Lay the Groundwork for a Perfect IoT Rollout


If your organization hasn't already launched an Internet of Things (IoT) initiative, someone you know is probably dreaming one up right now. The problem, according to Gartner, is that 59% of those plans are cooked up without IT's direct involvement — and that can mean big problems for on-the-ground tech pros when rollout begins.

As an IT practitioner, you need to be ahead of the curve on IoT initiatives, and be ready to explain the infrastructural groundwork that must be complete for IoT to succeed. Specifically, there are three big issues that any enterprise looking to deploy IoT apps and devices will face:

  • Legacy networks and management tools can't support IoT deployments
  • Traditional IT infrastructure can't keep up with IoT's data needs — and the cloud will only address some limitations
  • Security threats multiply exponentially in IoT environments

With proper planning and investment, each of these challenges can be overcome. Let's see how.

Legacy networks can't handle IoT

IoT devices and gateways add significant traffic to traditional MPLS networks, crowding out other apps and services. You can compensate by offloading traffic through broadband Internet links, cellular LTE, or other modes of transport, but you’re left with an increasingly complex network that is fragile and error-prone when managed router by router. Moreover, IoT devices deployed locally — industrial sensors on a factory floor, for instance — usually connect via Wi-Fi, but most Wi-Fi solutions are only designed for a limited number of users and cannot support the volume of traffic that IoT applications produce.

Cloud networking, with SD-WAN at its heart, is the key to a network that can deal with IoT's complexity. Cloud networking brings a programmatic, centralized approach to managing distributed networks. To help manage IoT connectivity, cloud networking offers:

  • A unified network fabric across wireless/wired LANs, WANs, datacenters, and clouds
  • Centralized policy orchestration and management
  • Policy-based network segmentation
  • Scalable, high-performing Wi-Fi
  • Easy IoT device onboarding and management

Traditional IT infrastructure gets overwhelmed by IoT data — but the cloud isn't a panacea

The promise of IoT is generating tons of relevant data that helps you manage your business in real time. But to take full advantage, you need to analyze that data at its point of origin — also in real time. To support this local triaging of data, more compute power is needed at IoT-enabled sites. But provisioning and managing islands of servers and storage can't efficiently accommodate this explosive data growth, nor guarantee that data is always protected. At the same time, shifting fully to the cloud can result in application and network latency as well as data availability issues that will inhibit some of the automation inherent with IoT.

An extensible edge computing platform can help fulfill the promise of IoT. Converged edge systems process and analyze data in real time where it's generated, while still making it readily available throughout other locations across your organization. Edge computing platforms support IoT initiatives by delivering:

  • Systems purpose-built for edge and IoT locations
  • Cloud-like infrastructure provisioning
  • Intelligent storage delivery
  • The ability to seamlessly run IoT apps on a lean yet powerful footprint

IoT: The "Internet of Threats?"

IoT rollouts mean more devices and network connections to manage — and that means a huge increase in your potential attack surface. IoT traffic needs to be kept completely segmented — sensors on manufacturing equipment shouldn't be able to talk to financial or HR systems. However, using outdated, fragmented management tools for enforcing access and usage policies across hybrid networks consisting of equipment from multiple vendors will lead to increased errors and more security events. And all the data generated by IoT devices makes for a tempting target, yet most of these devices weren’t designed with stringent security measures.

Fortunately, cloud networking and edge computing can mitigate these risks. With SD-WAN, rules restricting access can be programmatically set with a few clicks and applied across your network. And an edge computing architecture can minimize the footprint of sensitive data stored locally while ensuring timely, continuous backups to a secure data store.

Riverbed has you future-proofed

If you're a Riverbed customer thinking about an IoT rollout, the good news is that you may already have some of the building blocks of a robust IoT system. SteelConnect SD-WANSteelFusion software-defined edge, and Xirrus Wi-Fi  can join forces to create a modern, secure infrastructure for IoT deployments.

For more resources and details, check out Riverbed's Internet of Things solutions page