The biggest stories in IoT continue to be the proliferation of devices and use cases and the need for better architectures at the enterprise level. But the world of IoT networking is also seeing noteworthy changes. The biggest networking changes affecting the future of IoT are zero-trust networking, the evolution of wireless technology and the rise of pop-up operations.
IoT and zero trust
IoT devices often do not have a full, general-purpose OS under the hood. So, they cannot run endpoint protection programs or a zero-trust network agent, such as a software-defined perimeter client. They may not be able to protect themselves from hostile network traffic at all, beyond being told what IP address management communications should be coming from and on what ports.
To resolve this, IT organizations take a variety of approaches. Once upon a time, a fully separate physical network might have been the norm. Most organizations shifted to separate virtual LANs (VLANs) for isolating specific classes of devices.
Organizations taking a zero-trust approach, though, do not rely on logical segmentation by VLAN alone. They are inserting policy enforcement points into the architecture. For example, a device or many devices of a specific class can sit behind zero-trust gateways, which control all communication.
As IoT platforms evolve and standardize — and zero-trust vendors refine their focus — enterprises can expect to see new devices support some classes of zero-trust client. For example, vendors are working on extending application container platforms to the IoT space, which would enable running a containerized zero-trust client to manage communications for the device.
IoT and the wireless WAN
Nemertes Research has seen mounting interest in deploying wireless technology — either 4G or 5G — for WAN connectivity. Most organizations with a WAN have at least one location using wireless for WAN in some capacity, most often as failover or backup connectivity in the event of wired link failures.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic sparked the rapid spread of wireless WAN (WWAN), in part because many organizations had to extend their WAN to at least a few home offices. Also important, though, has been the increase in speed and reliability of cellular data networks. Couple that with declining wireless data prices and the high costs for legacy low-bandwidth wired connectivity — T1 as a prime example — and organizations can make a strong case for switching to WWAN.
Interestingly, one of the use cases WWAN adopters cite is wanting cellular data services as the transport for IoT traffic. About 15% of organizations cited this use case, according to Nemertes.
IoT traffic encompasses many stripes of IoT activity, including the following:
- building environmental controls that communicate with a central database and management console;
- security systems that report on door status; and
- motion detectors that report on room usage.
A slice for IoT
Still emerging in the carrier space, 5G network slicing will bolster IoT on the WWAN by fine-tuning performance requirements to meet the needs of specific devices and use cases. Slicing enables network providers to dedicate bandwidth to specific use cases and protect it and to prioritize bit handling to manage latency in different slices.
With some devices, enterprises need guaranteed …….