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Future-proofing networks to support rising data centre demand and network connectivity

Future-proofing networks to support rising data centre demand and network connectivity

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Network service providers have never played a more fundamental role as organisations across the Middle East adapt to the ‘new normal’ and accelerate their digitalisation journeys. That is the view of Feras Hani, Infrastructure System Engineer, CommScope, who tells Intelligent CIO how organisations can future-proof their networks in support of rising data centre demand and network connectivity.

What are the key challenges Middle Eastern enterprises are grappling with considering accelerated Digital Transformation projects?

In 2021 and beyond, organisations are adapting to different economic environments. We’ve already seen accelerated adoption of digital transformation with some instances of ten years of change being implemented in only a few months.

We will continue to see a seismic change in the way we work and live. We’re still in the process of adaption and future-proofing. Network service providers have never played a more fundamental role as we adapt to meet these changing requirments.

Admittedly, some companies have faced challenges when it comes to acceleration of Digital Transformation, particularly regarding connectivity and storage.

For example, with connectivity there has been a requirement for faster and more reliable connectivity. And that connectivity is needed wherever the user is.

With data storage, there were two main challenges: one was the security of data storage and the other was the higher capacity of the data storage.

How are organisations adapting their technology offerings to comply with these Digital Transformation demands?

COVID-19 has really changed business priorities and, with them, the role of the network inside buildings and campuses. We’re seeing companies embrace a lot of remote connections and remote networks, with companies providing opportunities for employees to work from home or away from offices. Other companies are adapting their office sizes and trying to maintain social distancing for health and safety reasons.

Connecting employees to their offices and back to the network has never been more fundamental. Now, with the focus on employee and customer health and safety, we will continue to see building owners roll-out secure VPN connections to connect customers and employees back to their offices and manage their networks differently.

This change will see greater integration and convergence between the Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) teams as they need to make sure they maximise efficiencies and reduce the costs of the building.

We have recently noticed that the OT team is going to be implementing a lot of touchless access control. For example, they may implement several heat and temperature detecting cameras to make sure that customers, employees and visitors coming into the building are within the limits set by the government and health and safety regulations.

We’re going to see a lot of systems and applications on monitoring crowds and the space inside every office to ensure social distancing. IP security cameras, LED lights,  Digital signage with 4k and HD will be flooded into buildings.

Can you highlight how 5G and other emerging technologies will benefit enterprises in their quest to realise Digital Transformation goals?

We’re all in the process of adaptation and future-proofing. It looks like the new normal is here to stay and we’re not going to go back to where we were. The networks have never played a more fundamental role as we adapt to meet the changing requirements.

When we talk about new technologies we need to think about the new emerging and the next generation technologies such as 5G and Wi-Fi 6, and this leads to a common question around which technology should be adopted – 5G or Wi-Fi 6?  

But why should you solely fix on one of the technologies and lock yourself in when you can have a convergence between both, These wireless and wifi networks are complementary and many enterprises will need both – as they work together across a multitude of different use-cases with differing requirements.

As we look forward to what’s yet to come in 2021 and beyond, we see the opportunity to leverage the network to improve organisations, so we need to drive more business outcomes by reducing costs and increasing efficiency with a  focus on improved health and safety as well as a better customer and employee experience.

What tools and solutions should organisations be investing in to enable this continued digitalisation while managing increased pressure on infrastructure?

When thinking about investment, you need to think long-term. Organisations need to invest in a converged network that is versatile, with high-performance infrastructure which is capable of handling multiple kinds of application and services at the same time or simultaneously. We have fibre which has the performance and the flexibility to do that and can really handle both the fixed network and the wireless networks.

We also see that fibre can connect different types of projects and buildings such as residential, commercial and industrial. Fibre also enables increased network densification and improved connectivity at the Edge. Over the last five years we have seen an increased number of deployments of Edge data centres with a goal of getting information closer to the customer , these Data centres are being connected with fibre.

Now, to improve the network connectivity, organisations need to partner with the right service providers. Those which prioritise virtualisation should be a top consideration because this will continue to play a very important role in the future of broadband.

How can organisations future-proof networks in support of rising data centre demand and network connectivity?

Organisations must invest in better data centre designs to future-proof their networks. Good design is at the core of a high density or high-performance data centre. There is a huge explosion and requirement of bandwidth which is really pushing data centre teams to rethink the way they’re designing the networks and infrastructure.

The Data center teams are looking to increase port count and fiber density, increase lane capacities, reduce latency and prepare to migrate to higher speeds

Data centre operators are already planning on moving from 10 gigabit per second and 40 gigabit per second to 25 gigabit to 50 gigabit and 100 gigabit per second.

Easier said than done. Even as data centres transition their fabrics from 10 and 40GbE to 25, 50 and 100GbE, standards have been developed for 400G, and committees which we at Commscope are part of are looking at 800G. and even beyond.

Judging by the Ethernet roadmap, the path forward is neither clear nor straight.– there are a number of challenges, but also lots of opportunity. With the new standards and in the technology evolution, we have seen more efficient modulation, new transmission schemes, new fibre types and data centre managers now have more options to migrate.

Data Centre managers and operators need to be prepared and will need to have proper documentation of the data centre. You should have automated infrastructure management as this will give you visibility and enable you to have control of your network, because if you cannot really see it, then how can you manage it and control it?

What advice would you offer organisations who are looking to improve their network connectivity – what steps can they take to ensure maximum business benefits?

To improve network connectivity, organisations need to prioritise the following three factors when designing, building or trying to improve the network – simplicity, reliability and adaptability.

Simplicity refers to the way that the network can be provisioned, managed, maintained and migrated, while reliability refers to all the parts of the network as they need to work together efficiently to provide a smooth user experience.

And finally, adaptability requires networks to be able to adapt and migrate to what the users will be needing and demanding in the future. Now through collaboration, innovation and forward planning and thinking, we can help deliver an efficient network that meets the customer’s requirement today and tomorrow.

Why should organisations consider CommScope as a strategic partner in their overall technology strategy?

When I joined CommScope around 10 years ago, I quickly learned about the company’s heritage of innovation. We have around 15,000 patents in our records.

Over the last 10 years we have created many lasting connections and helped solve customers’ problems.

Looking ahead, CommScope is really pushing the boundaries of communication technologies to create the world’s most advanced networks.

We design, manufacture, maintain, build, install and test. We provide the hardware infrastructure and the software intelligence that enables our digital society to interact and thrive.

Working with customers, we advance broadband, enterprise and wireless networks to power progress and create lasting connections.

We’re a global company, our people and solutions globally are redefining connectivity solving today’s challenges and driving the innovation that will meet the needs of what’s next.

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