A future-ready network is essential for IoT

Over the past few years, IT professionals have been asked to meet the challenges posed by a number of groundbreaking technological trends, including big data, virtualization, and BYOD. Lurking around the corner for most organizations are the demands of the Internet of Things (IoT). Actually, the IoT is already a part of the technology stew for many IT environments, and its impact is growing significantly. In an article for Network Computing, Steve Hilton, managing director at MachNation, forecasts an astounding growth rate for connected devices of 30 to 40 percent per year for at least the next 10 years. Hilton adds that “enterprises that prepare for these technology and business changes will find themselves better equipped to compete in global markets and create new, innovative ideas for their customers.”

IoT and the enterprise network

The enterprise network is a critical component of a successful IoT implementation. Accordingly, IT professionals need to be aware that, in most cases, traditional networks are not designed to handle the sometimes extreme demands of IoT. Networks must be able to collect data from widely distributed sensor devices and systems and transmit the data to applications that process and analyze the data. These applications could reside on intelligent “edge” of the network devices, in the “fog,” in the cloud, or in the data center. Flexibility is paramount because as new devices or applications are added, security procedures and network throughput levels must be reconfigurable on the fly.

There is probably no single networking system that is going to meet the needs of every department in a large, diversified enterprise. For example, a car manufacturer will have far different needs in the data center than it will on the factory floor. However there is one underlying network technology that can help IT organizations face the challenges presented by IoT: Software Defined Networking (SDN). Indeed Tech Target’s IoT Agenda states that “the first step to managing increased complexity of the IoT is software definability for networks.”

SDN provides the necessary capabilities to help organizations efficiently process the burgeoning amounts of data generated by the IoT. Changes to network parameters can be instantly implemented from a central location to reduce bottlenecks. Schedules can be developed to allocate bandwidth for specific departments and applications at peak times. SDN also offers critical security functions ranging from granular policy enforcement to blocking network segments in the event of a security breach (extremely important when one considers the numerous entry points for cyber attacks).

SDN and Open Networking

Just as SDN is essential to the IoT, open networking is the indispensable partner to SDN. Dell is a leader in the market with an open networking foundation that allows customers to efficiently deploy new technologies. Because of Dell’s open philosophy, Dell Networking hardware supports third–party networking software from various innovative providers such as Big Switch Networks, Cloudera, Cumulus Networks, IP Infusion, Midokura, and Pluribus Networks. By decoupling software applications from hardware, Dell makes networking more economical and gives customers considerable latitude in developing an IoT ecosystem that best fits their needs.

SDN has already or will soon become a necessity for a diverse array of organizations ranging from law enforcement agencies to healthcare providers that seek to maximize the potential of IoT. An example of a company already using open networking to create competitive advantage is Vivint, the largest home automation services provider in North America, which standardized on an open networking platform from Cloudera, an aforementioned Dell partner. Brandon Bunker, senior director at Vivant, says “With the emergence of the IoT, we are truly able to innovate by collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data from sensors embedded in our devices. We’ve taken that one step further with Cloudera and can now look across many data streams simultaneously for behaviors, geo-location, and actionable events in order to better understand and enrich our customers’ lives. This platform has differentiated our business and given us a tremendous competitive advantage.”

Dell Networking is proud to partner with innovators like Cloudera. Dell offers a wide variety of modular systems IT organizations can use as building blocks that can be precisely tailored as workload demands change over time. We are also proud to be a founding member of The OpenFog Consortium (OpenFog), a public-private ecosystem formed to accelerate the adoption of fog computing in order to solve the bandwidth, latency and communications challenges associated with the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, the Tactile Internet and other advanced concepts in the digitized world.

 Dell Networking’s design philosophy, combining open and standards-based systems with modularity and a future-ready approach, is a key component for organizations seeking to make the IoT a reality.

For more information, download Understanding the benefits of open networking and SDN by Tech Target

About the Author: Ted Curtin

Over thirty years in high tech sales, operations and marketing including IBM, BMC Software and Verizon Business. Hired by Dell in 2012 as part of the storage solutions marketing team. Now part of the ESG Network Marketing Team, concentrating on Dell W- Series and the V+V launch. MBA from Boston University and B.A. from Holy Cross. .