SERVAAS VERBIEST (SV): Welcome to IT Availability Now, the show that tells the stories of business resilience from the people who keep the digital world available.
I'm your host Servaas Verbiest, and today, I'm joined by Leon Godwin, Principal Cloud Evangelist at Sungard Availability Services and actually, my counterpart globally.
We're going to be discussing a popular topic, 5G and its impact on security, data storage and business as a whole.
Leon, pleasure to have you on the show today.
LEON GODWIN (LG): Hi Servaas. How are you doing?
(SV): Good. Excited that we get to have another one of our great exchanges.
(SV): The interesting thing here is - I know you hear this, I hear this - that 5G is typically brought up as a game changer. Everybody really focuses on the fact that it's potentially 100 times faster than 4G. It has 40 times lower latency and from a provider perspective, it allows us to provide multiple signals on a very condensed band so we can do more with less space.
You also hear it come up in the news for good and bad reasons. You have T-Mobile and other mobile providers offering a slew of products for both the consumer and the commercial space. And you have things like airline pilots complaining about 5G interference that can make an airplane difficult to land. A little concerning for me, but I haven’t been doing a lot of flying lately, so I guess that’s something we'll tackle in the future.
When people typically hear the term 5G, they automatically jump to how it powers their cell phone. I've covered a few other examples, but it's much more than that.
Leon, what is 5G and really, why does it matter so much?
(LG): 5G on one hand is the natural evolution from 3G and 4G. But one of the things that is more of a profound change is the lower latency that it brings is much greater than previous generations and that hope opens up a whole load of new opportunities for companies to innovate and work smarter and more efficiently and create tighter business relationships and innovate to drive more opportunities for their business.
Some examples of this might be empowering. We would probably hear the common ones about using autonomous vehicles, but the emerging use of Internet of Things and content delivery networks where video streams are placed closer to the end user. 5G will become an enabler where you'll be able to stream 8K movies whilst queueing for a plane.
You can have high quality video surveillance systems that will do things like enable emergency responders to get better command and control of what's going on on the ground so resources can be deployed more appropriately. You've got streaming systems for gaming. Gaming over a broadband is typically quite laggy and quite slow, but with the one millisecond latencies that you get, as opposed to the maybe 50 milliseconds that you might get using your broadband makes it a very real possibility to have streaming gaming.
And then telemedicine is another one where you have the ability to have internet devices and internet connected devices providing healthcare metrics to a healthcare provider so they can get more insightful and faster diagnostics and intervene more quickly into healthcare problems.
(SV): I'll take a step back for a minute. That gaming example that you provided definitely is something I can relate to because I am a turbo nerd. I find time to game wherever I can and with some of the options that are available to me now that I have access to faster speeds, I agree with you, it's definitely a better experience.
But beyond the consumer component of it, I know it definitely has some positive benefits to business and it can really transform not only how a business goes to market, but how it supports its customers. Given that we have this conversation a lot with clients and prospects who want to do business with Sungard, I'm sure you've got some great examples of use cases that you've seen specifically for the commercial sector, right?
(LG): Absolutely. I mean, if we think about your traditional networking, it normally involves a wire going into a building and ultimately connecting to another building. And so you've got these sorts of physical wires, point to point links, but telephone networks are everywhere, and having 5G everywhere, it's a roll out. I think Europe is scheduled to complete their rollout of 5G by the end of 2025. But when you've got network connectivity everywhere that's very low latency, very high speed, all of a sudden there’s the ability to introduce virtual private networking from anywhere to anywhere. The network already exists. It's already there, so everything becomes software defined at that point. The infrastructure just exists everywhere on the planet. You just need to be able to deliver that connectivity and that software defined component to reroute traffic, to increase bandwidth, to bond different 5G carriers together, to further increase capacities.
And so yes, there's a lot of things it can do for the more traditional wide area network connectivity, but also the business-to-business side of things. You're going to be able to have closer relationships with your supply chain providers. And that both delivers a lot of benefits but also introduces a number of challenges.
(SV): It seems like more and more when I look at the marketplace and I think about how business is conducted, we really are a software defined world. Let's jump into those security challenges because I know that's the first place everybody wants to jump. When you introduce a new technology, you’ve got to account for some of the benefits that technology is going to provide you in your security posture. I would imagine - and I don’t think I’m mistaken, but I could be - a lot of these key benefits that you've covered that make 5G so appealing also add those security risks. Am I wrong?
(LG): You are absolutely, as always, not wrong. If you think about it, any business process where there is a sensor or data collection can benefit from 5G. And that means if we look at a national level, we're talking about millions or even billions of connected devices. Holistically that's a huge attack surface area. 5G makes it possible for that connectivity but also exponentially increases the risk. Having visibility into where those risks are coming from and being able to act efficiently is really important.
And then if you take it down to the organizational level, there are going to be many organizations that are going to benefit from 5G and the interconnectivity that's available, where they're not having to depend on a WiFi network as they once did before, but they might be depending more on the public 5G network. You're going to have loads of these IoT type devices, which notoriously, because they're so small, tend to have relatively poor security. They're not updated as often as other devices because they're just sort of sat in the corner and forgotten. So many of these devices prove to be a great jumping off point for attackers, and that can compromise your whole business.
(SV): The second thing I jump to, and those are some great points with security, by the way, is the investment that a business needs to make. Now I know you've covered that the network is everywhere and a lot of these major carriers are rolling this technology out for both consumer and commercial use, but is there going to be a point in which businesses are going to have to take a minute before they integrate 5G heavily into how they operate and kind of ask themselves: does the investment match or exceed the return that I'm going to get?
(LG): That's a fantastic point. And we've talked about this a lot in the past, the value of change, and how do you assess that value of change? For many organizations that have a plan to innovate and get a competitive edge, they need to factor in what will that competitive edge deliver them and what would be the cost implications of 5G? Now initial adoption of 5G will be relatively expensive. We've seen this with networks. In the past, I've seen network solutions cost more than the things that they're connecting, whereas now the cost of networking has gone down and down rapidly whilst capacity has gone up and up.
The same thing will happen with 5G. You'll have those leading edge organizations that will happily take the pain where they’re less motivated by the cost implications and want to steal a march on the competition. But ultimately, the greater adoption and competition in the marketplace will drive their costs of 5G consumption down, which will enable more organizations to enable their innovation plans for utilizing 5G technology.
But it is an interesting one. How would you calculate the value of change and the adoption of that technology and have that roadmap for those decreasing costs in the future?
(SV): It makes sense from a market perspective based on what you've covered. The first thing that comes to mind when I look at that statement is the 4K television. When it first came out, it was very expensive. Not that they're terribly cheap now, but you can definitely find situations where that technology is much more widely available, because the market has become so saturated and people are now starting to consider it the standard.
Beyond cost and security, though, there have to be other components that need to be taken into consideration when a business integrates 5G, correct?
(LG): Absolutely. It's ironic. I was playing around with Power BI earlier this morning and as it was loading, this little trivia message came up from Microsoft saying that 90% of the world's data was created in the last two years. And that’s amazing when you think about it. That is a huge exponential growth in data. And one thing we know is when you add more capacity, that capacity gets filled, whether it's cars on a freeway, or it's your broadband connection. Things will get utilized more and more and 5G is going to only add to that.
As you have organizations that have large datasets that use things like machine learning to identify trends and patterns that drive business value, you're going to rely on that storage medium more and more and the data it contains. So data is going to become really, really large. And 5G is only going to accelerate that.
Then you've got issues of: where should that data be? How can I afford to store that data? Is it in different locations? Do I need it to move it to the edge? Do I need it on prem? Do I need it in the cloud somewhere? So you've got the different tierings of data and then you're talking about data portability.
Then you've got situations where you're looking at: do I want access to high performance flash over a 5G network remotely? That's great, but what data is going to go on that? And what's the compliance obligations of that data? Is that personal identifiable data? We live in a world where compliance rules change constantly, whether it be legislation coming from the States or from the European Union or individual Safe Harbor agreements between different countries.
These different obligations means it's very important to classify the data. As 5G increases storage, so will the demand for compliance obligations and analysis and controls of the data upon where it sits.
(SV): Data and data security is huge when you think about how you go to market and maintain market share. When an organization goes through this change, there's got to be something they can do to prepare for these storage issues and these data controls, right? Or is it just something they have to figure out as they go?
(LG): It’s about planning. You've got to think about your business resilience when it comes to that data. I need that data. I need it backed up, I need it available. So I need maybe multiple copies of that data, which further increases the need for capacity. You need to think about the cost of that storage. You need to think about how you are going to control the access to that data, whether it be identity access management systems or whether it be around classifying your data and ensuring continual compliance of that data.
Forward planning is key. If you're going to start pushing data globally around networks then you need to think about the cost implications of the contracts you're signing up for. When you have a broadband type connection in your home, whether you use it a little or use it a lot, you’re still paying the same rate. Whereas on your mobile phone, the more you use it the bigger your bill.
It brings in contractual considerations around the use of 5G technologies, as well as the tiered storage costs. There are a lot of considerations and forward planning and having a strategy when it comes to the use of data storage availability and compliance is key.
(SV): I imagine it's going to take more than planning, right? How does that saying go? Everybody has a plan until they kick the door down. What would you recommend: audits and review, steering committees? I mean, you don't want to make it too complicated, but you can't just fire and forget and let it run.
(LG): No, absolutely. I like Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War;' “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.” So you’re right, planning is important, but that ongoing ability to be able to pivot to the changing conditions is absolutely key. So is, as you said, having the ability to review and assess and having the insights in your data, whether that be around security controls that are tracking who’s using that data, or it's around the compliance, whether the right people are accessing that data and it’s stored in an appropriate medium. That has to be an ongoing thing.
And in many ways, some of those capabilities will exceed an individual organization’s ability to do it. So that's where your supplier, or partner ecosystem comes into play because they can provide services to be able to help secure, make available and continually assess the compliance of your data footprint that has increased as a result of the use of 5G.
(SV): I'm happy that we had this opportunity to talk and cover the challenges associated with the benefits of 5G in the fields of security costs, data storage and compliance and really the complexity and design that you have to maintain as you start to try to integrate this technology to get a return.
Really emphasizing the fact that, even if you've come up with a great plan, it's organic, it should evolve over time. And thus you need to take care of it or it's going to turn against you. It's going to be a problem. And you're going to have to reverse engineer those to try to get a course correction and really receive that value once people start to use it.
Leon, as always, I really appreciate you taking the time to be with us today.
(LG): No problem, Servaas, top man, you. Have a great day.
(SV): You too.
Leon Godwin is the Principal Cloud Evangelist at Sungard Availability Services.
You can find the show notes for this episode at SungardAS.com/ITAvailabilityNow.
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I’m your host, Servaas Verbiest, and until next time, stay available.