Software-defined WLANs do IoT

Bob Emmerson, freelance writer and telecoms industry
observer

At the beginning of the decade the mobile enterprise was a hot topic, writes Bob Emmerson. Mobilising applications and processes had and still have the proven ability to: boost productivity by capturing data at source; enable the delivery of enhanced services, thereby improving customer satisfaction; and improving the efficiency of the organisation, which in turn boosted margins and profits. The mobility paradigm was based on a seamless flow of information to and from the data center to any device and vice versa enabled by Wireless LANs in office buildings. Does that sound familiar?

Today the IoT is generating massive amounts of business data, which gets processed into a combination of insightful real-time and historic information. The resulting need to access this information has placed a strain on WLANs. Adding more access points and employing higher speed Wi-Fi technology were temporary Band-Aid fixes. There was an intrinsic issue: the LANs were not designed to deliver the capacity needs that enterprises face as a result of the explosive growth of the IoT.

Aerohive Networks decided to start over and embrace the fact that “Software is eating the world.” The quote comes from Marc Andreessen. In this context it meant employing an architecture based on the principles of Software Defined Networking (SDN). SDN employs an open network system structure in which network control is decoupled from network forwarding, which enables the performance of the network to be programmed and managed via the cloud.

The company is marketing Software Defined LAN (SD-LAN) solutions that build on the principles of SDN in the data center and SD-WAN in order to enable flexible, programmable, and cost-effective wireless and wired networking capabilities that are being applied to the expanding networks of IoT devices. It is worth noting that software-defined networking does more than change the rules of the network game; it throws them out the window. In future networks, functionality will be determined by users and managed by IT departments.

Flexible IoT deployments

IoT devices can be incorporated into a programmable architecture in various ways. Let’s consider a company whose business is based on a franchise of fast food outlets. They would typically employ relatively low cost Wi-Fi devices in order to acquire and manage data on consumption, storage temperatures, humidity and other parameters.

These devices can be configured as remote, local SD-LANs that connect to Aerohive’s Cloud Services Platform, which enables them to be located, authenticated and secured. Local access points enable connectivity. The IoT data would typically be employed on a proprietary application, running on the premises or in the cloud: private or public. That is the baseline functionality of the platform and an architecture that provides seamless integration of IoT domains with corporate environments.

Layer 2 access switches on the corporate LAN are used to backhaul the data over the company’s VPN from the access points. They are also used to power the access points and when required, they can power the IoT devices.

Data coming from different locations would typically be aggregated using an edge gateway or the cloud. Data analytics software can be employed in both locations. The former would provide real-time information that could be employed by management at the local level. The latter would typically enable a combination of historic and real-time information.

Wi-Fi as the technology of choice

Right now there is a plethora of proprietary and standardised communication technologies that are being used to devices to the cloud and each other. They include ZigBee, Bluetooth / BLE, Ethernet, LoRa, Wi-Fi, and RFID. The choice is usually determined by the physical characteristics of the environment, presence of wood, concrete, metal etc., the sensor density, desired range, and data rates.

However, IoT solutions based on standards are preferable and Wi-Fi is emerging as the technology of choice. It has become a ubiquitous standard that is widely used in homes, enterprises, schools, hospitals, airports etc. In addition the Wi-Fi Alliance® has introduced Wi-Fi HaLow™ as the designation for products incorporating IEEE 802.11ah technology. A typical 802.11ah access point could communicate with over 8,000 devices within a range of 1 km.

Wi-Fi would therefore appear to be an ideal candidate for the IoT since it ticks all the boxes and when employed in a SD-LAN it enables the creation of robust, flexible solutions that can be managed via the cloud and programed by IT departments.

The author of this blog is Bob Emmerson, freelance writer and telecoms industry observer

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_ OR @jcIoTnow

RECENT ARTICLES

Sign-Up For Your Premier One-Stop Guide to the EV Landscape in 2022

Posted on: December 1, 2022

The race is on to establish the market leaders across various verticals in the Electric Vehicle industry, including the vehicles themselves, charging stations, third-party service providers, and the supporting infrastructure. This in-depth EV market guide and report by IoT Now explores all these trends to help determine the roadmap for the current state as well

Read more

Axiomtek launches compact DIN-rail IIOT gateway for data driven energy

Posted on: November 30, 2022

Axiomtek, a world-renowned specialist relentlessly devoted in the research, development, and manufacture of series of innovative and reliable industrial computer products of high efficiency is pleased to announce the ICO120-E3350, an extremely compact industrial IoT gateway powered by the Intel Celeron processor N3350 (codename: Apollo Lake-M). The ruggedised designs feature fanless operation, -40°C to 70°C

Read more
FEATURED IoT STORIES

The IoT Adoption Boom – Everything You Need to Know

Posted on: September 28, 2022

In an age when we seem to go through technology boom after technology boom, it’s hard to imagine one sticking out. However, IoT adoption, or the Internet of Things adoption, is leading the charge to dominate the next decade’s discussion around business IT. Below, we’ll discuss the current boom, what’s driving it, where it’s going,

Read more

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, home automation using iot is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

5 challenges still facing the Internet of Things

Posted on: June 3, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly become a huge part of how people live, communicate and do business. All around the world, web-enabled devices are turning our world into a more switched-on place to live.

Read more

What is IoT?

Posted on: July 7, 2019

What is IoT Data as a new oil IoT connectivity What is IoT video So what’s IoT? The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is officially everywhere. It constantly shows up in my Google news feed, the weekend tech supplements are waxing lyrical about it and the volume of marketing emails I receive advertising ‘smart, connected

Read more