There are three main factors that impact the reality of data communications: where data is stored, how and from what device data is accessed and the amount of data that’s stored.
Our data can be seen and accessed in a number of different forms: streaming video websites, such as YouTube or Netflix, photo-sharing websites, such as Picasa or Flickr, file storage services like DropBox or Google Drive and more. Lastly, we can’t forget the countless amount of email hosted on Internet servers.
People have access to this data from anywhere using multiple types of devices, including mobile phones and tablets. In fact, smartphones have effectively become the leading platform on which we access Internet data. This has made the Internet, and in turn – the cloud – accessible by far more people than ever before.
Today’s information is not only abundant; it is becoming much richer. This results in larger amounts of data traveling over the Internet. In fact, web traffic today accounts for more than 20% of Internet traffic where in the past, simple web pages including text accounted for far less. In this blog post I’ll explore the challenges – and opportunities – that exist for carriers in this space.
Carrier Challenges with Mobile and the Cloud
The three realities of data access that I mentioned earlier – where, how and the amount – are very important to any carrier that connects end users to the data residing in the cloud. This described evolution can be seen as an opportunity to leverage this information and intelligently manage the carrier critical resources and network capacity.
You may have heard carriers be referred to as, “dumb pipes,” or networks that only transfer bytes between devices and the Internet. No intelligence is built into the services, and data is simply being transferred from one location to another. In this case, one of the most obvious concerns is that increased demand for carrier services doesn’t enable revenue increase for the carrier as their service becomes commoditized and there are challenges to differentiate their offerings. As the content and device experience is not in their hands, the carrier market quickly turns into a price per bit battleground.
On the other hand, carriers can see this as an opportunity to “move up the stack” and offer more advanced content-related services to their subscribers, coupled with a superior quality of experience promise. Many carriers are starting to offer their various customers (enterprises, small businesses and consumers) additional cloud-based services while combining these services with improved network related QoE guarantees and premium prices.
The ADC Solution
In order to intelligently differentiate between traffic types, customer types and destination services, carriers are required to become more aware of the actual traffic that traverses through their network. Some can say that this is a prime time for application delivery controller (ADC) vendors, as effective ADC’s address this exact problem. ADC’s look into network traffic, and based on application characteristics, enforce specific policies pertaining to this traffic.
With an ADC, carriers can treat a customer’s traffic more selectively. “Premium” customers will have their traffic flow through the network highways, and “non-premium” customers will share a more congestion prone network route. Much like a parking lot prioritizes the most convenient spaces, carriers can now prioritize customers and reserve “spots” in the network for “premium” and “non-premium” users.
As carriers expand their offerings and employ an ADC policy-based steering mechanism, the end user’s ability to access the services at blazing speeds will make the improvement evident. Done right, providers will be able to improve their relevance while improving revenue.
How is your organization battling the cloud challenges that come as a result of increasing mobile usage?