The Internet of Things: A Brief Overview

The Internet of Things: A Brief Overview

The Internet of Things (IoT) has proven to be the technological talking point of today and the years to come. Recent estimates suggest that by 2020, 35 billion devices will be installed and connected worldwide, growing to over 75 billion by 2025. What does this mean for businesses? What are the limitations and the risks of the IoT ecosystem? Keep reading to find out how you should best prepare for this exponential increase.

A World of Devices

When most people hear “Internet of Things,” their minds go first to consumer-based “smart-home” devices. These include everything from kitchen appliances (toasters, refrigerators, and everything in between) to lighting systems, thermostats, and entertainment systems. All of these devices are connected to the cloud and are able to interact with each other, according to user specifications. For most of these devices, a low-bandwidth (1G or less) connection is sufficient.

Higher-bandwidth IoT devices exist in the business space, as components of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Also called the Industrial Internet, the IIoT ecosystem marries interconnected factory automation machines and big data analytics. This creates a more efficient, flexible, and responsive way of conducting business, particularly manufacturing.

Limits and Challenges

The very thing that has enabled IoT adoption and development will also function as its hardest constraint: available bandwidth. While network data rates are high enough to make the IoT ecosystem viable, service providers must be able to stay well enough ahead of demand to maintain future growth projections. In many locations, this will mean significant infrastructure investment in both 5G wireless and/or fiber-to-the-premises technology.

The biggest challenge this industry faces is security. More connections mean more vulnerabilities to exploit; many currently-available IoT products have weak password protection at best, and are difficult to update. Attacks on these devices can jeopardize everything from data privacy to physical safety (as in the case of self-driving vehicles).

Highly-publicized security breaches can increase suspicion in both B2B and B2C markets, thereby slowing adoption for the entire product class. Furthermore, ensuring consumer products have sufficient security safeguards can hinder adoption through raising costs or lengthening time-to-market.

How to Prepare

Whether you operate an enterprise, campus area, national, or global network, the exponential growth of IoT connections will require networks to be scalable and agile. Open networking solutions are a cost-effective method for expanding and managing networks. Operating software providers like Pica8 offer extensive software-defined networking (SDN) feature sets that will enable intelligent traffic management across the entire network from a centralized location.

These open source-based operating systems can further integrate with network automation software from Ansible and other developers that will enable network operators to turn up many new switches automatically. This will reduce turn-up time and the potential for human error of provisioning each switch individually.

Interested in preparing for IoT with open networking? Set up a quick consultation with one of our experts to begin.

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