Thursday, December 15, 2016

Perspectives 2017: Today’s Internet of Things Reality

And an analysis of the why and how of developing an IoT strategy

by Patrick Hubbard, Head Geek, SolarWinds

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a buzzword for quite a while now. For many, it conjures up images of smart thermostats, home security systems, app-powered office coffeemakers, and even internet-connected crockpots. Consumer IoT devices such as these, often referred to as internet-connected appliances, are certainly experiencing exponential growth, but the growth of business or industrial IoT is even more astounding: Gartner estimates that there will 21 billion endpoints in use by 2020, resulting in massive potential for data generation in 2020.

The Challenges of IoT

Enterprise and industrial IoT devices themselves can be very helpful in determining such things as soil moisture in smart agriculture, improving asset tracking in the shipping industry, and determining temperature and utilization in a manufacturing facility. However, the sheer volume of these devices presents an issue when they are added to a network without a strategy, much like BYOD when it first came about.

But unlike with phones, tablets, or laptops, a majority of IT professionals managing networks with IoT-connected devices aren’t conducting software updates on the devices; instead, the primary focus has been on how these appliances can be used in novel ways, with the risks of their unmonitored internet connectivity falling by the wayside. This common oversight and its consequences were illustrated via the recent Dyn DDoS attack—many of the devices used in the attack were connected to corporate networks and improperly monitored. In consequence, we need to stop thinking about IoT as “BYOD on steroids.” Instead, we need very different and customized strategies because IoT has the power to disrupt operations in a dangerous way.

Thus, it’s clear that IoT devices are changing networks and our ability to monitor and manage them. With that in mind, it’s important to note IoT device class (0, 1, or 2). This refers to the variety of ways the network is affected by IoT devices. Class 0 devices are light, use low power and aren’t truly IoT devices that require dramatic shifts in the way we monitor and manage our networks

Monitoring and management of classes 1 and 2 are a different story, though. Managing class 1 and 2 IoT devices comes down to managing access properties on the routers and switches that allow devices to get to the internet. Monitoring these devices is more application traffic-specific, calling for Netflow or quality-of-service (QoS) in order to see what the devices are doing because they won’t typically allow for SNMP or provide a management interface to determine performance. This factor makes security information and event management (SIEM) and important consideration as well—you need to be able to detect that a network device is conducting a port scan or file share logons, for example.

In terms of capacity planning, if you believe the estimation of billions of devices in use by 2020, then we will undoubtedly overwhelm our networks in ways we can’t even imagine right now. If subnetting is a problem now, with the typical and somewhat manageable systems, then the order of magnitude brought on by IoT devices would likely force companies into IPv6, which they may not be ready for. They will cause transience with IP addresses and difficulty understanding what the bandwidth is of any given device—different devices have different behaviors, and they all communicate with different servers. Some will be well-optimized for this, and some won’t be. The retail industry, as an example, uses immense hyper-personalization based on IoT, so network capacity and utilization is of utmost importance. In order to avoid latency or downtime, they will need to undertake tremendous network capacity planning and utilization, or risk their reputation and customer experience.

The Benefits of an IoT Strategy

Although it may seem like the industry is moving at too rapid of a pace for you to slow down and implement and test an effective IoT strategy, it’s imperative to do so; the fact that there are a multitude of adoptable standards in existence already may help.

The first and perhaps most obvious benefit of implementing an IoT strategy is the reduced risk of data breach. Without knowledge of possible vulnerabilities, your organization may be open to security compromises in ways that could be harmful to your business and appear to come out of left field, although they could have been left unnoticed for a long period of time. A recent yet admittedly simple poll of IT professionals showed that while some organizations still don’t manage any IoT devices (or none that IT knows about), some, even in regulated industries such as healthcare, manage thousands of devices without following specific protocol.

The second benefit is financial: organizations can anticipate extra costs by conducting capacity planning and network management before IoT devices are put on a network. Additionally, organizations will be more likely to obtain what they set out to in the first place: bottom line savings advantages gained by implementing innovative IoT devices; for example, in HVAC efficiency, physical security, short lead manufacturing efficiency, and production rate optimization in the supply chain. Companies who are using IoT in truly transformative ways within the framework of formulated strategies for their customers will be the first out of the gate to experience unprecedented benefits.

Getting Started On an IoT Strategy

As a first step to gaining knowledge and control over IoT, you should take inventory of what you already have happening from an IoT device perspective within your environment. Without this baseline knowledge, there’s no way to move ahead with any kind of semblance of a strategy.

Next, you need to come to the table with business executives and discuss what they intend to do with IoT devices. Seek to understand how many devices there may be and what type.

Once there’s collective agreement about how many IoT devices will be in your environment, it’s up to you to formulate a security policy, outlining what’s acceptable in terms of risk. This is also dependent on your industry—retail versus financial services versus healthcare, for example. You may need to consider PCI, HIPAA and other compliance issues. The security policy will also drive reconsideration of network and security segmentation.

When having these conversations with business leaders, it’s also a time to calculate business risk and put a hard, defensible number behind the financial hit to the business in the event of a serious security breach as a result of IoT. Once you are able to calculate financial damage estimations, then it becomes easier to have discussions with management about security, network security, configuration, performance and quality of experience (QoE) monitoring needs.

In addition to aligning with the business on security policies and business risks, this is also the time to consider what to do with the huge amounts of data the devices will generate. And because so many organizations are moving towards hybrid IT, you may need to consider how both on-premises and cloud data will be managed from a services, applications, and storage perspective, in order to best manipulate the data to improve marketing, service delivery, or increase yield in a factory setting.

Conclusion

IoT should be an active concern for you. If you’re not already, you will soon be asked to manage more and more network-connected devices, resulting in security issues and a monumental challenge in storing, managing and analyzing mountains of data. The risk is that without a proper strategy to do so, you’ll be tackling all this on an ad hoc basis on an ad hoc basis. Instead, stop what you’re doing and start developing your IoT strategy. Begin by surveying your network today to get a baseline, then come to the table with your organization’s IoT stakeholders to determine why they need IoT and how they plan to use the devices, discuss the security implications and define a security policy, and decide what to do with all the data the devices will generate. Doing this, ahead of time if still possible, will help you ensure that your organization doesn’t become an IoT victim, but an IoT victor.

About the Author

Patrick Hubbard is a head geek and senior technical product marketing manager at SolarWinds. With 20 years of technical expertise and IT customer perspective, his networking management experience includes work with campus, data center, storage networks, VoIP and virtualization, with a focus on application and service delivery in both Fortune 500 companies and startups in high tech, transportation, financial services and telecom industries.

About SolarWinds

SolarWinds (NYSE: SWI) provides powerful and affordable hybrid IT infrastructure management software to customers worldwide from Fortune 500® enterprises to small businesses, government agencies and educational institutions. We are committed to focusing exclusively on IT Pros, and strive to eliminate the complexity that they have been forced to accept from traditional enterprise software vendors. Regardless of where the IT asset or user sits, SolarWinds delivers products that are easy to find, buy, use, maintain and scale while providing the power to address all key areas of the infrastructure from on premises to the cloud. Our solutions are rooted in our deep connection to our user base, which interacts in our thwack online community to solve problems, share technology and best practices, and directly participate in our product development process. 


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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to Step Down

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will step down on January 20, 2017.

“Serving as F.C.C. Chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life. I am deeply grateful to the President for giving me this opportunity. I am especially thankful to the talented Commission staff for their service and sacrifice during my tenure. Their achievements have contributed to a thriving communications sector, where robust investment and world-leading innovation continue to drive our economy and meaningful improvements in the lives of the American people. It has been a privilege to work with my fellow Commissioners to help protect consumers, strengthen public safety and cybersecurity, and ensure fast, fair and open networks for all Americans.”

http://www.fcc.gov

  • Tom Wheeler previously served as Managing Director of Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. Earlier in his career, he served as President of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) from 1979 to 1984, and later as CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) until 2004.

FCC Chairman Calls for New Net Neutrality Rules



FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced plans to introduce new Net Neutrality rules saying his intent is to "preserved the Internet as an open platform for innovation and expression while providing certainty and predictability in the marketplace." The announcement comes a month after the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC overstepped its boundaries in setting Net Neutrality rules that compel broadband providers to...





FCC Eyes Residential Fiber Build-out as Condition for AT&T/DirecTV Deal


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has circulated a draft recommendation to his fellow FCC commissioners recommending that the AT&T/DirecTV transaction be approved with conditions concerning future fiber rollouts by AT&T. Namely, Wheeler would like 12.5 million customer locations to have access to a competitive high-speed fiber connection -- an additional build-out that is about 10 times the size of AT&T’s current fiber-to-the-premise deployment....

FCC Chairman Seeks to Extend Title II Authority to Wireless Too


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed that he circulating a proposal this week with his fellow commissioners that would  implement and enforce open Internet protections using Title II authority.  In a column published by Wired.com, Wheeler describes his proposal as "the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC." Specifically, Wheeler seeks enforceable, bright-line rules to ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and...

Bell Canada Evaluates AT&T’s Open Source ECOMP

Bell Canada is currently testing AT&T’s ECOMP platform to create and manage software-defined networks.

ECOMP, which stands for Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy, is the software platform AT&T created to power its new network. ECOMP lets service providers quickly add features and drive down operations costs.

AT&T has committed to release its ECOMP platform as open source software in conjunction with the Linux Foundation in the first quarter of 2017.

“ECOMP represents a significant investment in the software-centric networks of the future.  We have committed to taking this investment into open source through the Linux Foundation,” said Chris Rice, senior vice president – AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design. “We welcome Bell Canada’s collaboration in driving a new network approach that is faster, more efficient and ultimately more responsive to customer needs.”

“Bell Canada is committed to leading broadband network and service innovation in Canada. We believe software-defined networks will advance the future of both wireless and wireline connectivity by adapting to customer needs quickly, and enabling a seamless user experience,” said Petri Lyytikainen, Bell’s vice president, Network Strategy, Services and Management. “We are pleased to collaborate with AT&T and other leading communications companies to evaluate the promising capabilities of the open-source ECOMP platform.”
 
“It’s exciting to see the communications industry coalescing around ECOMP,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation. “ECOMP is the most comprehensive and complete architecture for VNF/SDN automation we have seen. AT&T has had this platform in production for over 2 years now. This technology is unique in that it’s both disruptive and battle-tested. We can’t wait to host it at the Linux Foundation and open it up to the broader developer community.”

http://www.att.com


  • In September, Orange agreed to test the platform for creating and managing its own software-defined network. Orange is the first telecom company to join AT&T’s ECOMP effort. The carriers have agreed to collaborate on open source and standardization initiatives to accelerate the standardization of SDN and NFV.

Nokia to acquire Deepfield for Big Data Analytics

Nokia agreed to acquire Deepfield, a start-up specializing in in real-time analytics for IP network performance management and security.

Deepfield, which  was founded in 2011 and is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, developed an analytics platform that identifies over 30 000 popular cloud applications and services.  Its Internet Genome tracks how traffic runs to and through networks to reach subscribers, in real time, and without the need for probes, taps and monitors in the network itself.

Nokia said it plans couple Deepfield big data analytics with the dynamic control capabilities of open SDN platforms, such as the Nokia Network Services Platform (NSP) and Nuage Networks Virtualized Services Platform (VSP). Together, these products become the cognitive "brain" that makes real-time, automated changes to wide area networks (WANs) and datacenter networks so they can quickly adapt to changes in application demand, flow and traffic patterns. This will allow Nokia customers to drive greater network efficiency, help assure quality and enhance security - without manual intervention, and in real-time.

Nokia's service assurance and customer experience management portfolios would also leverage Deepfield's big data analytics, including per subscriber application performance, to automate actions that ensure ongoing service health and customer satisfaction.

Basil Alwan, president of Nokia's IP/Optical Networks business group, said: "We are impressed with Deepfield's unique approach to network analytics and their deployments with major providers around the globe, delivering critical visibility into how leading cloud applications and services flow through their networks. Combining Deepfield's cutting-edge analytics with Software Defined Networking techniques (SDN) will allow our customers to automate engineering and assurance processes while enhancing performance, utilization and security. We believe this capability will only increase in importance as networks and applications become more complex, diverse and dynamic."

Craig Labovitz, founder and CEO of Deepfield, said: "We are very pleased to join Nokia, a like-minded global leader in IP networking with shared values in network innovation. I look forward to leveraging the strength of Nokia's world-class customer, sales and support footprint to take our Deepfield technology worldwide. This will also give us a solid foundation from which to accelerate the creation of new value - both in the Deepfield portfolio, and in joint areas such as telemetry and automation."

http://www.nokia.com

Elenion Targets Innovation in Silicon Photonics

Elenion Technologies, a start-up headquartered in New York City with offices in San Jose, California and Munich, emerged from stealth and announced its plans to drive innovation in silicon photonics.

Elenion is backed by Marlin Equity Partners, a global investment firm, that also owns Coriant. Elenion is headed Larry Schwerin, who previously was CEO of Silicon Lightwave Services, a ground-breaking silicon photonics design services company, and Capella Intelligent Subsystems, a leading supplier of Wavelength Selective Switch technology acquired by Alcatel-Lucent in 2013. In addition, Michael Hochberg, a renowned silicon photonics expert and co-founder of Luxtera, serves as the CTO.

“Following over two years of focused R&D, including extensive coordination with Coriant, we are excited with the progress Elenion’s experienced team has demonstrated in the development of next-generation photonic integrated circuit products,” said Doug Bayerd, a principal at Marlin. “Elenion is uniquely positioned to capitalize on one of the industry’s most promising technologies and accelerate the introduction of commercially-ready advanced communications solutions.”

“Silicon photonics is redefining the economics of interconnect technologies and enabling the use of optics in exciting new markets and applications,” said Schwerin. “We look forward to working with our customers to deliver innovative photonic integrated circuit solutions that are far more complex and capable than previously possible.”

http://www.elenion.com

Databricks Raises $60 Million for Cloud Data Analytics with Apache Spark

Databricks, a start-up founded by the team that created Apache Spark, announced $60 million in a Series C funding.

Databricks offers a data platform in the cloud powered by Apache Spark. The company said that as Spark's adoption moves into mainstream in large data-driven enterprises in all industries, it has seen an explosive uptick in customer demand and adoption, serving more than 400 customers today.

The funding round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and included existing Databricks investor, Andreessen Horowitz. The new funding round brings Databricks' total funding to date to $107.5 million.

"Apache Spark has enabled countless enterprises and cutting-edge early adopters to create business value through advanced analytics solutions," said Ali Ghodsi, CEO and Co-Founder at Databricks. "As Spark's adoption and the demand for our managed Spark platform continues to rise, this funding will advance our engineering and go-to-market strategies to address all of our customer's pain points as we continue to grow the Spark community."

http://www.databricks.com

See also