Thought you had your enterprise network totally under control? Well chances are, like many organisations your network is experiencing the growing pains that come with the increasing bandwidth requirement, access points and general traffic of the Internet of Things. Here’s a guide to preparing your enterprise network for the new age of IoT.
Bandwidth is a big deal
The increased network requirements of the “bring your own device” movement has likely already highlighted areas in need of improvement in your network. But that pales in comparison to the additional bandwidth and management that will be required by the Internet of Things.
If you consider Gartner’s prediction that 20.4 billion devices will be connected by 2020, and 8.4 billion are already exchanging information in 2017, it highlights just how much is yet to come online.
As Tech Target points out, everything we touch may soon access the internet.
“For network engineers, the Internet of Things is a slowly rising tide that will eventually make your bring your own device accommodation strategy seem quaint. We joke that one day our management will try to put the coffeemaker on the network – just as it has with everything else. But the Internet of Things is inevitable, and it is nothing short of a new universal entitlement.”
Critically as each item will connect to the Cloud it will tie up valuable bandwidth going out and coming in.
Or as Tech Target further explains “…each cloud-connected device incurs a full conversation load, burdening the WAN and every element in your network, twice. The full transmission path including wireless LAN, distribution, core, firewalls and gateways are all affected”.
Automation will be key
With so many devices communicating, automation will likely be the key to effective network management.
Cisco argues automation will free up IT personnel to concentrate on emerging issues rather than the nitty gritty of whether the fridge is talking to the Cloud. They note areas likely to be improved through automation include:
• Information security
• Network optimisation
• Business engagement
• Digital transformation
Security is about visibility
Meanwhile, security remains one of the biggest issues for IoT implementation in any workplace.
Information Age explains: “Enterprise networks are now more fluid than ever, and they’re no longer within the control of the operations people”.
“IT operations and security teams now require tools that provide visibility: what devices are on the network, where are they and what are they doing? These teams will need to work together more closely than ever before – they have to exchange data and be prepared to act quickly and in unison to respond to security threats.”
IT needs a seat at the table
Importantly, the IoT means IT requires a seat at the planning table to brace for the impact of business growth.
The likelihood is effective IoT implementation will require IT investment to shore up the network, infrastructure and personnel required to fuel the takeoff of new technology.
Risc Networks echoes the concern: “Unless companies have adequate oversight and monitoring capabilities to manage their networks, bringing hundreds or thousands of devices onboard through Internet or Internet-like connectivity infrastructures could cause serious problems. From security to performance, embracing the IoT requires careful planning and the right tools to maintain a system optimised for success”.
Getting ready for IoT
Wired.com summarised the considerations organisations must keep in mind in order to adopt IoT technology safely and efficiently. They explain incorporating more connected devices can have a heavy influence on:
• Privacy and information ownership
• Data security
• Standards and protocols
• Power consumption
• Distributed computing performance
• Server functions
• Supercomputer processing
• Mobile networks and wireless personal area networks
• Telecom and cable infrastructure performance
Meanwhile Computer Weekly suggests looking first to the following points:
• Work to get IT a seat at the table early in IoT deployment planning, before buying decisions are made;
• Set network access policies for “things” that prevent inefficient use of network resources and preserve network security;
• Assess control and automation systems, to make sure the network team isn’t overwhelmed by manual tasks as IoT devices come on line;
• Consider deployment of IPv6, or expansion of existing IPv6 deployments, to prevent the current global shortage of IPv4 addresses from delaying the introduction of IoT.