In the wake of a very hectic political season, the United States is now prepared to enter into a new era, one that could have a significant impact on not just the U.S., but on the world as a whole.
Much like the impact felt through Europe and the world from Brexit, a controversial election can change the views of many, but even more importantly, it can impact what things are innovated next.
One of the initiatives that has been laid out by the president-elect include improvements to America’s infrastructure geared towards bringing about road and transit projects throughout the country. This would target an influx in funding for these style projects.
It is entirely possible that some of these projects could incorporate IoT. One example of infrastructure that already does this is the Virginia Smart Road, an intelligent road project that blends technology and physical infrastructure to have safer roads. You combine this with autonomous driving vehicles and we could not only have infrastructure improvements, but the safest roads in the world.
What does all of this have to do with the world of technology?
It all comes back to that fact that, for the past 20 years, Silicon Valley has been considered by many to be the center of global innovation. Some of the most recognizable tech companies in the world are headquartered in the region -- from Apple to Google to Facebook to Netflix.
In 2015, California was home to 53 Fortune 500 companies, third behind New York, focused on the financial industry, and Texas, focused on oil and gas. These companies will continue to have a significant impact on the world as we move forward. The impact might not be as consumer-based as the iPhone, but innovation will continue. Google has worked extensively on autonomous driving -- as has Apple -- and the sensors on roads like the Smart Road are developed by semiconductor manufacturers, many with innovation centers also in Silicon Valley.
So what do all of these things have in common?
The explosion of data could not only impact the physical infrastructure that the president-elect is promoting but also drive innovations in networking and storage. The data transfer needed to supply sensor data on bridges and roads and cars will require faster, more nimble networks than ever before. Combine the influx of network traffic with the volume of data and the only solution to the storage problem that will be dominant in the future will be a flexible and agile solution… enter software-defined.
Why would software-defined matter you ask? It’s all about the flexibility and freedom that it provides. Traditional network and storage solutions are very monolithic in nature. Each has its own challenges today that software-defined helps overcome.
For instance, with traditional switching you are restricted to networking ports that have single purposes and switches that can only perform specific functions. With software-defined, you now have the ability to tell a port what you want it to do and be, and you can do all of this from a central console that may be in a remote location. The freedom to change core networking components from a centralized location will allow for a central IT staff member to control how data flows from a main hub to remote switches and even to the embedded sensors in the road or car. Only software-defined networking lets that same staff member redirect traffic during weather or road maintenance to maintain the safety that these projects are being built to provide.
Storage is an entirely different beast. With the growth of data in a standard enterprise already increasing exponentially, a large infrastructure project means that storage will grow at rates we have never seen. Attempting to use a storage array that is limited by hardware capabilities and vendor decisions means you will be trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Having the ability to choose the hardware you need that can grow with a project is critical. As the project moves from planning phases to testing to production, different storage is necessary as well. The need for everything from file services to sensor collection to archival data requires disparate storage solutions. Traditional storage models would initially suggest a hybrid storage array then transition to an all-flash array and an all disk array just to meet these needs. Software-defined storage allows for a single storage solution that can grow with a project and have a single platform for all three uses case.
Will software-defined be the key factor in determining the success of the large infrastructure projects we have been promised? Probably not, but it will be the continuation of the innovation that has defined Silicon Valley over the past few decades.
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