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What 5G means for IoT: Choosing the right data strategy for 5G deployments

There has been plenty of speculation around the timing and availability of 5G, and we have already started to see a number of public demonstrations from industry leaders. This includes this year’s Olympic Winter Games and major carriers like Verizon and AT&T that have announced plans to roll out 5G networks later this year. As the industry works toward making 5G commercially available, organizations must figure out how to handle the increase in throughput and latency of data that 5G is promising — especially when it comes to the expansion it will bring to the internet of things.

5G will enable even more apps to operate in real time, and will not only connect more people, but also billions of sensors, ultimately boosting the adoption of IoT. While there is no one-size-fits-all fast data strategy to prepare for 5G, the key considerations and resulting benefits organizations should anticipate are the same. Below we discuss what organizations must consider when developing their 5G and IoT data strategy.

In-memory database for massive scalability

With 5G networks, the scale and speed at which data moves will improve and increase significantly. According to Huawei, maker of mobile phones and networking equipment for enterprise use, while a 4G network can provide thousands of connections for each cell, a 5G network provides up to a million connections per square kilometer, exponentially increasing the number of connections. And Forrester predicts that 5G will offer unlimited data. With this volume in mind, organizations will need to modernize their databases accordingly, especially when it comes to providing precise, timely billing in the telecommunications, insurance and finance industries. Having a fast in-memory database as their unified data repository (UDR) allows operators to have a massively scalable architecture at predictable low latencies. Ability to scale subscriber transactions and maintain the database consistency (ACID) is key for UDRs.

Industrial internet of things

A perhaps less heavily discussed element of 5G is the expansion it will bring to the industrial internet of things. To support 5G networks, a high density of sensors will be deployed per square kilometer, enabling IIoT to expand from smart homes and self-driving cars at the consumer level to broader asset management strategies at the commercial and industrial levels. For instance, sensors are being deployed as a part of Smart meters in consumer homes. These smart meters require immediate telemetry to the user on their water, electricity and gas readings in order to manage the individual connections in real time. This decentralized model will require real-time decision-making to occur closer to the edge layer of the network, enabling organizations to take true advantage of the data improvements 5G indicates, as well as enabling real-time analytics. Operators need to think of distributed databases running close to the IIoT sensor aggregation points to effectively meet the millisecond latency requirements for IIoT.

Consider Kubernetes

With the growing reliance on the cloud and pending rollout of 5G networks, organizations are veering away from monolithic applications and toward microservices, which ultimately allows for more rapid and continuous application delivery. Organizations must be able to accelerate the development of real-time applications in order to remain competitive in the telco space, and with Kubernetes, a highly scalable containerization platform, developers can rapidly automate the development and deployment of cloud-native, real-time applications in any environment.

Beyond speed and increased data, 5G promises a new suite of technologies, such as small cells, millimeter waves, beamforming and more. This offers a new opportunity for storing and processing data in the cloud and for expanding sensors within IoT, allowing access from a mobile device with effectively no latency. The changes that 5G is bringing to IoT will enable more advanced data capabilities that consumers will come to expect, and organizations need to be preparing their strategies now to ensure a smooth transition to this faster world of data.

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