Monthly Archives: March 2018

Updates from Ciena

Coherent optical turns 10: Here’s how it was made
By Bo Gowan – This is the story of how a team of over 100 people in Ciena’s R&D labs pulled together an impressive collection of technology innovations that created a completely new way of transporting data over fiber…and in the processes helped change the direction of the entire optical networking industry.

Back in 2008, many in the industry had serious doubts that commercializing coherent fiber optic transport was even possible, much less the future of optical communications. That left a team of Ciena engineers to defy the naysayers and hold the torch of innovation.

“What we first began to see at Telecom 99 was that we could achieve these high speeds the brute force way, but it was really, really painful,” said Dino DiPerna in an interview.  Dino, along with many in his team, were brought on by Ciena as part of the company’s 2010 acquisition of Nortel’s optical business.  He now serves as Ciena’s Vice President of Packet-Optical Platforms R&D and is based in Ottawa.

By ‘brute force’ Dino is referring to the traditional time-division multiplexing (TDM) method that had been used until then to speed up optical transmission – basically turning the light on and off at increasingly faster speeds (also called the baud or symbol rate). “But once you start pushing past 10 billion times per second, you begin running into significant problems,” said DiPerna.

Those complexities had to do with the underlying boundaries of what you can do with light. The fundamental issue at hand was the natural spread and propagation of light as it travels along the fiber – created by two phenomenon called chromatic dispersion and polarization mode dispersion, or PMD. As you push past 10G speeds, the tolerance to chromatic dispersion goes down with the square of the baud. Due to PMD and noise from optical amplifiers, a 40 Gbaud stream will lose at least 75% of its reach compared to a 10 Gbaud stream.

This reach limitation had two consequences. First, it meant adding more costly regenerators to the network. Second, it meant that the underlying fiber plant required a more expensive, high-quality fiber to operate properly at 40G transmission speeds. more>

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Updates from Chicago Booth

The good and bad of blockchain
By Rose Jacobs – There’s a drawback: blockchains have the potential to increase collusion, according to Chicago Booth’s Lin William Cong and Zhiguo He.

The researchers’ modeling, part of their research into how blockchains might affect competition, suggests that the way blockchains work as a decentralized ledger involves distributing more information, which could make it easier for competitors to quietly and often tacitly collude to keep prices high, ultimately to the detriment of consumers. But Cong and He propose a few potential remedies.

Blockchain is less well-known than Bitcoin but may have more staying power. Its main functionality is providing “decentralized consensus,” say Cong and He. In most societies and economies, parties in a contract rely on a government, court, or other third-party arbitrator to essentially oversee and enforce rules in private contracts—to provide consensus, as the researchers put it. Blockchain provides that function in a more decentralized manner by generating, storing, and distributing the record of rules and regulations.

Blockchain idealists would have all transactions stored on one chain—the one that already exists, thanks to Bitcoin. This would create a massive, democratic, stable, and unified public record. But most companies don’t buy into this vision.

Critics say this is because they want to control the chains, keeping out new competitors by using private or “permissioned” blockchains. more>

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Updates from Georgia Tech

Simulation Supports Program to Help Pilots in Degraded Visual Environments
By John Toon – A degraded visual environment occurs when helicopters landing on loose soil, such as desert terrain, stir up dust that creates brownout conditions which make it challenging for pilots to see obstacles on the ground. The simulation will support the development of a multi-sensor system designed to give U.S. Army rotorcraft pilots better situational awareness during these challenging conditions.

GTRI researchers are developing different ways to show fused sensor images to pilots during brownout conditions. In an Army cockpit simulator lab, experienced rotorcraft pilots will use the simulations to determine how information should be presented during high-stress approach, landing and takeoff conditions. The pilot feedback will assist the Army in defining the Pilot Vehicle Interface for the new Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) system that will be used on Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters. It will also be used to inform a milestone decision for integration into the Army aviation platforms.

The simulation project is challenging because the data comes from different sources, at different data rates and different resolutions. The emulator must work accurately under varying conditions, including daytime and nighttime operations. Because the system is used to analyze pilot interaction with the new sensors, the provided solution includes flexibility to easily reconfigure various parameters such as symbology sets, types of sensors, sensor performance characteristics, and symbology color. more>

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Why you should use cloud direct connect

datacenter.com – Cloud direct connect allows enterprises to access public cloud services (i.e. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, TencentCloud, etc) over a dedicated, private connection rather than over the public Internet. The benefits of direct cloud connections to your own network include greater reliability, better performance (better speed, lower latencies) and a higher security than typical connections over the Internet.

The costs of WAN and public Internet connectivity can be significant. The cost of moving a lot of data to your cloud provider vary per provider, but often are expensive. By using a neutral data center, you have access to multiple carriers who can provide you the necessary public Internet connections and direct cloud connect services. By segmenting the various network workloads, you can often realize savings in bandwidth and reduce the costs of moving data to your public cloud provider.

By replacing a “best effort” network, such as the public Internet with a direct connection to your cloud provider, you gain consistency in throughput and performance. As the mathematical principle states, “the shortest distance between two points is a line.” By using cloud direct connect services you’re connecting to the cloud provider in a straight line and increasing your performance. more>

Creating Shared Value (CSV)

Operationalizing CSV Beyond The Firm

BOOK REVIEW

How to Fix Capitalism and Unleash a New Wave of Growth, Authors: Michael E. Porter, Mark Kramer.

By Henning Meyer – Under the CSV concept, firms participate in different markets to create social and economic value but Porter and Kramer do not analyse the nature of markets nor do they provide any explanation for how the creation of social value via market mechanisms is necessarily rooted in the social nature of markets themselves.

The standard neoclassical model of transactional markets that are driven by purely rational players is an ideal type in Max Weber’s sense, i.e. an abstract model not to be found in this pure form. Any approach assuming the creation of social value by market mechanisms, however, should provide a deeper understanding of the social nature of markets themselves. This is a crucial backdrop to defining, creating and measuring social value: it is dependent on this context.

On this basis, in a further step, it is vital to develop an understanding of public policy and the government’s role in markets. Public policy’s character is not limited to basic regulation and market-fixing where market mechanisms left to themselves would produce externalities.

Government policy, moreover, aims at market creation and incentive shaping. Understanding the interplay between companies and governments in markets that themselves are social in nature is therefore fundamentally important to understand social value and to move beyond the narrow organzational focus of Porter and Kramer. On this basis, in addition to the three operational dimensions within firms that Porter and Kramer describe, CSV can be more broadly operationalized using a corporate diplomacy approach and the tools of non-market strategy to provide a more holistic and comprehensive view of the CSV process.

There has been significant criticism undermining the academic credibility
of CSV and the way in which Porter and Kramer present their work. In essence, these criticisms refer to the originality of CSV as well as the concept being superficial about a company’s role in society and naïve about the trade-offs between social and economic goals and business compliance.

There is also a question about shared value itself. It is clear what the economic value part of shared value is: a better bottom line for corporations. But beyond the obvious win-win situations, what is social value and how does one define and measure it?

What are the trade-offs involved? (pdf) more>

The Fifth Question For BRAVE Leaders: What Impact?

By George Bradt – Environment, values, attitude and relationships all inform behaviors and what impact you and your team make.

Ultimately, you lead with your feet, with what you do, more than with what you say. So focus everything and everyone on those few behaviors with the greatest impact.

Make a plan, identifying your needs and concerns and the other party’s. Get started with areas of agreement. Clarity positions, stating, supporting, listening. Find alternatives.

Gain agreement by studying proposals, making concessions, summarizing and testing. Implement, communicating, delivering and monitoring.

Work through the steps of AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) Broadly build awareness. Engage in conversations with those interested. Jump in with both feet once someone has a real desire.

And then follow through to over deliver once they act. more>

Updates from Ciena

Fiber Deep: Bringing bandwidth to the edge

By Elias Cagiannos – It is no secret that on-demand audio and video streaming services are surging as consumers turn away from traditional consumption models. In 2017, 54 percent of all TV households in the country had a Netflix subscription, up from 28 percent in 2011.

These services are using massive amounts of bandwidth and often free riding on top of Multi-Service Operators’ (MSOs) networks.

As I spend time meeting with Ciena’s MSO customers, I understand that pressures don’t stop there. For example, aging and inefficient analog infrastructures are hampering bandwidth growth. In turn, this is preventing them from introducing new services as higher speeds and symmetrical services such as picture and video storage in the cloud, social media and video chatting have become more important.

Not only do these infrastructures impede service agility, but the network is becoming increasingly complex to scale. MSOs are adding more equipment to address their dynamic needs – but lack the analytics and insights to proactively make the necessary changes and are instead constantly finding themselves having to react to problems. In today’s hyper-competitive market, this can make or break a MSO’s reputation when quality of experience means everything. more>

Rational Irrational Exuberance?

By Andrés Velasco – The timing was exquisitely ironic: equity markets peaked – and a week later began crashing – just as pundits left this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, where they concluded that the global economy was on a steady upswing. In the weeks since, experts have divided into two camps.

Some, including new US Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell, believe that economic fundamentals are strong, and that what stock markets experienced in early February was only a temporary hiccup.

Then there are those who believe that fundamentals are in fact weak, that the current upswing will prove unsustainable, and that investors should regard stock-market gyrations as a necessary wakeup call.

Both schools of thought share a focus on fundamentals, unlike a third – and, in my opinion, highly plausible – view: that the asset-price volatility we have been seeing has little or nothing to do with changes in fundamentals.

The human brain is wired to structure knowledge around narratives in which we can tell if and how A (and B and C) causes X. We tend to be uncomfortable with the notion that an economy’s fundamentals do not determine its asset prices, so we look for causal links between the two. But needing or wanting those links does not make them valid or true. more>

Three Cheers for Financial Repression

By Tom Streithorst – “Financial repression.” It sounds terrifying, right? It smacks of authoritarian bureaucrats sucking the life-blood out of hard-working, innovative makers and doers.

Umm, no. That’s not even close. It’s about bondholders. Economists started using the term in the 1970s when bondholders were losing money because inflation exceeded the interest rate.

These days, it’s market forces more than government policy that push real interest rates below zero. Whether you call it a savings glut or secular stagnation, our collective desire to save far exceeds our collective desire to invest. Savers want safe assets more than borrowers want to invest in productive capacity.

Don’t cry for the rentier class. For the past forty years (ever since Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker manufactured a brutal recession in order to eliminate 1970s inflation) economic policymakers have concentrated on ensuring the profitability of the bond market more than just about anything else. They focused their attention on financial stability and low inflation rather than the traditional goal of promoting full employment.

Consequently, the financial sector has quadrupled in size relative to the rest of the economy, the rich absorb most of the benefits of growth, and workers’ real wages have stagnated or even declined. Financialization has made wealthholders richer than ever, but it hasn’t done much for the rest of us.

What is good for the bankers has not been good for the economy as a whole. more>

How to Win When You’re Under Attack in a Meeting

BOOK REVIEW

Just Listen, Author: Mark Goulston.

By Art Petty – For high-stakes topics involving strategy and investments, you’re in competition with others for attention and resources, and not everyone wants you to win. When faced with a direct or passive-aggressive attack on your ideas and character, your response speaks volumes about your maturity and leadership to everyone involved.

Learn to navigate meeting room confrontations with diplomacy, grace, and a good bit of psychology, and you will go far.

For all sorts of good reasons, we’re wired as humans to quickly recognize dangerous situations and respond accordingly. Our brains shift precious resources away from the slower, smaller processing center and trigger a flood of chemicals preparing us for fight or flight. Drunk with adrenaline, we’re apt to either lash out or look for the first exit, including shrinking and withdrawing.

Dr. Goulston suggests we run through a simple mantra that allows us to derail the amygdala hijack and maintain our presence of mind.

Your goal is to gain a few precious seconds and work your reboot process. more>