The hype surrounding the potential of IoT shows no sign of subsiding, and now it's morphing from a smart concept to reality - investment bank Goldman Sachs cites IoT as a $7tn opportunity by 2020.
The 'smarts' are now on parade: smart cities with their smart grids, smart transportation systems, all demonstrate the benefits of machine to machine (M2M) connectivity.
Consistent connectivity is critical to how effectively these devices perform, and this connectivity relies on having the right network infrastructure in place. As ALE has already been involved with the communications and networking backbone of Gujarat International Finance Tec-City in India, or the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, smart cities that implement IoT at a fundamental level, our team is knowledgeable of essential network requirements for IoT readiness.
From their expert recommendations, we took out four key network requirements to enable cities, their communities and businesses to take full advantage of the transformations that the IoT will drive:
1. Extend your network visibility
The sprawling nature of IoT requires comprehensive management of the entire network, wired and wireless, right to the edge, as devices - smart and not so smart - seek access and transfer data to core network components. The exponential growth of connected devices and sensors transmitting data can be overwhelming, cause bottlenecks on the network, and impact the performance.
An intelligent network needs to extend functionality right to the edge, so data can be partially analysed and processed before any information is sent to a centralized system. This improves the scalability and the response time for any network enforcement. For instance, switches at the edge of the network will need to offer enhanced security and integrated analytics in order to manage the increased flow of IoT traffic.
2. Consolidation is key
It is virtually impossible for a network that has been installed and upgraded on an ad-hoc basis - often with a separate solution for voice, data, wired and wireless - to deliver on the promise of IoT.
A single converged network is fundamental to an IoT environment and guarantees a greater level of interoperability and support for IoT applications and devices. A converged network with unified management offers cost savings, operational simplification, and a consistent policy enforcement everywhere, which are required for a successful IoT deployment. Convergence will enhance mobility across wired and wireless networks, offering a fluid user experience everywhere in the network.
3. Better insights for smarter decisions
IoT brings an additional level of complexity to a network infrastructure that has already seen a tremendous increase in connected user devices and the utilization of new applications with unknown behaviors. Predictive analysis and reporting functions are vital in enabling cties to use big data and enable proactive, data-driven, decision-making. Analysis of traffic behaviour in the form of reports or KPIs can also provide valuable insights on how network operations can be further optimized.
This can be as simple as automatically prioritising IoT data traffic, determining whether a new IoT based service being rolled out will exceed current network capacity, or learning that every Thursday afternoon the R&D department needs extra bandwidth to support its data heavy processes.
4. Defending smart and less smart devices
Poorly secured 'smart' devices such as smart watches or activity trackers, as well as traditional 'dumb' devices such as door locks, pose a threat to essential network security. Monitoring and controlling the flow of packets to and from IoT devices and correlating with the applications they are supposed to interface with can guarantee a better security.
Conclusion: make a comprehensive preparation for IoT
IoT offers the chance for public and private organizations to deliver innovative applications and services. Supporting deployments of millions of endpoints, it can provide real-time insights that help them capture, understand and make more effective use of device data. But it will also bring new challenges and expectations. This is why a holistic approach to IoT is necessary.
The key to successfully support IoT is one converged network supported by state of the art switches that enable cities and organizations to remotely manage, monitor and safeguard all devices, giving IT departments an in-depth intelligence to make smarter decisions. Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss, if you agree or have a different view. I'd welcome the discussion!
To learn more, Download the Smart City Network Solution Guide