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Look in the Mirror and Foresee the Future of Telecommunications

By Martin Laesch, Chief Technology Officer, Neural Technologies

The adoption of 5G will unleash the full potential of augmented and virtual reality, Smart Cities, and the Internet of Things (IoT); this will present opportunities for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to strengthen current revenue sources or create entirely new revenue streams. Consumers continue to display an insatiable appetite for data and with the consumption of data-hungry applications securing a place in consumers’ daily lives, data usage is set to continue increasing exponentially into the future.

CSPs currently face the ever-increasing challenges of leveraging 5G networks and offering customers new types of services. To overcome these challenges, new digital technologies are required to automate complex business processes to provide customers with the personalized service they have come to expect in a fast-evolving, digital world.

By 2025, CSPs should already be leveraging 5G networks to offer new types of services to various customer segments. The challenges of this endeavor will lie in the ability to scale telecom platforms, automate lifecycle management of network slices, and incorporate predictive demand and maintenance – all while ensuring operational efficiency and a behind-the-scenes workforce to support platform optimization.

Using automation to improve customer services

To address these challenges, an Analytical Data Model (Artificial Intelligence [AI] Data Model) and Machine Learning (ML) were used to develop the Digital Twins technology and tested as part of the 2019 TM Forum Digital Twins catalyst project. The technology serves as a virtual representation of a real-world entity or system, which acts as a mirror to provide a means to simulate, predict, and forecast behavior in the digital world. As part of the catalyst project, the Digital Twins technology was applied to various use cases, such as networks, individuals, organizations, and processes, to determine their effectiveness for telecom industry applications in order to address the aforementioned challenges predicted for 2025.

For the Digital Twins technology to be possible, a common data model is essential. All data needs to be classified and structured in the same way for the digital technology to perform. Digital Integration is the first step to making this possible.

One example of a Digital Twin is that of a customer. A customer’s Digital Twin will be represented in a heatmap with icons to help visualize aspects of their digital lifestyle, such as whether they spend a lot of time gaming, have high mobile usage, or are physically inactive. This twin can then be used by the CSP to tailor messages to that individual. For example, the Digital Twin may show that the customer has a low step count, which could trigger a notification to the individual to be more active.

Using a Digital Twin, operators can also determine where there will be a significant increase in latency within the network, and then share that information with the customer’s Digital Twin to find out what is going to be affected and determine the next best action.

The Digital Twin can also speed up product development cycles, save time and money, and create new business models based on intelligent outcomes. This allows enterprises to personalize the customer experience and meet their precise demands, thereby enabling the enterprises to grow and improve their customer base through targeted campaigns, tailored services, and promotions. In turn, this generates greater customer loyalty and retention as well as customer spending through personalization with timely, individually tailored offers.

Proven methods for the future

The TM Forum Digital Twins catalyst project proved that Digital Twins not only work for the manufacturing industry, but for the telecommunications space as well. As part of the project, Neural Technologies successfully created a Customer Twin alongside the collaborative development of a Mobile Network Twin and an Enterprise IP Network Twin, all originating from the core AI Data Model.

In addition, the catalyst project also demonstrated real-time communication between the twins. Using the proposed TM Forum Open Application Program Interfaces (APIs), Neural Technologies was able to share such simulated, forecasted, and predicted outcomes so that each individual twin was able to recommend a more informed action, instead of a siloed view.

Ultimately through using Digital Twin technologies in the telecommunications industry, a more holistic view across the whole of the operator’s network will be achievable, making it possible to not only make more informed recommended actions, but also make equally fast decisions. As a result, all such “what if” scenarios could now be done in the virtual world without affecting the real world.

Next to the challenges the telecommunications industry will face with the ever-growing volumes of usage data, software vendors like Neural Technologies need to provide solutions that are able to exchange data with any kind of connected system. Information exchange between systems will be key. and the usage of real time APIs will grow. Industry standards for these APIs, like those specified through the TM Forum Open APIs, will help to standardize the exchange of information which Neural Technologies fully supports already today.

With more data becoming available through the Internet of Things and 5G in the future, operators need to prepare themselves to leverage this data. Data is every operator’s asset, and using AI and ML, these assets can be mobilized to enable CSPs to strengthen current revenue sources by creating entirely new revenue streams. Ready to help CSPs achieve these goals, Neural Technologies’ state-of-the-art digital transformation and analytical technologies can help CSPs leverage this data and create new revenue streams.

Bio

Martin Laesch joined Neural Technologies in October 2015 as Senior Vice President of Professional Services and is now the Chief Technology Officer. Martin is responsible for the global Strategy and Products, Solutions development as well as the Consultancy Services to customers. Martin has more than 20 years’ experience in telecommunications services and the software industry, filling roles from Project Manager to Managing Director. Martin joined Neural Technologies in October 2015 by acquisition of Enterest GmbH, which he co-founded in 2003. Martin holds a Master of Computer Science degree.

 

IoT’s Impact on the Data Center and the Role of Intelligent Power

By Marc Cram, Director of New Market Development, Server Technology

Once dubbed the next Industrial Revolution, the Internet of Things (IoT) has proven to be the movement that will drive the evolution of network, IT, and data center design into the future. To sum up the net impact of all of the new devices situated at the edge of all of the networks, consider this: there will be some 24 billion Internet of Things devices online by the end of 2020, which is actually more than double the 10 billion devices that will be used directly by people. Intelligent PDUs will play a critical role in the management of networks that support that traffic.

In fact, IoT has had a number of impacts on data center infrastructure, as well as data center services. Not only has IoT driven the creation of more robust networks and IT systems, it has also pushed the boundaries of what was previously understood as cloud and edge computing, and the networks that support those systems.

Lean and mean

When we look at the impact of IoT on data center infrastructure, the greatest tangible effect has been on data center networks. Most facilities have had to adapt in order to keep up with IoT—especially 5G IoT. This has meant an increase in the number of connections and in the overall speed of networks in most deployments, even ones that lean heavily on edge computing. Those edge devices still need to push data back to a central hub for more detailed computing and analysis.

Because of this, the majority of data centers are upping their networking and connectivity game. Another key impact IoT brings to data centers is a different type of capacity demand. IoT devices are continually running and delivering data, meaning that many data centers now have a much smaller window than before to take a network offline or make adjustments. Traditional maintenance windows are now closed, and network architectures have to be adapted to support uptime. The impact on data center infrastructure? It needs to be equally flexible.

More secure

An unexpected impact of IoT on data centers has been the need for an increased security presence at the edge. This new security challenge is the unwanted passenger on the train of network safety. It is the result of having more passengers on the new IoT touchpoints and endpoints.

This increase in the number of devices has presented a unique challenge for those in charge of their company’s networks. The proliferation of traffic has meant that companies are investing in new tools to monitor and manage traffic on their networks. While these tools are mostly in the form of software and IT appliances, there has also been an increase in the adoption of network PDUs.

Everything needs power

While they may seem like an unlikely player in new IoT data center infrastructures, intelligent PDUs are serving a key role in securing networks, supporting uptime, monitoring traffic, and managing systems.

Switched PDUs are the gatekeepers of all the power that is fed to the rack. After all, everything needs power, right? Not only is the rack PDU the bridge between the data center’s entire electrical infrastructure and the devices that run the network, it also provides the nearest touchpoint to monitor and manage that power. Talk about up close and personal!

Monitoring the edge

IoT computing demands more sophisticated monitoring solutions at the rack and PDU level. By definition, edge compute sites are not adjacent to the core data center facility. Lack of proximity means that there is an increased reliance on the ability to monitor power and cooling conditions remotely, as well as the ability to remotely control and reboot single outlets. As IoT has pushed monitoring to the distant reaches of the network, intelligent PDUs have likewise been deployed to provide feedback and control.

Monitoring the core

Intelligent PDUs arguably play a more critical role at the core, thanks to IoT. They provide information about equipment operation by metering the input and output power at the PDU. They also provide remote control operations that allow you to turn power on and off to individual receptacles. Having a network connection allows the data center manager to enable or disable outlets from a remote location or within the facility itself. As IoT has required more flexibility and fewer maintenance windows, intelligent PDUs have stepped in to assist with controlling the computing environment.

Monitoring to manage

Increased data traffic and shifting workloads increase the complexity of the data center manager’s power and cooling resources within the facility. By using intelligent PDUs, you can access real-time usage data and environmental alerts. All power usage data is easily tracked, stored, and exported into reports using intelligent PDUs and DCIM software. By analyzing accurate power usage information at the cabinet level, data center managers are now able to more accurately shift power resources within the white space.

In short, an intelligent PDU can be the control your data center infrastructure needs to support IoT applications. This is increasingly important as this infrastructure is being pushed closer to the edge with even less time for maintenance. Higher device demand comes with higher power demands, which means more challenges to the network. PDUs help you meet them and anticipate the next IoT evolution.

Marc Cram is Director of New Market Development for Server Technology, a brand of Legrand (@Legrand). A technology evangelist, he is driven by a passion to deliver a positive power experience for the data center owner/operator. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rice University and has more than 30 years of experience in the field of electronics. Follow him on LinkedIn or @ServerTechInc on Twitter.