Taking The Mystery Out Of IoT

Some networking pros may still scoff at the impending Internet of Things, but ignore it at your peril.

Tom Hollingsworth

March 1, 2016

3 Min Read
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Networking has been experiencing many exciting developments recently. Software has taken hold as the driving force in the way we talk about networking functionality. Whitebox switching has lowered the barrier to entry for enterprises and given webscale companies new ideas. But the greatest idea on the horizon for the networking space has nothing to do with software. It has everything to do with the physical things all around us and how we can help unlock their potential.

The term for networking formerly unconnected devices has become known as the Internet of Things or IoT. The first proponents of connecting appliances and other devices to networks were met with derision in our industry. Traditional networking professionals scoffed at the idea, some even going as far as to ask "Why would my Internet-connected fridge need to talk to my toaster?"

The reality of IoT is that the devices we use every day hold a vast amount of information that can be leveraged to provide insight into behaviors and even unlock ways to increase efficiency and save money. That can only happen because we have the technology to connect these devices and safely record that information today.

A good example of the power of the information unlocked by IoT can be seen in Nest thermostats. By connecting a simple device to the network, Nest originally set out to allow users to control temperature settings via smartphone apps. But as the ecosystem grew, Nest allowed providers to unlock additional features as well. Now, utility companies will provide Nest thermostats free of charge if you sign up for their energy savings program. In return, Nest can alter the temperature on the device by a few degrees to save utility companies thousands of dollars.


To learn more about IoT and its impact on networks and IT, attend the Internet of Things Summit at Interop Las Vegas this spring. Don't miss out! Register now for Interop, May 2-6, and receive $200 off.

The analytics of IoT can also provide huge insight into industrial devices. Think of all the machines running on a factory floor that can provide information to a central database -- about production runs, device wear, and even ancillary information like factory floor temperature and work hours. That data can be a huge boon to companies that want to drive cost savings and help replace equipment before it fails.

But IoT can be hugely overwhelming, and provokes a myriad of questions. How will all these devices be interconnected? Do I need to buy new things with new hardware to provide this capability? Is everything secure? Where is my data being stored while it is being analyzed? Is my data being used for any other purposes? How can networking professionals really understand IoT and learn how it can affect their organizations in the future?

That's where education is essential, and Interop plays a leading role. Interop helps networking professionals recognize the technologies and skills that will be important down the road. This year, the conference program features several sessions related to IoT. If you are able to come in on Monday, you can participate in the Internet of Things Summit, which provides a full day of IoT related content from a number of respected speakers and practitioners.

If you're more interested in seeing how IoT works in a real setting, make sure to check out Is Your Network Ready for the Internet of Things on Wednesday from Arthur Brant of Abilene Christian University. In addition, Adam Bosworth of Salesforce will discuss IoT's role in customer-centric businesses and Dave Lewis of Akamai will explore the challenges of Securing the Internet of Broken Things.

The Internet of Things needs to be on your radar as a networking professional. Make your first stop for information Interop 2016, and you'll be able to go back to your organization and tell them that IoT is no mystery to you.


About the Author(s)

Tom Hollingsworth

nullTom Hollingsworth, CCIE #29213, is a former VAR network engineer with 10 years of experience working with primary education and the problems they face implementing technology solutions. He has worked with wireless, storage, and server virtualization in addition to routing and switching. Recently, Tom has switched careers to focus on technology blogging and social media outreach as a part of Gestalt IT media. Tom has a regular blog at http://networkingnerd.net and can be heard on various industry podcasts pontificating about the role technology will play in the future.

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