& cplSiteName &

SDN: Secret Sauce to the Internet of Things

Dan Pitt
Column
Dan Pitt
9/4/2014
50%
50%

The technology industry has been all a-buzz with the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT). This growing category refers to an ecosystem of connected devices and services ranging from smart cars, connected appliances, healthcare services and monitors, wearables, and connected cities, among many other "things."

Do you think this is the stuff of only the future? Reports from Cisco estimated that there were 8.7 billion connected devices in 2012, with some 50 billion devices expected to connect to the Internet by 2020. That's a sobering number for network operators -- the arrival of more connected devices and growing customer expectations for connectivity will directly affect them.

As the breadth of connected devices continues to expand, connected services are also emerging, taking a toll on limited network capacity. Networks are facing a tipping point with the growth of mobile data and need to simultaneously operate over multiple wireless technologies. It is unclear what the economic impact will be to the networks, but it is clear that they will grow and become more complex. One characteristic of many of the devices is that they are extremely power-limited and cost-sensitive. Another is that when they govern industrial processes their communications are extremely time-sensitive. Therefore their communication protocols and technologies might have to be quite specific to their application environment and their priorities and Quality of Service (QoS) need to be maintained across multi-application networks. And while their individual traffic rates might be small, the sheer number of devices means that the volume of aggregated traffic will be large. Thus the rise of IoT means that networks will inevitably be handling an influx in big data and an increase in network traffic. Not properly prepared to handle this increase in activity, networks could become paralyzed.

What can network operators do now to prepare for IoT and avoid crippling their networks with the increased traffic? IoT will require networks to become more agile to accommodate the increased amount of transmitted data along with the expansion of connected devices. In looking ahead to what is in store for networks and IoT, SDN is a viable solution to manage the increased traffic and its QoS.

As a network architecture, SDN allows for network control to be decoupled from the forwarding plane and the forwarding plane to be directly programmable by the control plane. The power-limited and cost-limited nature of many of the devices in the IoT makes them ideal candidates to be optimized solely for their application and basic forwarding, not for network control. Mobile networks are strong candidates for SDN implementation as they already maintain a separation of the control and data planes. With SDN, enterprises and carriers gain vendor-independent control over the entire network from a single logical point, which greatly simplifies network design and operation. SDN allows IT to leverage the simplified network design to deploy new services in a matter of hours or days, not weeks or months, and create new services for differentiation. SDN provides a flexible tool to improve the management of the networks. These network functions can now be implemented in software processes that operators can control centrally and provision automatically with orchestration tools. In effect, these SDN-based processes constitute the network's "brain," which can communicate to the "body" (switches, routers, gateways, etc.) in an automatic, open, and programmable way.

Another element in changing networks is NFV, a complementary technology to SDN. NFV allows operators to architect networks by evolving standard IT virtualization technology to consolidate network equipment types into industry standard, high-volume servers, switches, and storage located in data center, network node and end-user premises. NFV provides the flexibility needed to quickly and easily integrate new services at various locations without the need for new equipment. Combining NFV and SDN also opens the door for new revenue by enabling carriers to introduce new services quickly and to capitalize on excess network capacity (even momentarily) to offer ad-hoc, on-demand services. The IoT will benefit by slotting right into a wider network already managed by SDN and NFV and thus will be more easily adopted with high efficiency.

The inefficient stiffness of traditional architectures is proving to be dated and obsolete. SDN is introducing a practical, scalable and efficient way to leverage network infrastructure and technology communications. With current networking technologies, each network device must be configured to handle maximum traffic, though it is unlikely every network element will experience maximum traffic at the same time. When we look at the IoT revolution, SDN offers promise by providing the opportunity to control networks according to the needs of each organization, each subnetwork, each type of "thing," each application.

To accommodate the arrival of IoT, networks need an architecture that can cost-effectively scale services using software while also eliminating the need for large investments in proprietary hardware platforms. The new wave of connected devices and services will all be shared on the same -- often-congested -- networks as current PCs, tablets, smartphones, and video sources and sinks. The coming of age of new devices and services means that these networks will have to be optimized to handle what is being asked of them, dynamically and often on short notice.

While many are excited for the truly connected lifestyle, for the industrial Internet, and for IoT to come to fruition, network operators are scrambling to adopt SDN to best handle what is on the horizon.

Dan Pitt, Executive Director, Open Networking Foundation

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
SachinEE
50%
50%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/8/2014 | 2:47:52 PM
Re: Throttling your IoT toaster...
An internet toaster is a funny thing, but it is not impractical, just as most of the home automation isn't. IOT is not needed in the truest sense, but if it stays, it would make living a lot easier. Just think about all the possibilities of IOT in healthcare and industries.
SachinEE
50%
50%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/8/2014 | 2:45:51 PM
Re: Throttling your IoT toaster...
"While I see SDN as a way to optimize networks, there are providers optimizing networks in a different way – by blocking traffic that they don't think is a revenue stream."

I think what makes a good marketing strategy, both technology wise and market wise, is realizing what do we exchange here, and that is data. Data is sensitive and has to have different marketing policies than conventional products. Optimizing IOT networks too, smililarly, are in a state of constant upgradatation and scratchy ideas. While some vendors approach it differently, others have a more fluid, low-latency approach, which also ensures a lesser device grid.
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/4/2014 | 11:33:20 PM
Re: Throttling your IoT toaster...
Yes, I agree with that. While I see SDN as a way to optimize networks, there are providers optimizing networks in a different way – by blocking traffic that they don't think is a revenue stream. 
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/4/2014 | 7:05:02 PM
Throttling your IoT toaster...
I'm just waiting to see how NetNeutrality will impact the ability for a silly internet-enabled toaster (or refrigerator or washing machine...) to stream its useless data. :P

 
More Blogs from Column
As content and service providers turn more to streaming video, they should weigh the tax implications of their new services.
When classic deep packet inspection isn't enough.
With server-side DAI, content and service providers can make live TV as easy to target with data as VoD and SVoD.
NFV is still behind in becoming cloud-native. A look at what cloud providers are doing with FPGAs should provide inspiration.
Sensible regulations are needed as smaller radios get installed to facilitate 5G.
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
February 26-28, 2018, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
Project AirGig Goes Down to Georgia
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/13/2017
Here's Pai in Your Eye
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 12/11/2017
Verizon's New Fios TV Is No More
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 12/12/2017
Ericsson & Samsung to Supply Verizon With Fixed 5G Gear
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/11/2017
Cloudy With a Chance of Automation: Telecom in 2018
Iain Morris, News Editor, 12/12/2017
Animals with Phones
Don't Fall Asleep on the Job! Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed