As originally posted in Forbes
By Adrian Bridgwater, Senior Contributor
Networks are accelerating. As a general rule, almost everything the collective forces of the information technology industry are focused on are designed to provide us with faster performance, greater speed and accelerated cadence for information processing. This pursuit of speed means we get more performant applications and the ability to execute quicker decision-making, with many of the information streams we now channel coming in real-time.
This velocity has consequences.
We need to think about the impact of faster web that drives ever-speedier clouds and the arrival of 5.5G (or advanced 5G as it is also known) mobile networks on the planet’s natural resources i.e. there’s no such thing as a free lunch so clearly we need to accommodate carbon neutral planning into development plans. But on a purely technical level, there’s also an increased data management responsibility i.e. faster clouds are characterized by many factors, but their speed means there is increased suitability for time-series databases in order for us to more accurately pinpoint what data happened when.
What is time-series data?
Just as they sound, time-series databases are built with time as a ‘key index’ factor in the creation of the algorithm that rules their behavior. Initially created to serve the needs of the financial trading business, as the fundamental conditions of computing have evolved with the popularization of cloud computing and the subsequent development of containerization (and Kubernetes container orchestration), the core cadence of our systems has continued to accelerate. Taking a time-series (also known as time-stamped) approach to data lifecycle management in the current age enables us to keep track of not just the who, what and where of data, but also the when – which hopefully gives us more insight into the why?
An increasingly vocal specialist in this space is KX, maker of kdb+ a time-series database and real-time analytics engine. The company’s recent work with its partner EnterpriseWeb (a telecom virtualization and automation specialist) to develop network observability and automation solutions for performance-critical systems gives us some insight into the way cloud computing is currently developing from a speed and self-optimizing perspective.
Bringing together complementary technologies, KX and EnterpriseWeb offer a closed-loop control mechanism (an automatic system engineered to maintain a desired state of operation without the need for human intervention) that can be deployed on any computing system or distributed network.
In terms of who brings what to the party, KX brings data services and real-time analytics capabilities built around its kdb+ time-series database for pattern recognition and the detection of anomalies. These feed EnterpriseWeb’s intelligent orchestration platform for intent-based network and service management which interprets the events, translates policies and takes actions to maintain a declared state for a self-scaling, self-healing, self-optimizing network. It’s what the companies call an integrated solution for a ‘zero-touch’ network and service management at scale.
An ‘engine’ for time-series
“We talk about KX as being an ‘engine’ for time-series and real-time analytics, powered by kdb+. As the results of [this] testbed project demonstrate, being the analytics engine in EnterpriseWeb’s intelligent orchestration platform can yield significant benefits. We’ve shown that using time series-based technology like KX can dramatically improve response times and increase network efficiency. We’re excited to see how our partnership can be applied to other use cases where the real-time monitoring and management of distributed networks and low latency response and remediation is a critical requirement.”
The two companies first teamed up as part of a team on a 5G edge network automation test-bed hosted by Intel Network Builders (INB), along with Red Hat, Keysight, Fortinet and Tech Mahindra. One of the distinguishing features of the testbed is the enhanced Self-Organizing Network (SON) to optimize the processing of secure [network data] packets, while significantly reducing energy consumption… so in fact, there is a planetary carbon-neutral consideration here after all.
An edge-optimized telco cloud
“Taking network services to the [computing] edge for low-latency customer use-cases requires extreme automation and efficiency so the explosion of new sites can be supported operationally,” said Dave Duggal, founder and CEO of EnterpriseWeb. “To streamline deployments, telcos will benefit from a common technology platform that can be flexibly configured for different industries, customers and use-cases so they can avoid being mired down in custom development projects. KX and EnterpriseWeb present a lightweight, low-latency, high-performance solution for an edge-optimized telco cloud platform.”
To date, self-organizing network implementations have generally been vendor-centric, narrow in scope, batch processed (i.e. not benefitting from real-time data streaming) and expensive to deploy and maintain. In contrast, this work has created technology that is rapid to deploy as an open, extensible, near-real-time SON that’s flexibly configurable for a wide variety of use cases.
Networks will continue to accelerate, so what matters now is precisely how we build the engineering mechanics required to enable an increasing amount of operations to happen autonomously, which is a large part of what’s happening here. The network backbone specialsist aren’t just listening to our needs, they’re keeping time too.