Chaos in the Enterprise: Managing IoT Across Edge & Cloud

The Internet of Things is beginning to touch all aspects of the enterprise.

Internet of Things and Digital Transformation

Over recent years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been a huge growth market. From consumer gadgets and wearables to connected cars and smart home devices, the proliferation has been rapid, and IHS predicts that the number of IoT devices globally will reach 30.7 billion by 2020 and 75.4 billion by 2025.

IoT is also beginning to touch all aspects of the enterprise. This will only fuel its growth as industry sectors from healthcare to manufacturing become more dependent on IoT communications to drive business processes and missions critical systems.

IoT is a key driver of the digital transformation (DX) that is taking place across industry sectors. As the demand for new digital and IoT services continues to grow, close monitoring and management of this transformation will be crucial ensure its success. The rise of IoT has been rapid and will continue to gather pace, to the point where we will soon see entirely new IT infrastructure emerge to support IoT applications and critical systems, spanning the edge, core, and cloud of the service delivery infrastructure.

While the benefits of IoT and the new services that it can enable will be attractive to enterprises and customer alike, the growth of IoT does present challenges around additional complexity. Every system upgrade, new connection or third party application added to existing IT infrastructure will increase complexity within the enterprise IT environment and the CIO must therefore take a management role through this transformation to ensure this increasingly complex environment does not descend into chaos.

Through the Cloud to the Fog

While the hybrid IT environment within any enterprises is already complex, the growth in IoT services adds another element into this already intricate mix. Cloud computing has proved a powerful enabler of many next generation services, but it is not specifically designed for IoT. Enterprises must also consider IoT edge computing introduced through initiatives such EdgeX Foundry and OpenFog Consortium for real-time applications.

According to the Open Fog Consortium, “Fog computing is a system-level horizontal architecture that distributes resources and services of computing and control, storage, networking and communications closer to the data sources.” The term was coined by Cisco and is an important consideration for enterprises as it essentially extends cloud services and capabilities to the network edge – crucial for the successful delivery and management of real-time IoT services, as rapid growth continues.

This is also an important consideration for the overall enterprise DX journey. At the centre of DX are a variety of new technologies that span the edge, core, datacentre, WAN and cloud of the service delivery infrastructure. These technologies are the foundation for the “Pillars of Innovation”; IoT is one of these, along with Big Data Analytics and Cloud, among others. The DX journey depends on constant innovation implemented through new business services, including IoT services. These are delivered via the Pillars of Innovation and must be future proof, infinitely scalable, while managing complexity as they expand. Speed and agility are also crucial as is the ability to visualize data in the context of the monitored services.

Assuring IoT Services

As we see further strong growth in IoT service delivery, it is important for enterprises that they do not lose visibility and control over the data and the quality of service delivery. The right approach to service assurance overcomes this challenge by providing a holistic visibility across the entire service delivery infrastructure. The analysis of the monitored data provides end-to-end visibility at an IoT service level, as well as across the service delivery network. This helps enterprises to simplify the complexity, mitigate risks, accelerate business agility and promote operational excellence. Translating real-time smart data into actionable insights is of huge strategic value to the enterprise as they face the increasing challenge of managing IoT networks and services.

The digital transformation is accelerating at pace and the IoT is one of the major drivers, which has far-reaching implications for enterprises in a variety of sectors. It is only through close monitoring and management of the transformation that the benefits of IoT services will be realized and the foundations of a successful business, driven by IoT, can be developed. 

You can view this story on Network World.