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Karl Horne, CTO Asia Pacific, Ciena
Asia Pacific is set to become the frontline for the Internet of Things (IoT). The number of things connected is expected to grow from 3.1 billion to 8.6 billion by 2020, according to IDC.
Momentum is building fast, thanks to a combination of both enterprise and government investment. For example, a few months ago, Singapore became one of the world's first cities to join a two-year standardization project by the ITU. The project will scope the diverse needs of smart sustainable cities in areas such as the management of electromagnetic fields, smart water management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, intelligent buildings, open data, cybersecurity and data protection. Private enterprise will be the other major IoT driver in Asia, with the manufacturing, healthcare and logistics sectors expected to be early adopters.
The data center network can make or break an IoT deployment
It is recognized that IoT will generate huge amounts of data, whose storage, analysis and transport will have a significant impact on its success. On the surface, it appears that steps are already being taken with numerous new data centers being built across Asia. However, the power of a data center is dependent on the network that interconnects it with other data centers as well as end devices. Sufficient levels of bandwidth must be made available to send data from the "thing" to the data center, as well as between distributed data centers due to distributed computing and storage architectures, to accomplish meaningful analysis.
Asia's data centers need the right interconnectivity to cope with these growing workloads but they are far from ready. In fact, a recent Ciena-IDC survey revealed that in Singapore and Korea, which have the fastest data centers in the region, only 40% of data centers had network connections faster than the minimum IoT requirements of 1Gbps, while in Thailand and China the figure is one in three.
Life or death applications need high-speed, low-latency data center interconnect
For IoT applications like automated driving and logistics, huge amounts of sensor data are constantly being sent, received and analyzed by systems in the vehicle and data center. Once driverless cars become practical - which could be as soon as 2020 -data center networks will need to transmit in near real-time to manage traffic flow and prevent collisions. Advances in coherent optics have paved the way to successfully transmit data at rates of 100G and much higher, over almost any distance, dramatically improving data center network performance.
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