IoT scaling: How organisations can ensure their network stays resilient

The Internet of Things (IoT) market continues to show dynamic growth. Analyst, Transforma Insights recently forecast that the number of connected IoT devices worldwide is set to grow from US$7.6 billion (€6.39 billion) in 2019 to $24.1 billion (€20.26 billion) in 2030.

So, IoT is growing fast, and all the indications are that it will continue to do so, says Alan Stewart-Brown, VP EMEA, Opengear. 5G, for example, will be a strong enabler in the expansion of IoT, and supports the opportunity for businesses to scale their networks, given the speed and versatility it will bring them.

Finding a way to scale

On the back of this growth, organisations are increasingly looking to leverage IoT as a means of improving asset utilisation, enhancing productivity and delivering enhanced real-time analytics. But the growth of IoT and expansion of IoT networks also has implications for network resilience.

Arguably, the most often overlooked and under budgeted issues of IoT scaling are not the initial build out, which is typically well planned, but the long-term maintenance and support of what can quickly become a huge network of devices, often deployed in difficult-to-reach locations.

In a sense it is a reversal of the trend we saw playing out 4-5 years ago, when we witnessed the centralisation of complexity from the edge of the network to the core data centre.

However, many traditional data centres are not able to handle the large volumes of data collected by IoT devices. Furthermore, IoT applications require quality features such as low latency with high scalability, reliability and availability. To accommodate this, IoT deployments will need to operate within network infrastructures that have the capacity to deliver such demands.

As the use of IoT escalates, we see two universal requests from internet users across the globe more and faster. As a result, it makes logical sense for organisations to start processing data closer to where it’s generated the network’s edge. What we are likely to see in the next few years, therefore, is complexity migrating back to that edge.

As that happens, there will be a re-energising of the need for remote management technologies, out-of-band technologies, as well as remote provisioning and the automation of the remote management of network infrastructure.

The connection between the core and the edge will become very important. So not only do organisations need to be able to monitor and manage the equipment at the edge, they must also ensure there is resilience in the connection between the internet, or their core network, and the edge infrastructure. 

An independent management network should provide a secure alternate access path, including the ability to quickly re-deploy any software and or configs automatically onto connected equipment if they need to be re-built, ideally without having to send an engineer to site.

Out-of-band management for IoT scaling

Out-of-Band management creates that independent management network, ensuring always-on, secure access outside the production network. It supports network performance monitoring and alerting tools, as well as environmental monitoring functionality at remote IoT Gateway locations.

For large scale deployments it is also worth considering agile network operations, using automation tools for provisioning new sites or for adding extra capacity over time. 

Deploying NetOps Automation capabilities that use Out-of-Band 4G/LTE cellular connectivity allows network engineers to reach remote sites even if the production network is unavailable due to a fault, or even before the production network is turned up. This can have a hugely positive impact on both the time and cost of scaling of IoT deployments.

Only the best

Alan Stewart-Brown

Today, as we have seen, edge computing is indispensable for many IoT scenarios. And that in turn means that as organisations scale out their IoT networks at the edge, they will need to put in place network monitoring and management tools to support business continuity. It is consequently all the more important that businesses use the best, smartest solutions for the implementation.

A key element of that is likely to be a manageable remote Smart OOB solution that simplifies dealing with a dispersed network and provides true network resilience, including the ability to detect issues sooner and remotely resolve and remediate them faster when they occur.

The author is Alan Stewart-Brown, VP EMEA, Opengear.

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