User-centricity is the future of computing, across all interfaces. That was the pervasive theme at a Wednesday morning keynote at Mobile World Congress and is a message that has echoed throughout the conference this week. Wednesday’s session, “Up Close and Personal: The Power of Big Data,” featured speakers from Alcatel Lucent, EMC, VMware and SK Planet, each of whom focused on the importance of adapting their respective interfaces – IP and cloud networking, data storage, virtualization and mobile – to the user.
Adapting the Network to the User
Leveraging big data is the key to unlocking that future, the speakers said — data which is increasingly collected and transmitted on mobile devices. “For many years, the device had to adapt to the network,” said Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes, who gave the first presentation. “It’s clear in the years to come that the network will have to adapt to the device and the user.”
To do that, Combes said, the network will have to keep up with users’ insatiable desire for speed by improving end-to-end performance. Expect to see further cloud-network integration and a highly distributed, integrated network interface over the next two years, Combes said.
The cloud allows both cost reduction and greater velocity for distribution of services. The network also has a lot to bring to data centers, Combes said, as today’s data centers must be shared among multiple tenants. “This is just the beginning of a real, complete change in architecture to many distributed data centers that are much closer to the end user,” Combes said.
Finally, the integrated network of the future will be user-aware, thanks to big data. Networks have already begun providing valuable context-aware services. In the hyper-connected future, users will constantly connect to networks through a growing array of devices, wearables and peripherals.
“This will create a new digital skin, which will be connected to the network on a permanent basis and will give enough information to the network to adapt to each user and become user-centric and data aware.”
An increasing convergence between devices, network and cloud will drive a unique form of user experience through multiple forms and screens, all of which collect a constant stream of data. Collecting and analyzing that data will ultimately help improve the customer experience and create new revenue streams and models.
Data Virtualization: The key to collection, storage and analysis
The next two presenters, EMC and VMware CEOs Joe Tucci and Pat Gelsigner, discussed how storage virtualization and the hybrid cloud fit into the equation. VMware is building the software-defined data center by creating pools of network capability and dynamically and automatically assigning them. “There is a massive amount of data coming at us through all these devices and the Internet of Things,” Gelsinger said. “How do we store data at the exabyte scale — a tremendous amount of information — at cloud pricing? That’s just one problem the company is working on.”
Data virtualization will be a key requirement in building the big data environment of future, Gelsinger said. “No technology has resulted in more savings and more benefit over the last decade.” The magic of virtualization is that what used to take months to provision now takes seconds. VMware’s continuing mission is to virtualize the rest of the data center, Gelsinger said.
“The same ingredients we’ve been working on diligently for years for the data center now are emerging for the network as well, and that’s why we’re excited to be at Mobile World Congress. We can take the same elements we’ve been honing and apply them to the mobile infrastructure and mobile future.”
Gelsinger also harped on VMware’s neutrality and ability to partner with others in the space, noting that VMware is partnering with others in the network infrastructure space to continue advance network virtualization function.
Mobility’s Central Role
“Now, of course, what runs on these networks? Mobile devices,” Gelsinger said, emphasizing the importance of VMware’s recent acquisition of AirWatch. “They’ve established themselves as an unquestioned leader in this space of enterprise mobility, and thus, we’re thrilled to have them as part of the VMware family.”
To illustrate the problem VMware is trying to solve through virtualization technology, Gelsinger referenced a 2004 conversation he had with Steve Jobs. “We somewhat confidently arrogantly said, ‘Steve, let us help you make your devices more suitable for enterprise customers.’ He said, ‘Why would I ever do anything to satisfy…a CIO?'”
Jobs’ passion was to build devices so compelling that consumers would take them into business, Gelsinger said, and it would be up to the CIOs to enable those devices for corporate use. “That’s the problem AirWatch is solving — helping CIOs figure it out. And this is not just for one device, but many devices. The pace of innovation here is daunting, and you have to do it across a range of different areas. But AirWatch is the enterprise mobility platform for everyone.”
Mobile is what ties IT convergence together — it is both the entrance and the exit for big data. “Mobile has totally changed not only the way business is done in terms of collecting data but also the way it is consumed.”
Together with network providers, operators and now AirWatch, VMware is “building the mobile-cloud future,” Gelsinger said.