Assessing the four pillars of enterprise IoT
The internet of things is having a transformative effect on the lives of consumers and large enterprises alike, but taking full advantage of these technologies requires quite a bit of careful planning. While it's true that recent smart home innovations have made it easy for the average person to step into an interconnected future, big business is still grappling with a variety of technical challenges that threaten to slow down their progress. For one, integrating IoT devices into legacy IT environments often requires companies to scale up their networking equipment, cybersecurity protocols and management systems. In some cases, IoT tech simply isn't compatible with older, more analog-centric applications.
Despite the soaring optimism about the IoT's capabilities, overcoming critical deployment hurdles has been difficult for companies across industry lines. One recent survey conducted by Vanson Bourne found that 90% of IoT-involved technology professionals have experienced significant barriers to effective implementation and expansion because they lack the necessary in-house skills and expertise. That said, solely relying on third-party vendors can introduce a variety of security vulnerabilities and inefficient IT management practices into enterprise workflows. To stay one step ahead of further disruptions, companies must pay careful attention to the infrastructural requirements of modern IoT applications and adapt accordingly.
The future of business technology: 4 pillars of enterprise IoT
In a recent interview with TechRepublic, Verizon system architect Kevin Donahue highlighted the importance of reliable connectivity for large-scale distributed systems. Today's IoT environments are often comprised of many different components that must be able to effectively synergize, including mobile devices, networking equipment, cloud storage platforms and more. Ensuring seamless connectivity between these systems is crucial to the success of any tech rollout, but getting the details right requires a big picture perspective. According to Donahue, there are four key pillars of enterprise IoT that must be taken into account before companies can realize the IoT's true potential:
- Connectivity: Most businesses have several different methods for accessing their network and the open internet, from hard-wired Ethernet connections to Wi-Fi and 4G. However, since nearly all telecommunication companies have built their infrastructures with smartphones in mind, it's important for companies to develop a fully-virtualized network that aligns with specific goals. Afterall, prolonged periods of unplanned downtime or a lapse in network performance can cause major productivity issues and may lead to missed business opportunities.
- Security: Companies have traditionally relied on device-level security protocols to keep their IT assets and data protected from external threats. And while firewalls and network switches are pivotal to modern cybersecurity design, they are far from perfect. For one, the introduction of IoT devices into enterprise environments has created new security vulnerabilities that IT admins may be unfamiliar with. According to Donahue, enterprise security should be "distributed and inherent and embedded in the network all the way across" to minimize internal and external threats.
- Visibility: While cloud computing can help companies reduce on-site data storage costs and streamline their workflows, it can also make it difficult to ensure best practices in cybersecurity and information management are being upheld. What's more, a lack of visibility may prevent IT admins from identifying inefficiencies in their network design and application management practices. Since IoT systems are usually highly distributed, companies should adopt a software-defined approach that allows them to precisely control all devices, data and applications throughout their hybrid cloud environments.
- Automation: Artificial intelligence and machine-learning tools are quickly becoming the new norm for enterprise environments, as they enable a higher degree of automation. The more data administration processes companies can automate, the more time employees have to work on business-critical tasks. For example, setting up automatic software and firmware patches can help companies stay on top of new IoT vulnerabilities and distribute updates to every device within their network. Of course, this high degree of automation is hard to achieve without the right tools and personnel in place.
As IoT technologies become increasingly sophisticated, enterprises will need to constantly reassess whether their networking tools and IT management practices can actively support their business goals. Scalability is crucial, as deploying a wave of new devices can have a major impact on overall network performance. Considering there will be a projected 29 billion connected devices in use by 2020, according to research from Ericsson, companies should already be laying the foundation for their integrated IoT networks.
Perle offers high-performance connectivity tools that can help enterprises prepare for the future of business technology. Our industrial-grade Ethernet converters and reliable console servers provide exceptional stability, allowing IT admins to focus on what really matters - building a strong framework for IoT integration. Read some of our customer stories to find out how we've helped other companies take full advantage of connected technologies.