Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity to Transform the Network

When you look at the mobile communications industry today, with billions of mobile devices and more than a million apps, it’s hard to believe how far and how fast we’ve come. Today, the number of networked devices equals the global population, but it will be twice as much in 2015, creating double the data usage each minute. The impact of technology advancement on our industry, our economy and even our culture has been truly astounding. What’s sometimes overlooked in this picture is how the global communication networks are managing the tremendous (and ever-increasing) amount of data running across the networks. The transformation happening in the data centers, routers, switches, and base stations is just as significant as what we see on the consumer side.

To understand this transformation, you need to bear in mind that the telecom industry, until very recently, has been built primarily on purpose-built, fixed-function equipment. This enables good capability for the specific applications that run on those products, but lack flexibility in re-purposing that equipment for other applications during times of low usage. This means that a lot of the network goes underutilized since it can’t be repurposed to meet the changing demands of users and traffic.

To help tackle these and other challenges, Intel has utilized our experience from enterprise and cloud computing and become a change agent in the network. We’re building performance, power efficiency and security features into the silicon, multicore processors and microarchitectures to help develop solutions that will help service providers adapt, evolve and thrive. Moreover, we’ve developed software libraries that allow network-specific workloads, like packet processing, to run more efficiently, and we can now demonstrate performance parity with specialized network processors.

These groundbreaking developments are getting network operators very excited about the future. Moving to standard, open, high-volume, virtualized platforms is a key enabler to get better network efficiencies and drive new, innovative services. Mobile operators around the world are in a unique position to service customer needs, perhaps better than any other type of service provider, because of their visibility into congestion, customer profiles, and Service Level Agreements.

Where technology intersects with the business world, the bottom line is about making money and saving money, and virtualizing network services can achieve both. A new use case that’s emerging is personal media cloud services and storage from the intelligent edge with downloads to the home device. It’s been exciting to see tangible and measurable results through network transformation. In fact, our partner Telefónica has experienced significant TCO savings from this new approach.

Rarely does one get to work as part of an industry transformation that is truly changing the world. Intel co-founder Andy Grove called moments like this a “strategic inflection point” and taught us the importance of leading the market with disruptive innovation. It’s certainly a very exciting time to be in network infrastructure! In my next post I’ll discuss why network infrastructure and collaboration efforts are now front and center at industry events.