How Network Infrastructure Teams Support the Internet of Things

Jan 26, 2017 2:02:36 PM

[Editors Note: This blog post is sponsored by Infosim®, but the ideas expressed here are entirely my own]

The Internet of Things (IoT) is not a new phenomenon, at least not in practice. It describes a network of everyday objects (or “things”) that have sensors, controls, and network connectivity. While technology companies only recently coined the term “Internet of Things,” enterprises have been implementing IoT initiatives for years. By connecting such things to IP networks, enterprises can gather more data for advanced analysis, impose more granular controls on business processes and assets, and introduce and support new services for customers.

In IoT, a wide range of objects and technologies can constitute a “thing.” Consumers might think of IoT as a collection of IP-connected toasters and refrigerators, cars, buses, and trains. These things acquired IP connectivity only recently, but other things have been connected to IP networks for a quite a while longer. When industrial companies started connecting their supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems to IP networks more than a decade ago, they were moving into IoT. When hospitals connected medical scanners, monitors, and drug pumps to networks over the last five to ten years, they also ventured into IoT. The integration of physical security controls into IP networks is also nothing new. And smart city and smart grid initiatives predated the concept of IoT by several years.

Indeed, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) argues that IoT is already a mainstream technology in many industries. In EMA’s recently published research, “Network Management Megatrends 2016: Managing Networks in the Era of the Internet of Things, Hybrid Clouds, and Advanced Network Analytics,” we found that 87% of enterprise network management professionals were providing connectivity to an IoT initiative. In fact, most of them were supporting more than one IoT initiative. And we also found that networking professionals were typically playing a leadership role in the planning and implementation of these IoT initiatives.

Given the leadership role that so many network teams play in IoT, they will need tools to monitor and manage these projects. EMA’s research has found that many enterprises are struggling with managing IoT devices. They are also struggling with IoT-related network congestion.  They need network management systems with IoT visibility and controls.

Enterprises might be tempted to buy and implement new tools to manage IoT, but EMA cautions against this. Our research has shown that IT organizations tend to become less effective as they add new tools. Instead, enterprises should extend their existing tools. Instead, enterprises should pursue a unified infrastructure management strategy, extending their existing tools to address IoT management needs.

Network management vendor Infosim® has established a vision for IoT support in its flagship product StableNet®, a unified network and service management platform.  StableNet® has been helping IT organizations with IoT for many years, long before marketers coined the term “Internet of Things.” Infosim® leverages the StableNet® agent to extend visibility and control into IoT environments. This agent is deployable on any hardware and is also available as a small ARM-based appliance, the StableNet® Embedded Agent (SNEA).

Network infrastructure teams need their management vendors to extend their tools into the IoT realm, and Infosim® is delivering value to its customers today. With its high degree of automation, unified code base, and scalable architecture, StableNet® has been helping IT organizations manage heterogeneous environments for many years, including IoT. To learn more about EMA’s IoT research and Infosim®’s IoT strategy, watch our recently recorded webinar on the subject.


Topics: Featured

Shamus McGillicuddy

Written by Shamus McGillicuddy

Shamus is the vice president of research for EMA's network management practice. He has more than twelve years of experience in the IT industry as an analyst and journalist. Prior to joining EMA, Shamus was the news director for TechTarget's networking publications. He led the news team's coverage of all networking topics, from the infrastructure layer to the management layer. He has published hundreds of articles about network technology, and he was a founding editor of TechTarget's website, a leading resource for technical information and news on the software-defined networking industry.

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