Get ready for the brave new world of IoT

Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2016
By Sam Routledge
Chief Technology Officer


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Have you been ignoring 'Internet of Things' as just the latest buzzword? It's probably time you rethought that stance. In 2016, we have seen our customers really start to consider the possibilities available to their organisation in the potential of 50 billion devices being connected to the Internet by 2020. It's not actually about the devices. It's about the insight you can obtain by analysis of the information collected or provided by those devices, and the changes and improvements you can make to your business model by becoming a more data-driven organisation.

Of course, the virtually limitless possibilities conferred by this next wave of the internet means virtually limitless data traversing our networks, and virtually limitless opportunities for the more nefarious members of the internet community to attempt to enter those networks. So, how do you start to prepare for this brave new world? We think that combining an infrastructure-up view with a data-down view is the best approach, so here are our recommendations for those wanting to be ready for the IoT wave to break.

Your network

It's really important to make sure that your network is ready for the onslaught. Clearly there could be a significant volume of traffic, and different traffic, than what you are used to. If you are collecting sensor data, you might need to extend your network a long way out of your comfort zone! It's not just performance, but also programmability, as you will likely need to move quickly to take advantage of digital opportunities. It's probably worth considering a more software-driven approach to improve your flexibility.

Your wifi

Wifi's often been deployed just to make sure guests and staff have internet access. With IoT it becomes a key component in the collection of data and the transportation of that data back to your analysis platform and applications. Is there enough of it? Does it cover the right areas? It's especially relevant in retail environments where wifi can be combined with location tracking and social media or other apps to get interesting data on your customers.

Your security

It's an unfortunate necessity, but in order to collect this data we have to make our networks much more open. Clearly this has security implications, as does the increase in the attack surface associated with the many and various devices and sensors we now have hooked up to our network. We've developed a 'zero trust' model for security based on the assumption that anything on your network could be compromised, and probably is. A security approach that is purely premier-based is probably insufficient these days...

Your business case

IoT presents a huge range of opportunities, depending on your business model and what data you have access to. Give some thought to the possibilities for your organisation and how you might be able to change the way you do things. We're happy to discuss if you like!

Find out more

IoT will be one of the topics discussed at our forthcoming Softcat explore: Cisco event where I will be interviewing Cisco's Director of Business Led Digital Transformation on exactly this subject – if you want to learn more, come join us!

Register for Softcat Explore: Cisco
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