Considerations of Change: An Intro to Networking in IoT

One of the major consequences of Moore’s Law for silicon is that pretty much any device now can have a reasonable level of computing power and internet connectivity. Because of this, the number of internet enabled devices is increasing, thus causing a huge influx of IoT traffic; it is predicted that WAN bandwidth will need to be increased.

When one considers the types of data that will be generated, it becomes clear that they both present challenges. George Crump, an analyst with Storage Switzerland points this out7. “First, there is large-file data, such as images and videos captured from smartphones and other devices. This data type is typically accessed sequentially,” explains Crump. “The second data type is very small, for example, log-file data captured from sensors. These sensors, while small in size, can create billions of files that must be accessed randomly.”

From this, it is clear that data centers will need to handle both types of data, and the storage and processing requirements that come with them.

For decades, the network was considered to be the plumbing of a company’s IT solutions, and was considered a somewhat dumber element of the design. With the advent of IoT, it is clear that the networking element of the IoT ecosystem is slightly lagging behind, which is a concern as IoT is very much a network centric technology, and in essence makes the web by which the sensors communicate to the host and to each other. There are a number of ways for these devices to be networked. Some devices can be directly connected to the internet utilizing standard Ethernet or Wifi, which are TCP/IP based. There are other wireless technologies, some of which are dependent on TCP/IP, but all require some sort of intelligent gateway to convert their network into standard Ethernet or Wifi. These include, but are not limited to, Zig Bee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and Cellular.

Evolution towards IPv6 

Due to the advancement of object gateways, the first two stages of the IoT roadmap will sit on current infrastructure and protocols. Once the volume of devices and data increases and true IoT is in motion, the IPv6 protocol will be required, which offers unlimited IP addresses.

The main challenge that IPv6 looks to overcome is the large packet size when we consider standard IP protocols. For IPv6, the packet size is reduced by making a number of changes to the release of the 6LoWPAN standard, namely RFC 4944. Changes included the compression of IP headers and the introduction of a fragmentation mechanism that enabled reassembly of IP packets that did not fit the IEEE 802 packet. Lastly, routing protocols for lossy, low power networks were required. New protocols were developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that provided basic routing in low power lossy networks.

In my next blog post, i will continue to write about network enablement requirements, talking about why IoT needs “Software Defined Networking” (SDN)


7: Orange Business: Can your business handle IoT

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