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The internet of things is fast becoming one of the defining technological advances of our time. As the IoT transformation takes hold and the technology improves and expands, IT professionals have a responsibility to guide the process and deliver on the promise of the future. That has already been done to tremendous effect in the case of smart home technology, wired cities and health trackers, but there is so much more potential to explore.
The IoT transformation in the enterprise
In the enterprise, IoT is more unique and potentially even more valuable. However, enterprises have a number of complexities and variables that do not exist in the home, where IoT is currently having the most success. For instance, many have discussed the promise of the connected factory, but there are a number of steps that need to be taken before heavy machines and equipment are able to talk to each other and self-diagnose problems. Other than cost, the largest challenge is one for IT departments to solve — how to connect a number of different devices with different protocols, varying in type and sophistication, into the existing network, combing physical and virtual systems, all without undermining security or stability.
The silver lining for systems administrators is that their hard work will have a massive payout. In the manufacturing industry, the potential for reduced downtime and more predictable spending thanks to smart machines that recognize and even predict their own malfunctions is tremendous and revolutionary. Wearable technology in the connected factory offers direct benefit to workers, improving their safety by monitoring unsafe work conditions. Both possibilities will cut costs, increase efficiency and improve productivity.
Guiding and handling the IoT transformation
All of these new devices converging on the network will need to be tracked, analyzed and monitored. While virtualization and mobility have generated massive network traffic increases, they may ultimately pale in comparison to the volume generated by machine-to-machine traffic. This rise in traffic is going to put pressure on existing networks and will require extensive and comprehensive monitoring to ensure that it doesn’t impact the performance and availability of mission-critical services and applications.
Ensuring the availability of IT services in manufacturing or business settings is critical for production and the financial health of the operation, but in other settings, it may be even more crucial. In the healthcare sector, there are a number of nascent smart devices that will revolutionize how patients are treated. Many existing devices such as pacemakers or hearing aids are becoming “smart.” In situations like these, network performance is not merely a matter of uptime and productivity, it’s a matter of life and death.
The IoT transformation has the potential to change a variety of industries from top to bottom, creating a connected world that would have been inconceivable even five years ago. The success of this world is dependent on the ability to manage the explosion of machine-to-machine traffic and assure the uptime and functionality of networks. If systems administrators can get out in front of this network transformation, they will set their organizations up to benefit greatly from the coming connected revolution.
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