Hot technologies for 2012 and beyond

A series of trends are emerging in the telecom landscape, some of which will blaze a trail, but others are likely to vanish without a trace.
Factors that will ensure the endurance of certain technologies will ranging from pure necessity to a coolness factor, from innovativeness to cost. The following technologies are certain to be trailblazers in the years to come.
Software defined networking: SDNs are based on the pathbreaking paradigm of separating the control of a network flow from the flow of data. SDN is the result of pioneering effort by Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley and is based on the Open Flow Protocol. SDNs decouple the routing and switching of the data flows and moves the control of the flow to a separate network element namely, the Flow controller. This allows the flow of data packets through the network to be controlled in a programmatic manner.
The OpenFlow Protocol has three components – the flow controller, the OpenFlow switch and the flow table - and a secure connection between controller and switch. SDNs also include the ability to virtualize network resources. Virtualized network resources are known as a “network slice”. A slice can span several network elements including the network backbone, routers and hosts. The ability to control multiple traffic flows programmatically provides enormous flexibility and power in the hands of users.
Smart Grids: The energy industry is delicately poised for a complete transformation with the evolution of the smart grid concept. There is now an imminent need for an increased efficiency in power generation, transmission and distribution coupled with a reduction of energy losses. In this context many leading players in the energy industry are coming up with a connected end-to-end digital grid to smartly manage energy transmission and distribution.
The digital grid will have smart meters, sensors and other devices distributed throughout, capable of sensing, collecting, analyzing and distributing the data to devices that can take action on them.
The huge volume of collected data will be sent to intelligent device which will use the wireless 3G networks to transmit the data. Appropriate action like alternate routing and optimal energy distribution would then happen. Smart Grids are a certainty given that this technology addresses the dire need of efficient energy management.
NoSQL: In large web applications where performance and scalability are key concerns a non –relational database like NoSQL is a better choice to the more traditional relational databases. There are several examples of such databases – the more reputed are Google’s BigTable,   HBase, Amazon’s Dynamo, CouchDB & MongoDB.
These databases partition the data horizontally and distribute it among many regular commodity servers. Accesses to the data are based on simple get (key) or set (key, value) type of APIs. The ability to distribute data and the queries to one of several servers provides the key benefit of scalability. Applications that have to frequently access and manage petabytes of data will clearly have to move to the NoSQL paradigm of databases.
NFC: Near Field Communications is a technology whose time has come. Mobile phones enabled with NFC technology can be used for a variety of purposes. One such purpose is integrating credit card functionality into mobile phones using NFC. Already the major players in mobile are integrating NFC into their newer versions of mobile phones including Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, and Nokia. We will never again have to carry in our wallets with a stack of credit cards. Our mobile phone will double up as a Visa, MasterCard, etc.
NFC also allows retail stores to send promotional coupons to subscribers who are in the vicinity of the shopping mall. Posters or trailers of movies running in a theatre can be sent as multimedia clips when travelling near a movie hall. NFC also allows retail stores to send promotional coupons to subscribers who are in the vicinity of the shopping mall besides allowing exchanging contact lists with friends when they are close proximity.
Tinniam V Ganesh is a telecom expert with 25 years experience in the software industry. He blogs at