Connecting the Internet of Things: 4 Steps
The internet of things (IoT) can be daunting to understand, considering the rapid proliferation of new IoT devices showing up in both our personal lives as well as in virtually every industry. These IoT devices will require IP connectivity and -- in many cases -- network-delivered power. Organizations are moving towards more connected devices in an effort to drive down operational costs and increase efficiency of building automation systems such as in HVAC and lighting. This puts increasing demands on already-strained enterprise access networks and support resources. The image below illustrates the breadth of the types of devices that are becoming network connected.
Before implementing any IoT device on your network you should take the four steps during your project planning:
1. Identify IT resources
Give some thought to the resources you have available to help with deployment as well as ongoing support. As you think about these resources, consider offloading deployment and troubleshooting tasks from more senior technicians or network engineering. Senior network engineers are typically frustrated by the volume of escalations that distract them from important IT projects. Through use of the right toolset, many organizations are finding success in enabling lower-level technicians to identify more problems on their own or providing them with the ability to escalate more effectively with actionable visibility. This reduces network engineering's workload, improves collaboration, and enables teams to be more efficient with the same staffing resources.
2. Determine network connectivity requirements
Every deployment and network environment will have its own set of unique connectivity requirements. Spending time up front to identify what these parameters are will save time and frustration down the road by having a standardized and agreed-upon network connectivity requirement. As part of defining this requirement, you should establish a plan for both how it will be validated, who will do the validation, and how this will be documented. You will want to find a way to run the required set of tests in an automated, consistent way that allows a broader team to help spread the workload across more people, regardless of their skill level. Here's an example of baseline validation parameters that should be tested and documented:
- Required PoE voltage level at the connection jack
- Switch detail such as name slot/port/VLAN
- Internet connectivity address/port
3. Qualify network services
When organizations deploy or troubleshoot IoT devices, the most fundamental component is the ability to ensure the network services required to support the connected device are configured and working correctly. By having an automated way to perform each test the same every time, organizations can not only ensure a consistent and repeatable testing process, but should a problem occur, the automated test will provide an indication of the problem domain. When an escalation to network engineering is needed, problem triage can begin faster with actionable visibility into problem domain and knowing what tests were already run by the technician so time is not wasted performing the same tests; more advanced troubleshooting can begin right at the core of the issue.
4. Understand IoT device configuration
During both the deployment and ongoing support, you should have an understanding as to how your devices are configured and managed, even if a third party will be doing the initial install. Today, most device vendors have some type of application (cloud-based or smart phone) to facilitate device configuration. You should familiarize yourself with what is available for the devices deployed, and how those applications will be accessed during deployment as well as for ongoing support and troubleshooting. This will help you to identify both resource responsibilities at the various project phases, and what tools and connectivity methods are required.
The proliferation of IoT-connected devices in today’s network environment is challenging organizations to do more with the same staff. It also creates the potential for increased complexity of project management across organizational silos and outside vendors. Therefore, as you embark on managing and supporting the deployment of more and more connected devices, give some thought to how you can expand your ability to manage the project by enabling more resources, build collaboration across teams, and ensure you have the visibility you need to control the finger pointing when it begins.
Read more about how NETSCOUT helps enterprise IT manage IoT connected devices.
With more than 25 years of industry experience, NETSCOUT Systems Senior Product Manager Lisa Schwartz enables IT professionals to become more efficient through quick and simple workflows that result in significant efficiency gains and time savings.
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