Running a successful IoT network can provide numerous benefits and efficiencies for your enterprise, but also comes with a number of challenges.
For years, futurists predicted that the Internet of Things (IoT) would transform IT. Now those forecasts have finally come to pass. Today there are more than 8 billion IoT devices worldwide, surpassing the global population. While consumer products like the Apple Watch, Fitbit, and smart thermostats have garnered the most attention, organizations of all kinds are increasingly deploying IoT solutions. From connected medical devices to cameras and sensors of every stripe and color, businesses are relying more and more on the IoT to make good decisions, out-smart the competition, cut costs, and boost efficiency.
As the use of IoT devices grows, organizations need to ensure that they’re properly managing the networks that support them. There are numerous challenges that come with managing IoT networks — from device provisioning and management to connectivity, this emerging field is giving businesses a lot to think about. Here’s a look at the top five challenges of managing enterprise IoT networks.
1. Data Management
IoT networks generate unprecedented volumes of data — security cameras produce gigabytes of HD video, thermostats record temperatures by the minute, and medical sensors continuously log crucial data. The sheer volume of this data poses a challenge, and proper data management becomes crucial. First, enterprises need to ensure they’re collecting the specific data they’re looking to isolate. Extraneous information will only make it harder to draw meaningful conclusions. Enterprises must then find the right software to keep track of this data and analyze it effectively. Finally, they need an appropriate storage option. Many businesses are turning to the Cloud, but others rely on local servers for on-premise storage solutions
2. Power Management
With a growing number of devices comes growing power management requirements. Some IoT devices, like printers, are located in accessible locations and draw on AC power. Other devices, however, are wireless and placed in remote areas where they have to rely on battery power. Although storage technologies are continually improving, battery life remains limited and poses a perennial challenge for IoT networks. Enterprises must constantly track when IoT device batteries need to be recharged or replaced, so finding devices that conserve power when not in use is key to efficient power management.
IoT devices are distinguished from other technologies by one key factor: they can connect with the internet. As the number of IoT devices multiplies, organizations’ networks must become increasingly robust to support them. Some IoT devices use wired ethernet connections, but most rely on wireless technology. Some businesses turn to cellular networks for IoT, which cover almost all populated areas. The downside is that cellular networks require companies to pay monthly fees to wireless providers. As a result, the majority of IoT networks rely on WiFi. To do so, IT managers need to be sure their access points can handle a large number of IoT devices. Luckily, the latest technologies have made it possible to meet this need.
4. Device Management
The range of devices IT administrators manage used to be limited to desktops and laptops, phones and tablets, peripherals, and network infrastructure. The advent of the IoT makes this range limitless — sensors, beacons, controllers, you name it. Each new device needs to be installed and configured, monitored to ensure proper performance, and regularly diagnosed and updated to address problems. With each device comes a slew of decisions, including where it should be placed and how often it should record data. These challenges are compounded by the fact that IoT devices are often placed in inaccessible locations, making remote updates and diagnostics a must.
Each new IoT device provides a potential entry point for hackers to target your IoT network. It is crucial to prevent unauthorized devices from connecting in order to maintain a secure network. This is where provisioning and authentication come in. Provisioning is the process of properly enrolling a new device in the network, and authentication verifies that the device has the appropriate credentials to enroll. Data transmitted over IoT networks is at risk of being intercepted by nefarious parties, so enterprises should use only secure, password-protected wireless networks to ensure data is encrypted.
Although enterprise IoT networks are quickly becoming widespread, the challenges of managing IoT networks are still significant. For such a crucial and integral system, many organizations rely on the experts. At Turn-key Technologies (TTI), we have nearly three decades of experience designing, installing, and maintaining networks — we know what it takes to make IoT work for your enterprise.