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The network is fundamental to the smart enterprise

Karl Horne, Chief Technology Officer, Asia Pacific, Ciena | Dec. 18, 2015
A transition to next-generation infrastructures is necessary to support the new services enabled by IoT and to fully realise its benefits.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Karl Horne, Ciena
Photo: Karl Horne

Singapore Post (SingPost), the country's national postage provider, last month announced its successful completion of a drone delivery trial, where a drone transported a package for collection by a postman. SingPost has made no secret of its ambition to become an e-commerce logistics vendor using M2M communications.

The announcement comes on the heels of Amazon's drone trials and Google's Internet of Things (IoT) investments, including smart home technology, driverless cars, and drones, outside the formal constraints of its mainstream search business.

According to Gartner's 2015 strategic predictions, six billion connected things will be requesting support via fixed and mobile networks by 2018. Gartner is emphatic about the ever-increasing role that robots, robotic systems and automation will play in business activities, reaching far beyond drone delivery. Not only will 50 percent of the fastest-growing companies use smart machines in various capacities by 2018, over 2 million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment. Smart digital assistants, robo-bosses … the list goes on.

A strategic approach to building a connected enterprise
It is clear that across Asia, enterprises such as SingPost are looking to robotic systems and automation as a means of improving the scope and scale of their services in an environmentally friendly, cost-effective and efficient way. History teaches us that not all of these deployments will succeed: indeed, it's probable that there will be a few efforts that don't yield the projected benefits. The key lies in planning.

It's not just the drones or the robots that businesses need to prepare most for: it's the avalanche of data that IoT will generate and the analytics that will be needed to render and process it. The data generated by IoT is projected to reach 400 zettabytes (ZB) a year by 2018. But, not only will the IoT tax network capacity, it will also test network capabilities by using it in new and different ways. Today's networks simply cannot accommodate the huge processing speed, capacity demands or new modes of operations that IoT will bring.

A transition to next-generation infrastructures is necessary to support the new services enabled by IoT and to fully realise its benefits.

Next-generation architectures yield flexible, powerful networks
IoT networks must allow devices to quickly and easily connect to the cloud and to each other through switching and aggregation infrastructure. To fully support next-generation services, an unprecedented level of modularity and optimisation is needed in the switching systems that manage and regulate network traffic. Given the importance of switching and the intelligence it must possess, there are many technological solution options on the table.


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