Monday, July 14, 2014

IT networks are the bottlenecks that will slow us down

In general the networks are outdated and preventing the development to come
Most of the networks are outdated
and preventing the adaption of the new
technology and applications
Now we're in ethernet era using many times 1Gb connections, 10Gb connections or fibre channel with 32Gb, or even faster connections (like 128Gb fibre channel forecasted to be published in 2016). So where's the problem? That has been taken care, right? Wrong! That served us alright the past decade. What we've seen now for the past years has been the explosion of the mobile devices - mostly phones and now pads. But even with that, we still managed somehow. Because that has been only the first step in the evolution to come. What we'll see next is that the number of devices needing network connection will be something we couldn't foresee. And there's the real problem. In the next coming 5 years we'll be seeing a lots of totally new integrated intelligence installed into various products we didn't think would be possible. The near future already will look like science fiction as we're able to get information from all kinds of things. The AI (artificial intelligence) will be sewed into our clothing, into diapers for babies and for the people needing those in hospital and care home environments. New kind of sensors and applications will be also built into clocks, helmets, driving gears, autos, cups, shoes, tools, toys, bandits, homes, offices, built into wallpaper, in road tarmac. Everywhere. The number of usage is limitless and there comes our problem. Each of those integrated devices will need network connections, mostly wireless one. Even though you'd use something short distance connections like Bluetooth to gather the data to some other device, that won't solve the problem. There will be a HUGE increase in the amount of the data passing through the networks and also the need for speed that the data needs to be transferred.

The current stage of network is mostly outdated. No matter if you've refreshed your network devices this year, it won't be enough. As the design you have in your network, as well as the devices you've bought are most likely already outdated. And the same is true all the way from the smaller companies to the telcos that provide the backbone networks. And the closer the backbone network we go, the more crucial the problem will be. The amount of the investments needed are so big that business companies are not willing to make that investment in advance. So they will be slowing down the development for years and preventing people to adapt to the new technology as fast as it would be possible. 

With this new kind of technology at hand, it will generate whole new business opportunities that was impossible earlier. Only imagination will be the limit, as there are millions and millions of things you can monitor, get data from, and then produce something useful or entertaining with that data. And when we've taken the fist step in that, the next would be combining these solutions and the data together and create more complex and more total solutions where these units talk to each other and produce even more useful information that we can use to make our lives better and more safe.

Now we're there already, in the science fiction movie. It's here today. But our company networks and core networks are not there. Not to mention the networks that we have in our homes and houses we live. I would say it's time to stop saving in the wrong place. In this era of virtualization and clouds, everyone is talking how you should move your servers and applications into the cloud. But even if you'd do that, you'd still need to access it. The data, the pictures, the video needs to pass your local network in a way or another. So you can't escape the fact that your home yard needs to be fixed first. So start with your home or company network, whether the servers and the applications are in your local network or in the cloud. Make sure you have enough capacity to start with. And what's more important is that your plan and the solution you'll get will be scalable and you don't build yourself bottlenecks where everything is efficient until we come to this one spot where it's not - like the internet connection. Once again your network is as good as it's worst (slowest) component. And it's as vulnerable as your high availability options and secondary connections - or the lack of them. So start demanding this, not only from your network, but also from your service provider that provides the connection and the backbone you will be using now and in the future. Make sure they don't jeopardize your future with inadequate network solutions.

The past 20yr the generation in IT has built what we've got now. And that has been a huge leap. But the next 20yr will do and require easily 1000 times more when it comes to the speed, amount of data,  the wider scale of usability on applications, and the complexity of the network we'll be seeing later on. We thought we've seen it all, but we've seen nothing yet. This is just the beginning. What we've seen now is just a scratch of the surface. From now on we'll be needing much longer lifecycle for devices from the manufacturers. We need to get out from this 3yr cycle with hardware. We need to get more scalable and longer lifecycle products that we can use 5-10yr. Products that you don't need to change often, that are modular and can be expanded. Something that we could left there for 10yr without the need to touch them. As the amount of products will increase, we need to start doing things better for them to last longer. The cheap plastic, throwaway kind of products are not sustainable development that we can build on, for both energy and environmental reasons.

So let's start demanding it from the network providers and the manufacturers. Let's make a choice with our feet and with our money. And let's make our networks ready for the future to come.

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