FEATURE STORY / THE DIGITAL EDGE
PUBLISHED 2 NOVEMBER 2015
We are in the midst of a revolution –
but most of us don’t know it.
There are no tanks rolling through broken roads in shattered cities. No fiery protests of the hundreds of thousands of the committed and the affected. No changes of banknote portraits.
It’s so quiet that people won’t realize what happened until it’s already changed their lives.
This revolution has been televised. It’s just that few people are watching.
Welcome to the Internet of Things (IoT).
Built on the bedrock of Cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors, it will change how we conduct business, invest, plan, consume, educate, heal and live.
Things will change us in ways we have yet to imagine.
Before long, sensor networks and IoT systems will be communicating, assessing and making decisions without human input. The possibilities are endless. A game-changer of not only what we dream up today, but an avalanche of newly created products and services at the nexus of tomorrow’s fresh ideas.
Already billions of devices from wearable health bracelets, to logistics, to agricultural irrigation systems to electrical grids, to a dizzying platter of industrial machinery and manufacturing systems to parking meters are part of an overarching ecosystem of commerce, industry, civil planning and consumerism.
Urban planners are just one group salivating over the possibilities. Entire Smart Cities and Communities are being designed from South Korea’s Songdo – housing interactive TVs and automated trash tracking – to India, where administrators of the world’s largest democracy announced an ambitious plan to roll out 100 smart cities by 2020.
And we’re just getting started…
Research consultancy IDC says: “A transformation is underway that will see the worldwide market for IoT solutions grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020.” Cisco expects IoT’s market value to grow to $14 trillion by 2022.
Research outfit Gartner agrees: “The enormous number of devices, coupled with the sheer volume, velocity and structure of IoT data, creates challenges, particularly in the areas of security, data, storage management, servers and the data center network, as real-time business processes are at stake.”
Gartner says that 2015 growth of connected devices will surge by 30 percent alone, while IDC predicts that IoT will grow to 30 billion Things by 2020, far outstripping the number of smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, wearable computers, and PCs combined.
But there are ominous signs on the horizon as we are staring down the barrel of choking capacity. The bandwidth gap, the difference between needed capacity and what is available, is not only already sizeable but growing by the day. In the coming decade, IoT will cause the bandwidth gap to balloon out of control. Forget the flood, Things will introduce a virtual tsunami of traffic to networks.
Companies, and Over the Top (OTT) services in particular, will have to deal with massive amounts of data streaming in from an ever-growing stable of devices. There will be an increased need for better planning of bandwidth optimization and more austere traffic management.
Everybody wants to get bigger, faster, stronger and smarter by ramping up productivity and efficiency, while slashing fat from bottom lines.
“Successful enterprises today require two capabilities: accommodation, and speed. The latter has long been a requirement for firms in increasingly global and competitive markets. Early cloud adopters saw immediate ramp up gains as far back as two years ago,” says Ross O’Brien, Director of the Economist Corporate Network. “We have only just begun to see the real impact that the Internet of Things will have on the way firms do business. Accommodation is the primary capability of a successful firm: the accommodation of multiple operating environments to successfully drive online business, and the ability to accommodate massive amounts of data to harness business insight.”
For an increasing number of OTT managers that means switching to the Cloud as the cornerstone of their IT backbone – but one that is buttressed by a premium network that unites these cloud applications. It’s this network that is key.
“The primary benefit is agility. It’s a core principle of a digital business. While agility can be inherent in business applications, the underlying infrastructure must be just as flexible. Cloud computing services can enhance your business agility by helping you optimize your business processes, internal skills, and organizational structure — and can help your business quickly respond to changes in the market itself. The greatest power lies in the intersections of these enhancements. Having the right network partner will be a key to realizing your digital business transformation goals,” says Clement Teo, Senior Analyst of Forrester Research.
About 54 percent of respondents to the Frost & Sullivan’s 2014 Cloud Survey indicated that the only reason they hadn’t moved to the Cloud was due to fears over network dependability.
The Internet dishes up that connectivity, but little else. It scores poorly for guaranteeing data delivery, quality of service and security. Much needed service-level agreements (SLAs) are non-existent.
“The Cloud is the way to go. But it’s not going anywhere without a network that addresses end-to-end security and application performance issues and is backed by rigid SLAs,” says Wilfred Kwan, Chief Operating Officer of Reliance Communications (Enterprise) and Global Cloud Xchange. “A must-have for multinational enterprises and OTTs today is a reliable global network which delivers carrier-grade, cost-effective performance coupled with the flexibility needed for next generation applications.”
At present, corporates and OTTs do not have too many problems purchasing capacity in developed economies. The same, however, can’t be said for emerging economies, where it’s often substandard or woefully underdeveloped. And that’s a problem for enterprises in its need to satiate bandwidth hungry strategies worldwide. It’s also a problem for next generation OTTs looking to cement a spot in the Emerging Markets Corridor, an area home to the planet’s most dynamic economic activity.
Over two billion Internet subscribers already call the corridor home. Over 70 percent of smartphone growth and 80 percent of global GDP growth will occur there over the next five years. It’s the beating heart of where multinationals, new media companies and OTTs will focus their attention.
The truth and the future are in the numbers: Facebook’s monthly users surged by 54 percent year-on-year to 1.415 billion. WhatsApp’s 800 million monthly users were good for an 80 percent spike and Google’s massive 9.7 billion mobile and 8.6 billion fixed users averaged out to a 78 percent increase.
Reliance Communications and its subsidiary Global Cloud Xchange (RCOM/GCX) is living up to its claim as “a technology company that sits at the crossroads of where the future Clouds will migrate.” Owner of the world’s largest private subsea cable and domestic fiber systems, the company already has over 55TB of useable capacity; 12 world class data centers; 1,500 points of presence and a data center footprint in 45 countries, with a roll out of 20 more Cloud nodes in the coming year.
“Over the last few years, Isola has been extremely aggressive in moving our services to the Cloud, not just from an IT point of view but also from a business point of view. Moving our disaster recovery model into the Cloud is very attractive. All of our project management tools, which are very collaborative, are in the Cloud now,” says Richard Caron, CIO of Isola Group. “We use GCX for not just dropping in a circuit into a location in North Carolina or in Taiwan, but to help us roadmap where we see ourselves in a year or two or three.”
The RCOM/GCX network spans Mumbai to Hong Kong to Bangkok to Dubai to San Jose. The company has also undertaken a one-year restoration and upgrade of its data centers in addition to rolling out its CLOUD X® platform in key markets worldwide.
RCOM/GCX, which operates in 60 countries and counts Google, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM and Cisco as partners and over half the Fortune 500 as clients, is banking on the global deployment of its simple-to-use CLOUD X® ecosystem where users can deploy cloud servers and applications and manage lifecycles online. In addition, GCX’s CLOUD X® Fusion is bridging the gap between public cloud services and private enterprise networks with direct connectivity between its global MPLS network and the leading cloud platforms.
According to Kwan, “GCX is the first company to push the network up the stack to enable more efficient and globally connected orchestration. We are transitioning to a next generation infrastructure company that will shape the new convergence to the Cloud by focusing on: world class organization; dominant technology; lowest cost cloud infrastructure and leading edge products.
Some say the foundations for the IoT were laid with the rollout of our telecommunications networks. But at the end of the day, it’s the cloud networks and connectivity that will provide the building blocks of the next stage of our shared history.
If the revolution is being televised, it pays to have the network connected.