The forgotten hero – the critical role of networking in IoT

The internet of things or IoT is everywhere. If you’re not sure what IoT is yet, we did another piece on that. But what foundation makes it possible for thousands of internal and external devices to connect and communicate. What is the critical role of networking in IoT? Let’s explore why advances in wireless have made the IoT revolution possible and how you can tap into it.

Iot and networking

What’s the scope of IoT?

Back in 2016, Cisco speculated that there would be between 6-24 connected devices for every human on the planet by 2020. And they weren’t far off. TechJury reported in March 2021, “there are about 21.5 billion interconnected devices in the world. Their number is set to explode in the following years as internet consumption rises and new gadgets and machinery hit the market.” So we’re talking about a scope that includes and connects personal, corporate, manufacturing, legal and governmental devices together with increasing frequency for collaborative effect. That’s a lot of new load on networks, drawing computing power. And that also means work; behind the scenes, creating a standard language of communication that all IoT devices can use.

Creating the standard

Three groups work together to help all these devices communicate: IEEE 802 Wireless Working Groups, IEEE 802.11 Wireless LANs (aka Wi-Fi) and IEEE 802.15. For the last four decades, these groups have been creating the framework that allows smart tech from the medical field to collaborate with GPS tracking tech from distribution networks, for example. That open communication means entrepreneurs can enter the market and compete effectively against giants too. The standard is multi-vendor interoperability and that’s great for competition. But it’s enabled an explosion in IoT that’s not expected to slow any time soon. And it’s taxing networks.

The bandwidth issue

Because there are so many devices all connecting to one access point and talking the same language, that’s more noise than ever before. Each individual device only sends a tiny bit of data, just a few lines of text. So, each one only uses a little bit of bandwidth on its own. And traditional LAN segments already allow for up to a few hundred devices. So, that should be fine right? Wrong. IoT applications can easily require thousands of devices or more on a single network. Although the low bandwidth usage by each individual device does not pose a problem at the access layer of the network, moving in toward the distribution and especially the core layer, the problem begins to become more prevalent. With thousands of devices talking at once, network stability becomes an issue.

Computing power and control

While IoT solutions can manage their devices, a robust network can enable this software stack to reside in the part of the infrastructure where computing power exists. This helps in delivering critical messages from the controller to the devices with high reliability; assists in automated provisioning of the network for supporting IoT; and helps manage IoT devices at scale. Basically, a local delivery shortens the delay between instruction and execution while making the whole system more reliable. But you also need an easy way to monitor, report on and control all these devices & sensors. One way might be with a cloud managed WiFi network like Ruckus which allows multi-site control from a single interface.

So, you can see, there have been significant advancements in networking that have enabled the IoT revolution of today. And if you’re interested in scoping your IoT-enabled network integration, talk to our helpful team today.

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