 are production app and network clouds.
  • AT&T plans 90% growth, going to 100+ production app and network clouds by end of 2016.
  • AT&T connects more than 14 million of the 134.5 million wireless customers via virtualized networks with significant subscriber cutover planned again in 2016
  • AT&T controls 5.7% of our network resources (29 Telco production grade VNF) with a goal of high 80s by end of 2016) on OpenStack.
  • Production workloads also include AT&T’s Connected Car, Network on Demand, and AT&T Collaborate among many more.

How is this team innovating with OpenStack?

  • AT&T and AT&T Labs are leveraging OpenStack to innovate with Containers and NFV technology.
  • Containers are a key part of AT&Ts Cloud Native Architecture. AT&T chairs the Open Container Initiative (OCI) to drive the standardization around container formats.
  • AT&T is leading the effort to improve Nova and Neutron’s interface to SDN controllers.
  • Margaret Chiosi, an early design collaborator to Neutron, ETSI NFV, now serves as President of OPNFV. AT&T is utilizing its position with OPNFV to help shape the future of OpenStack / NFV. OpenStack has enabled AT&T to innovate extensively.

The following recent unique workloads would not be possible without the SDN and NFV capabilities which OpenStack enables: * Our recent announcements of 5G field trials in Austin * Re-launch of unlimited data to mobility customers * Launch of AT&T Collaborate * Network on Demand platform to more than 500 enterprise customers * Connected Car and MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) * Mobile Call Recording New services by AT&T Entertainment Group (DirecTV) that would use OpenStack based cloud infrastructure in coming years: * NFL Sunday Ticket with up to 8 simultaneous games * DirecTV Streaming Service Without Need For satellite dish

In summary – the innovation with OpenStack is not just our unique workloads, but also to support them together under the same framework, management systems, development/test, CI/CD pipelines, and deployment automation toolset(s).

Who are the team members?

  • AT&T Cloud and D2 architecture team
  • AT&T Integrated Cloud (AIC) Members: Margaret Chiosi, distinguished member of technical staff, president of OPNFV; Toby Ford, AVP – AT&T cloud technology & D2 architecture – strategy, architecture & pPlanning, and OpenStack Foundation Board Member; Sunil Jethwani – director, cloud & SDN architecture, AT&T Entertainment Group; Andrew Leasck – director – AT&T Integrated cloud development; Janet Morris – director – AT&T integrated cloud development; Sorabh Saxena, senior vice president – AT&T software development & engineering organization; Praful Shanghavi – director – AT&T integrated cloud development; Bryan Sullivan – director member of technical staff; Ryan Van Wyk – executive director – AT&T integrated cloud development.
  • AT&T’s project teams top contributors: Paul Carver, Steve Wilkerson, John Tran, Joe D’andrea, Darren Shaw.

April 30, 2016Swisscom in Production with OpenStack and Cloud Foundry

Swisscom has one of the largest in-production industry standard Platform as a Service built on OpenStack. Their offering is focused on providing an enterprise-grade PaaS environment to customers worldwide and with various delivery models based on Cloud Foundry and OpenStack. Swisscom embarked early on the OpenStack journey to deploy their app cloud partnering with Red Hat, Cloud Foundry, and PLUMgrid. With services such as MongoDB, MariaDB, RabbitMQ, ELK, and an object storage, the PaaS cloud offers what developers need to get started right away. Join this panel for take-away lessons on Swisscom’s journey, the technologies, partnerships, and developers who are building apps everyday on Swisscom’s OpenStack cloud.

May 23, 2016How OpenStack public cloud + Cloud Foundry = a winning platform for telecoms interview on ‘OpenStack Superuser’ with Marcel Härry, chief architect, PaaS at Swisscom

Swisscom has one of the largest in-production industry standard platform-as-a-service built on OpenStack.

Their offering focuses on providing an enterprise-grade PaaS environment to customers worldwide and with various delivery models based on Cloud Foundry and OpenStack. Swisscom, Switzerland’s leading telecom provider, embarked early on the OpenStack journey to deploy their app cloud partnering with Red Hat, Cloud Foundry and PLUMgrid.

Superuser interviewed Marcel Härry, chief architect, PaaS at Swisscom and member of theTechnical Advisory Board of the Cloud Foundry Foundation to find out more.

How are you using OpenStack?

OpenStack has allowed us to rapidly develop and deploy our Cloud Foundry-based PaaS offering, as well as to rapidly develop new features within SDN and containers. OpenStack is the true enabler for rapid development and delivery.

An example: after half a year from the initial design and setup, we already delivered two production instances of our PaaS offering built on multiple OpenStack installations on different sites. Today we are already running multiple production deployments for high-profile customers, who further develop their SaaS offerings using our platform. Additionally, we are providing the infrastructure for numerous lab and development instances. These environments allow us to harden and stabilize new features while maintaining a rapid pace of innovation, while still ensuring a solid environment.

We are running numerous OpenStack stacks, all limited – by design – to a single region, and single availability zone. Their size ranges from a handful of compute nodes, to multiple dozens of compute nodes, scaled based on the needs of the specific workloads. Our intention is not to build overly large deployments, but rather to build multiple smaller stacks, hosting workloads that can be migrated between environments. These stacks are hosting thousands of VMs, which in turn are hosting tens of thousands of containers to run production applications or service instances for our customers.

What kinds of applications or workloads are you currently running on OpenStack?

We’ve been using OpenStack for almost three years now as our infrastructure orchestrator. Swisscom built its Elastic Cloud on top of OpenStack. On top of this we run Swisscom’s Application Cloud, or PaaS, built on Cloud Foundry with PLUMgrid as the SDN layer. Together, the company’s clouds deliver IaaS to IT architects, SaaS to end users and PaaS to app developers among other services and applications. We mainly run our PaaS/Cloud Foundry environment on OpenStack as well as the correlated managed services (i.e. a kind of DBaaS, Message Service aaS etc.) which are running themselves in Docker containers.

What challenges have you faced in your organization regarding OpenStack, and how did you overcome them?

The learning curve for OpenStack is pretty steep. When we started three years ago almost no reference architectures were available, especially none with enterprise-grade requirements such as dual-site, high availability (HA) capabilities on various levels and so forth. In addition, we went directly into the SDN, SDS levels of implementation which was a big, but very successful step at the end of the day.

What were your major milestones?

Swisscom’s go-live for its first beta environment was in spring of 2014, go live for an internal development (at Swisscom) was spring of 2015, and the go-live for its public Cloud Foundry environment fully hosted on OpenStack was in the fall of 2015. The go-live date for enterprise-grade and business-critical workloads on top of our stack from various multinational companies in verticals like finance or industry is spring, 2016, and Swisscom recently announced Swiss Re as one of its first large enterprise cloud customers.

What have been the biggest benefits to your organization as a result of using OpenStack?

Pluggability and multi-vendor interoperability (for instance with SDN like PLUMgrid or SDS like ScaleIO) to avoid vendor lock in and create a seamless system. OpenStack enabled Swisscom to experiment with deployments utilizing a DevOps model and environment to deploy and develop applications faster. It simplified the move from PoC to production environments and enabled us to easily scale out services utilizing a distributed cluster-based architecture.

What advice do you have for companies considering a move to OpenStack?

It’s hard in the beginning but it’s really worth it. Be wise when you select your partners and vendors, this will help you to be online in a very short amount of time. Think about driving your internal organization towards a dev-ops model to be ready for the first deployments, as well as enabling your firm to change deployment models (e.g. going cloud-native) for your workloads when needed.

How do you participate in the community?

This year’s Austin event was our second OpenStack Summit where we provided insights into our deployment and architecture, contributing back to the community in terms of best practices, as well as providing real-world production use-cases. Furthermore, we directly contribute patches and improvements to various OpenStack projects. Some of these patches have already been accepted, while a few are in the pipeline to be further polished for publishing. Additionally, we are working very closely together with our vendors – RedHat, EMC, ClusterHQ/Flocker, PLUMgrid as well as the Cloud Foundry Foundation – and work together to further improve their integration and stability within the OpenStack project. For example, we worked closely together with Flocker for their cinder-based driver to orchestrate persistency among containers. Furthermore, we have provided many bug reports through our vendors and have worked together with them on fixes which then have made their way back into the OpenStack community.

What’s next?

We have a perfect solution for non-persistent container workloads for our customers. We are constantly evolving this product and are working especially hard to meet the enterprise- and finance-verticals requirements when it comes to the infrastructure orchestration of OpenStack.

Härry spoke about OpenStack in production at the recent Austin Summit, along with Pere Monclus of PLUMgrid, Chip Childers of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, Chris Wright of Red Hat and analyst Rosalyn Roseboro. 

May 10, 2016: Lenovo‘s Highly-Available OpenStack Enterprise Cloud Platform Practice with EasyStack press release by EasyStack

BEIJING, May 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — In 2015, the Chinese IT superpower Lenovo chose EasyStack to build an OpenStack-based enterprise cloud platform to carry out their “Internet Strategy”. In six months, this platform has evolved into an enterprise-level OpenStack production environment of over 3000 cores with data growth peaking at 10TB/day. It is expected that by the end of 2016, 20% of the IT system will be migrated onto the Cloud.

OpenStack is the foundation for Cloud, and perhaps has matured in the overseas market. In China, OpenStack practices worthy of noticing often come from the relatively new category of Internet Companies. Though it has long been marketed as “enterprise-ready”, traditional industries still tend to hold back towards OpenStack. This article aims to turn this perception around by presenting an OpenStack practice from the Chinese IT Superpower Lenovo, detailing their journey of transformation in both the technology and business realms to a private cloud built upon OpenStack. Although OpenStack will still be largely a carrier for internet businesses, Lenovo plans to migrate 20% of its IT system onto the cloud before the end of 2016 – taking a much applauded step forward.

Be it the traditional PC or the cellphone, technology’s evolving fast amidst this move towards mobile and social networking, and the competition’s fierce. In response to rapidly changing market dynamics, the Lenovo Group made the move of going from being product-oriented to a user-oriented strategy that can only be supported by an agile, flexible and scalable enterprise-level cloud platform capable of rapid iterations. After thorough consideration and careful evaluation, Lenovo chose OpenStack as the basis for their enterprise cloud platform to carry out this “Internet Strategy”. After six months of practice, this platform has evolved into an enterprise-level OpenStack production environment of over 3000 cores with data growth peaking at 10TB/day. It’s expected that 20% of the IT system will be migrated onto the Cloud by the end of 2016.

Transformation and Picking the Right Cloud

In the past, internal IT at Lenovo has always been channel- and key client-oriented, with a traditional architecture consisting of IBM Power, AIX, PowerVM, DB2 and more recently, VMware virtualization. In the move towards becoming an Internet Company, such traditional architecture was far from being able to support the user and business volume brought by the B2C model. Cost-wise, Lenovo’s large-scale deployment of commercial solutions were reliable but complex to scale and extremely expensive.

Also, this traditional IT architecture was inadequate in terms of operational efficiency, security and compliance and unable to support Lenovo’s transition towards eCommerce and mobile business. In 2015, Lenovo’s IT entered a stage of infrastructural re-vamp, in need of using a cloud computing platform to support new businesses.

To find the right makeup for the cloud platform, Lenovo performed meticulous analyses and comparisons on mainstream x86 virtualization technologies, private cloud platforms, and public cloud platforms. After evaluating stability, usability, openness and ecosystem vitality and comprehensiveness, Lenovo deemed the OpenStack cloud platform technology able to fulfill its enterprise needs and decided to use OpenStack as the infrastructural cloud platform supporting their constant businesses innovations.

Disaster recovery plans on virtual machines, cloud hard drives and databases were considered early on into the OpenStack architectural design to ensure prompt switch over when needed to maintain business availability.

A Highly Available Architectural Design

On architectural logic, Lenovo’s Enterprise Cloud Platform managed infrastructures through a software-defined-environment, using x86 servers and 10GB network at the base layer, alongside internet-style monitoring and maintenance solutions, while employing the OpenStack platform to perform overall resource management.

To ensure high availability and improve the cloud platform’s system efficiency, Lenovo designed a physical architecture, and used capable servers with advanced configurations to make up the compute, storage network all-in-one, then using OpenStack to integrate into a single resource pool, placing compute nodes and storage nodes on the same physical node.

Two-way X3650 servers and four-way ThinkServer RQ940 server as backbones at the hardware layer. For every node there are five SSD hard drivers and 12 SAS hard drives to make up the storage module. SSD not only acts as the storage buffer, but also is the high performance storage resource pool, accessing the distributed storage through the VM to achieve high availability.

Lenovo had to resolve a number of problems and overcome numerous hurdles to elevate OpenStack to the enterprise-level.

Compute

Here, Lenovo utilized high-density virtual machine deployment. At the base is KVM virtualization technology, optimized in multiple way to maximize physical server performance, isolating CPU, Memory and other hardware resources under the compute-storage convergent architecture. The outcome is the ability to have over 50 VMs running smoothly and efficiently on every two-core CPU compute node.

In the cloud environment, it’s encouraged to achieve high availability through not hardware, but solutions. Yet still there are some traditional applications that hold certain requirements to a single host server. For such applications unable to achieve High Availability, Lenovo used Compute HA technology to achieve high availability on compute nodes, performing fault detection through various methods, migrating virtual machines on faulted physical machine to other available physical machines when needed. This entire process is automated, reducing as much as possible business disruptions caused by physical machine breakdowns.

Network

Network Isolation

Using different NIC, different switch or different VLAN to isolate various networks such as stand-alone OpenStack management networks, virtual production networks, storage networks, public networks, and PXE networks, so that interferences are avoided, increasing overall bandwidth and enabling better network control.

Multi-Public Network

Achieve network agility through multiple public networks to better manage security strategies. The Public Networks from Unicom, Telecom and at the office are some examples

Network and Optimization

Better integrate with the traditional data center network through the VLAN network model, then optimize its data package processing to achieve improved capability on network data pack process, bringing closer the virtual machine bandwidth to that of the physical network.

Dual Network Protocol Bundling and Multi Switch

Achieve high availability of physical networks through dual network protocol bundling to different switches.

Network Node HA

Achieve public network load balance, high availability and high performance through multiple network nodes, at which router-level Active/Standby methodology is used to achieve HA, which is ensured through independent network router monitoring services.

Storage

The Lenovo OpenStack Cloud Platform used Ceph as the unified storage backend, in which data storage for Glance image mirroring, Nova virtual machine system disc, and Cinder cloud hard drive are provided by Ceph RBD. Using Ceph’s Copy on Write function to revise OpenStack codes can deploy virtual machines within seconds.

With Ceph as the unified storage backend, its functionality is undoubtedly a key metric on whether the critical applications of an enterprise can be virtualized and cloud-ready. In a super-convergent deployment architecture where compute and storage run alongside each other, storage function optimization not only have to maximize storage capability, but also have to ensure the isolation between storage and compute resources to maintain system stability. For the IO stack below, Lenovo conducted bottom-up layer-by-layer optimization:

On the Networks

Open the Jumbo frame, improve data transfer efficiency while use 10Gb Ethernet to carry Ceph Cluster network traffics, improving the efficiency on Ceph data replication.

On Functionality

Leverage Solid State Disc as the Ceph OSD log to improve overall cluster IO functionality, to fulfill performance demands of critical businesses ( for example the eCommerce system’s database businesses, etc.) and achieve function-cost balance. SSD is known for its low power consumption, prompt response, high IOPS, and high throughput. In the Ceph log system, these are aligned to multithread access; using SSD to replace mechanical hard drives can fully unleash SSD’s trait of random access, rapid response and high IO throughput. Appropriately optimizing IO coordination strategy and further suit it to SSD and lower overall IO latency.

Purposeful Planning

Plan the number of Ceph OSD under the super-convergent node reasonably according to virtual machine density on the server, while assign in advance CPU and other memory resources. Cgroup, taskset and other tools can be used to perform resource isolation for QEMU-KVM and Ceph OSD

Parameter Tuning

Regarding parameter tuning for Ceph, performance can be effectively improved by fine-tuning parameters on FileStore’s default sequence, OSD’s OP thread and others. Additional tuning can be done through performing iteration test to find the most suitable parameter for the current hardware environment.

Data HA

Regarding data HA, besides existing OpenStack data protection measures, Lenovo has planned a comprehensive disaster recovery protocol for its three centers at two locations:

By employing exclusive low-latency fiber-optic cable, data can be simultaneously stored in local backup centers, and started asynchronously in long-distance centers, maximizing data security.

AD Integration

In addition, Lenovo has integrated its own business demands into the OpenStack enterprise cloud platform. As a mega company with tens of thousands of employees, AD activity logs are needed for authorization so that staffs won’t need to be individually set up user commands. Through customized development by part of the collaborator, Lenovo has successfully integrated AD functions into its OpenStack Enterprise Cloud Platform.

Overall Outcomes

Lenovo’s transformation towards being “internet-driven” was able to begin after the buildup of this OpenStack Enterprise Cloud Platform. eCommerce, Big Data and Analytics, IM, Online Mobile Phone Support and other internet based businesses, all supported by this cloud platform. Judging from feedback from the team, the Lenovo OpenStack Enterprise Cloud Platform is functioning as expected.

In the process of building up this OpenStack based enterprise cloud platform, Lenovo chose EasyStack, the leading Chinese OpenStack Company to provide professional implementation and consulting services, helping to build the initial platform, fostering a number of OpenStack experts. For Lenovo, community compatibility and continuous upgrade, as well as experiences in delivering services at the enterprise level are the main factors for consideration when choosing an OpenStack business partner.

Microsoft chairman: The transition to a subscription-based cloud business isn’t fast enough. Revamp the sales force for cloud-based selling.

See also my earlier posts:
– John W. Thompson, Chairman of the Board of Microsoft: the least recognized person in the radical two-men shakeup of the uppermost leadership, ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft, ‘Experiencing the Cloud’, July 23, 2014

May 17, 2016John Thompson: Microsoft Should Move Faster on Cloud Plan in an interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang on “Bloomberg West”

The focus is very-very good right now. We’re focused on cloud, on the hydrid model of the cloud. We’re focused on the application services we can deliver not just in the cloud but on multiple devices. If ever I would like to see something change, it’s more about pace. From my days at IBM [Thompson spent 28 years at IBM before becoming chief executive at Symantec] I can remember we never seemed to be running or moving fast enough. That is always the case in the established enterprise. While you believe that you’re moving fast in fact you’re not moving as fast as a startup.

June 2, 2016: Microsoft Ramps Up Its Cloud Efforts Bloomberg Intelligence’s Mandeep Singh reports on “Bloomberg Markets”

If you look at their segment revenue 43% from Windows and hardware devices. That part is the one where it is hard to come up with a cloud strategy to really kind of migrate that segment to the cloud very quickly. The infrastructure side is 30%, that is taken care of, and the Office is the other 30% that they have a good mix. That is really the other 43% revenue they have to figure out how to accelerate that transition to the cloud.

Then Bloomberg’s June 2, 2016 article (written by Dina Bass) came out with the following verdict:

Microsoft Board Mulls Sales Force Revamp to Speed Shift to Cloud 

Board members at Microsoft Corp. are grappling with a growing concern: that the company’s traditional software business, which makes up the majority of its sales, could evaporate in a matter of years — and Chairman John Thompson is pushing for a more aggressive shift into newer cloud-based products.

Thompson said he and the board are pleased with a push by Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella to make more money from software and services delivered over the internet, but want it to move much faster. They’re considering ideas like increasing spending, overhauling the sales force and managing partnerships differently to step up the pace.

The cloud growth isn’t merely nice to have — it’s critical against the backdrop of declining demand for what’s known as on-premise software programs, the more traditional approach that involves installing software on a company’s own computers and networks. No one knows exactly how quickly sales of those legacy offerings will drop off, Thompson said, but it’s “inevitable that part of our business will be under continued pressure.”

The board members’ concern was born from experience. Thompson recounts how fellow director Chuck Noski, a former chief financial officer of AT&T, watched the telecom carrier’s traditional wireline business evaporate in just three years as the world shifted to mobile. Now, Noski and Thompson are asking whether something similar could happen to Microsoft.

“What’s the likelihood that could happen with on-prem versus cloud? That in three years, we look up and it’s gone?” Thompson said in an interview, snapping his fingers to make the point.

Small, but Growing

Nadella has said the company is on track to make its forecast for $20 billion in annualized sales from commercial cloud products in fiscal 2018. Still, Thompson said, the cloud business could be even further along, and the software maker should have started its push much earlier. Commercial cloud services revenue has posted impressive growth rates — with Azure product sales rising more than 100 percent quarterly — but the total business contributed just $5.8 billion of Microsoft’s $93.6 billion in sales in the latest fiscal year.

Thompson praised the technology behind smaller cloud products, such as Power BI tools for business analysis and data visualization and the enterprise mobile management service, which delivers apps and data to various corporate devices. But the latter, for example, brings in $300 million a year — just a sliver of overall annual revenue, which will soon top $100 billion, Thompson said.

The board is examining whether Microsoft has invested enough in its complete cloud lineup, Thompson said. It’s not just about developing better cloud technology — it’s a question of how the company sells those products and its strategy for recruiting partners to resell Microsoft’s services and build their own offerings on top of them. Persuading partners to develop compatible applications is a strong point for cloud market leader Amazon.com Inc., he said.

Thompson declined to be specific about what the company might change in sales and partnerships, but he said the company may need to “re-imagine” those organizations. “The question is, should it be more?” he said. “If you believe we need to run harder, run faster, be less risk-averse as a mantra, the question is how much more do you do.”

Cloud Partnerships

Analysts say Microsoft should seek to develop a deeper bench of partners making software for Azure and consultants to install and manage those services for customers who need the help. Microsoft is working on this, but is behind Amazon Web Services, said Lydia Leong, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

“They are nowhere near at the same level of sophistication, and the Microsoft partners are mostly new to the Azure ecosystem, so they don’t know it as well,” she said. “If you’re a customer and you want to migrate to AWS, you have this massive army that can help you.”

In the sales force, Microsoft’s representatives need more experience in cloud deals — which are generally subscription-based rather than one-time purchases — and how they differ from traditional software contracts, said Matt McIlwain, managing director at Seattle’s Madrona Venture Partners. “They haven’t made enough of a transition to a cloud-based selling motion,” he said. “It’s still a work in progress.”

Microsoft declined to comment on the company’s cloud strategy or any changes to sales and partnerships for this story, and director Noski couldn’t be reached for comment.

One-Time Purchases

The company’s dependence on demand for traditional software was painfully apparent in its most recent quarterly report, when revenue was weighed down by weakness in its transactional business, or one-time purchases of software that customers store and run on their own PCs and networks. Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood in April said that lackluster transactional sales were likely to continue.

Microsoft’s two biggest cloud businesses are the Azure web-based service, which trails top provider Amazon but leads Google and International Business Machines Corp., and the Office 365 cloud versions of e-mail, collaboration software, word-processing and spreadsheet software. Microsoft’s key on-premise products include Windows Server and traditional versions of Office and the SQL database server.

Slumps like last quarter’s hurt even more amid the company’s shift to the cloud, which has brought a lot of changes to its financial reporting. For cloud deals, revenue is recognized over the term of the deal rather than providing an up-front boost. They’re also lower-margin businesses, squeezed by the cost of building and maintaining data centers to deliver the services. Microsoft’s gross margin dropped from 80 percent in fiscal 2010 to 65 percent in the year that ended June 30, 2015.

“This business growing incredibly well, but the gross margin of that is substantially lower than their core products of the olden days,” said Anurag Rana, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “How low do they go?”

‘Different Model’ [of doing business for subscription-based software]

It’s jarring for some investors, but the other option is worse, said Thompson.

That’s a very different model for Microsoft and one our investors are going to have to suck it up and embrace, because the alternative is don’t embrace the cloud and you wake up one day and you look just like — guess who?” Thompson doesn’t finish the sentence, but makes it clear he’s referring to IBM, the company where he spent more than 27 years, which he says is “not relevant anymore.” IBM declined to comment.

The pressure is good for Microsoft, Thompson said — pressure tends to result in change.

“You can re-imagine things when you’re stressed. It’s a lot easier to do it when you’re stressed because you feel compelled to do something,” Thompson said. “I see a lot of stress at Microsoft.”

The Nokia phone business is to be relaunched via a $500M private startup with Android smartphones and tablets in addition to the feature phones for which manufacturing, sales and distribution, would be acquired from Microsoft by a subsidiary of Foxconn

May 18, 2016: Microsoft selling feature phone business to FIH Mobile Ltd. and HMD Global, Oy

REDMOND, Wash. — May 18, 2016 — Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced it reached an agreement to sell the company’s entry-level feature phone assets to FIH Mobile Ltd., a subsidiary of Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Group, and HMD Global, Oy for $350 million. As part of the deal, FIH Mobile Ltd. will also acquire Microsoft Mobile Vietnamthe company’s Hanoi, Vietnam, manufacturing facility. Upon close of this deal, approximately 4,500 employees will transfer to, or have the opportunity to join, FIH Mobile Ltd. or HMD Global, Oy, subject to compliance with local law.

Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, and phones from OEM partners like Acer, Alcatel, HP, Trinity and VAIO.

As part of the deal, Microsoft will transfer substantially all of its feature phone assets, including brands, software and services, care network and other assets, customer contracts, and critical supply agreements, subject to compliance with local law. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2016, subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For FY16 Q3:

  • Surface revenue increased 61% [to $1.111] in constant currency driven by Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book
  • Phone revenue declined 46% in constant currency

Now under Nokia Technologies (TECH) the relaunched Nokia phone and tablet business will also exploit such TECH innovations as the recent Nokia OZO: a better way to capture VR

May 18, 2016: Nokia signs strategic brand and intellectual property licensing agreement enabling HMD global to create new generation of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets

Nokia signs strategic brand and intellectual property licensing agreement enabling HMD global to create new generation of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets

Espoo, Finland – Nokia has announced plans that will see the Nokia brand return to the mobile phone and tablet markets on a global basis. Under a strategic agreement covering branding rights and intellectual property licensing, Nokia Technologies will grant HMD global Oy (HMD), a newly founded company based in Finland, an exclusive global license [1] to create Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets for the next ten years. Under the agreement, Nokia Technologies will receive royalty payments from HMD for sales of Nokia-branded mobile products, covering both brand and intellectual property rights.

HMD has been founded to provide a focused, independent home for a full range of Nokia-branded feature phones, smartphones and tablets. To complete its portfolio of Nokia branding rights, HMD announced today that it has conditionally agreed to acquire from Microsoft the rights to use the Nokia brand on feature phones, and certain related design rights. The Microsoft transaction is expected to close in H2 2016. Together these agreements would make HMD the sole global licensee for all types of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets. HMD intends to invest over USD 500 million over the next three years to support the global marketing of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, funded via its investors and profits from the acquired feature phone business.

Nokia-branded feature phones remain one of the most popular choices of mobile phone in many markets around the world today, and HMD will continue to market them as part of an integrated portfolio alongside a new range of smartphones and tablets. HMD’s new smartphone and tablet portfolio will be based on Android, uniting one of the world’s iconic mobile brands with the leading mobile operating system and app development community.

As also announced today by FIH Mobile Limited (FIH), a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industries (trading as Foxconn Technology Group), the remainder of Microsoft’s feature phone business assets, including manufacturing, sales and distribution, would be acquired by FIH. HMD and Nokia Technologies have signed an agreement with FIH to establish a collaboration framework to support the building of a global business for Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets. This agreement will give HMD full operational control of sales, marketing and distribution of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, with exclusive access to the pre-eminent global sales and distribution network to be acquired from Microsoft by FIH, access to FIH’s world-leading device manufacturing, supply chain and engineering capabilities, and to its growing suite of proprietary mobile technologies and components.

Nokia will provide HMD with branding rights and cellular standard essential patent licenses in return for royalty payments, but will not be making a financial investment or holding equity in HMD.  Nokia Technologies will take a seat on the Board of Directors of HMD and set mandatory brand requirements and performance related provisions to ensure that all Nokia-branded products exemplify consumer expectations of Nokia devices, including quality, design and consumer focused innovation.

HMD would be led, once the Microsoft transaction closes, by Arto Nummela as CEO, who previously held senior positions at Nokia and is currently the head of Microsoft’s Mobile Devices business for Greater Asia, Middle East and Africa, as well as Microsoft’s global Feature Phones business. HMD’s president on closing would be Florian Seiche, who is currently Senior Vice President for Europe Sales and Marketing at Microsoft Mobile, and previously held key roles at Nokia, HTC and other global brands.

Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies, said:
“Today marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the Nokia brand in an industry where Nokia remains a truly iconic name. Instead of Nokia returning to manufacturing mobile phones itself, HMD plans to produce mobile phones and tablets that can leverage and grow the value of the Nokia brand in global markets. Working with HMD and FIH will let us participate in one of the largest consumer electronics markets in the world while staying true to our licensing business model.”

Arto Nummela, CEO-designate of HMD, said:
“We will be completely focused on creating a unified range of Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets, which we know will resonate with consumers. Branding has become a critical differentiator in mobile phones, which is why our business model is centered on the unique asset of the Nokia brand and our extensive experience in sales and marketing. We will work with world class providers in manufacturing and distribution to move quickly and deliver what customers want.”

Vincent Tong, Chairman of FIH, added:
“We are looking forward to fostering a strong and long-term collaboration with HMD global and Nokia. We are impressed by the experience and expertise of the HMD management team and are committed to supporting them with our manufacturing, technology and supply chain capabilities, to capture market opportunities together in the future.”

1 Excluding Japan

About Nokia Technologies
Nokia Technologies (TECH) is Nokia’s advanced technology and licensing business. Formed in 2014, TECH builds upon Nokia’s solid foundation of industry-leading licensing and technology R&D capabilities. By focusing on Digital Health, Digital Media, Brand Licensing, and Patent Licensing, TECH is expanding the human possibilities of the ever-evolving world of technology. In 2015, Nokia Technologies launched OZO, the world’s first virtual reality (VR) camera designed for professionals.

About Nokia
Nokia is a global leader in the technologies that connect people and things. Powered by the innovation of Bell Labs and Nokia Technologies, the company is at the forefront of creating and licensing the technologies that are increasingly at the heart of our connected lives.

With state-of-the-art software, hardware and services for any type of network, Nokia is uniquely positioned to help communication service providers, governments, and large enterprises deliver on the promise of 5G, the Cloud and the Internet of Things.http://nokia.com

About HMD global
Registered and headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, HMD is a new private venture founded to create a new generation of Nokia-branded mobile devices. HMD is run by a group of experienced industry leaders, including CEO Arto Nummela, previously of Nokia and currently the head of Microsoft’s Mobile Devices business for Greater Asia, Middle East and Africa as well as Microsoft’s global Feature Phones business, and President Florian Seiche, who is currently Senior Vice President for Europe Sales and Marketing at Microsoft Mobile, and previously held key roles at Nokia, HTC and other global brands.
www.hmdglobal.com

The answer to the question you’ve all been asking, Nokia

We are proud to announce that the Nokia brand will be returning to the worldwide mobile phone and tablet market.

Every day our fans continue to ask for Nokia smartphones. In fact, in a recent survey, we found that Nokia smartphones are amongst the top five considered brands for purchase by smartphone buyers – and they aren’t even available yet.

So, under a new agreement, Nokia Technologies has granted HMD, a new company led by some of the world’s top mobile specialists, an exclusive global license to create a full range of Nokia-branded smartphones, tablets, and feature phones for the next decade.

The new smartphones and tablets will be based on Android, uniting one of the world’s iconic mobile brands, Nokia, with the leading mobile operating system and app development community.

There is still much work for HMD to do, so you’ll need to wait a bit longer to see what the next wave of Nokia phones and tablets look like. One thing we can assure you is that they will exemplify what you have come to expect from all Nokia devices, including quality, design, and innovation.

A big thanks to you and all of the Nokia supporters around the world. You continue to remind us of the difference our devices have made in your lives. We can’t wait for you to meet the next generation.

HMD Global Team:

arto-nummela[1]Arto Nummela is currently the Vice President of Mobile Devices Business of Microsoft in Greater Asia, Middle East and Africa region.

Subject to regulatory approval and the closing of the Microsoft feature phone transaction to the new company, Arto will become CEO of HMD global, the holding company & exclusive licence holder of Nokia phones.

As an experienced figure in the telecoms industry, Arto has a proven track record in commercial success, building long-term partnerships to enable global business innovation and growth. An intrinsic part of this process – is establishing and motivating strong teams around him – as well as being committed to continued personal growth.

Arto has deep roots in Finland, but has a genuinely global perspective built through experience. His insights into consumer business have been deepened by leading diverse teams from Europe, the Americas, India, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, China and Japan.

Having been an intrinsic part of the original Nokia team, Arto’s list of accomplishments include; open-distribution model development, strategic alliances, joint ventures and partnerships, market-based pricing strategies, global R&D management – specifically for high end smartphone devices, ramping up new global phone architecture work, as well as ramping up product portfolio for new cellular technology generation, alongside a very strong focus on employee loyalty and retention. Arto has led teams in strategic and tactical global product planning, developing and launching new products, as well as brand development and broader market expansion. From 2011 to 2013, Arto also served as a member of the board of directors for CommNexus, a California-based tech incubator, built for start-ups.

Since 2015, Arto has been driving the Microsoft Devices business in Greater Asia, the Middle East and Africa, with global leadership of the Feature Phones business. He joined Nokia in 1994, leading through Microsoft’s 2014 acquisition of the company.

florian-seiche[1]Florian Seiche is a recognised name in the telecoms industry, having been one of the key figures behind the launch and subsequent growth of the HTC brand. He has since gone on to develop and drive the mobile divisions at Nokia and most recently at Microsoft, in the role of VP of Sales across Europe.

Subject to regulatory approval and the closing of the Microsoft feature phone transaction to the new company, Florian will become President of HMD global, the holding company & exclusive licence holder of Nokia phones.

Well known for his lynchpin role as President of HTC EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), Florian not only established HTC’s EMEA operations in 2005, he went on to oversee the growth of HTC’s business and brand to become one of the most critically acclaimed phone names in the world.

His big brand global experience is far reaching. Prior to joining HTC, Florian was the Global Director of Devices for the Orange Group in London (2003-2005). Under his leadership, Orange successfully rolled out its ‘signature device’ program, which contributed considerably to increased phone usage and ARPU, while at the same time increasing customer loyalty by delivering a compelling user experience.

Florian began his career at Siemens, where he worked for more than ten years. Between January 2000 and February 2003, Florian served as Vice President and General Manager of Siemens Mobile Phones USA in San Diego, leading Siemens’ mobile phone entry into North America.

Having worked extensively across both sales and marketing, Florian boasts an intimate understanding of both consumer trends and demands, as well as the requirements of the key stakeholders in the telecoms supply chain.

Florian holds both Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Economics from the University of Cologne, Germany. He lives in Windsor, UK with his wife Michele and son Jan-Philipp.

The Next Revolution: 3D XPoint™ non-volatile memories with speed and performance close to DRAM

UPDATE

June 20, 2017, Intel Online: How fast is Intel® Optane™ Memory? Performance results
Comparing two identical NUCs – one with Intel® Optane™ memory.

28%

14x

2x

Overall system performance is
up to 28% faster6 7 8
Increase system performance for hard drive access
by up to 14x faster 9 7 8
Improve everyday task responsiveness
by 2x 6 7 8

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