We’re living in an era of fast-paced digital transformation that’s only accelerating thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). From agriculture and retail to transportation, healthcare, and the factory floor, IoT systems are delivering new business insights and much more efficient ways of working.
The core technology behind smart homes, smart cars, smart manufacturing, and smart cities, connected IoT devices are already making a big impact on our lives—and the number of devices is poised for exponential growth with the advent of 5G networks. According to analyst firm Gartner, 5.8 billion enterprise and automotive IoT endpoints will be in use in 2020—up 21 percent from 2019.
If you’re planning to deploy IoT-enabled assets, it’s critical that you have the right network architecture to manage the unique scalability and connectivity challenges that IoT presents. Cost-effective, secure, and easily manageable network connectivity is a must if you want to be successful. Unfortunately, wide area networks (WANs) simply aren’t designed to deliver the bandwidth, security, or flexibility that most IoT initiatives require.
SD-WAN to the Rescue
The good news is there’s a ready-made solution for IoT devices. Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) are becoming the go-to technology to deploy, secure, and manage IoT—especially at the network edge in highly distributed enterprises.
Ideal for connecting remote locations to an enterprise network, SD-WANs operating at the edge of existing networks function as a network overlay that allows remote sites to consolidate network functions and applications over low-cost broadband connections.
Because they’re software-based, SD-WANs decrease the number of network devices and connections required at each site. That means they can dramatically reduce network complexity and costs. In addition, you can remotely configure and customize SD-WANs via software to quickly adapt to changing business needs and perform ongoing system updates.
Here are three key reasons why SD-WANs make it easier to scale your IoT initiatives in line with rapidly changing business requirements.
Reason 1: Fast and Agile IoT Deployment
Simplified, affordable deployment of IoT devices is critical. One of the most impressive capabilities offered by SD-WAN is zero-touch provisioning, which automates and simplifies the connection of devices and management of functions such as access control, networking, device security, and communications.
Moreover, you can leverage SD-WANs as a cloud-managed service, which simplifies enterprise-wide SD-WAN deployments even further, since this eradicates the need for IT teams to maintain and manage their own centralized SD-WAN data centers.
The end result is fast time-to-execution for initial installations, as well as future upgrades because you can do all this at web-scale and the lowest possible cost.
Reason 2: Centralized Visibility and Management
Embarking on an IoT initiative introduces a significant level of complexity and risk that you must effectively control. With multiple locations connecting potentially thousands more IoT devices, it’s important to know exactly how your highly dynamic network is performing at any given moment.
Eliminating the need to use multiple interfaces to understand what’s going on, SD-WAN provides a “single-pane-of-glass” console that delivers real-time visibility of network performance and takes the guesswork out of problem resolution to streamline ongoing network management.
Thanks to centralized cloud-based policy administration, you can orchestrate assets to help ensure network resilience, implementing real-time routing efficiencies that address IoT dynamic traffic flows and keep everything running smoothly.
Reason 3: Minimized IoT Security Risks
Allowing IoT devices to connect to the Internet opens the door to a variety of serious potential security vulnerabilities. In fact, IoT security has come under increasing scrutiny following high-profile incidents where an IoT device has been used as the entry point to infiltrate and attack a sensitive core network.
That’s why protecting systems and ensuring end-to-end security for IoT systems often presents a significant learning curve for IT teams with limited resources and tight budgets who are tasked with extending enterprise-class security to remote sites.
The solution is to implement an SD-WAN that offers unified threat management covering an all-inclusive range of security functions:
- Web and app filtering
- Security information and event management
- SSL (decryption, inspection, and re-encryption) and intrusion detection
- Anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware software
By leveraging SD-WAN security “zoning” capabilities to segment the network, you can help ensure that your IoT assets are isolated so an attack on them doesn’t compromise the entire enterprise.
With all of these modern SD-WAN capabilities, you can fundamentally change how you use and protect your IoT investments to safely deploy and utilize new cloud-based applications and services.
Exploiting IoT Opportunities with Confidence
From the local convenience store to the fuel pump, IoT technology is automating business operations and delivering real-time intelligence that helps you innovate quickly to meet your customers’ highest expectations.
With the right SD-WAN solution, you can exploit IoT opportunities without introducing unnecessary complexity, risk, or cost. By taking a strategic approach and deploying an SD-WAN that simplifies your network architecture, you’ll be better equipped to scale your IoT initiatives quickly—and securely.