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The accelerated adoption of IoT will depend on the networks it runs on

There are many predictions on the expected growth of IoT, but what is clear is that there are already billions of devices connected worldwide and that number is expected to increase significantly in 2019. Devices are becoming smarter and easier to manage, accounting for an associated rapid increase in IoT-related data, and there has been an increasing number of IoT-related platforms and services being offered in the marketplace. While the devices and applications are the initial point of focus for organizations, cities and municipalities considering IoT systems, careful consideration must be given to the networks chosen to host these devices and run these applications.

Given the sheer number of devices, the data they generate and especially the increasingly important tasks and services being based on IoT, network performance must be high on the list of considerations for those developing, launching and managing IoT systems. Within the healthcare IoT context, network performance monitoring is especially critical. If a device becomes disconnected from the network, or is simply switched off, monitoring can act as an early warning system and help avert what could be a potentially life-threatening incident. It can also act as a dashboard that brings together traditional IT and, in this case, medical devices.

The networks

LANs, low power-wide area networks, cellular IoT and cellular LPWANs, including newer wireless networks that support low-power machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, such as narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) including Sigfox and LoRa, are all currently being used to host IoT applications. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, with cost, data transmission and related power consumption being key considerations.

Sigfox, in particular, is one dedicated IoT network getting a lot of attention due to its ability to radically decrease the costs and energy consumption associated with IoT connectivity. The network uses the 868 MHz wireless radio spectrum in Europe and 902 MHz band in the U.S., and features a wide-reaching signal that easily passes through solid objects and covers large areas. Using a unique approach to wireless connectivity that draws on the highly reliable and interference-resistant ultra-narrowband frequency to provide an exceptionally wide range while simultaneously requiring very little power, Sigfox has radically altered the economics associated with the internet of things.

IoT network monitoring specifics

IoT device managers and especially systems administrators should have the ability to monitor and visualize the functionality and measurement data emanating from Sigfox-enabled IT infrastructure sensors, as well as from other objects, devices and machines that are equipped with or have adaptive Sigfox connectivity. Sensors in the context of network monitoring are the basic monitoring elements. One sensor usually monitors one measured value in the network (for example, the traffic of a switch port, the CPU load of a server or the free space of a disk drive); on average, several sensors are necessary per device — in some instances, one sensor can be used per switch port.

When it comes to monitoring an IoT network, network administrators should check for the availability of sensors designed to display data in messages received from IoT-capable devices — such as Sigfox devices — that are pushed via a HTTPS request to the network monitoring tool. In addition, the IoT monitoring system should provide a URL that can be used to push encrypted messages to the monitoring probe system via HTTPS. These capabilities are especially useful when it’s necessary to push data to a hosted (cloud-based) IoT monitoring system.

IoT network monitoring technologies should be available in both hosted and an on-premises versions. They should also be highly flexible and include all the functionality required by the stakeholders to see exactly what is happening in real time across their IT infrastructures, pooling data from networks, systems, hardware, applications and devices together in a single view.

The best of these technologies will offer multiple methods to initiate messages from the network to the network monitoring system regarding overall functionality and the status of any measurement data coming from sensors and devices. Advanced IoT network monitoring systems should generate alerts or notifications immediately, once predetermined performance thresholds of the user’s choosing are met, ensuring that IT is always the first to know when a problem arises. Event triggers to automatically launch applications that provide a fix are a huge bonus in any good monitoring system.

Additionally, those using IoT network monitoring tools will find highly customizable dashboards very useful as they can be configured to show exactly what is important, from the overall health of the network to granular details like the speed of server cooling fans.

The Sigfox network is designed to connect billions of devices to the internet via its LPWAN and cloud services while dramatically decreasing the cost and complexity of the systems involved. It’s doing so using a unique approach to wireless connectivity that draws on a highly reliable and interference resistant ultra-narrowband frequency to provide an exceptionally wide range while simultaneously requiring very little power. As such, the company has radically altered the economics associated with the internet of things.

Sigfox is enabling organizations across many industries, including those associated with supply chains, smart cities, manufacturing and automation, to realize the promise of the internet of things. The traditional definition of the “network edge” has now become fluid, and it’s more important than ever before for sysadmins and IT teams to know what is happening on their changing networks and be in control at all times.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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