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Network Services
A combination of certain technologies can provide exponential benefits when bundled together; an example being SD-WAN, a natural fit for Unified Communications to improve voice and video call quality, providing more deployment options, efficient bandwidth use and potentially, lower costs.

Research firm IDC predicts that, over the next several years, cloud-driven solutions will present businesses with the potential to significantly improve performance or increase productivity. In addition to cost-effectiveness and quality of service, SD-WAN and UCaaS, both as-a-service solutions, allow a pay-as-you-grow model that can easily adapt to expanding teams and offices—and easily scale down during slow periods.

1. Better Routing:

SD-WAN addresses issues that contribute to lower QoS (quality-of-service) such as jitter, packet loss, and latency with dynamic traffic management across multiple network links in real-time. Some SD-WAN solutions provide both redundancy and QoS to networks and improve the quality of an organization’s connection via cloud-managed router capabilities.

2. Extra Reliability:

SD-WAN often serves as a cost-effective backup solution because it enables an active-active configuration, which enables operational continuity in case of link failure. This allows for near 100% up-times as well as superior voice and video quality.

3. Improved Security:

SD-WAN enables the security of UC solutions in several ways. Primarily, WAN segmentation, which can reduce the instances of some of the most prevalent cyber-attacks that can occur in UC systems. By isolating traffic by application, it’s also more difficult for some threats to identify and/or attack core applications. Not only does SD-WAN enable increased security protocols, but it also provides a cleaner flow for UC traffic.

4. Better Monitoring:

While emails, normal web browsing and most file transfers can handle jitter and packet loss with fairly minimal loss of productivity, with UCaaS, the same jitter and packet loss when dealing with voice or conference and video results in a noticeable slow-down of productivity and frustrates employees and customers alike. With SD-WAN, traffic prioritization can be managed so that tasks that can wait are automatically put on the back burner to highly prioritized traffic, such as a web conference or phone calls.

5. Compliance:

Together with UCaaS, SD-WAN helps to ensure that compliance regulations are met for industries such as healthcare and finance—even PCI-DS and GDPR—due to the inherent redundancy and traffic prioritization traits of the solution.

6. More Services:

Reliability and prioritization also make adding other cloud-based solutions easier without needing to increase the amount of bandwidth. This is particularly true for organizations utilizing SD-WAN in a multi-office environment.

Interested in learning more about UCaaS with SD-WAN specifically? Download our e-Book.
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Network Services

Article by ATI Partner Shashi Kiran, Chief Marketing Officer – Aryaka Networks

You Have a Multi-Cloud Environment – Now What?

Whether they set out to use multiple clouds or not, large enterprises today end up with several cloud suppliers. In fact, it’s probably hard to find a company that isn’t using some mix of Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, IBM Cloud, Salesforce.com, Oracle, Google G-Suite, ServiceNow or Box. The list goes on and on. This is more pronounced with enterprises that have a global site footprint.

The cloud, after all, gets you out of the business of hosting applications and worrying about upgrading hardware and software constantly. It also enables you to sidestep the capital commitments otherwise required.

However, the more clouds you use, the more complex connectivity becomes. Security concerns skyrocket as it becomes hard to figure out who is accessing what, from where and how. In addition, the network becomes central to application performance across the organization.

Forces at Work

Despite the network challenges multi-cloud creates, multi-cloud is here to stay and will become even more complex with time as:

  • Companies turn to even more SaaS offerings that enable them to embrace best of breed rather than multi-purpose on-premise solution bundles that have to meet various requirements of legacy environments
  • Technologies, such as serverless computing and other advances, that are only possible with cloud native applications attract more enterprise workloads
  • Adoption of Internet of Things technologies and strategies require organizations to collect and analyze data closer to scattered sensors at the edge of the network, probably in specialized cloud services
  • Companies try to mesh cloud tools with on-premises systems in hybrid configurations because stringent security or compliance requirements – or the tightly integrated nature of those legacy systems – prevents going all in with cloud


Unfortunately, this shifting, demanding and dynamic environment is not a good fit for the 20-year-old legacy MPLS wide area networks that many organizations still rely on. Besides the fact that MPLS simply can’t provide off-ramps to many cloud tools, adding bandwidth is expensive and simple network changes can take months. It’s like trying to erect a shiny new skyscraper on a stone foundation fit for a mountain cabin. Businesses are short changed on time to market and this is a big no for CxOs driving WAN transformation initiatives.

The good news is software defined-WANs promise agility and enable enterprises to realize the full potential of what multi-cloud environments have to offer. But traditional SD-WANs don’t own the network and have to partner with telcos and service providers that do, creating a suboptimal solution. This is where a fully managed SD-WAN solution, where the provider owns both the network and the software definition provides the “best of both worlds.”

A fully managed SD-WAN running on a private network can connect far-flung employees to various data centre resources while also providing direct connections to public cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, Google and Oracle as well as connectivity to SaaS platforms such as Office 365, Salesforce, WebEx and Zoom, without compromising on application performance.

A managed SD-WAN allows enterprises to shift higher value human resources from the business of assessing technology, building out the network and then constantly tweaking and optimizing it as requirements change. Patching edge-routers or boxes from traditional, SD-WAN vendors is often an operational nightmare.

When managed SD-WAN is delivered as a service, it is akin to a SaaS provider, delivering connectivity as-a-service.

While SD-WAN services can help any organization deliver consistent application performance to employees around the world, the benefits for IT are magnified in multi-cloud environments because they get a unified view that is cloud provider agnostic.

However, not all managed SD-WAN services are alike. Speed of provisioning new circuits, the reliability of the backbone, the quality of the support and ease of engagement – all make a huge difference! Look for a fully managed SD-WAN that leverages a private network for the middle mile, uses built-in acceleration and optimization tools to improve application performance, and uses best of breed layered security from partners for mission-critical applications.

So, when it comes to looking for an SD-WAN delivered as a service to support growing multi-cloud needs, look for:

  • A simple, managed global solution for multi-cloud connectivity
  • End-to-end reliability SLAs guaranteeing 99.99% uptime
  • 24x7x365 monitoring and CCIE-level support
  • Built-in WAN acceleration and optimisation, regardless of the cloud resource targeted
  • Off-ramps to all the cloud providers
  • Deployment capabilities measured in hours at any site globally
  • Support for on-demand site and bandwidth changes


CIOs invest considerably in their public and multi-cloud strategy. The productivity of developers and corporate applications is compromised, if the underlying network connectivity is flaky or if it takes too long for a predictable site connection to be up and running. Digital transformation and the move to the cloud should start with the network. That is ground zero for a multi-cloud world.


Article by ATI Partner Shashi Kiran, Chief Marketing Officer – Aryaka Networks

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Network Services
Article contributed by ATI partner Amy Brown, Director of Marketing – ViaSat

In the shift toward smart farming, connectivity everywhere is essential.

By 2050, 400 million more people will inhabit the planet, meaning food production will need to increase by 70 percent. As a result, smart farming, is going to be of increasing importance, and farmers everywhere need to be able to use technology to maximize the yield of crop. Not only will smart farming increase the efficiency of farmers via sensor-laden machines connected to the web, but a study by the McKinsey Global Institute predicts it will create up to $11 trillion in economic benefits globally by the year 2025.

To embrace smart farming, farms across America will need fast, reliable internet connections, and with many areas of the country underserved by traditional internet providers, it’s clear that other technologies — such as satellite internet — will come into play.

Connectivity fuels high-tech farming innovations

As agribusiness works to address the world’s growing food needs, companies are developing tools that leverage Internet of Things (IoT) applications to streamline work/field processes. Some of these innovations include:

• Precision Livestock Farming sensors used for monitoring when animals are going into labor, animal movement throughout the fields and alerting farmers through text updates.
• Automatic watering and irrigation, in which IoT-enabled sensors continuously monitor moisture levels and plant health
• Smart and self-driving tractors that use machine learning, GPS and robotics to aid in harvesting and tell sprayers and other farm equipment when to apply specific amounts of fertilizer/herbicides to individual plants

How Viasat Business Internet helps with agribusiness

Viasat is helping push the shift towards smart farming in the right direction by helping rural communities innovate and stay connected.

• As of 2016, 39 percent of rural areas still lacked access to broadband internet, meaning farms in those areas may be limited in their application of smart farming tools. Since satellite internet is available almost anywhere, it enables farmers in even the most remote areas to take advantage of IoT technologies.
• Viasat Business Internet offers high-speed service throughout most of the US, allowing farmers without good terrestrial connectivity options to stay competitive in agribusiness.
• It’s compatible with smart devices (IoT), and prioritized connection for businesses means no interference in critical business applications, such as precision farming, inventory management, credit card processing, high-speed file transfers, Voice-over-IP and email.

Article contributed by ATI partner Amy Brown, Director of Marketing – ViaSat
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Network Services

It’s apparent that U.S. organizations have accepted that cloud is here to stay; A recent analysis from Maverick Research found that more than 80% of CIOs estimate that more than half of their business will be conducted on cloud infrastructure by 2020, and roughly the same number predicted that applications supported by a SaaS platform will support more than half of their business transactions.

With this relatively newfound cloud acceptance, those managing the enterprise’s networking infrastructure have begun to realize that no single vendor can truly meet every need. Most businesses, particularly within enterprise and mid-market will likely require significant overhauls to their networks in order to support multi-source congestion from SaaS as well support digital transformation initiatives; as legacy networks were built for an era of static connections, a time when companies built their own private networks using largely proprietary hardware to connect to server/client networks.  

SD-WAN

Although IT professionals have been talking about SD-WAN technology for years, in 2019 it will be a major component in how networks are built and rebuilt. SD-WAN enables networks to route traffic based on centrally-managed rules and roles, regardless of where the entry or exit point of the traffic originates—and the data is fully secure. Research projects that SD-WAN networks will explode by 500%, and those businesses that aren’t currently using SD-WAN will likely be making plans for its adoption.

network-connect-3-1

One of the primary benefits of SD-WAN is that the network can be run by leaner, more agile teams of networking engineers, making it easier to make modifications as business needs change. Eventually, SD-WAN will begin to transition into more “intent-based” networking; this type of networking will change the way connectivity is delivered and, based on the defined standards, will adapt automatically to the needs of a business by analyzing various traffic events against KPI’s, flagging suspicious activities and implementing additional security measures as they’re needed.

Rohit Mehra, Vice President, Network Infrastructure, IDC says, “Intent-based networking is a significant development for the networking industry. It encompasses not only advanced levels of visibility, automation and assurance, but it is the platform on which new machine learning-based network management functionality will be built.” Since the network of the future will use machine learning and AI to become cognitive, proactive and potentially self-driven, intent-based networking is important to enable continuous adaptation to environments that are constantly in flux.

WAN Edge

Another current network trend is the increasing discussion and adoption of WAN Edge architecture as cloud continues to drive vital changes to how networks are built, requiring more flexible network architectures that can accommodate and secure connections to multiple clouds. The WAN edge is the natural connection point to the cloud and where enterprises should be plugging in new security and SD-WAN software to safely and efficiently traverse this complicated network and provide appropriate policies to locations around the world.

In 2018, Gartner published its first Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure. SDXCentral reportedly asked Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa why the report wasn’t simply called Magic Quadrant for SD-WAN. Skorupa replied that the changes in the edge of the wide area network are much bigger than just SD-WAN. Skroupa went on to tell SDXCentral that the new WAN will include services ranging from security, to a variety of WAN optimization types, to secure web gateways, and “things like micro-segmentation all the way from the data center to the end user,” along with hosting of third-party applications in edge computing scenarios. “SD-WAN is just going to be a feature,” he said.

Network Security

As Joe mentions, the relationship between SD-WAN and security is in the process of a growing revolution. Edge devices and IoT, for example, will provide an increased area to potential threats and will create more opportunities for misconfigurations or vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

As you’ve no doubt noticed, it’s not just the number of cyber attacks that have increased, but also the severity. Throughout 2019, we’ll no doubt hear more tales of infiltrations and data loss from organizations across the globe—and not just enterprise organizations, either. Due to the ever-increasing concern for security, 2019 will be another record year for network security spending and a banner year for IT security vendors and resellers. Gartner predicts that, worldwide, the IT security solutions market will increase by nearly 9% from 2018’s estimated $114 billion to over $124 billion.

Going back to SD-WAN for a minute, advisors suggest that high levels of security functionality should be built directly into the network’s foundation; ideally a wide-ranging suite of security components should be native to the network, delivered in a single SD-WAN platform in order to complement the other layers within a customer’s security posture. A few of these network security features would include:

  • Next-generation firewall
  • DDoS protection
  • Integrated intrusion Detection System (IDS) and Prevention (IPS), Anti-ransomware and Anti-virus
  • Layer 3 protection – ARP, IP ICMP protocol defense, IP spoofing, source-routing checks, fragment overlaps


SD-WAN, WAN Edge and network security are all vital solutions that companies of all sizes must seriously evaluate as the adoption of cloud in support of digital transformation journeys continues to boom. Ensuring that networks are not only efficient but also secure should be the primary concern, not just in 2019 but moving forward.  

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Network Services

Software Defined Secure Branch is a purpose built solution designed for businesses and organizations with complex multi-location IT management needs and the desire for more visibility, security protection, and control of their network. Once in place, it helps keep the network secure and accessible through a combination of simplified management, the intuitive software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution, and security.

Branch or remote office network architectures have barely changed for 15+ years. The digital enterprises of today need a network landscape that is built for the demands of the workloads of today – a network that is agile, intelligent, secure and reduces operational complexity while being cost-effective.  By 2021, 10% of midsize and large enterprises will have transitioned from piloting (during 2017) to using on-demand SDN-enabled services (Gartner, 2018 SAM Market Opportunity Forecast Readout – Network).

“Software Defined Secure Branch lets our customers focus on their business or organization as first priority, leaving the IT to us,” said Victoria Lonker, Verizon’s vice president of global products and solutions. “The simple, intuitive experience delivers rapid provisioning of new branch locations, a mobile management app, service health, application visibility and the security controls needed to protect the business.”

Verizon’s Software Defined Secure Branch, offered with Versa Networks, provides:

  • Video and cloud-based service performance leveraging SD-WAN to automatically adapt the network to help improve application performance.
  • Business continuity benefits through enterprise-grade connectivity and Verizon’s robust 4G LTEnetwork for active backup.
  • Bundled security through Verizon’s comprehensive threat management and end-to-end network encryption.
  • An application-centric network on Verizon’s sophisticated and managed infrastructure driving an enhanced user experience.
  • Intuitive mobile app-based service management and continuous monitoring capabilities for the service.
  • The service is easily accessible through the Verizon Enterprise Center online user experience portal that unifies the purchase, deployment, and management. The visibility provided through the portal gives business owners the tools needed to deliver on a better customer experience.
  • “SD-WAN is a powerful and complex solution with many moving parts. Verizon’s offer is a simple yet flexible way for businesses and partners to get technology at the level of features they need, and expand into new features as they need them,” said Brian Washburn, Practice Leader, Network Transformation and Cloud, Ovum.

Adopting Verizon’s Software Defined Secure Branch gives organizations a network landscape that is built for the digital enterprises of today. It maintains application performance and delivery, provides flexibility to easily integrate and scale the right security functions alongside advanced networking capabilities, and offers agility and better cost management.

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Network Services

ATI’s partner, Zach Renkert with TBI, takes you through Cisco Meraki’s cloud managed wireless and switching infrastructure including: MS220-8P Switch, MR30H Wireless Access Point, MR33 Wireless Access Point.

 

Watch the video for:

 

  • Overview of each devices and items included
  • Features and functions of the devices
  • Use cases

About Meraki Cloud Managed Switches:

 

Cisco Meraki provides high performance switching infrastructure suited for everything from small branch office access switches to the large enterprise with stackable Layer 3 aggregation switches. Meraki makes it easy for IT staff with a fully cloud-managed dashboard to quickly pre-stage and deployng switches seamlessly from any web browser or mobile device. The Meraki dashboard allows you to quickly configure and tag ports with voice and data VLANs, 802.1X authentication, dynamic Layer 3 routing and create robust reporting metrics on device health and behavior all in a sleek, highly visual GUI.

 

About Meraki Cloud Managed Wireless:

 

Wireless AP deployments are made simple with Meraki. With an entirely cloud-based management platform, IT teams can quickly deploy access points and configure them entirely within a web browser or mobile device. All Meraki wireless devices currently support 802.11ac Wave 2, 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz radios, and models operating 2×2:2 MU-MIMO with others using 3×3:3 or 4×4:4, Meraki has APs ranging from basic office coverage to ruggedized high-density coverage for any application. All Meraki APs include the robust analytics and reporting via Meraki dashboard allowing IT staff to quickly identify coverage and foot traffic patterns on their wireless network.

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Network Services
Article by ATI partner Joel Mulkey, Founder and CEO – Bigleaf Networks

IT leaders at today’s cloud-enabled businesses are expected to provide the same predictable performance that they did with on-prem systems. Downtime is unacceptable, and these cloud applications need to work the way they were meant to. They need to be responsive, fast, and not frustrate users. And they must do all of this in a way that scales – working consistently as business needs change, revenue grows, and locations expand.

But cloud is creating new challenges for the network, challenges not readily solved through traditional networking technology that rely on static policies.

The first challenge is that, by nature, cloud technologies rely on the Internet, and no matter what kind of internet circuit you look to use, performance is unpredictable. We monitor thousands of internet connections ten times per second and can tell you very simply that it doesn’t matter what kind of connection you have; fiber, cable, wireless, etc., they all can experience business-affecting degradation. This can mean downtime or brownouts, and both can be expensive, frustrating to users, and potentially job-threatening to the people responsible for networking. Our data shows that on average, an ISP connection will experience 3.5 hours of downtime per month and 23 hours of major performance-affecting brownouts per month. This can be at 2 AM, so if you’re not a 24/7 business maybe that hasn’t hit you hard yet, but it can also be during the middle of the day.

The second challenge comes from the ever-shifting application landscape. If your users are leveraging the cloud well, procuring and consuming new applications all the time and shifting their use of current applications, how does the network keep up? There’s no way for network administrators to know exactly the makeup of their traffic 6 months from now (if they even know what it looks like today). This means that it’s impossible to create static network policies that can provide a good user experience over time.

Finally, the third challenge is that IT is no longer the sole gatekeeper of software provisioning. This means that, even with plentiful IT resources, there are critical technologies being used in businesses that IT doesn’t know about and has no policies to manage.

These challenges lead to an all-too-familiar game of policy whack-a-mole. Users get frustrated by application outages or poor performance. They contact IT in a huff, and now IT must decide if they’re going to ignore the problem, say it’s not a supported application, try to fix it with some new network policy, or maybe contact a vendor so that vendor can implement a new policy. At the end of the day, no one is happy, and the cloud is a point of frustration rather than empowerment.

Here’s what I think is at the root of the situation: It used to be that IT controlled every application. IT was the bottleneck and was able to control the experience. Sometimes that worked out well, but that’s not the way the world is moving.

In this new cloud era, IT is now a facilitator, end-users are interacting directly with their applications. They’re procuring, configuring, using, and troubleshooting them. Yes, they’ll still come to blame IT when they don’t work right, but the interaction model has fundamentally changed. IT leaders need network technologies that support this new model, that enable their users to be nimble and efficient with applications.

If their network is built upon a set of static, human-controlled policies, how do companies ensure performance and reliability when new applications can be added into the environment at any time? They can probably configure policies for 80 or 90 percent of their business needs. That’s pretty good, and they’ll feel like they’ve done their job, the box is checked, they can say they have failover or application prioritization. But what about when one of those new applications uses a ton of bandwidth – how does that impact their existing business-critical applications? Or when their CEO gets sent an invite to use some random videoconferencing tool they’ve never heard of for a key meeting, are their network policies going to ensure he or she can communicate effectively, or will they get a frustrated email after the call?

Beyond simple frustrations and inconvenience, if a business relies on static network policies, it’s exposed to the risk of falling behind competitors who are using the intelligent software in their network. The solution to this lack of control isn’t more policies, it’s a smarter network.

At Bigleaf, we don’t want our users to have to think about how the network will handle new applications. Frankly, everyone wants their voice calls to sound clear, their video to play smoothly, their web applications to be snappy, and their databases to be reliable. We’ve built smart software that auto-detects every type of application, classifies them into six priority categories, and automatically ensures they behave how they’re supposed to, even when the network is congested. Our users don’t need policies to get the outcome they want. It’s wonderful.

Article by ATI partner Joel Mulkey, Founder and CEO – Bigleaf Networks

Learn more about SD-WAN for Enterprises here.
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Network Services

The rise of IoT, emerging technologies and increased demand for edge computing will present new security and data center challenges. Conversations will begin taking a different shape starting 2019.

“Digital business across the enterprise is now a full C-suite team pursuit,” according to Chris Pemberton in his recap of 8 top findings to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2018-19. Digital initiatives topped the list of priorities for CIOs in 2019, with 33% of businesses now in the scaling or refining stages of digital maturity — up from 17% last year (Gartner, 2018). 

To address changing consumer and employee behavior, businesses are growing and adapting not just with new technologies, but by implementing new ways of accessing and connecting to them. Technology predictions for 2019 and beyond like: autonomous things, augmented analytics, AI as part of almost all development like Natural Language Processing for BI and analytics, fog and edge computing, immersive experiences with VR/AR and Mixed Reality, the continued proliferation of blockchain and as a service (cloud services) and smart things all require greater bandwidth and faster communications.

Connected systems are our new reality. And according to Cisco, global IP traffic will triple by 2021 (Cisco, 2018). With new, connected devices, traffic is crowded and the foundation of the telecommunication channel will continue to grow as it supports future technologies. In other words, much as the channel is changing with new technology, selling network and connectivity will remain the most constant and stable sales.

New technologies, interconnected devices, streaming applications, both business and personal applications running simultaneously during business hours, are all putting pressure on traditional MPLS networks. As businesses struggle to support ever-growing connectivity demands with cloud-based apps or to maintain seamless access to mission critical systems, bandwidth becomes an issue. Many networks can’t handle the increased demand, lacking speed, high capacity pipes, smart connections and adequate last mile connections. Now, connections to the cloud, branch locations, data centers, etc., require hybrid network configurations or SD-WAN to utilize gigabyte last mile options.

Prediction: Network transport should remain a key topic in customers digital transformation journeys. As more applications and workloads migrate to the cloud, the last-mile will determine the performance and user experience. Ultimately, it’s important for a selling partner to recommend direct connections to the Internet and pathways that guarantee performance, security and reliability. IoT, mobility and conferencing/collab technologies will only lead to greater sales of fiber, coax or both. The combination and innovation of SDN and gigabyte broadband will help shape enterprise networks and enable digital transformation.

5G wireless backup will be incredibly beneficial when it comes to data center connections, connections to clouds, each other/disparate locations.

Prediction: 5G connectivity will begin taking center stage as we all face a congested, traffic-filled Internet. 5G is expected to become commercial reality in 2019; it provides wireless connectivity options (e.g. back up and capitalizing on gigabyte speeds for last mile, eliminating the need for wires). It will also enable more hybrid and cloud applications with newer technologies such as machine learning, graphics rendering in the cloud for mixed reality and innovations as a result of higher bandwidth and lower latency. 5G will be a game changer on all fronts: networks, devices and allowing for new use cases for technology, applications, business processes and models.

Prediction: Data center business will look different to accommodate real-time mission critical data particularly when it comes to IoT. Fog and edge computing, which is the way data is processed and the network connections needed to bring data from the edge to the end point (mainly being the cloud), is going to become more popular. It has to be. FuturumResearch asks “if you were driving an autonomous car, would you want its communication to battle through a mess of data from users making online purchases or uploading files for their company? Or would you rather it makes a clear beeline directly to your car’s data processing center?” Futurum goes onto say, “…as we’re using augmented reality for training, smart vehicles to manage our transportation needs, millions of IoT devices and even remote robotic surgeries to save lives, we’re at a point where we can’t risk the chance of data getting stuck in digital traffic. In many cases, data delay could mean the difference between life and death.” (Futurum, 2018). 

Emerging technology like AI, IoT and 5G will increase data production and real-time, mission critical data will now need to be stored in closer, smaller data centers. An IDC study sponsored by Seagate, DataAge 2025, found that by 2025 almost 20% of data created will be real-time in nature. Hence, needing the ability to process and securely store data at the edge rather than sent to the network core for processing. The data center prediction by many telecom experts is that data center infrastructure will become more distributed with regional storage hubs and smaller city locations. These micro data centers will be bolted onto existing communication structures like telecom towers with the rollout and commercialization of 5G.

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