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How IoT Has Changed Wireless Network Management

IT staff in complex wireless environments must adapt the network to the Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the hottest topics across industries, as it impacts almost every business out there. For example, home builders are integrating smart home devices more and more in construction, and medical wearable devices have changed the way patients and doctors track vitals and interact.

Bain and Company have predicted that by 2021, the IoT market will more than double, reaching $520 billion. Needless to say, it’s time to embrace the IoT, not fight it.

For IT staff within complex organizational networks, the IoT brings many new considerations to the table. Let’s look at what’s changed and how wireless network management can adapt:

What does the IoT comprise?

First, let’s talk about what the IoT really means. The “things” referred to in the name are smart devices, meaning those that can connect to the internet. Thus, smartphones, wearables like FitBits, smart thermostats, and smart televisions are all part of this vast and growing network of devices. Even many appliances and toys are now “smart.”

All of these “things” are now connected and able to send and receive information over networks. Because so many different types of devices are walking around with people and pervading building structures, wireless networks have to keep up. Gone are the days when Wi-Fi only had to support a bunch of desktop workstations and laptops.

Adapting the wireless management strategy to the IoT

Small-scale Wi-Fi networks, like one found at a coffee shop, may not have to significantly adapt to the IoT. Large, complex organizations like a hospital or university, however, could have thousands of devices trying to connect to the network at the same time—each requiring fast, reliable Internet.

Here are key strategic considerations for these types of networks:

1.  Continuous wireless network monitoring

Because downtime just isn’t an option in today’s network climate, continuous wireless network monitoring is a must, both for customer satisfaction and to avoid expenses. An IDC survey showed that network failure can cost big companies around $100,000 per hour.

But aside from the costs involved, it just makes sense to implement monitoring. Before a problem reaches an end user, this supervision can quickly alert IT staff to an issue. Only then can the problem be resolved before a smart-device user notices a slowdown or experiences a network drop. Continuous wireless network monitoring is a proactive way to keep the IoT devices in a complex network up and running.

2.  Security

Unfortunately, since the IoT is still pretty new, there are security issues that haven’t yet been resolved. Because these devices are so varied, malware can easily infect many of them. And they may not even have default security settings.

These vulnerabilities mean that IT staff are tasked with gaining even more knowledge about the network. Continuous monitoring can help alert managers right away about prospective attacks or problems that could impact security. And if employees are given company devices, this monitoring also enables IT personnel to implement the right security tools in individual devices.

3.  Addressing network congestion

It’s not surprising that congestion can occur with more devices on a network, which can lead to many different connectivity problems and issues. This is another reason that performance-monitoring tactics must be implemented for a network to keep up with the IoT.

A study published in the journal Sensor indicates that device location and status information can help network managers adapt. The researchers specify that management “should have the capacity to disconnect and locate lost devices, modify security settings, delete device data, and more.”

Devices also need the ability to detect other devices that are located in the network environment. This enables the network-management platform to meet the requirements of each and every application.

These are just some of the many considerations that are important to IT staff trying to keep up with the IoT in complex environments. And because the IoT is only growing —and changes can happen in an instant— it’s a smart idea to implement a comprehensive wireless network monitoring solution to cope with the new normal.

7SIGNAL® is a leader in enterprise Wireless Network Monitoring. The 7SIGNAL platform is a cloud-based Wireless Network Monitoring (WNM) solution that continuously troubleshoots the wireless network for performance issues – maximizing network uptime, device connectivity, and network ROI. The platform was designed for the world’s most innovative organizations, educational institutions, hospitals, and government agencies and is currently deployed at Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, Walgreens, Microsoft, and many others. 7SIGNAL continuously monitors the connectivity of over 4 million global devices. Learn more at www.7signal.com.