Working Toward Global IoT Infrastructure

Managing data networks that cross geographic borders will be a big challenge for enterprises rolling out IoT initiatives.

By Arthur Cole | Posted Apr 20, 2017
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It’s been said that all politics is local, but the same certainly cannot be said for data infrastructure. With the advent first of the Internet, then the cloud and now the Internet of Things (IoT), global data networks are quickly becoming a necessity for forward-leaning enterprises.

Building and managing these networks is no small feat, however. It requires not only careful coordination of both wired and wireless infrastructure across numerous regional and national jurisdictions, but also a top-notch management stack that can maintain real-time performance across all of these diverse constructs.

This was the main reason why Cisco dropped $1.4 billion for Jasper last year. The company’s Control Center management stack is tailor-made for high-speed IoT applications, which the company had implemented across global boundary lines through relationships with AT&T, China Unicom, Telefonica and others. That deal is already leading to additional partnerships with companies like Three Group, a unit of CK Hutchison that boasts 90 million mobile data customers on three continents. The company is planning to use the Cisco Jasper Control Center to manage a new suite of IoT services focusing on transportation, security, logistics and other applications.

According to Jarrod Nink, CEO of Three Group’s Hue mobile wholesaling unit that will oversee global IoT networks, cross-border connectivity is particularly difficult in Europe and Asia where data residency laws are strong. He tells Light Reading that utilizing a single management stack like Jasper is critical to maintaining the flexibility needed for multi-jurisdictional services. At the same time, the system provides for a streamlined upgrade from the 2G networks on which most M2M connectivity currently resides to emerging 3, 4 and 5G networks.

Meanwhile, HPE is working with India’s Tata Communications to build what they say will be the largest IoT network in the world. The plan is to utilize Long Range (LoRa) WAN technology to connect top markets in India like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore before expanding to a global footprint. LoRaWAN has the advantage of providing broad coverage using less infrastructure than standard mesh network approaches, and it can support a wide variety of frequencies and data rates, including the use of virtual channels to increase carrying capacity without creating interference. Tata’s network will be built around the HPE Universal IoT Platform that supports interoperability between devices and edge-based applications, including the LoRa gateways that will be harnessed for heterogeneous IoT environments.

Although high-frequency solutions usually dominate the headlines, some developers are turning to legacy networks for global IoT connectivity. A company called Ingenu says it can provide better and cheaper service using the 2.4 GHz spectrum that is already freely available worldwide. The company’s random phase multi access (RDMA) solution is said to cover more than 400 square miles from a single tower and utilizes a special connection technology designed to optimize battery life. The company has service up and running in 29 countries across six continents, providing cross-border service without the need for additional hardware or software configurations.

Silos have long been the bane of data infrastructure. In the data center, and even on the cloud, they’ve emerged as a necessary — or at least unavoidable — evil, given the way both environments evolved. In the IoT, however, silos are a significant problem because any limitation in the flow of data to, from and between devices will hamper the automation and analytics that power the entire ecosystem.

Arthur Cole is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years’ experience covering enterprise IT, telecommunications and other high-tech industries.

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