Unified Infrastructure

Virtual Reality Needs Real Infrastructure. Are IT Professionals Prepared?

I must confess that I was not immune to the Pokemon Go craze. Like many others, last summer I observed people hunting Squirtles and Bulbasaurs. I also witnessed the first world frustrations of people getting frustrated because the game would not load when they were sure there must be a Pikachu close to hand.

This insight into my gaming habit observations is not just a new year confession. It serves to illustrate a wider issue that will become very important over the year ahead. That’s because 2017 is the year that augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences are expected to hit the mainstream. While this will not happen overnight, 2016 saw the technology maturing, exhilarating use cases being developed and consumer demand reaching an all-time high. Will we finally see mass market infiltration?

Same old virtual reality?

While the media and analyst hype suggests that VRs time has finally come, you can be forgiven for thinking that we have been here before. The domination of VR and AR has long been heralded but many experiences have failed to live up to expectations. This brings me back to Pokemon Go. The game was compelling and consumer demand was sky high but IT infrastructure was not robust enough to cope with demand. The game thrived despite being blighted by outages, but other VR and AR experiences may not fare so well. If these technologies are going to hit the mass market as anticipated, we must ensure that the IT infrastructure is in place to support them.                    

This is where infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams have an important role to play. The business opportunities around immersive experiences are plentiful and there is little doubt that leadership teams will be looking to capitalise on them. However, before they can do so, I&O need to ensure that enterprise IT has been scaled up and is ready to tackle the strain caused by VR and AR workloads.

Virtually all about data

The first thing to note is the immense data loads that AR and VR necessitate. Delivering this content across the network will require significant upgrades to broadband networks. While in-house IT teams cannot tackle national broadband infrastructure they should keep a close eye on developments as well as monitoring advances in video compression technology. They also need ensure that the data centre is more resilient by upgrading storage, power and workflow capabilities. Another critical issue is the acceptance that VR and AR cannot be delivered through the enterprise data centre alone. IT leaders will need to bolster their capabilities with third party services and new solutions such as cloud hosting and DCIM.  

To help IT professionals navigate this journey we have explored the resurgence of VR, where it will be used in the consumer and enterprise spaces and how technologists can start preparing.

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