For several years now, software experts have claimed that the Internet of Things (IoT) would transform the IT industry. These claims have turned out to be true and today, there are more than 8 billion IoT devices active worldwide. Although consumer products like Fitbit, Apple Watch and smart thermostats have gained the most commercial popularity, organizations of all types are increasingly deploying IoT solutions. From connected medical devices to cameras and sensors of different colors, businesses are leveraging IoT to make more informed decisions, gain an edge over their competitors, decrease costs and increase efficiency.
As the use of IoT devices increases, organizations must ensure that they are managing the networks that support them properly. There are several challenges that are associated with managing IoT networks — from device management and provisioning to connectivity, this growing field is giving businesses a lot to ponder over.
Let’s look at the five key challenges of managing enterprise IoT networks.
1. Data Management
IoT networks create high quantities of data — security cameras produce gigabytes of HD video, thermostats measure temperatures by the minute, and medical sensors log crucial data continuously. The massive volume of this data makes it a challenge to manage and as a result, proper data management becomes vital. Primarily, organizations must ensure they are collecting the precise data they want to isolate. Extraneous information will only make it difficult to formulate meaningful conclusions. Organizations must then select the correct software capable of keeping track of this data and analyzing it effectively. Lastly, they need to leverage an appropriate storage solution. Most businesses are favoring cloud networks, but many also rely on local servers for on-premise storage solutions.
2. Power Management
A continually growing amount of IoT devices also leads to a growing power management requirement. Many IoT devices such as printers are usually placed inaccessible locations and rely on AC power. Whereas other devices are wireless, located in remote areas and are powered by batteries. Although there has been continual growth in storage technologies, battery life is still limited and is a constant challenge for IoT networks. As a result, organizations should constantly track when IoT device batteries need to be replaced or recharged, and use devices that conserve power when they are not in use are crucial for efficient power management.
IoT devices are differentiated from other technologies by one crucial aspect: they can connect and exchange information from the internet. As the amount of IoT devices multiples, business networks are required to become increasingly robust in order to support them. Many IoT devices utilize wired ethernet connections, but most use wireless technology. Most businesses use cellular networks for IoT as it covers the most populated areas. The downside to using cellular networks is that companies are required to pay monthly fees to wireless providers. As a result, the majority of IoT use WiFi. To facilitate this, IT managers need to ensure their access points can handle vast numbers of IoT devices. Fortunately, advancements in IoT technologies and networks have made it possible to meet this requirement.
4. Device Management
The range of devices IT administrators had to deal with was limited to desktops and laptops, phones and tablets, peripherals and network infrastructure. The innovation of IoT has made this range limitless for sensors, beacons and controllers. However, every new device needs to be installed, configured and monitored to guarantee accurate performance and must be regularly diagnosed and updated to address problems. Each device is accompanied by several decisions, including where it must be placed and how often it must record data. Such difficulties are multiplied when we realize that IoT devices are sometimes placed in inaccessible locations, making remote updates and diagnostics a necessary requirement.
Every new IoT device offers a potential entry point for hackers to target an IoT network. This makes it crucial to maintain a secure network and prevent unauthorized devices from connecting. This is where provisioning and authentication factor in. Provisioning refers to the process of properly integrating a new device into the network, and authentication confirms that the device has the necessary credentials to gain access. Data transmitted across IoT networks are at risk of getting intercepted by malicious parties, making it crucial for organizations to only use secure, password-protected wireless networks in order to guarantee that their data is encrypted.