Mobile connection while on a safari? Really?


Last December, I saw lions, giraffes and crocodiles, and my cell phone still worked. No, I wasn’t doing my holiday shopping in New York. I was in South Africa.

South Africa is a huge country with a new, modern communications infrastructure. In fact, the country has some of the best communications coverage on the continent of Africa. I was there on a business-related trip, and I did meet with IBM clients, but I also went to national parks, visited the Apartheid Museum and went on a safari. My cell phone worked everywhere I visited.

In South Africa, my excellent connectivity was due in part to wireless broadband communications providers like iBurst, which is based in Johannesburg and provides services to more than 100,000 clients. In the past, reaching remote areas required installing several kilometers of copper just to get to a single house. Now, wireless is making it possible for telecommunications companies like iBurst to provide quicker and more stable broadband services to their customers throughout the country.

Big data? Big problem.

Not too long ago, iBurst faced a problem I frequently see in the telcos I work with. The company’s data was growing at an exponential rate and they needed a storage optimization solution that could save money and still offer high availability and fast data access for applications. To remain competitive, they implemented two IBM Real-time Compression Appliances to shrink their primary online data.

This issue is not unique. Today telcos are embracing analytics, but they also need to have comprehensive life-cycle management to deal with the resulting explosion of data. IBM Smarter Storage solutions help telecommunications companies manage the deluge of data that is generated by big data and analytics. For telcos, the following three key elements of Smarter Storage can have a significant affect on their businesses:

Real-Time Compression

Telcos have vast amounts of information stored in their call detail records. These records keep track of who called, the towers the call went through and other important information. Given the number of calls being made, it isn’t surprising that this data can get very large very quickly. I’ve seen situations where a telco struggles to back up data within a 24-hour period because it’s simply too large. But Real-time Compression offers up to 80 percent compression rates, so that data that was once unmanageable becomes usable again. And when you consider that Real-time Compression functions on active data, it’s a win/win for telcos.

SAN volume controller

Telco storage requirements are also growing dynamically, which can be expensive. You don’t want to add more storage unless and until it’s truly necessary. With IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller software, you can virtualize all your storage and manage it from a single point of control, which helps minimize the need to add more storage. Once the software is implemented, you can make changes to the configuration quickly and easily as needed.

Easy Tier embedded analytics

In data centers, telcos take advantage of a wide range of storage devices. The highest performance storage, like solid-state drive (SSD) storage, is also the most expensive. You want your most important, most frequently accessed data on high-performance drives, but you don’t need older data to be stored there.

IBM Easy Tier uses analytics to automate data placement, which can increase performance up to three times with as little as five percent of data residing on solid-state storage. Without Easy Tier, clients tend to deploy SSD inefficiently and may over-buy SSD to ensure their most valuable data resides on high performance disks. Easy Tier takes the guesswork out of efficiently managing your data and storage resources.

Learn more at EDGE

Although I can’t promise you’ll see lions or giraffes, you definitely can learn more about telco industry best practices for managing storage growth at IBM Edge 2013, which will be held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas on June 10-14. I hope you’ll join us for one of our industry-focused executive sessions. And you never know about the giraffes. It is Las Vegas, after all.

These links also have more information on storage options for the telecommunications industry:

Bill Lambertson is an IBM Confirmed Principal, Certified Network Consultant and currently the STG Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the Telecommunications Industry. In this role, he is responsible for supporting telecommunications clients in major and emerging markets worldwide to help them deliver smarter services, transform operations, and build smarter networks. You can reach him on Twitter @wlambertson

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