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Game changer: In the age of 5G, data is crucial

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John Day, sales engineering leader, UK&I and Nordics at Commvault, highlights why 5G is so much more than just ‘faster downloads’ and why data (and not just any data) is vital to maximising its potential.

The evolution of technology means that convergence is being taken to new heights. Cloud and edge computing, the endpoint, and most recently 5G, are coming together and changing the way we collaborate, connect and communicate.

This is a good thing if we consider that the UK’s economic recovery from the devastating blows dealt by the Covid-19 pandemic is going to rely on the innovation and implementation of new technologies.

For telecommunications companies and operators though, adjusting to a world with 5G can be challenging for several reasons. It’s not just about laying down new infrastructure; changing business models, embracing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), and potentially developing entirely new revenue streams are also involved.

And at the core of the capability to use 5G effectively lies data, which must be transferable, protected and most importantly, available for analysis. Data is the key to unlocking the value of 5G for operators. 

 The art of the ‘5G possible’

Although 5G makes exceptional connectivity speeds possible, it’s about far more than simply enabling speedier downloads. 5G facilitates new scenarios that are either complicated or unachievable with current technology, blending the components of hyperscale cloud, rich communications and the intelligent edge with low latency, high-speed connectivity.

With pervasive compute from the centre to the edge, real-time actionable insights driven by AI and ML, and the intersection of the physical and virtual worlds, 5G is an absolute game changer.

However, this presents a challenge for operators. At the moment, the operator landscape is driven by consumer-focused business models, specifically around offering excellent experiences on mobile phones with access to data.

But, 5G and the intersection of the Internet of Things (IoT) increases the number of endpoints and sensors on a huge scale. Services therefore also need to evolve to incorporate more Business to Business (B2B) and Machine to Machine (M2M) models.

The economics of the operator are on the cusp of being significantly disrupted. This is understandably challenging, but it is also an opportunity to unlock new value. Low-latency and edge computing capabilities can deliver new solutions and services. One example is rich connectivity for medical devices. This is enabled via network slicing, which allows spectrum to be allocated specifically to ensure the quality of service of such devices. 

Data feeds intelligence

Operators need to be able to drive simplicity, scale, and cost efficiency, along with flexible infrastructure that’s future-proofed to open up new opportunities and business models.

While the hardware and sensors are important pieces of the puzzle, the AI models are where value and competitive advantage lie. In turn, the value behind AI is driven by the data that is used to train the models.

Data lies at the very heart of the 5G opportunity and is the key source of competitive advantage.

It’s data that informs the decisions made by AI algorithms that will open new applications, including manufacturing, retail, smart cities, energy management, healthcare, transportation, telemedicine and more. It needs to be protected, but more importantly, it must be accessible. The ability to index data and identify the most appropriate data for AI capabilities is vital.

Create opportunity through data management

Along with the progression in rich, robust endpoint data comes endless possibilities. However, if this data is not protected and available, the danger is that it will be nothing but an expensive liability.

Data management, delivered as a service, helps operators to protect their data, set retention periods, and incorporate compliance solutions that include endpoint and 5G data.

Data protection, recovery and archiving with enhanced application support are vital for modern telecommunications companies and operators as they strive to foster collaboration, connectivity, and communication in an increasingly converged world.

Equally important are eDiscovery, governance and compliance, including regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Additionally, analytics and content indexing are key, as well as reporting and policy management capabilities.

Ultimately, data management needs to support mobility, protect against ransomware and enable the clever storage and smart movement of data. A holistic solution is therefore needed to safeguard data, from the core, to the edge, and everywhere in between.

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