• 12/26/2013
    10:06 AM
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Internet Of Things May Strangle Enterprise Bandwidth

The Internet of Things is poised to bring a flood of WAN traffic and new Internet-enabled devices to enterprise WANs. Be sure your corporate network is ready for it.

Most enterprise IT departments are preoccupied with BOYD and the mobile devices accessing their networks, but a much more vexing monster is lurking in the shadows and waiting to spring. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a collective of Internet-connected consumer devices, manufacturing systems, business tools, customer service appliances, medical equipment, agricultural sensors, and other things.

IDC predicts that the IoT will grow to 30 billion things by 2020. Cisco expects the IoT's market value to grow to $14 trillion by 2022. Whatever you want to call it, an avalanche of communication is coming, and it's heading straight for your WAN.

The rising bandwidth gap
In a recent InformationWeek survey on next-generation WANs, 68% of respondents said demand for WAN bandwidth will increase over the next year, but only 15% said they were expanding capacity. The bandwidth gap -- the difference between required and available bandwidth -- is large and growing. This relates to one of my predictions for 2014: that limited bandwidth will stifle IT convergence. In some parts of the world, companies can buy a lot of bandwidth. In other regions, the capacity does not yet exist. The limitations in these regions will prevent some global companies from deploying bandwidth-hungry enterprise IT strategies worldwide.

In the coming decade, the IoT will cause the bandwidth gap to balloon out of control. Enterprises will see enormous amounts of traffic coming from a massive number of sources. In addition to more bandwidth, enterprises need to plan for bandwidth optimization and stricter traffic management. IT departments will need to ensure they have mechanisms that prioritize Internet and intranet access to business-critical applications and devices first.

For companies that navigate the coming bandwidth crisis carefully, the IoT promises a nirvana of integration, instant information, and vast new capabilities. Companies that carefully prepare to exploit this opportunity when it arrives will have a strong advantage over competitors that fail to do so. However, raw bandwidth isn't the only obstacle. For IT staff in the trenches, this so-called nirvana will look like pure chaos.

Familiar challenges on steroids
The IoT not only will introduce new endpoints, but it also will introduce entirely new types of endpoints. Familiar IT challenges such as security, compliance, application integration, training, support, and budget restrictions will be magnified as if they were bulked up on steroids.

Mobile devices are often the weakest link in a company's data security strategy, and the pace of cyberattacks is not slowing. It's too early to predict what threats the addition of things on the network will present, but it's not too soon to know whether protecting the WAN is mandatory. The IoT also presents an unwieldy challenge for compliance. Financial institutions will have to factor the IoT into Sarbanes-Oxley in the US and similar regulations in other countries. Things introduce a very confusing problem when it comes to complying with privacy and consent laws such as HIPAA.

Application integration will be more complex than ever. As Dave West, former president of Forrester Research, told TechTarget, "Application integration problems are a top reason why businesses -- and their enterprise architects and project managers -- can't deliver business innovation at the speed demanded by customers using all these application platforms." The bandwidth gap adds a kicker. To manage the WAN effectively, companies will need to create WAN-aware applications that use virtual networks and prioritize delivery based on other traffic using the WAN.

Bet big on small steps
IT department heads will not wake up one day to find the Internet of Things has arrived. The IoT will not come with a tidy budget for the IT department. The IoT will happen one requirement at a time, one project at a time, and one strategic shift at a time. Budget will follow. That's how new technology adoption works. However, the sooner companies can combine forward-thinking expenditures with immediate needs, the better off they will be.

CIOs and system admins should begin to formulate a solid technology plan to prepare for the growing IoT. They should consider the IoT when making smaller day-to-day decisions. With any innovation, organizations should test the technology and estimate ROI before diving in. The best IT decisions don't happen on waves of hype. They happen according to daily task lists. That's how the Internet of Things will happen, too.

Dr. Deepak Kumar is the Chief Technology Officer and Founder of Adaptiva. He has received five patents and written more than 50 publications.



I think you are right on the money.  It will come without budgets and in many instances without prior planning.  If the IoT things are wireless, the airwaves will be saturated and there will be bleeding and interference with core and critical devices.  There is also the consumer bandwidth, except in places where they have the new gigabit fiber to the home, it may overload before corporate ones do.

Re: Bandwidth

Yet another reason networking and application teams must come closer together. 

Re: Bandwidth

Not exactly but the first example of IoT i see working today is my STB wherein i can record a movie in my STB through SMS. Also one of the challenges i see in the way is a huge number of different links and interactions between autonomous systems.

Re: Bandwidth

@J_Brandt: "It will come without budgets and in many instances without prior planning."


Heh; sounds /exactly/ like BYOD again for most IT groups. "Oh, people seem to be doing this. I suppose we should figure out whether to support this or not."


I guess the difference is that in a corporate  environement you would hope that rather than just people bringing in devices and plugging them in (or connecting them to the corporate network wirelessly), there might be a conscious decision to enable connectivity, with an associated project to use that ability. Or perhaps I live in an idealized dreamworld where people don't just stand things up just "to see how well it worked." ;-)


I'm curious to see how this plays out both in the corporate space as well as in the home. Nine or ten years ago I had the option to buy a washing maching with an embedded web browser. I declined the additional cost on the basis that it was very unusual for me to fill the machine but not start it, and let's face it, if you didn't fill it, IP connectivity isn't going to help. But IP-enabling other things in the home automation arena could be much more interesting. In fact, do the same with lighting/heating etc., in a corporate environment under a "green" banner and there's an opportunity for extremely granular control and monitoring of the environment, and very intelligent energy optimization strategies. Oh well, so long as nobody starts streaming those security cameras over the WAN, right?  (Oh dear)


Re: Bandwidth

You caught that similarity did you?  I agree it will be very much like BYOD – IT will not be able/willing to challenge the users.

Stringent privacy regulations

I agree that "The IoT also presents an unwieldy challenge for compliance. Financial institutions will have to factor the IoT into Sarbanes-Oxley in the US and similar regulations in other countries". Organizations are now desperately looking for effective ways to comply to new stringent privacy regulations, also when offshoring data.

I reviewed an interesting offshoring project in Europe that addressed the challenge to protect sensitive information about individuals in a way that will satisfy European Cross Border Data Security requirements. This included incoming source data from various European banking entities, and existing data within those systems, which would be consolidated in one European country. The project achieved targeted compliance with EU Cross Border Data Security laws, Datenschutzgesetz 2000 - DSG 2000 in Austria, and Bundesdatenschutzgesetz in Germany by using a data tokenization approach, protecting the data before sending and storing it in the cloud.  

Using a data tokenization approach is covered in an interesting report from the Aberdeen Group that revealed that "Over the last 12 months, tokenization users had 50% fewer security-related incidents(e.g., unauthorized access, data loss or data exposure than tokenization non-users". Nearly half of the respondents (47%) are currently using tokenization for something other than credit card data. The name of the study, released a few months ago, is "Tokenization Gets Traction". 

Ulf Mattsson, CTO Protegrity.

Internet of things

I remember those days of 2001-2002 when the internet in India was in its peak. As a system admin I had hard time working with multiple ISP in setting up lease lines & DSL connection et for my corporate office. I was working with an ecommerce company and had hard time  escalating the issues with the ISP due to their poor infrastructure and support system. Internet availability was never up 100%. things like one DSL and another Lease line or two ISP  connection separate altogether in the sense that they don't come with same backbone( satellite  and undersea cables) was some of the workaround of the issues to support the business need...

Today the technology has changed so much that we are in much better positions to handle the situation but other concerns like compliance, security breaches, cyber-attacks are the new things we're struggling.

Good Point...

IeT is going to become a serious hit on bandwidth. But bandwidth is also becoming more ubiqutous and cheaper. I recall the time that we were all paranoid about bandwidth as a choke point because of multi media. It has not happened. Has it? For those still in the dark about Internet of Things, check this out, it was a decent read: