Enterprises understand what the Internet of things is and the benefits it can bring to their businesses, but many also say there are significant concerns over network capacity and security.
In a survey commissioned by Infoblox, 90 percent of the 400 IT professionals interviewed said they are either planning or implementing various solutions to get their networks ready for the Internet of things (IoT), and many are optimistic that they’ll have the staff and budgets to handle what’s coming. However, more than half (57 percent) also said their networks already are at full capacity, while 63 percent said the IoT represents a security threat to their networks.
These are challenges that will need to be met as the IoT continues to grow and becomes a significant presence in the lives of business leaders and consumers.
“It’s encouraging that the majority of IT professionals recognize the demands the Internet of things will make on their networks,” Cricket Liu, chief infrastructure officer at Infoblox, said in a statement. “Network administrators have struggled in recent years to stay on top of the ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend, and the IoT will create an increase in end points that is an order of magnitude greater.”
Infoblox makes network control solutions.
The Internet of things will grow as more connected systems and devices—from smartphones and tablets to cars, manufacturing systems, home appliances and surveillance cameras—get more intelligent, generating and sharing massive amounts of data. The IoT promises organizations greater efficiencies and improved business decisions, and most respondents said they see it as a potential opportunity for their businesses.
However, network resources and security continue to be seen as hurdles. Eighty-six percent of IT professionals who responded to the Infoblox survey said they understand what their network requirements will be for the IoT, 78 percent say they have sufficient budgets and 75 percent said they have enough staff. And most said they expect their budgets and staffing to increase in the next year to better help deal with the demands of the IoT.
Forty-six percent said they expect the deployment of their IoT solutions to become part of their existing network. However, that runs into the issue of network capacity, and 54 percent of respondents said network infrastructure management also is a high priority for their organizations.
That will put greater emphasis on the need for network management and automation solutions to deal with the rise in network complexity, according to Infoblox’s Liu.
The Internet of things is expected by vendors and analysts to ramp up quickly. Cisco Systems—which sees the IoT as so important that it created a business unit dedicated to the space—has predicted that there will be as many as 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Gartner analysts put that number at 26 billion, not including PCs, tablets and smartphones. IDC analysts are forecasting IoT revenues to grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion by 2020.
Internet of Things Raises Network, Security Concerns
Such a rise in the number of intelligent connected devices—and data flowing from and between them—not only is causing network concerns, but also worries around security and privacy. It’s difficult enough protecting the 10 billion or so (according to Cisco) connected devices already in the market. Adding another 40 billion over the next six years will increase the threat landscape and give cyber-criminals a much larger number of targets.
According to the Infoblox survey, while 63 percent see the IoT as a network security issue, another 37 percent believe such concerns are little more than hype. Liu disagreed.
“With so many objects and IP addresses being added, it’s important for network teams to keep track of what’s on their network at any given point, and also to bear in mind all these objects and IP addresses are potential weak links in an organization’s IT infrastructure,” Liu said.
As IT professionals saw with the rise of BYOD, the IoT will make it difficult for them to keep up with the devices that are being added to their businesses’ networks. Fifty-six percent of respondents said it’s difficult for IT managers to control where IoT deployments are being made, and 45 percent said they don’t get enough information from line-of-business officials regarding deployments. However, 74 percent said their businesses have integrated IoT business plans.
What IT leaders can do now to get ready for the IoT is to make sure they are part of the early planning for IoT deployments, before any buying decisions are made. They also can rework network access policies to ensure that new devices and systems connecting don’t endanger network resources or security, ensure network tasks are automated when possible, and deploy or expand their IPv6 plans to ensure that the shortage of IPv4 addresses doesn’t slow down their efforts around the Internet of things.