Sep 08, 2019The enterprise is now home to billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, including everything from security cameras and office printers to lighting and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. Industries ranging from health care to manufacturing are embracing the IoT in order to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and gain or maintain a competitive edge.
This can lead to some very complex networking problems. Cisco reports that almost three-quarters of all IoT projects ultimately end up failing. One of the leading causes of failure is the near-impossibility of managing thousands or even millions of individual IoT sensors for solutions that don't necessarily interoperate or use the same protocols.
So how can enterprises solve this problem and get their IoT and edge projects off the ground and running smoothly? Through orchestration.
What Is Orchestration?
Think of an orchestration solution as a universal remote control. Nobody uses a separate remote for every entertainment device anymore; most people utilize a single device for the television, cable box and Blu-ray player. Similarly, an orchestration solution integrates the control of data centers, network security services, and solutions such as SD-WAN, network devices and the IoT into a single management platform.
Orchestration enables enterprises to deploy, view, manage and set automated rules for all of their IoT solutions. It radically simplifies end-to-end network automation through coordination, configuration and management, enabling companies to manage the interactions between devices in the cloud, at the edge or on the premises.
Orchestration helps IoT and edge devices connect with distributed containers and network elements on physical servers or in the cloud. Without it, the number of devices that can be successfully deployed is significantly capped. Once an enterprise builds its IoT and edge network on top of an orchestration platform, that cap is lifted without the worry that additional devices will be unable to communicate with the network—which could lead to the entire network failing.
Once an orchestration tool is successfully implemented into the network, the manager can view the complete picture on a single dashboard, making it easy to determine which devices are up and running and which need attention. Once enough data is collected from the devices, the platform can even be integrated with prediction apps that forecast which ones will fail and automatically streamline processes to make everything run more efficiently. This not only saves an enterprise time and money, but also frees IT managers from having to manually connect and oversee the entire complicated operation.
Think of an IoT sensor as though it were a customer database record. You wouldn't manually track each individual customer or prospect—you would use a CRM platform like Salesforce. This is the same strategy that should be taken with your IoT network. There is no better tool than an orchestration platform for successfully connecting and maintaining these devices.
Nati Shalom, Cloudify's founder and CTO, is a thought leader in cloud, big data, container, open source and more. He has received multiple recognitions by publications such as The CIO Magazine and Y Combinator. Nati is the founder and one of the leaders of the OpenStack and DevOps Israel groups, and is a frequent presenter at industry conferences.