Light Reading
The Internet of Things (IoT) will provide a major challenge for network operators, but SDN and NFV can help.

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
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
Share your views on the next five years and find out what your peers think too.
The complexity of cloud service sourcing will boost demand for infrastructure-as-a-service.
Automation saves you from repeating the same things over and over again.
Terabit Demonstrator Project to be unveiled at SC14 in New Orleans.
We can take these five rules and apply them to SDN and NFV to see if these two technologies make sense for cable, starting with Rule 1 in this post.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration

11|21|14   |   04:29   |   (7) comments


At the Alcatel-Lucent Technology Symposium, Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how SDN has reshaped the discussion around packet and optical integration.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Highlights at BBWF 2014

11|20|14   |   3:40   |   (1) comment


Broadband World Forum is one of the world's largest telecoms, media and technology events with over 7,800 senior executives from across the globe converging on Amsterdam every year to identify the Next Big Thing. BBWF is an exciting place to meet the entire industry under one roof and identify the latest in network innovation, service optimization and customer ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Will BCMS Stimulate Margin for Broadband Operators?

11|19|14   |   6:52   |   (0) comments


In BBWF 2014, Liu Shuqing emphasizes the value of FMC 2.0 based full service experience by throwing light on the BCMS solution. The underlying principle of this innovative technique is to create network robustness and driving network from connection oriented to ACE – BAND oriented infrastructure, in which applications, cloud, and user experiences will be an asset ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
SingleFAN3.0: Better Connected Experience

11|19|14   |   3:06   |   (1) comment


At the BBWF 2014, David Hu, the VP of Huawei Access Network Product Line, talked about the future of access networks – SingleFAN3.0: faster broadband, wider coverage, and smarter connection.
LRTV Interviews
Basil Alwan Interview: The Road to Cloud

11|19|14   |   09:09   |   (0) comments


Alcatel-Lucent's head of IP and Transport talks about the migration towards a web-like networking environment, the impact of the cloud, SDN and NFV, and the yet-to-be-announced FP4 chip.
LRTV Documentaries
FairPoint Makes a Fair Point About Analytics

11|19|14   |   1:56   |   (1) comment


The US-based communication service provider gets to grips with advanced analytics, tackling data and breaking down the silos within its own business.
LRTV Documentaries
Analytics Lets C Spire Get to Know Subs

11|19|14   |   3:01   |   (2) comments


It's all about the data for US operator C Spire as it uses analytics to personalize its customer service down to individual subscribers.
LRTV Interviews
Nuage Branches Out With SDN: CEO Interview

11|17|14   |   9:32   |   (0) comments


Sunil Khandekar, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent's SDN-focused unit Nuage Networks, talks about the opportunities and challenges of breaking out of the data center into wide-area networks.
Light Reedy
Telecom Analytics Grows Up

11|14|14   |   1:15   |   (4) comments


The big data analytics debate has moved on from a year ago, with some experts suggesting it's no longer a technology challenge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Compass

11|14|14   |   3:17   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Shuo Yang, Huawei Principal Cloud Infrastructure Architect introduced Huawei Compass, the software tool for solving customers' problems on the journey of OpenStack Cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Cloud Strategy in European Region

11|14|14   |   2:56   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dr. Gotz, CTO of Huawei IT in European Region introduced Huawei's cloud strategy in European region.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Contribution on OpenStack

11|14|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dennis Gu, Huawei Chief Architect of Cloud Computing introduced the relationship between OpenStack and cloud computing, and Huawei's contribution on OpenStack.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 12, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
Bell Labs Chief Slams 'Toy' Networks
Robert Clark, 11/19/2014
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/21/2014
Google, AT&T, BT Unite on Network Data Models
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 11/20/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed