Insight: The good, the bad and the ugly of the data industry
By Darren Watkins, managing director for VIRTUS Data Centres
As Facebook responds to a public relations nightmare — the fallout from news that a political consulting firm violated its rules for third party apps — it’s likely that any organisation which uses consumer data will be anxiously waiting to see what the long-term impact of the scandal will be on the industry.
However, despite the damning headlines, big data is a long way from being all bad. On the flipside of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has recognised the positive impact of the data it collects. Its Data for Good program is focused on getting information in the hands of academics, NGOs, and the broader development community so they can make a positive impact on world issues. A great example of this is its disaster maps initiative, launched in 2018 with UNICEF, where aggregated and anonymised location data has been able to significantly improve situational awareness when responding to natural disasters.
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Closer to home, data has become an intrinsic part of all of our lives. From shopping, to dating, to the connected devices in our pockets, data is fuelling nearly every aspect of our lives. It even helps us get to work on time. Numerous real-time data metrics go into ensuring traffic runs smoothly, including GPS systems, social media use and magnetic sensors - all of which help traffic agencies manage the roads.
So, whilst recent scandals have understandably caused concern, it’s vital that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Big data makes consumers’ lives easier and helps businesses function better: the ability to access and interpret it as meaningful actionable information, very quickly, will give a huge competitive advantage to those organisations that do it well. Whilst innovation must be encouraged, it should not come at the cost of privacy and security. If we don’t get the balance right between data protection and data driven innovation, the UK economy will suffer and personal data may be misused.
A balancing act
To be successful, firms need to strike a precarious balance between innovation and data protection. At one end of the spectrum, there is distrust of the use of data beyond limited, specifically identified purposes. At the other end, the recognition that data is a valuable asset suggests that its more widespread use could empower innovation and economic opportunity. This is a complex argument, which isn’t likely to be categorically solved anytime soon. but whichever side of the fence you fall on, there is a duty for companies who work with data to manage it appropriately. It is imperative that companies have an infrastructure that anticipates growth in data volumes and expansion of data types as well as developing an institutional culture that fundamentally understands the importance of big data. Personnel at every level must work with a mindset that ensures the entry of complete, accurate and uniform data - essentially good data “hygiene”.
Good data hygiene extends to the organisation of data too, encompassing well-defined schemas, an organised data architecture and more. This approach allows companies to perform analytics faster, ensuring the data they’re working with is accurate, current and used appropriately. But of course, data storage, processing and maintenance can be expensive.
Good data hygiene is a crucial building block in good data use. But the most visible thing to get right, in the eyes of the consumer at least, is security.
Simple hacking is where big data shows weakness, thanks to the millions of people whose personal details can be put at risk with any single security breach. And the scope of the problem has grown considerably in a short time. For instance, it wasn’t too long ago that a few thousand data sets being put at risk by a hack was a major problem, which made major headlines. But in September last year, Yahoo announced that it had not secured the real names, date of birth, and telephone numbers of 500 million people. It’s data loss on an unimaginable scale, and of course, for the public, that’s scary stuff.
This, together with the computing power needed for big data applications, puts increasing pressure on organisations’ IT and data centre strategies. These challenges need to be overcome if big data isn’t to always spell danger. Indeed, it's no exaggeration to say that data centre strategy could be crucial to big data’s ultimate success or failure.
For even the biggest organisations, the cost of having (and maintaining) a wholly owned data centre can be prohibitively high. But, for many, security concerns mean that a wholesale move to standard, cloud platforms in a hybrid model isn’t an option. The savviest firms are turning to colocation for their data storage needs, recognising that moving into a shared environment means that IT can more easily expand and grow, without compromising security or performance.
By choosing colocation, companies are effectively achieving the best of both worlds; renting a small slice of the best uninterruptible power and grid supply, with backup generators, super-efficient cooling, 24/7 security and resilient path multi-fibre connectivity that money can buy that has direct access to public cloud platforms to provide the full array of IT infrastructure - all for a fraction of the cost of building and buying them themselves.
A tipping point
Now is a crucial point in the history of big data and there’s scope to get it very right, or very wrong.
We are only just at the very beginning of this data revolution, and the cat is firmly out of the bag - we need data in our business and personal lives. But consumer demand drives everything and big data is no different. As the public grows more wary of data breaches, the pressure will (and already has) come to bear on the business community to pay more attention to securing, storing and using data in the right way. Countermeasures that used to be optional are now becoming standard and are putting increased pressure is being put on company’s IT systems and processes. Proper infrastructure and good data management can only help to control the bad and make the good better.
NetNumber: Time for a cloud-native transformation
NetNumber is accelerating the transition in the telecom industry to 5G as it starts a shift to cloud-native architecture to address the fast-paced demands of global subscribers and businesses.
NetNumber is offering the industry’s first cloud-native platform designed to ensure InterGENerational™ network performance addresses both the legacy and next-generation requirements of telecom networks.
“NetNumber has developed the industry’s most robust cloud-native, InterGENerational platform that addresses both the legacy and 5G requirements of telcos,” said Matt Rosenberg, Chief Revenue Officer of NetNumber.
The platform provides vertical and horizontal scale-out with low latency, coupled with a suite of data replication capabilities, which provide flexible architectural options that can evolve with the changing network over time.
“Cloud-based solutions from other vendors tend to be limited in terms of supporting particular network generations or protocols. We’ve created our latest platform TITAN.IUM to allow customers to take any generation of applications, any generation of legacy services and protocols and move them into the new world of cloud-native architecture,” said Rosenberg.
“This is a really important part for a carrier to harmonise their network, bring data services together, bring legacy with new together in order to make a more effective and efficient network, as well as reduce their cost as they scale forward,” he said.
Established in 1999, NetNumber has fostered a strong team environment that leverages the industry’s best skills to offer software solutions tailored for carriers of all dimensions. Based outside of Boston and with presence in over 20 countries, the company delivers a range of products that address all generations (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G) of network functions in the core network, deep rooted security products and services, STIR/ SHAKEN and set of options around data services in more than 90 countries.
Steeped in experience in building telecom solutions, software, protocol stacks, and integration of third party tools, the company’s development organisation has proven to supply to the industry with the most reliable and flexible solutions on the market.
“At NetNumber, we focus on our core competencies – we are dedicated to providing industry expertise in signaling, routing, security, subscriber management and data services. We provide customers a strong ROI through platform-based solutions that reduce Capex and Opex in the long-term,” commented Rosenberg.
Five reasons why customers choose NetNumber:
- Expertise - NetNumber has experts with deep knowledge in signaling/routing, security, and subscriber database management.
- Integration - An industry-first platform brings together domain services, applications, security, and global data services.
- Scale - NetNumber has the ability to seamlessly increase network efficiency using vertical and horizontal scaling.
- Speed - World-class solutions have the power to help companies create new service offerings and accelerate time to ROI.
- Savings - Customers enjoy significant savings in capex and opex, flexible deployment models, and investment protection.
NetNumber and Virgin Mobile MEA
“We're very proud of our partnership with Virgin Mobile MEA as they've taken the concept of the InterGENerational platform into their regional network strategy,” commented Rosenberg. “That’s accelerated how they develop exceptional services across the Middle East and Africa region.
“We work with them hand-in-hand to deliver multiple applications onto our platform which has enabled them to provide exceptional, advanced and innovative services to their customers across the Middle East, who demand high quality services.
“What they've really taken advantage of is scale. What I mean by that is they are putting multiple generations of applications and services onto the same platform and distributing that data across their network. That has resulted in an advantageous position of time to market and operational savings.
“Rather than having different applications for many different vendors that cause operational chaos, they've been able to consolidate that and reduce their operating costs by having everything on one common architecture. We’ve had a long-term relationship with Virgin Mobile in Saudi Arabia, and recently signed an agreement with Virgin Mobile in Kuwait.”
Rosenberg says that with these solutions, Virgin Mobile MEA can take advantage of getting to the market much quicker and faster—which is what today’s discerning customer demands.