The Industrial Internet of Things FEATURE NEWS

Spinning Up IoT Networks: Easy as Virtual Machines

By Special Guest
Cynthia Artin, Correspondent
February 27, 2017

At Mobile World Congress, NetFoundry has reportedly unveiled a platform for enterprise developers and IT teams to make it possible to spin up private networks over the Internet which the company claims are as secure and resilient as traditional enterprise WANs.

Seem too good to be true? For IoT deployments, being able to orchestrate secure, private networks over any Internet access point seems like a pipe dream as it’s been near impossible for IP “pipes” to be managed in what Gartner has called a “cesspool.”

In a news release issued earlier today in Barcelona, the world’s largest mobile event sponsored by GSMA each year, Tata Communications characterized NetFoundry as a platform that “enables enterprises to obtain the security and performance of a private network, while benefiting from the economics and agility of the Internet - enabling enterprises to securely and reliably extend applications from edge to core to public and private clouds, using any Internet access provider.” Tata Communications incubated NetFoundry in its flagship “Shape The Future” innovation program which aims to produce startups capable of becoming at least $200 million dollar businesses.

Comparing the platform to very successful cloud services platforms, including those which have transcended traditional “telecom” definitions (Twilio and Kandy for real time over-the-top messaging), NetFoundry seems to have created a means for enterprises to deploy and manage IoT software defined networks (SDN), while abstracting them from the complexities of network infrastructure, similar to how Twilio and Kandy abstract their developers from the complexities of voice and text messaging.

Using the Internet for transport, networks can be created for individual applications, thus not impinging on the existing corporate LANs or WAN, which is why this solution makes so much sense for IoT deployments as the importance of “connected things” inside enterprises grows and becomes more global and complex.

 “Our platform enables developers and partners to embed secure, reliable networking inside their solution stacks,” Galeal Zino, Founder of NetFoundry said in the press release.

 “This unleashes untapped potential for developer innovation and enables enterprises to rapidly take IT, IoT and cloud apps from prototype to production,” Zino continued,” while meeting the most stringent enterprise requirements for security and performance.”

NetFoundry is an Associate Member of Dell’s IoT Alliance Partner, with NetFoundry software certified on Dell 3000 and 5000 IoT gateways.  The press release also mentions a partnership in which Integron will use NetFoundry in their managed IoT healthcare services.  Integron has over one million IoT endpoints under management.  At Mobile World Congress, NetFoundry is doing IoT demonstrations with Dell EMC, V5 (IoT video surveillance), Wireless Glue (IoT middleware) and Esprida (which powers the Kodak kiosks which were the world’s largest non-ATM IoT deployment).

In the Tata Communications press release, Julie Woods-Moss, Chief Innovation Officer at Tata Communications said NetFoundry’s innovation has the potential to complete the “software is eating the world” concept first introduced by Marc Andreessen in 2011.

Given the naturally dispersed nature of IoT deployments, giving IoT developers and systems integrators the ability to connect devices to cloud processing and business applications without having to invest in building new physical networks could be a game-changer. This assumes secure private networks are possible using Internet overlay and orchestration techniques that form the basis of NetFoundry’s claims.

And when asked what he says when the inevitable statement comes up – “Sounds too good to be true” – Zino points to partners the company is working with, including some of the world’s largest systems integrators and business applications providers and hints at more announcements coming in the new few weeks and months.

“The best way for IoT developers, customers and partners to find out if we meet their needs is to see for themselves.  As a cloud-native, software solution, we can quickly execute pilots.  However, NetFoundry is just one layer in the overall IoT ecosystem which is needed to provide full-stack IoT security, reliability and performance.  We are fortunate to be working with world-class partners with a shared vision of this ecosystem, and will be publishing details of our combined IoT solutions in upcoming weeks.  We have several very happy customers, but we certainly don’t solve every problem. Fundamentally though our Software Defined Perimeter architecture, application-first paradigm, security-by-design principles and Internet reach is required by distributed IoT deployments, especially Industrial IoT services.”

Too good to be true? If it is true that an Internet overlay technology can deliver fully compliant private networking balancing security and speed, Internet economics and developer innovation, the real truth test may be for the incumbent solutions – the MPLS and VPN services, who may have a hard time competing with the Internet’s breadth and reach.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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