You really wish you were at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona right now – and so do I! Because we'd get to see in action Ericsson’s Future Digital Infrastructure (FDI) display, a prototype for the datacenters of the future. If you are there, you can watch the robotic arm move, hear the sounds it makes, and discuss it with my friend and colleague Seamus Keane – he's probably standing right there in front of it.
A virtual tour of Future Digital Infrastructure
If you can't be there in person, you can still, through the magic of the internet, have the virtual experience: read the brochure that Seamus is handing out, or you can read the new paper on Future Digital by our Geoff Hollingworth and Jason Hoffman.
Here is a video with Jason:
Tomorrow's datacenter starts today
Distributed cloud infrastructure
The difference between interacting with this information if you’re physically near it,
versus being far away, demonstrates one important aspect of FDI itself: a distributed infrastructure. Attending MWC, standing in front of the display, talking to Seamus: this is like being at the network edge, interacting with devices (sorry, Seamus! you're now "a device") that make up the Internet of Things (Iot) (and a thing). You expect immediate feedback. If you ask Seamus a question, you’ll be surprised if he just stands there, nodding, like a browser waiting to load a page. You expect an immediate response, and you'll get it, because all the information you’ll need when you’re at MWC is actually there, at MWC.
This is bound to be true of every other company with a booth at the event as well. The information that you’re expected to need at any given point is going to be provided to you at exactly that point. If you ask where the bathrooms are, the concierge is not going to pick up an index card and read you a URL so you can download a map of the hotel. The internet is fast, but it’s not that fast. There are times when the information you request needs to be available locally, not in a datacenter halfway across the globe.
Why don't we check out the robot:
Moving compute and storage to the edge
And those occasions will become a lot more frequent, because, very soon, IoT devices will use the internet more than humans do. The network is going to get a lot more crowded, and if it isn’t built out properly, congestion could occur much more easily than it does now. And that is a big problem, because some of those devices (think cars, drones, medical devices) require instantaneous feedback. We need to move compute and storage capabilities out to the very edges of the network.
Thriving in a zero-distance world
How will we achieve this the zero-distance world? You can read the brochure/paper to explore it more depth:
Or for a really deep dive, check out the paper by Geoff and Jason: