The Internet of Things (or Internet of Everything) is a term spreading further into mainstream vocabulary. In a consumer context, this can involve your fridge telling you when you’ve run out of eggs, your shoes telling you how far you’ve travelled, your car keeping you up to date on local traffic so you know which routes to avoid or your house telling you how much water or heating is being used.
For businesses, the focus is very much on data: TechRadar Pro reports that IoT will cause IP traffic to reach 1.6 zettabytes by 2018, a 300% rise on 2013’s figures. That works out at around 132 exabytes per month by 2018. Importantly, the report states that the majority of this traffic will not be generated by PCs; it will be generated by wireless devices such as smartphones and the sensors that will connect those devices to the internet – the Internet of Things.
For a business’s network, this ultimately means more traffic and therefore more connections. Such an increase requires an infrastructure that is more reliable and scalable than ever.
> See also: Gartner's Internet of Things predictions
An important aspect of this that can often be overlooked is DNS (Domain Name System). As the starting point for IoT connections (and more devices means more connections), it is important that service providers ensure their DNS infrastructure can handle the increase. If they don’t then the issue becomes one of latency, and slow connections will result in annoyed end-users.
Of course, an increase in the number of devices connecting to your network also means more threats. All these new devices connected to the internet offer a new route for cyber attackers to take, a new way of getting into your network and gaining access to private, sensitive information. A DDoS attack, for example, could be much more devastating considering the number of devices potentially affected.
The IoT is much more difficult to defend against, as the traditional perimeter in the data centre no longer exists. In a connected world, data will travel from different devices along different networks to different data centres, and security must adapt to continue providing protection. A business with an IoT security architecture will need to consider a more comprehensive, multi-layered, approach to ensure true end-to-end protection.
Ensuring your network is ready for the Internet of Things means ensuring it is scalable, reliable and secure. An important way in which businesses can do this is by implementing software-defined application services (SDAS) – a centralised application service fabric that can operate across physical, virtual and cloud environments.
This means your applications will always be available, secure and fast. Additionally, the ability to scale up and down as needed without affecting availability or latency is vital to cope with the traffic deluge that will come with IoT.
Ultimately, the Internet of Things isn’t about the ‘things’ at all. It’s about the data, the applications and the services that the IoT enables. Most importantly, it’s about the underlying network infrastructure that allows it all to happen, through scalability, flexibility, reliability and intelligence.
Sourced from Gary Newe, technical director, F5 Networks