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Adapting to the unexpected in today’s “virtual everything” world

Tue 27 Oct 2020 | Jürgen Hatheier

The past year has shown the value of Edge Cloud and adaptive networks, driven by the need to support unexpected traffic demands. By Jürgen Hatheier, CTO at Ciena

Over the years, there has been a number of unexpected disruptions resulting in traffic spikes on our networks. For example, think about when the latest video game launches or when too many people try to stream the Super Bowl halftime performance. Famously Kate Middleton and other members of the Royal Family have also caused significant spikes in traffic, with people rushing to buy their latest clothes as they quickly become fashion icons.

Most recently, COVID-19 has transformed remote workforce policies in practically every way and changed the path forward when it comes to how we will conduct business, participate in virtual learning, and much more. In fact, a recent survey found that 69% of British adults are now working from home, and 68% believe they will continue to do so in the long term. This is significant, as connectivity is key to keeping workers engaged and productive, despite not being physically in the office.

Edging your way to success

This increase in remote-based work also means an increase in virtual business collaboration tools like live-stream video conferencing and virtual whiteboard applications.

To overcome the challenges brought on by more remote-based work, it is important to understand how businesses and workers are accessing information. As a result of major digital transformation, much of which has been accelerated by the pandemic, businesses are relying more heavily on cloud-based services to keep workers connected and their businesses up and running.

Up until this point, a centralised cloud network of more than 10,000 data centres scattered across the globe has met the connectivity needs of workers, allowing them to access business services both onsite and remotely. However, the recent shift to more remote and home-based work (and life in general) has changed traffic patterns, putting extra pressure on networks, ultimately requiring a different networking approach.

Driven by the need to get data and applications closer to the end user, we are seeing the formation of Edge Cloud. In a nutshell, this is a network of storage and compute resources that work together to process content, services and applications using AI and machine learning close to end users. While edge computing has been around for years, growing in popularity is the idea of using it to form an ‘Edge Cloud’.  Processing benefits aside, Edge Cloud also results in reduced data transmission costs and greater security levels – no surprise perhaps that Mobile Experts are estimating that edge computing will drive $7bn of revenue by 2025.

A catalyst for 5G, smart manufacturing, and more

With Edge Cloud, compute and storage moves closer to end-users, where content is both created and consumed – critical in our new remote work world. Because the Edge Cloud can process mission-critical applications and those that require low-latency – it will also be a catalyst for a number of industries and services like 5G, gaming, streaming video, autonomous vehicles, and Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing.

For example, a manufacturer can deploy IoT sensors in its private 5G network to monitor and control machines and industrial robots in its plant in real-time. Leveraging AI, the manufacturer will be able to optimize the production process to maximum efficiency and respond to issues efficiently, sometimes even before they occur.

The cloud gaming industry continues to rapidly innovate and offer highly immersive and interactive functionality to gamers. For example, we’re starting see more Triple A titles become available on new streaming services, as well as the continued development of esports and mixed reality content. The Edge cloud will be critical to supporting an improved user experience.

The Edge Cloud must adapt

A key challenge for service providers is to efficiently and intelligently manage the network and application resources for Edge Cloud data centres during peak periods of usage.  The key to achieving end-to-end connectivity is through adaptive networks, that will grow smarter and more agile every day, with the scale required to respond dynamically to the constant and ever-changing pressures being placed upon it.

The past year has shown the value of Edge Cloud and adaptive networks, which has been driven by the need to support unexpected demands driven by remote work, learning, and soon, 5G. With this new networking approach, connectivity needs spanning vastly disparate locations will be met and providers won’t need to expect the unexpected to succeed.

Experts featured:

Jürgen Hatheier

Chief Technology Officer, Europe, Middle East and Africa


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