Top 3 Performance Considerations for IoT Devices Used in Enterprises

Helping IT stay ahead of problems with application performance tied to IoT devices

Downtown City with images of locks/wifi

The use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications in enterprises is nothing new. The first use of an IoT device may have been nearly 40 years ago when a group of Carnegie Mellon University students programmed a device to measure and report on the number of cans of Coca-Cola in machines around campus. Toasters and coffee-measuring capabilities came next. And eventually, in 1999, the term Internet of Things was coined by Kevin Ashton for a sensor project he was working on.

In the early 2000s, the first internet-connected refrigerator was announced, and robots were in use. By 2020, more than 27 billion devices were connected to the internet, “with experts expecting this number to rise to over 100 billion devices by 2030,” according to ITonline Learning.

How Industries Use IoT Devices
It’s hard to find an enterprise industry that has not benefited from the explosion in IoT devices. Smartphones, tablets, and computers with specific applications can effectively become IoT devices for any industry. For some verticals, however, specific devices using highly targeted applications are used to perform sophisticated activities that enhance productivity, improve processes, and cut costs, among other benefits.  

  • Manufacturers leverage IoT-integrated barcode scanners and scales in inventory management and order processing. They also use internet-attached robots and automated assembly lines in production processes. An entire category of IoT is dedicated to manufacturers: Industrial IoT (IIoT).
  • Retailers and transportation/delivery companies also use IoT-integrated barcode scanners for tracking store shelf inventory and pricing or to record and send emails regarding package delivery. Such scanners also are used at many check-out registers where large packages don’t fit on conveyor belts.
  • Hospitals with wireless internet access have enabled dozens of different patient-impacting devices to operate as IoT technology, including
    • Carts on Wheels (COWs) for connecting and updating patient records 
    • Hands-free communication devices used in neonatal ICUs so nurses can call for assistance while holding babies 
    • Imaging devices moved throughout the hospital to perform X-rays and sonograms in emergency rooms and trauma centers that are uploaded and centrally stored for retrieval on IoT smart tablets and COWs at patient bedsides later
  • Energy and utility companies are using advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) for tracking electricity use, wireless collections of the usage and billing data, and consumer control of lights, heat, and air conditioning remotely. 

Integrated IoT devices connect to a network to get to the internet—either via Ethernet connections or over wireless networks. The application transactions then traverse part of the enterprise’s network at the remote location—for example, within the retail store or factory itself—before being sent across the wide area network (WAN) to the enterprise’s data center where the application is hosted as it interacts with inventory applications, customer databases, or credit card authorizations. All this adds traffic to the corporate network.

The use of IoT devices is now integral to processes and procedures for these industries. Their performance must be flawless to achieve business goals for productivity, process, and cost improvements. Disruptions or degradations need to be avoided or resolved swiftly.

Performance Considerations
The use of IoT devices in enterprise network environments requires three key considerations to ensure quality of performance for the services they support. 

  1. Traffic volume. The number of devices and number of transactions will impact the application volume the IoT devices add to the enterprise network. There needs to be an ongoing effort to establish baselines of activity from all locations and analyze changes and trends to ensure network capacity at the remote locations themselves and WAN bandwidth availability can accommodate the volume. 
  2. Impact of traffic on network and other apps. It is inevitable in converged networks that the traffic volume and behavior of one application has the potential to impact the performance of other services sharing the infrastructure. Increase in use and/or unpredictable traffic bursts of one application may cause users to experience degradations while using other applications, making a robust application performance management solution a must.
  3. Importance of the traffic. In many cases, IIoT devices and applications provide critical steps in manufacturing, sales, or service processes, which makes ensuring the performance of those applications across the corporate infrastructure essential. IT and NetOps require visibility to investigate and resolve issues users report to the help desk when using IoT devices and services.

It is imperative that performance management solutions are able to identify and monitor the applications that operate with IoT devices along with all the other corporate applications running in remote locations and throughout the hybrid/multicloud environment. NETSCOUT nGenius Enterprise Performance Management solutions can recognize and analyze more than 1,000 well-known voice and video applications and protocols. Additionally, NETSCOUT can configure monitoring of custom applications. 

Learn how one manufacturer put NETSCOUT’s powerful application visibility and performance capabilities to use to resolve issues with its IoT services.