5G has yet to truly arrive, but as it comes along it could be crucial to cloud enablement of digital transformation, says Mirko Voltolini, head of network on demand at Colt Technology Services.
On the one hand, suggests Voltolini, 5G is a bit of a red herring; for all of the hype, enterprises care less about 5G itself and its unique capabilities, and care more about general mobility in getting done what they and their IT departments need to get done. On the other hand, 5G will -- eventually -- allow faster connectivity and more agile enablement of cloud transformation.
Last time, in part one of this lightly edited two-part Telco Transformation Q&A, Voltolini spoke about how enterprise cloud is driving demand for digital transformation for Colt Technology Services Group Ltd customers and others. (See Colt's Voltolini: Cloud Transformation Brings Agility, Alignment.)
Here in part two, Voltolini talks about the implications 5G will have on resolving enterprise customers' bandwidth needs and its impact on their digital transformations.
Telco Transformation: Previously, we discussed high demand for cloud because of increasing bandwidth and Big Data demands. What is the role, then, of 5G in helping your enterprise customers to digitally transform?
Mirko Voltolini: 5G is going to create an additional way for enterprises and customers to connect with the network, to the Internet and to the cloud with a much higher bandwidth than they have today in conjunction with mobility. The density and the speed compared to 4G is going to provide an alternative that is complementary to what today's fixed network connectivity can provide. So it will enable connectivity another way.
In addition to that there are a number of other capabilities that 5G can provide like mass connectivity that specific businesses can benefit from. If I look at it from the perspective of our role as a carrier, we have opportunities to provide connectivity to customers through 5G for wider Internet connectivity. In advance of providing 5G connectivity, if some heavy lifting -- like providing fabric connectivity -- is required and that provides connectivity in a fast way to other customers, we can offer that.
TT: So then how are you seeing the CIOs of these enterprise customers for digital transformation solutions considering and preparing for 5G in their digital transformations?
MV: It's a good question because I've not actually seen a very specific focus on 5G, but I've seen enterprises in the discussion we have had focusing on mobility in general. So moving away from our fixed office, fixed facility model and adopting processes and capabilities that make use of wireless and mobile connectivity in general, whether it is 4G or 5G.
I think 5G will add more capabilities, but today I think enterprises are focusing on exploring the opportunity of mobility that can apply to their workflows with a distinctive type of environment in terms of workflows and adopting mobility for a number of elements, like service delivery. I have not seen personally yet a very strong focus on exploring 5G capabilities. If you look at it, 5G is not yet enabled and, as I say, I have not seen a very specific focus on that.
TT: How important is 5G to the enterprise CIO's office at this point in accelerating that cloud transformation necessary to deliver on that demand for high bandwidth? What about other digital transformation technologies?
MV: There is a shift -- maybe it's not that black and white -- but there is a shift to a more public cloud. We are seeing the transition starting to wade more into the public cloud. Before it was purely hosted in a central data center than more hybrid. And now there is a bit more of a shift to a public cloud. That's one of the technology changes we see.
One particular example I've seen involving 5G is in the healthcare area. The amount of data that can and should be collected in the healthcare industry is a significant element in certain areas of collecting data from patients or from clinics and sending them back to the cloud. And 5G can play a significant role in that, considering the amount of data that has been generated.
Looking at what's happening in the cloud space, what's happening with Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and a number of other cloud providers. Their offerings have triggered a significant amount of cloud connectivity. I mentioned last time machine learning and big data. The amount of data available to any industry, including telecom, is significant. Most of it is unexplored and unutilized -- what is being called dark data -- which I think the industry says is about 90% of the data that is being collected but not actually being utilized. But it can be used in a number of different ways. So there is often a strategy in place in the thinking to adopt technologies that will allow them to make use of this data for decisions. The world of sensors and IoT is significantly going to take the industry by storm [in particular].
TT: How do you see the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS layers of cloud platforms respectively enabling service capabilities for 5G?
MV: Going back to the point I made earlier, I don't think that today there is a very specific focus on 5G as a dramatically different technology from the previous generation other than the amount of bandwidth it can provide. There are orders of magnitudes higher in the bandwidth that can be provided. In that respect, enterprises are seeing 5G as an enabler to connect two applications that maybe sit in the cloud or maybe are sitting in a data center, or a compilation of both. In that respect, it does not make much of a difference whether it will be SaaS or PaaS or IaaS. These types of different approaches are agnostic to the 5G environment. Whether there is one model or the other, you need connectivity.
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation