How Businesses Should Prepare for the IoT Storm
The biggest tech show of 2016 was held in Las Vegas last week. Like every year, the CES introduced many innovations to the general public. The 2015 edition showed the potential impact of disruptive technologies, but this edition demonstrated its full extent. Of smart sneakers from Digitsole to the multitude of fitness tracking equipment, CES 2016 is all about how technology is getting miniaturized, roll, fly and even, become invisible.
Whether we are happy or not, the world is more and more connected. The online revolution is seeping into every aspect of our lives and the Internet of Things (IoT) has gone from being an industry buzz to a real phenomenon affecting us all. It finds echoes in the forecasts of Gartner, which estimates that 25 billion connected “things” will be in use globally by 2020. The rapid growth of IoT was a hot topic at this year’s CES. SAIC speaker Doug Wagoner focused his talk on the combination of the use of IoT by individuals and public bodies, which could double the number of Internet-connected objects – initially planned by Gartner – to reach the 50 billion devices over the next five years.
As sales of the original Internet of Things catalysts, like smartphones and tablets, appear to be stagnating, new categories of emerging technologies, including wearable devices, smart meters, and e-wallets, are taking over. . The highly anticipated Apple Watch sold 47.5 million units within three months of its release. Health-focused tech bracelets like Fitbit were also very successful and were estimated at 36 million in 2015, double the previous year. Fitbit announced its latest product, the Fitbit Blaze smartwatch, at the show and is selling it as a version that “will set the world of health and fitness on fire in 2016”. The devices are gaining more and more popularity and mergers with fashion brands to produce trendy items and jewelry can only further increase their popularity.
It doesn’t end there. Industry 4.0 and the development of high-performance “smart factories” seem set to change the face of the manufacturing industry forever, using connected technologies to reduce waste, downtime and faults to almost zero. Meanwhile, companies’ growing experimentation with drones and intelligent vehicles is a good indicator of the future of these businesses.
But far from all this hustle and bustle, IT teams are seeing their worry growing: how are existing corporate networks supposed to absorb the enormous additional demand that is coming with all this new connected equipment? Many of them are just finding a way to digest the impact of trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Will the impact of IoT on corporate networks be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?
The answer is no, or at least it is not inevitable. Not only is it possible to weather the current IoT storm, organizations can begin to prepare for new developments across their network.
1) Review the network infrastructure to identify the risks of bandwidth slowdowns
Many networks were simply not designed to meet the demand they are experiencing today due to the growing number of equipment and applications. Additionally, while balancing the needs of business-critical software and applications across an ever-increasing number of connected devices is no easy task for anyone, the modern business world is a real eye-catcher. A few instances of blocked websites, slow video rendering, or a few dropped calls could quickly cause customers to look elsewhere. They don’t care what is causing the behind-the-scenes issues, all they are interested in is getting good service the moment they decide to visit the website or watch the content. Therefore, having the information necessary to detect problems before they occur and to effectively manage network bandwidth is essential to keep a network running in the age of IoT.
The good news is that most businesses already have the tracking tools they need to spot symptoms of a weakening network. They just don’t use all of its capabilities. These tools, when used properly, provide a central and unified view of all aspects of networks, servers and applications, giving not only the IT team a high degree of visibility, but also the ability to quickly isolate root causes. of complex problems.
Effective use of network or infrastructure monitoring tools can also enable the IT team to identify issues that only occur intermittently, or at certain times, by understanding key trends in network performance. . From daily spikes caused by employees all trying to connect remotely upon arriving at the office, to monthly or yearly trends only identified by tracking activity over longer periods of time. Knowing these trends and knowing when they are going to happen gives the team essential information, which allows them to anticipate and adapt the allocation of bandwidth.
2) Benchmark for impact on network and wireless access
The vast majority of IoT equipment connecting to the corporate network will do so wirelessly. As wireless access is always limited on any network, it is vital to understand what impact a large number of additional devices connecting in this way can have on the overall performance of the network. By developing a repository of the objects and devices that are currently connecting, specifying where they are connected and what they are accessing, organizations can gain a better insight into the impact of IoT over time on bandwidth. their network.
Here are the key questions to ask when establishing a network benchmark:
What are the most connected objects and equipment? Are they primarily intended for business or personal use?
Who are the main consumers of wireless bandwidth, be it objects, equipment or applications?
How do connected objects or equipment move over the corporate wireless network and how does this affect access point availability and performance, and even security?
By establishing an effective benchmark, companies can identify all of the design changes needed to handle the growing demand for bandwidth, and implement them quickly, before problems occur.
3) Review policies: security and compliance
In addition to the wireless access and bandwidth issues discussed above, the proliferation of IoT brings with it a potentially more serious issue for some: that of security and compliance. In highly regulated fields like finance, healthcare and the legal industry, data privacy is of utmost importance, with accompanying penalties. And it is a constantly changing landscape. New EU data privacy laws, which will affect all businesses that collect, process, store or share personal data, were recently announced. Indeed, businesses face disastrous penalties for violating data protection rules.
However, it can be extremely difficult to ensure compliance if a question mark persists over who or what has access to the network at any given time. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem. As more and more connected devices begin to find their way into the corporate network, companies must sit down to formulate their own tailored plans and policies to handle the problem, based on the specific challenges of their business. . But taking the time to do this now will definitely pay off in the near future. When it comes to security and compliance, no company wants to be lagging behind.
The Internet of Things is undoubtedly an exciting phenomenon that marks a new essential milestone in the digitization of the world as we know it. However, it also presents unique challenges for businesses and the networks that support them. Anticipating a few of the key points outlined above should help IT and network teams avoid any IoT business disruption (or worse).
Michael hack is Senior Vice President of EMEA Operations, and has several years of experience in IT companies.
Before joining Ipswitch, Michael Hack was President of Sitecore, a world leader in customer experience management software. He was also previously Senior VP of EMEA & Global Sales for theEnterprise Search Group from Microsoft.