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My Coffee, IoT & 5G: Latency Demand Continues

by Field Insight on August 27, 2018

I was having coffee with a friend of mine a few weeks ago and he was talking about some new phone coming out that would be 5G ready. 

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Now, I’m not a big “phone” guy and my friend is not in any a “Technology” guy, at least not that he realizes. As a matter of fact, he often picks at me for being a nerd. However, in taking about 5G, it made me start thinking about the impact that 5G will have on me and what I do for a living here at Violin Systems.

Cellular networks have had an amazing impact on how technology is used in business and in our day to day lives. They have proven to be an enabling technology that allows for some transformative ones. For example, 3G allowed for users to start receiving e-mails to mobile devices and be connected to their businesses anytime and anywhere. Damn 3G has ruined many a vacation for me. 4G enabled video to the mobile devices and spurred application development in just about every industry. 4G was the enabler that allowed many of today’s hottest business to create new things that we never thought we even needed. Would any of the ride sharing companies be around today if it were not for 4G? Would social media be a staple in our day to day lives if it weren’t for 4G?

5G will be no different. By this time, we’ve all heard the term Internet of Things, or IoT. being thrown around. My friend, who I spoke about earlier. is a mechanic and has even heard about it. Though he didn’t have a clue what it really meant to him. He is a mechanic and transportation industry will be a major player in the IoT, so I was able to explain to him with ease what impact that these technologies have already had on him and gave him a glimpse into his IoT future.Modern-skyscrapers-of--Canary-Wharf-and-business-network-connections.-Illustration-made-with-many-communication-icons.-Technology,-transformation-and-innovation-idea.-861004590_2188x1375

In the IoT everything is connected to the network. We’re already seeing things like refrigerators and light bulbs being connected in our internet. What stands out to me the most is the transportation industry. Today’s vehicles; cars, trains, planes and even the newest motorcycles are filled with sensors to monitor everything from fuel consumption to temperature control. With self-driving cars being developed and tested on our interstates and highways, 5G rollouts nationwide has become even more necessary. All those sensors are going to need to send information back to a data center or cloud to be analyzed, and more importantly, acted upon.

This is where it affects me and Violin Systems. 5G and the Internet of Things will be completely dependent on latency. Every router, firewall, server and database that needs to transverse for those sensors data add latency. The storage array that holds all that data shouldn’t ever be the choke point. Latency matters is still true today as it was in 2016 (see 'IOPS is fun, but Latency wins' blog)as it will be 5 years from now. Imagine the time it’s going to take for that data to be accessed for all those sensors to work in concert together. It really puts the Train A and Train B equation we all had in middle school in prospective. Only now were not talking about two trains 80 miles apart, we are talking about hundreds of cars driving 70 mph 12 inches apart. The differences that 500 microseconds will make for an analytics engine could mean a life. In the IoT there’s no such thing as fast enough for safety or your business.

Author: Todd Harris, Field Sales Engineer