How cloud-first SD-WAN can simplify IoT adoption

The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming lives, cities and workplaces as we speak. From real-time traffic information in connected cars to apps monitoring our blood pressure from our smartphones, Martin Bosshardt, CEO of Open Systems says we’re increasingly reliant on this disruptive tech to support, manage and enhance our everyday lives.

Enterprises are also seeing the value in such connectivity, with numerous examples of how IoT is significantly improving internal efficiencies, whether that be through automating previously manual processes, or using connected utilities to monitor office-space usage.

Indeed, IDC forecasts global spending on IoT will reach $1.2 trillion (€1 trillion) within the next three years – demonstrating its continued importance as a key enabler for consumers and businesses alike.

Enterprises are typically using IoT to streamline workflows and improve data optimisation. However, due to a shift in requirements and an explosion of end-points, organisations are facing a tremendous amount of complexity, all of which can impact processes. As a result, IoT and other edge devices are causing businesses to rethink the role of their network, where it exists, what it looks like, and how it must be managed.

Operating from a single pane of glass

With multiple locations connecting potentially thousands or even more ‘things’, it can become difficult to manage. In order to navigate this, organisations need to see data traffic flow in one simple interface – so they know exactly how their network is performing and what it is up-to in any one given moment. It is very hard to track an incident, for example, if you have to work on 10 different interfaces and try to understand which application is impacted on what level, where and why.

With technology such as SD-WAN, customers can reduce complexity, bring down costs, improve performance, automate operations and rely on a security layer that works and can be constantly improved without additional investments – all through a single view.

Isolating vulnerable IoT devices

While SD-WAN can deliver a more flexible network – in which data and bandwidth can be seamlessly shared across locations and territories – it does often result in questions being asked around security. These concerns are typically intensified when the notion of connected devices are brought into the equation.

Martin Bosshardt

There are endless IoT applications and devices employees can access, in addition multiple different security products in operation at any given enterprise. Yet by using SD-WAN ‘zoning’, IoT solutions or devices can be isolated to ensure that, even if they experience an attack, the entire enterprise does not become compromised.

SD-WAN provides management for these complex orchestrations, offering such capabilities to help operate IoT in a secure way. Additionally, implementing this zoning solution in a WAN infrastructure keeps attacks contained and buys crucial time for analysis and response to threats.

Securing the future

IoT can help an organisation reduce costs and help with the affordability of solutions, however, careful consideration needs to be made in regard to managing so many end-points. Not having a handle on increasing end-points can introduce threats that may ultimately cost a business more.

Deploying SD-WAN to manage the network and synchronise these connections will help future-proof an enterprise. Edge computing and IoT should be seen as an extension of the cloud, rather than an existing local WAN network, enabling closer proximity to users, applications and data to remain agile and react in real time. Implementing SD-WAN that utilises service chaining and security zoning solves the problems enterprises face with networking, removing the complexity of configuration and management to allow for greater focus on business growth.

The author is Martin Bosshardt, CEO, Open Systems

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