Pockethernet wants to crowdfund a cheap, smartphone-connected network analyzer

Berlin’s tech startup scene isn’t all about e-commerce and apps – there are a few hardware startups in there too, and one, Pockethernet, has just launched a $50,000 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for its rather handy piece of kit. Aimed at network admins and other technicians, Pockethernet is a small Ethernet cable tester and network analyzer that hooks up to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The benefit here is that the brains of the device are offloaded to the handset, which cuts costs and allows for easy upgrades. The $200 retail price is a far cry from the $500+ you’d pay for more traditional Ethernet network analyzers. It may not be sexy, but it is smart.

InfiniBand. Back from the dead?

Mellanox, a maker of Infiniband interconnects and switches, has doubled its sales in the last two quarters. What is behind its recent success and what does that say about Mellanox, Infiniband and the current state of scale out data center networking?

HP hops on the OpenFlow train with 16 new switches

Programmable networks could mean less downtime.

HP (s hpq) is following other big systems makers into the world of software defined networking with a line of 16 OpenFlow-enabled switches. That’s a pretty serious commitment to OpenFlow, a protocol that helps take the intelligence associated with routing packets off of the high-priced switching gear and puts it on commodity servers.
HP not only introduced OpenFlow enabled switches, but said that customers with existing HP switches can download software that will add OpenFlow capabilities to their current gear. This looks like a far bigger committment than IBM’s (s ibm) and NEC’s effort to build out a hardware and services package around OpenFlow and software defined networking from earlier this month, and is a continuation of the trend toward OpenFlow making it into production environments this year.
OpenFlow and software defined networking has been a topic for academics, webscale vendors and carriers, as they seek to do to routers and switches what virtualization did for servers — make them more agile and scalable. OpenFlow is just one tool to build SDNs while Juniper(s jnpr), Cisco (s csco) and other vendors also offer tools for network virtualization. Of course, most vendors say they will support the OpenFlow protocol as well, including Cisco, the vendor that stands to be hurt the most if OpenFlow ushers in an age of folks buying cheap switches and shifting the networking intelligence to commodity servers.
As we add more devices to the network they have to scale out better, and as IT relies more on on-demand compute and storage, the networking has to become as flexible as the virtualized servers that spin up and down. The network becomes a bottleneck if every time you want to add capacity to your cloud or associate new networking policies with a series of virtual machines, someone has to manually unplug boxes or install new load balancing or firewall gear. Virtualization and software defined networks are seen as the solution.
HP said that so far it has more than 10 million OpenFlow-capable switch ports deployed, which is tiny number compared to the overall switch market. However, it’s not alone in pushing OpenFlow, and it has made quite a commitment with a full upgrade of its existing switches and 16 new ones on offer.

Getting the most out of your gift: Roku edition

Got a Roku media streamer as a gift this holiday season? Then check out this guide for some essential tips on how to set it up, what content to watch, how to get additional channels not listed in the Roku store, and what accessories to buy.

Forget Ethernet, researchers want data centers to go wireless

Researchers from UC Santa Barbara, Intel and IBM have shown they can send data between servers without those pesky Ethernet cables, using 60 GHz wireless and bouncing radio signals off the ceiling. It’s crazy, but wireless could offer fat pipes economically over short distances.

Bye, Bye Qwest and Hello Cloud!

The merger between CenturyLink and Qwest officially closed today, creating the nation’s third largest phone company in a world where being a phone company means less and less. I spoke with a company executive about making cloud acquisitions and the ever-growing demand for bandwidth.

How Superfast Ethernet Can Help Tackle Climate Change

berkeley-lab-logoBlazing fast Ethernet holds a lot of potential for Department of Energy scientists — at least $62 million worth. That’s how much the agency has awarded to the Berkeley National Lab to develop a prototype Ethernet network connecting DOE supercomputers and transferring data at 100 gigabits per second, or 10 times faster than the existing network, insideHPC reports. Most of the funds, awarded to the Berkeley Lab’s ESnet team under the stimulus package, will end up going toward new equipment and infrastructure support services (read: boon for selected hardware vendors), but ultimately the project could help accelerate work around computing to fight climate change.
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Mobile Data Growth Boosting Backhaul Demand

ms09_mbk_2h08_chartThanks to the emergence of superphones like the iPhone (s aapl), the BlackBerry Bold (s rimm) and the T-Mobile G-1, we have seen a steady increase in the demand for mobile data services. The easy availability of popular web services such as Facebook and Google Mail (s goog) on higher-end feature phones has only helped boost the demand for mobile data. And such demand has helped carriers overcome stagnating voice- and text-related revenues, especially in the U.S., as the quarterly results of major phone companies show.

Cole Brodman, chief technology office of T-Mobile USA, in a recent GigaOM interview said that the company is currently providing 6 Mbps per site. “Tomorrow I think the first steps are going to be something more like 20-25Mbps, quickly followed by 50Mbps, and eventually getting to 100Mbps-plus,” he said. T-Mobile isn’t alone in its scramble to bulk up the backhaul as according to some forecasts, there will be more than a billion mobile broadband phone subscribers by end of 2010. Read More about Mobile Data Growth Boosting Backhaul Demand