TOLL FREE 888-808-6111
The Internet of Things (IoT) is big and getting bigger all the time. According to data compiled by Statista, the IoT encompassed over 26 billion connected devices at the end of 2019 and is expected to cross the 75 million threshold by 2025. What’s more, its size at the start of 2020 already exceeded the projections from just a few years prior. In 2015, IT research firm Gartner had projected “only” 21 billion devices by 2020.
As the IoT expands, it will put much more pressure on corporate wide area networks (WANs), many of which were not architected with the IoT’s vast scale in mind. IoT devices will generate considerable amounts of traffic at the network edge and also open up new security vulnerabilities. To ensure that their WANs are future-proof, organizations should consider the implementation of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solutions.
The typical old-fashioned WAN is built on top of MPLS links. MPLS became a WAN mainstay for a reason - it provides dependable performance by avoiding complex router table lookups, plus it works with a variety of network protocols. But it’s poorly suited for supporting the traffic flows of IoT devices in particular, for several reasons:
On all of these issues, an SD-WAN is superior to a conventional WAN, with security being perhaps its most decisive and discussed advantage. Let’s look at why SD-WAN is a prudent investment for any organization with significant IoT infrastructure planned or already in place.
Traditional WANs require a huge dropoff in application performance in exchange for proper security across the network. SD-WANs don’t force this same Faustian bargain.
For starters, SD-WANs allow for much more granular control of traffic at the edge. Instead of backhauling everything to the data center or HQ just to be safe, an SD-WAN can precisely steer traffic in accordance with policies that apply to certain IoT devices and apps. An SD-WAN can be set so that a smart meter, embedded sensor, or networked appliance can have its traffic treated in a specific way based on its risk profile.
Moreover, SD-WAN solutions may integrate with cloud security services. This integration allows for safe, direct connections between the WAN and popular applications such as Salesforce and Microsoft Office 365.
These security features mitigate the considerable risk from IoT devices. Many of them are vulnerable to attacks or at the very least publicly accessible. The search engine Shodan, which is connected to numerous IP cameras and other devices worldwide, shows how widespread this problem is. Since they’re so simple, they may also lack the ability to reach patches or software updates fixing critical flaws such as the Krack exploit in WPA2 Wi-Fi security.
Beyond these specific security benefits, an SD-WAN makes it generally easier to see and manage the entire network, so that IoT devices don’t slip out of sight and cause problems. Administrators can have a single configuration change in software rolled out seamlessly across the WAN, without technicians needing to physically go out to many different locations and update the routers there accordingly. SD-WANs are highly automated and streamlined, making them ideal for handling the scale and rapid expansion of IoT infrastructure.
Speaking of which, SD-WANs can better accommodate the growth of IoT devices thanks to support for MPLS alternatives. An SD-WAN may use broadband, cellular, or satellite internet in addition to or instead of MPLS. These modes of transport are more economical, can be scaled up more easily, and are also usable as backup circuits for increased resiliency.
Want to get started with an SD-WAN implementation? Telesystem has you covered, with an SD-WAN platform that complements our other portfolio solutions. Contact our team to learn more.