Data center

CIOs relying on cloud and colocation data centers to bring new reality: Nokia

Nokia is very well known throughout the world for its telecom networks, and earlier, mobile phones. Nokia’s data center infrastructure portfolio lets customers meet the demands of telco applications and open, interoperable cloud solutions. It provides scalable computing from a single server to hyper scale for every use case with lean operations.

The Nokia Data Center Fabric solution enhances next-generation data center design and operations for all cloud builders. Made for webscale companies, service providers and enterprises, it redefines data center fabrics with a modern, open network operating system (NOS) and a declarative, intent-based automation and operations toolkit.

Here, Vinish Bawa, Head- Emerging Business & Enterprise, Nokia India, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:


DQ: What are the trends that are likely to shape the Indian data center industry?

Vinish Bawa: India is amongst the largest data-consuming nations – over 7000 peta-bytes of data consumption per month – and this is poised to explode. However, when it comes to data center storage, India lags behind the developed world as well as Asia-Pacific. With roughly 40 million less Internet users, Europe has more than 12 times its capacity to store data — 8,600 MW, compared to India’s 700 MW.

Migration to cloud-based business ops, varied government incentives, push for 5G/Big Data/ IoT and call for data localization will ensue a significant CAGR growth of upto 35% for the next few years. We will see an increased investment in the date center space.

Businesses will be run on the pillars of green measures, including decreasing power bills through new technologies (hydro fuel cells), in tandem with ensuring the minimal environmental impact, operational efficiency through virtualization and automation, continued capex, but, with a mandate to streamline costs in an effective manner.

During the current Covid-19 crisis, we are now witnessing a trend towards remote management for unstaffed or understaffed data centers, especially to mitigate risks of infrastructure (server) failures. The other talked about trend of cloud computing moving towards edge computing, is still a work in progress.

We are confident that as the economics permit, it just won’t be service providers capitalizing on the edge, but, edge cloud shall also cater to consumers, enterprise and telcos, thereby re-inforcing the need of a robust data center supply.

DQ: What has been the impact of Covid-19 on the data center industry?

Vinish Bawa: The data center landscape and professionals constantly evolved and dealt with a variety of issues ranging from scalability, architecture decisions, dealing with a diverse array of complex workloads to maintaining security from incessant cyber threats and hacks. But, Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the cloud businesses.

Demand for data centers have gone up as companies look to keep their business functional by facilitating technologies to work remotely thereby augmenting the need for cloud services and expediting the call for digitization through rapid overhaul of digital infrastructure and assets to allow employees to deliver seamlessly as well as empower customers to adapt and embed preferences to the new ways of working of digital and online transactions.

Even on the retail side, demand is enormous as consumer demand for over-the-top or OTT platforms such as Netflix, Prime, Hotstar, Zee5, etc., require a robust and scalable data infrastructure as data traffic surges.

The advancement in technology has enabled a bulk of data center operations to be performed remotely. However, critical technical requirements and system upkeep still require minimum staff onsite 24*7 and ensuring their safety, which adds to the operational expenditure. Operations are further impacted due to travel restrictions and delay in shipment and delivery of key infrastructure components including upkeep infrastructure and hardware fault resolution.

Some key observations are that surge in demand has resulted in data center businesses to grow by almost 100% over the last quarter. On the spend side we are witnessing expedited investments in remote network operations through advanced automations to reduce the manual management, investments on analytics to increase the visibility on applications, users and devices, and finally, investments on collaboration side for disaster recovery.

DQ: How are CIOs looking at Data Centers in Covid-19?

Vinish Bawa: Today’s digital world requires the organizations to have a digital backbone (cloud, network, IT infrastructure), which underpins its ability to navigate change and adopt cloud native and or public cloud strategy. Instead of investing heavily on legacy, the CIOs are also seeking to conserve capital and shift to cloud through hybrid multi-cloud environment.

Covid-19 has accelerated the dependency on all things remote and created the pressing need for the CIO to address the concerns about scaling systems and services to deal with changing demand. The focus is entirely on the CIOs to ascertain if their organizations can manage the enormous workload while working remotely. This makes them cognizant of the importance of digital transformation.

There is awareness amongst CIOs that if the business is not restructured into a digital environment, their businesses shall be replaced by competitors who are agile enough to adopt to a digital model. As such, the CIO and leadership team are relying on cloud (on Premise/public/hybrid) and colocation data centers to play a massive role to bring the new reality into existence.

DQ: How is the interest now for SDN-based networks?

Vinish Bawa: Investments into the software-defined networking (SDN) and the network function virtualization (NFV) have proven instrumental and helped organizations to keep pace with the rising Internet traffic, stemming from the new coronavirus. Building your IT network on software and open hardware specifications has helped mitigate the risks posed by Covid-19.

SD-WAN is shifting under the pressure of today’s business challenges. Covid-19 is driving the demand for cloud-based applications and changing the way customers consume them. Data center operators need to scale their data center networks to deliver distributed cloud applications, but current solutions limit the way they can build and operate them.

With more employees working from home, IT priorities have been shuffled again, which is changing the way many leaders approach digital transformation. Trends indicate that SD-WAN is picking pace and is on the investment priority list as network, security, and cloud application performance are now in the corporate spotlight.

Nokia is now launching a game changing data center fabric solution to help data center operators scale their data centers, and operate them more easily at a time when the need to address their pain points is most urgent.

DQ: Would you be going for high-bandwidth switches?

Vinish Bawa: The Nokia data center fabric solution is aimed at cloud builders, such as webscale companies, service providers and enterprises, who need to design, deploy, adapt and automate data center networks at massive scale to keep up with increasing demand for distributed cloud-scale applications.

We offer an open, extensible and resilient network operating system (NOS) based portfolio of data center switches that deliver massive scalability, aggregation and interconnection for data center and cloud environments.

The portfolio includes Nokia 7250 IXR-10/IXR-6, the Nokia 7220 IXR-D series and Nokia 7220 IXR-H series of Data Center switches with a declarative, intent-based automation and operations toolkit that delivers agile and scalable network operations for data center and cloud environments.

DQ: Data Center Interconnect (DCI) Network is the new emerging requirement. What are you doing?

Vinish Bawa: Hyper-scale data centers are witnessing high growth in India and globally. Its increasing adoption has created the need for connecting them. This connectivity between different Data Centers is called DCI. This growth of DCI solutions in India is driven by over-the-top (OTT) and webscale companies as their data traffic is growing by leaps and bounds. These companies use hyperscale data centers to support the growing data traffic, leading to increased demand for DCI solutions.

Another driver for DCI solutions is the government’s Digital India vision and its aim to localize data within the country. Nokia’s focus is on this crucial segment. Of the combined webscale and data center traffic in India, around 30 TB is flowing on Nokia solutions. Since the solutions that we have developed are newer, they are more focused on enterprise-specific problems. Further, they are state-of-the-art, more open and flexible.

For example, our Photonic solution allows to carry 400G to 800G of data on single wavelength. We have a smaller version called WaveLite series, which is designed for small enterprises and allows up to 200 GB data. We also offer customized solutions. We recently launched the DC switching fabric solution. While DCI solutions are required for inter- and intra-Data Center connections, switching fabric is required within a data center.

We did a lot of research on this product and signed a strategic partnership with Apple to develop it. The key benefit of this solution is that it offers a totally open and flexible portfolio for switching fabric, which is unheard of!

DQ: Edge computing is likely to be the future. What are your plans?

Vinish Bawa: Edge computing is transforming the telecoms landscape, offering the flexibility that is needed to enable modern, agile business opportunities with secured and high availability services; build scalable and distributed data centers that combine the best of IT, open source and cloud.

Edge cloud will be a strategic asset for service providers to support new services and applications, opening new vertical market opportunities. The industry needs to start preparing and implementing edge infrastructure now to address these business opportunities and be ready for the next evolutionary steps of their networks, including 5G.

Our data center routers deliver massive scale, openness, aggregation and interconnectivity needed for the modern data center networks and cloud environments. Powered by next-generation silicon chipsets, these platforms deliver port speeds up to 400GE and support comprehensive IP and Ethernet feature sets.

We offer a broad portfolio of modular and fixed-configuration Interconnect Routers (IXRs). These routers implement our open, extensible and resilient Service Router Linux (SR Linux) network operating system (NOS). We complement them with our Fabric Services Platform, a toolkit that empowers your NetOps teams to efficiently automate and operate the entire data center fabric infrastructure.

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