12 Examples of how on-demand networks are affecting our lives

 

2015 will be the year businesses raise their expectations of ‘on-demand’ network service and communications. Increasingly, businesses are moving more of their IT workloads into the cloud, taking advantage of the savings and flexibility it enables. Key among the attractions of a cloud-based IT set-up, is the easy scalability of storage capacity and add-on services which can be used and paid for, as needed. This is contributing to a shift in business expectations, driving interest for other service provision in an “on-demand” manner.

 

Whether for personal or business use, people today live, learn, work and play online, leveraging a variety of on-demand applications that are enabled by the proliferation of Internet-connected devices and the reach, capacity and agility of communications networks. To keep pace with this dynamic and growing demand, networks need to become even more flexible, open and programmable using Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). We might not realize it, but agile, on-demand networks are already influencing us. In fact, on-demand networks are already becoming increasingly mainstream in twelve key areas:

 

 

1.       Video – Regardless of whether you are at home using a streaming player like a Roku box or Apple TV, on an iPad while commuting on the metro or a mobile phone on the go, people expect a high-quality, disruption-free experience. This extends to streaming Netflix original content, user-generated content on YouTube or video calling family and friends on FaceTime or Skype. Most of us do not have the time to waste waiting for content to load – on-demand networks provide us with the bandwidth when we need it for a high-quality service and dependable connection. The launch this year of 3D-TV on demand coverage of the Fifa World Cup demonstrates the need for service providers like Etisalat and du to have resilient and highly scalable network capability. With high definition, rapidly becoming standard and a whole raft of 3D movies being promised for on demand services, this will prove challenging unless the right solutions are in place.

 

2.       Healthcare – An advanced telehealth application, telesurgery enables doctors to leverage the latest HD and stereoscopic video technology, state-of-the-art robotics and high capacity, low latency networks to perform remote surgical procedures. The round-trip latency from the issuing of a robotic control signal to the resulting video displayed at the surgeon’s site – essentially determines the safety of telesurgery. On-demand service provides network performance to make telesurgery possible.

 

3.       Live events – Whether watching at home on your HD television or a mobile device, there is nothing more frustrating than to watch a premiere event like the Olympics or top music artist performing and see video pixilation. To ensure a high Quality of Service (QoS), video broadcasting companies can set-up a temporary virtual, high-speed network to deliver low-latency HD video and other bandwidth-intensive files. This technology will become even more prudent as 4K Ultra HD TVs take off – they deliver four times as much detail as 1080p Full HD TVs do, necessitating even more bandwidth.

 

4.       Shopping – As a global attraction that attracts on average 4.4 million visitors every year with a total spending of AED 15 billion, Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) is an important retail season that makes a major contribution towards the Emirate’s economy. However, online shopping is not consistent, there are peak periods, in fact, DSF accounts for between 25-30 percent of annual sales in Dubai, so retailers must prepare for additional online transactions without having to design and build a network to support occasional peak loads the whole year. On-demand networks provide the resources only when you need it, saving capital and increasing efficiency.

 

5.       Social media – According to a recent report by Performics, 85 percent of surveyed users in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have at least one social media account and 60 percent visit a social network every day. As well as joining Twitter faster than any other social platform, social users follow five brands on average. Importantly, they are most likely to engage with those that share pictures and videos on their channels, all of which consume bandwidth – on-demand networks will ensure that providers always have adequate capacity to support these platforms and the resulting file sharing.

 

6.       Education – Educators and their students no longer need to be located in the same room. The classroom has become virtual; allowing a set of students in Dubai watch a lesson about Marine biology in London. An on-demand network makes it easy to use instantaneous video, share large files and changes the traditional classroom-teacher learning model.

 

7.       Research – Collaborative learning on a global scale is making waves in the research & education (R&E) community as a means to connect students and schools at all levels to unique, geographically isolated research content. To properly learn and share information, there must be sufficient lighting, detailed imaging, and video data collection systems, which require large amounts of bandwidth versus the alternative – shipping hard drives, a long and arduous process. SDN and other advanced technologies like real-time analytics software applications enable researchers to trial new research methodology on a fully operational network without having to build a unique infrastructure for every use case – or in other words – they will have a network that they can leverage “on-demand.”

 

8.       Transportation – To alleviate dreaded traffic congestion, on-demand networks can allow GCC cities to provide transportation operations centers with detailed, real-time data on traffic volume, speeds, transit schedule status, evolving weather conditions, and other roadway conditions – large sums of data that an overprovisioned or manually reconfigured network could not handle. Transportation agencies can then use the information collected to understand traffic patterns, and then reroute traffic to reduce congestion.

 

9.       eGovernment – To cut costs and make government more efficient, many local jurisdictions are handling ID registration, visa applications, tenancy contract registrations among other municipal services online, necessitating a costly network capacity upgrade. With many preferring to avoid making trips to the local authorities, having a network automatically scale to accommodate bandwidth demand, particularly around constraining and tight deadlines, is key. This also supports the “smart city” concept as a means for cities to lure businesses, young professionals and high-profile events to their jurisdictions by showing they have an infrastructure that supports today’s bandwidth needs across GCC government services.

 

10.   Energy – On-demand networks allow utilities to talk to devices inside the customer premise, such as load control devices, smart air conditioners and home energy consoles to reduce peak consumption, and minimize costs. This becomes especially important as approximately 10 percent of all electricity generated is lost in the transmission and distribution system.

 

11.   Public safety – In some instances, emergency responders have to bring their own smartphones to work to access applications, search databases and share videos – all of which require a large sum of bandwidth that can overburden public safety networks that don’t have the capacity to support these smartphones. During a major disaster such as a widespread fire or major sandstorm, on-demand networks facilitate the use of these devices designed to meet public safety requirements and provide a rich set of applications and services that enhance their ability to do their jobs, making all of us safer in the process.

 

12.   CDN market size - The Middle East and Africa Content Delivery Network market report forecasts revenues across the two regions as growing by a CAGR of 38.7 percent between this year and 2019, to top $2,365 million. This is put down almost entirely to increased Internet traffic due to growth in access of media files such as audio, video, games and so on.

 

According to IDC, ITC spending in the Middle East is now double the global average, with much of that directed at back-end technology and infrastructure. The reality is demand for high-bandwidth content and applications will continue to grow ever faster. For example, who could have foretold that this year’s Fifa World Cup would be available on-demand across the region in 3D-TV. Over the next 10 years, the Middle East (and GCC region specifically) will witness massive public and infrastructure build out as a result of all the industrial, commercial and sports events, such as Dubai Expo 2020, Qatar World Cup 2022 and the ongoing expansion in Saudi Arabia. On-demand networks will ensure that service providers and infrastructure planners have the capacity to not only support new applications and requirements but are also to anticipate whole new areas of demand that are not yet on the horizon.

 

 

 

2015 will be the year businesses raise their expectations of ‘on-demand’ network service and communications. Increasingly, businesses are moving more of their IT workloads into the cloud, taking advantage of the savings and flexibility it enables. Key among the attractions of a cloud-based IT set-up, is the easy scalability of storage capacity and add-on services which can be used and paid for, as needed. This is contributing to a shift in business expectations, driving interest for other service provision in an “on-demand” manner.

 

Whether for personal or business use, people today live, learn, work and play online, leveraging a variety of on-demand applications that are enabled by the proliferation of Internet-connected devices and the reach, capacity and agility of communications networks. To keep pace with this dynamic and growing demand, networks need to become even more flexible, open and programmable using Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). We might not realize it, but agile, on-demand networks are already influencing us. In fact, on-demand networks are already becoming increasingly mainstream in twelve key areas:

 

 

1.       Video – Regardless of whether you are at home using a streaming player like a Roku box or Apple TV, on an iPad while commuting on the metro or a mobile phone on the go, people expect a high-quality, disruption-free experience. This extends to streaming Netflix original content, user-generated content on YouTube or video calling family and friends on FaceTime or Skype. Most of us do not have the time to waste waiting for content to load – on-demand networks provide us with the bandwidth when we need it for a high-quality service and dependable connection. The launch this year of 3D-TV on demand coverage of the Fifa World Cup demonstrates the need for service providers like Etisalat and du to have resilient and highly scalable network capability. With high definition, rapidly becoming standard and a whole raft of 3D movies being promised for on demand services, this will prove challenging unless the right solutions are in place.

 

2.       Healthcare – An advanced telehealth application, telesurgery enables doctors to leverage the latest HD and stereoscopic video technology, state-of-the-art robotics and high capacity, low latency networks to perform remote surgical procedures. The round-trip latency from the issuing of a robotic control signal to the resulting video displayed at the surgeon’s site – essentially determines the safety of telesurgery. On-demand service provides network performance to make telesurgery possible.

 

3.       Live events – Whether watching at home on your HD television or a mobile device, there is nothing more frustrating than to watch a premiere event like the Olympics or top music artist performing and see video pixilation. To ensure a high Quality of Service (QoS), video broadcasting companies can set-up a temporary virtual, high-speed network to deliver low-latency HD video and other bandwidth-intensive files. This technology will become even more prudent as 4K Ultra HD TVs take off – they deliver four times as much detail as 1080p Full HD TVs do, necessitating even more bandwidth.

 

4.       Shopping – As a global attraction that attracts on average 4.4 million visitors every year with a total spending of AED 15 billion, Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) is an important retail season that makes a major contribution towards the Emirate’s economy. However, online shopping is not consistent, there are peak periods, in fact, DSF accounts for between 25-30 percent of annual sales in Dubai, so retailers must prepare for additional online transactions without having to design and build a network to support occasional peak loads the whole year. On-demand networks provide the resources only when you need it, saving capital and increasing efficiency.

 

5.       Social media – According to a recent report by Performics, 85 percent of surveyed users in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have at least one social media account and 60 percent visit a social network every day. As well as joining Twitter faster than any other social platform, social users follow five brands on average. Importantly, they are most likely to engage with those that share pictures and videos on their channels, all of which consume bandwidth – on-demand networks will ensure that providers always have adequate capacity to support these platforms and the resulting file sharing.

 

6.       Education – Educators and their students no longer need to be located in the same room. The classroom has become virtual; allowing a set of students in Dubai watch a lesson about Marine biology in London. An on-demand network makes it easy to use instantaneous video, share large files and changes the traditional classroom-teacher learning model.

 

7.       Research – Collaborative learning on a global scale is making waves in the research & education (R&E) community as a means to connect students and schools at all levels to unique, geographically isolated research content. To properly learn and share information, there must be sufficient lighting, detailed imaging, and video data collection systems, which require large amounts of bandwidth versus the alternative – shipping hard drives, a long and arduous process. SDN and other advanced technologies like real-time analytics software applications enable researchers to trial new research methodology on a fully operational network without having to build a unique infrastructure for every use case – or in other words – they will have a network that they can leverage “on-demand.”

 

8.       Transportation – To alleviate dreaded traffic congestion, on-demand networks can allow GCC cities to provide transportation operations centers with detailed, real-time data on traffic volume, speeds, transit schedule status, evolving weather conditions, and other roadway conditions – large sums of data that an overprovisioned or manually reconfigured network could not handle. Transportation agencies can then use the information collected to understand traffic patterns, and then reroute traffic to reduce congestion.

 

9.       eGovernment – To cut costs and make government more efficient, many local jurisdictions are handling ID registration, visa applications, tenancy contract registrations among other municipal services online, necessitating a costly network capacity upgrade. With many preferring to avoid making trips to the local authorities, having a network automatically scale to accommodate bandwidth demand, particularly around constraining and tight deadlines, is key. This also supports the “smart city” concept as a means for cities to lure businesses, young professionals and high-profile events to their jurisdictions by showing they have an infrastructure that supports today’s bandwidth needs across GCC government services.

 

10.   Energy – On-demand networks allow utilities to talk to devices inside the customer premise, such as load control devices, smart air conditioners and home energy consoles to reduce peak consumption, and minimize costs. This becomes especially important as approximately 10 percent of all electricity generated is lost in the transmission and distribution system.

 

11.   Public safety – In some instances, emergency responders have to bring their own smartphones to work to access applications, search databases and share videos – all of which require a large sum of bandwidth that can overburden public safety networks that don’t have the capacity to support these smartphones. During a major disaster such as a widespread fire or major sandstorm, on-demand networks facilitate the use of these devices designed to meet public safety requirements and provide a rich set of applications and services that enhance their ability to do their jobs, making all of us safer in the process.

 

12.   CDN market size - The Middle East and Africa Content Delivery Network market report forecasts revenues across the two regions as growing by a CAGR of 38.7 percent between this year and 2019, to top $2,365 million. This is put down almost entirely to increased Internet traffic due to growth in access of media files such as audio, video, games and so on.

 

According to IDC, ITC spending in the Middle East is now double the global average, with much of that directed at back-end technology and infrastructure. The reality is demand for high-bandwidth content and applications will continue to grow ever faster. For example, who could have foretold that this year’s Fifa World Cup would be available on-demand across the region in 3D-TV. Over the next 10 years, the Middle East (and GCC region specifically) will witness massive public and infrastructure build out as a result of all the industrial, commercial and sports events, such as Dubai Expo 2020, Qatar World Cup 2022 and the ongoing expansion in Saudi Arabia. On-demand networks will ensure that service providers and infrastructure planners have the capacity to not only support new applications and requirements but are also to anticipate whole new areas of demand that are not yet on the horizon.

 

 

About Omar AlSaied

 

Omar holds dual roles at Ciena. He is the sales director of the Carrier Business for the Middle East and General Manager, Ciena, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is responsible for driving Ciena’s business results and long-term growth across Middle East carriers.

Omar has more than 15 years of experience in sales and business development and S/W Development in North America and the Middle East.

Omar worked in Cisco and in various Research and Development roles in Nortel and was responsible for Global Business development for the Microsoft/Nortel Alliance.

Omar holds a Bachelor’s Degree in System Engineering from Carleton University and an MBA from Ottawa University – Canada.

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