by: Andy Huckridge, Director of Service Provider Solutions & SME
It was quite a week at Mobile World Congress. With a record attendance of around 72,000 people, this show continues to grow and grow. Which made it the perfect place to showcase Gigamon’s technology aimed at solving the issue of big data for mobile service providers.
Subscribers continue to embrace mobile lifestyles and conduct work outside of the office while applications become increasingly mobile. At the same time more and more video is generated and consumed which takes up orders of magnitude more bandwidth than legacy voice traffic.
In fact, in advance of the show, Cisco released their 6th annual Virtual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast indicating that mobile data traffic is going to increase 13-fold by 2017. Whether the growth lives up to this estimate remains to be seen, but it will probably come close. That’s a potentially scary statistic for mobile carriers.
We’ve heard of the problem of “Big Data” most often applied to enterprise storage and analytics, but it is clear that this is a major issue for these carriers as well, as analyst Zeus Kerravala writes in Network World. Big Data applications are increasing the volume of data in carriers’ pipes, posing a unique, but not insurmountable challenge.
Operators need a solution that won’t result in going significantly increase expenses from tool costs as the sizes of the pipes and the amount of data in those pipes increases. Carriers are looking for ways to realistically keep their business costs in line with what their subscribers are willing to pay for a service, and to provide subscribers with the quality, uptime and reliability they expect. In order to do this, carriers need to understand the nature of the traffic flowing through the pipes, its ingress and egress points and where resources need to be placed on the network to ensure that service-level agreements are met.
The answer is to change the way Big Data is monitored. First, carriers require a solution that combines volume, port-density and scale to connect the right analytical tools to the appropriate large or bonded pipes. Second, the data must be conditioned through advanced filtering and packet manipulation, which reduces the amount of data arriving at each tool, while ensuring that the data is formatted precisely for the tool’s consumption. This way, each tool is able to process more data without needing to parse the incoming stream and steal processor cycles from the more important task of data analysis. Gigamon currently offers all of these features and announced a combined solution before the start of the show.
However, volume, port density and scale won’t be enough for mobile carriers in the future. Effective monitoring of Big Data calls for reducing the amount of traffic in a large pipe to make it more suitable to connect to an existing speed tool, at 1G or 10G. Gigamon announced the development of this concept during the opening days of the show. Using this method, the connected tools will continue to see a representative view of the traffic in the larger pipe and in a session aware and stateful manner. The tools are thereby not merely filtering traffic. They are reducing the amount, while keeping data flows intact, but at a lower speed feed within a smaller pipe. The carrier will then be able to concentrate on specific types of data, or take a look at the entire range of traffic in the larger pipe.
This holistic network visibility solution from Gigamon will enable mobile service providers to handle the Big Data issue and maintain current business models. But more importantly, maintain existing expense structures while running the big data services of tomorrow.