I take an in-depth look at IoT network design in a new InformationWeek Report (available here, registration required), but the key takeaways in this summary column are that the Internet of Things demands reliable connectivity, yet standards are up in the air.
While consumers and Wall Street analysts tend to conflate “IoT” with “wearables tethered to smartphones,” most enterprises don’t consider mobile devices with 3G/LTE connectivity to be the most important — or most common — edge devices. There’s a big difference between a fitness band tapping a health-tracking app and an industrial control system managing HVAC and building security cameras on a few dozen sites. While consumers eagerly await a svelte new iWatch or Android wearable, for organizations such as Union Pacific, FedEx, GE, and ConocoPhillips, the IoT is here.
As I point out, the first thing to keep in mind when mobilizing your IoT plan is the distinction between consumer and industrial. IoT consumer devices will likely either be tethered to a smartphone with a vast array of communications options and local storage and processing, or they will be used in controlled environments with access to WiFi and power, either a wall socket or easily replaceable or rechargeable batteries. The same can’t be said for most industrial applications — like pollution monitors affixed to traffic signs or water sensors in hard-to-access pipes, both of which run on a battery for months or years between servicing.
IoT networks need to be more flexible than the typical hub-and-spoke or leaf-spine designs IT is familiar with. Options include using intelligent gateways and edge mesh networks. Download the full report for details.