Data traffic on corporate networks is increasing. In the future, corporate success will not function without new network design, says Patrick Molck-Ude, Head of the Network Division at T-Systems.
Patrick Molck-Ude, Managin Director Telecommunication (TC) Division
Mr. Molck-Ude, what role will telecommunications play for companies in the future?
Digitization is changing business models in almost every industry. It is not only important to digitize information, but also to exchange information digitally. This is the only way to truly reap the added benefits. Digitization also means digitizing communication processes. Three examples: In 2020, 21 billion "things" will be communicating through the cloud online, for example to make remote monitoring possible. Or take Amazon, for instance. Amazon is primarily a communication platform - between Amazon itself, other retailers, and the customer. Or what about furniture manufacturer IKEA: the company released an app for a set of virtual reality glasses in April 2016 which customers can use to take a virtual stroll through their furniture catalog and try design options. As you can see, digitization is using communication processes to optimize business processes.
What new requirements does this impose on the corporate network?
Scenarios like these lead to an explosive growth in data traffic. IP traffic will double between 2016 and 2019. What's more, the number and diversity of applications is growing because of mobile devices, machine-to-machine communication (M2M), and the cloud. These put very different demands on data transmission, sometimes leading to disputes over network capacities. Nevertheless, users expect performance to remain stable and constant at all times. Moreover, users are increasingly accessing corporate networks through mobile communication systems. This means that critical corporate data needs to be made available on mobile devices through an automated and encrypted process. Networks need significantly better bandwidth, availability, and security to do so. After all, they are the basis of digitization.
Are today's networks prepared for this?
Many companies have put their local and wide area networks somewhat in second place in the past, simply because they functioned and didn't often need changes. Sort of like water or electricity. Because of this, most companies don't have a telecommunications strategy, and also aren't working on developing their networks. But nowadays, this approach no longer works. The new challenges posed by digitization are pushing classic networks to their limits. Forward-thinking networks are key for corporate success. Companies need network design 2.0.
What exactly does this network design 2.0 look like?
The network of the future will be an all-rounder. It will use diverse technologies and automatically select the correct transmission type for each application: a powerful MPLS network, inexpensive internet VPN services, or high-bandwidth ethernet and optical connections. These decisions will be made based on both technical considerations such as transmission time and economic criteria. Applications without specific requirements for transmission, for example, can communicate through inexpensive internet VPN services. Telephone calls will be transmitted through Voice over IP to the central application in a data network - either in a local or wide area network (LAN und WAN). With this kind of transmission, companies can benefit from centralized telecommunications systems, for instance: They can jointly use central connections for all locations, and configure many services through an online portal. In addition, corporate networks guarantee the best possible quality and automated configuration in connecting to cloud services - thanks to a "cloud connector”, a smart interface between the networks of the cloud provider and the company's network provider.
Where does the interplay of telecommunications technology and information technology (IT) take place?
Up to now, most companies have looked at these two types of technology in isolation from one another. After all, classic telecommunication systems consisted of hardware. But telecommunications and IT are growing closer and closer together. Today, it's possible to provide telecommunications systems as software or from the cloud, as NFON does. The same is true for functions like network security and management, which were previously linked to specialized hardware.
What should companies take away, if they want to get their networks ready for the future?
The first and most important step is to include telecommunications as part of their IT strategy. This means creating a comprehensive IT strategy that regards internal and external communication processes as crucial business processes. These need to be discussed at the highest levels of management, and treated as critical to business operations. Furthermore, there's no way to modernize communication processes right away; the process will take long-term planning and resources. Companies will be at an advantage if they get in touch with us early on. Right now, Telekom's network and services are also undergoing fundamental revisions. If companies integrate their IT and telecommunications strategy with our new services and networks, both sides will benefit.
If companies switch to SIP trunks, they should consider a PBX (private branch exchange) and a centralization of all connections as well. It is a decision that will save them more than just voice channels.