From ‘smart‘ coffee machines, to internet-enabled home security systems, connected homes to connected production lines, the Internet of Things (IoT) is making its presence felt in both our personal and private lives. But although IoT has the potential to make our lives easier in many ways, the influx of internet-connected devices in our homes and offices – not to mention the added strain these will place on network hardware and software – brings with it the need to revisit traditional approaches to network management.
One of the principal challenges to managing an IoT environment is the need for 100% uptime. While a reactive attitude (the ‘break-fix’ approach) towards network issues suffices (more or less) for today’s networks, managing an IoT environment will require secure and consistently available systems that are capable of evolving to meet the future needs of the enterprise.
In this blog, we’ll look at how the best network managers are preparing to take on the challenge of IoT management in terms of uptime, security, capacity and monitoring.
100% Uptime and predictive network management versus five nines and break-fix
While five nines is sufficient in most respects for today’s enterprise networks, and only amounts to a total downtime of a little over five minutes in the space of a year, it won’t stand up to the demands of the IoT network environment. Network systems in an IoT ecosystem require no less than 100% uptime – as Ben Rossi quite rightly points out in his blog on Information Age, “This is not just a question of semantics. No business can afford to turn off a bottling plant production line for four hours while a new part is sourced and installed; a football club cannot have its turnstiles closed as the crowd turns up for the cup final; and a city council can’t afford for its smart lighting system to fail as dusk approaches.”
What Rossi and many others are advocating is a predictive, intelligent monitoring methodology to identify potential threats to availability, and deal with them before they impact business-critical functions. “The break-fix approach that still dominates in most IT environments is not acceptable for these critical components – from production to automation there is no tolerance for failure. The IoT has made the five nines model completely unacceptable – and not before time.” Or, as Ghandi put it, “The best time to fix the roof is when the sun shines.”
Don’t underestimate the power of predictive analytics
In order to keep network systems running optimally in an environment that demands 100% uptime, it’s essential to remain a step ahead of any threats that may arise. The value of predictive analytics and proactive monitoring cannot be understated here: the amount of insight you have into the function of your network environment will go a long way towards determining how prepared you are to tackle unexpected issues.
While predictive monitoring is by no means a new approach, the rise of IoT and the resultant pressures on network systems are making it an inevitability in the modern environment. In Rossi’s blog, he talks about a ‘small but growing’ number of IT professionals who are looking to consolidated monitoring tools as a means to achieving 100% uptime. End-to-end monitoring solutions that manage components individually and can accurately predict if and when an issue will arise, combined with self-healing technologies , could be the best hope for network systems to adapt to the IoT era.
IoT doesn’t only impact availability – security is also a major concern
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution of the past few years made it clear that enterprise network systems are vulnerable to a host of security threats. If nothing else, the rise of IoT will certainly see network security becoming even more of an issue on enterprise network systems. Particularly, the democratisation of internet connectivity across the enterprise, and out of strictly IT-focused areas, means that network monitoring will need to cast a broader net to ensure the safety of the enterprise.
Consider the impact of a Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that could potentially compromise not only a company website or email server, but also some essential production or operations facility. Network managers will need to centralise their network systems and ensure that the entire business is safeguarded against potential threats across the entire organisation.
To find out more about what the best network managers are doing to prepare their network systems for the realities of network management in the IoT era, and how you can join them, download our free Network Manager’s Guide to a Stable and Highly Available Network. You can also find out more about our light-touch and uniquely scalable Network Management System here.
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