Software Defined Networks: the Future of Smart Cities… and Perhaps Telco’s

Cradlepoint's MD emphasises the key to success in today's hyper-technological world is speed, accessibility and connectivity.

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In today’s hyper-technological world, speed, accessibility and connectivity are fundamental to success.

Mobile, cloud and IOT are the future of networks.

It is in this context that Gavin Wilson, Cradlepoint’s Managing Director for the Asia Pacific, spoke at CityDisrupt, Melbourne about the strides that have been made globally in the mobile, cloud and IoT spaces.

“We’ve heard about IoT and about ‘things’ being connected to the network, but everyone’s using cloud-based applications and what we’re seeing now is networks are becoming software-defined.”

The idea of “software-defined” networks is a game-changer for many industries, particularly when thinking about smart city innovation.

“The last things that really affected networking was the development of the LAN, the local area network, and then the development of the internet,” Wilson explained.

Now, cloud, 4G, SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) are the drivers for transforming the Wide Area Network in 2017.

Wilson considers SD-WAN as a largely effective but underutilised tool for the future of networking. He explained that SD-WAN can be centrally located in the cloud, noting that “you can create that network and that same experience of plugging into a LAN anywhere.”

“You can be sitting in Sydney, your applications are in the cloud, your other parts of the network could be in any other city and you connect to your virtual network and it’s as if you’re in the same room.”

He explained that LTE is “going to be a big part of the WAN.” Not only can it compliment pre-existing wired networks such as IoT and cloud applications, but it can also be used for failover.

“It’s only when you experience a network outage that the dependence on the network for cloud and the functioning of your business becomes apparent.”

A heavy dependence on cloud-based services and networks now proves to be a weakness for organisations. While they used to be able to tolerate 12 hour outages, this is no longer an option for businesses. However, LTE provides a solution to this problem.

“If a network goes down, it switches over to LTE seamlessly and the speeds, if not greater, are very similar,” he said.

As a result, LTE will also be seeing increasing take-up, not only because of the increased reliability but also because “availability and cost are quickly becoming in favour of LTE.”

Perth’s parks are utilising LTE to make the city ‘smart’.

Wilson illustrated numerous examples of how a technology like LTE can be used in real-life, ranging from parks to public transportation and even law enforcement.

“Most of the large parks in metropolitan Perth make use of LTE connections to manage all the irrigation of Perth’s parks.

“A few years ago, that was only possible through wired networking.”

Therefore, with businesses increasingly drawn to the cloud for its benefits of flexibility and cost-cutting, SD-WAN and LTE will further increase reliability and connectivity.

As Wilson summarised: “Everything is about connectivity.”