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A network for a new planet

December 18, 2014

Genius Wong   

Genius Wong, Executive Vice President – Core and Next-Gen Connectivity Services, and Chief Technology Officer

NASA does not expect anyone to make the trip to Mars any time soon. In fact, it’s likely that it won’t happen in the next twenty years. Nevertheless, this month they tested the capsule they hope will make that trip. Next year, they’ll unveil the enormous rocket to take it there. So why the 20 year wait?

There’s more to getting humans alive and well to Mars than blasting them there aboard a spacecraft. NASA needs time for cutting edge technology to develop and evolve. But meanwhile, they are getting as much ready as they can.

Unlike NASA, enterprise CIOs can’t run experiments with today’s technology to make sure it’s ready for use alongside the technologies of the future. CIOs are subject to the rigours of annual budgets and delivering a return on investment. While they can see the future and must prepare for it, their first priority is to “keep the enterprise lights on” and make what incremental improvements they can to their organisation’s efficiency and effectiveness.

The big problem facing CIOs today is that they have to plan their “mission to Mars” right now. They are going to have to navigate their enterprise to a new planet that has rapidly evolved right here on Earth.

Gartner predicts that on this new planet Earth, a third of all enterprises will migrate their office systems to the cloud by 2017. We estimate that the average employee in an enterprise will need 35Mbps to make use of enterprise IT and communications resources. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (CVNI), by 2017 the average fixed broadband speed on this new planet Earth will reach 39 Mbps. This is the tipping point at which the Internet will no longer be too slow for business. Furthermore, Cisco’s VNI reckons the number of things on this new planet Earth connected to the Internet will be doubling from 25 billion in 2015 and 50 billion in 2020.

Most CIOs are heading to this new planet Earth with a hybrid of private and public networked IT infrastructures sourced from a plethora of vendors. Each vendor is delivering effectively enough in their own geography or for their specific application. However, the management overhead is starting to add up and with so much complexity, flexibility is lost. If this new planet is going to have the Internet as its beating heart, then surely the Internet must be the platform to drive enterprise IT?

Can the public Internet support the dynamic cloud environment that is currently delivered using decades old technologies developed to privately and methodically distribute data between licensed software driven machines? We believe the industry can combine the flexibility and reach of the soon-to-be-fast-enough public Internet with the predictability and security of a private network. In a future where CIOs are expected to confidently roll out cloud services anywhere, their enterprise needs without complexity and at a reasonable price, this secure, predictable version of public internet may be the only solution.

We also believe that the solution can only be created by a global, industry-wide ecosystem of internet service providers, cloud service providers and data centres.

The IT industry is well aware of the concept of an ecosystem where each member contributes to the success of the whole. We have seen hardware and software vendors coalesce into ecosystems around operating systems such as Apple, Android or Windows. Now is the time for the network ecosystem.

The network ecosystem already has its operating system, IP. IP is a great network protocol, but most agree that it has some shortcomings in terms of predictability and security.  But when partners in an ecosystem find a way together to circumvent these shortcomings, anything (from a network perspective) may be possible. IZO – a new network platform from Tata Communications, is built on such an ecosystem. IZO Internet WAN delivers security and predictable performance to enterprise SLA levels over the public internet.  It is available today.

But it is also the natural network platform for the future where ubiquitous high speed broadband connects the Internet of things. It is the equivalent of NASA’s capsule fully equipped for the round trip to Mars!

Do you agree with Genius’ view? Leave a comment below.