Research firm Gartner recently released its list of the top 10 IT trends for the upcoming year, and not surprisingly the Internet of Things was noted. As the IoT becomes more commonplace in 2015, organizations will have to make sure their networks are ready for and able to make the most of it by adopting cellular out-of-band management solutions like the IM7200 Infrastructure Manager from Opengear.
Thanks to its potential to digitize operations in every possible industry, including industrial operations, cloud services and even parking lots, the IoT, also sometimes called the Internet of Everything by Cisco and others, is set to explode in the coming year. Since the IoT can be applied by any enterprise, Gartner, by putting it on its list of 2015’s top tech trends, noted that it is now something that no organization can afford to ignore for any longer.
It is perhaps not surprising that Gartner listed the IoT among its top 10 IT trends of the next year, as the research firm has been bullish on the IoT and its potential enterprise impact over the last 12 months:
- In December of last year, Gartner predicted that the installed base of the IoT would grow from 0.9 billion to 2009 to close to 26 billion items by 2020.
- By the end of the decade, the IoT is predicted to be a $300 billion business, and it may lead to $1.9 trillion in total economic value across the globe by that point.
- In September of this year, Gartner predicted that more than 20 percent of organizations will use the IoT to protect business initiatives by the end of 2017.
“The growth in IoT will far exceed that of other connected devices,” Gartner research director Peter Middleton said late last year. “By 2020, the number of smartphones tablets and PCs in use will reach about 7.3 billion units. In contrast, the IoT will have expanded at a much faster rate, resulting in a population of about 26 billion units at that time.”
How the IoT will affect network setups in 2015 and beyond
While research firms like Gartner and others have been mostly optimistic about the rise of the IoT and its benefits, it does not come without its drawbacks. In particular, many legacy networks are not built to transfer and store the large amounts of data generated by the IoT and corresponding connected endpoints. Unless organizations take steps now to best deal with an associated data deluge, they will be unable to reap any real benefits from the IoT.
“The enormous number of devices, coupled with the sheer volume, velocity and structure of IoT data, creates challenges, particularly in the areas of security, data, storage management, servers and the data center network, as real-time business processes are at stake,” said Joe Skorupa, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
In order to avoid some of the potential pitfalls of the IoT, organizations can adapt their networks with the fog computing paradigm in mind. Instead of tasking one central hub to handle all of the compute, storage and data transfer within a greater IoT environment, an organization sets up certain endpoints more toward the edge of the network to decrease the burden on the central hub. This way, the network is more robust and better able to tackle certain decisions locally, Opengear Executive Chairman Bob Waldie noted in an October 2013 blog post.
“With the Fog model, the cloud retains its central ‘think-tank’ role (analyzing data and making all the big decisions),” Waldie explained. “When there are no resource constraints and there’s a flood of data with linkages among multiple data sources, it obviously makes sense to centralize and perform everything in the cloud. However the cloud can also delegate some tasks out to the smart gateways and access systems as it often makes more sense to localize analysis and decision-making at the edge.”
Cellular OOB management’s role in IoT network management and maintenance
While fog computing does address the core networking challenges presented by the IoT, it means organizations have far more mission-critical endpoints than ever before to oversee and manage. By adopting cellular OOB management solutions from Opengear, however, IT admins can easily monitor dozens of pieces of equipment and ensure they are working well at all times, even if the hardware is located hundreds of miles away. Plus, tools like the IM7200 rely on 3G and 4G LTE connections, which are never down and available just about everywhere in the United States, for OOB, instead of expensive and slow POTS lines and add-on modems.
This year’s annual predictions report from Gartner revealed something that just about anyone in the IT space already knows: The IoT is here to stay and it will become even bigger and more ubiquitous in the months and years ahead. Nevertheless, it creates a number of new networking challenges for organizations to overcome, although these problems can be addressed via fog computing and cellular OOB management solutions from Opengear like the IM7200 Infrastructure Manager.