Santa is expecting to receive so many letters, emails and website enquiries this Christmas that he’s worried he might just have to stay at home. The thing is, he’s not sure that his wide area network and data centre can cope with the ever-increasing data volumes. There are also fewer houses with suitable chimneys to climb down, or fewer fire places to warm the cockles. To make things worse, Rudolf has put in a request for a seasonal holiday after a tough year full of uncertainty about the future as we approach 2019. His data centre team are ready to step in, but they’re concerned about data latency.
There is still hope for Santa though, as he’s working on some contingency plans, which will work if his IT and data centre team backs them. As part of these plans, he’s been looking at the SD-WAN and WAN optimisation solutions on offer from vendors, such as Silver Peak, Cisco and Citrix and Riverbed. He’s been advised that their SD-WAN solutions can layer extra functionality on top of the basic WAN configuration software such as, traffic routing, failover connections and QoS. The main differentiator is the orchestration layer that sits on top. Yet they all suffer from insufficient data acceleration.
Santa’s IT and data centre team has therefore been researching how to deploy a new approach. Santa has therefore engaged the Good Elf Consultancy to offer him advice about how to improve his operational performance. WAN optimisation won’t improve Santa’s bandwidth – nor can it adequately handle encrypted data at speed and mitigate latency and packet loss. However, with the popularity of SD-WANs, they’ve advised him to consider deploying SD-WANs with WAN data acceleration overlays using a solution such as PORTrockIT as one of the potential options.
SD-WAN products, with their WAN optimisation are great for the ‘Windows office’ type of data, are highly compressible and ripe for deduplication. Yet WAN optimisation techniques, unfortunately, offer little or no performance improvement with encrypted data – including video data. In this situation the only way forward is to use WAN data acceleration solutions. By feeding the encrypted data into the WAN, with data acceleration before traversing the SD-WAN infrastructure, organisations gain massive performance gains. Yet with an ‘I wonder if’ test, Santa observed – even with in-house deduplication products – WAN data acceleration improved throughput across the WAN.
So, with the SD-WAN-data acceleration overlay approach, Santa hopes he’ll be able to cope with demand, and he says he may use it to replace his worn-out reindeer this year. You see, travelling long distances can be tiring, creating latency, and he’s also worried about packet loss from his sack. Good Elf Consultancy nevertheless thinks he’s now on the right sleigh flight with his use of technology to address issues, such as network and data latency. This will allow him to send someone in disguise as himself, permitting him to forecast and plan his activities well into 2019.
Black Friday analysis
His first port of call is to watch the e-commerce and retail data emerging from the Black Friday sales. From a big data perspective, he’ll achieve a more accurate real-time analysis if the impact of latency can be mitigated with WAN data acceleration solutions. While his man in disguise will work on building a picture of demand on the ground, he will use them to improve his big data analysis. This will enable Santa to prepare his stock of rewarding gifts for the world’s children who’ve successfully met the conditions of his Good Books Loyalty Scheme programme.
After all, retailers and e-tailers begin their sales much earlier these days, and this puts pressure on Santa to prepare for the festive season much earlier than he’d like. For him to achieve this, he realises the importance of getting the right technologies and infrastructure in place to cope with future demand – and without having to replace what he’s already using. What’s more, just like the effect of latency on data in flight, Santa’s expanding waistline will make it harder for him to fit down any chimneys that do exist.
WAN data acceleration solutions, the growth of e-commerce and digital transformation are just some of the reasons why Santa may stay at home this year. They will give his reindeer the chance to rest a bit more than usual with a glass of port by the fire this year, while watching the Queen’s Speech and indulging afterwards in some silly party games. The technology will also permit Santa, or Father Christmas if you prefer, to sit down drinking wine with a cigar in one hand, while controlling operations through his smartphone or tablet PC with the other. All of this is done while keeping a watchful eye on his data centres, which are strategically located outside of their own respective circles of disruption to ensure service continuity.
To deliver the many gifts Santa has to expedite to the many hopeful children worldwide, and with many of his reindeer needing to convalesce, he has looked to new technologies – including drones for last mile delivery. In the future, he will invest in a self-driving sleigh. This technology is in its infancy, but he thinks some great leaps forward will occur in 2019. After all, autonomous driving will allow him and his reindeer to hold strategic business meetings and to rest while they’re en route to deliver Christmas presents to children’s houses. He thinks that WAN data acceleration solutions will also enable these technologies at the point when large amounts of data are aggregated for analysis.
So, throughout 2019, Santa predicts that everything to do with artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as digital transformation, will continue to be on people’s lips. Blockchain technologies will be too, but he’s not too sure about how secure they are. There’s been a balloon-like bandwagon about everything crypto during 2018, and he’s realised that if blockchain can’t fix payments, that it may not improve the way he manages and distributes presents. However, he’s keeping an open mind to see what how it may improve his logistics management.
David Trossell, CEO and CTO of Bridgeworks, adds that new technologies may emerge or continue to be prevalent in 2019, and he predicts they may include the following:
AI use in managing storage
Blockchain will finally shed the ball and chain of Bitcoin
Autonomous vehicles will drive the growth of storage
Social Media growth will decline
Wish – stop using AI as a product marketing tool – do we really need an AI toaster.
Santa realises that, no matter what happens in 2019, he needs a data centre and operational contingency plan in case a disaster – caused by human error or by natural causes – puts one or more of his data centres out of action. Thankfully, WAN data acceleration solutions use artificial intelligence and machine learning to permit data to be moved fast over long distances without latency becoming a significant problem. This means that Santa can quickly back up, restore and transfer data from any of his data centres and disaster recovery sites to keep his Christmas operations running.
He also wonders whether he will need to invest in new infrastructure and data centres in the New Year, but Trossell says WAN data acceleration means that organisations can do more with their existing infrastructure and data centres. This is because most companies don’t fully use their existing bandwidth and infrastructure. Trossell, and he stresses that buying new pipes with higher bandwidths won’t reduce the disrupting impact of latency and packet loss.
Assessing new tech
This nevertheless brings Santa to ask him: “How can I assess what the right technologies will be for my 2019 operations, and how can I avoid spending unnecessarily on new tech when a solution may already exist?”
Trossell’s advice is as follows: “Santa is asking the same questions that many other companies are asking – how it will improve my infrastructure and reduce costs but still stay relevant? Many are looking to use the hybrid cloud as part of an infrastructure solution. This will maximise the existing infrastructure whilst allowing to expand into the cloud when more performance is required, or when they’re using the cloud as a low-cost disaster recovery repository.
“Good Elf Consulting should be able to advise him on the best solution but here should be asking them, “How quickly can I get data to, and more importantly, how quickly can I get my data back?”. He elaborates, “Which brings us back to the WAN infrastructure once again. The type of data has a massive impact on traditional WAN optimisation techniques – including those used in SD-WAN and cloud gateways. Many of Santa’s colleagues in the toy industry have therefore found that encrypted, compressed and deduped data have had a massive impact on manufacturers’ performance claims. So, it is important to test the claims before signing off any purchase orders.”
To help him in 2019, Santa will be recruiting apprentices as part of the Santa STEM programme, in the hope that it will help his existing team to innovate while filling any skills gaps in his organisation. He hopes that the new recruits may further allow him to focus on the strategic direction of his ‘business’, given that growth seems to continue unabated each year. So, while some processes may be automated, he still sees value in investing hard-working elves and reindeer.
Trossell thinks this is a good plan, and briefly advises Santa, based on his own experience of working with STEM apprentices: “To get the most out of any apprenticeship scheme, it is important not to treat it as a source of cheap labour, but as an investment opportunity for the future. I have found that apprentices who continue their education, along with ensuring that they have a broad understanding and experience of how the whole company works, reaps benefits further down the road.”
So, with the future looking promising, like Santa, he wishes everyone a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. He hopes to be working with Santa throughout 2019, helping him to manage his operations from home. He can assist Santa’s remote workers to achieve more with less, using his new SD-WAN-WAN data acceleration overlay and other technologies that add value.