By Gavin Milton-White, VP of Enterprise, APAC, Commscope
The surge in the number of devices in Asia is mounting rapidly and most people do not realise the sheer volume of data they are creating and transmitting. In Asia Pacific alone, IDC predicts that there will be 8.6 billion connected devices by 2020, accounting for 29% of the world’s connected devices. Billions of machines are needed to keep these connected devices running, and by communicating with each other, they put a massive amount of stress on any network.
With 5G entering the market, IDC predicts that the IoT market in Asia Pacific could reach $583 billion by 2020, and this stress is only going to become more profound, not least on data centres, which must adapt to cope with the additional demand. Where data centres once simply acted as storage units for data, they must now compute, analyse and process critical information in milliseconds. Take the data from autonomous vehicles that pass through the network for example; the data centre must be able to process data instantly and make a decision to prevent a collision.
The future is paved with fibre
5G will bring faster and denser streams of data, and network operators and data centre managers alike will need to prepare for the speed and capacity. The sheer volume of devices communicating with each other will lead to a substantial increase in the amount of fibre being deployed, although much needs to be done behind the scenes before this can happen. Technologically, achieving 5G performance requires providers to eliminate network bottlenecks by adding more small cells, more fibre and mobile edge computing to their networks.
Wireless networks need a lot of ‘wired’ infrastructure to effectively deliver fibre backhaul to the core and edge. The densification of cell sites, or bringing the fibre hop-off point as close to more users as possible will be required to enable 5G, and we’ll also see a number of different types of powering solutions come to market, offering operators a cost-efficient way of powering up many devices at the edge of the network. Interestingly enough, Asia Pacific is the region where both 5G and densification will happen most quickly, so operators are deploying these small cells strategically with 5G migration in mind.
When it comes to managing data centres, future-proofing isn’t just about pouring investment 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. Deploying and adding on copious amounts of fibre is a solution but may not always be the most feasible. The most efficient scenario in allowing fast machine-to-machine communication would be to deploy high density fibre from the start, future proofing the investment by using a modular, high-speed platform capable of supporting multiple generations of equipment.
Network operators and data centre managers need to be proactive to ensure that they are ready for the 5G future, and that the ground will be laid for tomorrow’s smart and connected world.