What’s up with… AWS re:Invent, HPE, Ciena
- AWS unveils Q, adds new networking partners
- AI and edge help HPE’s sales growth
- Ciena flexes its US manufacturing muscle
In today’s industry news roundup: There have been dozens of announcements from this week’s AWS re:Invent show in Las Vegas, but we’ve just picked out a couple; HPE managed to report a year-on-year increase in revenues and operating profits thanks to increasing interest in smart enterprises networking and AI; Ciena is beefing up its US FTTP equipment manufacturing capacity to meet demand from BEAD-financed operators; and much more!
Some things to note from the opening days of AWS re:Invent, which is taking place this week in Las Vegas… The main headlines have been about Amazon Q, an AI-enabled chatbot for AWS customers that the cloud giant describes as ”a new generative artificial intelligence- (AI)-powered assistant designed for work that can be tailored to your business. You can use Amazon Q to have conversations, solve problems, generate content, gain insights, and take action by connecting to your company’s information repositories, code, data, and enterprise systems. Amazon Q provides immediate, relevant information and advice to employees to streamline tasks, accelerate decision-making and problem-solving, and help spark creativity and innovation at work.” This looks like it’s a response to, and/or similar to, the enterprise offering from Microsoft-backed OpenAI, which launched ChatGPT Enterprise in August. According to technology and investment analyst Richard Windsor, who writes the daily Radio Free Mobile blog, this sounds a bit like a “me too chatbot, but [it] is actually a bit more interesting. This is because it has been trained on 17 years of AWS knowledge meaning that Amazon may have finally produced a chatbot that can be useful. The idea here is that Q is like an IT support function that specialises in AWS and provides straight answers, solves problems and makes suggestions. Given how good LLMs [large language models] have been found to be at indexing, storing and retrieving relevant data, this chatbot could prove to be very useful for AWS clients and also reduce support costs for AWS. Amazon has disappointed on AI for many years but perhaps this one will be different,” concluded Windsor. Turning to telecom sector-specific developments, the show has seen the first major public appearance by AWS’s new telecom business leader Chivas Nambiar, who was previously the director of worldwide solutions architecture for the telecom business unit but who is now the cloud giant’s general manager of the telecom division, taking over from Adolfo Hernandez, who has joined business services firm Capita as CEO. We should expect to hear more from Nambiar at MWC24 in Barcelona. In terms of announcements, cloud communications platform specialist Alianza has announced a “multi-year strategic collaboration agreement (SCA) with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to transform how communication service providers (CSPs) deliver and monetise voice and cloud communications services. The solution is generally available in North America and has already been deployed by more than 100 CSPs, including Tier-1 and nationwide operators Lumen, Brightspeed, Bluepeak, Xplore, and Viasat,” the company announced. Alianza recently raised $61m in new growth equity and debt financing, which will be used to expand its sales team – this agreement will have helped it raise that cash. Elsewhere, Cisco announced additional integrations between its ThousandEyes network analytics platform and Amazon CloudWatch Internet Monitor (CWIM), a new internet monitoring service from AWS.
Ongoing demand for Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s intelligent edge products and services, which include its Aruba networking and SD-WAN portfolio (and a lot else besides), and its AI-related systems helped the vendor to report 2% growth in full fiscal year revenues to $29.1bn, while its operating profit margin increased to 12.2% from 11.5%. The vendor, which completed its 2023 financial year on 31 October, reported a 42% increase in intelligent edge revenues to $5.2bn and a 23% increase in high performance computing and artificial intelligence revenues to $3.9bn, though this growth was counteracted by sales declines in its compute and storage product lines. “In fiscal year 2023, HPE clearly demonstrated that our strategic investments and extraordinary innovation across the growth areas of edge, hybrid cloud, and AI are resonating with customers,” boasted Antonio Neri, HPE’s president and CEO. “We delivered record performance against key financial metrics this year. Our steady execution resulted in higher revenue, further margin expansion, larger operating profit… As we continue to capitalise on growing market opportunities – particularly as customer interest in AI continues to explode – I am confident in our ability to deliver substantial returns to our shareholders, hence why we are raising the dividend in FY 2024,” added the CEO. Read more.
Ciena clearly believes it can pick up new fibre broadband equipment deals in the US as network operators receive funding from the $40bn pot of government funds being made available via the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The optical equipment vendor, which has been building up its access network portfolio over the past few years, is adding US domestic manufacturing capacity through an expanded partnership with technology manufacturer Flex. “Ciena is expected to begin production of the industry’s first pluggable optical line terminals (OLTs) as well as its optical network units (ONU) at a Flex factory in the US in mid-2024,” noted the vendor in a press release about the deal. “Advancing its commitment to roll out high-speed broadband to unserved and underserved communities, Ciena’s investments will support the US government’s Broadband Equity Adoption and Deployment (BEAD) projects, create new jobs and help broadband service providers comply with the Build America, Buy America (BABA) requirements,” added the vendor magnanimously.
Telco group Axiata, which operates in 10 markets across Asia, has posted “a stable top-line growth” for the third quarter of 2023, in the form of a 9.4% year-to-date growth in revenue, to 17.4bn Malaysian ringgits (MYR) ($3.8bn). Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were also up, rising 11.5% year to date to MYR7.9bn ($1.7bn). Aside from its domestic market of Malaysia, Axiata has operations in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan, Laos and Philippines. During the period ending 30 September, the company reported increased revenues and profit in its Indonesian operation, XL, on the back of data and digital services gains. Its Bangladeshi unit, Robi, saw increased revenue driven by subscriber growth and average revenue per user (ARPU) expansion. Despite these results, the company reported a growing net loss of MYR797m ($171m) from MYR52m ($11.2m) for the third quarter of 2022. The reason was an asset impairment related to a decision to classify Ncell, its Nepalese business, as an asset held for sale, and with this to leave the market of Nepal. Find out more.
UK fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) altnet Community Fibre is to pause its network expansion plans and cut some jobs as it focuses on adding more paying customers to improve its finances, according to ISP Review, which received confirmation of the move from the London-based operator. Community Fibre’s fibre access network runs past 1.3 million premises across the UK capital and it currently has more than 200,000 customers.
Dutch telco KPN has set up, along with six other companies, the Labor Match Platform, a startup that looks for “untapped potential” in the labour market, with the help of AI. According to KPN, the platform searches for talent by focusing on an individual’s skills rather than the training they have completed, which means lateral candidates are not eradicated from the recruitment process and the vacancies can be better matched, while existing staff can be retrained by providing insight into their career prospects. It added that the move is also important for transition in the energy market, as well as rollout of its fibre optic network. You can find out more in KPN’s statement, available here in Dutch.
- The staff, TelecomTV
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