For a long time, the Internet of Things (IoT) was considered over-hyped. The promises of widespread data collection, transmission and analysis all sounded pretty great, and business leaders across all functions were ready to buy in.
But as we enter 2018, IoT is actually here. Deployments have become practical enough to warrant the rise of a new multi-billion-dollar product segment—IoT identity and management.
Before you get too caught up in the possibilities of IoT in your own business, it’s important to take a realistic look at the challenges ahead. What barriers do networking pros face when it comes to IoT support?
The Control Plane—IoT’s Connectivity Problem
If you’ve been evaluating the software-defined networking market, you’re no stranger to discussing the control and data planes separate from one another. This is an important distinction in the IoT management discussion as well.
The control plane is responsible for the signaling traffic across your network. Functions like system configuration, management and exchange of routing table information are transmitted throughout your network topology, placing strain on the connection capacity of your architecture.
According to one report, network operators must be prepared for IoT devices to generate exponentially more signaling traffic than any other technology. Do your network devices have the capacity to handle thousands or even millions of transmissions on a regular basis?
In most cases, the answer is no. This is one reason why IoT management solutions are emerging. Even if you invest heavily in new network devices or cloud infrastructure, monitoring IoT devices and traffic is a must to keep track of all the new traffic.
The Data Plane—IoT’s Bandwidth Problem
The connectivity problem with IoT deployments isn’t often discussed. However, many IT practitioners are well-versed in the bandwidth implications of the Internet of Things.
Bandwidth is already strained for most businesses as multi-cloud deployments grow and cloud-based applications like Office 365 and Salesforce become mission-critical. The thought of pushing that bandwidth even further with IoT devices is enough to stress out any networking pro.
Your first instinct may be to invest in more bandwidth, but that may not be necessary. It’s more important to optimize data flow throughout your network. Technologies like WAN optimization and SD-WAN are already helping that, but growing volumes of data will demand even more efficiency.
On both sides of the IoT management dilemma, one thing is clear—there are important questions to answer about network architecture before we can succeed with IoT.
Monitoring and Visibility at the Core of IoT Management
If you start evaluating IoT management solutions, you’ll start to notice that they hinge on a key trait. They all promise proper identity and visibility of IoT devices across the network.
There’s nothing better than having 100% visibility of what’s going on across the network. It’s often the difference between rapid troubleshooting and significant downtime.
However, managing your Internet of Things deployment isn’t just about devices. As we’ve discussed above, there are issues with traffic volumes on both the control and data planes. If you want to keep bandwidth and signaling capacities in check, you need a monitoring strategy in place sooner rather than later.
If you want to take a closer look at how scalable monitoring can work in practice, we have a guide that can help.