Most people do not realise how much data they are creating and transmitting. If you are using a smartphone or tablet that’s connected to the internet, you are already creating data. A simple projection from Statista estimates that there will be 2.5 billion smartphone users in 2019 and this number will continue to grow steadily - and this is not counting the servers and computers that the phones and tablets are connected to and all other devices which create data.
To understand the sheer volume of data use, we must look at two big technology trends - The Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G.
In the IoT, a multitude of sensors, meters and other machines are connected to a network to create more value and efficiency across a host of applications. For example, sensors can be deployed throughout a building to report on heating, lighting and other ambient conditions. In a much more complex scenario, a surgeon could perform an operation remotely using a robotic arm and sensors in the body to give a precise location for the incision. Connected cars, homes, offices and even cities are also cited as befitting for IoT technology. IHS Technology forecasts that the number of interconnected devices will grow to a staggering 30.7 billion devices in 2020.
The rise of the fifth generation wireless technology, known as 5G, is expected to deliver much higher bandwidth and lower latency that will provide a network for these devices and will accelerate a gamut of content consumption, to the tune of driving US$1.3 trillion in new revenues in the media industry by 2028.
Why bother future-proofing your network?
Future-proofing has taken on a new meaning in our fast-paced digital world. Instead of attempting to outpace the inevitable, it has become a game of planning for current trends.
Just looking at the e-commerce sphere, last year, Black Friday drew a record of over US$5 billion in sales, while Alibaba reported a whopping US$25 billion just on China's Singles' Day (11.11), making it the world's biggest shopping event. Instagram is also capitalizing on their massive follower-base of over 25 million businesses and moving into e-commerce by building a standalone app for shopping. Just imagine the demand that will be placed on colocation data centers around the world across all sectors in the near future.
Moving forward, milliseconds of latency can have a colossal impact on online sales. There is an absolute need for efficient data management and bandwidth provision across all sectors.
Strategies for future-proofing
Here are five strategies to future-proof your firm’s network infrastructure:
Map things out - Before investing in technological overhauls, companies need to have a solid understanding of the equipment that is in use. The biggest concern for data center managers should be scalability. They want to migrate to an infrastructure that is adaptable while keeping costs in check. As such, the first thing companies should do is understand what distances and fiber types are currently in use before deciding on the next course of action.
Know your cost structure - Measure the costs versus the benefits of various options, and then choose the fiber type and connectivity solutions that accommodate your goals from a fiscal standpoint. Cabling vendor calculators can help with this.
Plan for flexibility - Plan in such a way that you have the option to use either 8-, 12-, or 24-fiber bundles to scale the infrastructure to higher bandwidths. Your design should allow support for various fiber types that will match your future applications. For example, if someone has a 12-fiber infrastructure and they decide to move to an application that uses only 8 fibers (100-GB, 4x25 solution for example), plan a strategy to optimize the use of your fiber infrastructure while maintaining 100 percent utilization.
Incorporate modularity - Ensure that the panels on your data center can accept a variety of fiber modules so that as your data center expands, it will have common housing and technicians can simply swap modules to move up to a faster data rate. Ideally, the cabling and housings should only be deployed once - and it’s just the endpoints that need to be changed to move to faster speeds.
Manage current and future infrastructure - An infrastructure management (AIM) tool can provide a clear picture of your network and help you locate the origin of the issues. This is vital to making informed decisions and responding quickly. It also helps to better manage your infrastructure over the long term.
When it comes to managing your data center, future-proofing isn’t just about pouring money into new technology to avoid inevitable change. Instead companies should anticipate them and see it as an ongoing strategy that must be implemented to meet the advancements of technology.
Migrating your data center to higher speeds is inevitable for all organisations, but it does not have to be a tedious or an expensive process. Start with a high capacity in mind, carefully evaluate your options and chart your migration path. Your data centre will become a flexible, cost-effective platform that is ready for the data demands of the future.