Three considerations to ensure your network is ready for the Internet of Things

Author: Matt Miller, Director for A/NZ at F5 Networks

The first thought that comes to mind for most consumers when they hear the mention of the Internet of Things (IoT) is their fridge telling them when the eggs have run out; shoes indicating how far they have travelled; cars keeping them up to date on local traffic so that they know which routes to avoid; or energy meter signaling how much heating has been consumed. While not all of these capabilities have become a reality across most households, Gartner predicts the use of connected devices to grow exponentially, with at least 4.9 billion connected things expected to be in use this year, which is up 30 percent from 2014. By 2020, Gartner forecasts this number to reach 25 billion .

The majority of this traffic will not be generated by PCs; it will be generated by wireless devices, such as smartphones and of course, those sensors that will connect those devices to the Internet - the Internet of Things.

But what does this mean for your business and your network?

Ultimately it means more traffic, which then means more connections. This will require an infrastructure that is more reliable and scalable than ever.

To ensure your network is ready for IoT, businesses must first consider how they can enhance DNS infrastructure, account for greater security needs, as well maintain a scalable and agile architecture.

1. Ensuring DNS infrastructure meets data demands

Domain Name System (DNS) is the starting point for IoT connections – this is because more devices means more connections, so service providers will need to ensure their DNS infrastructure can handle the increase. If service providers do not ensure the infrastructure can meet the rising demand, this will result in latency issues, leading to highly frustrated end-users.

2. Protecting against vulnerabilities

An inevitable result of having more devices connecting to the network is the rise in threats. All these new devices connected to the internet offer a new route for cyber attackers to take and a new way of getting into the network and hence also the leaking of private, sensitive information. A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, for example could be much more devastating considering the number of devices potentially affected.

In addition, the IoT is much more difficult to defend against, as the traditional perimeter in the data centre no longer exists. Data will travel from different devices along different networks to different data centres and security must adapt to continue providing protection.

3. Taking a multi-layered, app approach

An IoT security architecture will need to adopt a multi-layered approach to ensure true end-to-end protection, from application layer firewalls to user access management to remote app access security and everything in between.

Ensuring the network is ready for the Internet of Things means ensuring it is scalable, reliable and secure. F5’s key to this is software-defined application services (SDAS), a centralised application service fabric that can operate across physical, virtual and cloud environments, meaning applications will always be available, secure and fast. Additionally, the ability to scale up and down as needed without affecting availability or latency is vital to cope with the traffic deluge that will come with IoT.

Read more: 5 reasons why using a VDC (Virtual Data Centre) can improve your organisations Physical and Logical Security

The IoT has become a dynamic catalyst for organisational and societal transformation and disruption. IoT is set to revolutionise the way businesses are run across all industries, while also making life easier for the end-user. Ultimately however, the IoT isn’t about ‘things’ at all, it’s about the data, the applications and the services that the IoT enables. Most importantly, it’s critical to consider the underlying and highly complex network infrastructure that allows it all to happen, through scalability, flexibility, reliability and intelligence.

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Tags VulnerabilitiesF5 NetworksGartnerDNS infrastructureInternet of Thingsdata centres#CSOAustraliaIoTCSO Australia

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