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Virtualization: A Critical Capability for Service Provider Success in IoT, 5G & Beyond

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© HEAVY READING | MARCH 2017 | VIRTUALIZATION FOR IOT, 5G & BEYOND 3 GPRS and CDMA technology because of the low cost of communications modules, and the almost ubiquitous coverage. The IoT has emerged from a combination of various technologies that have been continuously developing over the last decade. The ongoing simultaneous reduction in cost and increase in semiconductor compute capability has resulted in very small-footprint modules and systems on chips. This allows devices such as actuators, controllers, wearables and gateways to be much more intelligent, particularly when the microprocessors link to a huge variety of sensors that enable the device to determine its state and context within its operating environment. This same increase in semiconductor capability has fostered improved performance in wireless technologies. Short-range and personal-area connectivity has been enhanced with continuous developments in Bluetooth and WiFi. Additionally, multiple wireless technologies have been built upon 802.15.4, including ZigBee, Z-Wave and Thread. In the wide-area wireless arena, cellular has continued to develop as a mobile broadband solution that delivers large amounts of data at very high speed. Over the last 18 months, the wireless industry has been frantically developing low-power wide-area cellular solutions (LTE NB-IoT) to compete with alternative offerings from compa- nies such as SigFox, LoRa Alliance, Silver Spring Networks and Ingenu. All of these competing alternative wireless systems use a variety of proprietary and standards-based technologies and operate in unlicensed spectrum. They have been developed within the last seven years, and recognized the fundamental need of industrial customers that cellular operators were ignoring. This need was for simple low-cost networks connecting to devices that are low power, operate on batteries that can last for 10 years or more, and transmit very small amounts of data infrequently. The development of all of the wireless technologies for both short and long-range communi- cations has paralleled the increasing adoption of the Internet protocol within the industrial and enterprise workspace. Increasingly, production processes have been linked with capillary networks to gateways that can connect into internal IT systems. At the same time, buildings became more automated, with heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems connected to building management and security systems. However, most of these connected systems were data silos, where data was flowing north-south in a proprietary or industry standard- ized format. Increasingly, there was interest in linking and consolidating data from discrete silos into actionable information for building efficiency, and optimizing production and supply chains. This is where three other technologies actually enabled the development of the industrial IoT. The rapid adoption of cloud technologies, the use of big data analytics and the applica- tion of machine learning have facilitated the aggregation of data to deliver fundamental insights into virtually every aspect of business operations. The combined effect of all these technologies is fueling the growth of the IoT domain. The use of the word "domain" is intended to symbolize the coming together of technologies and markets, which combined create exponential outcomes that some refer to as the "Fourth Industrial Revolution." No matter where you look, there are forecasts of between 20 and 50 billion connected devices by the beginning of the next decade, with resultant growth in busi- ness and GDP in the trillions of dollars. These billions of devices will form capillary networks that have different communications formats, operating protocols and addressing mechanisms that drive a tide of data in varying formats. Although cellular and LPWA devices may be in

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