Smarter infrastructure for smarter solutions

During the KL leg of Commscope’s conference, Questex Asia’s Victor Ng opened with the observation that it takes years to plan and build infrastructure while also managing refresh cycles. “If we want our infrastructure to be ready for the future, what could we do today?” Ng asked of the over 100 audience members from industries ranging from shipping to finance to telecommunications to even healthcare.

Information technologies and data centres have drastically evolved over the years, but their intrinsic roles in a nutshell, is still to ensure that the right data, from the right applications are available to the right people, in the right form to be used for the right purpose.

For some industries like telecommunications and companies like Telekom Malaysia and Celcom Axiata, the customer is at the centre of everything they do. TM’s general manager of technology and innovation Dr. Sharlene Thiagarajah said, “All this is about providing the right customer experience, at the right cost.”

The speed for things to happen is quickening all the time, however. Celcom Axiata’s CIO, Kashif Haq said, “Traditional go-to-market models are changing. We have to bring new capabilities and apps to customers in a much more rapid pace.”

This is no less true for technology trends and adoption like big data and analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is driving a huge amount of data through data centres, driving these ‘factories of information’ to work like never before.

IoT is also driving data centres and buildings to become more efficient with respect to space, productivity and energy optimisation.

TRA analyst, Trevor Clarke asked the audience, “How many times have you had to change your data centres to support all the wonderful new technologies that have come about? What about the other physical infrastructure (you have had to change)?”

No doubt, there is need to have infrastructure that allows businesses to react very quickly and with agility to disruptions in the market.

Foundation for space and energy optimisation

The situation calls for a foundation that is intelligent, and this foundation has to be value-enabling by providing visibility and control.

According to Commscope’s VP of Intelligent Buildings in APAC, Matias Peluffo, the key to IoT is sensors. “There are predictions that by 2020, there would a trillion sensors in the world… sensors are the entry point for IoT and it fuels tremendous capabilities and data increase,” he shared.

Another trend that is happening, is user expectations and IoT applications that require modern data centres and offices to evolve to meet new connectivity requirements.

Peluffo also described that in essence, intelligent or smart buildings are connected (to networks) and efficient, and according to Commscope, there are five applications of connectivity requirements – wired local area network (LAN), WiFi and building wireless, intelligent or sensor-enabled lighting, audio-visual services and building automation and access control that are more and more IP connected.

One very clear and compelling example of this, is sensor-enabled lighting. Peluffo said, “Every LED light is a sensor and collects information like occupancy of a meeting room or data centre, energy usage, temperature and so on. That’s potential for more than 75-percent in energy savings.”

These five different connectivity applications have been around for quite a long time, and Peluffo commented that it’s now time to converge them, because it is more efficient. There is an estimated 30-percent cost reduction when connectivity is converged onto one physical layer infrastructure, not to mention, greater flexibility for device placement as well, according to Peluffo.

“Now, customers are looking at these siloes and are looking to deploy a universal connectivity grid,” he said, adding that the time to define standards for this technology, is also upon the industry.

Building blocks

Buildings are just a small part of IoT. There are many more millions of sensors out there in the world today, just as there are sensors in buildings and data centres, all placed strategically to try enable data-driven and insight-driven solutions that are smarter and more efficient.

When VADS’ general manager, Mohan Vasudevan presented about how VADS and TM were enabling a smart Malaysia with connectivity, he shared that service providers are more than just dumb pipes providing connectivity now, and are moving beyond infrastructure towards turn-on apps.

“Service providers are moving towards the cloud, but it’s not just about cloud computing… it’s moving towards platforms like IoT and data analytics.” The idea is to bring different players in the ecosystem together on a service platform, to build intelligent apps for different communities.

And, this Internet of Things trend is estimated to increase data centre traffic by 750-percent between 2014 to 2019. IoT is also the number one driver of new edge compute/storage deployments, as service providers find that a distributed data centre resources model, enables faster response and reduces bandwidth requirements.

In a nutshell, these edge data centres have to be greener and smarter than previous generations, as they are the building blocks that form the foundation for a smart city.


(This article first appeared in Network World Asia)

















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