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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.

Some key technologies have emerged as common components of these new switching architectures, including Carrier Ethernet, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), and Optical Transport Network (OTN). Each has its own advantages in terms of power, flexibility and cost.

SDN and NFV orchestration add intelligence to network functions
Software-based automation and orchestration of software and hardware domains across the network allow for resource optimisation, significantly reduce manual processes, and create a real-time service-enabling environment. This is an essential step in creating an intelligent network that can support IoT-based operations.

Technologies like software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV) allow networks to behave intelligently. In the case of NFV, decoupling network functions from hardware means that architectures can be more easily tweaked as IoT requirements change. NFV-based applications can support multiple data traffic and priority types as well as unpredictable data flows because they are software based. SDN control of the underlying hardware infrastructure removes complexity and automates the delivery of services. SDN and NFV together also enable load balancing through service chaining and bandwidth calendaring, which is needed to manage IoT-scale networks. In addition, they can ensure network-level data security and protection against intrusions.

Also, SDN and NFV create an agile service provisioning process by dynamically adapting the network that connects the IoT end devices to the back-end data centres or cloud services that render and process all the data. With the right end-to-end orchestration set-up in place an agile network will be able to achieve the fluidity and automation needed for IoT.

This is particularly important because the network underlying the smart enterprise must be able to extract high levels of contextual insight through real-time analytics conducted on extremely large datasets to allow real-time response. For example, diverting an ambulance to a location where a patient's vital signs behave abnormally.

There are countless applications of IoT that can help automate and improve the many processes surrounding us — ultimately making enterprises more innovative and efficient. However, CIOs and CTOs need to ensure that they implement all aspects of the required technology needed to fully support this unprecedented evolution.


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