How to Meet the Network Demands of IoT

Internet of things (IoT) adoption has increased as companies in a range of industries discover use cases for connected devices and the data they produce. As IoT generates opportunities, it also creates challenges, such as how to protect IoT data and secure the network used to transmit it.

Logicalis subject matter expert Bill Evans shares his understanding of the problems IoT can create for the network and how companies are solving them.

 How do you see your customers using IoT?

For our customers, successful IoT projects are part of a bigger initiative that falls into one or more of 3 major business outcome-focused strategies. The first is improving their customer and employee experience. The second is reducing costs or overhead. The last is improving operational efficiency. That efficiency can lead to cost and experience benefits too.

To be more specific, when we are talking about IoT at its core, it has to do with capturing data from “things” that we previously couldn’t due to cost and/or technology limitations. When we use the phrase “connecting the unconnected,” we are talking about connecting machines, building systems, vehicles, and other non-IT assets. The result is newly captured data that provides insights that were never possible before. These insights feed into business decisions that enable improved experiences, increased efficiency, operational or otherwise, and reduced costs.

How does IoT challenge the network?

When we think of a typical IT network, it is something we have been perfecting for over 20 years. IoT challenges even the most modern IT networks. Three specific challenge areas are complexity, security, and visibility.

IoT brings a new level of complexity to IT networks due to the variety of device types and architectures. Devices include those with integrated networking and those that require retrofitting. In other cases, IoT gateways are required to convert proprietary or legacy protocols.

Each scenario introduces specific requirements for network architecture. IoT also introduces new scale demands. As an example, an organization with 1,000 employees could have tens of thousands of IoT devices or sensors. This level of scale places new demands on the network architecture as far down as to fundamental elements, such as topology, VLANs, and routing.

The security implications of IoT are significant. Each implementation introduces new challenges for securing the edge device itself, as well as the data it transmits across the network. Unlike typical IT endpoints, such as laptops or workstations, most IoT devices cannot be secured by installing security agents or advanced authentication mechanisms. New network architectures, combined with a wide range of device types, also greatly expand requirements for segmentation.

The visibility demands of success with IoT extend beyond enterprise IT requirements. Visibility in IT environments is typically focused on where the data and applications reside (cloud and data center) and on the network (connectivity), with the primary goal of availability. With the volume of data generated, visibility is required from the edge (new data source), across the network, and into the data center and cloud.

How might these network challenges be different for specific industries?

Whether we look at it by use case or by industry, there are unique challenges that are important to understand. The IoT networking demands of a manufacturing plant are different than those of a fleet of vehicles. The requirements of an IoT solution for healthcare are different than those for an educational institution. One of the challenges is that the operating environment may expose IoT assets to extreme temperatures or high amounts of vibration. Another challenge is regulatory or compliance requirements. These will introduce new demands on the necessary security controls.

What advice would you give clients who need to transform their network to optimize IoT?

The first recommendation I would give is to make network infrastructure decisions with both IT and IoT requirements in mind. While the needs of each may be different, a unified platform for management and visibility is key. This will ensure system reliability as well as rapid resolution of issues. It will also pave the way for orchestration, in place of manual configuration, which will be necessary for the size and scale IoT presents.

The second recommendation I would give is to make cyber security decisions with both IT and IoT requirements in mind. Again, while the needs of each may be different, a unified platform for security controls is critical. IoT needs the same fundamental security controls as IT, such as segmentation, access control, preventing malware attacks, and managing zero-day vulnerabilities. A comprehensive view of IT and IoT infrastructure will ensure the level of visibility required to secure the entire organization.

How does Aruba help companies meet IoT challenges?

Aruba provides best-in-class network infrastructure for both IT and IoT environments. This includes network switches and wireless access points that support a wide range of connectivity and access methods. This also includes software to orchestrate, manage, and secure IT and IoT networks.

Aruba ClearPass is a leader for network access control and policy management. ClearPass enables granular IoT device-level control and segmentation. An agent is not required, which is ideal for the variety of IoT device types. Security enforcement can be accomplished by device type, role, or function.

Aruba IntroSpect provides visibility to the network infrastructure to ensure the stability of the network that end-to-end IoT implementations require. IntroSpect leverages machine learning and AI to automatically identify malicious behavior from systems being compromised or incorrectly configured. This is critical for IoT implementations due to the wide variety of expected behavior scenarios.

Aruba SD-WAN allows organizations to orchestrate distributed networks with ease. In addition, SD-WAN provides the ability to scale to the need. These capabilities are extremely relevant to the real-time demands of IoT implementations.

How does Logicalis help your customers make the most of Aruba?

We have over 8 years of experience globally with successful IoT implementations across a wide range of industries. Our continued success is due to how we approach the customer. We consistently deliver success for our customers by understanding their requirements and then designing, implementing, and providing support for IoT solutions supported by Aruba infrastructure.

Logicalis is an Aruba Gold Solutions Provider. Our solutions architects have over 120 technical certifications. On staff, we have 6 Master Accredited Solution Architects and a Quadruple-Certified Master Accredited Solution Architect.

Learn more about how Logicalis adds value to your Aruba implementation. Read our “Why Logicalis + Aruba” data sheet.