Internet of Things already stretching networks to capacity

A new study reveals the scale of the challenges facing network managers as the Internet of Things becomes a reality

Although enterprises feel increasingly confident that they are prepared for the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), the underlying network is in growing danger of grinding to a halt as the flood of connected devices becomes a deluge.

This was the key finding in a study of IT pros in the US and UK, conducted by network control supplier Infoblox, which looked at opportunities and challenges surrounding the impact of the IoT on enterprise networking.

Infoblox found a widening awareness of the impact of the IoT, with 90% of CIOs planning or implementing solutions to cope with the demands of an estimated 26 billion "things", not counting PCs, tablets and smartphones.

Over three-quarters of the respondents reported sufficient budget and staff to cope with the deployment of IoT-ready networks, and 89% said they were confident they would be able to pick up more budget in the next 12 months.

However, the study also found the network may be reaching its choke point earlier than anticipated, with 57% of the 400-strong sample saying their current network was already at full capacity. Just over half said they saw network infrastructure management as a high priority.

How to enhance IoT readiness

  • Work to get IT a seat at the table early in IoT deployment planning, before buying decisions are made;
  • Set network access policies for “things” that prevent inefficient use of network resources and preserve network security;
  • Assess control and automation systems, to make sure the network team isn’t overwhelmed by manual tasks as IoT devices come on line;
  • Consider deployment of IPv6, or expansion of existing IPv6 deployments, to prevent the current global shortage of IPv4 addresses from delaying the introduction of IoT.

“Network automation will become crucial as IT departments confront this massive growth in network complexity,” said Infoblox chief infrastructure officer Cricket Liu.

Earlier in June 2014, a survey carried out by Spiceworks raised the alarm over the impact of the IoT on enterprise IT, with security and privacy issues revealed as the biggest concern for those quizzed.

Infoblox’s report claimed that a third of IT managers said IoT security concerns were “nothing more than hype”, but most respondents reported similar concerns.

Of particular note on the security side was the importance of communication within businesses when it came to controlling exactly where IoT deployments were occurring, with 45% saying line-of-business teams were keeping them in the dark to some extent, despite the fact that three quarters claimed IoT deployments had to have IT department sign-off.

“These results, while seemingly in conflict, align with what Infoblox customers are telling us anecdotally,” explained Liu. “IT departments have a seat at the table when business units want to move forward with IoT deployments. But these business units often get deep into the buying process before calling IT, sometimes forcing IT to scramble to provide support.”

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