Most enterprises are prepared for the Internet of Things (IoT) and see its business potential. But the reality is that there may not be enough network capacity to handle the increased demand in connected devices, according to a recent survey of 400 IT professionals in the U.S. and U.K. by network control company Infoblox.
Of the IT pros surveyed, 90 percent said they were either planning or already implementing solutions to cope with the increased demands on networking caused by IoT projects.
Additionally, 78 percent of the respondents said they had the budget and the staff to deal with the explosion of connected devices. And as unlikely as it seems given the overall trends toward flat or limited IT budgets, 89 percent of the IT pros who responded to the survey said they were likely to receive more funding in the next year to respond to IoT demands, with 73 percent saying they would be adding staff.
The Network's the Thing
However, although 86 percent of IT professionals surveyed understood what would be required of their networks for IoT deployments, and almost half (46 percent) expected these deployments to become part of their organization's existing IT networks, more than half (57 percent) said their networks were already at full capacity. And 54 percent identified network infrastructure management as high priorities for their organizations.
"It's encouraging that the majority of IT professionals recognize the demands the Internet of Things will make on their networks," said Cricket Liu, chief infrastructure officer at Infoblox. "Network administrators have struggled in recent years to stay on top of the 'bring your own device' trend, and the IoT will create an increase in end points that is an order of magnitude greater."
But, Liu said, many networks' teams will have to respond to the IoT without significant increases in budgets or staffing. "Network automation will become crucial as IT departments confront this massive growth in network complexity," he added.
Security Is Another Thing
The survey also found that almost two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) said that the IoT is a threat to network security. Liu agreed. "With so many objects and IP addresses being added, it's important for network teams to keep track of what's on their network at any given point, and also to bear in mind all these objects and IP addresses are potential weak links in an organization's IT infrastructure," he said.
But more than a third of respondents (37 percent) said they believed concerns over IoT security are nothing more than hype.
Staying in the Loop
The Internet of Things could make it more difficult for IT leaders to "stay in the loop" as more devices are added to enterprise networks. In fact, 56 percent of respondents agreed that it was hard for IT managers to control where IoT deployments are implemented across the business.
And 45 percent of IT pros acknowledged that they do not get sufficient information from line-of-business leaders to manage those deployments. Even so, 74 percent said their organizations have integrated IoT deployment plans that require IT involvement before any IoT deployments are authorized.
"These results, while seemingly in conflict, align with what Infoblox customers are telling us anecdotally," Liu said. "IT departments have a seat at the table when business units -- such as operations, manufacturing, marketing, sales and customer service -- want to move forward with IoT deployments. But these business units often get deep into the buying process before calling IT, sometimes forcing IT to scramble to provide support for devices that lack the full set of connectivity and security protocols found in established categories such as PCs, tablets and smartphones."
How To Prepare for IOT
There are several steps network managers can take to get ready for the Internet of Things, according to Infoblox. For one thing, IT should have a seat at the table early in the IoT deployment planning, before any buying decisions are made.
Network managers should also set network access policies for "things" that prevent inefficient use of network resources and preserve network security. They should also assess control and automation systems to ensure the network team isn't overwhelmed by manual tasks as IoT devices come on line.