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A smart nation needs a smart, intelligent network

Joseph Lim, Vice President, Asia Pacific, FNT Software | Oct. 19, 2015
To get Singapore's Smart Nation on the right footing from the start, one key strategy is to ensure that robust data centres and systems with process-based documentation are built.

Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. These terms, or what some would crisply be described as VUC, have increasingly come to describe a tumultuous world. Businesses today face unprecedented challenges, both externally and internally.

From an external macroeconomic perspective, the new paradigm is about economies and businesses coping with slower economic growth. Even countries with strong growth in years gone-by are struggling to re-invigorate their economic engines. Internally, businesses have to relook at the various dimensions of their organisations with a view to raising productivity.

The common takeaway answer about raising productivity is to push more technology into organisation. As a result, there has been an unprecedented implementation of new technologies and applications trying to address every conceivable challenge faced by businesses. This has also brought with it startling amounts of complexity. Many corporate leaders are likely to acknowledge that their enterprise resource planning systems have grown into intricate and perhaps, convoluted machines.

It is not an overstatement to say that far more data processes exist today than before. More technology applications to manage business exist today than are necessary.

This is essentially the business and industry backdrop, all in the context of Singapore's pursuit to create a Smart Nation. Much has been said about Singapore's bold vision and journey to deliver such a notion. According to Wikipedia, "Smart Nation is Singapore's national vision of using technology to improve lives and business."

Drilled down a tad bit lower, the Smart Nation vision is a multi-government agency and private sector collaborative effort. The aim is to conceptualise and deliver initiatives and programmes that will leverage on highly connected data to deliver services more efficiently to Singapore's populace.

This phenomenon explains part of the proliferation of data centres, an industry segment which is experiencing enormous growth rates. With such proliferation, there has been a resulting strong demand for everything relating to information technology, from computing and storage capacity. This, in turn, has driven further demand for additional computing capacity.

Such underlying developments bring with it challenges relating to manpower as well as keeping data centres productive and efficient. From a manpower perspective, there is the heightened challenge of having enough headcount to manage data centres and an ever growing information technology infrastructure. To keep up with this development, operational processes need constant optimisation and powerful management tools must be implemented.

This is compounded by the demand of service providers and customers seeking to enjoy speedy delivery of services, and which subsequently affects customer satisfaction and, has a financial impact.

Most data centres continue to use legacy planning and documentation technology tools which do not provide a transparent view of the entire data centre from facilities and physical devices to logical connections and applications running in a virtualised environment. More often than not, very basic drawings and graphical representations of the infrastructure complemented with excel spreadsheets for the logical connections and other information are used to understand what is going on in the network. This leads to slow recovery of services, when infrastructure does inevitably fail at times.


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