5G means rethinking data management… even before you deploy

by Ezat Dayeh, Senior Systems Engineer UK&I, Cohesity

As the latest cellular generation comes under consideration, CIOs will need to tackle data fragmentation, writes Ezat Dayeh, Senior Systems Engineer UK&I, Cohesity.

Today, 5G stands at that iciest of pinnacles, Gartner’s Peak of Inflated Expectations. This is the analyst firm’s famously stratospheric zenith, after which lies the inevitable Trough of Disillusionment when, after having examined all the options, CIOs decide that, no, we really can live with 4G and WiFi a little longer.

The benefits of 5G might be compelling for consumers pursuing every bit and byte of performance to plays games and stream high-def movies, but for businesses the real adoption cycle is a little way away. However, the benefits of 5G lie beyond performance, with power efficiency, security and virtualised resource allocation meaning its eventual corporate deployment is inevitable for remote locations, the Internet of Things, driverless vehicles, factory automation and much else. Best to plan now to accommodate what may turn out to be very significant IT impacts.  

Specifically, the impacts on data management need to be factored in now to avoid both ‘bill shock’ and, more important, a potential crisis in how data is processed and stored. As ever, there will be elements that may come as a surprise but if we start today with some planning assumptions, we will have a strong platform to manage 5G’s entry into mainstream corporate computing.

You need to move fast. Not to deploy 5G today that is, but to manage the real-time environments that come with the technology. 5G provides speed, high availability and reliability for potentially mission-critical environments. We can’t wait until the end of the month to check how the brakes on driverless cars are working or until the end of the quarter to analyse whether our sensor-equipped factories had enough fuel. Data will need to be processed, transferred and stored instantly and speed, data consistency and reliability will be the critical triumvirate of needs.

Legacy will be impacted. 5G will take software defined infrastructure to places that fixed networks and even WiFi can’t reach today. Its capacity and reach will make it a boon for remote locations and its high availability and uptime features will make it a potential replacement for WiFi.

Industry 4.0 will be realised. So far, the fourth age of industry has been more media meme than reality but with the low latency and raw speed of 5G, companies seeking intelligent, sensor-connected ecosystems of partner networks have a new communications backbone that will underpin broader change in how we think about, design, manufacture, sell and service products and services.


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The connectivity marketplace looks different. Convergence has been occurring for some time, but as mobile carriers upgrade to 5G, their ability to deliver more data-hungry services will increase. Expect telecoms businesses to begin to look a lot like cloud service providers and managed service providers, offering a one-stop-shop for enterprises and a way out of commoditisation for themselves.

Data fragmentation is only going to get worse unless you act. A recent Vanson Bourne survey showed that over 90 per cent of businesses believed that the promise of public cloud hadn’t been realised because their organisations are weighed down by mass data fragmentation issues where data is stored and replicated in backups, file shares, clouds, object stores, test/dev sites and analytics sites. That can lead to data compliance challenges, increased storage costs, huge expense and admin burn-out. Getting to grips with managing distributed data will be key as more endpoints become mobile and devices capture more critical, sensitive information that they send back to the corporate datacentre.

This last point is huge. Veterans of previous cellular generations will be familiar with the adoption cadence but they may have neglected the creep of data fragmentation and the issues it leads to. So, subscribe to the ‘less is more’ philosophy:

  • Reduce the amount of data your enterprise stores and collects now.
  • Review whether the grounds for which the personal data is being processed is lawful, and whether it is entirely necessary to store it all.
  • Run a thorough Data Protection Impact Assessment to see where personal and non-personal data is stored, who has access to it, and how many copies exist.
  • Update your data governance framework. You may have made changes over the past few years or may plan to make more as you bring on new services, applications and technologies.
  • Implement new compliance systems. 5G empowers users but at what cost? Control and focus are required before you consider how to implement. Compliance software systems will help you see what’s needed to achieve your goals, be that training, risk management, or reporting.

5G is here but it will take time before enterprises deploy in anger. Use that time well to take the essential steps to anticipate and manage the effects of 5G. And don’t forget data management impacts.

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