How Juniper’s Contrail Stacks Against VMware’s NSX

Not content to merely stand by and watch the software-defined network (SDN) train roar by, Juniper Networks is bringing Contrail, its own open-source SDN software stack, to the tracks.

Contrail is a production-ready, standards-based, scalable network virtualization and intelligence solution for SDNs. Contrail aims to help IT bridge physical and virtual networks and give service providers and enterprises an open, agile solution. The technology has been in trials with more than 40 global customers. Partners include IBM, Citrix, Riverbed and Red Hat.

"SDN has tremendous promise to drive agility, fuel innovation, and reduce costs for both enterprise and service providers," said Bob Muglia, executive vice president of Software Solutions Division at Juniper Networks. "Customers are excited by this potential, but until now, SDN has been a lot of hype and not much reality."

Juniper's SDN Pitch

Juniper is looking to change that with Contrail. Here's the networking company's pitch: Enterprises are looking for more efficient ways to build private, public and hybrid clouds to increase application deployment agility. However, traditional networking has not kept pace and can still be manual, static and complex.

Juniper argues that Contrail virtualizes the network, brings advanced networking capabilities into the hypervisor and integrates with cloud orchestration systems, to make possible automation and orchestration across multiple cloud platforms. The solution also offers an analytics engine that offers a real-time view into network operations.

At the same time, network and cloud service providers are under tremendous pressure to develop, deploy and monetize new services, but most services are difficult to reconfigure or adapt to changing user demands. Contrail also helps them bring new services to market by providing a smooth transition with automatic provisioning and dynamic service chaining in cloud environments that run on x86-based servers.

Contrail Versus NSX

We asked Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, for his take on...

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Some Employers See Perks of Hiring Older Workers

Older people searching for jobs have long fought back stereotypes that they lack the speed, technology skills and dynamism of younger applicants. But as a wave of baby boomers seeks to stay on the job later in life, some employers are finding older workers are precisely what they need.

"There's no experience like experience," said David Mintz, CEO of dairy-free products maker Tofutti, where about one-third of the workers are over 50. "I can't put an ad saying, 'Older people wanted,' but there's no comparison."

Surveys consistently show older people believe they experience age discrimination on the job market, and although unemployment is lower among older workers, long-term unemployment is far higher. As the American population and its labor force reshape, though, with a larger chunk of older workers, some employers are slowly recognizing their skill and experience.

About 200 employers, from Google to AT&T to MetLife, have signed an AARP pledge recognizing the value of experienced workers and vowing to consider applicants 50 and older.

One of them, New York-based KPMG, has found success with a high proportion of older workers, who bring experience that the company says adds credibility. The auditing, tax and advisory firm says older workers also tend to be more dedicated to staying with the company, a plus for clients who like to build a relationship with a consultant they can count on to be around for years.

"Some Gen Ys and Millennials have this notion of, 'I will have five jobs in 10 years,'" said Sig Shirodkar, a human resources executive at KPMG. "We're looking for ways to tame that beast."

Many employers find older workers help them connect with older clients. At the Vermont Country Store in Rockingham, Vt., the average customer is now in their 60s, and about half of the business' 400 workers are over 50, coming...

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Box Notes Gives Enterprise Words the Social Treatment

Cloud storage and file-sharing company Box today rolled out a new word processing feature called Box Notes. Designed for real-time work with others, Box Notes fattens the company's enterprise productivity toolset. Not only will Box users be more productive but the product debut makes competitive growth for the company more plausible, too.

Box Notes is not just a tool for creating words but for creating words that other team members can see and work on. The accent for Box Notes is on support for simultaneous work whether brainstorming at the outset or drawing up a final roadmap, allowing annotations among colleagues. Users jot down thoughts and ideas from within the Box framework.

Users can see who has access to the document at all times. An interesting feature is the way profile pictures, nicknamed "Note Heads" can pop up. "See who's collaborating on a Box Note in real-time with a user profile picture that follows your cursor in the left hand side of the screen, letting your colleagues easily see where you're working in the Box Note," according to Monday's launch announcement.

Jonathan Berger, Box Notes product manager, said, "When you're working on a note with multiple people, it's easy to see where everyone else is working. We've found that it facilitates activities like conference calls because you can say 'look here' rather than 'look at the third paragraph, line number four.'"

Limited Private Beta

As for security, Box Notes, built on Box, has data encryption, advanced account settings and global controls for managing access.

Today's launch, however, is limited. The launch is designed in private beta for a selected group of testers. Interested users are being asked to sign up at Box.com/notes. A wider release is planned for next year. A mobile version of Box Notes is in the wings for iOS and Android.

The...

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Was Nokia’s Android Phone Behind Microsoft Buyout?

Did Microsoft buy Nokia to keep that phone maker from moving to the Android platform? That is the question being raised again following confirmation that the Finnish company had developed an Android-based Lumia handset.

According to a story in the New York Times on Friday, an internal Nokia team had such a phone operational well before the two companies began negotiating the acquisition, which resulted in the $7.2 billion deal that was announced earlier this month. The Times cites two people "briefed on the effort" who chose to remain anonymous because the project had been confidential. The sources also told the newspaper that Microsoft executives were aware of Nokia's Android project.

It's not surprising that Nokia had an Android development project in the works, Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart told NewsFactor. At the time, he pointed out, "Nokia was considering its options, since it knew that Symbian was dying." He added that it had invested in its own operating system, MeeGo, and wondered "whether it should further invest in that effort," or move to an established operating system.

Just Another Android Vendor

Greengart noted that when the latter choice was made, the question then became whether to adopt Android or Windows Phone, and Nokia "conducted a little bake-off." He added that if Nokia had gone with the open-source Android, "they would have competed with Samsung, and they would have been just another Android vendor." But, by going with Windows Phone, he said, "they thought they could catalyze the ecosystem."

Microsoft's recent purchase, Greengart said, came two years later, when the key question was not whether "Nokia should move away from Windows Phone phones, but if it should get out of the phone business entirely" because it was losing so much money.

A data point in support of that argument is the recent loan of nearly...

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Sprint ‘One Ups’ Competitors with Upgrade Plan

Better late than never, Sprint is finally getting ready to enter the smartphone upgrade wars that T-Mobile launched this summer. But does Sprint's program differ from what its three main rivals are already offering?

Sprint is calling its early upgrade program, "One Up." Scheduled to launch on Sept. 20, it will work much the same way as competing programs. Of course, Sprint is positioning One Up as less expensive than the rest, claiming its Unlimited, My Way customers will save $220 each versus T-Mobile in the first year, more than $500 versus AT&T and nearly $600 more than wireless customers who opt for Verizon.

We turned to Jeff Kagan, a wireless analyst in Atlanta, to get his take on Sprint's entry into the smartphone upgrade wars. He told us he has been wondering when the United States' third-largest carrier would dive in.

"The wireless industry continues to grow and change. Keeping up with customer demands and competitive offerings is key," he said. "This is good news for Sprint customers who want to upgrade their devices once a year instead of once every two years."

Comparing Plan Details

Sprint's choice of names for its program is interesting, considering this stage of the carrier wars officially started when AT&T one-upped T-Mobile, the company it couldn't buy. T-Mobile debuted Jump in July, which charges consumers $10 a month for the freedom to upgrade their phones as often as twice a year after six months of service.

AT&T responded with Next, which rolled out on July 26. Customers pay monthly installments for the devices they select. After 12 payments, they can trade them in and upgrade to brand new devices or they can keep using the devices they have. After 20 monthly payments, the devices belong to the consumers free and clear. And there's no penalty for paying off the...

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What iOS 7 Has in Store for Enterprise Business Users

The Apple iOS 7 mobile operating system offers a whole new look and feel for iPhone and iPad users, with plenty of new bells and whistles that cater to enterprise business users. Roll out of iOS7 as a free upgrade begins on September 18.

Apple engineered iOS 7 to take full advantage of the advanced 64-bit technologies in the iPhone 5s, including the native 64-bit kernel, libraries and drivers. All the built-in apps have been re-engineered for 64-bit processing and can run both 32-bit and 64-bit apps.

"iOS 7 is completely redesigned with an entirely new user interface and over 200 new features, so it's like getting a brand new device, but one that will still be instantly familiar to our users," said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering.

Why Enterprises Will Like iOS 7

We asked Michael Disabato, managing vice president of Network and Telecom at Gartner, how he expects the new mobile operating system to resonate with enterprise users. He told us IT managers, in particular, will appreciate iOS 7 because it offers better control over apps.

"Apple is providing increased security for applications you deploy for enterprise use and putting in better data loss protection around e-mail and attachments," Disabato said. "You can configure the applications to use the VPN [virtual private network] or not use the VPN. The VPN can be set to split tunnel, which means when you start browsing or use your banking app, that traffic doesn't go through the VPN -- and when you use a corporate application it does. Companies actually don't want to know what you are doing with your device."

Enterprises will also appreciate the fact that Apple can configure devices to tie to particular MDM [mobile device management] servers. That means if an employee decides to take the device after he...

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How To Get a Piece of Twitter’s IPO

Investors looking to buy into the much-anticipated IPO of Twitter are going to have some waiting to do before seeing if there will be any shares for them.

Details are still scarce on the initial public offering of Twitter, since the company has only provided its registration privately to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Investors are still waiting for details on how many shares of the social media company will be offered, the timing of the offering and the price of the shares.

Typically, IPOs of much-anticipated IPOs are doled out by the investment bankers running the deal to their favored clients and long-standing customers. Individual investors interested in buying shares usually have to purchase them in the open market once trading begins. But experts are thinking Twitter may likely follow the lead set by Facebook and other recent IPOs in holding back some shares for individual investors.

With most recent IPOs, there will usually be about 20% of the shares outstanding held back for individual investors, says Jay Ritter, professor of finance at the University of Florida. In Facebook's case, the number was actually higher, 25%, because demand for large institutional investors weakened as the deal neared. Many large investors were turned off by Facebook's lofty price range, the large number of shares being offered and its questionable future in mobile, and pulled back their purchases. Facebook raised more than $16 billion in the largest Internet IPO in history, Ritter says.

Investors interested in getting a piece of Twitter will need to check with their brokerages over the coming months to see how many shares, if any, will be available to them. Most large online brokerages, including TD Ameritrade, Fidelity and Charles Schwab, have deals with underwriters that allow them to get allocations to certain IPOs.

More details will be revealed after Twitter officially...

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Robohand Uses 3-D Printing To Replace Lost Fingers

Richard Van As, a South African carpenter, lost four fingers from his right hand to a circular saw two years ago. He was unable to afford the tens of thousands of dollars to get a myoelectric hand, which detects a muscle's electric impulses to activate an artificial limb.

"After my accident, I was in pain, but wouldn't take painkillers. I barely slept, and the more pain I had the more ideas I got," he told The Associated Press. "Sometimes you have to chop fingers off to start thinking."

He decided to build his own hand. After seeing a video posted online of a mechanical hand made for a costume in a theater production, he reached out to its designer, Ivan Owen, in Seattle.

Enter Robohand -- a device that Van As and Owen invented that is made from cables, screws, 3-D printing and thermoplastic. It uses the rotation of a joint to enable five plastic digits to grasp. The device looks like a robot's hand in a science fiction movie, costs about $500 to make and can be reproduced using plans on the Internet and a 3-D printer.

Van As is now on a mission to spread the mechanism to people without fingers or hands all over the world. The two gadget-lovers collaborated on developing a design for the device for a wide range of ages that could be used to grab objects, unlike most existing arm prostheses. Van As has fitted Robohands on about 170 people, from toddlers to adults, thanks to donations.

At first they used a milling machine, making Van As a metal robotic forefinger digit that helps him work in carpentry to this day. That's when they perfected the shape for the robotic fingers.

"Ivan was a gift to me," Van As said.

Then they turned to 3-D printing which creates the device...

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Outlook.com Adds Support for IMAP

At last, Microsoft's Outlook.com has been IMAP'd. On Thursday, Microsoft announced that its e-mail service is now supporting the popular protocol.

In a posting on the Outlook Blog, as well as in a question-and-answer session on Reddit, representatives from Microsoft noted that Outlook.com "already supports the industry's best e-mail conductivity with Exchange ActiveSync (EAS)." EAS is utilized by Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices, as well the Windows 8 Mail app. IMAP can be used by, among other clients, Mac Mail and Thunderbird on a Mac.

While Microsoft pointed to the EAS protocol as being the "most robust" for e-mail, providing near real-time syncing and "superior battery and network efficiencies," it acknowledged that the older IMAP is widely supported on feature phones and other clients. Outlook is supporting IMAP version 4 rev 1.

App Updates

Apps such as TripIt, Sift, Slice, motley*bunch, Unroll.me, OtherInbox, and Context.IO issued updates Thursday that include the new IMAP support.

TripIt, a travel planner, can now detect e-mail confirmations in an Outlook.com inbox, and then import them into a TripIT itinerary. Sift, a product finder, can now use shopping content in an Outlook.com account to help create a personalized shopping experience.

Slice helps keep track of everything bought online, including e-mails about package tracking, and motley*bunch can now sync with an Outlook account to organize packages and shipments into a personal catalog. Unroll.me provides an easier way to unsubscribe from e-mail subscriptions, OtherInBox offers tools for keeping the Outlook inbox organized, and Context.IO is an e-mail API for building apps that integrate data from e-mail.

IMAP allows an e-mail client to access messages stored on a remote e-mail server, which means that updates to an inbox will appear on devices across platforms. An e-mail that has been read in one device, for example, will also show up as read on...

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Genband Goes Over the Top with Fring Messaging Service

Texas-based Genband, in the business of communications services for carriers, announced Thursday it was picking up Fring's Internet-based mobile Over the Top (OTT) communications service.

Genband, in this deal, fattens its cloud portfolio for the consumer market. Israel-based Fring has enjoyed status as having helped to change the way consumers communicate on the go. Fring got an early start in the business of mobile messaging and video applications for mobile phones. As such, the company was one of the very first to offer OTT services, though outdistanced by big competitors.

According to Fring, it nevertheless grew a community of "tens of millions" of users across 200 countries. Its services can be used with all major smartphones and tablets including iPhones and Android devices, on any mobile operator, and any mobile Internet connection.

In the most fundamental terms, what Genband gets out of the deal is the ability to showcase these types of services. Integrating Fring solutions means Genband can tell service providers and network operators, who need to evolve their communications services rapidly to ensure that they stay relevant and competitive, that they can now compete more effectively.

In saying that Genband snapped up Fring, snap appears to be an appropriate verb.

Quick Action in Large Fonts

Genband CEO David Walsh blogged that as "the heaps of fallen technology giants illustrate, inaction is a recipe for failure."

He said technology and telecommunications industries "are littered with cautionary tales of innovative companies surrendering market dominance due to their inability to react quickly enough" to new competitive forces.

It did not take Nostradamus, he added, "to see that more and more consumers are turning to the Web -- the so-called OTT or Over-the-Top community -- as a viable option for much of their real-time communications and messaging."

Actually, he said, with the "writing...

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