IoT and software defined networking (SDN) are key components to help the enterprise move forward in a digital society.
At the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2019, TechRepublic's Teena Maddox spoke with Kevin Donahue, distinguished architect at Verizon, about how the Internet of Things (IoT) and software defined networking (SDN) are enhancing the enterprise. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.
Kevin Donahue: When I look at IoT, I actually go back many years ago to something that a gentleman by the name of John Gage with Sun Microsystems said in the 1980s, which is 'The network is the computer.' IoT is really distributed systems on a mass scale and when you've got components in a mobile device or in the network or legacy system or one of the hybrid cloud systems, it's the connectivity of bringing all those things together that's important.
On our team, what we do is speak to customers and really focus the conversation around four pillars: Connectivity, security, visibility, and automation. In an enterprise, there's any number of ways to connect--anything from a basic ethernet cable to a Bluetooth connection to Wi-Fi, 4G, and ultimately 5G. The connectivity is independent of the work to be done.
SEE: Internet of Things: Progress, risks, and opportunities (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
You need to be able to take all those things into consideration and apply the appropriate technology that is best suited for that particular thing. Historically, people have had security really at the device level--your cell phone, or maybe it's in a network switch or firewall or something like that.
Where really in the world of enterprise IoT, the security should be distributed and inherent and embedded in the network all the way across, from the device to a hybrid cloud infrastructure. When we talk about visibility, what we mean is the ability to see the various application components as the application is moving across the enterprise and really across the hybrid cloud environment that is supporting your enterprise.
Historically, where customers might have a tool to look at this particular application, or they can monitor how their cell phones are working in a particular region, if everything is software defined, now you can kind of bring it up to a higher level and get a single pane of glass view visibility all the way across from the end user device where it could be an IoT sensor, it could be a cell phone through a multitude of hybrid cloud environments that are supporting one business outcome. When you've got things software defined, and you take into account the highly distributed nature of IoT applications, being able to automate and orchestrate your applications so now you can set policies and priorities.
For example, if you've got a company that is doing mobile point-of-sale and they're leveraging a Wi-Fi network in a retail store, they might have customers on the guest Wi-Fi that might be using the same access points under a different SSID as the point-of-sale cash systems.
Because things are software defined, and because you can have visibility down into that environment, you can prioritize the point-of-sale applications so that they're getting the resources, they're getting the access, and that business transaction is happening and it's not really being harmed by the kid sitting right outside the door in the mall playing video games.
I'll go back a few years on this. Industrial manufacturing just happened to be in the aerospace industry, but when you look at things that happen when they're putting an aircraft together and aircraft parts and making sure that these parts are authentic and being able to validate that, 'Okay, I'm putting an engine control unit onto an engine that's going to go on a plane.' Making sure that all this information is connected and in sync in a timely manner is critically important right there on the manufacturing floor.
Now, if you take it up to the next level, you've got manufacturing systems, ordering systems, digital twin examples where everything is really already kind of prebuilt in the cloud, but this cloud might be offsite wherever, distributed across multiple systems.
Bringing all of this information together in a timely manner, again, that's highly distributed in a secure manner, is another example of enterprise IoT. Little bits of information, legacy systems, major data files, bringing them together across a myriad of networks, but being able to see under one pane of glass how your applications are working end-to-end, and make sure that they're performing appropriately to support the business outcomes that are best suited for that application.
- Internet of Things (IoT): A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Special report: The rise of Industrial IoT (TechRepublic download)
- IoT security: A guide for IT leaders (TechRepublic Premium)
- What is the Internet of Things? Everything you need to know about the IoT right now (ZDNet)
- These smart plugs are the secret to a seamless smart home (CNET)
- Internet of Things and smart cities: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)