17 February 2020
The explosion of IoT uptake is one of the greatest technological trends since the birth of the World Wide Web.
By 2025 there will be over 38 billion connected devices on the network and as many as 50 billion by 2030.
IoT devices are everywhere; everything from phones, watches, toys and even cars offer consumers and businesses unparalleled degrees of connectivity.
As all forecasts point towards this trend continuing into the foreseeable future, businesses are facing the growing challenge of implementing, maintaining and securing IoT networks in order to uphold the needs of customers and meet IoT driven business outcomes.
Assessment of IoT maturity
According to Gartner, there are five levels of IoT maturity to assess how far businesses have come in their journey – and how far they are yet to go. CIOs can use this model to understand, track and maximise the business impact of IoT investments across their organisations. The five stages are: Initiating, exploratory, defined, integrated and optimising.
At the moment, most businesses sit anywhere between stage one and three. Many companies have only just started connecting everything to one central system. This means processes are no longer operating in siloed conditions, but businesses are focused on learning about how to create a connected enterprise so that they can progress to eventually working in a more data-driven environment.
As things start to evolve, companies naturally navigate their way into stage four, as integration is a crucial step to achieving IoT maturity. Companies across the globe are realising that they need to completely integrate their IoT projects into the organisation’s overarching strategies and long-term goals. This is crucial in ensuring IoT infrastructure creates truly seamless, connected experiences at every level of the business.
Network reliability is key
Modern IT systems are often chaotic. It has become incredibly easy to spin up a virtual machine, download and run cloud software, or now, connect a device. As business IoT networks grow and become more complex, they risk becoming unstable if they aren’t continually monitored for infrastructure or virtual machine issues. Network failure can have a disastrous effect on productivity and can significantly damage the overall customer experience as well as a business’s bottom line.
When it comes to ensuring reliability, visibility and understanding are key. There are three main protocols that are used to connect the Internet of Things: Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), REST APIs, and XML. By gaining a stronger understanding of how devices interact, you’ll be able to design more sophisticated network architectures. Likewise, mapping and tracking every “thing” that is added to the network as well as a robust monitoring system that empowers network managers to anticipate, diagnose and solve issues, often before the problem even has an impact on the end user, will save plenty of headaches in the long run.
Ensuring endpoint security
An IoT network is only as strong and secure as its weakest endpoint, so before you connect the refrigerator to central IT, be sure to have a security plan in place. Each connected device is a potential gateway into the network, so it is integral that network managers can monitor every device (new and old) to detect rogue devices that may pose a risk. Security is a key concern of IT teams because of the importance of the data at stake and the technical complexity existing in the communication network and cloud infrastructure. There are three main targets for hackers to access the functionalities and data of a connected device: devices and hardware, cloud infrastructure that includes conceptually IoT supervisors via servers and the network of communications.
While some connected devices will be productised and designed to fit securely into networks, others will rely heavily on customisation. With all these different device types, integration becomes a challenge. Therefore, it is critical for security reasons that all connected devices be brought under one roof so they can be accurately monitored and quarantined if need be.
Customise for the most benefit
One of the most exciting aspects of the IoT is that there is seemingly no limit to what can be connected. In terms of monitoring, this creates challenges that can be solved by creating new sensors and custom reports. This is especially exciting in industrial settings, where data extracted from devices can be used to make business processes smarter and more efficient. This allows creative network administrators to take advantage of this opportunity to think outside the box and build custom solutions that not only solve monitoring problems but boost productivity and business outcomes.
As IoT systems continue to be adopted by consumers and businesses of all sizes, the ways we monitor our network infrastructure are being disrupted. For companies who are planning to upgrade or implement IoT systems, this begs the question; is your IT department ready?
By Martin Hodgson, head of UK & Ireland, Paessler