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Turning Big Data On Its Head: 4 Ways It Can Actually Improve Your IT Infrastructure

In this special guest feature, Ed Fox, Vice President of Network Services at MetTel, offers his Top Four examples of where big data can be used to make better IT Infrastructure decisions, while still allowing for business growth. Mr. Fox is responsible for the planning, deployment, and operations of MetTel’s broadband, data, and VoIP network infrastructure. He has over 20 years of telecommunications and network experience managing massive organizational and customer growth at major telecommunications providers.

Today there is more data being generated, analyzed and stored than ever before, from capturing online transactions and producing content, to analyzing social media interactions and wading through the information flowing to/from IoT devices – That’s a lot of data!  It’s this massive amount of data that’s dramatically changing how we approach and setup hardware, software and IT infrastructures overall.

It’s become increasingly clear that CIOs, COOs and CTOs face the exponentially growing and daunting question … how do you keep tabs on all of this back-end equipment and data that enables your business to grow in a nimble/flexible way, while also keeping budgets and SLAs on track and ensure you’re providing your teams with the information and tools they need to be successful?

So with all these technological advancements and their impact on how businesses run, we need to approach things in a different light and turn these challenges into solutions. Spoiler Alert: We’re forgetting the positive power of data and the value we can derive to make our lives easier when it comes to IT infrastructure!  Yes, I said it, big data can actually help us do a better job with our own IT housekeeping. Sure, big data when properly analyzed is as a powerful tool for sales and marketing executives, but it can be so much more than that by shaping and informing the decisions IT teams are making to ensure their own company infrastructure is scalable, flexible and reliable. Big data is basically a way to gauge, trend and test our infrastructure and, in a lot of ways, is almost like a teacher that we can learn from to optimize our back-end.

With all that in mind, here are my Top Four examples of where big data can be used to make better IT Infrastructure decisions, while still allowing for business growth:

1. Connectivity:

The media is very focused on 5G as the newest darling technology of the connectivity space, but I think we all need to be focusing on the here and now, for example the massive amounts of data we are collecting from SD-WAN. SD-WAN allows companies to have the most diverse, Bandwidth rich and economical connections possible to support their mission critical connectivity.  What does this mean when it comes to big data and how SD-WAN can help us have a better sense of what’s happening? Well…

  • SD-WAN allows us, right out of the box, to report realtime and historical application use at any site. For example, how much Netflix use is going on? How many gigabytes did we send to the Microsoft Cloud? Is the AWS bill for usage correct? Is our Citrix based ERM application slow because of the network?
  • SD-WAN also allows our users to do System Log Data Correlation to ensure they know where any issues may exist with connectivity before they cause a disruption in the business services.

2. Security:

Over the last few years we’ve seen several high-profile breaches which have pushed cyber security to the forefront of all IT professionals daily lives.  Now more than ever before companies need to be asking the right questions about security, especially when looking for the right communications service partner.  When it comes to security, sifting through massive amounts of data automatically can help IT infrastructure teams better do their job. Here we focus on a few things:

  • Managed SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) applying AI and correlation to logs from network devices to help customers in the security space be able to understand how the devices are being used and what sites they are visiting from these devices. Looking for known anomalies and trends as well as injecting real time threat intelligence to this big data feed allows for detecting issues quickly.
  • Preventing fraud on customers networks – additionally tracking data trends for end users allows you to ensure your customers aren’t falling prey. A very unsexy example of this is the amount of fraud still taking place via traditional phone lines. This makes it even more important for companies to to keep an eye on what equipment they have, what’s in use, who’s using it and when.

3. Device Identification to User Demographic:

This is one of those rare areas where IT can easily enable other departments within the business.  There is a wealth of information provided in public WiFi systems for example.  Gathering all this data about customers can be monetized by marketing teams. This can be done by:

  • Gathering end user device information via WiFi and other methods, supplying demographic data on the end users at time of login.
  • Mashup end user information gained from social media to build customer profiles and direct marketing campaigns.
  • Take all this information and combine it with third party data available to enhance demographic data. For example, cross referencing it with publicly available schedule information and data i.e. 30% of your customers go to Country Music Concerts

4. Purchasing/Sourcing Automation:

This is a relatively new trend but one that’s becoming increasingly important by bringing procurement

processes and control into an automated environment. Having a platform that allows customers to track all equipment in their ecosystem enables them to leverage the data to help control budgets and make better decisions. For example…

  • Spend trends and variance reports can provide insight into what’s being used, what’s not and what is needed
  • Helping organizations trend their data and voice over specific time periods and year over year, i.e. having processes in place to estimate phone usage on the 1st day back after Christmas Holiday break when it’s a company’s biggest day of the year
  • Combining data from various points like repair schedules, weather issues in specific locations and holidays, etc allow organizations to make better cost-effective decisions

Data, data everywhere…it’s strange times we live in and a true technology revolution/evolution.  We’re moving increasingly away from a hardware-defined environment and companies need to take the negative spin out of big data and leverage it in ways that can better inform their IT strategy and support their overall business objectives. So I say turn data on its head and get creative – it can let you know how you’re utilizing your back-end and front-end technology to shift your strategy to produce better results. With big data comes big responsibilities so do some IT soul searching and stay ahead of the game en-route to keeping your customers happy and sleeping well at night.

 

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