In March, a nor'easter came roaring up the U.S. East Coast knocking down trees, taking out power and forcing many residents in NY, NJ and CT to boil their drinking water. When the power went out in my home around six pm, the backup power unit kicked in to keep the cable modem alive, the laptops shifted from AC to internal batteries and the Internet died.
With all the precautions taken, our desktops and laptops were stranded. No Web sites, no IP phones, no streaming movies. Virtual bricks so to speak. However, a light was shining as the sun set. That light was coming from my smartphone. While restaurants and coffee bars in my town were closing, the applications and the signal bars on my phone were still open for business. The “G” in 3G was saying “GO” not “GONE.”
According to Infonetics Research, the number of mobile broadband subscribers surpassed DSL subscribers for the first time in 2009, and is forecast to grow to 1.5 billion worldwide in 2014. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Mobile broadband is primarily a “personal” connection while wire-line broadband is a “premises” connection.
In my home, I have computers, gaming consoles and media players sharing a cable modem. In the same home there are three 3G phones. My home has one broadband connection provided by the cable company, and each 3G phone has one provided by the mobile provider. That 3 (mobile) to 1 (home) ratio is not uncommon—and in many homes it’s even higher.
The move to mobile broadband is being encouraged further by the ability to purchase portable hotspots. These handheld devices (and soon phones) combine 3G and 4G access with Wi-Fi, enabling up to five devices to share a mobile broadband connection.
An FCC broadband survey conducted in late 2009 reveals that 15 percent of all Americans use wireless broadband with a computer today, and that number is also expected to grow rapidly. The move towards tablet computers with mobile broadband capabilities will further increase the number of mobile connections and demand for richer content.
In developing nations, wireless is projected to be the dominate Internet connection. For example, as Haiti rebuilds from a devastating earthquake, the country is considering rebuilding its broadband infrastructure on the back of mobile technology.
By some estimates, each smartphone consumes as much data as 30 traditional cellphones. And when you add mobile broadband-connected laptops, netbooks and tablets, that number can jump to as high as 450. The anytime, anywhere nature of mobile access, combined with the rollout of higher-performing WiMAX and LTE networks, will continue to reshape the application and content expectations of consumers and businesses alike.
In the end, it’s all about managing more data. Mobile technology provides another Internet access point, which in turn increases network connections, which drives up the number of users, who demand sophisticated applications and richer content, which requires more bandwidth, which increases demand on IT resources, which forces IT infrastructure to scale and adjust or collapse. In a world where the user is always on the “GO,” services can never be “GONE.”
At Brocade, we are keenly aware of this rapidly emerging phenomenon. Our next-generation technology combines years of experience in carrier networking and application delivery as well as a tradition of bet-your-business data center networking. This is a wining trifecta in the race to enable virtual infrastructure. More importantly, we understand why a single-transport infrastructure with rich application-aware services will become integral to managing client connections, applications, workload, server mobility and storage. The virtual infrastructure will derive its utility from the agile network.
Less will become more as people drop the wire and go wireless with mobile broadband. As a result, more data centers will move from yesterday’s infrastructure architectures and into tomorrow’s cloud architectures. So a nor’easter of sorts is beginning to blow through data centers around the world. This storm is not originating from the Atlantic but rather the coast of the mobile network. And these counter-clockwise winds are driving user demand into data centers in ways we’ve never seen before.
All of which makes you wonder: Is your infrastructure ready for the impending storm?