SDN and Internet of Things: A Match Made In Heaven?

October 27, 2016
by Rumus Sakya BLog Post Title Underline

 We’ve all heard about the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). BI Intelligence expects companies to spend nearly $6 trillion on solutions over the next five years. “In total, we forecast there will be 34 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, up from 10 billion in 2015. IoT devices will account for 24 billion, while traditional computing devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, etc.) will comprise 10 billion,” according to BI Intelligence.

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As the IoT grows, companies that continue to run on 20-year-old multiprotocol layer switching (MPLS) which relies on hub and spoke topology may struggle with IoT.

 Will Your Network Survive the Internet of Things?

 What will happen as the current trend to consolidate infrastructure and decentralize locations (like the move to cloud is doing) meets with decentralized assets of the IoT movement?

One challenge is that the servers the IoT devices need to talk to may be thousands of miles away, so sending and receiving data with these servers may cause problems with latency. To resolve this issue, it will be important to bring the servers closer to the edge where they are closer to the local IoT devices. By having intermediary collection points, it allows IoT devices to collect the data you need; however, it also increases the complexity.

Why IoT and SDN Should Work Together

Imagine for a moment the complexity of connecting a million devices to your network. Then, add the growth of the IoT where you suddenly have billions of devices. After that, your network has to find these billions of devices and connect with them. Once that is done, you have to route traffic and create rules about how each device will be used. Not to mention monitoring each of these connections and the data they will create.

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This growing level of complexity is where SDN can help. SDN can assist with many facets of this problem, including finding the devices, connecting with them, and then routing their traffic. Where with a single router you might have to write 1,000 lines of code to accomplish this, with SDN it can be handled with a few mouse clicks.

SDN Benefits

IoT has the potential to grow to a massive scale. SDN will allow centralized control and give complete knowledge of the connected devices, allowing automated policy-based control and making IoT easier to manage.

SDN simplifies network provisioning. It uses predefined policies that allow for simple plug-and-play setup. If a device becomes compromised with malware, SDN includes security threat remediation. SDN does this by handling many of the details about the devices and protocols on the network.

This allows IoT applications to access the data they need, control the devices, and utilize analytics.

Software-Defined Network and IoT Go Hand-in-Hand

“SDN simplifies the creation, deployment and ongoing management of the IoT devices and the applications that benefit from them,” says Jeff Reed at

SDN allows us to maximize security and performance while keeping up with ever-changing business needs. “SDN’s ability to dynamically change network behavior based on new traffic patterns, security incidents and policy changes will enable IoT environments to deliver on their promise,” says Reed.

Our SDN and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) solutions can help provide a more agile optimized user experience, while allowing you to increase agility across your entire network, decrease deployment time, and reduce costs. Read our white paper: Differentiating Between SD WAN and an Intelligent Edge to learn more. 

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With the IoT, there’s frequent talk about sensors and wireless networks, and of course, servers to handle the big data and analytics. However, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) can be an important part of this conversation.

Topics: SDN, IoT

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