June 06, 2016
The Internet of Things (sometimes called the Internet of Everything or the Internet of Anything or ... you get the picture) can (and eventually will) include an incredibly wide plethora of connected devices. In fact, these devices will soon be producing more data than all of humankind combined -- by a very wide margin, too. Some estimates say the IoT will produce more than 400 zettabytes per day, and that amount will be reached within just a couple of years. How much data is that? Well, one single zettabyte is the equivalent of enough data to fill 250 billion DVDs.
The IoT Includes Both Industrial/Commercial and Consumer Connected Devices
The bulk of IoT devices will be industrial monitors and sensors. Those will be followed by consumer IoT devices, like wearable tech and even wearable tech for our furry friends.
In addition to all of the consumer devices that we are already aware of (smartphones, smart watches, wearable tech, pet wearable tech -- no, not kidding -- and more), the IoT will include industrial devices, such as sensors and monitors that track things like the productivity and quality of manufacturing equipment, devices to track and monitor goods in transit (logistics), devices to monitor farm machinery, connected industrial and consumer appliances (like HVAC), weather data collection centers, and much more. About 50 billion such devices will be in use by the end of this decade.
The IoT Will Change Network Performance Monitoring
What does that mean for network performance monitoring? In short, it means that networking administrators will have to monitor things they never even thought about before. In addition to all of the machines, applications, and users on your networks, you'll also be monitoring entire supply chains, industry trends, financial markets, and more. It's not such a difference in terms of quality, it's more about quantity. The upside is that you should have no trouble lobbying for additional bandwidth and other resources, including personnel. The numbers speak for themselves -- when you're talking big data, you're talking about the data streaming in from the IoT. The quantities of data the IoT can produce are simply staggering.
Before you put in notice with your employer and sign up for classes in dog grooming as a second career, it will help to know that what you will be doing won't change so much. Instead, the amount of traffic and data that will need to be included in network performance monitoring solutions will increase. Monitoring will still involve watching out for glitches in servers or devices causing performance issues, there will just be a whole lot more servers and devices to keep up with.
How will networking with the IoT be different?
- IoT devices bring a wider disparity in formats and protocols. This should get better as the IoT matures, but in the meantime, expect IoT device software to be written in obscure, unknown languages. The devices probably deliver data in uncommon formats, using unfamiliar protocols. This is just one issue that will need to be addressed as the industrial and consumer IoTs mature. The network administrator will need to set baseline traffic according to the greater number of devices and the varied nature of the devices' data streams.
- The IoT will mean much heavier traffic -- this will complicate capacity planning, especially in the short term, as companies first onboard with the IoT. Inevitably, network administrators will adjust to the increase in traffic, and, network performance monitoring tools are rapidly maturing to accommodate the growing demands of the IoT.
- The IoT will considerably complicate data backups and disaster recovery plans, because unlike human data producers, IoT devices never sleep. Database administrators and network administrators will need to find ways to back up the continually growing sets of data in an environment that never sleeps.
- The IoT will inevitably deliver better network management solutions. The data streaming in from various networking tools can be analyzed to deliver insight and predictive analytics, just as any other data can. Expect that the IoT will eventually deliver more value to network administration than it delivers hassle in the short term.
- Along with the Internet of Things also comes improvements in network performance monitoring dashboards. Dashboards are now capable of delivering far greater visibility and insight with far less work on the network administrator's part.
What the Network Administrator Can Do to Prepare for the IoT
Remember all the downtime you had at nights and on the weekends to do necessary maintenance and repairs on the network? Yeah, all that's gone with the IoT, because connected devices never sleep.
In addition to investing in more bandwidth, network administrators need to make sure that their cabling is up to the job of handling all of the increased speed and data flow. Additionally, networking specialists and other IT pros will need to make improvements in terms of the network security products, policies, and procedures, as the IoT (and all the data it brings) will likely be juicy targets for hackers of all sorts.
As with other devices on your networks (such as your printers and routers), you will need to establish a plan for keeping the software and firmware associated with your IoT devices updated and patched. It's not always clear what kinds of support these devices come with from the vendor or manufacturer. A robust IT asset management solution will be essential for keeping track of these IoT devices, as well as the additional networking tools and solutions you'll need to keep up with it all. What does the networking professional need to be doing to prepare for what lies ahead? Find out now when you download our e-book: Are You Ready for the Next Generation of Network Management?.