How Datacentres Are Getting Ready For 4G

4G Data Centre

Mobile users across the UK are welcoming a new era of wireless service. Finally, 4G is becoming available in many of our local markets, delivering download rates of up to 750Mb/s in the process. If 4G hasn’t come to your area just yet, be patient, as more cities are being added every month.

4G brings us improved network performance, and faster is always better when it comes to bandwidth and data. The network upgrade is helping users better connect with the world by eliminating the speed bottlenecks of 3G service. It also delivers new opportunities for applications to be created that require more bandwidth than 3G was able to provide.

While mobile users are chomping at the bit to unleash the power of 4G networks, we may still run into some digital roadblocks if datacentres are not ready. Luckily, many of today’s datacentres are incorporating new technologies, like flash memory, to deliver unprecedented performance to users throughout the UK and beyond. These solutions ensure that the increased data demand generated by the deployment of 4G networks won’t slow us down when data needs to be shuttled to our phones and tablets from application servers.

Flash-Fuelled Evolution

Many of the servers that power our applications and satisfy our data demands are now being powered by flash, instead of disk. Flash memory is a powerful shot in the arm for modern datacentres. Added to datacentre servers, NAND flash is much faster than disk and is capable of approaching the speeds of memory, in the right architecture.

The history of how flash wound up displacing disk in datacentres is a journey that spans a number of years. After becoming popular for consumer devices like MP3 players and then smartphones, for many years, flash was only thought suitable for consumer grade storage in the form of SSDs.

As software was developed to make flash more reliable for server needs, it began to become integrated in datacentres through PCIe connected memory. Today, every major server vendor offers flash memory solutions. Some of these solutions integrate flash as a memory, allowing applications to take advantage of terabytes of memory, in addition to that offered by DRAM.

This flash-fuelled revolution paved the way for datacentres to run much faster and power new, creative applications. Today, companies like Pandora, Facebook, and Rhapsody are using flash to better deliver content to devices around the world, allowing developers to take advantage of unprecedented performance possibilities.

Scale More In A Smaller Footprint

One of the most valuable things in a datacentre is real estate. It costs a lot to build the infrastructure to house, power and cool state-of-the art servers and storage. Scale out datacenters are massive, and occasionally reach more than a million square feet in size.

These datacentres run the hottest applications available, serving up packets of data via networks to our phones, tablets and other electronic devices. As companies find new ways to use technologies to improve the efficiency of their datacentres, they can better utilize the space they already have to deliver performance for users’ 4G apps.

For example the internet radio service Pandora was able to reduce its server footprint by nearly 40 percent using new architectures with flash memory solutions, lowering maintenance costs and providing room for future growth, something which is essential in our increasingly fast paced world.

The tech savvy Japanese have been running 4G networks for a while and many of the nations popular app providers are already investigating flash as a bottleneck solution. Mixi, Japan’s largest social networking site, with more than 26 million users, was able to consolidate its servers 10 to 1, helping them lower power consumption by 80 percent in the process and maintain the level of service users expected.

Consolidations like these allow companies to affordably scale out their datacentres to meet the increased demand generated by 4G networks. As datacentres boost the performance in their datacentres, while reducing overall footprint, they can deliver more data to users without increasing overall costs.

Better Performance Through Simpler Software

As our datacentres become more powerful, to support 4G speeds and services, many datacentres are discovering that the bottlenecks are no longer found in their hardware at all. These new software bottlenecks appear when code runs so fast that it uncovers new hurdles that previously could not appear due to slow processing speeds.

To overcome these software bottlenecks, companies can use APIs, like those from OpenNVM, to add flash-ready performance to their applications. These APIs make it easy to update applications to leverage flash, helping to provide faster application performance as well as faster time to market for developers.

Mobile Devices: A Remote Control For Our World

Flash-fuelled datacentres are paving the way for 4G coverage and delivering the bandwidth to keep up with the ever-increasing amount of connected devices. By the end of the year, it is predicted that there will likely be more mobile devices on the Earth than human beings.

That number pales in comparison to the estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things by 2020, which includes you will be connecting through your fridge, stove, thermostat, smoke alarms and a mixed bag of other electronic devices.

Ultimately, 4G is about finding answers faster, no matter where we are. As innovators deploy next-generation technology in their datacentres to keep up with new applications, increased data demand and more mobile devices, we’ll continue to see new and interesting developments through the digital revolution that is shaping the world around us.

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Steve Wharton

Steve Wharton is a Fusion-io Field Engineer based in London. He helps customers architect all flash datacenters using low latency, high performance Fusion ioMemory.