These days we hear plenty about how “the cloud” is changing the telecoms business, but sometimes it’s easy to underestimate how big of a change that entails.
We’ve already seen plenty of buzz this year over “5G,” which isn’t a straight technology upgrade but more of a technology concept incorporating multiple technologies that will work together to deliver ubiquitous and dynamic capacity anywhere and anytime to everyone and everything.
For example, look at the impact the cloud is having on data centers. As more and more enterprises move workloads to the cloud via Software as a Service (SaaS), data centers are becoming more and more central to the overall cloud networking paradigm. Everything you hear about open-source software and network virtualization is essentially a plan to strip all kinds of network functionality out of hardware and stick it in the cloud. The fabled Internet of Things (IoT) will rely on cloud-based platforms to handle the sheer amount of things to be connected and deliver real-time data connectivity.
SDN Insights February 2016
Meanwhile, the emerging pursuit of digital transformation means that enterprise line-of-business requirements are shifting heavily towards a hybrid cloud model, with a growing emphasis on hyperconverged platforms (rather than traditional, stand-alone data center infrastructure) to provide agile deployment and streamlined, single-pane-of-glass management.
“The typical customer of hyperconverged platforms requires ongoing infrastructure transformation to improve efficiency of internal processes and management of operations,” wrote Christian Perry, practice manager and principal analyst, data center, for Telecom Business Research, in a research note. “Customers we survey consider hyperconverged solutions to be enablers of that transformation and the next step to better business outcomes. Quickly deployed and efficiently managed infrastructure is now key to long-range customer initiatives.”
What does this have to do with telecoms networks? Everything, as it happens. As the world shifts to anytime, anywhere cloud-hosted digital services for both people and “things”, and as networks make the transition from hardware platforms to software platforms via SDN and NFV, data centers are becoming a central component of next-generation networks - which means that operators will have to change the way they think about network architectures.