The enterprise may be ready for Internet of Things, but networks are not

According to new research, the enterprise is ready to capitalize on the Internet of Things — but network capacity and security is scuppering adoption rates.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Enterprises are ready to profit from the Internet of Things (IoT), but security concerns and network capacity worries are holding back deployment.

According to a recent survey commissioned by network control company Infoblox, the majority of IT professionals believe that IoT is a potentially lucrative market, but there may not be enough network capacity to handle the demand that will accompany an anticipated explosion in the number of connected devices.

The research, carried out in May, was conducted online and collected 400 responses from US and UK network managers and executives involved in building, running, and managing enterprise networks at firms with over 1,000 employees. The majority of respondents — 90 percent — are either planning or already implementing solutions to cope with the increased demands on networking caused by IoT projects.

The resources necessary to implement IoT projects are already on hand, with 78 percent of respondents saying they have a large enough budget and 75 percent sufficient staff numbers. Despite low-growth IT budget trends, 89 percent believe they’re "very" or "quite" likely to receive more budget in the next year due to IoT demands, and 73 percent believe the same to be true for staffing.

According to research firm Gartner, IoT devices — excluding PCs, tablets and smartphones — will grow to 26 billion units in 2020.

Despite budget, staff optimism and 46 percent of IT professionals believing IoT deployments will eventually become part of existing IT networks, more than half — 57 percent — reported their current network is already at full capacity, and may not be able to cope with IoT additions. Unless companies pour more funds into networks, they may be missing out on the deployment of potentially lucrative IoT projects.

Cricket Liu, chief infrastructure officer at Infoblox commented:

It's encouraging that the majority of IT professionals recognize the demands the Internet of Things will make on their networks. 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.

At the same time, many network teams will have to respond to the IoT without significant increases in budgets or head count. Network automation will become crucial as IT departments confront this massive growth in network complexity.

In addition, the survey revealed that 63 percent of IT professionals believe IoT is a threat to network security, a concern shared by Liu:

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.

In order to exploit the potential of IoT and keep networks as safe as possible, IT staff should be involved in early IoT deployment planning before purchase decisions are made, and network access policies for "things" should be put in place to prevent inefficient use of network resources and preserve network security.

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